Longing for the wide-open spaces but not interested in making a whole thing out of it? See new vistas, get the kids out of the house, do some exercise and—most importantly—have some fun with one of these awesome outdoor activities in Los Angeles. We’ll take our summer adventure with a side of fresh Cali air, thank you very much.
The 23 Best Outdoor Activities in Los Angeles
1. Trail Ride In Ojai
Leave for your jaunt with the Ojai Valley Trail Riding Company from Osa Ranch, just next to the Ojai Land Conservancy, and enter the fantastically-named (and fantastically untouched) Enchanted Forest for a walk through the Ventura River Valley. The leisurely one-hour excursion allows for tons of sightseeing as you take in the majestic wildlife, the natural preserves and the scenic mountain range. Take the ride at sunset and you’ll be able to see the mountains around this laid-back town glow an otherworldly pink. If you're lucky enough to book your ride during the week (rides are available daily), you'll feel you have the great outdoors all to yourself.
2. Drink Wine On A 4x4 Tour In Malibu
If you’re seeking some adventure with a side of wine, give this two-hour offroad vineyard tour a try! Take in the scenic views of Saddlerock Ranch, possibly spot cute critters (it’s not the wine speaking, you are seeing an actual giraffe), and learn some history when you spot the Chumash Native American cave paintings. You’ll be off roading in a 4x4 and making 2 to 3 beverage stops along the way, trying some of the ranch’s wines and enjoying a cheese and charcuterie board at a picnic stop.
3. Bike Ride Through Santa Barbara Wine Country
If you’re itching for a European vacation, here’s a quick fix: Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours. Bike along the Santa Ynez Valley vineyards and you may just feel you’ve been transported to Italy. These tours are available for all different skill levels, so avid bikers and “I’m just her for the wine” folks alike will find what they need. Each tour includes an artisanal lunch of a farmers' market-sourced sandwich, a seasonal, heirloom organic salad and a delicious bakery fresh cookie. There’s also an upgraded option available that includes a charcuterie plate--what’s wine without cheese? Stop for wine tasting at some of Santa Barbera’s best wineries. Both regular and electric-assist bikes are available.
4. Become A Golfer At Topgolf El Segundo
No matter if you’re a pro or a golfing rookie, Top Golf is a fun (mostly) outdoor experience. The new three-story South Bay location combines technology with golf. Get your own covered but open-air bay where you can hang out, enjoy food from their seasonally-updated menu , partake in some cocktails or beer, and play various games you choose from on the monitor in your bay. (Order the injectable donut holes for dessert one--because they’re delicious and two--because $1 from every order is donated to Make-A-Wish.) Take aim at the giant outfield targets and the tracking device within each golf ball will let you know how you’ve done. Pull up Angry Birds (yes, the game from your phone) on the HDTV in front of you and it will direct you on where to hit your ball that correlates with knocking down bricks to take down those pesky pigs! Great for a date night with a golfer (if he wants to show you his moves), an outing with your gal pals, or fun with the kids. (There’s even an autolaunch button parents can sneakily push to help the little ones think they’ve hit their best shot!) For those golf purists, there is also a traditional 10-hole 3 par course at the site.
5. Jet Ski Along The Santa Monica Coastline
Are you the type of person who wants maximum adrenaline with minimum exertion? Then a jet ski is just your speed—up to 30 miles per hour on the open water, to be exact. Marina Del Rey Boat Rentals lets you ride two to a craft, and will take you on a guided tour for 90 minutes, which we recommend for newbies. If you've ever piloted one of these water motorcycles before, skip the guide and take the WaveRunner out on your own, so you can visit with the sea birds and swimming seals one-on-one. Once you're past the wave break, it's all smooth sailing.
6. Hike A Less-crowded Trail Such As Franklin Canyon
By now, any Angeleno hiker has had the experience of being on a trail and feeling like you’re smack in the middle of a crowded mall rather than a blissful nature bath (we’re looking at your Runyon Canyon). Here’s a lesser-known path that you’ll be surprised is right under your nose: Franklin Canyon Park. This 605 acres of unspoiled land right between Beverly Hills and the San Fernando Valley includes five miles of hiking trails, a lake, a duck pond, grasslands and a mini-forest. You’ll likely see more turtles than people. There are breezy picnic areas, so after your hike you can sit back and have a lazy meal.
7. Take A Hot Air Balloon Ride In Temecula
What better way to start your trip to this great wine region than floating in a hot air balloon with A Grape Escape up above the Temecula Valley? You’ll likely see tons of other balloons floating on your one-hour long journey in the sky since this is kind of Temecula’s thing. Breathe in the fresh air and take in the views of vineyards and citrus groves. You may even see the ocean on a clear day. You’ll end your ride with a hampagne toast—a tradition dating back the 18th century. And, since it’s never too early to drink in wine country, you can start with a wine tasting at Bolero Winery, where your tour begins and ends.
8. Stroll The Quaint, Dog-friendly Town Of Solvang
This little village is nicknamed “a little slice of Denmark,” and after visiting we're asking if the Danish have some special insulin capabilities because one shop after another is pastry, sweets, ice cream...not that we're complaining. Also, the place has a Euro vibe of dog friendliness, with shopkeepers offering your pup biscuits and other treats. And there's outdoor dining at spots like Succulent Cafe, where your pet can even have their own menu to order from.
9. Pedal Boat In A Swan On Echo Park Lake
This is a great way to get some physical activity and really enjoy L.A.’s almost-always perfect weather. Head to Echo Park Lake to rent one of their Swan Boats. The rental is for an hour and reservations are required. Grab a book and find some me-time as you take a break from pedaling, or bring your kids and you’ve got at least one hour figured out on how to entertain them (boats fit up to five people at a time).
10. Climb The Kelso Dunes
The most fascinating Southern California nature site you've never heard of, the Kelso Dunes are a 45-miles-square region on the edge of the Mojave Desert. At only 650 feet tall, it's an easy climb, and since it's closed to vehicles, it's just you (and your water bottle) hiking in. Strange fact: The sands are famous for their “boom” sound, a low rumbling that happens with every step you take, as hot sand spills over cooler sand below. These “singing sands” are only observed in a few places in the world, including the Namib Desert of Africa. Pretty cool, right?
11. Watch A Movie From Your Own Boat
You’re probably aware that Los Angeles loves an outdoor movie screening, and you likely have watched one from amongst the graves at Cinespia. Here’s a new one for you--watch a flick from your own personal mini boat at Boat Cinema. Located 30 minutes from Downtown LA, Boat Cinema takes place at Castaic Lake. BYO picnic and drinks, or you can order a picnic to be brought to you which includes sandwiches, sides, chips, fruit, and dessert. Need a bottle of wine or a bucket of beer? They’ve got that too! Check out their list of movies here… we commend the brave folks who plan to see JAWS in July! If the $200+ rental is above your budget, there’s the more affordable option to sit on the beach.
12. Snorkel In Catalina (via Helicopter)
Catalina Island is the most built-up of the Channel Islands, but it's still enjoyed as a quiet nature spot to get away from the hustle and traffic of the city. Reach it by an hour-long ferry that leaves from Long Beach, or opt for a 15-minute helicopter ride to make the most of your day trip time and enjoy the panoramic view from up above. Scuba divers and snorkelers love the waters around the island because there's lots of sea life including friendly fish hiding among the kelp forests and coral reefs. Book an IEX Helicopters ride and rent your snorkel gear and wetsuit at Two Harbors Activities and Adventures.
13. Zipline In Santa Margarita
About three hours outside of Los Angeles is Santa Margarita, a quaint and rural town located in San Luis Obispo. Visit Santa Margarita Adventures for their Zipline Tour, and you’ll be able to soar through the sky on their six different lines! Zip through pine trees, shriek in fear as you glide over vineyards, and grab your bestie’s hand as you both do their tandem line. Adrenaline junkies will not only love the ziplines but also the walk across the 300-foot suspension bridge to get from the first to the second zipline. In addition to the zipline, your 2 to 2.5 hour adventure will include a guided tour of historic Santa Margarita Ranch where you’ll learn about their sustainable winegrowing, the local wildlife, and more.
14. Take A Gondola Ride In Venice (aka Long Beach)
Are you sensing a theme? Anything that gives us those European vibes, we’re all for! For a nod to Italy, take the Gondola Getaway experience offered along the canals of the Marina Pacifica just south of Long Beach. You can hire a gondolier to steer your vessel for you and a guest while you drink wine and enjoy the sunset. It's super-corny, but in the best way, because who of us isn’t in need of some good ole’ fashion romance?
15. Try Paddleboard Yoga In Marina Del Rey
In the 90-minute YogAQUA yoga class that leaves from Mothers Beach, you spend the first half-hour familiarizing yourself with the eight-foot paddle board and how to pilot it. Then, when your instructor has you positioned in a semi-circle around her, students drop anchor on the back of their paddle board and begin a set of easy stretches and slow sun salutations. The effect of the wobbly board under your feet makes Warrior One pose more challenging than ever before; but the Savasana at the end of class has also never been so relaxing, since you're lying supine, listening to the lightly lapping waves. Oh, and for those yogis on land, try the head stand, because you may find balance even easier on the water.
16. Take Pickleball Lessons At Beverly Hills Tennis
Pickleball seems to be making a name for itself, and if you’re itching to give it a try, head to Beverly Hills Tennis. They offer both private and group lessons for all skill levels. Make friends and discover your new favorite sport this summer! The group classes are 5-week sessions and will be happening all summer long. You can also join a single Mixer, where you’ll be paired up with a partner and be switched up for matches throughout (experienced players only).
17. Drive To Joshua Tree To See Maximum Stars
Joshua Tree is designated an International Dark Sky Park, which means it's the perfect place to stargaze. The Milky Way is most often spottable in the night sky--June and July being the best times to see it. Head to the National Park July 28-29 to spot the Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower at its peak state. However, you’ll likely still be able to see it through early August.
18. Rent A Classic Car And Drive The Angeles Crest Highway
Forget the traffic-clogged PCH on weekends, instead why not rent a cool ride like this Porshe 911 Carrera and hit the Angeles Crest Highway? The CA-2 goes through the San Gabriel Mountains, so catch the tail end of the springtime floral explosion on its byways and then enjoy the stark beauty with large boulders and craggy peaks extending up from the sides of this twisting road. It starts in La Canada then goes 66 miles east to the 138, where in winter the Wrightwood ski area gets busy. Be sure to use Waze, however, in case you need to reroute due to falling debris, and two-lane roads such as this one can get backed up quickly.
19. Lounge At A Private Pool With Swimply
Sometimes you just want to chill and relax by the pool. If you don’t have your own, Swimply is your solution! It’s like Vrbo for pools. Most rentals are around $45 to $75 per hour and they’re available all over the city. Some pools even allow pets, so you can really feel at home. Find your dream pool and pretend it’s yours for the day. No one has to know your secret…
20. Stuff Your Face At Smorgasburg L.a.
Sunday Funday involves lots of eating when you visit Smorgasburg at ROW DTLA. There’s no admission fee and parking in the nearby lot is free for two hours. Walk amongst the rows and rows of vendors serving mouthwatering and unique food and drink options. Take a trip around the world (metaphorically) as you eat foods from all different cuisines like arepas from Sus Arepas and falafels from Israeli vendor B’ivrit. And of course, bring it back to L.A. with a Vegan donut from Donut Friend.
21. Drive To See Some Desert Art
Visible on the highway leading to and from Las Vegas, Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone's public art installation Seven Magic Mountains is as much of an anomaly on the desert floor as Vegas itself. You can walk amid these 30-to-35-foot tall assemblages of local boulders, painted in bright, happy colors, and feel energized by how art can bloom in a desperate place. And how the super-fakeness of the art underscores how supernatural the surrounding mountains and dry lake bed are, by contrast. But since it's smack in the open desert, we highly recommend visiting just after sunrise or just as the sun sets so you don't get heat stroke.
22. Kayak Through The Channel Islands
The perfect day activity for the whole family that will get the adults invigorated and tire the kids out with all the fresh air. Santa Barbara Adventure Company sets you up with double kayaks, a guide and wetsuits along with a basic guide to kayaking on Haskell's Beach before you set off. You'll stop next to a kelp forest and learn about ocean conservation and hear about some of the 1,500 species of plant and animal life in the area. Guests usually wind up kayaking with dolphins and sea lions during their three-mile trip, so keep your eyes peeled.
23. Take In The Beauty At Descanso Gardens
A visit to Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge will give you an instant mood boost. You can’t help but feel joy as you walk amongst the vibrant colored flowers or when you see a small bunny hop on by! There’s always rotating exhibits and now until January, come see Your (Un) Natural Garden, an installation that encourages visitors to touch the art.