Botanical Gardens and Natural Areas in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a mecca for outdoor lovers, and nowhere is this more evident than in its many public gardens. Most of the city's gardens are maintained by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, and they've spent decades developing long lists of family-friendly activities. From hiking to bicycling to exploring history, walking and visiting gardens is a great way to spend a day in Los Angeles.
Vista Hermosa Natural Park
This park offers a nice place to wander through gardens and enjoy the outdoor space. There's a grassy field with beautiful views of the Downtown skyline and plenty of places to enjoy a picnic. There's also a playground where the kids can play.
100 N Toluca St, Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA, 90026
Exposition Park offers plenty of green space, a beautiful Rose Garden, and gazebos and fountains that give it a charming atmosphere. The park has hosted the Olympics in the past and it is scheduled to again host the 2028 Summer Olympic Games. It spans 160 acres and has a number of museums as well as a nature walk and a butterfly garden.
700 Exposition Park Dr, Exposition Park, Los Angeles, CA, 90037
El Dorado Nature Center and Regional Park
Located in nearby Long Beach, this 105 acre park serves as a plant and animal sanctuary. There's a visitor center as well as about two miles of trails that wander around the two lakes and through the forested areas. There are also sport fields and a golf course as well as playgrounds where the kids can run around for awhile.
7550 E Spring St, Long Beach, CA, 90815
Lake Balboa is a beautiful, family-friendly park where you can enjoy exploring the lake on a swan boat or seeing the cherry blossoms in bloom during the spring season. There are also a number of peaceful picnic areas in the park or places where visitors can exercise in a beautiful setting. Crowds can get busy during the cherry blossom season, but you can often find a hidden area away from the biggest crowds. There's also the beautiful Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve and the Japanese Garden, which is nicely landscaped and makes a perfect retreat from the city.
Silver Lake Reservoir
Silver Lake Reservoir has two dog parks, a playground, and a field where everyone can run around. There's also a basketball court and a 2.2 mile trail that's great for runners and walkers. Whether you want to enjoy a picnic or spend some time with the family, this is a great park. Many running clubs meet here as well.
Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA
This famous park in Santa Monica offers beautiful views and a lovely setting where you can enjoy a relaxing walk along palm-lined paths. This park is popular with tourists for its bluff-top trail that provides stunning views of the California coastline and the Santa Monica Mountains. You'll feel like you're wandering through a postcard.
Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA, 90401
Located right by the ocean, this park has a playground, fields, walking paths, and beautiful views of the Pacific. This park may not be as popular as Palisades Park, but that's part of the appeal. It's a quieter, more tranquil setting that is great for anyone who wants to escape the L.A. crowds.
1615 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA, 90401
Korean Bell of Friendship (and Point Fermin Park)
The Korean Bell of Friendship was a goodwill gift from South Korea in 1976. It's paint is beginning to show its age, but this spot offers a picturesque setting with an ornately painted structure and views over the Pacific.
3601 S Gaffey St, San Pedro, CA, 90731
Echo Park Lake
This family-friendly park looks out on the Downtown Skyline. The park has beautiful fountains and the Lady of the Lake statue. Visitors can rent a paddle boat and float on the lake or simply take a walk along the footpath which explores the local plants of the area. You can also grab a casual bite to eat at Beacon Cafe.
751 Echo Park Ave, Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA, 90026
Runyon Canyon Park
Runyon Canyon Park is the perfect place to enjoy hiking in a stunning outdoor setting. There are beautiful views of the area including the Hollywood Sign. The park spans 160 acres and trails range in distance and difficulty from 1 to 3.5 miles. There is also the famous Rock Mandala in the park, which is a piece of public art that is made from large rocks. This is a popular spot with locals for exercising or meditating. The area is also dog-friendly with several off-leash areas available for your pets.
2000 N Fuller Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90046
This 150 acre botanical park was established in 1937 and it has a number of beautiful trees, medicinal plants, gorgeous flowers, and rare herbs. The park is also home to 100 species of birds and small mammals including squirrels and even bobcats.
1418 Descanso Dr, La Cañada Flintridge, CA, 91011
Dating back to 1886, this is the oldest park in Los Angeles. It is a large space spanning about 600 acres and offering nice views of the Valley, Downtown, and the Hollywood Hills. There's a popular space in the park for dog owners to entertain their pets with balls and games. There are also baseball fields and picnic areas as well as playgrounds for the kids. During the early morning you may hear some gunshots from the nearby Police Academy during practice at the firing range. It's no reason to be alarmed.
929 Academy Road, Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Garfield Park is a popular space for families to gather and celebrate family reunions or birthdays. There's a playground where the kids can get their energy out as well a rose garden and a wholesome atmosphere. During the summer months the park hosts a summer concert series.
1000 Park Ave, South Pasadena, CA, 91030
Lake Hollywood Park
Lake Hollywood Park has great views of the famed Hollywood Sign and the Hollywood Reservoir. The park is great for hiking, running, and biking along the 3.3 mile paved trail which is relatively flat. There is also a small playground that the kids can enjoy and a grass field that's perfect for dogs that want to run around (but leashes are required). Picnic tables and barbecue pits are available as well, so you're likely to see families gathering on weekends to enjoy some fun time together.
3160 Canyon Lake Dr, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, 90068
Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Located in Griffith Park and featuring a wide variety of animal and plant exhibits, the L.A. Zoo is huge (and also entirely owned by the city). With a focus on preserving wildlife and educating the public about nature, animals, and the environment, the zoo is fun and interesting for everyone from kids to adults. See elephants, tigers, fish, exotic birds, primates, reptiles, snakes, and more. In the botanical gardens, visitors can also plants both native to southern California and more exotic areas of the world. Some exhibits also highlight endangered plants.
Zoo Drive North, LA, California, 91201
Griffith Park sits at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains and stretches for over 4,300 acres (1,740 ha). It's one of the largest urban parks in the country. While it's technically a city park, much of the land is fairly rugged and unkept. However, in this park visitors can find a variety of attractions and activities such as the LA Zoo, Griffith Observatory, the Autry Museum of the American West, the Bronson Caves, the Hollywood Sign, various train exhibits, golf, and more. Furthermore, hiking and horseback riding on the various trails are a popular activity where visitors and locals alike can get out into nature and enjoy the views overlooking the city below.
Mount Hollywood Drive, LA, California, 90068
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Kenneth Hahn is a beautiful and large nature reserve that is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy L.A.'s great weather. The park has hiking trails (more than 7 miles!), a pond, a lake where you can fish, and a volleyball court. You can wander through the Baldwin Hills and enjoy the stunning view of the surrounding area. This is also the perfect place to go on a long run or wander at a leisurely pace.
South Cloverdale Avenue, Culver City, LA, California, 90008
This 12 acre downtown park offers a bit of green space in the middle of the urban setting. It opened in 2012 and has many places where you can enjoy a picnic, relax in peace, or simply people watch. There's a fountain and hidden benches where you can enjoy a good book. There are also a number of community events and public performances held here.
198 North Hill Street, Downtown, LA, California, 90012
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $45 to $1,668. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $707. A few of the best options are below.
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