One of the best things about Los Angeles is it’s easy access to nature of all kinds – the beach to the west, the mountains to the north, and the desert to the east. You can even find your own natural oasis inside the city limits, in some of LA’s famed parks. These parks are perfect for picnics, playing with the kids, walking the dog, or checking out various free concerts, festivals, and other events.
Pan Pacific Park
Pan Pacific, located near the Grove, features a public swimming pool, basketball court, play structure, and baseball diamonds. Picnic tables and barbecue pits are located throughout the 28-acre park, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. On any Saturday afternoon, the park is filled with family get-togethers, little league games, and pick-up soccer to turn this bit of LA into a true community.
Echo Park Lake
This urban hideaway on the East side of Los Angeles is a quiet respite from the traffic next door. The Echo Park Recreation Center features picnic tables, barbecue pits, children’s play area, community room, year-round pool, and numerous lighted sports areas, including a baseball diamond, basketball courts, soccer field and tennis courts. But the best part is the lake, so head to the boat house for pedal boat rentals, guided canoe and gondola rides. Every summer, the lake plays host to the Lotus Festival, featuring dragon boats, food from countries across Asia, plus culture and entertainment performances for the whole family.
Balboa in Van Nuys is a large family-friendly park known for its beautiful lake and serene picnic spots. Lake Balboa is open for fishing, boating, and remote-control boating. Take a walk or jog to the end of the path and find ten mechanical fitness machines in stellar condition, including a rowing machine, seated chest and leg presses and a cardio walker. Stop by when the Japanese cherry blossoms are blooming for a truly spectacular afternoon.
Pasadena’s largest park, located just south of the world-famous Rose Bowl Stadium, Brookside has something for everyone. There are numerous sports fields, a pirate ship-themed play structure, a running path, and even an aquatic center with two pools. Bring the kids to Pumpkin Festival held every October by the nearby children’s museum. This family Halloween fair is complete with a pumpkin patch, petting, zoo and carnival games.
A list of great parks in Los Angeles would not be complete without mentioning Griffith Park! Boasting a size five times larger than Central Park, Griffith offers plenty of opportunity to get lost, with over fifty miles of hiking trails. It’s also home to the LA Zoo, the Griffith Observatory, the Greek Theater, and more. Head to Griffith for an evening of free theater with a performance by the Independent Shakespeare Company, which puts up two productions each summer.