12 Parks in Los Angeles, California

Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Los Angeles is known for its beautiful weather, beaches, and Hollywood glitz. But the city also boasts some incredibly green spaces that offer residents and visitors alike a respite from the urban jungle. From sprawling regional parks with hiking trails and lakes, to quaint community gardens and playgrounds, LA has abundant outdoor spaces to explore.

This article highlights 12 fantastic parks across Los Angeles that are perfect for picnicking, playing sports, enjoying nature, or just relaxing on a nice day. The parks on this list range from iconic, historic sites to newer parks focused on sustainability and native plants. Read on to discover some of the top parks in Los Angeles that you should add to your itinerary.

Griffith Park

Located in the eastern part of the city, Griffith Park is one of LA’s flagship and most famous parks. At over 4,000 acres, it is one of the country’s largest municipal parks and is home to popular attractions like the Griffith Observatory, the Los Angeles Zoo, Greek Theater, and the Hollywood Sign.

The park boasts an incredible 53 miles of hiking trails that wind through canyons, ridges, and chaparral-covered terrain. Some trails lead to amazing views of the LA skyline and Basin. Tree-shaded picnic areas, play structures, and baseball diamonds are scattered throughout for family enjoyment. Whether you’re looking to hike, picnic, enjoy a show at the Greek Theater, or just take in iconic views, Griffith Park has something for everyone.

Runyon Canyon Park

Adjacent to Griffith Park lies the smaller, but very popular Runyon Canyon Park. Known for its scenic trails and stunning city views, Runyon Canyon is a 160-acre off-leash dog park located in the heart of Hollywood.

Hikers flock to the park to walk the 2.5 mile loop and take in views of the Hollywood Sign and downtown LA. The park features a variety of trails ranging from easy to difficult, some of which branch off from the main loop. While primarily known as a dog park and hiking area, Runyon Canyon also has picnic tables, benches, and even a small waterfall during wet seasons. Due to its convenient location and iconic views, Runyon Canyon Park is consideration a can’t miss spot when visiting LA.

Grand Park

Unlike sprawling Griffith and Runyon Canyon Parks, Grand Park serves as a quaint green space in the midst of downtown Los Angeles. Situated across the street from City Hall and the LA Music Center, Grand Park spans 12 acres and lives up to its name.

Shady trees, bright flowers, and wide open lawns give downtown workers, residents, and visitors ample space to toss frisbees, enjoy a picnic lunch, or attend one of the many community events held at Grand Park. During the holidays, the park’s famed holiday lights display draws crowds from all over. The park also features an interactive fountain, performance stage, and food trucks. Grand Park’s location and amenities make it one of LA’s best parks.

Echo Park

On the northwest side of downtown lies the hip, colorful community of Echo Park. True to the neighborhood’s artsy persona, the lake at Echo Park doubles as a funky, bohemian hangout spot and hub for community events.

Set against a backdrop of lush gardens and Art Deco architecture, Echo Park Lake is beloved for its impressive lotus beds and the huge, iconic lotus flowers that bloom especially in late spring/early summer. Paddle boats in the shape of giant lotus flowers let visitors cruise around the lake. Jogging paths, playgrounds, tennis courts, and street food vendors line the perimeter, while ducks, turtles, and giant koi fish call the lake home. The park also pays homage to its history with Chicano art murals and Filipino markers honoring the area’s Filipino American community.

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area

For Angelenos seeking an escape from the city without leaving town, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area provides just that. Tucked away south of downtown LA, this peaceful 400 acre park was designed to preserve open spaces and native habitats in Baldwin Hills.

The park’s features include fishing lakes, over seven miles of walking paths, picnic areas with grills, sports fields and courts, a community garden, and playgrounds with excellent city views. The park also protects the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook which rewards hikers with panoramic vistas of LA, the Pacific Ocean, and even Catalina Island on clear days. With its mix of recreational facilities and unspoiled landscapes, Kenneth Hahn Park transports visitors to a calmer, greener Los Angeles.

Exposition Park

Located just south of the University of Southern California campus, Exposition Park houses an eclectic mix of museums, gardens, and recreation in one location. Home to the LA Memorial Coliseum, Banc of California Stadium, Rose Garden, California Science Center, Natural History Museum, and the California African American Museum, Exposition Park spans 160 acres right near downtown LA.

The open green spaces surrounding the museums attract athletes, families, joggers, picnickers and anyone looking to relax in the sunshine. The Rose Garden contains over 200 rose varieties and 15,000 rose bushes, ideal for romantic walks any time of year. Exposition Park provides the perfect blend of culture, science, nature and sports to keep visitors of all ages entertained.

Hollywood Reservoir

Despite being manmade, the Hollywood Reservoir still stands as a scenic oasis just a short drive from central Hollywood. Encompassing about 25 acres, the peaceful park features a mile-long walking path encircling a tranquil lake.

Visitors come to walk, jog, fish, enjoy a picnic, spot native waterfowl and turtles, or simply relax lakeside under the shade of trees. The atmosphere feels worlds away from busy LA. While highly frequented by neighborhood locals, Hollywood Reservoir remains one of LA’s more under-the-radar natural gems worthy of tourist visits too.

Triangle Park

For a charming neighborhood park scene, head to Triangle Park in Long Beach. Originally opened in 1909, this nearly one-acre park got its name from the distinct triangle parcel of land it sits on near Ocean Blvd. Though tiny in size, Triangle Park has become a favorite spot among Long Beach locals.

Mature shade trees dot lush grass perfect for picnicking, reading, or letting the kids run free. A large statue of Neptune sits as the park’s centerpiece. Concerts and events take place at the bandstand throughout the year. Thanks to its prime location right across from the aquarium and ocean, Triangle Park also serves as one of the best sunset viewing spots in Long Beach.

Elysian Park

Spanning nearly 600 acres just north of downtown LA, Elysian Park comprises the oldest and second largest park in the city. Elysian Park offers plenty of recreational opportunities like jogging/walking paths, picnic areas, a scenic overlook, and even a secluded lake (only open one weekend per month) surrounded by trees and trails.

Yet the park remains relatively unknown and uncrowded outside of the adjacent Dodger Stadium on game days. Sections feel unexpectedly rugged and wild despite downtown’s steely skyscrapers looming in the distance. Nature enthusiasts especially love Elysian Park’s more untouched sections that support an abundance of native plants and wildlife.

Vista Hermosa Natural Park

If jaw-dropping views rank high on your park wish list, make a beeline for Vista Hermosa Natural Park. This scenic park perched in the steep slopes of downtown LA treats visitors to what is possibly the most stunning panorama of the downtown skyline.

Though on the smaller side at just over 10 acres, Vista Hermosa packs a big scenic punch. Walkways and trails snake along the natural terrain leading to strategic lookout points. The park’s location high above downtown combined with the lack of tall buildings/trees blocking sightlines make it a favorite of landscape photographers. Aside from picture-perfect views, the semi-wilderness park also highlights native plants and supports a variety of birdlife.

Discovery Cube Los Angeles

For families looking to educate kids while having fun outdoors, Discovery Cube LA offers the perfect blend. Billed as LA’s first children’s museum and science center, this 5-acre park adjacent to the LA River gives kids hands-on opportunities to play and learn about science, technology, math, engineering, arts and culture.

Kid favorites include an eco-friendly water play area, simulated earthquake experience, rocket building lab, bubble laboratory, children’s garden and much more. Special events and workshops occur year-round. When ready for a break, families will appreciate the cube-shaped building’s outdoor dining terrace overlooking expansive park space with native landscaping. Blending education, nature and recreation, Discovery Cube LA makes learning exciting for LA kids.

Conclusion


From neighborhood pocket parks ideal for picnics to sprawling sites with nature trails, sports facilities and cultural institutions, Los Angeles offers impressive outdoor spaces to enjoy year-round. The parks featured here give just a sample of some top green spaces to check out across LA on your next visit.

Whether you live in LA or are just passing through, be sure to incorporate some time outdoors enjoying the region’s fabulous parks.

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