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Griffith Observatory
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Cameron Venti Griffith Observatory

Things to do outside in Los Angeles

Bask in the city's year-round sunshine with our list of the very best things to do outside in Los Angeles

By Tim Lowery and Michael Juliano
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L.A.’s amazing weather (and all of that famous sunshine) make it perfect for exploring the great outdoors, no matter what time of year. So we’ve concocted a list of our very favorite things to do outside in Los Angeles, from bucket-list-worthy alfresco screenings and rooftops complete with booze and pools to seaside sunset strolls. Be sure to check out our rundown of what’s open in Los Angeles, as well as what in L..A. you can and can’t do outside before venturing into the wild. Also, brush up on our guide to what you can and should do when traveling before hitting these spots.  

NOTE: We’ve detailed which places are open and closed below. As always, practice social distancing and stay safe, L.A.  

RECOMMENDED: The 37 best things to do in Los Angeles

Best things to do outside in Los Angeles

El Porto Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Pedro Szekely

1. Hit the beach, brah!

Things to do

With 80-degree days year-round and miles and miles of picturesque coastline, Angelenos can enjoy a day at the beach from January to December. El Porto is one of the city's go-to surf spots, but really wherever there's water, there are waves to ride—or sandy beaches on which to stroll. (Those beautiful sunsets don't hurt either.) 

NOTE: On L.A. beaches, you can surf, swim, walk or run up and down the coastline. However, you can’t sit, sunbathe or picnic on city-run beaches (county-run beaches, confusingly, have now allowed this).

Griffith Park
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

2. Hike Griffith Park and feel above it all

Things to do

We know: Everybody has to do this in Los Angeles (including, yes, lots and lots of tourists). But there's a reason for that: It's awesome. Spanning an impressive 4,210 acres, it's easy to get lost in L.A.'s largest public green space, much of which remains unchanged from the days when Native Americans settled here. For more activity-minded folks, there are myriad attractions (Old Los Angeles Zoo and the Observatory, to name just two), not to mention some great dusty hiking trails that afford truly stunning views.  

NOTE: Griffith Observatory and Old Los Angeles Zoo are closed at the moment. Trails remain open. 

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Mama Shelter Los Angeles
Photograph: Courtesy Mama Shelter Los Angeles

3. Enjoy an alfresco cocktail (or four) and an amazing view (SOME BARS CLOSED)

Bars

What is it they say about smog? Oh yeah, beautiful sunsets. Make L.A.’s haze work for you at these cocktail bars and beachside spots, where the backdrops rightfully rival the booze. From Downtown Los Angeles’ rooftop bars to Malibu’s seaside cabanas, here are the city's best bars with amazing backdrops.

NOTE: Some drinking patios in Los Angeles have opened, but many remain closed. Please contact establishments before making a trip. 

Venice Canals.
Photograph: Michael Juliano

4. Stroll the Venice Canals

Things to do Venice

Tucked between the grimy Venice Boardwalk and the posh Abbot Kinney, the Venice Canals offer a completely different side of the famed beachfront neighborhood. Take a stroll through these three canal-lined blocks—hence the name, Venice—and you'll discover an idyllic scene: arching pedestrian bridges, charming beach houses, bunches of ducklings and the occasional paddle boarding bulldog.

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El Porto, Manhattan Beach
Photograph: Pedro Szekely/Wikimedia

5. Bike the Strand to Manhattan Beach

Things to do

Manhattan Beach boasts two miles of sparkly coastline, almost all of it stacked with dreamy hillside homes. Most of the activity is centered around the walkable waterfront slope of Manhattan Beach Boulevard, with additional shops and an increasingly essential dining scene trailing along Manhattan Avenue as well. Head down to the beach via the Strand—the bike and walking path that traces the shoreline—for countless volleyball nets and the Manhattan Beach Pier.

NOTE: Many venues are currently closed. Check with individual establishments before making the trip. 

Catalina Island, and the slow pace of island time, is just a short ferry ride away.
Photograph: Kate Wertheimer

6. Get island vibes on Catalina

Things to do

If you're looking for weekend getaways out of LA, Santa Catalina Island is a close and beautiful bet. The lstrip of land—accessable by ferries from Long Beach or San Pedro—has all the makings of a well rounded vacation: rich history, beach town relaxation and outdoorsy adventure. It's only 22 miles from the mainland, but whether you stay for a day or the whole weekend, you'll be on island time in no time. 

NOTE: See which hotels and campgrounds are open here. Note that venues on the island may be closed. Contact individual establishments for information. 

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Hollywood Farmers' Market
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

7. Stock up on fresh produce

Restaurants

Oh, you think you've tried a good blood orange? Come back to us after visiting the Santa Monica Farmers' Market on a Wednesday morning. These farmers' markets are where the best restaurants in L.A. buy their produce, where you can indulge in your love for cheap eats with endless samplings, and where cartons of avocados seem to stretch as far as the eye can see.

NOTE: Many farmers' markets in Los Angeles are open. But be sure to double check about markets' statuses and hours of operation. 

Grand Park
Photograph: Michael Juliano

8. Spend an afternoon in the park

Things to do

Can't make it to the beach? Roll out a blanket instead at one L.A.'s beautiful parks. Whether you're an art aficionado or a devoted dog owner, there's a slice of nature that fits your lifestyle. So take a stroll through our favorite (and free) parks in Los Angeles.

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Photograph: Michael Juliano

9. Take a joyride along Mulholland Drive

Things to do

This is the road of classic make-out points, Hollywood chase scenes and scenic splendor. Roll the windows down and avoid cross-town traffic with a drive along the scenic highway—and make sure to stop at these half dozen or so overlooks, all in less than an hour. 

Eaton Canyon Falls Trail.
Photograph: Michael Juliano

10. Hike to a waterfall and back in less than an hour

Things to do

Los Angeles is a beautiful place, and it's not afraid to flaunt it. Case in point: Eaton Canyon. The Pasadena area park is one of the most accessible and easygoing trails where you'll truly feel like you've slipped into the wilderness. On weekdays only, you can cut out the most boring part of the hike and park just barely over a mile from a waterfall.

NOTE: Eaton Canyon temporarily requires reservations.

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Find more open-air activities in L.A.

LA River
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

The best outdoor adventures in Los Angeles

Things to do

If you're looking for more than alfresco shopping and rooftop dining to quench your thirst for the outdoors, let this be your guide. From deep-sea fishing in Newport Beach to paragliding above the L.A. coastline, we've compiled a list of the best outdoor adventures in Los Angeles for all you thrill-seeking adventure junkies. 

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