While Griffith Park gets the lion’s share of attention, most people know Elysian Park only as that area in which Dodger Stadium is embedded or as that weird, vaguely forested space that abuts the 110 and 5 freeways near downtown. Truth is, Elysian is an amazingly placid, lushly verdant and highly usable getaway in the middle of the city. Founded in 1886, Elysian Park has incredibly varied topography and vegetation. There are grassy meadows, tree groves, canyons, steep hills with winding roads and grand vistas at the top; a shallow, decorative pond; and numerous sites appropriate for outdoor picnic parties with barbecuing, volleyball, horseshoes and other outdoor games. Not to mention a fair amount of forested land. Compared with Griffith Park, which has great scrubby, Wild West–looking hiking trails, more of Elysian is domesticated and park-like while still maintaining a strong feeling of nature. Plus you can feel safe knowing that Elysian is also the home of the Los Angeles Police Academy. 835 Academy Road, Echo Park. (213) 485-5054. —Adam Gropman
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