In the Loop


In the LoopFireworks and summer freebies dominate this month’s roundup of travel and transportation tips for short hops to nearby events and longer trips around the state.

Independence Day displays light up the skies on Thursday, July 4, with particular favorites offered by, to the northwest, Lights on Tahoe South Fireworks – visible from all over town, including the Tahoe Queen and M.S. Dixie II Mississippi paddle-wheelers (; 800-288-2463) and to the southwest, Pasadena’s Americafest – music, food and fireworks at the Rose Bowl (; 626-577-3101; military with an active ID can receive up to four complimentary Thank You tickets) and Fillmore’s Fillmore & Western Railway Company’s Firecracker BBQ Dinner Train preceded by a car show and Chili Cook-Off and Festival downtown, and culminating with fireworks viewed from the open-air flat car (; 805-524-2546).

For summer-long free entertainment down below, the Skirball in Los Angeles presents sunset concerts Thursdays, July 25 to Aug. 29, beginning at 8 p.m. (; 310-440-4500), the Pasadena Presbyterian Church sanctuary fills Wednesday lunchtimes with piano, organ, guitar, soloists or string Music at Noon (; 626-793-2191) and the Getty combines Saturday night live bands with spectacular vistas (; 310-440-7300).

Also free, to the southwest, today Ventura introduces the “Downtown-Harbor Trolley” from historic Downtown to Ventura Harbor Village. The trolley runs Wednesdays through Sundays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., making stops at coastal hotels, the Amtrak platform and the fairgrounds (; 805- 641-1090). In Ventura over the July 13-14 weekend, check out the Surf Rodeo’s concert, beer garden, 70-plus vendors and competitions that start at 6 a.m. daily (; 805-655-5700).

In Costa Mesa, the OC Fair returns from July 12 to Aug. 11, Wednesdays to Sundays, setting the standard for community extravaganzas with entertainment, exhibits, sports, contests and a marketplace in a carnival atmosphere (; 714-708-1500 – not free but well worth the admission).

To the northwest up in Yosemite National Park, the open-air Valley Floor Tours have resumed, and YARTS, the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System, provides public transit to Yosemite from surrounding cities. When you enter the park by YARTS bus, you do not pay an entry fee ( for schedules and to purchase bus tickets online)

Free movies there and here: Big Bear’s Swim Beach Outdoor Amphitheater screens classic films on Saturdays (www.bigbearparks. com; 909-866-9700) while UC Santa Barbara concentrates on Alfred Hitchcock thrillers on Wednesdays and Santa Barbara County Courthouse duplicates the program on Fridays (; 805-893-3535). But if you would just as soon not leave Ridgecrest, two free series beckon from the Historic USO Building: a selection of Disney movies on flex Wednesday evenings and the Leonard B. Stern Classic Silents Series of iconic vintage silent films on non-flex Tuesday evenings (call 760-375-8456 or stop by 230 W. Ridgecrest Blvd. for details and schedules).

Story First Published: 2013-07-03