L.A. City Parks Cheat Sheet

My friends! I present to you… a cheat sheet of my favorite L.A. City Rec & Parks spots and activities!

When you think of L.A. parks, Griffith likely comes to mind and, to the Valley folks, Balboa. But did you know that The Greek is an L.A. City Rec & Parks venue? And that the City has an aquarium?

Below are some of my favorite L.A. City Rec & Parks places.  Not to say that those other/usual places are not awesome. However, there’s so much more to our parks than the green space, open space, trails, and the oft-Instagrammed places. There are museums, festivals (especially in the summertime) and only-in-L.A. events (e.g., Muscle Beach Competition).  Most of the activities are FREE. Make sure you check out the websites for more info.

Last but not least, all opinions are alllll mine. This list is based on my personal explorations over the years.

Griffith Park Area

I am obsessed with Griffith Observatory. I’m there at least once a month.  But below are some of my other favorite activities at GP:

  • Tregnan Golf Academy – This is if you want to do a golf-related activity with your gal/guy but not really. The driving range has one of the best views of L.A. and Burbank. It’s also not intimidating for newbies, so you can learn together.  Check the schedule if you are interested in a class. Or if you want to practice on your own, call to make sure that there’s no class. It’s romantical, especially during sunset.


  • Rent a bike! In addition to the yellow, dockless bikes, there is a bike rental place where you have a few more bike options. Rental spot is located near the Ranger Station on Crystal Springs Drive.
  • One more golf thing… Los Feliz Golf is Par 3, 9-holes. There is a diner on site. And if you want adult beverages, walk 30 seconds east to The Morrison, the best happy hour in L.A. I recommend you order their pretzels.


  • If/when you go to Griffith Observatory, you should really, really watch the “The Once and Future Griffith Observatory” in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theatre. It’s a 24-minute film about the history of The Observatory and the renovation. I love it so much that I watch it every single time! Show begins at the top of the hour.

The Valley

  • Go for a boat ride at Lake Balboa Park. There is a waterfall on the north side of the lake. Pedal your swan (boat) to the waterfall for your Insta pic.
  • More bikes! Ride a surrey with the fam and friends!
  • Also in Lake Balboa Park, picnic by the stream, hang a hammock, chill. Best spots are south of the lake.
  • Climb rocks at Stoney Point Park.
  • Go for a short hike at Chatsworth Oaks Park. Down the street is a bbq joint. Across the street is Chatsworth Reservoir, as seen on Karate Kid.
  • The Hawaiian Festival at Northridge Park in the summertime is one of my favorite festivals.  Here’s an old flyer.


  • Hansen Dam. I like how it feels like I am not even in L.A. when I’m here. There’s a lake, but also a pool. Discovery Cube LA is also onsite. There’s a great permanent exhibit on the Science of Hockey, sponsored by The Kings. It’s not just for kids!


  • O’Melveny Park is a hidden gem. Again, it’s so far north that it doesn’t even feel like it’s in L.A. But it is! Great trails with rewarding views at various points.


  • Debs Regional Park has trails and a lake and not a lot of people know about it.
  • Elysian Park is not just a thoroughfare from the 5 to the 110. There’s so much more! Drive up to Angel’s Point for a great view of Dodgers Stadium and the City. The picnic areas are also quite peaceful.
  • Echo Park. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But what I would like to add is that the coffee and spam sandwich with avocado at Beacon Echo Park will greatly improve your day and make you a better person. ‘K thanks.


  • Did you know that the Venice Boardwalk is under Rec & Parks? If you go to Muscle Beach on Memorial and Labor Day Weekends, there’s usually a body-building competition happening.

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  • One of my favorite places is Stoner Park because there is a water slide. I like water slides.
  • If you want to get your Hunger Games or Brave on, head to Rancho Park. There is a newly renovated archery range in the back. Make sure you visit Rancho Park Archers’ calendar for the Public Intro Class. You can’t just roll up.

South L.A.

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  • Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is one of my favorite places. The exhibits are engaging and some are interactive.  The staff is super friendly. Make sure you go to the educational center across the way.  It’s where the grad and high school students hang out and do experiments. They are more than happy to share what they are doing with you. Also, check their calendar for community programs, like grunion runs tide pool walks.
  • Hey Rookie! Pool is not too far from Cabrillo. Great view of the Port of L.A. and Long Beach. And gorgeous pool!


  • Most people already know about Angels Gate Park and the Korean Bell. But check it out when they have the re-enactments! Also, walk around and venture to Fort MacArthur Museum, which is just north of the parking lot. In addition to the breathtaking view, there is so much more to this Park. It’s rich in art and history. So don’t just go and take a picture. Just sayin’. #keepingitreal
  • Point Fermin Park is just down the street, literally. It’s located where Gaffey ends. You can see it from Angels Gate.  This park reminds me of Ocean Park in Santa Monica, but without the tourists. Bite tips: When you get to the end of Gaffey, make a left. There a divey restaurant/bar.

Around Town/Mid City-ish/Etc.

  • Wattles Mansion is sooo close to Runyon but few are cool enough to know about. Now, you do! The Mansion is closed to the public but the park is open to the public. There is also a park just behind it, separate entrance. Great view of L.A. and super peaceful. Btw, the City has a lot of museums worth visiting.


  • Last, but not least, Pan Pacific Park. What I love about this park is that it’s a simple, open, and public space in the middle of the epitome of the Hollywood L.A.

So these are a few of my favorite things.  If you do go, kindly tag #parkproudla!

Enjoy! And let me know what you think.