BACK TO THE GARDEN - Visitors enjoy a walk in Heritage Square.

Montecito Heights -- After being closed for three months during the coronavirus outbreak, Heritage Square Museum, a collection of Victorian and other vintage buildings, is once again welcoming visitors. But don't expect to go inside any of those Victorians just yet.

“It’s been a real hard time for everyone and it’s really rewarding to see people on the property again,” explains Heritage Square Director Kori Capaldi about her museum’s soft opening in early June for exterior only walking tours of the historic homes.

County public health officials have given museums and cultural center the okay to reopen if they follow rules to slow the spread of coronavirus. But, like Heritage Square, many have chose to reopen on a limited basis or remain closed (See our list below to find out what's open).

The soft opening at Heritage Square is the first time since March 14 that visitors have been allowed onto the Montecito Heights property that is adjacent to the 110 Freeway.

Capaldi is now considering how best to expand the visitor experience.

“We want to be have time to change systems and get more organized to be ready to welcome visitors," Capaldi said.

The walking tour numbers have been better than expected; opening weekend about 80 people were handed disposable guides and toured the grounds and the garden, and met the resident chickens and museum cat Belle.

A group of six friends, who haven’t seen each other for a long time, met at the museum and social distanced during the tour and even hung out afterward in a circle on the grass. 

A mom of three youngsters told Capaldi that she was grateful to be outside and happy the grounds were opened. “The mom looked like she was going to cry with happiness,” she said.

Capaldi says that when the museum fully opens for guests, interior tours will be capped at six per house.

“We have seven structures that are opened to the public and plan to rotate tours to keep in line with social distancing,” she says. “We have a big piece of property so we are confident we can manage the crowds.”

Museums & Attractions

Here's an update on the status of other Eastside cultural centers and popular attractions:

LA Zoo

  • Closed, but is preparing to reopen in July.


Autry Museum

  • Remains closed and has cancelled all of its public programs, events, and tours through July 31.
  • The Autry brings together the stories of all peoples of the American West, connecting the past with the present to inspire our shared future. 

Plaza de La Raza in Lincoln Park (temporarily closed)

  • Hosting online classes through Zoom and on their Youtube channel.
  • Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts & Education’s mission is to foster enrichment of all cultures bridging the geographic, social, artistic, and cultural boundaries of Los Angeles, and beyond.


The LA Police Museum in Highland Park.

  • Scheduled to reopen June 19

  • Museum dedicated to exploring and sharing the history of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) through engaging exibits and rare timeless artifacts. 

Casa 0101 Theater (A House MUSIC-al postponed to Fall 2020)

  • Currently offering free online acting and musical theater classes to ages 18 and under.

  • Postponed shows to Fall 2020.

  • Teatro Nuevos Horizontes TNH Productions, CASA 0101 Theater and El Centro Del Pueblo present its first original musical: A House MUSIC-al, written by Abel Alvarado. 

Griffith Observatory (closed until further notice)

  • Trails and hiking areas including the observatory grounds are open. The Fern Dell park entrance will remain closed.

  • However, they are doing remote shows like All space considered

Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park (closed until further notice)

  • First event listed is an open mic series called La Palabra on June 28 from 2-4PM. 

  • La Palabra, a program of the Avenue 50 Studio, has been taking place since 2001. On the Fourth Sunday of every month from 2- 4 PM, La Palabra invites the community to come out and read their poetry through an open mic series, followed by a featured poet.

Echo Park Film Center online events

  • Currently showcasing films on their Vimeo page.
  • Echo Park Film Center is a non-profit media arts organization committed to providing equal and affordable community access to film/video resources

The Lummis House in Highland Park (closed)

  • Preparing to reopen

 Melody Waintal contributed to this story


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