The original “El Dorado” was a semimythical city in South America, a place purported to be full of gold and precious worldly fortune, a kind of paradise on Earth. Similarly, El Dorado Nature Center in northeastern Long Beach is a local bit of paradise, although instead of gold and financial riches it promises bountiful tranquility and the riches of nature. Created in 1965, previously flat farmland near the cities of Lakewood and Los Alamitos was contoured and intensively landscaped to create a lake, streams, gently rolling hills and a surprisingly rich, lush, forested feel. Within the place you’ll find vegetation from five regional plant communities — coastal sage scrub, chaparral, grassland, riparian and oak woodlawn, as well as teeming freshwater aquatic life (i.e., large goldfish, turtles) in the lake. A visit to the Nature Center feels less like a typical SoCal hike than a peaceful, Thoreau-ean wander through the woods. It is chicken soup for the overly urbanized soul. 7550 E. Spring St., Long Beach. (562) 570-1745, —Adam Gropman

LA Weekly