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A Park a Day: Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Culver City

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July is National Parks & Recreation Month, and all month long LAist will be featuring a hand-selected park a day to showcase just a few of the wonderful recreation spaces--big or small--in the Los Angeles area.

At first glance, the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City looks quite simple: park on Jefferson Blvd and start climbing the 282 concrete stairs that make up the steep half mile climb. Then catch your breath, hydrate, and enjoy sweeping views of downtown, the Hollywood sign, and the Pacific Ocean. After you regain your composure, head down the same 282 steps and drive home.

First-time visitors can be forgiven for thinking that this is all the park has to offer. Fortunately, LAist readers will now know better. In addition to the imposing stairs, there is a dirt trail that winds around the 58 acre park. You will be rewarded with glimpses of birds, native wildflowers, and a fun game of Don't Step on the Snails.

After you've worked up a sweat and enjoyed the oasis of flora and fauna in the midst of the concrete jungle, you MUST walk past the overlook and find the visitor's center. It's a shame how many people either don't notice the visitor's center or don't bother to make the short trek.

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Opened two and a half years ago, the visitor's center provides a primer on many topics in Los Angeles history. Learn about why the LA River was encased in concrete (flooding), unique properties of the region's mediterranean climate, and how community activism saved the park from development in 2000. In the proudly sustainable building, you can rest your feet while watching a 12-minute video about the park and the surrounding region. When you eventually make your sweaty descent back into the commercial heart of Culver City, you'll be thankful that a group of residents banded together to save this beautiful patch of nature from further development.

Find the park on Facebook or Twitter to stay informed about upcoming tours and community events. Information about the Native Plants of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook can be found here.

Park Hours: 8 am to Sunset daily
Visitor Center generally open Fri-Sun. Call ahead: 310-558-5547