Excellent L.A. Picnic Spots

Solstice Canyon
It's that time of year again, when we Angelenos watch with undisguised smugness as the rest of the country is slowly crushed under pounds of snow while we frolic around in flip-flops, donning scarves for decoration rather than insulation. Tragically, while we can escape the negative wind chills suffered by our buddies to the east, we can't escape the foreshortened days -- so why not make the best of what sunshine we have with a picnic? Below, a run-down of some of our favorite spots to get an afternoon rosé buzz while munching on a delicious jambon-and-brie sandwich; let us know your favorites in the comments!

Solstice Canyon Ruins: A short, level hike up a trailhead off Solstice Canyon Road in Malibu is LA's version of a Roman ruin--the former manse of an eccentric supermarket magnate, lost to an all-too-predictable wildfire. Only the foundations remain, providing a host of romantic outdoor settings for your al fresco dining adventures. You can work up an appetite climbing the adjacent waterfall or simply sit back, sip from your thermos and imagine what it would've been like to live full-time in such serene surroundings. (P.S.: the area's pet-friendly.)
Solstice Canyon Road and PCH, Malibu

Lake Hollywood Park: If your picnic party won't be complete without your canine companion, follow serpentine Hollywood Hills sidestreets to the gorgeous Lake Hollywood Park. A lush field of green surrounded by mountains and offering the best view of the Hollywood sign in town, the park is an unofficial haven for the area's pooches and their people--if you're lucky you may even spot a celebrity giving his dogwalker a holiday. There are a few actual picnic tables, though the prevailing trend is to spread out a blanket on the grass. Just keep an eye out underfoot, as dogs will be dogs.
3200 Canyon Lake Dr.

El Matador
El Matador State Beach: Looking for a private beach experience, but saving that $6 million you have stuffed in your mattress for something other than an oceanside home to call your own? Hands-down one of the prettiest beaches the LA area has to offer, El Matador is a Malibu "pocket beach" surrounded by cave-riddled rock formations. (Might want to pack a pair of hard-soled shoes in addition to those gladiator sandals.) The walk down's a bit treacherous but the reward is well worth it. Just make sure your beverages are as virgin as the beach itself, as the Malibu cops do stop by from time to time to enforce the no-alcohol mandate with tickets.
32100 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu

Silver Lake Meadow: As pristine as can be--literally, since it just opened in the spring--the Silver Lake Meadow offers three acres of green with a view of the adjacent reservoir. There's a spot outside the fence where dogs on leashes can mellow out while their owners enjoy a people-only zone, and as you might expect in Silver Lake, both hipster kids and their grown-up counterparts are prevalent. Shady spots are in short supply, so remember your sunglasses and pack some SPF15 in case you start to feel a little crispy after a couple of hours basking in the Rockwellian glow.
Earl Street and Silver Lake Blvd.

Hahn State Rec Area
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area: If you've ever taken La Cienega home from the airport, you've passed the entrance to this delightful gem of park. Remarkably hidden from view given its size, Kenneth Hahn offers ample parking, tons of picnic pavilions (with grills, what what!), fishing ponds if that's how you roll, and more. Work up a sweat on one of the trails leading through the Baldwin Hills, then faire du picnic on one of the grassy areas at the top of the park, where you'll be treated to incredible views of downtown and the Hollywood Hills. Pups can join the fun as long as they're kept on the leash.
4100 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Rose Garden
Exposition Park Rose Garden: Sure, you're all about the Huntington and the Arboretum--who isn't?--but they're way out in the 'burbs, and they won't let you bring a snack. The Exposition Park Rose Garden, on the other hand, is a seven-acre oasis of beauty in south LA where you won't pay a dime in admission and can camp out with whatever comestibles strike your fancy. Established in 1871, it's been a rose garden, horse track and even the site of a brothel before becoming a garden again. Blooming season for the park's over 200 varieties of roses is coming to an end in November, so get yourself down there soon to enjoy it to full effect.
701 State Dr.

[Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area image via Flickr user ericrichardson]

[Exposition Park Rose Garden image via Flickr user anikascreations]

[Solstice Canyon image via Flickr user maveric2003]

[El Matador State Beach image via Flickr user tvvork]

More on Outdoor Dining:
A Hike and a Drink in the Santa Monica Mountains
Free Lunch: Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie

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