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First Day of Summer: Free Entrance to National Parks & More

A cloudy morning at Pinnacles National Monument near Soledad, CA | Photo by Zach Behrens/KCET

Tuesday, June 21st is the first official day of summer, and with that comes a long and (hopefully) sunny day of fun opportunities.

National Parks: While not a weekend day, those who can take advantage of this will save some money and enjoy lighter crowds. While the two National Park Service units closest to Los Angeles--Santa Monica Mountains and Channel Islands--are fee free year-round (you still have to pay for transit to the islands, however), many others parks in California that charge fees, save for several days throughout the year like Tuesday.

Public Lands: The Bureau of Land Management is also celebrating the first day of summer by waiving "recreation-related fees" to the National System of Public Lands. But even with California's plethora of public lands--they manage 15.2 million acres, nearly 15% of the state's land area, of public land--there are no fee areas, at least according to a list attached to BLM's announcement.

Just Get Out: It's the longest day of the year, so take advantage of the light wherever you go. Here are a couple ideas in Los Angeles:

  • Secret Stairs: The Los Angeles Stairstreet Advocates, a group of residents that are "dedicated to the restoration, preservation and enjoyment of the many walk streets across Los Angeles," are hosting a Tomato Pie walk. It starts at the corner of Hyperion & Tracy in Silver Lake at 6:30 p.m. for a 90-minute stair hike in the neighborhood, followed by dinner at Tomato Pie.
  • Griffith Park: L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes Griffith Park, tends to host solstice and equinox hikes a few times a year. This time around the hike to Mount Hollywood begins at 5:30 p.m. from the Griffith Observatory parking lot. Take note, however; the councilmember is combining this hike with his swearing in ceremony for his third term so this isn't intended to be a quick out-and-back (but no one is stopping you from ditching the ceremony).
  • LA River: KCET's very own Departures has the ultimate guide to the Los Angeles River. Check out their Field Guide for tons of ideas.

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