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A Walk Through The Best Green Spaces in Los Angeles

April 13, 2021

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From famed Griffith Park in Los Angeles to the best city parks that you may not know about, plus some hidden gems, let’s look at the nature in and around Los Angeles.

Exposition Park's Rose Garden

Located across the street from UCLA, Exposition Park is perhaps best known for its multiple museums. But you'll find lots of wonderful green spaces all over Exposition Park's grounds, and the most dramatic is its Rose Garden. Stroll through seven acres of pristine gardens, overflowing with thousands and thousands of rose bushes. Settle down at one of the charming gazebos to just take it all in. Then head over to the central fountain to see (and smell) the colorful array of blooms arranged around the serene space.


The Ever-Popular Griffith Park

Any talk of green spaces in Los Angeles must include a mention of Griffith Park. With more than 4,000 acres of green grounds, it's one of North America's largest urban parks, home to 53 miles of nature trails. Plus, tennis courts, pools, a golf course, and even an equestrian center. It's no wonder why about ten million people visit the park each year. While the Griffith Observatory may have the most fame, the hiking trails offer more in terms of nature escapes. Stroll among lush ferns as you pass through the aptly named Fern Dell, and do some exotic cave exploring right in the city with a walk through the Bronson Caves (you might recognize them from the 60s Batman TV series). And if you decide to explore Griffith Park on horseback, you can trot to an up-close look at the iconic Hollywood Sign.

Griffith Park welcome signPhoto Credit: Nico Amatullo / Unsplash


Amir's Garden

While most Los Angelenos know about Griffith Park, many fewer have heard of Amir’s Garden in Griffith Park. Perhaps some have looked up with wonder at a ridge that seems almost unnaturally forested compared to the surrounding dry landscape. The oasis exists because the late Amir Dialameh, a local wine merchant and hiking enthusiast, set out to return life to a swath of land that was scorched in a fire in 1970. Today the late Amir's work continues, with volunteers who maintain the green space that abounds with jacaranda and pine trees, as well as yucca, oleander, and rose bushes spread across about five stunning acres. For a shady break with wonderful views on a hike, Amir's Garden is hard to beat.

Amir Dialameh in front of Amir's Garden signPhoto Credit: Amir's Garden / Facebook


Elysian Park for a Crowd-Free Nature Break

Though it is the oldest public green space in Los Angeles, founded in 1886, Elysian Park has long stayed somewhat under the radar. It's rarely overrun by visitors. So you can enjoy lots of space for roaming around—with around 600 acres Elysian Park is second to only Griffith Park in terms of size. While its dirt trails and greenery aren't as well maintained as other municipal parks, hikes through Elysian Park take you through wonderful hilly terrain dotted by groves of palm trees. Enjoy fantastic views all around, namely of Dodger Stadium, the Hollywood Hills, and the Downtown LA skyline. One hiking highlight is to Angel's Point and the Grace E. Simons Memorial Sculpture, honoring the namesake activist who helped save Elysian Park from urban development.

Elysian Park, LAPhoto Credit: Ali Eminov / Flickr


Japanese Garden at the Sepulveda Basin

Set across from the Sepulveda Basin on the edge of Van Nuys, the Japanese Gardens are exactly what the name says. It's hard to find a more calm-inducing stroll through an LA green space such as this. Across more than six acres you'll find a tea garden, a "wet-strolling" garden, and a Zen-meditation garden. Walk footpaths that wind through cherry blossom trees, over stone bridges, and past traditional tea houses to a central pond. And since it is LA, a bit of industrial chic is in order. The garden is fed by water from the adjacent Donald J. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, a futuristic structure that keen-eyed Star Trek fans might recognize as the Starfleet Academy on Earth.


Gardens at Union Station

Many moviegoers are familiar with Union Station, as the landmark structure has been featured in near-countless films. But do you know about the site's gardens? All of them? Some of the green spaces are prominent, such as the gardens and courtyards close to the main historical building. But stroll a bit away from there, to the eastern side of the property and you'll find a sunken outdoor space with fountains, waterfalls, gardens, and benches for you to have a seat and simply enjoy it all.


Virginia Robinson Gardens

The grounds around a historic Beverly Hills estate welcome you to explore its botanical gardens and manicured lawns, available to tour by appointment. Former owners Virginia and Harry Robinson, of the Robinsons department stores, were famous for throwing lavish garden parties at the property that covers more than six acres in an upscale residential neighborhood.

Seems like there’s nature in Los Angeles just about everywhere you look—if you know where to look. Now that you do, grab your favorite sunglasses and go out to discover those gardens and parks in Los Angeles.

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

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