People don’t often associate Los Angeles with the great outdoors — the larger-than-life Hollywood sign, rumored celebrity trysts at Chateau Marmont, and bumper-to-bumper traffic are all more likely to come to mind. But with the ocean, renowned golf courses, and the nation’s only outdoor, regulation-sized polo field (who knew?), Los Angeles has plenty of fun outdoor activities to enjoy during your stay. Check out our favorite picks below and the hotels that are convenient for each.
Surfing is a favorite past-time of Californians and, as they say (sort of), when in California, do as the Californians do. There are dozens of beaches to choose from, but one of our favorites is Malibu Lagoon State Beach, a naturally-formed lagoon. Surfers will swoon over the steady, three to five foot waves, and beginners who may need a moment to calm their nerves and muster their strength can do some bird-watching — the beach is a protected bird sanctuary with over 250 species of birds.
Stay: Hotel Casa Del Mar
This Santa Monica resort is just a short drive from the “gnarly” surfer beaches of Malibu like Lagoon State Beach, nicknamed Surfrider Beach. But if you’re looking to catch some waves right away, no problem — Casa del Mar is one of only two Los Angeles hotels directly on the beach.
Nothing’s better than a round of golf with a sea breeze and view. The Terranea Resort has it’s own 9-hole course right by the beach. If you’re looking for a full-round, there are seven public, 18-hole courses to choose from. Rancho Park Golf Club is one of our top picks and seems to be everyone else’s too — it’s one of the most heavily played courses in the country. Surrounded by beautiful pines, you can tee-off on their 18-hole course, get some practice in at the driving range, or take a break at the snack bar.
This four-pearl, luxury boutique, conveniently near the Rancho Park Golf Club, is equipped with an impressive list of amenities. After your long day on the range, you can lounge by the heated pool, relax in the sauna at the spa (for free!), or enjoy a delicious meal at the restaurant.
Do: Rollerblade on the Boardwalk
We would suggest some other spots, but if you’re planning on rollerblading during your LA stay, you’ve really got to do it on the boardwalk at Venice Beach (you can rent rollerblades there). Crowded with bikers, fortune tellers, fire-eaters, and magicians, the boardwalk is a must-see. You can even roll by the famous Muscle Beach, where uber-tan and uber-jacked muscle men pump iron (and where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger got his start).
Stay: Hotel Erwin
This eccentric 119-room hotel is perfect for budget-conscious travelers looking for large rooms and comfortable beds. Located in a hippie neighborhood with few other hotels, it’s an easy walk from Venice Beach.
Do: Go to a polo match
Will Roger’s widow donated the Will Rogers State Historic Park to the state of California under the one condition that the polo field on it’s site be maintained. Today, it is the only outdoor, regulation-size polo field in the nation and it hosts polo matches every Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m.) April 1 to September 7 (weather-permitting).
Stay: Hotel Oceana
Very nearby the Will Rogers State Park, and even closer to Palisades Park, this intimate hotel more than compensates for its lack of on-site features — no spa, a long walk to the beach — with great design in its large rooms, a welcoming atmosphere cultivated by personal service, and a relaxed, low-key vibe.
Do: Shop Rodeo Drive
Ladies, you’re in luck — we’re counting shopping as an outdoor activity, and without a doubt, the best place to do it in LA is Rodeo Drive, famous for it’s high-end boutiques and designer shops. Whether you drop thousands of dollars or not, it’s an experience you won’t want to miss — you may even spot a few celebs hiding behind their shades.
This iconic Beverly Hills hotel is just steps from Rodeo Drive — so channel you’re inner Julia Roberts à la Vivian Ward (her character in Pretty Woman, which was largely filmed in the Whilshire) and head to Rodeo Drive to flex your credit card.
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