What can you say about LA? It's a true global city. A mecca and a melting pot of all things art, history, culture, commerce, sports, celebrities, and yes, even the great outdoors. While it may never be known primarily for its outdoor possibilities, it does in fact have some stunning beaches, tons of fantastic hiking trails, and a number of high peaks that ring the L.A. basin. And with an essentially endless amount of restaurants and bars spread out among its conglomerate of suburbs, you really can get the best of both worlds when it comes to wilderness and watering holes. Here's your guide to some of the best trail to tavern pairings in Los Angeles and beyond.
1. Hollywood Sign | Frolic Room
Situated in Griffith Park—one of the largest urban parks in North America—the Hollywood Sign Hike is about as iconic as it gets. Images of the Hollywood sign—which originally read 'Hollywoodland' back in the 1920's—are well-known across the world. The sign is located just above the Hollywood Hills, and there are numerous routes that take you to this historic spot. The route from the Griffith Observatory to the Hollywood Sign is perhaps the best. At 7 miles roundtrip, it's a little long for some, but the trails aren't very technical, and the sweeping views of the city will make you forget about the distance.
After the quick elevation gain and sweeping view of the city, you’ll likely want to follow a staple with a staple. So, head to the Frolic Room—a down-to-earth dive bar with cheap beer and free popcorn. Located on Hollywood Boulevard, this historic bar has been around since the 1930's when it was rumored to be a speakeasy during the days of prohibition. There's no telling how many famous patrons have entered its doors over the last 80 years, but as soon as you enter, you can sense you're in a special place—a type of place where you wish the walls could talk. Maybe the best part about the Frolic Room is that basically nothing has changed (and that's rare for L.A.). It's just as it was back in its speakeasy days.
2. Escondido Falls | Neptune’s Net
Even with El Nińo, the waterfalls at Escondido have remained but a trickle. But that doesn’t mean the trail is lacking in interesting features. You’ll pass alongside bursting pepper trees and deliciously cell-reception-free periods. Dogs are allowed on-leash, and the area brings out anything from Tea Cup Poodles being toted in purses, to towering Great Danes panting and slobbering their way up the trail. The best part about this hike is the proximity to the Pacific Coast Highway. After being closed for much of 2015 due to a landslide, the cruise-ability of this stretch of iconic highway lends itself perfectly to a quick trip up to Neptune’s Net —a legendary roadside restaurant with burgers, beers, and of course the freshest catches of the day. Known as the spot where Tyler from the film Point Break slung burgers, this motorcycle hangout, deli-food-joint-hybrid is a must. Grab a beer from the cooler doors, claim a picnic table outside, and see if anyone’s scoring waves at County Line across the street.
3. Arroyo Verde | Topa Topa Brewing Co.
The quaint and lightly-trafficked trails at Arroyo Verde Park offer an easy escape in the hills of Ventura. Winding through fields of wild sage, the swooping trails here deliver sweeping views of the Pacific stretching far off into the distance. The meadow encircled by the trail is often filled with bouncy houses and family barbecues on weekend days. But in general, these trails are uncrowded and tucked quietly in the hills.
Once you're done with your hike, head on over to Topa Topa Brewing Co, a small on-site craft brewery where your bartender is likely to give you tips on a great full moon night hike, if you’ve still got the energy. The best part about this place (other than the beer, of course) is the good vibes and good company. This is a place where the pretense of Ventura is left at the door. And who knows? You may even find your new hiking buddy.
4. Matilija Creek Trail | Chief’s Peak
Ojai is a beautiful haven hidden in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles and east of Santa Barbara. Some know Ojai for its expansive vineyards and farmland, but what really makes Ojai exciting is its access to untapped and raw natural beauty. One of the highlight hikes in the area is the Matilija Creek Trail—an 8-mile path through a scenic canyon in the Los Padres National Forest. The further you travel into the canyon, the more secluded it becomes and the more swimming holes you'll find along the way. You'll likely get wet on this trail, so sandals are a good idea, as is an adventurous spirit.
When you're ready for that post-hike wind down, head to Chief’s Peak, a hip beer and wine bar tucked into the back of the boutique Ojai Rancho Inn. The beer and wine selections rotate, but the good vibes are always there to stay.
5. Cheeseboro Canyon Trail | Twisted Oak Tavern
If you're looking to get out of the city a little ways, the Santa Monica Mountains to the west provide a large swath of wilderness expanse along the scenic Pacific Coast. One of the best hikes here is the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail . This 4.6 mile trail can be made into a loop route, or can be done as an out-and-back as well. Either way, hikers will be treated to uninterrupted views of what Southern California must have originally looked like, replete with rolling hills and groves of coastal and valley oak.
Nearby Twisted Oak Tavern is the obvious choice for when you're done with your hike. Located in Agoura Hills, Twisted Oak is all about exquisite food, great drinks, and good company. With an in-house brewing operation known as The Lab Brewing Co. and a brewmaster who's referred to around town as 'Dr. Hops', it's no surprise that CraftBeer.com voted this place the best beer bar in California in 2016. And with a menu that features locally-sourced ingredients from the the backyard garden, you're guaranteed to have an award-winning combination of food and drink.