The Best Places in Los Angeles for a Picnic

It's always picnic weather in L.A.

Photo courtesy of Grand Park, Facebook

Thanks to its sun-splashed weather, Los Angeles is one of the best cities in the country to have a picnic at any time of the year. From cultural attractions and state parks to the zoo and even a cemetery, here are some of the best places in L.A. to gather your friends, spread out a blanket and have a picnic.

Nothing better than picnicking with friends at Sunday Sessions | Photo: Grand Park, Facebook

Grand Park



Downtown L.A.'s Grand Park is an urban oasis that stretches from Grand Avenue at the Music Center to Spring Street at City Hall. Throughout Grand Park, open spaces are available not only for casual sitting and leisurely strolling, but also for public and private gatherings. The 12-acre park has four distinct areas, featuring the restored Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, an intimate performance lawn, a community terrace, and a grand event lawn. The Music Center, in conjunction with L.A. County, presents community events, cultural experiences, festivals and holiday celebrations year-round. Visitors can enjoy a picnic or purchase food and beverages on site. Selected events include food trucks and other food vendors. The park is open to the public every day from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Street Food Cinema at Los Angeles State Historic Park | Photo: Street Food Cinema

Los Angeles State Historic Park



Affectionately known by Angelenos as "The Cornfield," Los Angeles State Historic Park reopened on Earth Day 2017 after a three-year renovation. The dog-friendly park is conveniently located a five-minute walk from the Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station, which features a Metro Bike Share Station for further car-free exploration. You can have a picnic, run, walk, ride a bike, fly a kite, admire the park's public artwork, and even look for urban wildlife such as birds traveling down the Pacific flyway. 

With more than 60 events at 15 locations from Pasadena to Pacific Palisades, Street Food Cinema (SFC) is known as the largest outdoor movie series in Los Angeles. Featuring a wide range of films, gourmet food trucks and live music, the 10th anniversary season kicked off on April 27 with "500 Days of Summer" at Los Angeles State Historic Park. Other screenings at the park include "Step Brothers" (June 15), "Fight Club" 20th Anniversary (Sept. 14), "The Matrix" 20th Anniversary (Sept. 28), and "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (Oct. 19). 

Picnic at Echo Park Lake with takeout from Beacon | Photo: @beaconechopark, Instagram

Echo Park Lake



Echo Park Lake reopened to the public in June 2013 after a two-year, $45-million restoration. Improvements included draining the lake, planting 376 lotus plants, sprucing up walking paths, and restoration of the fountains and the boat house. The famous Lady of the Lake statue - known formally as Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles (Queen of the Angels) - was returned to her original location on the north end of the lake. The Echo Park Recreation Center features picnic tables, barbecue pits, children’s play area, community room, year-round pool, and numerous lighted sports areas, including a baseball diamond, basketball courts, soccer field and tennis courts. The Echo Park Pedal Boats Concession offers pedal boat rentals, guided canoe and gondola rides.

Located at the boathouse, Beacon features seasonal, chef-driven dishes that are perfect for picnics. Beacon offers breakfast, lunch and all-day menus with numerous vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Friday Night Wine Tastings | Photo: Barnsdall Art Park

Barnsdall Art Park



Perched atop Olive Hill on the cusp of Hollywood and Los Feliz, Barnsdall Art Park is centered on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, named to the National Register of Historic Places, a National Historic Landmark and a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. In 1927, Oil heiress Aline Barnsdall donated the Hollyhock House and 11 surrounding acres to the City of Los Angeles in memory of her father, Theodore. In addition to the Hollyhock House, the park includes the Barnsdall Art Center, Junior Art Center, Municipal Art Gallery and Gallery Theatre.

Taking place May through August, the renowned Barnsdall Friday Night Wine Tastings have become the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation's signature fundraising event. Sip wine, picnic and enjoy the sunset with stunning city views. 21 and over. Tickets are on sale at Eventbrite.

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens



Located in Griffith Park, the Los Angeles Zoo welcomes guests who want to bring their own picnics into the zoo with them. There are picnic areas throughout the zoo that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The zoo requests that guests do not bring aluminum cans, glassware or any other breakable materials, and to avoid using any small plastic items such as straws and cup lids that might accidentally find their way into an animal's exhibit. Coolers and picnic baskets are permitted, but the zoo does not have storage lockers available for rent.

A Midsummer Night's Feast at Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival | Photo: @indyshakes, Instagram

The Old Zoo - Griffith Park



The Los Angeles Zoo was originally located at a different site and opened in 1912 as the Griffith Park Zoo. The original zoo closed when the Los Angeles Zoo opened in November 1966. Located off Griffith Park Drive, the abandoned Griffith Park Zoo is known today as the Old Zoo, with its cages and stone caves left nearly intact. There are tables, BBQ grills and a large grass area for picnics - one exhibit area even has tables within the enclosure, without a doubt one of the most unique places in the world for a picnic. Anchorman fans will recognize the stone pens as the setting for the climactic scene with the Kodiak bear.

Founded in 1998, the Independent Shakespeare Co. has presented its summer festival at Griffith Park since 2010. Taking place from June to September, the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival is performed on a stage that’s built on the slopes of the Old Zoo’s natural amphitheater. Audiences arrive early to picnic and enjoy pre-show performances by local artists, the Salon Series (conversations about the intersection of Shakespeare and contemporary culture), and family-friendly, pre-show workshops about the plays. All of these summer events are entirely free.

Picnic Box from Lucques Group at the Hollywood Bowl | Instagram by @losangelesfoodiegirl

Hollywood Bowl



A pre-concert picnic at the landmark Hollywood Bowl is as much a part of the concert experience as the show itself. Picnic areas are located throughout the grounds that surround the Hollywood Bowl. Some picnic areas open as early as four hours before each concert. Tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Large groups (30+) may reserve selected areas through the Hollywood Bowl Group Sales Office: 323.850.2050.

You can pre-order a Picnic Box for pick up until 4 p.m. the day before a concert. When you arrive at the Bowl, your picnic box will be waiting for you to enjoy in one of the Bowl’s picnic areas or at your seats. Options include The All-American with fried chicken, The Burton Way with slow-roasted salmon, The Hollywood Vegan with grilled summer vegetables, The Maple Drive with slow-roasted beef tenderloin, and The Westside Story with grilled chicken breast.

Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery | Photo: Cinespia, Facebook

Cinespia - Hollywood Forever Cemetery



Launched in 2002, Cinespia hosts on-site screenings of classic films in and around Los Angeles. Cinespia shows films from the 1930s through the 1990s, mostly in open-air settings at historic locations. Its most popular series runs weekly between May and August at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and is one of the best places in L.A. to watch outdoor movies. Cinespia also screens films at other locations throughout the year. The Hollywood Forever screenings take place on the Fairbanks Lawn, where guests are invited to bring picnic dinners and drinks (beer and wine only). Cinespia suggests bringing blankets, pillows or low chairs that have a seat which rests on the ground with a low back. A small tarp underneath your blanket is recommended.

Picnic at LACMA Jazz Night

Los Angeles County Museum Of Art (LACMA)



Jazz at LACMA is a free Friday night event that showcases L.A.’s finest jazz musicians. The program is one of L.A.’s best jazz events and continues to be one of the museum's most popular offerings, having previously featured such legends as Wayne Shorter, John Clayton, Kenny Burrell, Les McCann, Billy Childs, Arturo Sandoval, Cannonball-Coltrane Project and Ernie Watts.

During the season, Jazz at LACMA takes place at 6 p.m. every Friday at the central BP Pavilion, near Chris Burden's iconic Urban Light. Bring a picnic, blanket and chairs and settle into a spot on one of the various grass areas surrounding the pavilion.

Next level picnic at Pan Pacific Park | Photo: @the_event_detail, Instagram

Pan Pacific Park



Centrally located across the street from The Grove, Pan Pacific Park is one of the most popular, family-friendly parks in the city. The park is located on the site of the landmark Pan-Pacific Auditorium, which opened in 1935. Before its destruction in a 1989 fire, the venue hosted everything from political events to the Harlem Globetrotters and Elvis.

Today, a recreation center sits on the former Pan-Pacific Auditorium location, and behind it is a public swimming pool. Picnic tables and barbecue pits are located throughout the 28-acre park, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A paved path winds through the length of the park, perfect for those seeking a leisurely stroll or a gentle bike ride. For more vigorous exercise, the park features baseball diamonds, basketball courts and indoor-outdoor gyms. Kids will love the play areas in Renée’s Place, located near the north entrance.

Views of the Central Garden and Pacific Ocean at the Getty Center

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Getty Center



The world-famous Getty Center welcomes 1.3 million visitors a year to its hilltop location in Brentwood, where guests can admire the masterpieces of art, stunning architecture and panoramic views. The Central Garden, created by renowned artist Robert Irwin, is located at the heart of the Getty Center. The 134,000-square-foot design features a natural ravine and a tree-lined walkway that leads visitors through a beautiful landscape. Irwin's statement, "Always changing, never twice the same," is carved into the plaza floor, reminding visitors of the ever-changing nature of this living work of art. Bring your own lunch and enjoy a picnic on the lawn adjacent to the Central Garden, or at any of the Getty Center's public seating areas. Picnic tables and lawns for lounging are located at the Lower Tram Station (T1). The picnic area is open every day until 30 minutes before the museum closes.

Will Rogers State Historic Park



Will Rogers was one of the world’s best-known celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s, a multi-talented cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist and movie star. He began buying land in Santa Monica, and eventually acquired 186 acres in what is now the Pacific Palisades. Rogers developed a ranch where he could relax with his family and friends, pursuing his favorite pastimes of riding and roping. After his widow, Betty, died in 1944, the ranch became Will Rogers State Historic Park. Park staff and docents offer tours of the historic ranch house.

The park is a popular destination for equestrian activities. The Will Rogers Polo Club plays matches every weekend from April to October on L.A. County’s only outdoor polo field, which Trekkies will recognize as a stand-in for Golden Gate Park in Star Trek IV. Riding lessons are available Monday through Saturday, and equestrians are invited to bring their horses to the park for day-use. A large picnic area with grills is available, whether you’re watching a polo match or simply enjoying the pastoral scene.

Picnic at Polliwog Park | Photo: @shainahedlund13, Instagram

Polliwog Park



Located at the corner of Redondo Avenue and Manhattan Beach Boulevard, the 18-acre Polliwog Park is the largest park in the South Bay area. The focal point of the park is a large pond, bordered by a natural wildlife refuge that’s home to migratory birds and other wildlife. The amphitheater that overlooks the pond is a favorite site for concerts, performances, weddings and other special events. The picnic area features 15 tables, eight of which can be reserved for a minimum of two hours and a maximum of six. The picnic area is open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk. Three gazebos, which can be reserved in advance for two-hour periods, are also favorite spots for birthday parties, anniversaries and family reunions. Other park attractions include children’s play areas, the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden, City Historical Museum, 9-hole disc golf course, and the Polliwog Park Dog Run.

Safety first when picnicking at Brookside Park | Photo: @amjovie, Instagram

Brookside Park



Covering 61 acres, Brookside Park is Pasadena’s largest park, located just south of the world-famous Rose Bowl Stadium. Brookside Park features numerous picnic tables; barbecue pits in most picnic areas; two lighted softball diamonds; a lighted field for flag football and soccer; tennis, badminton and handball courts; and a play area. The park's regulation baseball diamond, the Jackie Robinson Stadium, has grandstand seating for 4,200 people, team rooms, showers and lockers. Brookside Park also features two of Pasadena’s Hidden Gem attractions, the Rose Bowl Stadium Tours and the Kidspace Museum, where children can discover the excitement of learning while engaging in creative play.