9 Best Parks in Los Angeles to Explore

bird's eye view of Griffith Observatory and the surrounding area

As with any large city, you’ll find many parks in Los Angeles. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the highest-rated parks in the city and tell you what makes them so special. Because everyone has different tastes, we’ve included a little something of everything. If you’re considering moving to Los Angeles, these highly-rated parks will help make the decision easier. If you’ve already made the decision and have begun looking for packers and movers or Los Angeles storage units, the list will give you something to look forward to when you arrive at your new home.

Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens

If you are looking for one of the most peaceful parks in Los Angeles, this one is at the top of the list. The labyrinths are geometric designs that provide space for meditative walking. The gardens are inspired by Asian meditation gardens, and they’re filled with bamboo, lily ponds, and water fountains. Whether you are walking the labyrinth or exploring the gardens, you’ll be able to find peace and serenity at Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens. It’s free to visit the grounds, although donations are welcome.

Pro Tip:

Walking the labyrinth can be a deeply meditative practice. Be sure to allow one of the docents to show you how to make the best use of your labyrinth walk.

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Griffith Park

Home to the famous Hollywood sign and much more, Griffith Park is one of the most attractions-filled parks in Los Angeles. It’s a place you’ll have to come back to many times if you want to see everything. In addition to the diverse range of local flora and fauna you’ll see throughout the grounds, Griffith Park’s impressive list of attractions includes:

  • The Autry Museum of the American West
  • Bronson Caves
  • Griffith Observatory
  • Travel Town Railroad Museum
  • And much more

Griffith Park has so many attractions that you are sure to find something for everyone!

  • Park Website: Griffith Park
  • Best Suited For: Variety seekers, Families, History lovers, Nature lovers

Will Rogers State Historic Park

At the time of his death in the mid-1930s, actor Will Rogers was once of the most popular men in Hollywood. He used the money he earned from his fame in part to build himself a sprawling estate to enjoy his favorite activities. His massive ranch, with over 30 rooms, sits on a property with stables and corrals for horses, dedicated trails and areas for riding and roping, a polo field, and a golf course.

Shortly after his death, his widow decided to share this part of her husband’s life with the public, and she donated the land to the state of California. Now, Will Rogers Historic Park is one of the most popular California state parks in Los Angeles. Visitors to the park can enjoy all the same activities that Will did nearly a century ago.

Topanga State Park

The largest of the parks in Los Angeles city limits, Topanga State Park, contains over 35 miles of trails for you to explore. You’ll see plenty of California’s native wildlife as you make your way through the picturesque scenery. Be sure to make time to visit Eagle Rock, a boulder outcropping that is a favorite of visitors to the park and is considered one of the most impressive rock formations in the mountain range. If you yearn for more than canyon scenery, you can make your way down the canyon to Topanga State Beach and take in the sights of the ocean or enjoy a day of surfing.

Pro Tip:

While you are in the area, take in a show at Theatricum Botanicum, an outdoor Shakespearean theater located nearby.

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Lake Hollywood Park

This park is a change of pace from some of the other parks on the list. Rather than being an area filled with attractions or trails to explore, Lake Hollywood Park is simply a nice place to take the family out for an evening. It is the type of place you’ll come to regularly as part of your leisure time activities. The park is a large field beneath the Hollywood sign with plenty of space for the family and the dog to run around and play in. Dogs are allowed in the park — and you’ll see a lot of them there — but they are required to be on a leash.

Pro Tip:

Bring your lunch and enjoy it at one of the picnic tables in a smaller fenced-in area (this is a fun way to enjoy many of the parks in Los Angeles). However, be aware that even leashed dogs are not allowed in the picnic area.

Elysian Park

Elysian Park with the Los Angeles skyline in the background

Another great place for fans of hiking is Elysian Park. Los Angeles has lots of beautiful nature to explore, and the trails at Elysian Park are some of the best in the area. Most of the trails can be completed in approximately an hour. All the trails are dog-friendly, so you’ll be able to bring your favorite walking companion with you.

Some trails are remote. When walking those, it is best to bring someone else with you. In addition to the trails, Elysian Park features the Elysian Fields, a popular site with baseball fields and recreational facilities. You’ll also find several picnic areas where you can relax after a day on the trails or just enjoy by themselves.

  • Park Website: Elysian Park
  • Best Suited For: Hikers, Nature Lovers

Runyon Canyon Park

Runyon Canyon Road, a fire road that is closed off to public motor vehicles, splits Runyon Canyon Park nearly straight down the middle and makes up the largest of the trails in the park. There are smaller trails peppered throughout the park, too. You can even find more rugged trails if you like to be a little more adventurous and get off the beaten path.

Pro Tip:

This is another of the parks in Los Angeles that has a liberal dog policy. Although a leash is required in some areas, dogs are allowed off-leash in different parts of the park. Be sure to bring your dog along when you visit so that they can enjoy nature, as well!

Grand Park

This urban park is located on 12 acres in the civic center of the city. The Los Angeles Music Center provides security and maintenance. The park features an interactive fountain plaza, sidewalks with plenty of shade trees, and street lights so it can be enjoyed as the sun begins to set. As you explore the park, you’ll find kiosks that will help guide your exploration.

There are regular performances put on in Grand Park. Los Angeles is sunny most of the time, so you’ll be able to find performances in the park year-round. The performances are coordinated by The Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County.

  • Park Website: Grand Park
  • Best Suited For: Those who prefer city life, Music lovers

Lake Balboa Park

This park is great for people who enjoy the water and want to spend some time on the lake. On the lake, you can enjoy fishing or cruising around in a paddleboat (which you can rent on-site). Off the lake, there is also plenty to do in Lake Balboa Park. There are barbecue pits and picnic tables for a nice evening with family and friends. After the meal, your children can enjoy playtime in the children’s play area. There are paths for walking and jogging which can also be enjoyed by bicycle. If you do not have a bicycle, you can rent one at the park. Also, you can enjoy watching — or taking part in — recreational activity at the park’s multipurpose sports field.

These parks in Los Angeles should give you a nice selection of highly-rated parks so you can start exploring the city. Los Angeles is filled with so many great parks that they couldn’t all possibly fit on the list. You can also explore the city by visiting Los Angeles farmers markets and other community gatherings.

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