One of the Eastside’s best-kept secrets, Ernest E. Debs Regional Park is 282 acres of dense, arroyo wilderness, teeming with swooping hawks, towering eucalyptus and meandering trails, most of them leading to utterly epic downtown views. Home of an Audubon center, a quiet hilltop pond filled with turtles and tadpoles and some of the most beautiful hiking spots you’ll find within close reach, this park is truly a find, uncrowded and remarkably quiet, considering its proximity to the 110 freeway and the hustle and bustle of Highland Park. It’s one of L.A.’s greatest attributes, that magical ability to take a freeway exit and end up in nature literally in a matter of minutes. At Debs you can wander down dusty paths or loll under shady oaks, keeping company with the barn owls, pocket gophers, coyotes, ringneck snakes and the dozens of species of butterflies that make the park their home. This is the perfect spot for Sunday picnics, exploring with the kids or for lazy day walkabouts. 4235 Monterey Road, Highland Park. —Jessica Hundley

LA Weekly