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Brand Publishing Entertainment+ Summer Guide

Seek summer adventure in the L.A. region

Answer summer's call to action. L.A.'s diverse terrain offers alfresco adventures from wild to mild, all just minutes away. Here's a rundown of some of the best outdoorsy fun.


See marine life and giant kelp — and explore sea caves — while paddling along the cliff-lined coast from Abalone Cove to Cabrillo Beach on Xstreamline Sports' guided, half-day open-ocean Palos Verdes Tour. ($99 per person, Sundays and Mondays by reservation for groups of four to six people.) If you've never kayaked, their two-hour Introduction to Kayaking will show you how on the calm waters of the Inside Cabrillo Beach. ($59 per person.) To improve your skills, consider the three-hour Open Ocean Kayaking course on the Outside Cabrillo Beach beneath Point Fermin. ($99 per person.)


Take to the hills on the invigorating Eaton Canyon Waterfall Hike. Follow the Eaton Canyon Trail to the 40-foot waterfall deep in the 190-acre Eaton Canyon Natural Area in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills above Pasadena. The well-marked path winds for just under four miles round trip over a mix of smooth and rugged terrain past picnic tables and a seasonal stream. Shady oaks, sage and other native flora and wildlife, including birds, lizards and squirrels, greet you along the way. Stop by the Eaton Canyon Nature Center to see live animals and learn about the indigenous flora, fauna and geology.


Enjoy a breezy good time bicycling amid the grasslands, oak groves and gorgeous views of Topanga State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains. Bring your own, or rent a mountain bike (including helmet) from Topanga Creek Bicycles, located in Topanga Canyon adjacent to myriad trail heads into the park. The shop has free paper and app maps of all the trails including smooth fire roads, bumpy trails and one-bike-wide paths for all skill levels. Join the Saturday morning ride hosted by Topanga Creek Bicycles if you're looking for company. It departs at 8 a.m. and returns by 11 a.m. for coffee and banana bread. Riders of all levels are welcome. Bike rentals begin at $50.

Horse Riding

Say "giddyup" the movie Western way — riding through the Hollywood Hills on Sunset Ranch's Barbecue Tour. Saddle up beneath the Hollywood Sign and ride for two hours past the sign and Griffith Observatory to the highest point in Griffith Park, Mount Hollywood, for magnificent 360-degree views of Los Angeles. Back at the ranch, enjoy a festive barbecue, music and fun. The Barbecue Tour is offered the third Saturday of every month. $95 per person. The Sunset Ranch also has lessons for beginning and experienced riders.

Bird Watching

Don your binoculars and hightail it to the Ballona Wetlands in Playa del Rey for spectacular bird watching. The California least tern, snowy egrets and great blue herons are among the 300 species spotted within this 600-acre preserve encompassing saltwater and freshwater marshes, dunes and riverbank habitats. Join the Los Angeles Audubon Society's Third Sunday Bird Walk from 8 a.m. to noon. The monthly walks (except December) are geared for beginning to intermediate birders seeking an introduction to local birds. Ages 6 and older. No reservations are needed; just show up.


Live the SoCal dream and become a surfer. Newport Beach Surfing Lessons, owned and operated by former Hawaiian state surfing champion Sean Louden, specializes in beginners. Enjoy the sunny Newport Beach surf scene as you learn the techniques to getting on your feet and riding a wave, plus positioning, paddling, surfing etiquette and water safety. Daily two-hour lessons are by appointment. Wet suit and board are included. Prices range from private lessons for $137 to group lessons for five people at $75 a person. 


Wheee — take a joy ride parasailing off Catalina Island. Soar through the air marveling at the panoramic coastline views, and often dolphins and whales, from 600 to 800 feet above the sea. you'll lift off from the flight deck at the back of the boat. Each flight lasts from nine to 14 minutes — the higher you go the longer the flight -- and can accommodate one, two or three people at a time. Parasailing flights are offered daily from Avalon Harbor. Must be at least 5 years old. Reservations are recommended.

Nature Walking

Not looking for an adrenaline rush? Admire nature's beauty at your own pace in the Placerita Canyon Natural Area in the San Gabriel Mountains east of Santa Clarita in Newhall. Self-guided nature, history and hiking paths pass through oak groves, willows and along a sycamore-lined seasonal stream, dotted with wildflowers and home to animals from jack rabbits and foxes to bats and bobcats. A guided Family Nature Walk is offered every Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, followed by a live animal presentation at 1 p.m. This is also the site of California's original gold discovery in 1842.

Scuba Diving

Experience the undersea world of the Channel Islands' giant kelp forest, replete with sea lions, lobsters and other marine wonders. Ventura Dive & Sport in Ventura Harbor offers individual and family dive classes from beginner to instructor levels. Its facilities include a heated pool for beginning lessons and a 46-foot state-of-the-art dive boat for multiple-dive trips off Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands. Dive charters go out Saturday, Sunday and some weekdays. Beginners' classes are $595 and include two days of ocean dives.


Have the best of both worlds — the forest and the beach — at the Big Sycamore Canyon Campground in Malibu, 32 miles north of Santa Monica in Point Mugu State Park. Set up camp in the woods, then divide your time between five miles of ocean shoreline with sandy beaches for swimming, body surfing, surf fishing and sunset bonfires; and 70 miles of trails branching into Big Sycamore Canyon and the Santa Monica Mountains, with giant sycamore trees, grassy mountainsides and the jagged pinnacles of the Boney Mountains.

Barbara Beckley, Brand Publishing Writer



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