Aren’t we all thrilled to step out of our homes after spending a year indoors? LA attractions are opening their doors to Angelenos and tourists – it’s time to start exploring the City of Dreams again. But this time, let’s get away from the glitz and glamour to explore another side of Los Angeles – the outdoors!
You can spend a day or less at these top LA attractions while safely following social distancing norms in a conveniently wide-open space.
Spend a Day at the LA Zoo
The LA Zoo is now open with ‘new normal’ upgrades like timed entries with advance ticket purchases. While many activities are still suspended, the chance to get out and say hello to the zoo’s residents is surely a treat after a year of strictly virtual tours.
The LA Zoo is home to over 270 species of birds, reptiles, mammals, fish, and amphibians – wombats, gorillas, dwarf goats, and lemurs are just a few highlights. Catch the Safari Shuttle for an end-to-end tram tour of the zoo – you can hop on and off as often as you want. The tram tour starts and ends at the Flamingo exhibit near the zoo entrance and costs $5 for adults.
Located in Griffith Park at the intersection of Golden Gate and Ventura freeways, the LA Zoo is a 17-minute drive from downtown LA. There’s “preferred parking” available close to the entrance; you could opt for cheaper LA parking spaces in Griffith Park and take a shuttle to the zoo.
Take a Walk Around the Venice Canals in LA
A much-needed contrast to LA’s famed Venice Beach neighborhood, these three canal-lined blocks paint a blissful picture of arching bridges, little boats, and beach houses. Located between Abbot Kinney and the Venice Beach Boardwalk in Dell Avenue, this LA attraction is ideal for a stroll when you visit this part of the city.
Entry is free, and you can bring your non-motorized boats to explore the canals. Parking in this popular neighborhood could be on the expensive side; book in advance for a better deal on LA parking rates at garages nearby.
Catch the Blooms at Descanso Gardens
Less than 15-miles from downtown Los Angeles, Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge is all set to welcome vibrant spring blooms and lots of activities that add excitement to the season. Look out for the Earth Day-inspired wildflower display in mid-April.
The Boddy House, Sturt Haaga Gallery, and the Enchanted Railroad attractions are currently closed until further notice due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, the tulips, camellias, lilacs, wildflowers, roses, and more are ready to bloom and create the picture-perfect spring experience.
The Descanso Gardens are open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and ample free parking is available. Non-members require advance tickets for entry; you can purchase timed tickets and membership online.
Explore the Flavors of Grand Central Market
Looking for a great gastronomic experience in LA? Head over to the Grand Central Market on South Broadway. The European-style food hall at the iconic Homer Laughlin Building has been dishing out mouthwatering masterpieces for over a century.
Breakfast, lunch, or dinner – you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to the culinary attractions here. Beware of the lines at the famous eateries; there’s always a mad rush for breakfast burritos, tacos, Hainan chicken, and Eggslut. Vegan ramen and fresh pasta add variety to the flavors, and when the weather is right, BBQ and beer on a patio is a must-have experience.
Grand Central Market is open 8 am to 10 pm daily. While street parking near the Homer Laughlin Building is scarce, there are plenty of affordable parking lots nearby. Check out West 3rd Street and West 4th Street for the closest LA parking garages.
Park Up for a Drive-in Movie
Tired of movie nights on the couch? Go old-school and head out to a drive-in movie theatre. SoCal’s still got some of them going strong! These days, there are also a few pop-up drive-in theatres screening a variety of cool flicks throughout the week, in and around LA.
You’ve hit the social distancing jackpot – watching a movie away from home, without any concerns about safety during a pandemic. Bring some snacks, cuddle up, and enjoy your romantic date night in Los Angeles.
Family Time at Echo Park Lake in Eastside
The historic Echo Park Lake has transformed into a family-friendly LA attraction you must check out now. Downtown skyline views, lotus blooms, and fountains form the perfect backdrop right in the heart of the city. You can also go pedal boating on the lake and stop by the revived boathouse. Take a relaxed stroll around the lake for some fresh air without worrying about social distancing.
Entry is free, and pedal boats are available for rent on site. You can drive to Eco park Avenue and park on the streets or at a secure parking garage. There are plenty of LA parking spots available nearby – leave your car at an affordable LA parking lot to quit worrying about safety and time limits.
Take a Stroll Through the Huntington Library Gardens
The Huntington Library in San Marino is one of the most exquisite attractions near Los Angeles. The historic library is set amongst 207 acres of incredibly picturesque botanical gardens; more than half of it is open to the public. The wide-open space is the perfect SoCal destination for a day tour – it’s best to take your time enjoying the sights here, especially during spring.
Did you know? The Huntington Library holds more than 6 million items, including the Gutenberg Bible and the Canterbury Tales’ earliest known edition. It is also home to splendid art galleries displaying impressive collections of American and British paintings. Due to COVID restrictions, the library and museum spaces have been cordoned off to visitors. It is likely to remain out of bounds until the pandemic is brought under control. However, you are welcome to explore several sections of the outdoor spaces. They have even converted some of the narrow bridges and paths into one-ways to ensure social distancing. Entry tickets are now timed and need to be purchased in advance, thus allowing better crowd management.