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The Strand in Manhattan Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Jake Blucker

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 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.

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Los Angeles

We’ve detailed which places are open and closed below. As always, practice social distancing and stay safe, L.A. Be sure to check out our rundown of what’s open in Los Angeles, as well some travel advice before hitting these spots.  

Best things to do outside in Los Angeles

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

1. Hit the beach

Things to do

With 70-degree-plus days year-round and miles and miles of picturesque coastline, Angelenos can enjoy a day at the beach from January to December. Manhattan Beach’s El Porto is an easy-to-access go-to surf spot, 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.)

Griffith Park
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

2. Hike Griffith Park and feel above it all

Things to do

Griffith Observatory is currently closed, however the grounds around it are accessible.

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 (well, more so lost in thought than geographically speaking). For more activity-minded folks, there are myriad attractions (the Los Angeles Zoo and the Observatory, to name just two), not to mention some great dusty hiking trails that afford truly stunning views.

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L.P. rooftop bar
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

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

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, read on for the city’s best bars with amazing backdrops.

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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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.

Catalina Island
Photograph: Michael Juliano

6. Get island vibes on Catalina

Things to do

If you’re looking for weekend getaways out of L.A., 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. 

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Verdugo Bar
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

7. Grab a pint in a beer garden

Bars

L.A. may not exactly be known for its Oktoberfest spirit, but it does have a few year-round beer gardens where you can grab a pint or a flight outdoors. Our picks below don’t just focus on German-style taprooms here: Yes, we’ve included some of our favorite Bavarian-inspired beer bars, but also some spots that simply have patios too pretty to pass up.

Getty Villa
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

8. Enjoy art and an ocean view

Museums History Pacific Palisades

Reservations required.

In 1974, oil magnate J. Paul Getty opened a museum of his holdings in a faux villa on a Malibu clifftop. Eventually the decorative arts and paintings were moved to the Getty Center, and the villa was closed for conversion into a museum for Getty’s collection of Mediterranean antiquities. Even if you’re not interested in the art, the palatial courtyards and manicured gardens are worth the visit.

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Hollywood Farmers' Market
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

9. 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.

Tongva Park, Los Angeles
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. 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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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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