Los Angeles: Best Free Outdoor Workout Spots for Visitors

If great weather and even better scenery inspire you to work out, Los Angeles is the place to feel the burn. The city offers a myriad of great outdoor spots for visitors who want to keep up their exercise routine when travelling. Since L.A. is the land of the tanned, toned and fabulously fit, you will be in good company if you take inspiration from others exercising around you. But don’t be intimidated or fear a snobby sports club vibe. You can either get into your own special zone or feed off the communal friendliness.

The Strand
Along the coast throughout Los Angeles

The Strand is L.A.’s biggest playground, spanning the Pacific Ocean coast for 22 miles from Pacific Palisades at the north end to Torrance at the south end. While “The Strand” refers to the paved bicycle path near the sand, I consider it the entire beach area, including the sand, the sea and a separate paved walking path that runs through some cities. Numerous cities offer bicycle rentals near the beach, including Venice, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. If a local asks to you ‘walk The Strand”, they are referring to a separate paved path above the bicycle path that runs through the cities of Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. Wherever you end up, The Strand is a special spot to exercise and enjoy spectacular ocean and coastal views. Keep in mind that it is not considered safe to walk on The Strand bicycle path. If you try it, a serious biker will come along and let you know in no uncertain terms to get out of the way.

Will Rogers State Historic Park
14253 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles

For a quintessentially L.A. experience and spectacular ocean and city-spanning views, visit the hiking trails at Will Rogers State Historic Park (www.parks.ca.gov). See a few horses, breathe in the licorice-scented plants and get a visual perspective of L.A. that most visitors never see. For a moderate hike, take the 3-mile loop to Inspiration Point. Join the path near the tennis courts west of park headquarters, then head north and follow the main, wide bridal path. At the flat-topped summit you’ll be rewarded with a small picnic area and unsurpassed views of the Santa Monica Bay, the city and on a clear day, Catalina Island. More experienced hikers might want to try the Backbone Trail, venturing into the Santa Monica Mountains and extending all the way to Point Mugu in Malibu. If you don’t want to pay a parking fee, find a parking spot on Sunset Blvd.

Sand Dune Park Stairs
33rd St. and Bell Avenue
Manhattan Beach

The lovely winding stairway that surfers and other locals use as a shortcut to the beach is perhaps more widely known as a place to work your glutes and lungs. About half of a mile from the beach, Sand Dune Park (www.citymb.info/index) consists of a children’s playground, a real sand dune dating back to when the dunes made up much of this beach area, and an adjacent set of stairs that wind (and wind and wind and wind) their way up through some shade and tall trees. The reward at the top is a lovely view of the city. Or, a short walk down the cul-du-sac at the top of the stairs leads to the beach and an ocean view that is particularly refreshing when you’re trying to catch your breath from the stairs. For another great workout you can climb the sand dune, but that has become so popular and crowed that it requires an advance reservation through the city and a $1 fee. Stick with the stairs and you can’t go wrong.

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