Downtown LA Parks & Green Spaces

Many may think that Downtown LA only glitters from the glass buildings and skyscrapers. But there are actually many hidden gems – green spaces and parks – that sparkle like emeralds throughout Downtown. Whether you work or live in Downtown or are just visiting, there are many parks and plazas from which to choose.

Angels Knoll

BUNKER HILL  •  356 S. OLIVE ST. [directions]

Angels Knoll offers a hillside oasis among the towers of the urban jungle, with a chance to relax on the bench made famous by the film "500 Days of Summer." Grab a snack at Grand Central Market, then spread out a blanket on the lawn for lunch with a view.

And when you're done gazing out over the Civic Center and Historic Downtown, take Angels Flight up the hill to California Plaza (#3 on our list) for a different kind of urban retreat: an oasis of water.

MORE INFO: yelp.com

 

Biddy Mason Park

HISTORIC DOWNTOWN  •  BRADBURY BUILDING, 304 S. BROADWAY [directions]

Biddy Mason Park on 3rd and Broadway is named after a slave from Mississippi who, in 1856, petitioned for and won her freedom. Mason went on to become an entrepreneur and contributor to social causes, as well as one of the first African-American women to own land in LA. The area features an art installation of her story among the shade of camphor and jacaranda trees and a unique water sculpture.

Grab lunch – plus some pan dulce or fresh produce – from nearby Grand Central Market, then catch a bench in the stillness of Biddy Mason Park.

MORE INFO: ci.la.ca.us/angelswalk / yelp.com

 

California Plaza

BUNKER HILL  •  350 S. GRAND AVE. [directions]

This is a different kind of urban retreat: an oasis of water. Amongst fountains, streams, and seasonal live music, one quickly forgets the rush and noise of the city. Generous outdoor seating fills up with office workers during weekdays for great people watching. If you visit on the weekend, bring some bread to feed the ducks who like to wade in the shallow waters.

And, if this is your starting point, don't miss a ride on Angels Flight – just 25¢ – for a visit to Grand Central Market and Angels Knoll (#1 on our list).

MORE INFO: mpgoffice.com / yelp.com

 

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

CIVIC CENTER  •  555 W. TEMPLE ST. [directions]

The 2.5-acre plaza at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is great for a contemplative stroll, thanks to several gardens and water features.

Each tree and plant species in the plaza was chosen for one of several reasons – including Scriptural meanings, Catholic garden traditions, or significance in the Liturgical Calendar. For example, the King Palm trees recall Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. And the grove of olive trees is a reminder of the olive branch, a traditional symbol of peace.

MORE INFO: (213) 680-5200 / olacathedral.com / yelp.com

 

Grand Hope Park

SOUTH PARK  •  AT FIDM, 919 S. GRAND AVE. [directions]

If you need a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city, time will stop as you pass through the gates of the mozaic clocktower. Grand Hope Park offers plenty of green space to relax and escape. This verdant sanctuary is located in front of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), and is perfect for soaking up the sun after a visit to the FIDM Museum.

Plus, Grand Hope Park is a great spot for families with young children, since it's one of the few parks in Downtown featuring a playground.

MORE INFO: blogdowntown.com / yelp.com / wikipedia.org

 

James Irvine Japanese Garden

LITTLE TOKYO  •  JACCC, 244 S. SAN PEDRO ST. [directions]

This hidden Japanese Garden at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center is known for its charm and elegance – which has made it a popular wedding and event space.

So, after you're done dining on sushi, noodles, and Pinkberry in Little Tokyo, come discover a 170-foot stream softly meandering through an immaculately tended and serene garden. Take a stroll along the manicured pathways and, as you cross the bridge, pause for your moment of zen.

MORE INFO: (213) 628-2725 / jaccc.org / yelp.com

 

LA City Hall – South Lawn

CIVIC CENTER  •  200 N. SPRING ST. [directions]

With a buzzing Thursday farmers market and its tall, swaying trees, the South Lawn of Los Angeles City Hall also provides a haven for those looking to escape – or nap in the sun on a small grassy slope.

You'll also find public art dotting the lawn, including a large water fountain dedicated to Frank Putnam Flint, a US Senator in the early 1900's who was instrumental in securing approval for construction of the Los Angeles aqueduct on federal land. Surely, LA would not exist as it does today without the resulting supply of water from the Owens Valley.

MORE INFO: lacity.org / yelp.com

 

LA Music Center – Blue Ribbon Garden

BUNKER HILL  •  WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, 135 N. GRAND AVE. [directions]

Sitting 34 feet above Hope Street, the park is a great viewing point for LA's famous landmarks – like the Los Angeles Central Library, the Hollywood Sign and even the San Gabriel Mountains on a clear day.

Enjoy a stroll among colorful flowering trees, wonder at the wide variety of plants skirting their trunks, and take a moment to toss a coin into the pools of the Lillian Disney Memorial Fountain. This Royal Delft porcelain fountain, designed by Frank Gehry, is dedicated as "A Rose for Lilly" and is, fittingly, in the shape of a large blooming rose.

MORE INFO: (213) 972-7211 / musiccenter.org / yelp.com

 

LA State Historic Park

CHINATOWN  •  1245 N. SPRING ST. [directions]

Covering 32 acres of open space on the edge of Downtown, this park is the perfect spot for a weekend jog or an afternoon picnic. You'll also find visitors riding bikes, walking dogs, flying kites and toy planes, identifying plants, or just taking photos of the Downtown skyline on a beautiful day.

This historical location is the former home to the Southern Pacific Railroad's River Station, and now features architectural landscaping with references to structures that once existed here – the freight house, roundhouse, depot, station yard, and Pacific Hotel.

MORE INFO: (323) 441-8819 / parks.ca.gov / yelp.com

 

LA Union Station

HISTORIC EL PUEBLO  •  800 N. ALAMEDA ST. [directions]

LA's Union Station is one of Downtown's most classic and beautiful points of interest, both inside and out. Spanish-style courtyards with roses, pepper trees, soft breezes, arched walkways, and red-brick pathways give Union Station's gardens an especially Californian feel.

Whether coming or going, weary travelers take a moment of respite on shaded lawnside benches and tables scattered around fountains. If you're feeling famished, grab a well-earned snack inside – just don't forget to bring it outside to enjoy the gardens before you continue on your way.

MORE INFO: yelp.com / wikipedia.org

 

Maguire Gardens

FINANCIAL DISTRICT  •  LA CENTRAL LIBRARY, 630 W. 5th ST. [directions]

Southern California weather can be perfect for a lazy afternoon of reading. So bring a cozy lawn blanket or choose a cool bench and pop open a library book at the gorgeous Maguire Gardens, surrounding the historic Central Library. This pleasant park also features two unique fountains and a miniature replica of the Liberty Bell.

If you work in the area and have no time to read on your lunch hour, why not pack a picnic and pretend you're on holiday during your lunch break?

MORE INFO: (213) 228-7000 / lapl.org / ci.la.ca.us/angelswalk / yelp.com

 

Pershing Square

FINANCIAL DISTRICT  •  532 S. OLIVE ST. [directions]

Featuring benches, fountains and excellent people watching, Pershing Square is also a lively spot for seasonal events – including summer concerts, holiday ice skating rinks, art exhibits, and more. Downtown's long-time community gathering spot, it is also home to a popular weekly farmers market on Wednesdays from 11am to 2pm.

Numerous public artworks include busts from the early home of the LA Philharmonic – once located across the street, but now demolished – and a walkway representing an earthquake fault line.

MORE INFO: (213) 847-4970 / laparks.org / yelp.com / wikipedia.org

 

Saslow Dog Park

ARTS DISTRICT  •  1004 E. 4th ST. [directions]

In the Arts District, people with pets appreciate the recently opened Saslow LA Downtown Arts District Dog Park, which gives Angelenos of the four-legged variety a chance to safely run and play in Downtown LA.

LARABA, a nonprofit community association working to improve the quality of life in the Arts District, secured this pocket park in 2010 and is making continual improvements – so get involved if you'd like to see it grow!

Image courtesy of Pamela Rouse

MORE INFO: facebook.com / yelp.com

 

Vista Hermosa Natural Park

CITY WEST  •  100 N. TOLUCA ST. [directions]

Downtown's newest park features more stunning views of Downtown LA, plus walking trails, streams, picnic grounds, and more. Developed in partnership between the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, LA Unified School District, and the City of Los Angeles, Vista Hermosa is shares a soccer field with the adjacent Edward R. Roybal Learning Center. In addition, an outdoor ampitheater grotto regularly serves as a setting for environmental and natural history education, plus other public events.

Image by waltarrrrr on flickr

MORE INFO: (888) LA-PARKS (527-2757) / lamountains.com / yelp.com

 
 
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