Los Angeles, CA

Places to Safely Visit in Los Angeles During the Pandemic

James Shih

Los Angeles, the city of Angels. Yes, traffic can be bad and air quality is not great sometimes, yet this large expanse of a city has many gems and places to explore. There are so many neighborhoods and communities in LA as well as parks and places for hiking.

In this article, I’ll briefly go over some of the safe places and things you can do during the pandemic. You want to make sure that you’re following CDC guidelines when visiting. Also, to limit the spread and exposure of COVID-19, you want to limit your travel and visit locally, so this article is mainly for those living in or close to LA.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list but hopefully it will help you find a new place of inspiration for you.


Photo by Nico Amatullo from Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park.

The Outdoors

Griffith Park: a large expansive park area near the Los Feliz neighborhood of LA, Griffith Park has 4,210 acres of terrain with amazing hiking trails and the must-see Griffith Observatory on Mount Hollywood. You’ll be able to catch sight of the Hollywood sign not too far off. The Griffith Park Train Rides, which are popular for families and children, is closed until further notice, but check out their site for updates.

Runyon Canyon: currently open, with limited trail access, Runyon is a popular spot for hiking for LA natives, visitors, celebrities, etc...Parking can be really bad on busy days like the weekends, so plan accordingly and check the signs. It is located near West Hollywood and is a moderate, 2.7 mile hike. Be sure to have a face mask and water available. At the entrance, last time I checked there was a drink stand that lets you buy drinks with Venmo.

Los Angeles River Trail is a great cycling trail for those looking to ride along the LA river and see various bird life and riverbeds. The length of this bike path is 23.9 miles, but you can choose to ride just sections of it like Glendale-Burbank. From the San Fernando Valley, there’s a connection with the Orange Line Bike Path which is another nice path that offers a pleasant ride through northern LA. On the LA River Trail, there are a number of homeless encampments, so do be careful and riding with a friend is recommended.

Echo Park Lake is in the center of the artistic neighborhood of Echo Park in east-central LA. This outdoor space offers a brisk 1 mile loop around the lake. The lake has been around since 1860 and is a beautiful space with palm trees, birds, and there’s pedal boating, but be sure to check with the local business to see if there are any restrictions during the pandemic.


Urban Light photo from LACMA.

In the City:

Los Angeles County Museum of Art: is the home of the iconic Urban Light exhibit that is stationed just outside it’s doors and is free for visitors to walk between and take photos of. There is a people limit and there’s usually a guard stationed there to inform you. The doors to the museum are closed, but the outdoor plaza is open daily with outdoor artworks available for view like the “Levitated Mass,” which is a large rock over a narrow path.

Little Tokyo is a community near downtown Los Angeles that has been a center for Japanese culture and heritage since 1890 when the “Japanese Association of Los Angeles” was formed. This place has some of the best Japanese food in SoCal such as Daikokuya, Suehiro Cafe, Rakka Ramen, and Sushi Gen to name just a few. The area is also home for community organizations like the Little Tokyo Service Center and East and West Players for anyone that wants to volunteer and give back to the community or help the arts.

Koreatown is a Korean ethnic enclave of Los Angeles that boasts some of the best Korean food outside of Korea. The area has a very diverse demographic, with Latinos and Asians being the two largest ethnic groups. 6th Street and Normandie Ave is a popular intersection, with well known Korean BBQ spots like Kang Ho Dang Baekjeong or restaurants like Sun Nong Dan nearby.


Malibu Creek State Park. Photo from NPS.org.

Other Activities

Here's a mix of activities that can be fun and safely enjoyed in the Los Angeles area.

A drive through the Santa Monica Mountains either to or from the Pacific Coast Highway during the day is a nice scenic drive that offers some beautiful views of the mountains. Along the Pacific Coast Highway you can also catch expansive sights of the ocean and the horizon.

Walk around downtown and visit The Last Bookstore, an iconic bookstore in Los Angeles. There you can find an excellent selection of new and old books and on the second floor you can find works from local artists for sale.

Roy Choi's famous Kogi Taqueria Truck combines Korean cuisine with tacos and can be enjoyed on Taco Tuesday's and other dates. Find the listed times here on their website. Chef Choi is not only known for his excellent dishes, but also for giving back to the community and deserves the support.

A visit to Will Rogers State Park where you can watch horses, picnic, and do a short hike in the hills. It's nice area that's a short drive from UCLA and is named after the famous actor Will Rogers whose family owned the area before it was donated to the CA State Parks.

Catch a movie at a local drive-in theater. Though most in-theater screenings are postponed until the pandemic is contained, you can still enjoy movies in your car at a drive-in. Sound is heard by tuning your vehicle to a specific station given to you by the cashier. If you'd like to have better sound, you can purchase your own portable FM Radio to bring and use as a speaker. Some local favorites: WE Drive-Ins (Santa Monica), Arena Cinelounge Drive-In (Hollywood), Weekend Drive-In at the Roadium (Torrance).

Buy some fresh vegetables at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, open on Wednesday's and Saturdays. Be sure to check their website for any changes.


Inside the Last Bookstore. Photo by Steve Kenniff.

Whatever activity you do, be sure to be safe and protect yourself and others. For more activities, check out this online magazine for ideas. Have fun!

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I enjoy writing about film/TV, travel, slice of life, language, Asian American issues, and other interests. Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment or message if you have any thoughts to share =).

Los Angeles, CA

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