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Looking out at Santa Monica Beach in the summer.
Looking out at Santa Monica Beach in the summer.
Eric Demarcq/Curbed LA flickr pool

Curbed Los Angeles pocket guide: summer 2017

26 essential LA places to visit, from well-known classics to new favorites

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Looking out at Santa Monica Beach in the summer.
| Eric Demarcq/Curbed LA flickr pool

It's going to get hot this summer, but the sun and the warm days don't ever seem to deter people from taking advantage of LA's bevy of parks, mountains, and beaches, so our seasonal roundup of places to see and things to do in and around the City of Angels offers lots to do in the outdoors. But we've also thrown in coastal spots and places to hide away in the shade, for those days when the sun is just too much.

Our editors picked 26 cultural institutions to visit and nature-y things to do this summer, perfect for LA locals and visitors alike. If we missed any cool summer spots, please let us know in the comments.

[Maps points are arranged in rough geographical order, from north to south.]

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1. Trek through Griffith Park

Copy Link
4730 Crystal Springs Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 913-4688
Visit Website
Maybe we're cheating by making Griffith Park just one entry—you could spend days at the 4,217-acre park. You could spend those days at the Griffith Observatory and its planetarium; or at the Travel Town train museum; on a visit to the Bronson Caves, which have played the Bat Cave and dozens of other science fiction and Western roles; on a hike to the Wisdom Tree; crawling around the ruins of the Old Zoo; visiting the animals at the Los Angeles Zoo; seeing a concert at the Greek Theatre; or walking or playing tennis or taking a bootcamp class or even driving through the tunnel to Toontown.

2. Visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Copy Link
5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 857-6000
Visit Website
Visitors can be immersed in light like Drake was in the "Hotline Bling" video via James Turrell's Breathing Light installation, or take in a multi-artist exhibit exploring the notion of "home," and mingling multiple mediums including large-scale installations and sculpture. While you're at the LACMA, don't forget to take in the architecture both successful and un-, the sculpture garden, and then grab dinner and drinks at Ray's and Stark Bar.

3. Picnic at Barnsdall Art Park

Copy Link
Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Opportunities to picnic in LA are plentiful, but this should be at the top of anyone's list. Every Friday evening from June to September 22, Silverlake Wine curates tastings at the park on Hollywood Boulevard, which boasts stunning views of the city. Bring your own picnic, or taste from the local food trucks. For $15, Frank Lloyd Wright's restored masterpiece, the Hollyhock House, may also be toured during the event.

A post shared by Callie Simonton (@callie_ri) on

4. Cruise Mulholland Drive

Copy Link
Mulholland Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90077

The backbone of the city snakes 21 miles through the Santa Monica Mountains, from Hollywood to Pacific Coast Highway. It is named for William Mulholland, the scheming civil engineer whose Los Angeles Acqueduct brought enough water to a young LA to make it into a real metropolis.

You can't drive the entire route (it's a gated dirt road roughly between West Mandeville Fire Road and Topanga Canyon), but you should definitely wind your way along several miles some quiet night—the road will alternately reveal endless, twinkling views of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

5. Dine your way through Grand Central Market

Copy Link
317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 624-2378
Visit Website

Grand Central Market has seen quite a bit of change in the last few years. Trendy new vendors have come in; the face of the market and the crowd that it caters to has altered. (A pending lawsuit frames the changes in an unsettling light.)

For better or for worse, this latest iteration of the market encapsulates an ongoing process all over Downtown, as buildings once neglected and underestimated continue to be polished up and reframed as the hot new thing. And with new popularity comes new operating hours: Grand Central Market now stays open until 10 p.m. daily, with many nights featuring entertainment ranging from live music to trivia.

Our detailed guide to the market can be found here.

6. Visit Watts Towers

Copy Link
1765 E 107th St
Los Angeles, CA 90002
(213) 847-4646
Visit Website

The Watts Towers are one of the most famous works of folk art in the U.S., made up of 17 steel and mortar sculptures built between 1921 and 1955 by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia. The towers rise as high as 99.5 feet and are entirely covered in "a diverse mosaic of broken glass, sea shells, generic pottery and tile, a rare piece of 19th-century, hand painted Canton ware and many pieces of 20th-century American ceramics."

When he was done, Rodia said, "I had it in mind to do something big and I did it," and he deeded the property to a neighbor and moved away. After his house burned down, a group of neighbors banded together to save the towers, eventually founding the Watts Towers Arts Center; the site is now run by the city and is on the National Register of Historic Places. You can take a guided tour or just go yourself to see what Simon Rodia created.

7. Stroll Leimert Park Village

Copy Link
Leimert Park—voted Curbed LA's 2016 neighborhood of the year—was developed in the 1920s from a design by the Olmsted brothers, and for many years was a whites-only neighborhood. Once that kind of housing discrimination became illegal, wealthy African-Americans began to move in, and by the 1970s Leimert had become the epicenter of black arts culture in Los Angeles, eventually breeding the LA Rebellion film movement and the famous World Stage open mic nights. Leimert Park Village is a walkable and diverse cluster of small, local businesses, many of them artsy in nature.

8. Paddle Echo Park Lake

Copy Link
751 Echo Park Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 847-0929
Visit Website

Echo Park Lake began life as a reservoir but has been purely recreational for well over 100 years now. Besides being one of LA's most pleasant parks, it's also one of its most recognizable for its role in Chinatown—early on in the film Jake Gittes floats in a boat on the lake pretending to pose for his associate's camera.

After an early aughts restoration, there's now a cafe where you can rent pedal boats, a short boardwalk, and a walking path around the lake.

9. Have a celebrity moment at Château Marmont

Copy Link
8221 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 656-1010
Visit Website

If you're doing Los Angeles, you really have to do one starfucky thing on the Sunset Strip, and we recommend the Chateau Marmont. Built in the 1920s as the city's first earthquake-proof apartment building, it became a hotel and the place for stars to misbehave in the 1930s, and it's been that way ever since.

The rooms and bungalows are shockingly expensive, but make a reservation for lunch, enjoy the restaurant patio, then sneak a look around the pool and grounds, shrouded in foliage and perched tastefully above the Strip.

10. Enjoy The Getty

Copy Link
1200 Getty Center Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Completely funded by oilman J. Paul Getty's trust and designed by Richard Meier, the Getty is one of the most breathtaking places in Los Angeles. Meier's light-colored marble buildings bob and weave, up and down, among pools, fountains, and a circular garden designed by Robert Irwin, all on top of a ridge high above the 405 Freeway with 360-degree views. Plus you get to take a funicular up there. The collection isn't particularly beloved, but includes everything from photography to early books to furniture. And it's all free except for the parking.

A post shared by sarah (@sarahdipitiy) on

11. Explore Exposition Park

Copy Link
700 Exposition Park Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90037
You could spend a full day in Exposition Park—visit the California Science Center (which has the space shuttle Endeavour and an Imax theater), the California African American Museum, and/or the Natural History Museum, picnic in the rose garden, and wander around the instantly identifiable Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

12. Visit the offbeat Valley Relics Museum

Copy Link
21630 Marilla St
Chatsworth, CA 91311
(818) 678-4934
Visit Website
The Valley is often painted as unglamorous and lame, but there's no doubt that this northern arm of Los Angeles helped to shape what the city is today. This off-beat museum has a huge collection of cool, nostalgic items from enormous neon signs to cars decorated by famed country-western tailor Nudie Cohn. Rare historic photos and documents from the San Fernando Valley's past are displayed alongside Valley-made vintage BMX bikes. It's a good, if super-compressed introduction to the area and LA kitsch in general.

13. Have a seafood feast at San Pedro Fish Market

Copy Link
1190 Nagoya Way
San Pedro, CA 90731
(310) 327-4384
Visit Website

Even after the Ports O' Call Village is remade into a Fisherman's Wharf-like destination with fake vintage warehouses and new retailers, the San Pedro Fish Market will still be kickin', selling trays full of fish cooked to order, however you'd like it.

It's the more affordable, no-frills alternative to a fancy, waterfront seafood restaurant—where guests eat their ridiculously hearty portions while seated on picnic tables overlooking the port, then wash it all down with a (plastic) pitcher of beer.

If you're thirsty but not into Bud Lite, there's a newish craft brewery about a mile away—not a bad walk on a cloudy day. And after all that seafood, a brisk walk might do some good.

14. Hang out poolside at the Annenberg Community Beach House

Copy Link
415 Pacific Coast Hwy
Santa Monica, CA 90402
(310) 458-4904
Visit Website
Once part of the estate that William Randolph Hearst shared with his mistress Marion Davies, the beach house got a great renovation within the past decade with new buildings but original tiles. It's a great place to swim, splash, or sunbath, and its chairs are open to the public for free on a first-come, first-serve basis. Limited reservations are also available 1 to 3 days in advance.

15. See an explosion of blooms at Descanso Gardens

Copy Link
1418 Descanso Drive
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
(818) 949-4200
Visit Website
Descanso Gardens' 160 acres feature roses, crape myrtle, and cassia, all of which should be explosions of color over the next few months. The garden also offers shady, peaceful spots to escape the heat.

Check the events calendar before heading over; Descanso offers a range of activities from plant sales to the occasional tea ceremony to guided walks through the grounds. If you're visiting on a weekend, maybe swing by Descanso's new brunch restaurant. Don't forget to take a ride on the one-eighth-scale replica train before leaving.

16. Amble through a Japanese Garden

Copy Link
6100 Woodley Ave
Van Nuys, CA 91406
You probably never imagined a water reclamation plant could look beautiful, let alone serve as a destination worth visiting, but that's exactly what the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant offers. Treated water sustains a 6.5-acre garden with waterfalls, a wisteria arbor, and six species of trees, including cherry and ginko. It's open to the public 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $5.

This whole Japanese garden thing is pretty great.

A post shared by Kira (@kira_a_prince) on

17. Take a break at Amir's Garden

Copy Link
Amir's Garden, Griffith Park, Los Angeles
CA 90027, United States
There are lots of destinations within Griffith Park worth visiting, but this one is a little more hidden. Take a shady respite at this forested pocket of the park, lovingly built in the 1970s by Iranian immigrant Amir Dialameh. He worked tirelessly, "six or seven days each week for up to eight hours at a time terracing the slopes, building stairs to the picnic area, and adding wooden benches he painted with bright vivid patterns." Today, the 5 acres are maintained by volunteers.

A post shared by Callie Hernandez (@cheap_mango) on

18. Catch a game—and a sunset—at Dodger Stadium

Copy Link
1000 Vin Scully Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(626) 793-3334
Look, even if you're not a Dodger's fan or even a baseball fan in general, there's one really good reason to take in a game at LA's ballpark: the sunsets. Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully described them many times in many ways, but his most famous line was, "A cotton-candy sky with a canopy of blue—looks good enough to eat." Yum.

Before you go, check out our snazzy guide to the stadium. We've got tips from a bunch of fans that will make you feel right at home in the beautiful modernist ballpark.

A post shared by G A R V I N (@hipstergram89) on

19. Visit famed modernist architecture at the MAK Center

Copy Link
835 N Kings Rd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
The MAK Center is housed inside the R.M. Schindler House, a house the modernist architect Rudolph M. Schindler designed and lived in. Built in 1922, it's considered one of the first modern houses in the world. It's no longer a residence; as the MAK Center, the space now serves to "[present] programming that challenges conventional notions of architectural space and relationships between the creative arts," according to its website.

The house is open Wednesdays through Sundays; guided tours are available for large groups.

Michael Locke/Curbed LA flickr pool

20. Sunbathe at El Matador State Beach

Copy Link
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, 32350 El Matador Beach Rd
Malibu, CA 90265
One little stretch of coastline that stands out above the rest of Southern California's famous beaches is this state park with its impressive rock formations and sea caves. There's plenty of soft sand for sunbathing, too. A few caveats here: The beach is accessed only by a steep staircase, there's not much parking, and you'll probably have to share the beautiful scenery with aspiring models and photographers.

A post shared by Mario Lugo (@mariolugophoto) on

21. Watch a classic movie at an old cemetery

Copy Link
6000 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Though the film selections are top-notch, seeing a movie at Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery is more about the hip, laid-back scene and the experience of picnicking in one of the city’s oldest graveyards. Pack a dinner, a blanket, and a bottle of wine—yes, booze is allowed—and arrive early to stand in line for a good spot on the sprawling grass lawn, which is where you’ll watch a flick projected on the side of a mausoleum. Buy tickets early, because they sell out fast.

A post shared by CINESPIA (@cinespia) on

22. Hike to Nicholas Flat in Leo Carrillo State Park

Copy Link
Leo Carrillo State Park, 35000 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265
Los Angeles is home to hundreds of amazing trails, so we've asked Modern Hiker's Casey Schreiner for his favorite springtime hike. His pick? Nicholas Flat. He described it to us as a, "great little trek that really surprised me with its toughness."

Set aside 3.5 hours for this challenging hike, which ascends 1,664 feet. For your hard work, you'll be rewarded with "postcard-perfect views of the interior of the Santa Monica Mountains," as well as the ocean.

A post shared by Kim Robertson (@tkimminy) on

23. Picnic with the crowds at Malibu Wines Tasting Room

Copy Link
31740 Mulholland Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265
(818) 865-0605
Visit Website
If you're looking for a scene, look no farther than Malibu Wines, where on Saturdays and Sundays you can join throngs of hipsters and women in flower crowns sipping rosé and listening to live (usually acoustic) music on the vineyard's lawns. It's totally free to picnic, so bring in your own cheese and crackers. Tasting flights cost about $15 and a bottle will set you back at least $28.

24. Bike the beach

Copy Link
Venice
Los Angeles, CA
If you don't want to get sandy, rent a bike from any one of the number of rental shops along the strand and peddle north from the Venice Boardwalk to Malibu, soaking in the sights and gawking at weird people along the way. In Venice, you'll spot pot shops, sick skateboarding, drum circles, and some pretty solid breakdancing. In Santa Monica, you'll cruise past beautiful Shutters on the Beach and the world famous pier, but don't bother stopping unless you enjoy chain restaurants and tacky souvenirs. Things get normal from there, and you really can't beat the vistas. Plus, exercise!

At the beach earlier today!! ☀️ #venicebeach #beachcafe #california #calilife

A post shared by Chanelle ⚖ (@chanhells) on

25. Groove to live music at The Hollywood Bowl

Copy Link
2301 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90068
(323) 850-2000
Visit Website

The Hollywood Bowl really is an awesome place to see live music. There's a good view of the stage from every seat, even the nosebleeds; ticketholders can bring their own food and booze to the venue; and the alfresco nature of the venue means that there's often a cool summer breeze blowing during evening shows.

Parking is a nightmare, but the venue has a shuttle from Hollywood near Highland (about a block from the subway) and an easy-to-find rideshare drop-off area, so leaving the car at home is easier than ever.

Concerts have been held at the bowl-shaped site—chosen for its excellent acoustics—since 1921; the balloon-shaped seating and concert shell date from 1926 (though they've been updated since).

26. Walk around the reopened Los Angeles State Historic Park

Copy Link
1245 N Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 620-6152
Visit Website

After being closed for more than three years, this Chinatown park reopened just a couple months ago with a whole new look.

A $20 million renovation has given the park a stunning pedestrian walkway, picnic areas, wetlands, a public fruit orchard, and an elevated lookout point. The park's also added two permanent structures: a ranger station and a welcome center with new permanent bathrooms.

The park is open every day from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Alissa Walker

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1. Trek through Griffith Park

4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Maybe we're cheating by making Griffith Park just one entry—you could spend days at the 4,217-acre park. You could spend those days at the Griffith Observatory and its planetarium; or at the Travel Town train museum; on a visit to the Bronson Caves, which have played the Bat Cave and dozens of other science fiction and Western roles; on a hike to the Wisdom Tree; crawling around the ruins of the Old Zoo; visiting the animals at the Los Angeles Zoo; seeing a concert at the Greek Theatre; or walking or playing tennis or taking a bootcamp class or even driving through the tunnel to Toontown.
4730 Crystal Springs Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90027

2. Visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Visitors can be immersed in light like Drake was in the "Hotline Bling" video via James Turrell's Breathing Light installation, or take in a multi-artist exhibit exploring the notion of "home," and mingling multiple mediums including large-scale installations and sculpture. While you're at the LACMA, don't forget to take in the architecture both successful and un-, the sculpture garden, and then grab dinner and drinks at Ray's and Stark Bar.
5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

3. Picnic at Barnsdall Art Park

Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Opportunities to picnic in LA are plentiful, but this should be at the top of anyone's list. Every Friday evening from June to September 22, Silverlake Wine curates tastings at the park on Hollywood Boulevard, which boasts stunning views of the city. Bring your own picnic, or taste from the local food trucks. For $15, Frank Lloyd Wright's restored masterpiece, the Hollyhock House, may also be toured during the event.

A post shared by Callie Simonton (@callie_ri) on

Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

4. Cruise Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90077

The backbone of the city snakes 21 miles through the Santa Monica Mountains, from Hollywood to Pacific Coast Highway. It is named for William Mulholland, the scheming civil engineer whose Los Angeles Acqueduct brought enough water to a young LA to make it into a real metropolis.

You can't drive the entire route (it's a gated dirt road roughly between West Mandeville Fire Road and Topanga Canyon), but you should definitely wind your way along several miles some quiet night—the road will alternately reveal endless, twinkling views of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

Mulholland Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90077

5. Dine your way through Grand Central Market

317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Grand Central Market has seen quite a bit of change in the last few years. Trendy new vendors have come in; the face of the market and the crowd that it caters to has altered. (A pending lawsuit frames the changes in an unsettling light.)

For better or for worse, this latest iteration of the market encapsulates an ongoing process all over Downtown, as buildings once neglected and underestimated continue to be polished up and reframed as the hot new thing. And with new popularity comes new operating hours: Grand Central Market now stays open until 10 p.m. daily, with many nights featuring entertainment ranging from live music to trivia.

Our detailed guide to the market can be found here.

317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

6. Visit Watts Towers

1765 E 107th St, Los Angeles, CA 90002

The Watts Towers are one of the most famous works of folk art in the U.S., made up of 17 steel and mortar sculptures built between 1921 and 1955 by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia. The towers rise as high as 99.5 feet and are entirely covered in "a diverse mosaic of broken glass, sea shells, generic pottery and tile, a rare piece of 19th-century, hand painted Canton ware and many pieces of 20th-century American ceramics."

When he was done, Rodia said, "I had it in mind to do something big and I did it," and he deeded the property to a neighbor and moved away. After his house burned down, a group of neighbors banded together to save the towers, eventually founding the Watts Towers Arts Center; the site is now run by the city and is on the National Register of Historic Places. You can take a guided tour or just go yourself to see what Simon Rodia created.

1765 E 107th St
Los Angeles, CA 90002

7. Stroll Leimert Park Village

Los Angeles, CA 90008
Leimert Park—voted Curbed LA's 2016 neighborhood of the year—was developed in the 1920s from a design by the Olmsted brothers, and for many years was a whites-only neighborhood. Once that kind of housing discrimination became illegal, wealthy African-Americans began to move in, and by the 1970s Leimert had become the epicenter of black arts culture in Los Angeles, eventually breeding the LA Rebellion film movement and the famous World Stage open mic nights. Leimert Park Village is a walkable and diverse cluster of small, local businesses, many of them artsy in nature.

8. Paddle Echo Park Lake

751 Echo Park Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Echo Park Lake began life as a reservoir but has been purely recreational for well over 100 years now. Besides being one of LA's most pleasant parks, it's also one of its most recognizable for its role in Chinatown—early on in the film Jake Gittes floats in a boat on the lake pretending to pose for his associate's camera.

After an early aughts restoration, there's now a cafe where you can rent pedal boats, a short boardwalk, and a walking path around the lake.

751 Echo Park Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90026

9. Have a celebrity moment at Château Marmont

8221 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

If you're doing Los Angeles, you really have to do one starfucky thing on the Sunset Strip, and we recommend the Chateau Marmont. Built in the 1920s as the city's first earthquake-proof apartment building, it became a hotel and the place for stars to misbehave in the 1930s, and it's been that way ever since.

The rooms and bungalows are shockingly expensive, but make a reservation for lunch, enjoy the restaurant patio, then sneak a look around the pool and grounds, shrouded in foliage and perched tastefully above the Strip.

8221 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046

10. Enjoy The Getty

1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Completely funded by oilman J. Paul Getty's trust and designed by Richard Meier, the Getty is one of the most breathtaking places in Los Angeles. Meier's light-colored marble buildings bob and weave, up and down, among pools, fountains, and a circular garden designed by Robert Irwin, all on top of a ridge high above the 405 Freeway with 360-degree views. Plus you get to take a funicular up there. The collection isn't particularly beloved, but includes everything from photography to early books to furniture. And it's all free except for the parking.

A post shared by sarah (@sarahdipitiy) on

1200 Getty Center Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90049

11. Explore Exposition Park

700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037
You could spend a full day in Exposition Park—visit the California Science Center (which has the space shuttle Endeavour and an Imax theater), the California African American Museum, and/or the Natural History Museum, picnic in the rose garden, and wander around the instantly identifiable Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
700 Exposition Park Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90037

12. Visit the offbeat Valley Relics Museum

21630 Marilla St, Chatsworth, CA 91311
The Valley is often painted as unglamorous and lame, but there's no doubt that this northern arm of Los Angeles helped to shape what the city is today. This off-beat museum has a huge collection of cool, nostalgic items from enormous neon signs to cars decorated by famed country-western tailor Nudie Cohn. Rare historic photos and documents from the San Fernando Valley's past are displayed alongside Valley-made vintage BMX bikes. It's a good, if super-compressed introduction to the area and LA kitsch in general.
21630 Marilla St
Chatsworth, CA 91311

13. Have a seafood feast at San Pedro Fish Market

1190 Nagoya Way, San Pedro, CA 90731

Even after the Ports O' Call Village is remade into a Fisherman's Wharf-like destination with fake vintage warehouses and new retailers, the San Pedro Fish Market will still be kickin', selling trays full of fish cooked to order, however you'd like it.

It's the more affordable, no-frills alternative to a fancy, waterfront seafood restaurant—where guests eat their ridiculously hearty portions while seated on picnic tables overlooking the port, then wash it all down with a (plastic) pitcher of beer.

If you're thirsty but not into Bud Lite, there's a newish craft brewery about a mile away—not a bad walk on a cloudy day. And after all that seafood, a brisk walk might do some good.

1190 Nagoya Way
San Pedro, CA 90731

14. Hang out poolside at the Annenberg Community Beach House

415 Pacific Coast Hwy, Santa Monica, CA 90402
Once part of the estate that William Randolph Hearst shared with his mistress Marion Davies, the beach house got a great renovation within the past decade with new buildings but original tiles. It's a great place to swim, splash, or sunbath, and its chairs are open to the public for free on a first-come, first-serve basis. Limited reservations are also available 1 to 3 days in advance.
415 Pacific Coast Hwy
Santa Monica, CA 90402

15. See an explosion of blooms at Descanso Gardens

1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
Descanso Gardens' 160 acres feature roses, crape myrtle, and cassia, all of which should be explosions of color over the next few months. The garden also offers shady, peaceful spots to escape the heat.

Check the events calendar before heading over; Descanso offers a range of activities from plant sales to the occasional tea ceremony to guided walks through the grounds. If you're visiting on a weekend, maybe swing by Descanso's new brunch restaurant. Don't forget to take a ride on the one-eighth-scale replica train before leaving.

1418 Descanso Drive
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

16. Amble through a Japanese Garden

6100 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91406
You probably never imagined a water reclamation plant could look beautiful, let alone serve as a destination worth visiting, but that's exactly what the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant offers. Treated water sustains a 6.5-acre garden with waterfalls, a wisteria arbor, and six species of trees, including cherry and ginko. It's open to the public 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $5.

This whole Japanese garden thing is pretty great.

A post shared by Kira (@kira_a_prince) on

6100 Woodley Ave
Van Nuys, CA 91406

17. Take a break at Amir's Garden

Amir's Garden, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA 90027, United States
There are lots of destinations within Griffith Park worth visiting, but this one is a little more hidden. Take a shady respite at this forested pocket of the park, lovingly built in the 1970s by Iranian immigrant Amir Dialameh. He worked tirelessly, "six or seven days each week for up to eight hours at a time terracing the slopes, building stairs to the picnic area, and adding wooden benches he painted with bright vivid patterns." Today, the 5 acres are maintained by volunteers.

A post shared by Callie Hernandez (@cheap_mango) on

Amir's Garden, Griffith Park, Los Angeles
CA 90027, United States

18. Catch a game—and a sunset—at Dodger Stadium

1000 Vin Scully Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Look, even if you're not a Dodger's fan or even a baseball fan in general, there's one really good reason to take in a game at LA's ballpark: the sunsets. Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully described them many times in many ways, but his most famous line was, "A cotton-candy sky with a canopy of blue—looks good enough to eat." Yum.

Before you go, check out our snazzy guide to the stadium. We've got tips from a bunch of fans that will make you feel right at home in the beautiful modernist ballpark.

A post shared by G A R V I N (@hipstergram89) on

1000 Vin Scully Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012

19. Visit famed modernist architecture at the MAK Center

835 N Kings Rd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Michael Locke/Curbed LA flickr pool
The MAK Center is housed inside the R.M. Schindler House, a house the modernist architect Rudolph M. Schindler designed and lived in. Built in 1922, it's considered one of the first modern houses in the world. It's no longer a residence; as the MAK Center, the space now serves to "[present] programming that challenges conventional notions of architectural space and relationships between the creative arts," according to its website.

The house is open Wednesdays through Sundays; guided tours are available for large groups.

835 N Kings Rd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

20. Sunbathe at El Matador State Beach

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, 32350 El Matador Beach Rd, Malibu, CA 90265
One little stretch of coastline that stands out above the rest of Southern California's famous beaches is this state park with its impressive rock formations and sea caves. There's plenty of soft sand for sunbathing, too. A few caveats here: The beach is accessed only by a steep staircase, there's not much parking, and you'll probably have to share the beautiful scenery with aspiring models and photographers.

A post shared by Mario Lugo (@mariolugophoto) on

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, 32350 El Matador Beach Rd
Malibu, CA 90265

21. Watch a classic movie at an old cemetery

6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Though the film selections are top-notch, seeing a movie at Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery is more about the hip, laid-back scene and the experience of picnicking in one of the city’s oldest graveyards. Pack a dinner, a blanket, and a bottle of wine—yes, booze is allowed—and arrive early to stand in line for a good spot on the sprawling grass lawn, which is where you’ll watch a flick projected on the side of a mausoleum. Buy tickets early, because they sell out fast.

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6000 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90038

22. Hike to Nicholas Flat in Leo Carrillo State Park

Leo Carrillo State Park, 35000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
Los Angeles is home to hundreds of amazing trails, so we've asked Modern Hiker's Casey Schreiner for his favorite springtime hike. His pick? Nicholas Flat. He described it to us as a, "great little trek that really surprised me with its toughness."

Set aside 3.5 hours for this challenging hike, which ascends 1,664 feet. For your hard work, you'll be rewarded with "postcard-perfect views of the interior of the Santa Monica Mountains," as well as the ocean.

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Leo Carrillo State Park, 35000 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265

23. Picnic with the crowds at Malibu Wines Tasting Room

31740 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
If you're looking for a scene, look no farther than Malibu Wines, where on Saturdays and Sundays you can join throngs of hipsters and women in flower crowns sipping rosé and listening to live (usually acoustic) music on the vineyard's lawns. It's totally free to picnic, so bring in your own cheese and crackers. Tasting flights cost about $15 and a bottle will set you back at least $28.
31740 Mulholland Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265

24. Bike the beach

Venice, Los Angeles, CA
If you don't want to get sandy, rent a bike from any one of the number of rental shops along the strand and peddle north from the Venice Boardwalk to Malibu, soaking in the sights and gawking at weird people along the way. In Venice, you'll spot pot shops, sick skateboarding, drum circles, and some pretty solid breakdancing. In Santa Monica, you'll cruise past beautiful Shutters on the Beach and the world famous pier, but don't bother stopping unless you enjoy chain restaurants and tacky souvenirs. Things get normal from there, and you really can't beat the vistas. Plus, exercise!

At the beach earlier today!! ☀️ #venicebeach #beachcafe #california #calilife

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Venice
Los Angeles, CA

25. Groove to live music at The Hollywood Bowl

2301 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068

The Hollywood Bowl really is an awesome place to see live music. There's a good view of the stage from every seat, even the nosebleeds; ticketholders can bring their own food and booze to the venue; and the alfresco nature of the venue means that there's often a cool summer breeze blowing during evening shows.

Parking is a nightmare, but the venue has a shuttle from Hollywood near Highland (about a block from the subway) and an easy-to-find rideshare drop-off area, so leaving the car at home is easier than ever.

Concerts have been held at the bowl-shaped site—chosen for its excellent acoustics—since 1921; the balloon-shaped seating and concert shell date from 1926 (though they've been updated since).

2301 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90068

26. Walk around the reopened Los Angeles State Historic Park

1245 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Alissa Walker

After being closed for more than three years, this Chinatown park reopened just a couple months ago with a whole new look.

A $20 million renovation has given the park a stunning pedestrian walkway, picnic areas, wetlands, a public fruit orchard, and an elevated lookout point. The park's also added two permanent structures: a ranger station and a welcome center with new permanent bathrooms.

The park is open every day from 8 a.m. to sunset.

1245 N Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012