The Six Best Places In L.A. To Enjoy The Outdoors If You Hate The Outdoors
There are many definitions of "outdoors." Here are some of our very favorite, uniquely Los Angeles ways to experience the great outdoors. A few are obvious, and some are, shall we say, unlikely. If you really can't handle it, we still have at least seven different round-ups of good places to hike in the L.A. area at the ready.
Neptune's Net (Photo by Carlfbagge via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
Neptune's Net is a classic seafood shack and biker bar on Pacific Coast Highway. It's way out there in deep Malibu, practically at the county line. There are burgers, beer, fried fish and glorious ocean breezes. Sit at a wooden booth in a sandy bikini amidst many an aging Hells Angel and admire the beach from across the street, which, come to think of it, is a great place for the beach to be. And like all great L.A. locales, Neptune's Net has cameoed in plenty of movies, including Point Break and The Fast and the Furious.
Neptune's Net is located at 42505 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, (310) 457-3095.
(Photo by Passion Leica via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
Forget Griffith Park—there is nowhere I would rather walk than down the Boulevard, in all its viscous bigness. Particularly at golden hour, when anything is possible and all the trodden stars glow. To be clear, we are talking about the roughly 1.5-mile stretch between N. La Brea Avenue and N. Bronson Avenue by the 101 onramp. Hollywood Boulevard as an entity (and not just a street) begins abruptly, almost implausibly, at La Brea. The section between La Brea and Highland is a veritable tourist Disneyland, albeit with live snakes, costumed Marilyn fakes, and an unshakable sense of quiet desperation. It is a hustle bustle wonderland that grows increasingly seedy as one heads east. The streets are thick with tour buses and broken dreams, garish and gorgeous and smelling vaguely like pee. This is the Los Angeles you dreamed about, which is why that girl walking by is crying and wheeling a suitcase.
Hollywood Boulevard is located on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.
(Photo by Julia Wick/LAist)
Are the Dodgers good this year? Who cares! Baseball is about the atmosphere. Over half a century ago, Walter O'Malley had a vision of bringing the Brooklyn Dodgers west so we could watch games under the California sun. That is an oversimplification, but so is the joy of watching night fall over the bright lights of Dodger Stadium. Get drunk in the parking lot, buy tickets for the cheap seats, sing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," and don't blame me if you have a stomachache after two Dodger Dogs.
Dodger Stadium is located at 1000 Vin Scully Avenue in Elysian Park.
(Photo by BKL via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
PARKED ON MULHOLLAND DRIVE
Roman Polanski once said that Los Angeles is the most beautiful city in the world, as long as it's seen at night and from a distance. Whatever your feelings on Polanski, it's hard to disagree with the sentiment. And nowhere is Los Angeles more beautiful at night and from a distance than at the top of Mulholland Drive. Rent a convertible or borrow your mom's station wagon and circle your way to any one of the scenic overlooks. The test of any true Angeleno, after all, is whether you've ever made out in the backseat of a car parked on Mulholland Drive.
The Hollywood Bowl Overlook is located at 7036 Mulholland Dr. The Universal City Overlook is at 7701 Mulholland Dr.
Vista Hermosa Park, but this picture doesn't fully do it justice. Just go. (Photo by Ryan Loeffler via the LAist Flickr Pool)
VISTA HERMOSA PARK
Vista Hermosa Park makes no sense. It's practically in the center of the city, at the western edge of downtown near the intersection of the 110 and the 101 freeways, and yet it's an urban wilderness park that really feels like an urban wilderness park. You could be a block away and not even know that a hilly, 10.5-acre park exists in this densely populated neighborhood, until you enter Vista Hermosa, and it actually smells like the Santa Monica Mountains. It's a trick of the landscaping: there are plenty of mature trees and tall native grasses and shrubs that not only lend fragrance, but also the illusion of being deep in the California chaparral. And that's why Vista Hermosa Park made this list—because it's an illusion, and despite the lovely scent of sagebrush and opportunity for a picnic, you are still mere feet from major streets and public transportation. Vista Hermosa not only offers staggering views of downtown, but it also adds much-needed green space to a notoriously park-poor part of town. So take a minute to contemplate the fight for environmental justice in the city before you take a selfie from the bench
Vista Hermosa Park is located at 100 N Toluca St., Westlake.
McClure Tunnel (Photo via Wikimapia.org)
What do people who love the outdoors love about the outdoors? I presume it has something to do with feeling small among the mighty landscape, or perhaps being wowed by its beauty. (I'm really just guessing here, so I could be totally off. Feel free to correct me in the comments!) Regardless, emerging from the McClure Tunnel is no less astounding than C.S. Lewis' wardrobe passage into Narnia. Crammed across the heavy concrete of the 10, you reach the end of the freeway—and can go no further west. You enter into temporary darkness, and then, whoosh, all the world is blue. Suddenly, magically, the ocean is before you and so is the sky. Baby, you're on the Pacific Coast Highway now, so turn up the radio and roll down your windows. Manifest destiny, achieved.
"California," as Joan Didion once wrote (Slouching Towards Bethlehem, page 172), "is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension; in which the mind is troubled by some buried but ineradicable suspicion that things better work here, because here, beneath the immense bleached sky, is where we run out of continent." And nowhere is that sensation stronger than the moment a driver is reborn through the McClure Tunnel. Is it possible that loving the outdoors has something to do with truly feeling a place? If so, this is as good as it will ever get.
The McClure Tunnel is located in Santa Monica at the edge of North America and the end of the 10 freeway, where the 10 turns into Pacific Coast Highway.