It’s true that, as the song says, nobody walks in LA. But that fact has made us blind to so many fascinating walks right here in our own neighborhoods. From the shady staircases of Silver Lake to secret Hollywood enclaves filled with modernist architecture and historical oddities, there are plenty of reasons to leave your car behind and set off on foot. And, we’ve added one more: alcohol.
Many of these walks appear in Charles Fleming’s classic guides to walking in LA: Secret Stairs and Secret Walks. If you get through all the walks listed here, rest assured that the books feature plenty more gems.
Here are 11 urban walks that end with booze or tacos.
Starting on Sunset Boulevard near Café Tropical, this scenic loop is a great way to experience some of the many “secret” staircases in Silver Lake. This walk comes from Secret Stairs book and it is named for the Music Box Steps made famous by the 1932 short The Music Box, in which Laurel and Hardy attempt to carry a piano up the stairs. The hills and staircases make this a pretty strenuous walk, so at the end of the loop, cross Sunset Boulevard to the Thirsty Crow for a happy hour cocktail.
This 1.8-mile walk along the LA River starts at Dover Street and follows the River to the footbridge at Sunnynook Drive. There, you’ll cross and head back down to Los Feliz Boulevard. If you pause on the footbridge, you’ll have some great views of the historic Glendale-Hyperion bridge. This easy walk is a great way to experience a relatively green section of the LA River, with plenty of lush parks and towering trees. When you hit Los Feliz Boulevard, cross back over the river to Atwater and stop in at The Griffin to escape the sun and revivify yourself with a cold beer.
Silver Lake is home to many houses designed by famous architects, with around a dozen located along Micheltorena Street. If you start on at the Sunset Boulevard end and head north (up the steep incline), you’ll be treated to some modernist classics and famous mansions, including designs by John Lautner (one of which appeared in Less Than Zero), Rudolph Schindler, Gregory Ain and more. Take a right at the end back to Silver Lake Boulevard and head down to Edendale on Rowena for a cocktail or a cold beer—you’re going to need it after that hill!
If your thirst for architecture isn’t quenched by this walk, there are many more buildings of note in Silver Lake—and most of them are marked on this map.
The Colorado Street Bridge is one of LA’s most majestic bridges. It’s also one of the city’s spookiest places, as its nickname—Suicide Bridge—suggests. You’ve probably driven over it (and maybe even walked across it) many times, but did you know there’s a trail that runs underneath the bridge? If you park in the Lower Arroyo Seco Parking Lot and walk north, the trail will take you along the river and under the bridge. Then, walk uphill to Arroyo Boulevard where you can follow the Rose Bowl Loop around the stadium. If you need to refuel, pull into Brookside Golf Club for some rejuvenating fish tacos and Margaritas before making your way back.
Along with Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard is one of LA’s main East-West arteries—and the whole thing is also completely walkable! Clocking in at around 16 miles, this one’s not for the faint of heart—but it is rewarding, as you’ll get to see some of LA’s most iconic architecture along with some fascinating historical sights.
It’s worth timing your walk so that you arrive at Santa Monica around sunset, just in time to enjoy the cool ocean breeze. Of course, you’re going to need a soft couch after all that walking, so pull in to the comfy surrounds of The Bungalow for a soothing cocktail. Before you begin your walk, make sure to check the LA Conservancy Guide to notable places. There are too many to list here!
Yes, it’s the location that launched 1001 modelling careers, but it’s also a nice place for a walk. You can access the canals from Venice Boulevard at Canal Street. From there take a leisurely stroll around the canals and then head back to Venice Beach and down to the Venice Whaler (after an obligatory footbridge selfie, of course). Why not treat yourself to some fish and chips and a cold beer by the beach?
Technically you can take the beach trail all the way from Malibu to Palos Verdes, but if you stop at FIG for a cocktail along the way, you might get distracted—in a good way.
SILVER LAKE HEIGHTS
This little known walk takes you from Silver Lake to Elysian Park (near the Dodgers Stadium) and back again. Be warned there are a lot of stairs but the incredible views of Downtown, the Dodgers Stadium and LA River are worth it. If you’re not totally crushed at the end, wander up Glendale Boulevard to the Red Lion and order up a very large Hefeweizen.
This walk takes you through a hidden part of LA behind the Hollywood Bowl, with some interesting architecture (including designs by Frank Lloyd Wright) and historical locations including the apartment building (Highland Towers) where William Faulkner is said to have written film adaptations of Hemingway and Raymond Chandler. The walk takes you through a number of alleys and staircases overflowing with lush greenery, and of course gives you an incredible view of the Alta Loma tower—an elevator structure built especially for local residents to access their houses. The tower also features in a number of Raymond Chandler novels. Afterwards, drop in to the Wine Bar at the Hollywood Bowl to freshen up.
Mount Washington is a secluded neighborhood located on a hillside near Highland Park. You begin the walk at the Self-Realization Fellowship on San Rafael Avenue, walking north towards Mount Washington Elementary. You’ll be treated to some unique hillside architecture, and some incredible views of El Soreno, Downtown, Eagle Rock and Glendale. If you’re hungry take a walk down to Figueroa and indulge in a “Chico’s Special” and a Margarita at Chico’s Mexican Restaurant.
Once, Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima was a barren stretch of strip malls and gas stations. But thanks to a rejuvenation project that started in 2012, it’s now home to over 50 murals by well-known LA mural artists like Danny Trejo, H.O.O.D. Sisters, Levi Ponce and many more. Unfortunately there aren’t many bars in this area, but if you take a straight shot north you can finish at El Rey Del Cocktel and grab a fish taco and a Mexican Coke.