If you are a druid or pagan and visiting Los Angeles, how about skipping Hollywood Blvd, Rodeo Dr and the cheesy walk of fame or any of the other plebian and crowded delights that tourists hit when they visit here. How about something that is closer to the spirit of LA and not the places no native would ever set foot in without a visiting relative in tow.
These are in no particular order, just some of my favourites that reflect my LA:
- Franklin Canyon – http://www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=14
Franklin Canyon is the geographical center of LA and you can hike to the marker that says so. It isn’t always on the map you can get at the Visitor Center so ask how to hike there. Wear good shoes and consider wearing long pants and long sleeves as they do not remove the poison oak. That is another thing to take a careful look at in the Visitor Center. Tons of stuff is filmed here almost weekly so you may run into the film crew from NCIS or Criminal Minds. My sister and I get the giggles about how often we can identify places in the park. They have a mountain lion that comes by the park and there are always lots of waterfowl. I love the colourful wood ducks and turtles that crowd one of the ponds. This is really wilderness in the middle of the city.
- Descanso Gardens – https://www.descansogardens.org/
I’ve been coming to Descanso since birth. I took summer classes here when I was 7 or 8 and loved almost every minute of it (the exception being the impressment of small children as labour to divide the immense bearded iris bed.) Come in the morning and you can spot deer passing through. We’ve seen Great Horned Owls and their nestlings as well as ducks, koi, wild geese and woodpeckers. There is a large lake with a observation deck on the west end that is full of turtles and fish. I love the large oak groves and the camellia forest.
- Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden – http://www.rsabg.org/ this is a garden of California Native plants that is also full of wildlife and has great views of the nearby Sierra Madres mountains. We had our Grove Companion ritual out in the north portion and people walked around us and never saw is which was really cool.
- Huntington Library and Gardens – http://www.huntington.org/ This is the most expensive place to visit but well worth it and you could really spend more than one day here. I always have to visit the Audubon folio to see what bird they have on exhibit for the day. It’s also a great place to have tea and dress up before a walk through the rose garden. You have to make reservations for tea usually. Visit the herb garden and the Shakespeare garden. There is a Japanese garden with bonsai and a Chinese garden with another spot for tea and snacks. I really love the Children’s Garden with it’s fish fountains and rainbow making tunnel and the mist garden. If you like succulents and cacti, you can satisfy that urge too.
- Ferndell is part of Griffith Park- http://www.laparks.org/dos/parks/griffithPK/ferndell.htm It has a natural spring that Gypsy Boots used to say had curative water but I don’t think the spout is functioning any more. One of my Sunday School teachers used to cram us all in her car on Sunday mornings and take us crawdad fishing in the stream. It must have looked hilarious to see 8 or 9 little girls with their hooklines and bacon and Sunday best hanging out over the stream. It’s cool and beautiful on a hot day and filled with ferns and a feeling of sanctuary.
- Griffith Park Observatory – http://www.griffithobservatory.org/ has always been a big place to visit with my family. Dad would have us running in and out to see what the camera obscura showed. I always loved the spectroscopes showing the rainbow signatures of the elements. They upgraded it a few years ago but it’s still free and on nights of astronomical importance the telescopes are open to the public
- A great place to hike to in Griffith Park – http://amirsgarden.org/
- Eaton Canyon Nature Center – http://www.ecnca.org/ is a great place to hike in the San Gabriel valley and they have night hikes at the full moon and a great nature center
- Natural History Museum of Los Angeles – http://www.nhm.org/site/ love, love, love this place and in summer they have a great butterfly tent too. They have a big dinosaur hall and a hall devoted to the history of LA and a fantastic gem and mineral room that makes the magpie in me go crazy. This was where my dad took us every school holiday along with what used to be the Museum of Science and Industry and is now the California Science Center
- Ranch Palos Verdes Interpretive center http://www.palosverdes.com/rpv/recreationparks/pointvicenteinterpretivecenter/ This is the only place I know of in Southern California where you can watch for whales from shore. A really good thing if you get seasick or can’t to take the whole family on a whale watching trip. They also have a great interpretive center on whales and sealife
- Paramount Ranch – http://www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/paramountranch.htm This is both a film set still in occasional use and the original site of the first Ren Faire. The oak that was the centerpiece of Faire and is still there and more than one Faire person’s ashes have found their way here. It still holds the magic of Faire. If you have read Mercedes Lackey’s books about elves, they start right here. There are wonderful hikes in the chapparal and a nice covered area to have lunch.
- Scripps Oceanographic’s Aquarium – https://scripps.ucsd.edu/ – this was a must go when I was a kid mad about being a marine biologist before I knew they had to swim and I sunk. Still a very cool place.
- Cabrillo Marine Aquarium – http://www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org/ This aquarium’s price is only $5 as opposed to the multibuck one over the estuary in Long Beach. I like this one better. When I was a kid this one was free and I loved going here. Always good to see the jellies. I love jellyfish.
- Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge – http://www.laparks.org/dos/horticulture/sepulvedabasin.htm
My sister and I love taking hikes here and I drag friends here to walk. This is where we had our Druid ordination early on a January morning and it was the last ritual we did with Laura. The basin is loaded with waterfowl and on the flight paths for migration so you can see different birds all year long. White pelicans winter here every year for a short period. They are magnificent birds and one year there were swans. There is an island in the center that ospreys and other birds. If you go really early you can see the owls before they go to sleep.
15. Self Realization Fellowship Gardens – http://www.lakeshrine.org/
I love walking here in the peace of the garden. This is a wonderful place to go to get away and be quiet