LA's perpetually pleasant weather means never-ending opportunities for outdoor dining. But sometimes, we don't want to deal with the fuss of fine dining. For those occasions, we take advantage of the many beautiful picnic spots in Los Angeles. From a bench in a park to a blanket on the beach, here are the 20 best picnic spots in Los Angeles.
The 20 best picnic spots in Los Angeles
It's easy to forget you're still in Los Angeles as you trek through the mix of native chaparral and landscaped paths that cover Griffith Park. Where else could you encounter canyons, caves and coyotes in the middle of a city? Griffith is also home to a number of fantastic picnic spots, including in the Crystal Springs area, at the Old Zoo, along Fern Dell and on the Griffith Observatory's front lawn. If you're up for a hike, head to the hidden Amir's Garden in the Valley side's Mineral Wells area.
If you're willing to pay for parking, you'll be rewarded with this wide and rarely crowded patch of sand and surf. You can repel up and down the beach's namesake rock face or take an idyllic hike along its summit. With all of the parking spots only steps from the sand, Point Dume is the perfect place to pack a picnic for a beachfront meal as seals and dolphins frolic in front of the sunset—just watch out for those hungry seagulls.
Take the time to walk around the dusty garden trails and rocky adventure areas of this Westlake and Echo Park spot. But the real star here is its grassy central field, with stunning views of the Downtown skyline and a half-dozen dedicated picnic areas around its perimeter.
Hancock Park—not to be confused with the affluent neighborhood of the same name—sits atop a literal mine of goo-soaked prehistoric bones. This free park sits between LACMA and the oily animal trap better as the La Brea Tar Pits. The green expanse between the two institutions is picnic and dog-friendly, and overall a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors within a stone's throw of LA cultural icons.
With the onset of summer concert season comes an LA rite of passage: picnicking at the Hollywood Bowl. The iconic amphitheater is a sublime place to see a show, but Hollywood Bowl regulars know that wining and dining outdoors before a show is the key to making the experience that much more memorable. Follow the link below to brush up on the Bowl's picnic and alcohol policy before you go.
This one takes commitment. Drive about 40 minutes up Angeles Crest Highway and onto Mount Wilson Red Box Road and you'll reach the observatory. Take a short walk from the parking lot to the shaded Skyline Park pavilion (also home to the Cosmic Cafe on weekends) and you'll be rewarded with a lunch spot from 5,700 feet up. The one caveat: You can only access the parking area from April through November between 10am and 4pm.
Roll out a blanket on the front lawn of the Hollyhock House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's finest hilltop homes. The views of Hollywood and the Griffith Observatory are fantastic from here, especially at sunset. In the summer, you can booze it up a little at the park's Friday night wine tastings.
The slow, lumbering mission to turn Downtown LA into a vibrant cultural hub got a lift when Grand Park officially opened to the public in July 2012. Dotted with fountains, picnic lawns and plenty of nooks from which to sit and people-watch, Grand Park is a bright urban oasis that proves the city has a sense of romance. Roll out a blanket on the southern event lawn or take a seat at one of the many bright pink benches.
LA's hilltop acropolis took 13 years and a billion dollars to complete, but the end result is a remarkable complex of travertine and white metal-clad pavilions. Its relative inaccessibility—you need to ride a monorail up to the museum—is more than compensated for by the panoramic views, from the hills and the ocean in the west all the way around to Downtown in the east. You'll find proper picnic tables down the hill at the tram station, but we highly suggest sitting on the Central Garden-adjacent lawn instead.
Carved into the hills above the Hollywood Reservoir's walking paths but below a turnout of sightseeing vans, this grassy field feels like a dog-friendly Shangri-La. You don't have to have four legs to enjoy the scenery, thanks to a small playground, shaded picnic benches and one of the most fantastic views of the Hollywood Sign.