You wouldn’t guess it by looking at our beautiful LA skyline, but below those high rises there are some pretty scenic park escapes. Yup, the City of Angels is home to 181 parks. With so many to chooses from, it’s easy to decide where to take your next picnic or go for a hand-in-hand stroll with a cute date. You could try them all, perhaps finding a new spot where you can retreat after hectic work days and find inner peace. Given the city’s rich history, many of these parks spark a nostalgia and have people reminiscing about how the way things were. Some are memorable for their beauty and use in movie sets, while others provide insight into the region’s way of life. Still, going to a park any day of the week to sit and have a quiet moment is one of our favorite things to do here. Here is our list of the nostalgic parks in LA to spend time and get lost in those moments.
1. Echo Park
Location: 751 Echo Park Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90026
Echo Park Lake is at the top of our list when it comes to nostalgic parks in LA. It recently reopened after a $45 million renovation. Visitors and residents love to have peaceful afternoons here and maybe throw in a leisurely paddle-boating around the lake where they can see the restored Lady of the Lake statue surrounded by rose bushes. At the Time Travel Mart — a storefront for the non-profit writing organization 826LA – find books and perhaps the perfect trinket for remembering your trip. Then have lunch at the Valerie Tea House and Bakery, where you’ll find salads with the freshest seasonal ingredients ( because fresh is best) amid the pastries.
Pro Tip: It can get a little toasty when the California sunshine hits, so to avoid those harmful UV rays make sure you throw on a hat and some sunscreen. We’ve been loving this Alastin Mineral sunscreen. It’s light, not sticky, and gives a nice tint to the skin.
2. Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Location: 4100 S. La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90008
Want a park with it all? Baseball and soccer fields, volleyball courts, children’s play areas, hiking trails, a fishing lakes, and picnic areas. Guess what? It’s here at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. On top of their programming calendar that offer a. lot of events, this park is really known for its hiking trails. It has more than 7 miles of existing trails, enough to get in a full workout in.
3. Palisades Park
Location: Ocean Ave between Colorado Ave. & Adelaide Dr. Santa Monica, CA 90401
Palisades Park has inspired song lyrics since the 1960s and is one of the most beautiful spots in Santa Monica. It stretches 20 acres along Ocean Avenue with a sweeping ocean view. There are picnic areas, a rose garden and if you park near the south end , its an easy walk to the Santa Monica Pier. There you’ll find the original Muscle Beach and Pacific Park (located along the pier). A full-service amusement park where you can enjoy an adrenaline rush. This is a great park to get to all things Santa Monica.
4. Elysian Park
Location: 929 Academy Road, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Do you work downtown? If so, consider taking your lunch at Elysian Park’s 600 secluded acres near the heart of LA. This hilly and lush park is a runner’s paradise, thanks to the miles of unpaved roads and true trails for the off-road adventurer set. You can even do a 5k loop around Dodger Stadium, although you’ll have to watch for closures during game time. Or go for an easy stroll through the park’s grounds and find yourself staying a while on the iconic bridge.
5. Barnsdall Art Park
Location: 4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
The mission of the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation is to provide a colorful, inclusive area for cultural expression, civil empowerment, civic conversation and creativity. Aline Barnsdale donated the property for the children and artists who have loved the hill for decades. The grounds of this nostalgic park include the Hollyhock House, the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre and the Arts and Junior Arts Centers. You can also stroll the olive groves, stopping for a picnic lunch and learning about the many uses of this tree.
6. Griffith Park & Observatory
Location: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
If you dream of interstellar travel, you can take a virtual trip at Griffith Park and Observatory. It lies at the park’s highest point on Mt. Hollywood at 1,625 feet and also was the highlight of the Oscar winning film La La Land. Check out the observatory, plan a picnic on the grounds, or get adventurous and take a hike to the Hollywood sign. The view of the downtown skyline is truly incredible. Those seeking a dose of nostalgia at this park should be sure to hit the following hotspots:
- Autry Museum of the American West: Learn about the art of the pioneer days.
- Greek Theater: Consistently rated one of the best outdoor venues in America.
- Bronson Caves: A series of caverns used in several TV shows — the original “bat cave.
- Travel Town Museum: Children can act as engineers, climb over vintage trains or visit the petting zoo.
7. Lake Hollywood
Location: 3160 Canyon Lake Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Lake Hollywood is a park where you’ll get all the LA vibes and its the place to snap an incredible picture of the Hollywood sign (you may just have to crop a few passersby from the final proof). This nostalgic park gets crowded because it screams the glamour of yesteryear. Another perk of this park is that it’s dog-friendly so bring that frisbee for fido. This is a greta spot to have a pleasant afternoon full of outdoor exercise and lots of extra treats after hiking the trail to the sign or around the reservoir.
8. Los Angeles State Historic Park
Location: 1245 N. Spring St. Los Angeles, CA 90012
This could be the crème de la crème of nostalgic parks in LA. The Los Angeles State Historic Park lies adjacent to Chinatown. So pick up something and head straight to the park for a picnic. Chilled Chow Mein noodles from the Pearl River Deli will fill your belly while you soak in the beautiful views and positive vibes. History buffs will love the Flatiron Building on the north side, the second-oldest industrial structure in the city. The Capitol Milling Company building lies to the south. You can also take in the history of the Pacific Railroad’s River Station and view the waterwheel, freight house, roadhouse, and depot. Pus there are statues and sculptures all around to gaze at.
9. Descanso Gardens
Location: 1418 Descanso Dr, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
Although you’ll need to pay admission to visit this nostalgic LA park, you’ll find the modest entry fee well worth the value you receive. If you live in the area, you can also purchase a membership good for a visit 364 days a year. If you’re a fan of particular flowers check out their online bloom calendar to see what’s in season each month. If you’re planning your wedding or engagement party, you can’t ask for a more picturesque backdrop than the many gardens dotting this location.
10. The Banning Museum
Location: 401 East M Street Wilmington, CA 90744
The Banning Museum is the 25th Historical-Cultural monument in Los Angeles and lies surrounded by 20 acres of beautifully manicured grounds for your picnicking pleasure. The mansion itself is a rare example of the Greek Revival style and a true balst from the past. This nostalgic park offers public tours and educational programs for children. Check out their current exhibits and events pages to plan your trip to coordinate with special celebrations.
Now that you know where to picnic, pick up some lunch from our top places in LA.