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Bike Trails

While Los Angeles isn’t exactly revered as the most bike-friendly city, it’s trying. And it’s gradually improving. More sharrows are marking streets, more residents are shrinking their carbon footprints and ring your bells—there’s even a Bicycle Master Plan. So saddle up, Los Angelenos. We crowdsourced, huddled with the pros and did some pedaling of our own to bring you the ten best bike rides in Los Angeles.



One of L.A.’s most beloved features, its iconic shoreline, is graced with its very own paved bike path—the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, aka The Strand. With a northern tip touching Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades and a southern bottom brushing Torrance County Beach, the 22-mile stretch provides an easy cruise for bicyclists hoping to experience many of L.A.’s beloved beach towns, including Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey, Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo. Countless spots offer eats and drinks along the way, and when in Venice, we suggestVenice Ale House, located at the Venice Boardwalk and Rose Avenue. Gary Kavanagh of Gary Rides Bikes brings up another pro to this path: “Going pier hopping from the Santa Monica Pier to the Redondo Beach pier has always been a personal favorite since becoming a local to the Westside.” The bikeway tends to attract crowds, so bikers beware, it can become a bit of an obstacle course in some spots (we’ve spotted a Segway or several rolling along the route). Regardless, it serves as an excellent, easy, flat ride along the shimmering Pacific.

Photo by CindiK. via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr


Connecting Culver City to the coast, the Ballona Creek bicycle path follows the waterway for about seven miles from the above Marvin Braude Bike Trail in Playa del Rey to Syd Kronenthal Park in east Culver. Offering picturesque views of the Ballona Wetlands, the Baldwin Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains (on a good day), the paved path receives nods from many LAist readers as well as Gary Kavanagh of Gary Rides Bikes, who notes, “The Ballona Creek path is a great way between the coast and Culver City, and with the Expo Line phase 1 completed, has become a valuable and separated from traffic bike connection with the Metro Rail system.”

Photo by RuggyBearLA via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr


Biking along the Los Angeles River is a favorite choice of LAist readers, as well as Ted Rogers ofBikingInLA and Carol Feucht of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. And this 7.4-mile stretch beginning in Atwater Village and heading up through the Glendale Narrows provides one of the greenest routes, with views of birds and the San Gabriel Mountains. There are also several parks along the route, including Griffith Park, Oso Park and Rattlesnake Park. Feucht says of the Narrows:

What makes the Glendale Narrows so great is that it is one of the few sections of the L.A. River that has a dirt bottom. Plants and birds (and trash) thrive here, and you can also see some strange sights on occasion, like people biking “on” the river (They’re like Jesus on a bike!), people fishing, teenagers making out, artists painting, and, as you know, thatgiant rubber ducky. There are also pocket parks and exercise machines for folks to take a break from their rides or walks.

Riders should note that some cyclists complain of air pollution along the bikeway thanks to its proximity to the 5 Freeway. The age-old clash between cyclists and pedestrians has existed along this route as well, but as Rogers says, “A little courtesy on both sides goes a long way.” For those interested in putting their pedals to the path, the 13th annual Los Angeles River Ridetakes place Sunday, June 9.


As L.A.’s largest park, Griffith Park brings more than just The Autry, Greek Theater, L.A. Zoo, Travel Town, Griffith Observatory and Griffith Merry-Go-Round to Angelenos, it’s also blessed with a scenic, tree-lined, nine-mile bike loop. And it incorporates the L.A. River Bike Path, too! Cyclists can either start from the northern tip by taking Zoo Drive at Riverside Drive or advance from the south by taking Crystal Springs Drive at Los Feliz Boulevard. The two routes join inside the park, forming the loop. Rental bikes are available inside the park if you’re without your own set of wheels.


A few LAist readers gave the bikeway along the Metro Orange Line shout-outs, and we can’t forget about our northern neighbors. The bikeway and pedestrian path parallels the four-mileMetro Orange Line Extension from the Canoga Station across the San Fernando Valley up to Chatsworth. It also links up with the Sepulveda Dam Bike Path. Check out rider reviews from Damien Newton of Streetsblog Los Angeles here and here.

Photo by Michael Zampelli via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr


Anyone who’s lived or played in Long Beach has likely pedaled along its placid shoreline, taking in views of affordable beachfront housing and the majestic Queen Mary. Beginning at Shoreline Village, the 17-foot-wide concrete trail bids adieu to the lighthouse and cuts through the sand for about 3.1 miles to Alamitos Bay. Belmont Brewing Company, perched above the path at the start of the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, serves as the perfect spot to stop and refuel, with beachfront seating to boot. For more rides around the LBC, click here.


Out Door Movies

Nothing screams summertime in L.A. like picnicking on a blanket with a crowd that knows every line of Spaceballs. An AMC theater just can’t give you the same experience. Here is a list of our favorite outdoor movie screenings at the beach, the Rose Bowl or a vacant parking lot downtown. We’ll keep our eyes peeled and update the list when other faves like Cinema on the Streetannounce their summer lineups. Remember to check the websites of these events before attending as film and time listings sometimes change.

Nothing screams summertime in L.A. like picnicking on a blanket with a crowd that knows every line of Spaceballs. An AMC theater just can’t give you the same experience. Here is a list of our favorite outdoor movie screenings at the beach, the Rose Bowl or a vacant parking lot downtown. We’ll keep our eyes peeled and update the list when other faves like Cinema on the Streetannounce their summer lineups. Remember to check the websites of these events before attending as film and time listings sometimes change.

Street Food Cinema screening (Photo via Street Food Cinema Facebook)

Street Food Cinema

Street Food Cinema is more than your average film in the park. It’s like a screening crossed with a concert and a farmers market. There will be food trucks and also live music to kill time before the movies begin. Their screenings, which kickstart during Memorial Day weekend and then follow through to the end of September, are shown from Culver City to Pomona. Aside from just playing old school favorites like Goonies and Clueless, they’ll also be celebrating Say Anything‘s 25th Anniversary and have a live Rocky Horror Picture Show troupe, Sins O’ the Flesh, perform alongside the screening.

They bring out familiar food trucks like Seoul Sausage and Grilled Cheese Truck, but they’ll also be launching a new artisanal market where you can expect to find cheeses, hand-made preserves, fresh fruits and sweets. Oh, and you can also bring your pet pooches along to the screenings because…dogs love movies too, right? (Maybe the pups might like to attend theReservoir Dogs or Wolf of Wall Street screenings?)

Street Food Cinema runs from May 24 to Sept. 27. General admission is $12, reserved seating is $17, children from 6 to 12 is $6, children 5 and under are free, and group rates are available at Doors open at 5:30 p.m., band plays at 6:30 p.m., audience games start at 8 p.m., and the movie starts at sundown. Most locations allow dogs except for the Pomona spot. More info can be found on Street Food Cinema’s website here.

Here is the movie schedule:

Exposition Park at 700 Exposition Park Dr. in downtown:
May 24—Say Anything (25th Anniversary)
May 31—Goodfellas
June 7—Rocky Horror
July 5—Fight Club
July 12—Bridesmaids
July 19—Pretty in Pink/Weird Science “80s Double Feature!”
July 26—Wolf of Wall Street
August 2—Dazed and Confused
August 9—Reservoir Dogs
September 6—Pineapple Express
September 13—Garden State
September 20—Aliens
September 27—Beetlejuice

Glendale Central Park at 201 E Colorado St. in Glendale:
July 5—ET
July 12—Dark Knight
July 26—Sandlot
August 2—Goonies
August 9—Ghostbusters
August 16—Back to the Future
August 23—Clueless

Pomona Fairplex at 1101 W McKinley Ave. in Pomona:
June 14—Pulp Fiction

Veterans Memorial Park at 4117 Overland Ave. in Culver City:
June 14—Bring it On

Brookside Park at Rose Bowl Dr. in Pasadena:
June 21—Mean Girls
July 19—Labyrinth
August 30—Casablanca

Poinsettia Recreation Center at 7341 Willoughby Ave. in West Hollywood:
June 21—Mean Girls

Moonlight Movies on the Beach (Photo via Alfredo’s Beach Club)

Moonlight Movies on the Beach

Where else but in SoCal can you watch a movie right on the sand? Long Beach’s Moonlight Movies on the Beach entices us Angelenos to actually make it to the beach (because we’re pretty damn lazy otherwise) with free movie screenings this summer. Alfredo’s on the Beach, which hosts the screenings, sells popcorn and drinks in case you get the munchies. Their summer series runs from June 21 to September 9, and you’ll get to watch classics like Spaceballs as well as newer releases like Frozen and Gravity. And we love that they’re closing out their summer series with a screening of Jaws while you look out into the dark vastness of the ocean.

Moonlight Movies on the Beach will hold screenings at Granada Beach and Mothers Beach in Long Beach. Movies start at dusk around 8 p.m. For more info on the screenings, visit their website here.

Here is the schedule:

Granada Beach at 5101 E Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach:
July 1—Gravity
August 12—The Goonies
August 18—Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
July 15—Caddy Shack
August 26—E.T.
July 22—Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
September 2—Spaceballs
July 29—Sixteen Candles
August 5—The Wizard of Oz
September 9—Jaws

Mothers Beach at 5825 E Appian Way in Long Beach:
June 21—Monsters University
August 8—Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
July 12—Mary Poppins
September 6—Frozen

Electric Dusk Drive-In screening (Photo via Electric Dusk Drive-In Facebook)

Electric Dusk Drive-In

Electric Dusk Drive-In is like a throwback to the 50′s. The year-round drive-in movie theater in downtown lets you watch films (like Wayne’s World and Sunset Boulevard!) in your car like the good old days with the audio sent through your car radio. (Maybe you can even make out in the back seat!) But if sitting in a car just isn’t your thing, you can also get the outdoor lawn experience by buying tickets for their Astroturf seating (bring a lawn chair or a blanket) and check out the film with their outdoor speakers. Carhops selling hamburgers and hot dogs come around to take your order from their snack shop.

Electric Dusk Drive-In is located at the City Market of L.A. at 1000 San Julian St. downtown. If you purchase your tickets in advance online (which they highly recommend as shows do sell out), they are $9 to $11 per film or $9 to $13 for double features. At the door, they will cost $2 more than the advanced online ticketing prices. Family Night at the Drive-In tickets are $8. Group tickets are $8.50 each, but you must buy at least a minimum of 10 tickets. Children under 5 are free. Showtimes vary for the different screenings (from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.), so make sure to check out their website for more information.

Here is their summer film schedule:

May 10—Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
May 17—A Streetcar Named Desire
May 24—Dazed and Confused
June 7—The Rocky Horror Picture Show
June 14—Pulp Fiction
June 21—Dirty Dancing
July 5—Coming to America
July 19—Sunset Boulevard
August 2—9 to 5
August 16—Wayne’s World
August 30—Grease

A screening at Eat|See|Hear (Photo courtesy of Eat|See|Hear)


Eat|See|Hear is back for its third year and pretty much offers you everything their name suggests. They’ll be screening 19 films (mostly comedies) on their three-story inflatable movie screen from May 10 to September 13. They’re kicking off their movie season with (500) Days of Summer, and although we love Joseph Gordon-Levitt, we can’t help but feel giddy about theirRushmore screening. (We might still be riding high from Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.) Screenings will be taking place on both sides of town in Santa Monica and Los Feliz. They’re also bringing back their “Christmas in July” celebration on July 12 with quirky Christmas decorations and a Santa Claus visit to go along with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Coolhaus’ ice cream sammies and Brasil Kiss Mobile Coffee Bar along with other food trucks will be making appearances at the events. Your pooches also get some food at the screenings—free doggie biscuits are handed out at the door. And the “Hear” part? There will be live bands performing to get you amped up while you wait for your movie to start.

Eat|See|Hear runs from May 10 to September 13. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. “Fashionably late” tickets, which are in a reserved area, are available online for $20. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., bands perform at 7 p.m., movies begins at 8:30 p.m. Find out more info about the events on its website here.

Here is the screenings schedule:

Santa Monica High School’s Memorial Greek Amphitheatre at 601 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica:
May 10—(500) Days of Summer
May 17—Office Space
June 21—When Harry Met Sally
July 12—National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
July 26—Super Troopers

Autry National Center at 4700 Western Heritage Way in Los Feliz:
May 24—The Big Lebowski
June 7—Rushmore
July 5—Jaws
July 19—American Psycho
August 2—Blazing Saddles
August 16—Purple Rain
August 30—Django Unchained

Paul Revere Middle School is located at 1450 Allenford Ave. in Brentwood:
May 31—Napoleon Dynamite
June 14—Sixteen Candles
June 28—Pitch Perfect
August 9—Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

La Cienega Tennis Center is located at 325 S. La Cienega Blvd. in Beverly Hills:
August 23—The Princess Bride

Will Rogers State Historic Park is located at 1501 Will Rogers State Park Rd. in Santa Monica:
September 6—Dirty Dancing

Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall is located at 100 N. Garfield Ave. in Pasadena
September 13—The Goonies

A game at Dodger Stadium (Photo by Burns! via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

Dodger Stadium Movie Series

Dodger Stadium is even jumping on the outdoor movie screening train and will be showing three flicks this summer after their games. And of course, they’re all baseball movies, including Field of Dreams and a League of Their Own. Now you’ll get the chance to be in a baseball stadium watching Tom Hanks in a baseball field. It’s very meta.

If you buy game day tickets, you’ll get to enjoy the post-game screenings shown on the DodgerVision screens on April 26, May 31 and August 16. Ticket prices vary depending on which seats you select, so check the website for more information. They’re also offering a three-game Dodger Stadium Movie Series Mini Plan at a discounted cost that allows guests to go to the games, watch the films, and also redeem a voucher for popcorn or a soda. The ticket package in that deal can go as low as $60. Dodger Stadium is located at 1000 Elysian Park Ave in Elysian Park. For more information on the schedule and tickets, visit the Dodgers website here.

Here is the schedule:

April 26—Field of Dreams (after the Dodgers vs. Rockies game)
May 31—A League of Their Own (after the Dodgers vs. Pirates game)
August 16—The Natural (after the Dodgers vs. Brewers game)

Free Marina Movie Nights

Here’s something for the folks out in Marina Del Rey. Burton Chace Park will be holding family-friendly outdoor movie screenings on Thursdays and Saturdays this summer. Bring out a picnic basket and sit under the stars for movies like The Never Ending Story and Despicable Me.

Burton Chace Park is located at 13650 Mindanao Way in Marina Del Rey, (310) 305-9596. More info can be found here.

Here is the movie schedule:

July 31—Annie
August 9—Despicable Me
August 14—Born to Be Wild
August 23—The Never Ending Story

The view of downtown from Pershing Square (Photo by Greg Lilly via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

Pershing Square Friday Night Spring Flicks

Angelenos get to enjoy some free outdoor movies in downtown’s Pershing Square (in the center of some awesome skyscrapers) on Fridays starting on May 2 through June 27. The screenings this year have a heavy superhero and race-car theme going on. Bring a picnic basket, blanket and your pooch (well, only if your pup’s well-behaved and on a leash).

Pershing Square is located at 532 S. Olive St. in downtown, (213) 487-4970. The screenings start at 8 p.m. More info about the screenings can be found here and here.

Here is the schedule:

May 2—Wolverine
May 9—Captain America: The First Avenger
May 16—Iron Man 3
May 23—Thor
May 30—The Avengers
June 6—Gone in 60 Seconds
June 13—Christine
June 20—Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
June 27—Fast & Furious 6

Alcove Bar outdoor screening (Photo by Eugene Lee)

Alcove Dinner and a Movie

Alcove Cafe | Big Bar is combining our favorite things for their screenings this year—food, booze and cult classics. Their free event out in their garden patio will have movies like The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and The Shining on a 17-foot screen mixed in with themed cocktails and a dinner menu. It’s a pretty romantic vibe there if you want to impress someone.

Folks can get seated at 6 p.m. and screenings start around 8 p.m. You won’t have to make a reservation to attend. The Alcove is located at 1929 Hillhurst Ave. in Los Feliz, (323) 644-0100.

Here’s the screenings schedule:

May 19—The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
June 16—Fight Club
June 21—The Shining
August 18—Swingers
September 15—Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion

Cinespia at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Photo by Rachel via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)


Cinespia has some of the best outdoor movie screenings out in L.A. The film buffs behind Cinespia hold their screenings every summer at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Where else but in L.A. can you hang out at a graveyard late at night and not feel weird about it? Plus, you can bring a picnic basket and beer and wine while you lay out your blanket on the grassy field. Cinespia is known for its great selection of cult classic faves (which include Seven and Almost Famous in this round!). DJs spin before and after the show; Cut Chemist and Peanut Butter Wolf have previously spun there on the ones-and-twos. And it attracts fun movie fans who sometimes dress up as their beloved characters from the films being shown. Make sure to buy your tickets early online as they do sell out pretty quickly and get in line early for a good (and unobstructed) spot.

Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the films start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $14 and can be purchased online here. Hollywood Forever Cemetery is located at 6000 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood.

Here’s the schedule:

May 10—National Lampoon’s Vacation
May 17—Seven
May 24—Jaws
May 25—Almost Famous
May 31—Rear Window

Ice cream

The Best Ice cream Parlors in L:os Angeles

Back in the day, kids would race from their homes when they heard the music from the ice cream truck coming down their street. Ice cream has come a long way from when we were kids. The flavors have matured­ they are robust, savory and creative! Whether you like crazy combinations of ice cream flavors or you enjoy a traditional scoop of chocolate, Ice cream is still the perfect treat to cool you down with during the hot summer months or just when you need something sweet and soothing. The following Ice cream parlors offer traditional flavors as well as unique, dreamy flavors.

(credit: Tee Burgess)

7290 Beverly Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 939-­6455

Milk is pretty close to perfect when it comes to ice cream! Get in line for homemade frozen desserts such as ice cream, sorbets, shakes and floats. The parlor is usually filled with customers eating massive, colorful Macaron ice cream sandwiches. Another favorite is their homemade Drumsticks available in either original or butterscotch. If you are a simple ice cream eater then order a cup of your favorite flavor. Milk also offers food, coffee drinks as well as other delectable treats. Enjoy their Blue Velvet cakes or a fresh cookie or better yet buy their cookie dough to take home with you! Milk provides indoor and outdoor seating with limited parking.

(credit: Tee Burgess)

712 N Heliotrope Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 906-­2649

Chef Tai Kim is the man behind the local chain Scoops. The no­frills shops features freezers displaying trays of their daily churned dairy and non dairy ice creams as well as vegan offerings. Black Cherry Xlnfandel, Tiramisu are a couple of their gelato flavors while Guinness Chocolate, Salty Caramel are a couple of their ice cream selections. Scoops has three locations with the original located on Heliotrope Drive across from LACC. Make sure to arrive early as flavors often run out.

(credit: Tee Burgess)

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop
6834 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 466-0399

The San Francisco staple, Ghirardelli Chocolate has found it’s way to Hollywood! Ghirardelli and Disney have united to offer delicious dairy treats to locals and tourists. Order their world famous hot fudge sundae drenched in homemade hot fudge. Ghirardelli’s hot fudge is made daily on premises with real melted milk, dark or spicy chocolate. Enjoy your sundae in a homemade waffle cone for an additional fee. This isn’t your ordinary ice cream parlor, Disney fans have an extra bonus as the gift store is stocked with Disney movies, plush toys, and books. Ghirardelli souvenirs and chocolates are also available for purchase.

(credit: Sweet Rose Creamery)

Sweet Rose Creamery
225 26th St #51,
Santa Monica, California 90402
(310) 260-­2663

How does old fashioned vanilla ice cream dipped in Guittard chocolate sound to you? You can head over to Sweet Rose Creamery to indulge in a Bon Bon or maybe a S’mores Pie is more your speed. Kids will love to make their own sundaes and choose from 12­15 flavors of ice cream. Chefs use the best ingredients and create small batches of ice cream on site. Sweet Rose Creamery is located in Brentwood, Santa Monica and Mid City. Check their online menus as each ice cream parlor offers different items.

(credit: Fosselmans)

225 26th St #51,
Santa Monica, California 90402
(310) 260-­2663

Fosselmans is a family run business who has been serving delicious old fashioned ice cream at their full service parlor for over 91 years.The only dilemma you will have at Fosselmans is choosing from 48 flavors! Order a soda fountain specialty or share a banana split on your next
family outing. The kids will be fascinated by the classic candy section with 50 types of classic candies to choose from!

(credit: carmela)

2495 E Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91104
(626) 797-1405

This is the place to go if you have exploratory taste buds. The flavors here are out of the box and all really good. Everyday flavors include Brown Sugar Vanilla, Lemon Basil Sorbet and Strawberry Buttermilk, while seasonal flavors can include Brown Butter Sage and Pear Wine Sorbet. Your mouth will thank you. Trust me. If you can’t make it out to Pasadena you can find them at the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sundays.


Hiking in Griffith Park | Photo courtesy of Renee Silverman, Flickr

Getting acquainted with the numerous hiking trails in Los Angeles is the perfect way to discover why L.A. is the ideal place to get outside. Most of the hikes listed here are easy to moderate, so it’s not necessary to be an experienced hiker to enjoy them. However, it’s always wise to keep a few things in mind when you’re planning an excursion. Wear sturdy hiking shoes, carry plenty of drinking water, use sunscreen and wear sunglasses. Take along a camera, make sure you stay on the trails and have fun.


Runyon Canyon at sunset | Photo courtesy of artem.aleksenko, Flickr
  • Trail: Runyon Canyon Loop
  • Distance: About 3 miles round-trip
  • Special Feature: The views at Cloud’s Rest, the off-leash policy for dogs and the occasional celebrity sighting
  • Getting There: From Hollywood Blvd., head north on Fuller Ave. Park at the end of Fuller and enter the well-marked park. Take the trail to the right and complete the loop counterclockwise.

By no means is this hike a wilderness experience, so if you’re looking for solitude, you might want to try other trails. On the other hand, this is a great hike for people-watching, and it gives beginning hikers a chance to check out the Hollywood Hills and the amazing views at the trail summit, known as Cloud’s Rest. Whether you’re wearing the latest hiking gear or just sneakers and sun hats, this is a fun hike highlighted by million dollar mansions and priceless views of theHollywood Sign, the Sunset Strip and the L.A. Basin.

Go off the beaten path and explore Tinseltown like never before. From unique museums to a secret nightclub, get the inside scoop on Hollywood’s hidden gems. Read More →


Bronson Cave | Photo courtesy of Shawn Park, Flickr
  • Trail: Bronson Canyon
  • Distance: Less than a mile roundtrip
  • Special Feature: “To the Batcave!”
  • Getting There: From Franklin Ave. in Hollywood, go north on Canyon Dr. until the road ends, at the “Camp Hollywoodland” parking lot. Cross the small, red concrete bridge on the right (east) side of the road. Walk around the vehicle barrier, keep left and follow the unpaved road for the short walk into Bronson Canyon.

Located in the southwest section of Griffith Park and easily accessible from Hollywood, Bronson Canyon has been a popular location for generations of filmmakers who make use of its remote-looking, somewhat alien setting. Bronson Canyon has been featured in classics like The Searchers and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as well as more recent films like Star Trek VI andArmy of Darkness. “Bronson Cave” is actually a 50-foot long tunnel, the remnants of a quarry that was founded in 1903 and originally called Brush Canyon. The tunnel entrance is best known as the mouth of the Batcave from the 1960s Batman TV series.

  • Trail: Griffith Observatory West Trail Loop
  • Distance: About 2.5 miles
  • Special Feature: Views of Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign and the LA Basin
  • Getting There: The hike starts at the Fern Dell picnic area near Los Feliz Blvd. You can pick up the trail near the creek past the restrooms. Stay to the right and head uphill toward the Griffith Observatory. You’ll be able to stop and enjoy views of the city along the way. As the path flattens out, you’ll see a trail to the right leading up to the observatory. On the way back, stay right all the way down the hill. The trail will curve around a bit and then take you back to the Fern Dell picnic area.
  • Trail: Brush Canyon Trail
  • Distance: About 2 miles
  • Special Feature: Peace and quiet, as well as spectacular views near Mount Hollywood Dr.
  • Getting There: You can park in the lot on Canyon Dr., located just past Bronson Park. From there, head uphill past the gate and pick up the trail on the fire road heading toward the Pacific Electric quarry. You’ll pass a park and a picnic area and then climb out of the canyon. After about 3/4 of a mile, the trail intersects with the Mulholland Trail. Follow the trail to the right and continue another 1/4 mile to Mount Hollywood Dr. To get back, follow the same route, taking a left at the Mulholland Trail junction.

Griffith Park is the tenth-largest municipally owned park in the United States and one of the largest urban parks in North America, spanning over 4,300 acres of land. Discover the best attractions and activities in Griffith Park with our guide.


Franklin Lake | Photo courtesy of Ken Shelton, Flickr
  • Trail: Discovery Trail
  • Distance: About 1 mile round-trip
  • Special Feature: Franklin Canyon Lake and the Sooky Goldman Nature Center
  • Getting There: From West Los Angeles, head north on Beverly Drive, following signs to Coldwater Canyon. Turn left on Coldwater/Beverly Dr., and turn left again on Beverly Dr., at Fire Station No. 2. The third right is Franklin Canyon Dr. Continue through the residential area to the park entrance. At the intersection of Franklin Canyon Dr. and Lake Dr. turn right to go to Franklin Canyon Ranch site, or turn left to go to the Sooky Goldman Nature Center and Franklin Canyon Lake.

Located near Benedict Canyon at the geographical center of Los Angeles, Franklin Canyon Park spans 605 acres and features over five miles of hiking trails. The park’s history dates to 1914, when William Mulholland built the Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir. In the 1930s, the family of oil baron Edward Doheny used the canyon as a summer retreat. The easy stroll around the reservoir offers plentiful views of birds and wildlife, as well as access to other, more difficult trails such as the Hastain Trail, which rises to offer views from West LA to the Pacific.

Pop culture fans will likely recognize Franklin Canyon Park, which is frequently used as a TV and film location, including the famous hitchhiking scene from It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. The 3-acre Franklin Lake was the “fishing hole” in the opening credits ofThe Andy Griffith Show, as well as the lagoon in the Universal Studios horror classic Creature from the Black Lagoon. The park was also the background for the cover photo of Simon & Garfunkel’s album Sounds of Silence.


Studio City, viewed from TreePeople | Photo courtesy Kristen Neveu, Flickr
  • Trail: Betty B. Dearing Trail
  • Distance: About 2.5 miles round-trip
  • Special Feature: Panoramic views of the San Fernando Valley, TreePeople, “Rainforest”
  • Getting There: From Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, take Laurel Canyon Blvd. about a mile south to Fryman Road. Make a right and you’ll see the large parking lot, which features restrooms, water fountains and picnic area.

Because its parking lot entrance is located on Fryman Road, the 128-acre Wilacre Park is often mistakenly referred to as Fryman Canyon Park. In fact, this hike can take you through three parks: Wilacre, Fryman Canyon and Coldwater Canyon. The well-shaded, dog-friendly Betty B. Dearing Trail starts off steep before it begins to level off after a quarter mile. One mile into your hike and you’ll be at Coldwater Canyon Park, home of TreePeople, a leading environmental nonprofit organization. The cul-de-sac at Iredell Lane leads you to the hidden Rainforest Trail within Fryman Canyon.


Eaton Canyon waterfall | Photo courtesy of Robert Cross, Flickr
  • Trail: Eaton Canyon Trail
  • Distance: Just under 4 miles
  • Special Feature: 40-foot waterfall, Eaton Canyon Nature Center
  • Getting There: From the 210 Freeway, head north on Altadena Drive about 1.5 miles to the park entrance. Eaton Canyon Natural Area is located at 1750 North Altadena Drive, one block north of New York Drive in Pasadena.

Open daily from sunrise to sunset, the Eaton Canyon Natural Area is a 190-acre zoological, botanical, and geological nature preserve situated at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. In addition to hiking, visitors can enjoy equestrian trails with a staging area, picnic areas, a seasonal stream, and native flora and fauna in their natural habitats. The Eaton Canyon Nature Center features a wonderful variety of live animals on display, fascinating exhibits and useful visitor information.

From the trailhead at the north end of the parking lot, hike along the well-marked main path of the Eaton Canyon Trail to the junction marked WATERFALL. Continue to the next junction and follow the trail under the concrete bridge and into Eaton Canyon. From here, the trail is less defined and much more rugged. There’s boulder-hopping and – depending on the season and rainfall – you could be creek-crossing, so be prepared. Continue through the main canyon and you’ll arrive at a 40-foot waterfall, an especially popular destination during the summer, thanks to its cooling mist and the small pool at its base.


photo courtesy of Petunia21, Flickr
  • TrailRustic Canyon Loop/Inspiration Point Trail
  • Distance: About 6 miles round-trip
  • Special Feature: Exploring what was once the private ranch of a Hollywood star
  • Getting There: Head to Will Rogers State Park in Santa Monica. The main road to the park is just off Sunset Blvd. about a half mile east of Chataqua Blvd. You can park the car near the visitor’s center. The hike begins just behind the main ranch house at the park, next to the sign for Inspiration Point Trail.

After about a mile, you’ll see the turnoff for Inspiration Point. It’s a quick detour and worth the effort to head up this side route for some spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, the L.A. Basin and the Santa Monica Mountains. Follow Backbone Trail to the junction with Rustic Canyon. Follow that trail back to Will Rogers Park. After the hike, stroll around the park and enjoy a picnic on the massive lawn in front of the house.

There’s much more of Santa Monica waiting to be explored. From the Museum of Flying to a 1920s-era speakeasy, discover the hidden gems of Santa Monica with our guide. Read More →


photo courtesy of Rashomon, Flickr
  • TrailLos Liones Trail to Parker Mesa Overlook
  • Distance: About 7 miles round-trip
  • Special FeatureThe magnificent views at Parker Mesa Overlook
  • Getting There: The hike begins in Pacific Palisades at the end of Los Liones Drive, just north of Sunset BLvd. Leave the car in the parking lot at the end of the street. From there, follow the trail up to East Topanga Fire Rd. and follow that to the turnoff for the Parker Mesa Overlook.

Switchbacks and steep hill climbs characterize the first two miles of this hike. With an elevation gain of about 1,300 feet, it’s definitely a tougher climb. But you can find your reward as you gaze out from a vantage point atop the bluff. Enjoy a picnic lunch or relax on a bench while taking in the overlook.


Rising Sun Trail | Photo by Daniel Djang
  • Trail: Solstice Canyon / Rising Sun Trail
  • Distance: About 3 miles round-trip
  • Special Feature: Tropical Terrace and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean
  • Getting There: From Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Central Malibu, take Solstice Canyon Rd. to the entrance, located at Corral Canyon Rd.

Solstice Canyon is an easy hike along a shaded trail that is partially paved before it gives way to a fire road. A babbling brook is the soundtrack as the trail leads you to Tropical Terrace and the foundations of a house designed by renowned architect Paul Williams, who also designed homes for Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball, as well as the Theme Building at LAX. For space and science geeks, Solstice Canyon is a must-see; it was one of only three sites in the world where TRW tested satellite equipment for space missions. Depending on the time of year, a waterfall cascades into a pool in the rocks behind the former home. Do some exploring and you’ll find a statue of the Virgin Mary in a nearby grotto. You can take Solstice Canyon back, or work up a sweat on the switchbacks that take you to the Rising Sun Trail at the top of the hills. Panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean are your reward for the huffing and puffing. Unlike the cooler Solstice Canyon path, the aptly named Rising Sun Trail has zero shade, so plan accordingly.


Photo courtesy of kagee219, Flickr
  • Trail: Escondido Canyon and Falls
  • Distance4.2 miles round-trip
  • Special Feature: The waterfall at the end of the trail
  • Getting There: Head northwest on PCH from Santa Monica for about 17 miles. Not far from Solstice Canyon and just past Latigo Canyon Rd., you’ll see the turnoff for East Winding Way, where you can park in the well-marked lot. Follow the paved road toward the mountains. It’s a little less than a mile to the end of East Winding Way. You’ll see the entrance of Escondido Canyon Park clearly marked at the end of the pavement.

From the trailhead, it’s about a mile-long trek to the falls. The trail crosses Escondido Canyon Creek several times, so prepare to get your feet wet if you’re hiking in the rainy season. This is a gradual climb that drifts in and out of tree covering, alongside canyon walls. Soon, you’ll be standing at the base of the 50-foot-high Escondido Falls, admiring the multi-tiered cataract flowing over moss-covered rocks.

In the springtime, the waterfall is usually quite active, but the amount of water varies depending on the time of year. Scramble up the rocks to see the upper level and even more of the falls — the upper tier is about 100 feet high. Wading in the pool beneath the falls is a great way to cool off before heading back along the same route.


Photo courtesy of Derek Cross, Flickr
  • Trail: Foot/Horse Trail, History Trail
  • Distance: About 3 miles
  • Special Feature: Otherworldly rock formations, Pacific Crest Trail
  • Getting There: From Santa Clarita in northern LA County, take the Golden State Freeway (I-5) north to the Antelope Valley Freeway (CA14) north toward Palmdale/Lancaster. Exit on Agua Dulce Canyon Rd., turn left and follow the signs to the park entrance.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is a 905-acre park located in Agua Dulce, about an hour north of Downtown LA. The park’s striking, multi-colored rock formations reach heights of 150 feet and are the result of tens of millions of years of seismic activity and erosion. Vasquez Rocks takes its name from the outlaw Tiburcio Vásquez, who used the area as one of his many hideouts. A portion of the famed Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches 2,663 miles from Canada to the Mexico border, passes through Vasquez Rocks. The gentle incline and numerous trails provide plenty of options for exploring the park. The excursion is especially memorable when combined with views from atop the famous rocks. Note that there is very little shade throughout the park, so plan accordingly.

Star Trek fans will instantly recognize Vasquez Rocks from Captain Kirk’s battle with the Gorn in the Season 1 episode “Arena,” several other episodes, as well as the film series. Dozens of classic TV shows have filmed at Vasquez Rocks, including BonanzaThe RiflemanKung Fu,Mission: Impossible and The Twilight Zone. Vasquez Rocks was also featured in movies such asDracula (1931), Blazing Saddles (1974) and Little Miss Sunshine (2006). Because of its significance as a prehistoric site for the Shoshone and Tataviam peoples, Vasquez Rocks was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.



El Matador Beach | Photo courtesy of Shawn Park, Flickr

Los Angeles is the best city to experience the quintessential endless summer in Southern California. We round up eight of the best beaches in LA, from Malibu to the South Bay.


Located in Malibu 28 miles north of Santa Monica on Pacific Coast Highway, Leo Carrillo State Park offers a beach that stretches for more than a mile, dotted with sea caves, tidepools and other beach-combing delights. The park is named after the actor and preservationist who served on the California Beach and Parks Commission for 18 years. A small visitor center offers interpretive displays, as well as guided nature walks and campfire programs. Picnic areas, campsites and RV facilities are also located in the park, so if you’re looking to set up shop for a while and enjoy the scene, this might be the perfect spot


Depending on how hard you try, you might be able to find a more romantic experience in LA, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more romantic beach than El Matador. Located about 10 miles northwest of Malibu, this secluded pocket beach has rocky shores, robust waves and some of the clearest water in LA. But don’t be deterred by the lack of facilities or the rugged path to the shore; once there, you’ll find that it’s the perfect place to enjoy a sunset dinner in one of the hidden coves.


When it’s time to get out the surfboard, apply a new coat of wax and zip on the wetsuit, there’s no better place to be thanSurfrider Beach in Malibu. As the waves roll in and begin to curl near the shore, surfers paddle furiously to catch those perfect waves of ocean bliss. You don’t have to be an experienced surfer to appreciate the act of surfing, the cool vibe at the beach or the toned bodies of the surfers. In fact, sometimes it’s better to just be a spectator when the crowds get hectic and you’re fighting to catch a wave.


Located just north of the historic Santa Monica Pier, this is one of the most popular beaches in LA. At two miles long, Santa Monica Beach seems to go on forever and offers plenty of space to stretch the legs, set up for a game of volleyball, or go for a bike ride. Bring the sunscreen, a little cash for parking and a beach towel or blanket. Let the sun, sand and surf do the rest.


Venice Beach is one place where it’s almost as much about the people as it is about the surf or the sand. In fact, the world famous Ocean Front Walk often upstages the Pacific Ocean. As you’re strolling the boardwalk, keep an eye out for Harry Perry, the turbaned guitar player on roller blades who has appeared in numerous films and TV shows. This is also the place to see bodybuilders, chainsaw jugglers and a full complement of palm readers, folk artists and other colorful characters.


At Manhattan Beach, it’s all beautiful people, shiny cars, big sunglasses and little lap dogs. But that’s in the trendy area of town next to the shore, where scenes from many television shows have been filmed. On the sand, you’ll find beach volleyball at courts that seem to go on for miles, and bodysurfing near the pier. Check out the aquarium at the end of the pier, with its interesting sea creatures and touch pool. When it comes to getting in the water, you should know that surfing is limited to the south side of the pier and boogie boarding is confined to the water north of the pier. Swimming is prohibited in the areas immediately adjacent to the pier.


There’s a certain hipster vibe at Hermosa Beach and its surrounding seaside community that you won’t find at other LA beaches. You’re just as likely to see people shopping and relaxing in outdoor cafes as you are the tanned and toned beach gods and goddesses that frequent the sandy shoreline. Pier Plaza is the place to hang out when you’d rather skip the sunscreen and beach towels. Once you’re on the shore, a pristine expanse of sand awaits, with volleyball nets, plenty of space for sunbathing and sandcastle building, and a paved walkway for strolling or biking.


Popular among travelers and locals hitting the beach with kids in tow, Cabrillo Beach is a tranquil setting near San Pedro, with everything you need for the perfect family outing. Located on a thin peninsula near Point Fermin Park, the beach actually has two sides — one outside the breakwater that’s open to the surf, and one that’s open to the harbor. Depending on the activity, you can select either side and enjoy some adventure or some well-deserved relaxation. After you’re finished with the beach, head to the nearby Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and enjoy the interactive exhibits, tidepool touch tanks and other unforgettable attractions.

We hope you have enjoyed our Nelson Shelton Cool Tips!


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