There are many things to do outside in Los Angeles; the city has hiking trails galore and some of the best beaches to spend time on enjoying the sunshine. But sometimes you're looking for a little adventure. For those times when you're craving an adrenaline rush, here are the top outdoor adventures Los Angeles has to offer.
The best outdoor adventures in Los Angeles
If you keep driving up Beachwood Drive in search of the Hollywood Sign, eventually you'll hit a dead end at Sunset Ranch Hollywood's cluster of horse stables. The ranch offers a variety of daily trail rides through Griffith Park. Pricier and longer rides include meals or a trek to the top of the park or Mt. Lee, but even the basic one-hour ride lets you snag a close-up look at the Hollywood Sign along with sweeping views of the hills and L.A. cityscape below.
Just off the coast of Southern California is a frenzy of activity. Head out from Newport Beach on a deep-sea trip where you'll spend the day cruising up and down the coastline in search of yellowtail. If a fish nibbles on your line, crew members will help you reel it in—yellowtail can weigh up to 40 pounds! You can either keep your fish for a small fee to eat later or catch and release.
Sure, you've relaxed at the best beaches in Los Angeles, but have you ever actually ventured out onto the water? Whale watching in Los Angeles is one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of the Pacific, not to mention the marine life that sits just below its surface. We're lucky enough to sit in the path of blue, humpback and, most notably, gray whale migrations.
Everyone needs to escape the city sometimes—even this one—and there's no better place for hiking, camping and exploring than Southern California. We're surrounded by miles of beachy coastline, stretches of diverse desert landscape and range upon range of snow-capped, glacier lake-dotted mountains—all easily accessible and infinitely lovely. Additionally, we have easy access to tons of National Parks, including 14 within a day's drive of the city. If you're looking for the best adventures in SoCal, we've got you covered with the top spots to go camping near Los Angeles. Pack your bag, grab a map and take your pick of rustic weekend getaways.
It may not be as pristine as our beaches, but the river is increasingly becoming a worthwhile outdoor destination. You can run along it on the pedestrian-friendly trails or you can jump on in—with a kayak, that is. There are designated spots where this is allowed, so check out our L.A. River guide to find out how you can best explore the river by kayak.
Sure, there are plenty of rock climbing gyms in Los Angeles where you can learn the basics, or you can take this four-hour class and learn the real deal in Stoney Point Park, just outside the city. In a small group, you'll learn the basic safety skills, how to use the equipment, tie basic knots and how to belay (securing a running rope around a rock or anchor). You’ll spend the rest of the day on the wall, practicing beginner and intermediate movements and practicing climbing dos and dont's. Climbing shoes, a harness and helmet, are all included.
If you can work up the courage for this tandem paragliding adventure (it's only 20-30 minutes, so you won't need courage for too long), you'll get to experience some of the best views of Malibu and L.A.'s coastline. You can choose between a motorized or non-motorized paraglider, and all equipment and gear will be provided.
Aside from the desert climate and sweeping natural beauty, there's something you'll notice pretty quickly upon arriving in Joshua Tree: things to do abound here, whether it's hiking and climbing or wildflower sightseeing. You can visit the park on a day trip or plan a camping trip and stay a while. Either way, you'll discover that for what at first glance seems like a monochromatic swath of rock, there's more going on here than meets the eye—enough to keep you busy for days, and coming back again and again.
Hit the mountain bike trails with the help of an experienced guide during a four-hour private cycling trip near L.A. The expert navigator and route designer will create a mountain bike adventure custom-made to suit your ability level and interests. All you have to do is show up with your bike and gear and enjoy the ride.
If you want to get wet and have an offroad adventure at the same time, that's where swimming holes come in. Part day trip, part wilderness trek, these mountainous oases offer a cool dip in a scenic locale, oftentimes at the end of a waterfall hike. If you're not afraid of a bit of fecal bacteria—we're only half joking—then reward yourself with a dip in one of these swimming holes near L.A., most of which require a bit of a hike to get to, which only amps up the adventure.