The best parks in Los Angeles offer a scenic retreat in nature, along with ample outdoor fun for all ages. While the city is known for its entertainment and shopping boulevards, you can find plenty of scenic spots with picnic areas, sports facilities, and lush greenery.

    Hikers can head a little further from Downtown Los Angeles and explore miles of scenic trails, some of which overlook the iconic Hollywood Sign and Mount Lee. Those who prefer a short stroll can find plenty of botanic gardens and community parks within the city limits. Best of all, many of Los Angeles’ most beautiful outdoor spaces host cultural festivals, concerts, fitness classes, and farmers’ markets year-round.

    1

    Grand Park

    A 12-acre space in central Los Angeles

    Grand Park covers 12 acres of greenery in Los Angeles’ civic centre. You can find tree-shaded walking paths, botanic gardens, casual sitting areas, and historic fountains. It was founded in 1966 as a place where residents can unwind throughout the day.

    Grand Park offers excellent views of Los Angeles, stretching from the Music Center to City Hall. It has 4 distinct sections that work together to provide a wide range of recreational activities. Some of its highlights include a community terrace with a diverse array of drought-tolerant plants and a small lawn hosting cultural events and weekly farmers' markets. A must-see is Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, which has a membrane pool that's open for wading.

    Location: 200 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA

    Open: Daily from 5.30 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 213-972-8080

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    2

    Palisades Park

    Santa Monica’s ocean-facing park

    Palisades Park offers expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and coastal mountains of Santa Monica. You can find all sorts of fun in this family-friendly park, including walking paths, a collection of art installations and diverse tree species. The best time to visit is in the evenings – from the cliffs, you can take in the breathtaking sunset, ocean, and mountains.

    Palisades Park is well worth the 16-mile drive from downtown Los Angeles. You can see a Civil War cannon and a Native American totem pole, as well as sculptures of Santa Monica and Arcadia Bandini de Baker. Over 30 unique plant and tree species are in this park, including palm trees, European and Mexican fan palms, and Senegal date palms.

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    Location: Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA

    Open: Daily from 5 am to midnight

    Phone: +1 310-458-8300

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    3

    Griffith Park

    Views of Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory

    Griffith Park is one of the most famous parks in Los Angeles and one of the largest municipal parks in North America. Within its 4,310 acres, you’ll find over 50 miles of trails leading to many waterfalls and lagoons. The park lies at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, about 2.5 miles east of the Hollywood Bowl.

    The park offers a variety of things to do for all ages, including hiking, golfing, cycling, and horseback riding. Some of the must-visit attractions in Los Angeles are within Griffith Park – check out rare wildlife at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens, watch a live show at the Greek Theatre, and enjoy panoramic views of Los Angeles at Griffith Observatory.

    Location: 4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA

    Phone: +1 323-913-4688

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    4

    Elysian Park

    Los Angeles’ oldest community park

    Elysian Park dates back to 1886, making it the oldest park in Los Angeles. Within the 600-acre park, you’ll find palm groves, baseball fields, picnic areas, and playgrounds. Don’t be shocked if you hear gunshots in the early morning – next door is the Police Academy, where officers usually practise at the firing range.

    Visit the Chavez Ravine Arboretum to see over 100 varieties of trees from around the world, including Kauri, Tipu, and Cape Chestnut. Angels Point is a great place to enjoy views of Hollywood Hills, Dodger Stadium, and Downtown Los Angeles. There’s also a hidden gem called Secret Swing Angels Point, at the intersection of Angels Point Drive and Park Row Drive.

    Location: 835 Academy Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA

    Open: Daily from 5 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 213-485-5054

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    5

    Lake Hollywood Park

    A dog-friendly park with excellent views of the Hollywood Sign

    Lake Hollywood Park provides an idyllic escape from Los Angeles, with fantastic views of the Hollywood Sign and Hollywood Reservoir. Hiking, jogging, and cycling are popular activities here, thanks to a flat, 3.3-mile paved loop bordering the reservoir. You can also visit nearby attractions like Garden of Oz and The Last House on Mulholland.

    Lake Hollywood Park has picnic tables, barbecue pits and a small playground, making it very popular with families on weekends. There’s a grass field for dogs to roam around, but make sure to keep their leash on to avoid a hefty fine. Located right below Mount Lee, the park is around 11 miles northeast of Downtown Los Angeles.

    Location: 3160 Canyon Lake Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068, USA

    Phone: +1 818-243-1145

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    6

    Echo Park

    A recreational park popular for boating

    Echo Park has been around since 1860, making it one of the older recreational parks in Los Angeles. This former reservoir attracts couples and families with its colourful gardens, walking paths, and picnic areas. There are also many alfresco cafés, where you can enjoy excellent coffee and desserts with excellent views of the lake.

    A great way to explore Echo Park Lake is by rowboat (or swan boat), which you can rent from the onsite Wheel Fun Rentals. You’ll cruise past many resident swans and beautiful lotus beds. Annual celebrations such as the Lotus Festival and Dragon Boat Race regularly take place in the park.

    Location: 1632 Bellevue Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90026, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 9 am to 10 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 213-250-3578

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    7

    Bronson Caves

    A popular film location in Griffith Park

    Bronson Caves is a series of caverns within Griffith Park that also serves as a popular filming location. Anyone looking for some outdoor adventure can explore these easily accessible caves. The main trail to the caves is easy enough that you can bring your kids along. Additional trails in and around the Bronson Caves are notably less easy to traverse. 

    The trail to and through the caves is just over a half-mile long, which takes around 1 hour at a steady pace. You can see the iconic Hollywood Sign from a convenient vantage point in the foothills. Bronson Caves appeared in many classic films and TV shows, including Batman (1960s), Flash Gordon (1980), and The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981).

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    Location: 3200 Canyon Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068, USA

    Phone: +1 818-243-1145

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    8

    Descanso Gardens

    A botanic park in La Cañada Flintridge

    Descanso Gardens is a 150-acre botanical park in La Cañada Flintridge, about 5.4 miles northwest of the Kidspace Children's Museum. Founded by E. Manchester Boddy in 1937, the garden has oak trees, rare herbs, medicinal plants, and beautiful flowers, as well as North America’s largest camellia collection.

    The Sturt Haaga Gallery has exhibits on contemporary arts, botany, horticulture, and conservation. A fun way to explore Descanso Gardens is by taking the Enchanted Railroad, a scaled-down replica of a diesel train. The botanical park is home to over 100 species of birds and mammals such as squirrels, mule deer, and bobcats.

    Location: 1418 Descanso Dr, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 818-949-4200

    Map
    9

    Runyon Canyon Park

    For views of the Hollywood Sign and Los Angeles

    Runyon Canyon Park attracts hiking enthusiasts with its challenging trails and hilltop views of the famous Hollywood Sign. The 160-acre park has several roundtrip routes ranging between 1 and 3.5 miles, so there’s always a trail that suit just about every level.

    Rock Mandala is a must-see in Runyon Canyon Park. It's a public artwork consisting of several large rocks, some of which are around 300 lbs. You can find locals meditating and exercising around this landmark. It’s also a popular spot for dog owners as there are off-leash areas and water bowls throughout the park. Depending on your fitness level, it takes about 1.5 hours to reach the top of Runyon Canyon Park.

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    Location: 2000 N Fuller Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA

    Phone: +1 818-243-1145

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    10

    Exposition Park

    An urban park with notable Los Angeles museums

    Exposition Park attracts many with its range of cultural venues and museums in Downtown Los Angeles. The 160-acre urban park is directly south of the University of Southern California’s main campus. You’ll find a historic 7-acre sunken garden with over 200 varieties of roses. Marble statues by Danish sculptor Thyra Boldsen are installed at the garden’s 4 corners.

    Several notable museums are within Exposition Park, including the California Science Center, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and the California African American Museum. You can get to the park by taking the Metro E Line to Expo Park/USC Station.

    Location: +1 213-744-2294

    Open: 700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037, USA

    Map
    11

    Los Angeles State Historic Park

    A 32-acre state park in Chinatown

    Los Angeles State Historic Park is a 32-acre recreational space for all ages. The park is in Chinatown, just next to the Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station. While the California State Park was established in 2001, it was once home of the Tongva Native Americans and the Zanja Madre irrigation canal during the 1800s.

    There are public art installations, a mile-long trail, Valencia orange trees, and a scenic overlook bridge. You can enjoy excellent views of the skyscrapers in Downtown Los Angeles throughout the day. The Los Angeles State Historic Park is less than 2 miles from Elysian Park and Dodger Stadium.

    Location: 1245 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 323-441-8819

    Map
    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveler

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