Monday, January 2, 2012



This trail is challenging, fun, very sunny, & has great views of Santa Monica, South Bay, Catalina Island, & beautiful homes.  There is a small “waterfall” sometimes.  Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed.  Bring money for parking if you plan to park in the park lot.  There is parking along Sunset Blvd or Temescal Canyon, but you have to hunt for it. 

This trail is long, challenging, & once you reach higher spots along it, you can see 360 views of LA, Santa Monica/South Bay, San Fernando Valley, etc.  Dogs are allowed, & you can mountain bike this trail.

If you like museums, this is a great one.  It has very pretty gardens, beautiful views, & a huge collection of art: paintings, photos, sculpture, antiquities, etc.  You have to pay for parking, but there isn’t an admission fee. 

Some people think this is a great place to visit, & it’s always crowded with locals & tourists. There’s an aquarium, small amusement park, restaurants, etc.  Just south, within walking distance, is the Casa del Mar hotel ( @ the end of Pico).  Occasionally there is  free live music in the lobby/bar area.   The view from their bar/restaurant is beautiful.  The bar serves my favorite salad of the moment: pistachio, arugula, beets (golden & regular), grapefruit, & mozzarella.  

A fun activity you can do from the pier is rent bikes if you don't bring your own  (there are at least 2 rental stands I know of that are easy to see near the pier entrance).  There is a bike trail extending a few miles north of the pier south to Torrance Beach.  I’ve never gone further south than Hermosa Beach.  If you head south from the Pier, you will ride through Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey (the trail goes through the Marina), Playa del Rey, Manhattan Beach, & Hermosa Beach.  From the Marina to Manhattan takes ~ 3 hours round trip, including lunch in Manhattan.  From Santa Monica, I think it would take ~ 4-5 hours depending on how many stops you took.  The path gets quite crowded on the weekend.  I prefer to ride this on a weekday, but you may not mind crowds like I do!

Griffith Park – “East” Hollywood
This is a big park.  There are hiking trails (dog friendly), bike trails, an observatory, horse trails, & a golf course.   Take Los Feliz to Fern Dell, head north on Fern Dell, park on the street, & walk to hike to the observatory.   Here’s a link to Yelp reviews of GP.  The observatory has free admission.  Parking along Fern Dell is also free.

There are many old staircases in LA.  About 70 years ago, our public transit system included trolley cars, & staircases were how homes on hills had access to those trolleys.  If you like climbing stairs, you could have an “urban hike” by following a guide along some of these old hillside stairways.  If you are interested, see this website.   There is a book that should be easy to find at any LA bookstore in the Local Interest section.  The book is Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.  I have done 3 of the walks, & each was really fun.   If you have been to the "Santa Monica Stairs" on 4th St, you have experienced part of these stairs.  The staircases at 4th St are are part of one of the book’s recommended loops.  The SM stairs are usually crowded.  The other stairs I’ve found are not.   The author gives a nice description of each loop, including history & lunch suggestions. 

This is a fun way to get in a “hike” without committing to a long day.  These stairs are sometimes referred to by locals as the “Machu Pichu” stairs.  They are not uniform in height, & are formed from concrete slabs in a hillside.  I like them; it’s like doing walking lunges up a hill.  From the top, you have a nice view of LA, South Bay, LAX, the beach, etc.    
Parking is on the street & can be a challenge.   There is a dirt trail that begins behind a sign that says “Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook”.  Follow it up & to the right, and then you’ll see the stairs.

Downtown Culver City is nearby with fun restaurants, a theater (Kirk Douglas Theater), & a movie theater.   The directions in the link above are from the stairs to an area in Culver City full of restaurants, shops, & a farmers market.  There is parking on the street or in structures. 

Malibu is beautiful.  Just north is Zuma Beach, which can be crowded sometimes, but has plenty of parking.  There are many restaurants in Malibu.  I like Dukes & The Beachcomber.  


This is a great hiking trail.  It’s beautiful, & after a while you don’t feel like you are near a city at all.  It starts out dry & open, but becomes covered & quite shady.  It’s a one way in/out trail, so you can turn back whenever you want. 
There are 4 sections of the trail.  The 1st section ends at “first water,” named at the first intersection of the trial with a creek.  It’s ~ 1.25 miles to this point.  If you continue to the next section, which ends at “Orchard Camp,” you will have hiked ~ 3.3 miles.  If you return from this point, the trip is ~ 3-4 hours round trip.   The rest of the hike is steeper.  The 3rd section ends at “Manzanita Ridge,” ~5.5 miles.  I believe that the section of Orchard Camp to Manzanita is the steepest part.  I’ve only made it past Maznanita twice.  I have seen a bear at the higher portion of the trail, so be careful!
Park anywhere along E Mira Monte or the nearby streets.  Make sure to turn your wheels if you’re on an incline….the local police LOVE to give out tickets.   Walk to the end of Mt Wilson Trail Dr.  The trail-head is at the end of the paved road to the left.  If you want to eat afterward, there are nice little restaurants in Sierra Madre.  There is a sandwich place that also makes smoothies.  I like to eat at a cafĂ© called “The Only Place in Town.”  They have a huge menu. 
The Huntington has beautiful gardens, a nice art collection, & an interesting mansion.  If you like those things, this is worth seeing. 

The Rose Bowl is a fun place to workout & people watch.  There is a 3 mile track around the bowl that people run, walk, & bike.  There are many people playing sports on the lawn within that track.  

I’ve never been, but it is something I want to do.  There are boats that take you to the island, where you can stay at nice hotels.  You can hike, snorkel, zip line, kayak, etc there.  The boats that I know of leave from Marina Del Rey, Long Beach, & Newport Beach.
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