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The Los Angeles skyline, as seen from Debs Park.
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Mapping LA’s most overlooked and underrated public parks

These parks don’t get the attention they deserve

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The Los Angeles skyline, as seen from Debs Park.
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Griffith Park, Grand Park, Elysian Park, Los Angeles State Historic Park—we know they’re there, and we love them. They’re first in line when it’s time for a picnic or a birthday party, a place to see the sunset or go for a casual walk.

Los Angeles is not at the top of list when it comes to park space per resident, but there are actually quite a few great parks in the city and its environs that have stellar skyline views, space for sports, and wonderful picnic areas. They just don’t get talked about as much as the big-name favorites.

Here we’ve gathered 14 parks that might not be in Angelenos’ regular rotations and mapped them for your visiting pleasure.

For more park inspiration, amble over to our maps of secret gardens and picnic spots.

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1. Casa Adobe de San Rafael

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1330 Dorothy Dr
Glendale, CA 91202

This small park with a historic adobe (which is usually closed unless there’s a tour) and gardens has places to sit and picnic (you can rent them out for bigger parties), but prohibits barbecuing, smoking, or “amplified sound,” meaning this is a park where you can go have a nice quiet lunch, break up with someone, or read a book under the viney arbor. The park also hosts a Luminaria Festival in the winter. The only bummer: no dogs allowed.

More information is available here for those interested in renting the park for weddings, showers, and other special events.

2. Buena Vista Park

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2500 Riverside Dr.
Burbank, CA 91505

At first glance, this park just looks like a really elaborate roadside planting. Located on the north side of the LA River in the Burbank Rancho Equestrian District, the small, slim park is a good place to watch horses plodding through. But it’s super green; has a good number of large, shady trees; and is never, ever crowded. It also has a very memorable statue, funded in part by Bob Hope and a one-time Burbank mayor, along Riverside Drive. Bring your own picnic here, because there are never any taco trucks camped out.

3. Central Park

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Established way back in 1902, this sprawling park has lots of flat, grassy areas shaded by mature trees—perfect for picnicking. It’s located just below historic Castle Green, and is blocks from downtown Pasadena and the Gold Line’s Del Mar Station.

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4. Wilacre Park

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3431 Fryman Road
Studio City, CA 91604

Those who are looking for a place to take an easy hike that isn’t going to take three wheezing hours should give Wilacre Park a try. The 3-mile loop of wide trail (Betty Dearing trail) receives a good amount of shade and has restrooms and picnic tables for post-walk cool-down time. And if you decide that a longer hike is what you’d like, the park’s also a cross-trail point for paths to Runyon, Coldwater, and Franklin Canyons.

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5. San Vicente Mountain Park

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Just a 10-minute walk off an unpaved section of Mulholland Drive (we like this already!) is this amazing park that was once “one of sixteen Los Angeles area Nike-Ajax supersonic anti-aircraft missile launch sites.” There are tons of signs throughout the park with little educational tidbits, but the absolute best part about the park, aside from the crazy vistas, is that the original radar tower is now a viewing platform/likely selfie hotspot. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy has a great video about the park, as well as details on getting there.

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6. Wattles Garden Park

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1850 N Curson Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(818) 243-1145
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This Runyon Canyon-adjacent site is perhaps most popularly known as the site of the Freddy in Troop Beverly Hills. The house was designed in the early 1900s by Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey, and is surrounded by several gardens (including a community garden) in various states of upkeep. It’s a spectacular spot to host a wedding.

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7. Silver Lake Meadow

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2300 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 644-3946
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Silver Lake isn’t actually a lake, and this meadow isn’t actually a meadow. It is a quiet, grassy knoll bisected by the non-lake’s running path. It features nice views of the non-lake, surrounding redwoods and midcentury houses, and, because it’s a dog-free zone, signs encourage visitors to pad around without shoes.

8. Ernest E. Debs Regional Park

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4235 Monterey Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90032
(213) 847-3989
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The fourth largest in Los Angeles, this hilly park touching Hermon, Montecito Heights, and El Sereno offers dusty trail hiking and covered picnic shelters and nice shady pavement at the top; after and grassy picnic grounds after. It also has incredible views of East LA, Downtown, and the Arroyo Seco area, and is home to the awesome Audobon Center at Debs Park; more than 140 different species of birds have been spotted flying through. Despite being on our secret gardens list, it was still nominated by our readers as one of the best lesser-known parks.

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9. Vincent Lugo Park

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1305 Prospect Ave
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 308-2875
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Winner by a long shot for the most awesome, multi-generationally-appealing playground equipment in the land goes to La Laguna Playground at Vincent Lugo Park. Slides that look like dragons, things to climb on that look like sea serpents, an open-mawed whale perfect for hide-and-seek—and all brightly colored like a children's book come to life. The creatures were sculpted in the ’60s by local artist Benjamin Dominguez; the playground is in the state’s register of historic places. The rest of the park is cool, too, with dog-friendly walking trails and a Thursday farmer’s market.

10. Pan Pacific Park

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7600 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(562) 939-0263

Centrally located next to the Grove, this park has barbecue pits, picnic tables, and decent restrooms, plus a baseball diamond, basketballs courts, sufficient shade, and enough space in between all of that for a pick-up soccer game or a round of catch. For a more somber day at the park, visit the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum, also on the grounds.

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11. Vista Hermosa Park

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100 N Toluca St
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 250-1100
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Located in Temple-Beaudry, Vista Hermosa is a relatively young park on a former oil field. Is that not selling you on it? Well, now the 10-acre space includes a FIFA-regulation soccer field, playful park furniture, native plants, walking trails, water features, and some really awesome views of Downtown, which, when seen from a quiet grassy knoll, are even more incredible.

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12. Rustic Canyon Recreation Center

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601 Latimer Rd
Santa Monica, CA 90402

Carry on a partying tradition without bothering too many people with your rowdy barbecue at this relatively hard-to-find park space in the Palisades. The park’s 1923 clubhouse once belonged to an offshoot of the LA Athletic Club, the Uplifters, an exclusive group of movers and shakers who liked to drink, especially during Prohibition times. Now it's a place for people to play basketball. Lighted volleyball courts and summertime swimming are further selling points for this secluded rec center.

To reserve one of the three picnic areas, you’ll need a permit.

13. Augustus Hawkins Natural Park

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5790 Compton Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011

This 14-year-old park, on land that was previously an LADWP pipe-storage facility, has walking paths, parking, and a reedy pond with little fish swimming through it. Says one Yelper, “It looks deceiving/hidden when you arrive but once you park inside, you'll see there is a mini trail to walk around, nice green grass, lots of foliage.” The transit-accessible, 8.5-acre park is close enough to the Blue Line that you can see the platform from some areas.

14. Central Park at Playa Vista

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12045 Waterfront Dr
Playa Vista, CA 90094

This space designed by local starchitect Michael Maltzan is incredible-looking. It has a giant clamshell on its bandstand (bandshell?) and lots of birdlife. What it lacks in shade from towering old trees, it makes up for with water features. No dogs or biking are allowed in the park, but it’s so pretty, we forgive it.

15. Point Fermin Park

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807 W Paseo del Mar
San Pedro, CA 90731
(310) 548-7756
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A short way from the Korean Friendship Bell is this park, which shares its name with the 1874 Victorian lighthouse—one of LA’s first—that still stands on the property (tours are available). The park features views up and down the coast, as well as to Catalina and the Channel Islands. The park is also the starting point for those seeking the legendary Sunken City and hosts Shakespeare by the Sea, if you’re looking for some culture with your beach view.

To host a special event here, fill out this application.

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1. Casa Adobe de San Rafael

1330 Dorothy Dr, Glendale, CA 91202

This small park with a historic adobe (which is usually closed unless there’s a tour) and gardens has places to sit and picnic (you can rent them out for bigger parties), but prohibits barbecuing, smoking, or “amplified sound,” meaning this is a park where you can go have a nice quiet lunch, break up with someone, or read a book under the viney arbor. The park also hosts a Luminaria Festival in the winter. The only bummer: no dogs allowed.

More information is available here for those interested in renting the park for weddings, showers, and other special events.

1330 Dorothy Dr
Glendale, CA 91202

2. Buena Vista Park

2500 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91505

At first glance, this park just looks like a really elaborate roadside planting. Located on the north side of the LA River in the Burbank Rancho Equestrian District, the small, slim park is a good place to watch horses plodding through. But it’s super green; has a good number of large, shady trees; and is never, ever crowded. It also has a very memorable statue, funded in part by Bob Hope and a one-time Burbank mayor, along Riverside Drive. Bring your own picnic here, because there are never any taco trucks camped out.

2500 Riverside Dr.
Burbank, CA 91505

3. Central Park

Pasadena, CA 91105

Established way back in 1902, this sprawling park has lots of flat, grassy areas shaded by mature trees—perfect for picnicking. It’s located just below historic Castle Green, and is blocks from downtown Pasadena and the Gold Line’s Del Mar Station.

4. Wilacre Park

3431 Fryman Road, Studio City, CA 91604
Shutterstock.com

Those who are looking for a place to take an easy hike that isn’t going to take three wheezing hours should give Wilacre Park a try. The 3-mile loop of wide trail (Betty Dearing trail) receives a good amount of shade and has restrooms and picnic tables for post-walk cool-down time. And if you decide that a longer hike is what you’d like, the park’s also a cross-trail point for paths to Runyon, Coldwater, and Franklin Canyons.

3431 Fryman Road
Studio City, CA 91604

5. San Vicente Mountain Park

Los Angeles, CA 90049

Just a 10-minute walk off an unpaved section of Mulholland Drive (we like this already!) is this amazing park that was once “one of sixteen Los Angeles area Nike-Ajax supersonic anti-aircraft missile launch sites.” There are tons of signs throughout the park with little educational tidbits, but the absolute best part about the park, aside from the crazy vistas, is that the original radar tower is now a viewing platform/likely selfie hotspot. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy has a great video about the park, as well as details on getting there.

6. Wattles Garden Park

1850 N Curson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

This Runyon Canyon-adjacent site is perhaps most popularly known as the site of the Freddy in Troop Beverly Hills. The house was designed in the early 1900s by Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey, and is surrounded by several gardens (including a community garden) in various states of upkeep. It’s a spectacular spot to host a wedding.

1850 N Curson Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046

7. Silver Lake Meadow

2300 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Silver Lake isn’t actually a lake, and this meadow isn’t actually a meadow. It is a quiet, grassy knoll bisected by the non-lake’s running path. It features nice views of the non-lake, surrounding redwoods and midcentury houses, and, because it’s a dog-free zone, signs encourage visitors to pad around without shoes.

2300 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039

8. Ernest E. Debs Regional Park

4235 Monterey Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90032
Shutterstock.com

The fourth largest in Los Angeles, this hilly park touching Hermon, Montecito Heights, and El Sereno offers dusty trail hiking and covered picnic shelters and nice shady pavement at the top; after and grassy picnic grounds after. It also has incredible views of East LA, Downtown, and the Arroyo Seco area, and is home to the awesome Audobon Center at Debs Park; more than 140 different species of birds have been spotted flying through. Despite being on our secret gardens list, it was still nominated by our readers as one of the best lesser-known parks.

4235 Monterey Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90032

9. Vincent Lugo Park

1305 Prospect Ave, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Winner by a long shot for the most awesome, multi-generationally-appealing playground equipment in the land goes to La Laguna Playground at Vincent Lugo Park. Slides that look like dragons, things to climb on that look like sea serpents, an open-mawed whale perfect for hide-and-seek—and all brightly colored like a children's book come to life. The creatures were sculpted in the ’60s by local artist Benjamin Dominguez; the playground is in the state’s register of historic places. The rest of the park is cool, too, with dog-friendly walking trails and a Thursday farmer’s market.

1305 Prospect Ave
San Gabriel, CA 91776

10. Pan Pacific Park

7600 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Centrally located next to the Grove, this park has barbecue pits, picnic tables, and decent restrooms, plus a baseball diamond, basketballs courts, sufficient shade, and enough space in between all of that for a pick-up soccer game or a round of catch. For a more somber day at the park, visit the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum, also on the grounds.

7600 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046

11. Vista Hermosa Park

100 N Toluca St, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Located in Temple-Beaudry, Vista Hermosa is a relatively young park on a former oil field. Is that not selling you on it? Well, now the 10-acre space includes a FIFA-regulation soccer field, playful park furniture, native plants, walking trails, water features, and some really awesome views of Downtown, which, when seen from a quiet grassy knoll, are even more incredible.

100 N Toluca St
Los Angeles, CA 90026

12. Rustic Canyon Recreation Center

601 Latimer Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402

Carry on a partying tradition without bothering too many people with your rowdy barbecue at this relatively hard-to-find park space in the Palisades. The park’s 1923 clubhouse once belonged to an offshoot of the LA Athletic Club, the Uplifters, an exclusive group of movers and shakers who liked to drink, especially during Prohibition times. Now it's a place for people to play basketball. Lighted volleyball courts and summertime swimming are further selling points for this secluded rec center.

To reserve one of the three picnic areas, you’ll need a permit.

601 Latimer Rd
Santa Monica, CA 90402

13. Augustus Hawkins Natural Park

5790 Compton Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011

This 14-year-old park, on land that was previously an LADWP pipe-storage facility, has walking paths, parking, and a reedy pond with little fish swimming through it. Says one Yelper, “It looks deceiving/hidden when you arrive but once you park inside, you'll see there is a mini trail to walk around, nice green grass, lots of foliage.” The transit-accessible, 8.5-acre park is close enough to the Blue Line that you can see the platform from some areas.

5790 Compton Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011

14. Central Park at Playa Vista

12045 Waterfront Dr, Playa Vista, CA 90094

This space designed by local starchitect Michael Maltzan is incredible-looking. It has a giant clamshell on its bandstand (bandshell?) and lots of birdlife. What it lacks in shade from towering old trees, it makes up for with water features. No dogs or biking are allowed in the park, but it’s so pretty, we forgive it.

12045 Waterfront Dr
Playa Vista, CA 90094

15. Point Fermin Park

807 W Paseo del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731
Shutterstock.com

A short way from the Korean Friendship Bell is this park, which shares its name with the 1874 Victorian lighthouse—one of LA’s first—that still stands on the property (tours are available). The park features views up and down the coast, as well as to Catalina and the Channel Islands. The park is also the starting point for those seeking the legendary Sunken City and hosts Shakespeare by the Sea, if you’re looking for some culture with your beach view.

To host a special event here, fill out this application.

807 W Paseo del Mar
San Pedro, CA 90731