One of the first things I noticed about my Moorpark Street apartment was the noise.
Even well after bedtime in the sleepy San Fernando Valley, it seemed the world was still relentlessly in motion. I told my then-roommate (an LA native) that I found it hard to sleep with the incessant whoosh of speeding cars outside my window.
“Oh, I love it!” she said. “It calms me. Like ocean waves.”
I remain unconvinced by that comparison.
And if you—like me—are a transplant from quieter pastures, you may also find that the otherwise-intoxicating energy of this city can sometimes be . . . a little much.
Fortunately, there are options. Whether you long for the solitude of nature or you want to cozy down indoors, there actually are many ways to get away without ever leaving the county of Los Angeles.
Secluded Beaches and Coves
In Los Angeles, the beach is for everyone. Surfers and breakdancers. Families and Bumble dates. Bodybuilders and free spirits. It’s a beautiful thing, really. But if you’re done with the people watching and just want to be one with the ocean’s majesty already, you may need to dig a little deeper to find the secret spots.
I’m talking places like Lechuza Beach, a pretty little strip of Malibu seashore tucked away in a residential neighborhood. The perfection of Lechuza is that it’s not the sort of place a person stumbles upon. Which means the only people who go there are the ones in the know. That’s you now.
My personal favorite is Point Dume State Beach. Nestled between the better-known Paradise Cove and Zuma Beach (for which Gwen Stefani named her kiddo), Point Dume allows you to literally rise above it all on an easy trail up along the seaside cliffs. This boardwalk path offers some killer views and even potential whale watching during the winter months. If you want to get a little more secluded, keep an eye out for the staircase leading down to an isolated cove. You’ll find mesmerizing tide pools, frolicking seals, and the calming rush of waves. The real kind.
Whether you prefer rose gardens, desert gardens, or Japanese gardens, LA has you covered.
Probably the best-known option is The Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino. Between the stunning gardens, art exhibitions, and the impressive collection in the library, there’s plenty at The Huntington to inspire peace and reflection. But for some people, the cost of admission can be prohibitive—general adult admission starts at $25.
If you’re looking to spend a little less for your serenity, I’d recommend Descanso Gardens or The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. Both options make you feel miles away from the city and include a variety of gardens, water features, and shady benches. Full disclosure: The Arboretum is home to some loudmouth peacocks, but they tend to stick to the entrance.
The beauty of a library is that silence is a requirement. No matter how many people are around, you won’t have to deal with any racket above a gentle whisper. And in Los Angeles, you can even pick your atmosphere.
For example, if you’re looking to hang out someplace literary and dignified, you might try the Pasadena Public Library. If you prefer sunlight and ocean views, you could spend an afternoon in the glass-walled embrace of the Manhattan Beach Library. Or scoot on over to Brand Park in Glendale for the intimate and historical atmosphere of the Brand Library & Art Center.
And of course, your library tour of Los Angeles must include the formidable Central Library in Downtown Los Angeles. This main branch of LAPL is not only a peaceful oasis in the heart of metropolitan chaos. It also inspires deep appreciation for vivacious city of ours, with LA history present in the art and architecture of all eight floors (four above ground, four below).
Runyon Canyon will definitely work those calves, but it’s also a great place to run into everyone and their dog. If you’re longing for the sounds of nature characterized by birdsong more than strangers griping about their agents, you should know: you have a ton of options.
If a beautiful, moderately rugged trek along a canyon creek bed speaks to your sensibilities, check out Fish Canyon Narrows. Or for gorgeous ocean views, try the long-but-rewarding La Jolla Canyon Loop in Point Mugu State Park. If you crave high elevation, head into Angeles National Forest. Hike the San Gabriel Peak above the clouds or drive a little farther north for the redwood-lined Burkhart Trail to Cooper Canyon Falls.
The Point Is, You’ve Got Options
Even though it may feel like peace is at least a hundred miles away, Los Angeles is loaded with unexpected pockets of silence. You only have to know where to look.