The Best Picnic Spots In Los Angeles
The good news is that Los Angeles offers great picnic weather practically year-round. The bad news is you’ve been desperately in search of the perfect picnic spot to take your stylish new blankets and basket for a spin. Thankfully, we’ve rounded up the most picturesque picnic locations around L.A. to help you find a few new favorite spots to enjoy your delicious movable feast in the great outdoors.
Whether you’re planning a date, getting a group together for a celebration or just want to unwind after a long week, there are plenty of great locations around town to stake your claim. From sprawling lawns to charmingly-secluded locations, here are the best picnic spots in Los Angeles.
BARNSDALL ART PARK
Tucked on the border of Los Feliz and Little Armenia, Barnsdall Art Park might just escape your sights if you’re cruising down Hollywood Blvd. or Vermont Ave., but this stellar picnic destination is not to be missed. Centered on the recently renovated and reopened Hollyhock House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Barnsdall offers sunny lawns and shaded groves for you to enjoy your picnic spoils. The 11-acre park also provides beautiful views from atop Olive Hill, summer wine tastings every Friday night in September, a Wednesday afternoon farmer’s market to stock up for your picnic, frequent events at the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery, and plenty of cultural activities throughout the year to complement your picnicking excursion.
Barnsdall Art Park is located at 4800 Hollywood Blvd. in Los Feliz/East Hollywood.
This hidden jewel of Griffith Park requires a bit of a hike to reach, but the impressive views, well-tended grounds and secretive location are totally worth the trek. Pack up your picnic and park by the Mineral Wells Picnic area just off Griffith Park Drive near the Wilson Golf Course in the northeast corner of the park. Head up the wide and frequently used fire road until you pass Water Tank #73, where just around the next curve you’ll find tables and a sign marking the entrance to “Amir’s Garden”. Beginning in 1971, park-lover Amir Dialameh began single-handedly cultivating this 5-acre plot after the city gave him permission to replant an area hit by a brushfire. Amir cleared over 200 charred tree stumps and carried in over 60 varieties of trees and shrubs, including rose bushes, geraniums, oleander and yucca. And while Amir passed away in 2003, the beautiful, terraced garden is still maintained by volunteers and offers a shady refuge and plenty of picnic benches for intrepid picnickers.
EXPOSITION PARK ROSE GARDEN
Just across the street from USC, you’ll find the stunning seven-acre Rose Garden perfect for an afternoon of picnicking. Beautifully manicured grass bordered by colorful and fragrant rows of rose beds provide a plenty of secluded nooks to layout your blanket. Take a stroll to admire roughly 200 varieties of roses found in over 15,000 bushes, walk around the circular fountain, check out the gazebos and statues, and maybe even photobomb a wedding portrait or two, which you’ll find frequently taking place around the gardens. If you’re looking for some post-picnic culture, pack up your basket and head over to the nearby Natural History Museum, California Science Center or the California African American Museum.
Exposition Park Rose Garden is located at 701 State Dr. near USC.
Located just on the border of Torrance and the Palos Verdes estates, this neighborhood favorite may be officially known as Los Arboles Park, but those-in-the-know refer to it as Rocketship Park. The namesake, 28-foot steel rocketship playground structure has welcomed kids since the early 1960s-with a temporary absence for safety improvements in the 90s-while the jaw-dropping, panoramic views of the L.A. basin from have enticed picnickers for just as long. One of the highest points in the city (you may even spot the Hollywood sign or the Getty Center on a clear day), the six acres of grass offer an ideal picnic spot for romantic dates or lazy Sunday outings alike.
Los Arboles Park is located at 5101 Calle de Ricardo in Torrance.
Grand Park (via Facebook)
While it may not be as secluded as some of the other parks on this list, Grand Park still delivers with plenty of great spots to picnic right in the heart of downtown. Covering 12-acres from Spring Street by City Hall to the Music Center by Grand Avenue, this sprawling park is one of the newer options for picnickers with four distinct areas to unwind and enjoy your open-air feast. Head to the grand event lawn, the community terrace, the smaller performance lawn or the area around the restored Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, to spread out your blankets. Or you could recline on some of the hard-to-miss neon pink chairs to enjoy your feast and if you run out of food or drink, you can always hit up the on-site vendors or the frequent roving food trucks. You may even catch a free concerts, performance or yoga class to accompany your picnic, depending on the day.
Grand Park is located at 200 N. Grand Ave. in Downtown.
THE OLD ZOO
If you haven’t yet explored the old cages and stone caves of the abandoned Griffith Park Zoo, it’s time to pack your picnic and head to the southwest corner of the Griffith Park, just past the merry-go-round. After a short walk up from the small parking area, you’ll find a large swath of grass and several picnic tables-including one inside one of old exhibit area-where you can spread out your potluck of homemade goodies and Trader Joe's finds. Opened in 1912 and basically ditched in 1966 when the new Los Angeles zoo was opened, the Old Zoo does have a mildly creepy vibe, but the old stone structures make for a unique backdrop for all of your picnic selfies. Time your visit right and you can enjoy your picnic before or during a performance of the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival, which takes place through the late spring and summer.
The Old Zoo is located by 4730 Crystal Springs Dr. in Griffith Park.
WILL ROGERS STATE HISTORIC PARK
The former Pacific Palisades Estate of actor Will Rogers, this 186-acre property offers plenty of picnicking opportunities to wile away an afternoon. While there are plenty of great hiking trails, a historic ranch house to explore, and excellent views of the city from Inspiration Point, you’re here for the well-manicured lawn to roll out your picnic spread. Grab a spot by one of the grills if you plan to fire up your fete or just stake your claim on a sunny stretch of grass. Head to the park on a weekend from April to October and you’re likely to catch the Will Rogers Polo club playing a match on L.A. County’s only outdoor polo field.
Will Rogers State Historic Park is located at 1501 Will Rogers State Park Dr. in Pacific Palisades.
LAKE BALBOA/ANTHONY C. BEILENSON PARK
Head to the waters edge of Lake Balboa in this massive park in Van Nuys for some prime picnic locations. The park offers plenty of picnic tables (sheltered and unsheltered), barbecue pits for grilling, and huge areas to spread out your blanket, all offering great views and breezes from the lake. Spring is a great time to visit the park when over two thousand cherry blossom trees bloom and offer a radiant pink glow for picnickers. Feel like being a bit active before or after your picnic? The park also offers a golf course, tennis courts and a roughly 5-mile running path. Then again, you could just lie back down on that blanket of yours.
Lake Balboa/Anthony C. Beilenson Park is located at 6300 Balboa Blvd. in Van Nuys.
Echo Park Lake (Photo by Char/LAist)
ECHO PARK LAKE
Only a few years ago, Echo Park Lake was far from the most desirable picnicking spots round town, but after an impressive $45-million restoration, the area is once again an attractive destination for the picnic-minded. Shade, barbecue pits and picnic tables are in somewhat short supply, but if you’re looking for a sunny stretch there are plenty to go around, all with great views of the lake. Take a stroll to check out the hundreds of lotus plants, take to the water in a rented paddleboat or gondola, or grab some supplementary bites and drinks from the reliably delicious Square One café in the boathouse.
Echo Park Lake is located at 751 Echo Park Ave. in Echo Park.
Polliwog Park (via Facebook)
The largest park in the South Bay, Polliwog delivers 18-acres of choice picnic real estate. Grab yourself a spot of green near the large pond or get there early to reserve one of the 15 picnic tables, eight of which can be reserved for a minimum of two hours and a maximum of six, though you may have to share one of the six grills if you plan to do any cooking. Or if gazebo picnicking is your thing, you can reserve in advance one of the three in the park for two-hour periods. The pond is bordered by a huge natural wildlife refuge, and features an amphitheater that frequently hosts free concerts, performances and special events. The park also offers plenty of opportunities for post-picnic exploration, including the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden, the City Historical Museum and a dog run. Oh, and did we mention there’s a 9-hole disc golf course? Yeah, how’s that for a solid picnic activity? Just don’t eat too much potato salad beforehand.