Though Los Angeles is a hectic, crowded city, Southern California is blessed with many hidden gems and outdoor places that you can escape to. Therefore, we have compiled this list of the best places to chill out in Los Angeles and Southern California, which includes natural wonders, hidden gems, phenomenal views, epic trails, or just relaxing environments.
So this spring, pack a rug, take a picnic, take yourself outdoors into these natural wonders and chill out no matter what day of the week.
Everyone, local and visitor alike, knows about this 4210-acre park, home to many hiking trails and the Griffith Observatory. So we couldn't really call it a hidden gem, but it is one of the largest urban parks in the U.S and an inspiring outdoor place.
The best thing about it is that there are over 50 trails and areas of the park to explore that you can find your own space to chill out even with lots of visitors to the park.
Additionally, the Griffith Observatory offers one of the best vantage points in Los Angeles, with views of the Hollywood sign. If you like to get up early, it is a great place to watch the sunrise over the canyons and city, minus the crowds.
4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles.
Hollywood Lake Reservoir
Most people head to Griffith Park. You will find Hollywood Lake Reservoir a lot quieter, and with fewer people there, it is a relaxing retreat.
A 3.3-mile flat walking path surrounds the Hollywood Lake Reservoir, and from some spots, you can see the Hollywood Sign.
The best thing of all is the wildlife. The area is abundant in birds, and rabbits are not uncommon.
2600 Lake Hollywood Dr. Los Angeles.
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The 160-acre park offers a 3-mile hike up Runyon Canyon with a fantastic view of Los Angeles.
It has become a popular spot, so you will not likely find solitude. However, it is still an excellent place to relax in nature, get some exercise and take your dog for a walk. Plus, the sunrises and views are remarkable.
Runyon Canyon. 2000 N Fuller Ave, Los Angeles.
Eaton Canyon Falls
The Eaton Canyon Nature Area has many trails, but the best one is only 3.5 miles round trip through the woods to the 50 foot plunging waterfall.
It's a great spot to cool off before the more challenging eight-mile hike to the Mt. Wilson Observatory.
Eaton Canyon Nature Area. Los Angeles, California.
“Nature. That’s the one thing that tips the balance in terms of living here in California. Within minutes, I can be in a desert, at the ocean, in a park, and that’s the most nourishing food for my soul." – Lara Pulver
For those who like to get off the beaten path and those who love a bit of a road trip, the views on Box Canyon Road are phenomenal.
This remote canyon is a California hidden gem that many locals don't know about. However, it is just 40 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles.
The hills around the canyon are full of slot canyons and narrow ravines. There are perfect Instagram captures, plus the hideaway has a bit of a dark history as the base of a doomsday cult.
Read more about this hidden gem - Many locals do not know about this hidden gem under 1 hour from Los Angeles, California.
Los Leones hiking trail
This one is a must for those active people who love a morning hike with phenomenal views.
The Los Leones Trail offers views that look over the Pacific Ocean all the way to Catalina Island!
"This hike never gets old! For some reason, whenever I go on this same hike with my friend, it always looks different and is a different experience. This hike is about 2ish miles round trip, and the scenery is always super pretty. It's intense when the weather is super warm; but when chilly and more windy, the hike is like a nice stroll too. I've introduced about 3 other friends to this hike and they all like it too." - Esther W., Yelp, June 2021.
510 Los Leones Dr. Pacific Palisades, California.
Echo Park Lake
This retreat in the center of the inner-city artistic neighborhood of Echo Park offers nature and epic city views. It's also another perfect place to watch the sunrise reflect on the lake.
There is a pleasant 1-mile walk around the lake and the opportunity to see birdlife among the palms. There's even a chance to hire a paddleboat to float on the lake and swan pedal boats for night hires. (Reservations are required.) It doesn't get any more chilled out than this!
1632 Bellevue Ave. Los Angeles.
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Thanks to everyone for following us. We have traveled to over 25 states in the U.S. and lived in 3 (including Los Angeles, California). Our goal is to give you ideas on interesting & fun things to do, get more adventure and travel in your life, and improve your lifestyle.