More Than Just Desert, Experience L.A.'s OasisFrom fingertips in the snow to toes in the sand, conquer L.A.'s natural expanse
One of the things the Lady Tigra loves about living in Los Angeles is the variety of natural landscapes. "You have access to snow-covered mountains if you drive an hour in one direction, desert if you drive towards Joshua Tree, and the ocean" the opposite way, she says. "They're all equally beautiful."
Letting nature guide your way can make a perfect day trip for seeing the City of Angels from every angle. In just a couple hours, you can go from snow to sea, but it's worth stopping along the way to marvel at the natural beauty in between, from botanical gardens to expansive parks to foothill hiking paths.
It might be too ambitious to start the day skiing (though if that's your thing, Mountain High is the closest ski resort, just 80 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles), but you can still glimpse a dusting of snow in the chillier months atop closer stretches of the San Gabriel Mountains. If you head up to the Mount Wilson Observatory, perched above Pasadena, you're bound to find some wintertime snow. Even if you're here during the summer, though, it's worth visiting, both for the L.A. basin vistas and views of the heavens through a 60-inch telescope.
If you want to glimpse a refreshing waterfall, these mountains are also home to Eaton Canyon Natural Area, a 190-acre zoological, botanical and geological nature preserve (and a favorite hiking spot of Johana Hernandez).
Making your way down from the San Gabriels, stop at the Descanso Gardens in the foothills of La Cañada Flintridge. All of the blooms in the sprawling botanical gardens are lovely, but the camellia forest is especially unique — it's North America's largest camellia collection.
If you're ready for a lunch stop, hit Forage as you head southwest into the basin. The Silver Lake cafe sources its ingredients not only from local farmers markets but also from the backyards of its patrons, so you'll be getting as close as possible to the spoils of L.A.'s natural Eden.
Fortified by the fresh fare, you'll have energy for an early afternoon hike. The Mount Hollywood Trail in Griffith Park affords great views of the Hollywood sign and urban grid below. If you want to explore the Hollywood Hills' lush canyons, you can catch the Tree People Trail in Coldwater Canyon or navigate your way through Franklin Canyon (both favorites of Josh Rosebrook). Or, follow in the footsteps of the Lady Tigra and hike through less-crowded Elysian Park.
Post-hike, swing by Josh Rosebrook's go-to organic juice bar, Liquid, in West Hollywood for a nature-loving pick-me-up that you can enjoy on your drive to the ocean.
L.A.'s most scenic beaches, complete with dramatic cliffs, can be found in Malibu. Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach offers a particularly picturesque, secluded collection of coves. End the day with a sunset dinner at Adam Smalley's favorite oceanfront seafood spot, the Reel Inn. From fingertips in the snow to toes in the sand, you've conquered L.A.'s natural expanse!