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Top 5 Parks in Los Angeles California

Melanie has been interested in cultures, languages, and travel since her youth. She also runs a YouTube channel: The Curious Coder.

The Los Angeles skyline from Griffith Park.

The Los Angeles skyline from Griffith Park.

The fast-paced city of Los Angeles is chock full of glamorous spas, places to shop, clubs, and celeb hangouts, but what really makes Los Angeles loved by the locals are the fantastic parks in the area. The parks in LA range from beautiful desert retreats and quiet, serene wetlands to swanky beachside hot spots. The city has a very diverse selection of parks.

Whether you want to enjoy the fragrant flowers at "the gardens," see a desert scene (complete with Batman's cave), go out on a paddle-boat, spend time laying out under the shade of a tree for a picnic, or go hiking, Los Angeles has it all! Here are the five best parks that the City of Angels has to offer!

Bronson Caves served as the setting of the bat cave in the 1960s Batman television series.

Bronson Caves served as the setting of the bat cave in the 1960s Batman television series.

1. Exposition Park

Exposition Park, formerly known as Agricultural Park, is located right by the University of Southern California. The area was first home to a racetrack where dogs and even camels raced. Many locals protested the gambling that took place here, so the State of California bought the land, and planted a rose garden in place of the track. This 160-acre recreational area is full of world-class museums, sports facilities, and venues which lend to the park's massive appeal.

Exposition Park is home to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the California Science Center (which houses an IMAX Theater,) the Exposition Park Rose Garden, the California African American Museum, and the EXPO Center. Every Saturday the Natural History Museum holds a farmer's market.

The beautiful Rose Garden at Exposition Park is often used in films but is also a fabulous location for weddings and photographers. The gardens also are a great place for visitors to relax and take in the beautiful scenery.

2. Bronson Caves

The Bronson Caves in Hollywood Hills are famous for being a frequent filming location. The caves are actually located in a small area of Griffith Park but are so spectacular that they deserve standalone mention. This remote-looking location is easily accessible which makes it very popular not only for hikers but also for low-budget filmmakers.

The caves only date back to the early 1900s as the site was the home of a rock quarry. This area is now known as Bronson Canyon but was initially called Brush Canyon. The new name came from nearby Bronson road (the same road from which actor Charles Bronson got his stage name.) The cave is actually only about 50 feet long which makes it more of a tunnel. Because of the small size of the cave, it is usually filmed at an angle to make it appear much larger than it is.

The caves are perhaps most popularly known for being Batman's bat cave in the 1960s television series, but the area also served as a filming location for Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and The Lone Ranger.

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A small waterfall at Descanso Gardens

A small waterfall at Descanso Gardens

3. Descanso Gardens

Descanso Gardens is a 150-acre botanical garden that was once owned by E. Manchester Boddy, the former owner of The Los Angeles Daily News. In 1953, the Descanso Camellia Garden was gifted to Los Angeles County where it was further developed to include a rose garden, lilac garden, bird sanctuary, and even a Japanese tea house.

Today, the Descanso Gardens are famous for weddings and special events. Each year the area hosts an Easter Egg hunt which is a beautiful event as the tulips are in bloom for the hunt. Visitors can get around via a replica diesel train that takes passengers from one area of the park to another. Also on the grounds is the Carriage House Art Gallery which features pieces from local artists.

The Descanso Gardens are not located in Los Angeles but are definitely worth the mention because of their incredible beauty. The gardens are in La Cañada Flintridge in Los Angeles County on the western end of the San Gabriel Valley.

The Exposition Park Rose Garden is a popular setting for weddings.

The Exposition Park Rose Garden is a popular setting for weddings.

4. Griffith Park

Griffith Park, which is just larger than 4,200 acres, is the second-largest city park in California. Sometimes called the Central Park of Los Angeles (although larger than Central Park,) this park is on the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The park is home to several museums and attractions but is also an excellent place for hikers, bikers, and filmmakers. The Museum of the American West, The Greek Theater, the Griffith Observatory, the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, the Los Angeles Zoo, Bronson Caves, and the Travel Town Museum can all be found here. The Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum is also located in Griffith Park as well as miniature train rides.

One fun feature of the park is the Symphony in the Glen which is a free outdoor symphony concert program that many park visitors can enjoy. Those who enjoy sports will be happy to find two 18-hole golf courses, a baseball field, a number of both basketball and tennis courts, and a swimming pool. There are also many trails available for hikers and horseback riders. The famous Hollywood sign is located in Griffith Park.

The quiet, serene setting of the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden makes it the perfect place to relax and enjoy a good novel.

The quiet, serene setting of the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden makes it the perfect place to relax and enjoy a good novel.

5. Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden

Perhaps one of the most interesting Los Angeles Parks is the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden. This park is located on the UCLA campus and is maintained by the Armand Hammer Museum of Art.

The sculpture garden is just over 5 acres in size and contains over 70 figural and abstract sculptures. Because of the astounding pieces here by such sculptors as Gaston Lachaise, Henri Matisse, and Isamu Noguchi, this park is considered to be the best sculpture garden in the United States. With the beautiful works of art in the garden and the surrounding trees and grasses, the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a book.

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© 2010 Melanie Palen

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