Located in the Westside region of Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades is a coastal neighborhood tucked between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains. The neighborhood offers an outstanding quality of life in an idyllic setting combining beautiful scenery and urban amenities, making it one of the most sought-after communities in Southern California.
For those who love the outdoors, Pacific Palisades is the perfect place to call home. With year-round sunny weather and a picturesque coastal environment with beautiful urban parks, lush forested canyons, and pristine shorelines, there are so many things to do in and around Pacific Palisades.
If you’re looking for some of the best outdoor activities and things to do in Pacific Palisades, here’s a closer look at the parks and outdoor destinations in and around the neighborhood.
Will Rogers State Historic Park
Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, Will Rogers State Historic Park is a serene natural haven encompassing 186 acres in the Pacific Palisades area. The park is the former estate of esteemed actor and humorist Will Rogers, who used it for relaxation and enjoying his favorite pastimes of riding and roping together with friends and family.
After Rogers’ passing in 1935, the estate was donated by his family to California State Parks and was eventually named a state historic park in 1944. Today, Will Rogers State Park is a favorite destination for Pacific Palisades residents and visitors looking to spend time outdoors.
Countless hikers, bikers, and equestrians come to Will Rogers State Park each year to explore its beautiful well-maintained trails. Popular trails include the Rivas Canyon Trail and the Inspiration Point Loop Trail, which offers a stunning view of Los Angeles. Those looking for an unforgettable outdoor adventure can explore the Backbone National Trail, which extends nearly 70 miles across the Santa Monica Mountains all the way to Point Mugu on the Pacific Coast. Free trail maps are available at the park office and visitor’s center.
Jigsaw Farms offers a range of horseback trail riding lessons from Tuesday to Sunday at the park. They are also equestrian summer camps for horse enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. Visit their website for more information.
Equestrians are free to take their own horses to Will Rogers State Park to explore the beautiful trails and enjoy using the riding and roping arena. Guided horseback trail rides are also offered for those who don’t own a horse.
The Will Rogers Polo Club located at the park hosts polo matches and tournaments every weekend from April through October.
You can enjoy a free tour of Will Rogers’ ranch house every Thursday to Sunday. No pre-registration is required for groups with less than 15 people. Call the Park Interpretive Staff at 310.230.2017 or send an email to wrshp(dotted)events(at)parks(dotted)ca(dotted)gov for more information.
Enjoy watching a film outside the home of one of Hollywood’s earliest stars. Start your evening by going on a free tour of Will Rogers’ ranch home, catch a live music performance, and then grab some snacks and drinks from one of the gourmet food trucks before enjoying a film right on Will’s front lawn.
Visit this page for upcoming events.
Will Rogers State Beach
Looking forward to relaxing at the beach? Head down to Will Rogers State Beach to enjoy swimming, sunbathing, surfing, volleyball, and other activities. The beach’s southeast end connects with Santa Monica State Beach to form an expansive six-mile stretch of sun-kissed sand along Santa Monica Bay.
With its excellent water quality, Will Rogers State Beach is one of the best beaches for swimming in Southern California. Waves are moderate in size, making it ideal for beginner and intermediate-level surfers. Stiff winds in the afternoon create excellent conditions for windsurfers and kitesurfers.
Will Rogers State Beach is a fantastic spot for picnics! You can grab delicious meals to enjoy at the beach from nearby restaurants such as:
Temescal Gateway Park
Spanning over 140 acres of lush oak and sycamore canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains, Temescal Gateway Park is a serene natural haven offering a wealth of recreational activities. Developed in 1922, the park was used by the Chautauqua movement as an outdoor auditorium for discussing literature, music, and science.
For residents looking to relax by reconnecting with nature, Temescal Gateway Park provides the perfect getaway. Exploring the park’s trails is one of the best things to do in Pacific Palisades. The urban park offers access to a diverse trail system in the Santa Monica Mountains, making it a popular destination for experienced hikers and anyone looking for a beautiful spot to spend the day.
Among its most-visited trails is the Temescal Canyon/Ridge Trail Loop, a moderate 2.6-mile out-and-back trail featuring a waterfall and panoramic views of Santa Monica Bay. If you’re after a shorter and more relaxing hike, the El Medio Trail is great choice due to its scenic views and gentle incline.
With its tranquil, picturesque setting, Temescal Gateway Park serves as a perfect venue for weddings and other special celebrations. There’s a spot surrounded by expansive grassy meadows shaded by soaring sycamores known as Woodland Terrace, perfect for large weddings and gatherings. Adjacent to Woodland Terrace is the expansive Elizabeth Cheadle Hall, which can be reserved for receptions, meetings, and other events.
Another event venue located in the park is Historic Stewart Hall, which was originally built in the early 1900s as a chapel. The space features a 30-foot-high pitched wood ceiling, elegant hardwood floors, and glass window walls framing a lush garden of wildflowers and sycamore trees.
For more information on Temescal Gateway Park’s private event venues, send an email here.
Rustic Canyon Park
Rustic Canyon Park is a city park with a variety of amenities for all ages. Whether you’re planning a relaxing picnic or looking to enjoy fun outdoor activities with the family, the park has something for everyone. Among the park’s highlights is a eucalyptus grove planted by Abbot Kinney, the real estate developer behind several projects including Santa Monica Heights, Ocean Park, and The Venice of America.
Located within the park is the Rustic Canyon Recreation Center, which features an indoor gym, baseball diamond, tennis and basketball courts, a swimming pool, and a playground. The center occupies the site of the former clubhouse of Uplifters Ranch, an exclusive social club formed during the prohibition.
The Rustic Canyon Recreation Center hosts a variety of summer camps for kids aged 6 to 12. Their summer camp program has a range of activities including games, arts and crafts workshops, sports tournaments, and field trips to fun destinations like the LA Zoo, Paradise Cove, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Six Flags Magic Mountain. There’s also a leadership training program for teenagers who want to become camp counselors.
Located along Ocean Avenue, Palisades Park is a 26-acre park perched on a coastal bluff terrace, offering sweeping views of mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean. Originally known as Linda Vista Park, the park stretches south from Santa Monica Pier towards Adelaide Drive in the north.
The park features petanque courts, walking paths, picnic spots, benches, a rose garden, and an expansive grassy area. Palisades Park is also home to the Camera Obscura Art Lab, a community arts venue that hosts six artists-in-residence every year and offers workshops led by a rotating roster of teaching artists.
Palisades Park is close to other attractions like Sorrento Beach and Santa Monica Pier, so you can catch the sunset at the beach, check out the rides, or enjoy a nice seafood dinner after your visit.
Art installations and historic monuments
Palisades Park features a collection of historic monuments and public art installations. Among its most notable pieces are the Idaho Gate built by Greene and Greene in 1912, a Civil War cannon, the Arcadia Bandini de Baker bust by Masahito Sanae, a Native American totem pole, and the Sculpture of Santa Monica by Eugene H. Morahan.
Trees and plants
There are more than 30 unique plant and tree species on display at Palisades Park, making it the perfect destination for those interested in the flora of the area. The park has a variety of palms, which include Cuban royal palms, Senegal date palms, Canary Island date palms, windmill palms, and Mexican and European fan palms.
George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon
Recently opened in 2022, George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon is one of the newest parks in Pacific Palisades. The 46-acre park is located just above Will Rogers State Beach, treating visitors to incredible canyon and ocean views.
George Wolfberg Park was developed using a minimalist design that emphasizes open space for activities such as bird watching, kite flying, biking, picnicking, and walking.
Visitors will enjoy exploring woodland trails meandering through the canyon. There’s also a wide fire road ideal for activities like running and biking. Those looking to know more about the area’s history can find informational interpretive signs about the woodland habitats and the coastal bluff environments surrounding the park.
Topanga State Park
Covering more than 11,000 acres, Topanga State Park is considered the world’s largest wildland within a major city. The park is nestled in the cliffs and canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains, offering sweeping views of Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean.
Topanga State Park features a 36-mile network of interconnecting trails meandering through vast grasslands and dense oak woodlands.
The starting point for most of the trails is accessible at the Trippet Ranch, which serves as the park’s headquarters. Among its most popular trails is the Parker Mesa Overlook Loop Trail, which offers spectacular views of the coast and the Los Angeles basin. Many sections of the out-and-back trail are on a well-graded fire road, making it ideal for trail running and mountain biking as well. It features easy ascents towards the coast, perfect if you want to cap your hike off by taking in gorgeous sunset views.
Another popular trail accessible from Trippet Ranch is the Santa Ynez Trail. The trail takes hikers deep into the Santa Ynez Canyon, which features sandstone formations that collect moisture, allowing plants to thrive and form small hanging gardens along the ridges and canyon walls.
Topanga State Park has many trails you can explore on horseback. Head to Los Angeles Horseback Riding for guided trail rides available for all ages and skill levels.
Spending a night in the wilderness underneath the stars is one of the best things to do in Pacific Palisades! With its spectacular setting, a vast network of trails, and top-quality amenities, Topanga State Park is a prime camping destination.
The park has one campground, Musch Trail Camp, which you can access by hiking on the Musch Trail. From Trippet Ranch, it’s an easy one-mile hike with gentle elevation changes to the campground. Potable water fountains and running water bathrooms are available at the camp, so you don’t need to worry about packing extra bottles of water.
Musch Trail Camp welcomes walk-in campers, and no reservations are needed. The campground features eight campsites and can accommodate a maximum capacity of 40 campers.
If you’re looking for an incredible outdoor destination just outside of Pacific Palisades, Solstice Canyon is a terrific choice. Located less than 30 minutes west of the neighborhood, Solstice Canyon is a park in Malibu just off the Pacific Coast Highway. It is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and was previously known as Roberts Ranch before it opened in 1988.
Solstice Canyon features an array of hiking trails through a lush landscape populated by coastal sage and riparian plant communities. Its hiking trails are very popular for wildlife viewing, as the park is home to a multitude of species including alligator lizards, fence lizards, acorn woodpeckers, and red-tailed hawks.
The Solstice Canyon Trail is its most popular trail, a gentle two-mile hike through hilly terrain that will take you to a waterfall and a collection of architectural ruins. Along the way, you’ll get to see remnants of the Keller House, a stone hunting cottage built more than a century ago, touted as one of the oldest structures in Malibu. Located near the waterfall is Roberts Ranch, where you’ll find the ruins of a California ranch house originally designed by award-winning architect Paul Revere Williams.
The Solstice Canyon Trail is mostly paved and is well-suited for other activities like picnicking, dog walking, and biking.
Looking for more fun things to do in Pacific Palisades? Check out our previous blog posts here.
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