You wouldn’t think it from its gaudy concrete-clad image, but LA is home to some of the most beautiful urban parks in the US. Overlooked by most tourists, there are labyrinths and views and waterfalls galore to be found – if you get off the beaten track and on to the hiking trail.
The lungs of LA, Griffith Park is five times bigger than New York’s iconic Central Park and home to one of the city’s landmarks: the beautiful Art Deco Observatory. The park offers more than 80km of trails for intrepid walkers, plus picnic spots, a cute cafe and views all the way to the Pacific from its highest peaks. 4730 Crystal Springs Drive.
Point Mugu State Park
When you’ve really had enough of LA, head out to Malibu and the Point Mugu State Park, which looks more like an exotic island getaway. The ocean views from the easy-to-hike trails are spectacular. 9000 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu.
Smack bang above Hollywood is one of the best natural workouts in the city – and with brilliant views to boot. Play spot-a-celebrity while you’re heading up the steep hill and marvel at the city-wide vista at the top. 2000 N. Fuller Avenue.
Huntington Library Botanical Gardens
The picture-perfect neighbourhood of Pasadena could never be described as gritty and driving along its gracious streets is in itself a break from LA proper. But if you need a more serious dose of greenery, visit the Huntington Library’s beautiful botanical gardens. The elaborate gardens are themed to showcase palms, desert plants, roses and even a Japanese house from 1904. 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
There are almost an half a hectare of public gardens on the third level of the famous Frank Gehry-designed concert hall in LA’s downtown district. With benches and tables overlooking the area and fragrant herb gardens, it’s a welcome retreat from the grittiest part of town. 111 S. Grand Avenue.
Whether New Age spirituality is your thing or you’d rather eat sackcloth, the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness has created some beautiful meditation gardens and a labyrinth designed for relaxation, on the grounds of musical director Busby Berkeley’s former mansion. 3500 W. Adams Boulevard.
Lake Hollywood Park
Tucked away between the Hollywood sign and a lake, this big, sunny park has benches, picnic tables and a play area – plus the best views of the Tinseltown icon around. 3204 Canyon Lake Drive.