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6 Wonderful Places To Enjoy The Outdoors Around Los Angeles

Here's our list of ways to feel like you're a million miles from the city, even if you're right in the middle of it or just a short drive away. Let us know your favorites in the comments (if you're feeling particularly generous).

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Palos Verdes tidepools (Photo by Khris Griffis via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

PALOS VERDES TIDEPOOLS

The Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is a great place to take in some beautiful views of the coast (and Catalina in the distance), take in some greenery and most importantly hang out with some pretty gnarly sea creatures. Check the and Head to the coast around low tide, but please don't bring your fancy shoes so you'll survive the steep trail down. You'll find tidepools teeming with sea urchin, starfish, sea anemone, crabs and sea slugs.

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is located at 5970 Palos Verdes Drive South in Rancho Palos Verdes. Parking in the nearby lot costs $5.

BALLONA CREEK

My favorite bike ride in town is the Ballona Creek Bike Path that runs along the creek. Start out on the Eastside of Culver City at Syd Kronenthal Park, where it definitely feels like you're right in the middle of the city (because you are). You're surrounded on all sides by art- and graffiti-filled concrete. You're outside but it doesn't feel quite like nature yet. But as you head southwest, it feels like the city is sort of melting away. An ocean breeze picks up, the creek widens, there's less concrete and more flowers. The payoff comes when you finally hit the ocean in Playa Del Rey. If you're kind of a biking noob, you can bask in the glow of completing eight miles while you watch the boats pass by in the Marina. If you've still got some gas left in the tank, you can continue biking on the paths along the coast in either direction. If biking isn't your thing, you can walk or jog along the path. Or you can take a leisurely stroll and do some bird-watching on the mile-long path around the Ballona Marshes. They're right by the coast and are particularly lovely to visit in spring (especially near sunset).

For more information on accessing the bike path, visit Los Angeles Bike Paths. We have directions on how to access the wetlands here and you can keep up with the latest news or find out about guided tours on the Friends of Ballona site.

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The Grotto in Malibu (Photo courtesy of Zach Evans)

THE GROTTO IN MALIBU

Malibu's trail to The Grotto is a little slice of heaven when you want to escape L.A. (and especially if you're getting bored of hiking Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park). Hidden in a secluded spot in the Santa Monica Mountains, this trail used to be home to a Boy Scout camp for adventure-seeking. The 3-mile roundtrip hike on the trail is a pretty easy one going down, but you might get a burn working out on the way back up the incline. You'll get your adventurous kick in by getting a chance to climb boulders, explore a cave, hang out at a grotto and by a waterfall. Sometimes it's the destination that matters the most.

However, keep in mind that there aren't any signs on the hike that will point you in the direction to the grotto, so definitely take some notes with you on how to get there, which can be found here. Also, pro-tip is that you might lose cell reception while you're out there, so print out directions for the drive to the start of the trail located at 12896 Yerba Buena Road in Malibu. Make your way over to Circle X Ranch and then park at the Ranger Station on Yerba Buena Road. For more information, visit this website. —Jean Trinh

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A shaded path (Photo by David Schless via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

LAKE SHRINE

Los Angeles is known for its untamed wilderness abutting the urban landscape, but we have some gorgeous, well-kept gardens, too. One of those places is the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in the Pacific Palisades, which founded and dedicated in 1950 by the religious leader Paramahansa Yogananda who brought his East-meets-West theology to Southern California. The ten acres of property are owned by the religious group that carries on his tradition, but it's open to anyone looking for a fix of good vibes and tranquility (and what is more Angeleno than that?). They do offer yoga and meditation classes, but visiting the shrine is free and relaxing (especially if you go during off times) There's a lovely little shaded path that goes around the lake where you can stroll around while you watch the swans and fowl or take in the flora from all around the globe. And in case you were wondering, the shrine in question is dedicated to Gandhi's ashes.

The Self-Realization Fellowship Shrine is located at 17190 Sunset Blvd. in the Pacific Palisades, (310) 454-4114. The gardens are open Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. until 4:30 pm and Sunday noon until 4:30 pm.

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Chantry Flat (Photo by John Wood via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

CHANTRY FLAT

There are approximately a bajillion amazing places to hike in the Angeles National Forest, but Chantry Flat in the hills above Arcadia is a great place to start and then end your journey (with a picnic!) A good beginner hike is the trail to Sturtevant Falls—any place with waterfalls is definitely a highlight. The lush, shaded hike alongside a creek that leads to the falls (that might not be so robust in this time of drought) is about four miles roundtrip. The hike to Hermit Falls is just under three miles, leads to a beautiful pool at the end, but be careful if you're a thrill-seeker into rock-jumping. Unlike other hikes, a lot of these trails are downhill in and uphill on the way out, so conserve your energy so you can make it back. Chantry Flats is a really popular entry point in the Angeles National Forest, so carpool and come a little early or a little late if you can help it. Look out for fee-free days to save money on the Adventure Passes, which typically cost $5 a day or $30 for an annual pass.

Chantry Flat is located about 4.6 miles up Santa Anita Avenue, which is easy to get to from the 210 Freeway. Here's a very thorough description of the hike to Sturtevant Falls and Hermit Falls.

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ECHO PARK LAKE

We know you know where this is. But damn, Echo Park Lake has been looking good since it went through rehab. Its lotuses are back (and the nets protecting them have been lifted!) The pedal boats are back, too, but this time they're serving delicious fare from Square One. Take a stroll around the lake, pedal on the boats for $10 if you really want a workout or climb the public staircases on either side of the lake for some beautiful views of the lake and the downtown skyline.

Echo Park Lake is located at 751 Echo Park Ave. in Echo Park

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