Like tacos, creative-types, and sunny days, Los Angeles has a lot of parks and public beaches. In other major cities, skyscrapers are densely packed and trees have been downgraded to occasional rest stops where creatures relieve themselves. Here? Greenery and sandy shores are as abundant as automobiles.
That’s something to celebrate this National Public Lands Day, which is tomorrow. Numerous activities have been planned across Southern California for the “holiday,” from reading to animals in Long Beach to cleaning up the coast in Ventura, all of which you could get involved with—and you should! But if you prefer to explore and enjoy public places on your own, skip the programming. This list is for you.
Best View of L.A.: Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
While a shoutout to Lake Hollywood Park is very tempting, the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook offers an even more appealing view of the city. Most Angelenos think the view to see is from the Hollywood Hills, facing south to where another hill engulfs the horizon. That is wrong, though. Looking north so you can see the Hollywood Sign and downtown and the ocean is much more satisfying.
Most Aesthetically Pleasing: Tongva Park
One of the city’s newest, this Santa Monica destination is more of an art installation than your average park. There is a beautiful kinetic wind sculpture by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle and a metallic nest for you to stand in as you gaze at the seemingly endless Pacific Ocean. Modern seating and a sophisticated, curvy infrastructure make the park feel unique, as do the native greens planted here. Visiting is a sublime experience.
Most Worthy of a Drive: Paramount Ranch
A trip to the park can be an excellent excuse to take a day trip. Perhaps the most peculiar destination is Paramount Ranch. This park is formerly a “movie ranch” fashioned to look like a faux Wild West town. Beyond that, there are many hiking trails and even opportunities to hang out with horses. If you fall in love with the place, you can rent it for your wedding.
Most to See, Do, and Eat Nearby: Will Rogers State Beach
Like any good deal, Will Rogers packs in the pluses: It’s a beach; it’s also a gay landmark; it’s a hop from the Eames House, a jump from The Getty Villa, and a skip to the Annenberg Community Beach House; and—last but not least—it’s super close to great restaurants, like Hungry Cat and Marix.
Best Duo to Tag Team if You’re Active: Poinsettia Recreation Center & Plummer Park
Poinsettia and Plummer parks are rarely crowded and offer an array of ways to get moving. You have basketball courts and tennis courts, playgrounds, an outdoor gym, and even a down-low dog park. Moreover, you can walk from one park to the other.
Most Glamorous: Wattles Garden Park
Wattles is basically a giant mansion with a yard that is now a park. You can lounge while looking upon the giant edible garden or play in the “backyard,” which has access to Runyon Canyon and hidden architectural relics.
Kyle Fitzpatrick is a writer, an infrequent performer, and a lover of dogs, art, shorts, champagne, and L.A. You can find his musings Fridays on CityThink. For more, check out his locally focused art, design, and culture website, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.