Just across the river, in East L.A., Hollenbeck Park (415 S. St. Louis St.), one of the city‘s little-known gems, contrasts rather amazingly with the close-by, industrial edge of downtown. Here you can find a shaded getaway in the lilting hilly landscape, or roll down a long, grassy expanse, or just sit in front of a peaceful weeping willow and watch a stunning white egret stalk its swimming prey. Sound unbelievably pretty? Yes, and how! The scenery includes a wooden footbridge, a band shell, a baseball diamond and a community center amid the beautifully tended grounds. My picnic recommendation: a Hollenbeck burrito from El Tepayac (812 N. Evergreen Ave., Boyle Heights; 323-268-1960) and a cold mango drink, then loll and sprawl to your heart’s content.
Other moist escapes within the hot city grid include Lincoln Park, Lake Balboa and, of course, the L.A. River. So come on in, the water‘s fine. Even for those of us far, far away from the seashore.#