We’ve seen our fair share of beautiful views here in Los Angeles, many of which few people even realize are there. This week we discovered another such gem at Vista Hermosa Natural Park, found at the western gateway to downtown Los Angeles.
This 10.5-acre park is a product of the combined efforts of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. The idea was to create a space of serenity and diversity of nature in the heart of Los Angeles’ urban core. Open since 2008, Vista Hermosa Natural Park is the first public park to have been built in this area in more than 100 years.
Insider tip: Keep an eye on the high school kids, at least during the week. Given its location, I was expecting homeless people or other potential characters. Turns out the high school couples looking to get romantic were my biggest concern.
We checked out the map at the park entrance and decided to take the trail to the children’s adventure area. The flat, well-maintained trail is stroller-friendly and offers enough natural growth to envelope you a quiet, peaceful environment. And the views aren’t too shabby – in spite of the fact that freeways and busy city streets are still within sight.
Insider tip: Start your exploring at the children’s adventure area, a nature-themed playground with fantastic views of the city.
The children’s adventure area features a climb-on snake and turtle, plus plenty of boulders and even a slide. The Explorers were the only kids there when we visited, so they had a blast running from thing to thing and making up all kinds of fun games.
If The Big Explorer hadn’t needed to use the restroom, I think we’d have stayed there all afternoon.
Insider tip: There are quite a few large picnic tables perfect for snacks or a lunch, so plan your visit accordingly.
After leaving the children’s adventure area, we checked out the grotto amphitheater, where public events, environmental and natural history education often take center stage. It features a waterfall and stream. It’s a nice calm spot to sit down and ponder life’s big questions.
I’m thrilled this place exists, a true oasis in the heart of the urban jungle.
- Vista Hermosa Natural Park features include a walking trail (just shy of ½-mile long), a waterfall and stream, meadows, oak savannahs, picnic tables, a nature-themed children’s adventure area & a grotto amphitheater
- The park also boasts a FIFA-regulation soccer field
- Bathrooms can be found at the entrance to the park & adjacent to the children’s adventure area
- Free parking available
- Free interpretive programs are offered by trained naturalists
- Few small kids at the park during our weekday afternoon visit; mostly high-school age kids either playing football or looking for a quiet place to nuzzle up to their someone special
- Vista Hermosa Natural Park is open dawn to dusk; admission is free
Vista Hermosa Natural Park is located at:
100 N. Toluca St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026