West-Coasters live life a little laid-back. Half the time, that’s why people move out there. They want to escape the rush-rush-rush Type-A world of cities like New York, to drop their bags somewhere and enjoy the sunshine. But for all of its residential neighborhoods and sparkling beaches, at the end of the day, Los Angeles is still a major city. And sometimes when you’re stuck in honking gridlock or waiting in line at a taco truck, you just need a moment to yourself. Luckily for those in West Hollywood, the city offers plenty of activities and green spaces that can provide a refreshing reprieve from its constant energy. Consider one of these options when you feel like you need to take a breath and find your quiet place.
Go Hiking at Runyon Canyon
Though technically just outside the WeHo city limits, the entrance to Runyon Canyon is a short walk or scooter from Sunset Boulevard, and once you’re there, you’ll quickly realize why this is a favorite park among Los Angelenos. The canyon cuts deep into the Hollywood hills, with the ridges on both sides rising to points of prominence and offering views of the city that are hard to match.
The hike to the top is short but steep, and on a clear day, you can see the Pacific Ocean to the west, the iconic DTLA skyline to the southeast, and both the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory to the east. Since Runyon is a dog-friendly park (they’re even allowed off-leash), you’ll be sure to see plenty of pooches bounding by you on the trail, and you may even spot a celebrity or two out for a quick hike. (But don’t be that annoying tourist who points them out or asks for a photo — they need their quiet time too!)
If you start from the main gate on Fuller, you can either take the East Trail (straight ahead), which will send you steeply up to the lookouts of Inspiration Point and Cloud’s Rest, or the paved road (up and to your left), which will guide you more gradually to the top. From there, you have the option to either complete the loop or continue on toward the Mulholland Drive entrance, from which you can double back and keep ascending for even better views before heading back down via the West Trail.
Since the park map can be a little confusing for newcomers, you might consider booking a sunrise tour with Bikes and Hikes LA, a guided tour service built on the idea that when you get out of the car and see LA by foot or from the seat of a bike, you experience a completely different city. At Runyon, Bikes and Hikes guide Kyle Lynch will start you off from the alternate route at the gorgeous grounds of Wattles Mansion and Garden Park.
From there, you’ll climb the scenic west ridge, and he’ll point out points of interest and celebrity houses in the neighboring Laurel Canyon. If you want some friendly company (seriously, Kyle’s the best) and don’t mind learning a thing or two during your hike, this is the best way to do Runyon. That said, however you make your way to the top, you’re guaranteed to feel overcome with wonder once you’re there. It’s insane that an area of such natural awe exists within this massive city, just off the famous Hollywood Boulevard. That sort of interwoven beauty is part of what makes LA so special.
Relax at Kings Road Park
While Runyon is grand and majestic, Kings Road Park is the sort of quiet oasis you wouldn’t know about unless you happened to walk by it one day. Tucked away just off of Santa Monica Boulevard, this tiny public park doesn’t draw attention to itself, but if you have the time to stop in for a moment, you might just find yourself glued to one of its park benches.
Though it’s situated around a community building, the kind with cork boards covered in ads for dog-walking services and promotions for local theatre productions, there’s not a lot going on there. Tall trees rise on all sides and cloak the park in shade, a couple of fountains bubble lazily, some squirrels scurry across the grounds — but other than that, it’s just a place of stillness. And sometimes, that’s all you need.
Play Tennis at West Hollywood Park
Likely the city’s most popular public space, West Hollywood Park covers most of the block between Robertson and San Vicente boulevards, just across the street from the Pacific Design Center. You’ll never be at a loss for something to do there. You can take a dip in the community pool, toss a frisbee or lay out a blanket on the central lawn, line up along the fence at one of the two dog parks to watch the pups play, or join a pick-up game at the basketball courts along the northern end. The beautiful WeHo Library is connected to it all, as well, so those who need some silence to catch up on their work will even have a place to do so.
All of that said, WeHo Park offers one secret amenity you might not know about, since it’s not visible from the ground. The park’s three tennis courts sit atop the roof of its six-level parking garage, and to get there, you have to ask the parking attendant on the ground floor for a key card. Once you’ve arrived, though, you’ll understand what makes this such a wonderful escape. Six degrees separated from the bustle of the city, the rooftop courts are blissfully quiet, and on a clear day, you’ll enjoy panoramic views that include the Hollywood Hills and the skylines of both DTLA and Century City.
We can’t think of a calmer place to focus on improving your backhand in peace — just try not to hit any balls over the fence!
Challenge the Locals to a Chess Match at Plummer Park
The charm of this park, located in WeHo’s Russian neighborhood along Santa Monica Boulevard, comes from its community spirit. On any given Saturday or Sunday, you’ll see families picnicking on the shaded lawns (there’s a Trader Joe’s just across the street if you want to pick up some supplies), locals playing tennis or basketball, kids running around the playground, and dogs bounding through the sun. There’s also a rec center for public events on site and a farmers market held every Monday. It’s clearly a neighborhood hangout, where those who call West Hollywood home come for a few hours to relax and reset.
If you’re looking for something a little different, why not try your hand at a game of chess? The older Russian men from the area often claim the park’s picnic tables early in order to set up their boards and play for hours on end. They may not speak great English, but one of the beautiful things about chess is that the rules are the same in every language. So if you’re feeling extroverted and up to the challenge, sidle up and ask politely if you could play a game or two. Maybe they’ll decline or maybe you’ll end up making a new friend — you never know until you make the first move.
Splurge on a Yoga or Meditation Class
One of the best parts about wellness — you know, apart from rest, relaxation, peace of mind, a chance at spiritual nirvana, etc. — is that it’s free. All you have to do is walk to a public park, sit down in the grass or on a bench, and focus on your breathing. That said, if you have some extra dough burning a hole in your pocket and want to let a professional guide you into serenity, West Hollywood is home to a variety of yoga studios and meditation centers.
Playlist Yoga ($25/class), at the corner of Melrose and La Cienega, puts a fresh spin on the practice by introducing music into your workout. While most yoga studios use music to set the mood, Playlist actually makes it a part of the exercise, synching your breathing and your movement to the beat in order to enhance your inspiration and energy flow. For a more traditional session, try Yoga Works ($25/class) at Santa Monica and Fairfax, which offers a varied schedule of classes to participants of all skill levels.
Unplug Meditation — the world-famous wellness company that has spawned an app, a book, and an entire movement — has one of its two studios right in West Hollywood ($24/class), at Melrose and La Cienega (catty corner to Playlist Yoga). Their selection of “meditation adventures” is surprisingly extensive, offering everything from “Astrological Meditation” to “Meditation For Type A’s” to a “Saturday Night Sound Bath.” Whichever you drop in on, expect to take on the rest of your day with a calm mind and a renewed sense of curiosity.
Bike Along Santa Monica
Because the majority of West Hollywood feels more residential than urban (there’s a reason it’s considered the most walkable city in California), it’s a wonderful place to take a bike ride. And while pretty much any cycle around the city will leave you feeling refreshed (and probably with wind-blown hair), we definitely recommend rolling down the mile-and-a-half stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard between Fairfax and San Vicente. Not only is this a portion of historic Route 66, but along the way, you’ll experience the tree-lined heart of the city and pass by neighborhood institutions like Laurel Hardware, Hamburger Mary’s, and Connie and Ted’s before ending at WeHo’s famous LGBTQ neighborhood with its rainbow sidewalks and rollicking clubs like Rage and Flaming Saddles. Just be sure to wear a helmet and remain extra attentive — this is a major thoroughfare, so you should be aware of the cars on the road at all times.
You likely won’t be arriving in West Hollywood with a bike of your own, so you have several rental options. The cheapest is to use the city’s bike-share program, WeHo Pedals, which will run you $7 for the initial hour and $0.12 per minute after that. To avoid being limited by the location of the program’s docking stations, you can also rent a hybrid bike from Bikes and Hikes LA for $32 a day. (Note: mountain and road bikes are more expensive.) Or, if you’re up for a longer but more fulfilling journey, consider signing up for one of their guided tours around the city. The Hollywood Bike Tour is an easy three-hour jaunt that covers most of West Hollywood and uses the city as a launching point for exploring the surrounding area, including Hollywood Boulevard, the Grove, the La Brea Tar Pits, LACMA, Paramount Studios, and the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. (They also offer a special celebrity tour, if you’re into that kind of thing.) On the other hand, the LA in a Day tour is their most popular offering, a 32-mile adventure that starts in West Hollywood and covers a host of neighborhoods all over the city, including Beverly Hills, Westwood, Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey, and Culver City. With an expert tour guide, provided snacks and safety equipment, and post-tour beers, there are few better ways to experience the city.
Climb to the Rooftop at Restoration Hardware
Even if you’re not looking to redo your living room, you should carve out some time to visit Restoration Hardware on Melrose. This interior design gallery is absolutely gorgeous from floor to ceiling, the kind of place you’d go to furnish your new house if you ever won the lottery. But whether or not the price tags fall within your budget, be sure to step inside and take the marble staircase up two levels to the rooftop, a 10,000-square-foot space that is open to the public.
Covered in gravel pathways, outfitted with luxurious patio sofas, and shaded with low trees and billowing canopies, this is one of WeHo’s hidden gems. It’s perfect for either a quick siesta or an extended photo op, as the tranquil atmosphere allows for peace of mind while you capture the surrounding views of the Hollywood Hills to the north and the LA sprawl to the south.