9 of the Best Locations in Los Angeles to Enjoy a Socially Distant Picnic

On average, there are 284 sunny days per year in Los Angeles which is about 80 more than the overall average number of sunny days in the United States. This means that between the amount of open space within the city’s plethora of parks and boundless beaches there are numerous destinations to find a place to pack a picnic and soak in some California Vitamin D.

Check out nine of my favorite places to dine “al fresco” in the Greater LA area, below!

[Note: As of summer 2020, outdoor activities are currently permitted in Los Angeles County, but as always, be safe and protect yourself and others from transmitting COVID-19. Remember to wear a mask, stay six feet from other people at all times, and be respectful.

Some of these photos were taken over the last couple years outside in LA pre-COVID which is why I’m not masked-up in all of them…]

LACMA Lawn, Mid-City

The grassy lawn at the LACMA/The La Brea Tar Pits is a great place to plant a blanket and enjoy some sunshine with a side of art and history. There’s plenty of open space on the lawn by the tar pits — just watch for the bubbling bits of stray tar (yes, this is a real thing, but usually it’s marked by a cone that warns you not to step there).

Take a photo with the quintessential outdoor art installation, “Urban Light” which is in front of the LACMA on Wilshire, or stroll the grounds and learn about the prehistoric animals who met a most unfortunate end in the tar pits, back in the day.

Echo Park Lake, Echo Park

The historic Echo Park Lake in the Echo Park neighborhood is just outside of Downtown Los Angeles — it’s truly a hidden gem of culture, and home to many creative minds including artists, musicians, and writers. It’s an ideal spot for couples, friends and families to relax and enjoy a leisurely picnic with views of the the DTLA skyline, amid blooms of lotus flowers, an enormous fountain, and the historic “Lady of the Lake” statue.

The statue was originally sculpted in the Art Deco style by Ada Mae Sharpless and gifted to the City of Los Angeles in 1935. Normally, visitors can pedal up an appetite in the swan boats around the lake, and afterwards, grab a snack at the lake’s restored boathouse, Beacon Café, which offers drinks, pastries, and even avocado toasts for purchase (if you forgot to pack a picnic).

The Grove and Original Farmers Market, Mid-City

The Grove and Original Farmers Market are historic icons within the city of Los Angeles. The upscale Grove outdoor shopping mall boasts an array of luxury shopping opportunities, a dancing fountain show which boogies along to some upbeat jazz music, as well as the most fun activity in Los Angeles, in my opinion: people watching! Right now, amidst the current social distancing measures of the pandemic, there are circles drawn in the grass to allow people to remain a safe distance apart.

Lawn Circles

The Original LA Farmers Market offers an incredible history, which you can explore more, here. For over 85 years, the Farmers Market has hosted a variety of venders that offer the most diverse array of cuisines such as Brazilian, Cajun, Chinese, French, Greek, Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern as well as fresh fish, meats, vegetables, breads, cookies, cheeses, and wines.

Will Rogers State Historic Park, Pacific Palisades

Via Wikipedia

Will Rogers was a well-known celebrity in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as a multi-talented cowboy, comedian and movie star. Rogers bought land in the Santa Monica/Palisades area, and built a ranch to spend time with family and friends, to enjoy his pastimes which included riding and roping. After his widow, Betty, died in 1944, the ranch became Will Rogers State Historic Park.

The park is still a popular destination for equestrian activities, and the 186-acre grounds offer access to some excellent hikes with breathtaking ocean views, as well as picnic tables and grills to eat on, if you forget your blanket

Los Angeles State Historic Park, Chinatown

Via Wikipedia

Los Angeles State Historic Park reopened on Earth Day in 2017 after three years of renovations and restoration. This 34-acre open space stands homage to the community, and public art, with a mile-long walking trail. The park promotes opportunities for a healthy lifestyle in some much-needed open space within an urban area.

The park was built through working with the community to commemorate their heritages and to create an open, functional and recreational place for residents of the area to enjoy — its acres of urban greenery and fantastic views of the DTLA skyline are the perfect place to pack a picnic. You can read more about the park’s history, here.

Grand Park, DTLA

Grand Park is a 12-acre outdoor space located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles — a hub of history, culture, and activism within the city and easy access to a plethora of open space for picnics. The park is directly connected to the artery of downtown LA transportation, Grand Avenue — as well as a stop on the LA Metro Red or Purple Line at Civic Center/Grand Park Station — Grand Park offers It’s also one of the prime local spots for friendly gatherings and sunset viewings. 

This 12-acre park is nestled between two architectural wonders — City Hall on one side and the Music Center on the other. At one end, there’s even a majestic, reconstructed 1960s-era fountain that was restored to shoot a 50-foot spray of water upward in the original fountain bowl. There’s also a splash pad, fountain, a small, enclosed pet area, a kid’s playground, and a selection of aesthetically pleasing hot pink chairs and tables to congregate at, if you forget your picnic blanket.

Point Vicente Park, Rancho Palos Verdes

Point Vicente Park is located in Rancho Palos Verdes, south of Los Angeles. It is definitely worth the time it takes to make the drive down from LA, and trek out to the lighthouse at the end of the path. Point Vicente Lighthouse has an interesting history, and over the years has been used a location for Hollywood’s filming — from “Sea Hunt” to “The Amazing Race.” Olivia Newton John even used the lighthouse for a 1998 music video.

There’s really no wrong spot to set up a blanket and sit down for a picnic, as long as you’re not blocking any pathways or disturbing wildlife land…

Griffith Observatory Lawn, Griffith Park

Griffith Park is enormous. It’s named after Griffith Jenkins Griffith, who was an Angeleno civic philanthropist, advocate of parklands, and passionate speaker for the advancement of recreation for the health of Los Angeles.

Right now the observatory itself is closed due to COVID-19 safety measures, but the lawn outside the building — which features spectacular views of downtown and the famed Hollywood sign — is open for picnic business, if you’re willing to work for it by making the trek up!

Point Dume State Beach, Malibu

Point Dume in Malibu is the perfect place to pack a picnic for a beachfront adventure. You can hike around the bluffs, spot some dolphins or some whales during migration from February through April, or just relax in the sand and enjoy the sunshine. On a clear day you can even enjoy the incredible views of Santa Monica Bay and Catalina Island in the distance…

Do you have any recommendations for enjoyable picnicking spots in the Greater Los Angeles area? Reach out, and let me know at hellomollyannobrien@gmail.com!

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