After more than two hours of trekking through the winding, ascending paths in Griffith Park, part of the Santa Monica Mountains range, my shoes were filled with dust, there was sweat running into my eyes, and I could feel the tops of my shoulders turning a delicate shade of tomato, thanks to the blazing California sun. I also had a silver screen-worthy smile plastered across my face as the glittering Hollywood sign came into view when we hit the summit. Conquering the urban wilderness of Los Angeles felt darn good. Now, I was ready for an organic superfood green smoothie — and a hot bath.
Discover breathtaking views
Griffith Park, which includes over 4,000 acres of protected parkland smack dab in the middle of L.A., is the perfect spot to kick off a hiking holiday in the city of angels. With breathtaking views of the Griffith Observatory, Los Feliz, the Century City movie lots and, of course, the Hollywood sign, you get a feel for the vastness and diversity of this sprawling city.
Runyon Canyon Park is another popular hiking destination for Los Angelenos and tourists alike. It’s located right in Hollywood, making it easy to get to on foot if you’re staying in central L.A. I walked from my hotel in Hollywood to the south-west entrance off Vista Street in about 20 minutes. The hike to the hike made for a great opportunity to explore the city. I walked past the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, past the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre, where countless awards shows have been held, and past the Magic Castle, a private club for the Academy of Mag-ical Arts housed in an ornate castle that dates back to the early 1900s.
Runyon Canyon Park also touches on the Santa Monica Mountain range, so the views from the top of the trails are pretty spectacular. You can see the Pacific Ocean and an incredible night sky at sunset. If you’re lucky you might even see a few stars right on the trails with you. Among the crowd (and I do mean crowd — these are well-travelled trails), it’s not uncommon to see a pop star or young actress walking her dog. (Here’s the gear you won’t want to hit the trails without.)
Journey off the beaten path
Exploring a busy urban area on foot is fantastic, but it’s also nice to get off the beaten path. On my third day in L.A., we escaped the city for a nature hike in nearby Malibu (booked through Malibu Wine Hikes). A guided two-and-a-half mile trek through sprawling vine-yards at Saddlerock Ranch, home to the Semler Malibu Estate Vineyards, was the last excursion on my itinerary and a glass of bubbly seemed like the perfect antidote to my aching feet. I had no idea how many wonders this private family-owned estate had in store, though — acres of grapevines were just the beginning. After a few hours of trekking I’d taken in stunning views of the Agoura Hills, sat in the crook of a 300-year-old oak tree, petted a goat, fed a llama and stood eye-to-eye with Stanley, the giraffe. (Being L.A., he is a retired actor. You may remember him from The Hangover Part III and a series of Skittles commercials). Really though, it was magical. And so was the rosé.
A hiking holiday has the potential to feed your body, mind and soul. You get your blood pumping, feel the ground of this new place beneath your feet and have the chance to get up close and personal with the people, architecture, landscape and wildlife (which in L.A. ranges from little lizards scurrying across the trails in the nearby parks, to the cast of colourful characters on Hollywood Boulevard). Mixing urban exploration with trail hiking gives you a chance to experience it all. Add a dose of California sunshine and you’ve got the ultimate “fitcation.”
Where to stay
Dream Hollywood Hotel is as L.A. as you can imagine: sleek, ultramodern and super cool. (Beyoncé reportedly held her birthday party at their chic resto, Beauty & Essex!) It’s a perfectly situated starting point for urban hikes or a trek through nearby Runyon Canyon. The rooftop pool deck is the ideal spot to rest weary muscles — with a custom cocktail in hand, of course!
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The Native Hotel is the stuff mid-century modernist dreams are made of. This 13-room motel-style retreat, located on the Pacific Coast Highway, is an easy stop if you’re driving over from L.A. It’s just minutes from the beach and numerous hiking spots, so the “fitcation” possibilities are endless.
Where to tour
Bike and Hikes LA has a range of tours to choose from and their guides provide fun commentary about the history of the area as you hike.
Malibu Wine Hikes have a truly unique guided trek on offer. You really can’t go wrong with the combination of hiking, wine drinking and giraffe spotting.
Where to eat
Ress Brothers Juicery & Kitchen is a certified organic raw juice bar in Hollywood, and the ideal pre-hike pit stop. Their Fortitude Smoothie is guaranteed to sustain you on a long-haul hike.
Botanica serves beautiful local produce and delicious food designed to make you feel good. Settle in for a nourishing bite after a long morning of exploration. Their beautiful back patio is the perfect spot to rest and recoup.
Where to stretch it out
Wanderlust Hollywood is the ultimate yoga studio. Whether you’re partial to flow, hot or kundalini, after a few tough hikes your aching muscles will thank you for taking a class. (Plus, if you’re hungry, the smashed avocado toast at their cafe is top notch!) Don’t miss these 6 tips, they’ll make your next hiking adventure that much easier.
How to get there
Booking.com can hook you up with flights, car rentals and accommodations anywhere in the world your fitcation aspirations take you. Best of all, if you’re not interested in a standard hotel stay, they’ve got over 29 million listings in over 140,000 destinations, including apartments, villas, bungalows – and even boats!