Outdoors in Los Angeles

By Krista Simmons, LA-based travel writer and producer.

Photography by Kristina Sado

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January 2018

With stellar weather year round, Angelenos are naturally an outdoorsy bunch. Here, business deals are cut just as often over hikes as they are at lavish dinners. LA resident Krista Simmons, rounds up seven ideas, from the traditional to the quirky.

Best for yogis: Marina Del Rey

Just when you thought stand up paddle boarding couldn’t get any more difficult, a yogi decided to add inversions into the mix. This oh-so-Angeleno fitness hybrid is equal parts challenging and fulfilling. The first 30 minutes of YOGAqua are spent familiarising students with the mechanics of the paddleboard. Then the class drifts into the marina, where the boards are anchored to the ocean floor, and the yoga commences. Doing downward dog on a giant surfboard in the Pacific is definitely one of those ‘only in L.A.’ moments.

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Best for a stroll: the Art Garden at Barnsdall Park

Nestled in East Hollywood, atop a hill that overlooks the iconic Hollywood sign, you can easily get one of the most gorgeous sunset views at Barnsdall. Cruise the community art collection and sculpture garden, or take a guided tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House on site, available for an additional fee. Their sprawling grass area also makes for an ideal picnic spot.

Doing downward dog on a giant surfboard in the Pacific is definitely one of those ‘only in L.A.’ moments.

  • Enjoy peaceful paddleboarding at YOGAqua class in Marina del Rey.

    Beach buddha

    A city of budding yogis, LA helped kick-start not only paddleboard yoga, but Bikram Yoga, aerial yoga, Vinyasa yoga and Kundalini Yoga.

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Best for water babies: the LA River

Los Angeles is a haven for the active, and while known for its beaches, the water sports activities aren’t simply limited to the coastline. The LA River has a great bike and running path that’s open year round, and in the summertime certain stretches are open for kayaking. Head out for a paddle with one of the city’s outfitters and be prepared to see native flora and wildlife in a peaceful setting that will make you forget you’re in a major metropolis.

Best for walkers: Griffith Observatory

Nestled up in the hills of Los Feliz, the hike to Griffith Park Observatory is a favourite amongst Angelenos, even if it does get crowded on the weekends. Start with a chai latte at Trails, a popular cafe that serves as a great meet-up spot. Once at the summit, enjoy the breathtaking views of the city (especially at sunset) or sit on a blanket on the expansive lawn. Inside the observatory there are plenty of free science exhibits and even a planetarium show.

  • Photograph the dreamy sea stacks at El Matador State Beach © Alamy.

    Camera ready

    Although most of the famous flick was filmed in South Carolina, The Notebook filmed the ‘Say I’m a bird!’ scene at El Matador for its arresting beauty.

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  • Walk the trails around LA’s iconic Griffith Observatory © Getty.

    The hills have hikes

    Griffith Park is a 53-mile network of hiking trails amongst 4310 acres of rugged landscape with epic views over the City of Angels.

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  • Make movie history at the Sixth Street Viaduct © Getty.

    Classic cruising

    No stranger to the world of movies and music videos, LA’s iconic Sixth Street Viaduct was the location of the T-Birds rival car race scene in 1978 hit, Grease.

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Best for two wheels: brunch on The Strand

The Strand is a 35-kilometre bike path that goes from Pacific Palisades to Torrance, passing right through Manhattan Beach, which conveniently makes for a perfect pit stop for brunch if you’re riding from Santa Monica. If oysters on the half shell are your style, hit up Fishing With Dynamite, or if you’re after Italian cocktails with some of the city’s best wood-fired pizzas, head to Love & Salt. Double back afterwards, or if you’re feeling gung-ho, go the whole way to Redondo.

Best for sightseers: Matador Malibu

El Matador is probably one of the most photographed locations along the Pacific Coast Highway, and there’s good reason. The rock formations are a geological wonder, and the golden hour is unrivalled. Afterwards, head south down the Highway for a bowl of clam chowder in a bread bowl at Malibu Seafood, and enjoy your feast while seated outdoors.

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  • Discover your inner artist at the Barnsdall Art Park © Joshua White.

    Art house

    The art center at Barnsdall Art Park has offered classes in sculpture, painting, weaving, photography, ceramics and a collection of other artistic pursuits since 1946.

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Best for beach lovers: Annenberg Beach House

If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own place by the beach (and let’s be honest, who hasn’t), make sure to take a trip to the Annenberg Community Beach House, a charming craftsman-style home that’s open to the public. The grounds require no membership, and there are six beach volleyball courts on the sand right out front that are available on a first come, first served basis at no charge. Volleyballs are available from Guest Services with a valid form of ID.

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