Many a California dream has been centered around Los Angeles. Movie stars may turn heads, but with 300 or so days of sunshine every year, miles of sandy beaches and a city park like nowhere else in the world, Mother Nature clearly landed the leading role. Being outside is a given for locals and visitors alike, but it’s choosing the best way to soak up that Vitamin D that can be tricky. With so many choices, and never enough time, these five ways to get outside should make it easier to hit the trail, sand, field or ground, running.
See Stars at Griffith Park
Griffith Park is the largest municipal park and urban wilderness area in the world. That equates to paradise for hikers making the trek to Mount Hollywood, 1,600 feet above sea level. On a clear day, you can see it all, from mountains to skyscrapers, to the much sought after Hollywood Sign. It’s a popular place, so you won’t be alone on the trail, but if you’d prefer to have someone in the lead, Bikes & Hikes LA offer two adventures a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon (timed to catch the sunset). Tours are loaded with Tinseltown tidbits, and mixed enough Los Angeles history and geography to pique your interest. An extra bonus, the end of the hike isn’t the end of the tour. It finishes up with an inside tour of Griffith Observatory.
They Play it in L.A.
Football fields, baseball diamonds, basketball courts and hockey rinks. Los Angeles has them all, and now that the Rams NFL team is back in town, the city also has a professional sports team to fill each and every one. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is the Rams temporary home, so taking advantage of neighboring Exposition Park before or after a game should be a given. Visit Space Shuttle Endeavour in retirement at the California Science Center, walk through the Rose Garden or check out the University of Southern California’s neighboring campus.
Elsewhere, the Staples Center is home to four professional sports franchises – the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, the NHL’s Kings and the WNBA’s Spark. It’s also in the thick of downtown’s bustling L.A. LIVE entertainment complex. Dodger Stadium is less than four miles away.
Set Sail for Catalina Island
Hop aboard a high-speed ferry for a breezy hour or so to sail to the town of Avalon, on Catalina Island. Located 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, you can lounge on the beach, kayak, zip line, or take an open-air Hummer tour to see the former spring training site of William Wrigley Jr.’s Chicago Cubs, before taking a swing at finding one of the island’s resident buffalos. The one thing you won’t find – a traffic light. The iconic Catalina Casino opened in 1929, but there’s no gambling to be found here anymore, just the world’s largest circular ballroom, and the first theater designed specifically for talking motion pictures. The theater, complete with Art Deco murals, still shows first-run movies, nightly. One hour before the Friday and Saturday screenings, the original Page pipe organ shows off its pipes.
Soak it All In
The Spa at Terranea will redefine your definition of a treatment room with a view. Splurge and treat yourself to what the spa calls Tranquility. Technically you’re inside, but just mere feet away from French doors that open to the ocean, so you can take in the breeze while you soak in an oversize copper tub laced with the aroma of orange blossom and vanilla. Just when you think it can’t get any better, there’s a cocoon wrap, face, neck and scalp massage to make you forget all about the real world. What’s more, booking one treatment gives guests access to the 50,000 square feet spa all day long. Along with co-ed relaxation lounges with ocean views, there’s saunas and steam rooms to tempt you to linger longer. Be sure to head outside to the adults-only pool, complete with fire pits and private cabanas. If you’re feeling energetic, the oceanfront yoga, pilates and spin studio is waiting.
Put Your Toes in the Sand
L.A. is a beachfront city. But don’t overthink it – getting the most out of the coast is easy. Santa Monica comes with a pier and even a trapeze school. Manhattan Beach has an aquarium and The Strand bike and pedestrian promenade (along with some of the most expensive real estate per sq ft in the US). Venice Beach is a people watching paradise. All of L.A.’s beaches have their unique characteristics, but they also have a key perk in common – warm sand and cool surf.
Where to stay in Los Angeles
Images: Terranea Resort; iStock