The Best Hidden Picnic Spots Around LA to Dine Alfresco

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The weather is warming up and now’s the time to spread out a blanket and enjoy a meal al fresco on the grass. Read on to discover the best, most under-the-radar picnic destinations around LA that you and the kids can enjoy. And if you are as garden-obsessed as the rest of us, bookmark our “Guide to LA’s Botanical Gardens & Flower Fields to Visit Now.”

Vista Hermosa Natural Park

This 10.5-acre park just outside of downtown LA features walking trails, streams, meadows and oak trees that offer plenty of shade for your picnic. 

100 N. Toluca St. 
Echo Park
Online: mrca.ca.gov

READ: Our Favorite Things to Do with Kids in DTLA

South Coast Botanic Garden

Looking to escape the heat in LA? Make advance reservations before heading to this 87-acre garden on the the Palos Verdes Peninsula, where you'll find a koi pond, rose garden, flowering fruit trees and more. Picnics are permitted in designated areas. 

Good to Know: Don't miss the hide-and-seek art exhibit around the grounds of the South Coast Botanic Garden—fun for all ages!

Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $15 for adults; $5 for children 5-13; and free for children 4 and under.

26300 Crenshaw Blvd.
Palos Verdes
Online: southcoastbotanicgarden.org

The Old Zoo at Griffith Park

Admittedly, an abandoned zoo might not be the first place that comes to mind when choosing a picnic spot for little ones, but we promise your pint-sized explorers will totally dig it. This was the original site of the LA Zoo that opened in 1912 and later closed in 1966, but its remnants, including an empty bear grotto, stone caves and old monkey cages still remain.

Insider Tip: The Old Zoo can be a tad tricky to locate, but if you park in the lot next to the merry-go-round in Griffith Park, it's just a short hike up the hill nearby.

4730 Crystal Springs
Los Angeles
Online: laparks.org/griffithpark

Arlington Gardens in Pasadena

Pasadena's only dedicated public garden offers free access to three acres of of native trees and plants for the whole family to enjoy—including pets! Although there are benches and tables on the grounds, you can always bring your own blanket and tuck into your own private spot.

Hours: Open 7 days a week, during daylight hours
Cost: Free

275 Arlington Dr.
Pasadena
Online: arlingtongardenpasadena.com

Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park

This 8.5 acre park is an urban oasis, located on the corner of Slauson Ave. and Compton Ave. There's a short hiking trail, a pond where kids might spot some ducks and turtles, and plenty of grassy areas for picnicking.

5790 Compton Ave.
South LA
Online: laparks.org

Wattles Mansion and Community Garden

Talk about hiding in plain sight: This destination is walking distance from the always-packed Runyon Canyon, but looks and feels like a world away. Also very pet-friendly.

Fun Fact: Nirvana filmed part of their video for "Come as You Are" in this park. 

Hours: Weekdays, noon-4 p.m; weekends 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: Free

1850 N. Curson Ave. 
Hollywood
Online: laparks.org

—Shannan Rouss & Andie Huber

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