What L.A. lacks in flat, grassy patches of green space it makes up for with these rugged hillsides, coastal overlooks and reservoir walkways.Less
It’s easy to forget you’re still in the city as you trek through the mix of native chaparral and landscaped paths that covers this rugged park. Griffith’s myriad attractions and wilderness caters to all types: intrepid hikers can explore the Bronson Caves or visit Amir’s Garden; easygoing weekenders can relax in the shaded passage through Fern Dell; and sightseers can admire the views from the Griffith Observatory (museum open Tue–Sun, grounds open daily).
Griffith may get all of the attention, but Kenneth Hahn is impressive in both size and topography for a park in the middle of the Westside. The Culver City-area park contains a lotus pond and fishing lake, but the urban oasis really establishes itself with over seven miles of walking and hiking trails through the Baldwin Hills, with views of almost every corner of the L.A. Basin.
With 32 acres of open space directly adjacent to Chinatown, L.A. State Historic Park boasts an amazing view of Downtown. After a three-year redesign, the park has added drought-tolerant landscaping, a scenic overlook bridge and an orange grove; not-so-coincidentally, the adjacent area has taken off with new restaurants and bars ever since.
This parking lot turned park is an idyllic and thoughtfully designed ocean-adjacent oasis that harbors a playground, meadows, small waterfalls, walking paths and a conch-like wireframe lookout by the Pacific. And, conveniently, it’s only a block from the Metro.
The Downtown skyline, lotus flower blooms, fountains: This former reservoir turned park is a family-friendly destination worthy of its bold backdrop. You can push your way through the lake in a pedal or swan boat or stroll around the path that hugs its borders.
The ongoing mission to turn Downtown L.A. into a vibrant cultural hub got a lift when a portion of Grand Park’s 12 acres officially opened to the public in July 2012. Dotted with picnic lawns, a fountain, pink benches and plenty of nooks from which to sit and people-watch, Grand Park is a bright urban oasis that proves the city has a sense of romance. Now if only the surrounding government buildings were just as exciting.
Walk along the palm and eucalyptus-lined paths here and it becomes obvious why tourists flock to this oceanside park in Santa Monica. Nestled between the beach and Ocean Avenue, this bluff-top trail has postcard-perfect views of the ocean and Santa Monica Mountains. Steer clear of the touristy section by the pier and instead head north past the stately concrete sculpture at Wilshire to the colorful totem pole at San Vicente.
There’s a quiet history that pervades the San Pedro coastline through the Point Fermin Lighthouse, Sunken City and the last vestiges of Fort MacArthur. But just up the hill, perched over the Pacific, sits this park, one of the most idyllic spots in all of L.A. The Korean Bell of Friendship’s rusty green finish complements the ornately painted hipped roof. Just in front of it, the exposed, grassy bluff is an ideal spot to fly a kite or just lounge in the grass and admire the coastline.
Otherwise known as Lake Balboa, this large family-friendly park is known for its central lake (you can rent a swan boat) and serene picnic spots. Springtime visitors are treated to the cherry blossom bloom around the perimeter, though the sight doesn’t come without crowds. Those more in the mood for grassy wilderness or cultivated gardens can venture next door to the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve and the Japanese Garden (open by reservation only).
Carved into the hills above the Hollywood Reservoir’s walking paths but below a turnout of sightseeing vans, this grassy field feels like a dog-friendly Shangri-La. You don’t have to have four legs to enjoy the scenery, thanks to a small playground, shaded picnic benches and one of the most fantastic views of the Hollywood Sign. But for dog owners, this verdant retreat is the perfect place to mingle with hills-dwelling pooches.