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Los Angeles: Bike and Hike the city like a local

Published February 27th, 2018

Los Angeles is a city that doesn’t need much of an introduction. Home to some of the USA’s best beaches, rooftops, shopping strips, mountains and sunsets (read: sundowners), it seriously has everything.  It’s also the entry port for most ex-Australia flights, so if you’re making your way through LAX and need to shake off that nasty jetlag, take a day or two to explore the city and see beyond the touristy box ticks.  

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In a city that boasts 300+ days of sunshine a year, taking to the paths will get that blood flowing, top up your vitamin D levels, provide great people watching opportunities and give you endorphins. (And we all know that endorphins make you happy... Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't.)

From insta-worthy viewpoints to the best tracks for celeb-spotting, here are our fave bike paths and hiking trails LA has to offer. 

Hike - Griffith Park & Hollywood Hills

Don’t want to blow your mind too much, but here you can basically exercise, sight-see, learn some stuff and get in touch with nature all in one go. Start at the iconic (and free!) Griffith Park Observatory, which we recommend checking out before getting your selfie on – the view is pretty insane. Set in the midst of the metropolis that is LA, you will find lush green grounds and an observatory containing a planetarium, exhibits, telescopes and live shows.

 

Set off from there and make your way through forested hills and open sandy trails aka, the Hollywood Hills.  You can look down upon the mansions owned by celebs and those in the ‘biz, stare out over the smoggy city all the way to the ocean, and get some great snaps of LA.  Oh you can also get a pretty good glimpse of the famous Hollywood sign. By the way do you know its original purpose was to mark real estate land? It was erected to pin point the suburb of ‘Hollywood’ for land sale purposes.. crazy! Pull that one out mid hike and you’ll be sure to impress a few mates. 

Hike – Runyon Canyon

Occupying 160 acres at the Eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, these trails offer some of the best views over the Hollywood Hills and LA. It’s also a massive stomping ground for celebs, more often than not, pooch in tow, and probably one of the most Instagrammed spots in the city. You also get a good view of the Hollywood sign from this one, plus, there are plenty of hills for you to pose atop; simply throw your hands in the air, back to camera, for that highly coveted wanderlust-style pic.

You can easily self-guide this one, we recommend jumping in an uber or lyft and heading to the northern end of West Hollywood. There are three entrances: North Fuller Ave, Runyon Canyon Road and Mulholland Drive. There are water fountains on the trail, but guys LA is hawt – always bring water. When you’re done, we recommend heading to the Original Farmers Market for refreshments; about a 10 minute uber away.

These hikes are both great to shake off that jetlag, infuse some social media jealousy and get a little fresh air upon arriving in the city of angels.

Bike - LA in a Day

The Godfather of LA bike tours, we highly recommend you take Bikes and Hikes LA’s ‘LA in a Day’ tour, especially if you are a first timer to the city. Save this one for when you have a little energy, and a lot of phone battery (bulk Insta-stories). It’s an awesome way to get up close and personal with some of LA’s best locations, tick off famous streets and suburbs, and rub shoulders with the locals. 

Setting off from West Hollywood you’ll cruise past homes of the rich and famous, follow iconic Route 66, the Sunset Strip and hit the swanky suburbs of Beverly Hills and Bel Air…and the day’s just getting started. Pedal your way through Brentwood Village out to Santa Monica promenade (you will want to head back this way to shop, trust us) then you’ll find yourself coastal amidst highlights like Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, the Venice canals, Muscle Beach and the skateboard park. You’ll soon see that it’s no wonder Californians are so toned, tan, fit and ready..

Tip: when riding between Santa Monica and Venice Beaches, look closely at the upstairs windows of a cornflour blue house. If you spot a little ghost, you’re passing Snapchat’s HQ!

Before the day is out you’ll also take to the streets of Abbot Kinney where you’ll want to do some serious window shopping, cruise through Culver City, Marina Del Rey and so, much, more.  Also, did we mention how hectic traffic is in LA… yet another reason why a bike is a damn good way to see all these hotspots in record LA time!

Bike - Hollywood

If this isn’t your first LA rodeo i.e. you visited Disneyland on a family holiday once, and you know the basics of the city, you might want to really immerse yourself in an area… like Hollywood. Home to some of the most known (read: photographed) locations, it is well worth grabbing yourself a bike to take it all in. Our fave areas include the chic Melrose Ave district (…shopping), the Pretty Woman apartment on Las Palmas Ave and the estates of Hancock Park – a great spot for aspirational house hunting. 

Rub shoulders/wheels with the locals in the Original Farmers Market, check out the colossol outdoor shopping  ‘The Grove’ and ensure you linger a little outside some of the production studios for possible celeb candids. The biggest ones in the area include the Jimmy Kimmel Live Studios, CBS Television City, Nickelodeon Studios and the Paramount Pictures Lot. And if you haven’t been to the home of the Oscars, Dolby Theatre on the Hollywood Walk of fame, it’s kind of a must do. Just don’t expect all the glitz and glam you see on TV. Day to day, it has much more of a grungy vibe – watch your valuables.

While the hikes in LA are easy to self-guide, joining a group tour will add a little security, a little info and a lot of local insight to the experience. You wouldn’t be the first one to get lost self-guiding yourself through a new place, but when it comes to cycling through the sprawled out city, we seriously recommend the stress free option. Join the Bikes and Hikes LA crew on their Hollywood Bike Adventure, LA in a Day, or if you’re inclined, you can even join them on their electric bikes to take a tour of Hollywood’s famous homes.  They seriously have it all, and if you’re super confident you can always rent a bike and DIY with their guidance.

Images: Getty

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Jess Holmes

Jess Holmes refers to herself as a walking contradiction, yearning for life's little (or large) luxuries one minute, eat-drink-treking her way through offbeat destinations another.  She's just as happy exploring the street(food)s of Oaxaca, putting her body through its paces atop Peruvian mountains, and sunning herself on Sri Lanka's secluded beaches as she is wandering through Napa Valley vineyards, indulging in NYC's best spa treatments or sipping Chianti on the Amalfi Coast.