Griffith Observatory viewed from the hike

Griffith Observatory - Los Angeles, CA

Both locations offer tremendous views of the Hollywood sign, especially Griffith Park where you can get up close and personal. Your legs and butt will be rewarded with an amazing workout, not to mention the amazing views, which easily beat any boring session on a Stairmaster.

Hollywood sign

Do these palms make me look short?

Palm trees at Griffith Park

Views are dramatic on both hikes, although Runyon Canyon is the better workout of the 2 with a decent uphill climb (I did some of my training for my half marathon here). Also, be sure to check out the daily free yoga sessions offered to the public. This is a great opportunity to connect with nature in a beautiful setting.

And off-the-beaten path adventure

If you are looking to avoid the touristy crowds, you are in luck as there are hundreds of great hikes within the Santa Monica mountains. A great moderate hike for most abilities is the Los Liones trail. Located within gorgeous Topanga State Park, this trail features grand views of both the coast and surrounding mountains. Hike just 1.5 miles to the first overlook for out-of-this-world scenery!

Hot Beaches!

Out of all the beaches in the area, I would have to say Manhattan Beach is my favorite. I found this beach to be a bit less congested than many of the others, which makes it an ideal choice for a lazy afternoon. The sand is impeccably clean and the views are incredible. What better way to spend a summer afternoon?! And, the beautiful pier provides endless opportunities for photographers.

Manhattan Beach Pier

Manhattan Beach Pier

Hermosa is another fantastic option with a lively sporty vibe and plenty of volleyball games to watch or partake in. As I said before, Will Rogers is another gorgeous beach with a beautiful mountain backdrop, fewer crowds, and clean sand.

Volleyball at Hermosa Beach, CA

Shopping Hot Spots!

In my opinion, The Grove is the best place within the city for shopping. While you will not find an overwhelming number of shops, you will be treated to a beautiful outdoor mall with an antique trolley ride and L.A.’s Original Farmer’s Market. With the beautiful architecture, clean, upscale look, special events lineup, and al fresco dining, makes The Grove so much more than your ordinary mall experience.

The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles, CA

The fun doesn’t stop with shopping – you will also find a movie theater, plenty of great restaurants, and even live film tapings (Extra!). Don’t forget to make room for a visit to the Original Farmer’s Market, which features dozens of restaurants and vendors , including ethnic specialties and fresh produce.

Rodeo Drive is a must see for first time tourists to the area. Who hasn’t seen the iconic Pretty Woman scene where Vivian goes on a massive Beverly Hills shopping spree? Grab a coffee and window shop some of the best shops in the country, from Gucci to Prada to Bijan, the world’s most expensive store!

The architecture and palm tree lined streets are beautiful. Of course, this is where you will also find the famous Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills signs (you are sure to see dozens of tourists snapping pictures so you couldn’t possible miss it!). If anything,  you can say that you walked one of the most popular streets in the world!

Rodeo Drive shops = Beverly Hills, CA
Rodeo Drive sign - Beverly Hills, CA
Classic Beverly Hills sign

Another great shopping district, 3rd Street Promenade, an upbeat dining, shopping, and entertainment complex in downtown Santa Monica, is the perfect place to stop either before or after your beach trip. There is no shortage of great restaurants and shops here! A truly exciting place with lots of events going on throughout the year – they even have an ice rink during the winter months!