The workout: What was once a pretty snazzy workout circuit is now a sad and decrepit tour of fitness ruins. Elysian Park is big and beautiful, with great hiking and running trails and lots of grassy knolls for soccer, frisbee and picnics. But certain things (like the circuit training equipment, or the water fountains that were mysteriously turned off and never came back on) have fallen by the wayside. Luckily, said equipment (what remains of it) has a new life, as blank canvases for taggers and a place for the weary homeless to rest their heads.
The scene: The equipment here is defunct, but 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. It’s actually a comfort, as it means patrols are aplenty here.
How’s the parking? There’s a good amount of parking in the lots by the picnic areas, and people line the street shoulders as well. Luckily, roads wind all throughout the park, so there’s always somewhere to stick your car, and tickets aren’t common here, so you can get creative.
Bonus: Elysian Park’s neighbor is Dodger Stadium, so if you come for a hike you can stay for a game.