Spread over 4,210 acres (1704 hectares) of the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, Griffith Park is often referred to as "the Central Park of Los Angeles," although its verdant sprawl surpasses its east-coast counterpart in both size and wild charm. The municipal park is one of North America's largest urban green spaces, splayed across an undulating landscape sheathed in oak and walnut woodlands, coastal sage scrub, landscaped parklands, and deep, luxuriant gorges. There's ample opportunity for outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding and tennis, alongside popular attractions like the Griffith Observatory, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Greek Theater, and the iconic Hollywood Sign. At the confluence of landscaped greenery and rugged wilderness, Griffith Park is Los Angeles' most treasured recreational venues and scenic escapes.
160 acres (65 hectares) of unspoiled nature can be seen at the east point of the Santa Monica mountains at the Runyon Canyon Park. This pet friendly park has two southern entrances and a northern entrance at Mulholland Drive. Go for a hike or head to the play area where your kids can play. Keep your camera ready as celebrities are known to unwind here as well.
One of the most telling symbols of Southern California's glamorous child – Los Angeles - the Hollywood Sign can be spotted from its sky-high perch on Mount Lee. This popular piece of signage was originally set up in 1923 to serve as an advertising gimmick for real estate development, only to become as legendary as its abode in the years that followed the Golden Age of Hollywood. Overlooking the urbane sprawl of its namesake neighborhood, the sign glistens under the Californian sun, profoundly iconic in its stark white lettering that stands at a height of 13.4 meters (44 feet). Swathes of barricades and restricting gates prevent access to the sign, even as adventurous individuals attempt to trespass it. Part of an everlasting cultural fabric that blankets the city of Los Angeles and perhaps all of America, this historical sign has come to be one of the most tangible aspects of Hollywood's fantastical realm.
Venice is know for its beach, the glorious stretch of pristine white sands, the warm sunshine and the palm trees making for the perfect postcard. You need not step onto the beach in order to experience the vibrant culture of Venice, just walk along the bustling boardwalk and you will see the local scene unfold before you. Watch the street performers mesmerize spectators with their talents, buy something very unique from any of the shops that line the Boardwalk, or catch the attraction that is the Muscle Beach, where Arnold Schwarzenegger-worshipers pump iron and strive to look as big and muscular as possible.
Perched over the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, "The Pier" feels more like a carnival than a place to shop. Cirque du Soleil pitches their tent on the beach here annually, and there are concerts and dances on the weekends in the summer. In addition to the many restaurants and souvenir stands, there is a full-service amusement park with a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, carousel and arcade. The pier's end provides one of the best sunset views in Los Angeles County.
Art finds expression, culture finds a solid canvas, and entertainment blooms at Venice Beach, a charming beachfront neighborhood. Stretching two and a half miles along the edge of Los Angeles, Venice Beach is one of the city’s most recognizable strips of seaside real estate. Modeled on the romantic Venice in Italy, this waterfront town is quirky and charismatic, teamed with a thriving music scene. Its boulevards are lined with Californian palm trees, which deeply contrast the cottages resting under charming pastel facades. The neighborhood's expanse is stippled with an array of beachfront hotels, restaurants and open volleyball courts. Its many vibrant murals lend a vibrant hue, and the neighborhood boasts some iconic landmarks like Muscle Beach and the ultra-bohemian Abbot Kinney Boulevard, which is a shopping wonderland. A jewel of the West Coast, 'Venice' is a splendid locus of aesthetics, creativity and an indelible Californian spirit.
The Triforium is a massive sculpture located on the City Hall campus that was created by Joseph Young. As with much public art, the 60-ton sculpture has had its fair share of detractors as well as proponents, but as the old adage states, 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. The architect wished for the sculpture to beam lights into space as well as create a polyphonic/optical display through motion sensors, however budgetary restrictions prevented their implementation. Nonetheless, the sculpture has remained a part of public art in L.A. since 1975, and will continue to be until it obtains its original bells and whistles it was originally meant to have.
Grand Park is nestled in downtown Los Angeles along Grand Avenue. Opened to the public in 2012, this 12-acre (4.9-hectare) urban project has been compared to the likes of New York’s Central Park. Located between City Hall and the Music Center, it features verdant lawns and mature trees, interactive fountains and plazas, as well as event spaces. The Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain with its dazzling light effects is the highlight of this landscape. This park is also a regular venue for performing arts, concerts, farmers’ markets and community events.
This 44 acre heritage land is the oldest in Los Angeles, dating back to 1781. Prominent buildings include the city's first church, theater, firehouse, five museums and Avila Adobe; the oldest landmark in the city. Olvera Street, dotted with eateries, street vendors, and arts and craft shops among others, also runs through the Pueblo. Call ahead for tour timings.
This scenic natural park spread across 10.5-acre land located in downtown Los Angeles offers an incredible view of the city. It features walking trails, streams, meadows, picnic grounds, an outdoor amphitheatre and a playground. This amphitheatre is an ideal platform for environmental and natural history education and other public events. The theatre offers plenty of seating without overcrowding the area.
A little patch of green amongst a sea of concrete towers, Vista Hermosa Natural Park is a great spot for a moment of serenity, away from the daily hustle. This quiet spot offers plenty of recreational options, from walking and jogging trails, to open playing fields and picnic spots. The park is also peppered with several vantage points, with the city at the backdrop, that make good photography options.
No visit to the City of Angels would be complete without a visit to San Antonio Winery, located just 5 minutes from the Civic Center. Designated by the city as a cultural landmark, this family-owned winery has been operating since 1917. The last of more than 100 wineries that once flourished near the Los Angeles River, San Antonio is legendary for its large variety of fine wines. The winery offers tastings and have a wine store where you can buy your favorite award wining wine. Go on a wine tour if you're interested in the history of the vineyard or how wine is made.