Things to Do in Los Angeles That Will Get You Outside
Los Angeles is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, and not only because of the great weather. Most of the city's outdoor spaces are free and open to the public every day of the year. From the huge variety of native and exotic plants at the botanical gardens, to the giant squirrels at Griffith Park, and the epic views of the city from the mountains, you can spend all day outdoors in Los Angeles.
Santa Monica Pier
This large and vibrant pier is an iconic destination in Los Angeles. It's located at the foot of Colorado Avenue along a beautiful golden sand beach in Santa Monica. The pier is more than just a pier - there's a small amusement park, concession stands, and plenty of places to take in the views or enjoy some fishing. Perhaps the most notable attraction at the pier is the iconic Ferris wheel.
200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California, 90401
Santa Monica State Beach
The beach of Santa Monica located around the pier and heading north is technically a state park area. Visitors and locals flock here for the gorgeous sand, fun waves, and sunshine. The beach itself is quite wide, with plenty of room for everyone. It's a family-friendly area and somewhat crowded in the warmer months. Naturally, the activities on the pier bring a crowd, too. While the beach is free, you might have to pay for parking. Along the beach and within the nearby blocks are bike paths (part of The Strand), shops, restaurants, and hotels.
Santa Monica, California, 90401
Located on Mount Lee, the famous Hollywood sign can be seen for miles around and has been a historical symbol of the town for decades. It's possible to hike or drive to the area above the sign, although no one is allowed to get too close - it is protected by fences. Some of the best views of the sign can be found at the Griffith Observatory, at the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Highland Ave, or from the Hollywood Bowl Overlook on Mulholland Drive. More details are on the website.
LA, California, 90068
Walk of Fame
Located along Hollywood Blvd, the popular Walk of Fame is a series of stars embedded into the sidewalk with the names of famous people from the movie industry. Visitors can see more than 2,600 brass stars that honor movie and TV stars, producers, musicians, directors, and even fictional characters. With millions of visitors every year, this is a very popular attraction in Hollywood. The streets of the Walk of Fame are also lined with shops, restaurants, and other Hollywood tourist attractions.
Hollywood, LA, California, 90028
This beach, which has the same name as the town Redondo Beach, is a beautiful and popular stretch of coastline. It's popular for a number of reasons. The family-friendly beach and pier area has plenty of shopping and restaurant options at the north end of the beach. It's more of a wharf, marina, and shopping center than an actual pier, but there are plenty of activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, glass bottom boat tours, live music, dining out, ice cream, and more. The beach itself stretches to the south of the pier area, and it's a wide, sandy, clean stretch with comfortable waves all the way down (2.5 miles) to Torrance County Beach and Rat Beach. This stretch of beach is at the end of the Green Line of the metro, making it a popular spot for locals to get to easily. It's also popular with visitors, as plenty of affordable hotels are in the area, along with bike paths and kid-friendly activities.
Fisherman's Wharf, Redondo Beach, California, 90277
If there's a beach that embodies that stereotypical L.A. beach, Venice Beach is it. With a wide beach and relaxing waves, along with a number of activities such as volleyball, tennis, bike riding, a kid's playground, a skateboard park, basketball courts, and more, this is a fantastic spot to enjoy both the beach and the overall atmosphere and vibe of people watching, cafes, high-end beach houses, and more. The Venice fishing pier is a nice spot for a view, or head inland a few blocks to see the canals, the marina, and shops and restaurants.
2300 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, California, 90291
Third Street Promenade
This high end pedestrian area is perfect for shoppers looking for everything from the quirky to the posh. There are boutique shops, fine dining restaurants, and plenty of entertainment options in the area. The district attracts locals and tourists alike and it is easily accessible from Downtown Los Angeles. There's also a 26 mile bike path that runs along the waterfront. The promenade is famous for its street performers and fascinating people-watching.
Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, California
Los Angeles State Historic Park
Located right next to Chinatown, this 32 acre park offers impressive views of Los Angeles's downtown. It regularly hosts festivals and events including craft fairs and music festivals making it the perfect place to take in the local culture. There's also a nice bridge with a scenic overlook, as well as an orange grove and landscaping that is designed to thrive in the desert environment. Head to the park to explore for a bit, then hit up one of the many restaurants nearby.
North Spring Street, Chinatown, LA, California, 90012
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
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
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
The Original Muscle Beach
The "Original" Muscle Beach is a park just south of the Santa Monica Pier where, in the 1930's and 1940's, the exercise and fitness boom took off. Visitors here can find a variety of exercise and strength training equipment such as ropes, rings, and bars. Then, head to the beach to show off your muscular body. (Another spot in Venice Beach also has the name "Muscle Beach", but this one was first.)
Santa Monica, California, 90401
Located just west of the Hollywood Sign, this is one of the highest peaks in the area. With spectacular 360-degree panoramic views, it's a popular spot for hikers and those looking for a great view on a clear day.
Mount Lee Drive, LA, California, 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
Little Tokyo Historic District
Located in downtown L.A., this is the largest official Japantown in the U.S. and was declared as a National Historic Landmark District in '95. It's commonly referred to as Little Tokyo, and offers plenty of activities. Visitors can go shopping or enjoy various Japanese restaurants. There are also a number of art galleries including the Union Center for the Arts which focuses on both visual and performance art. Also, don't miss the James Irvine Japanese Garden, the Kyoto Gardens on top of the Double Tree, the Japanese American National Museum, or the Koban Center. And go shopping at the Japanese Village Plaza and the Galleria.
LA, California, 90012
Hancock Park is where you'll find the famous La Brea Tar Pits. Archaeologists have found a number of fossils in this area for everything from saber-toothed cats to mammoths. There's a museum here as well as the Urban Light sculpture. The park has plenty of green space where you can picnic or bring a dog to play.
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
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
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
This is a 62 acre park that has plenty of space to enjoy a peaceful outdoor setting. There are sports fields, a fitness trail, and places to run or bike. There's also a playground with a pirate ship theme that the kids will love. The Rose Bowl Aquatics Center has pools and the Kidspace Children's Museum is perfect for kids who want to play and learn.
360 N Arroyo Blvd, Pasadena, CA, 91103
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
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
Playa Del Rey & Dockweiler Beach
This stretch of beach south of Santa Monica is a California State Park. As such, you'll find a nice stretch of sand with public restrooms, picnic areas, walking and running trails, an RV park area, parking, and more. It's a family-friendly spot with a nice outdoor feel without a lot of development. In the northern area around the town of Playa Del Rey are some cafes and restaurants, too.
7313 S Marine Ave, Playa Del Rey, California, 90293
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
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
Alamitos Beach, Junipero Beach, and Long Beach City Beach
In the city of Long Beach, visitors can find a very nice stretch of sand and waves that are very popular in the warmer months. Plenty of activities can be found at and near these beaches including the art museum and the Aquarium of the Pacific, as well as a pier. Lifeguard stands, public bathrooms, bike and walking paths, and plenty of shops and restaurants are either right on the beach or within a few blocks. Public parking is also available.
Long Beach, California
Coldwater Canyon Park
This Beverly Hills park is frequented by a number of well known residents. It's a casual setting with a relaxing vibe and well maintained facilities. This is a small park, but it makes a nice spot to take a break while the kids explore the playground.
1100 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA, 90210
The Original Farmers Market
First established in 1934, the Los Angeles Farmers Market began with just 18 farmers who set up stalls to sell their produce directly to the public. The market grew from there and today it is filled with not just fruit and vegetable stands but also food stalls, jewelry stands, and booths that sell everything from kitchen items to toys.
6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA, 90036
Roxbury Community Center and Memorial Park
With a nice playground, a basketball court, and a grass field, this park is a great place to take a break and let the kids have some fun. Right in the middle of Beverly Hills, it offers a break from the city with picnic tables and an ice cream truck that frequents the area on summer days.
471 S Roxbury Dr, Beverly Hills, CA, 90212
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
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
Newport Beach & Balboa Beach
The town and beaches at Newport Beach is family-friendly, beautiful, and relaxed. In addition to the main stretch of beach around the Newport Beach Pier and Balboa Pier, the inlet and marina side of the water also has a few small beach areas if you want to swim in calmer waters. This is a great option for the little ones, as well as for anyone interested in kayaking or paddle boarding. With playgrounds, parking, public bathrooms, and plenty of shops and restaurants, this area offers plenty for visitors.
70 Newport Pier, Newport Beach, California, 92663
Belmont Shore Beach
On the southeastern end of Long Beach, the Belmont Shore neighborhood is a family-friendly area. Here you'll find a nice beach with a nearby dog park, a public pool, public parking, bike and walking trails, public bathrooms, and more. In the Naples area where the inlet leads to the marina and the canals, visitors can also find docks for kayaks and paddle boarding, more beaches for swimming in the calm inlet waters, as well as a public playground and more bathroom facilities.
5411 E Ocean Blvd, Belmont Shores & Naples, Long Beach, California, 90803
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
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.
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
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
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
Barnsdall Art Park & Hollyhock House Photograph
This historic park serves as a public art gallery, architectural exhibit, and entertainment venue. It was donated by Aline Barnsdall and today it remains a unique cultural park that hosts cinema nights, wine tastings, and a number of other events that bring together young adults, couples, and families in one unique setting.
4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, CA, 90027
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $12 to $4,299. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $217. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in Los Angeles
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