When it comes to summer in Los Angeles, 4th of July is absolutely one of the season's highlights. For one, this really is the land of the free (things to do—there's a ton of them!). Second, we can't think of a better place to admire our shining sea than from the city's best beaches. Third, LA is the city where dreams come true—just think about how many actors and musicians got their big break on the Sunset Strip. Keep reading our guide to find 4th of July events, fireworks shows, parades and other ways to celebrate our glorious country. 'MERICA.
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Echo Park Lake
After two years of chain link, dust and bulldozers, the east side's historic Echo Park Lake reopened in June 2013. The lake has been around since 1860—it was once used as a drinking water reservoir, and later as a recreational park with canoes, fishing and a floating lotus garden. But pollution, bacteria and negligence over the years left the lake worse for wear—with the water a disturbing shade and the park surrounding it a ramshackle and somewhat shady place to be. Finally in the spring of 2011, the lake was closed to the public—the park's famous brown goose, Maria, was taken to the LA Zoo—and a $45 million rehabilitation project began. Now the park has an updated boathouse, track, lighting and railings, plus new landscaping, picnic tables and grills. The lotus gardens have been restored—with water lillies added—and the Lady of the Lake statue has been returned to her rightful place, overlooking the fountain.
Pan Pacific Park
Located in the hub of the city, nestled next to the The Grove, the 28-acre park is where families come to barbecue, runners and dog owners come for a slice of the great outdoors, sunbathers and lovers lie on the grassy knolls. Runners looking for an intense run might look elsewhere. But if you don’t mind dodging dogs, strollers and kids on bicycles (and the occasional bum) There are bathrooms and water fountains on-site with the Grove and a 7-Eleven store across the street on either sides of the park.
Elysian Park has plenty for 4th of July entertainment, including grills. The park itself is huge, offering packed dirt trails running up into the hills (with great views of the valley, downtown, Dodger Stadium, and the Hollywood hills, depending where you stop to catch your breath), along with plenty of lawn space. Picnic tables and surprisingly decent public restrooms make this an ideal spot for daytime parties, and during the weekend the grounds are crowded with Latino families grilling out and dancing or playing soccer, sometimes with a mini horse or bouncy castle for the kids. There’s also “dog hill,” a spot where locals convene to throw balls, sticks, and compliments for each other’s canine companions. if you’re here in the early AM, you may hear volleys of gunshots—don’t worry, it’s not gang warfare—the Police Academy is next door, and you can hear officers practicing at the firing range.
Family-friendly 4th of July events 2014
Fourth of July Americafest
Americafest at the Rose Bowl is an explosive celebration of all things red, white and blue—from the classic American food, to the live music (Kenny G performs this year), to the world-renowned fireworks display. The Rose Bowl will open at 2pm Independence Day, at which time access to a goldmine of inflatable rides, games and crafts will be available for kid-friendly fun. Parking for the event will cost $20, but you can make it worth your while with an afternoon of tailgaiting outside the stadium. Americafest tickets go for $13 and kids under 7 get in gratis. Military with active ID can receive up to four free tickets, so take advantage if you're eligible. USA! USA!
Studio City Fourth of July Fireworks Festival
Studio City's annual Fourth of July spectacular returns to the sprawling CBS Studio Center (4024 Radford Ave). The event features live music—this year's headliners are a Beach Boys tribute band—in addition to a car show, local business expo and kid-friendly activities. Pack your own picnic or load up on summer eats and cold brews when you arrive. In addition your regular admission (visit the website to reserve), you can purchase Kids Fun Zone wristbands or VIP tickets for food and alcohol tastings, roof access and more. The night will culminate with a dazzling fireworks show, after which you can return to your car (parked for free on Radford Ave), feeling satisfied that you did Independence Day right.
Pacific Palisades Fourth of July Parade
Cruise on up to the Palisades for a beachy Independence Day extravaganza. Starting just before 2pm, a band of patriotic skydivers will descend from the stratosphere, kicking off the neighborhood's colossal parade. The baton twirlers and marching trombonists will begin their promenade on Sunset Boulevard, between Via de la Paz and Drummond. General admission to the parade is free, but if you want to avoid chauffeuring whipper snappers on your shoulders all day, splurge for VIP grandstand seating (from $25). The festivities continue with a concert and fireworks ($5 for both), leaving nothing amiss from this year's Fourth of July celebration.
Huntington Beach Fourth of July Celebration
Make your Fourth of July an all-day blowout by heading down to the legendary Huntington Beach "Surf, Sun & Celebrate" Festival at the Huntington Beach Pier. The festivities kick off with the crack-of-dawn breakfast in Lake Park, followed by a 5K run and fitness expo. Walk the parade route to the beach from 10am til noon, and then put on your Uncle Sam hat for the pier plaza festival, where you'll find live entertainment, family activities and all-American eats. Grab your VIP tickets to the fireworks display at 9pm, which ends in an epic 500-round finale.
LA's best parks, beaches and hikes
The 18 best parks in LA
These parks in Los Angeles offer the perfect place to spend an afternoon, whether you're taking in the views from Griffith Park or lounging on the lawn at Grand Park Among the lengthy list of picturesque attractions in this city—who can resist the temptation of a hike through Runyon or a trip to the beach?—there is a wealth of beautiful parks in Los Angeles. Whether you're an art aficionado or a devoted dog owner, there's a slice of nature that fits your lifestyle. For those days when you don't feel like climbing up all 282 steps at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, roll out a blanket or take a stroll through 18 of the best (and free) parks in Los Angeles. RECOMMENDED: 101 things to do in Los Angeles For urban wilderness Griffith Park It's easy to forget you're still in the city as you trek through the mix of native chaparral and landscaped paths that covers this rugged park. But take one look out from the iconic Griffith Observatory and you'll find yourself face-to-face with the LA Basin as it stretches out to the ocean. Griffith's myriad attractions and wilderness caters to all LA types: intrepid hikers can explore the Bronson Caves and visit Amir's Garden; easygoing weekenders can relax in the shaded, verdant passage through Fern Dell or the picnic tables at Crystal Springs; kid-toting visitors can board the steamers at Travel Town or explore the archaic cages at the Old Zoo; and pop culture lovers can catch a show at the Greek Theatre or visit Walt's Barn (a transp
Best beaches in LA
Looking for the best beaches in LA? Check out the city's top coastal retreats from family-friendly shores to a surfer's paradise. With 80-degree days year-round, Angelenos can enjoy the great outdoors from January to December with LA's best hikes (scenic views included) and even hikes with waterfalls to boot). And with miles of pictureque coastline from Malibu to the South Bay, the best beaches in LA are aplenty for outdoor enthusiasts, surfers, families, sun worshippers and beach bunnies. From Venice and Santa Monica to Manhattan Beach and Playa Vista, here are the top spots to sunbathe, surf and play. El Matador State Beach Small, beautiful and dominated by rocky outcrops, El Matador looks not unlike a European beach. Six miles north of Malibu and 25 miles from Santa Monica, it's past just past Leo Carrillo Beach, accessible via a steep gravelly path. Wear shoes and don't bring too much gear. There are no lifeguards or other facilities, so you should be able to find some privacy on the beach; spread your towel in the cupped hands of the rocks—watch out for high tide. Arriving early or staying late should reward you with a memorable dawn of sunset. El Matador and nearby El Pescador and La Piedra beaches collectively form the Rober H Meyer Memorial Beaches. All three are worth a visit. Pony up $8 in the self-pay parking lot or snag a spot on PCH. El Porto Beach The view of the Chevron refinery and the occasional plane coming in and out of the nearby LAX may not make
The best hikes with waterfalls
Looking for hiking trails in LA? Head outdoors after a rainy day and experience these five hikes with waterfalls. While Angelenos are blessed with a gorgeous web of hikes with a view, we all too often find ourselves baked by the sun, with the ocean in sight and yet tantalizingly out of reach. Here are five hiking trails in LA that’ll keep you cool by journey’s end with some of the area’s most impressive waterfalls. LA hikes with waterfalls? We can’t think of a more perfect way to enjoy a too-brief rainy season. Time Out Los Angeles on Spotify Escondido | Paradise Falls | Eaton Canyon | Solstice Canyon | Sturtevant Falls Escondido Falls, Malibu This is one of the biggest waterfalls in Southern California—a two-tiered, 150-foot cascade that pours down a series of limestone rocks covered in bright-green moss. You’ll start on Winding Way East, a private road in the Malibu hills that takes you uphill past ocean-view estates. After about half a mile the road will head downhill and there will be a clearly marked path to the left. This is the Escondido Canyon Trail, an adventurous path that crisscrosses streams—so be prepared for some serious rock-hopping. About a mile in, you’ll reach the Lower Escondido Falls, which are lovely on their own—at 50 feet they rival any of the other waterfalls on this list. This is a good place for a breather, or for the less sure-of-foot it’s a lovely ending point. Everyone else should continue upwards via a clear route to the right of t
Best hikes with city views
From secluded mountain treks in Altadena to unparalleled people-watching in Runyon Canyon, here are five of the best hikes in LA with great views of the city. Time Out Los Angeles on Spotify In a city where open space is sparse and the sprawl can feel endelss, climb up to escape from it all. These five hikes provide a great experience and unmatched views that really put Los Angeles in perspective. Whether you're more cityscape gawker or ocean gazer, we've got the trek for you, in this list of the best hikes in LA—with views. Hollywood | Los Feliz | Malibu | Culver City | Altadena Runyon Canyon, Hollywood An exerciser’s paradise in the Hollywood Hills, Runyon’s the spot for views of the toned bodies and even tonier homes endemic to this part of LA. The packed dirt path leads hikers, runners, yoga enthusiasts and roving weightlifters on a loop around the canyon, guaranteeing countless moments to pause and utter “This is so LA”—particularly during the after-work rush hour, when people-watching reaches its frenzied peak. Look out for tatted-up porn-star bodies sprinting bare-chested through the hills. Make eyes with middle-aged gay couples, chiseled and waxed. And clear the path for at least one dog walker, clogging the trail with a pack of purebreds. You can catch the loop from either the east (Fuller Avenue) or West (North Vista Street) side of the canyon. Either way, it’s a mostly gradual ascent, except for a treacherously steep and narrow section near the top o
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