Trails, Beaches & Gardens of LA

Observatory Loop Trail in Griffith Park

We just spent five days in the City of Angels.  For this trip we decided to stay outdoors.  So from Pasadena to Griffith Park and Venice Beach to Malibu Canyons, here are some great tips to help you enjoy the Cali lifestyle.


PASADENA'S MUSEUM GARDENS

Norton Simon - Within the courtyard of the venerable museum is a meandering idyllic garden path with well-placed sculpture amidst reed and lily ponds.  A perfect balance to the masterpieces hanging in the museum's galleries.

Huntington Library - To walk into the entrance the Huntington's Japanese Garden is to hear yourself say "wow!" involuntarily and out loud.  The exquisite gardens on the sprawling grounds include a famous Chinese Garden with lakefront teahouses, an Australian Garden, and others for roses and herbs are not to be missed.

image of gardens of norton simon and huntington gardens


GRIFFITH PARK: OBSERVATORY LOOP

You've seen the Griffith Park's Observatory in the film La La Land, and apparently so has everyone else by the looks of the observatory's parking lot.

Here's an alternate solution (and only if you can) walk up to the observatory on one of the park's foot trails, called the Observatory Loop (pictured above). Park your car shortly after entering Griffith at its Fern Dell entrance.  Then follow the signs to your right for this fun dusty trail, which will take you past desert fauna and a pleasant ravine.  Your reward is spectacular views of LA and a memorable outdoor moment.  Go with a friend and bring water, because it can get hot!


VENICE BEACH & CANALS

The wide beach of Venice with its super fine sand was a fantastic way for us to end our day in this mellow town. 

But before you put your feet in the Pacific, be sure to explore Venice's charming canal district, with bungalow houses and a resident community of ducks.  Crossing each little canal bridge only brought us more photo ready views!

image of venice beach canal houses


MALIBU:  ZUMA BEACH & FLORES CANYON

Malibu is about 20 minutes north on Pacific Coast Hwy 1 from Santa Monica.  It's a breeze to get there.  Here are three things in short order that made us fall in love with Malibu.

Malibu Fishing Pier image
 
First-up, Malibu Pier and a healthy organic breakfast at the Malibu Farm Cafe.  Perfect to contemplate the crystal clear Pacific with a cup coffee.

After a meal, browse the treasures at the always fun Ranch at the Pier shop.  The store is part of One Gun Ranch, located up in the canyons above Malibu, and who sells their organic produce out of Airstream trailer next to the shop.

surfers on zuma beach malibu

Adjacent to Malibu Pier is Zuma Beach, a great place to take a walk or chill, plant an umbrella and watch the surfing.

View from Flores Canyon Malibu

We love driving, so after the beach, we jumped in our car and drove up to see Flores Canyon, eventually ending up on the twisting and spectacular Rambla Pacifico. A road that afforded us sun-drenched views of the adjacent mountains, and almost vertigo-inducing views of the Pacific Ocean far below!

See the LA Red Map:

LA Red Map city guide