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The City of Angels is pocked with canyons that plunge like a starlet’s décolletage, so for nearly every gridlocked highway there’s a snaking footpath or a bike trail. With 15,600 acres of parkland in the city proper and an ocean lapping at its heels, Angelenos have plenty of places where they can deep-six the asphalt.
Wall rats with a lunch-hour rock jones meet at Stoney Point, the city’s hottest crag. From the Topanga Canyon Boulevard shoulder near CA 118, head down to a chunk of sandstone where you can spider up top-roped routes or join young guns with crash mats on the boulder problems. Secluded spots are plentiful, and Topanga boasts a wide range of difficulty (5.6 to 5.12 climbs, and up to V9 bouldering). The park hosts an eclectic, sometimes grungy crowd, but that only adds to its bohemian charm.
The sprawl-busting cliffs and canyons of Topanga State Park form one of the world’s largest urban wildlands, an 11,000-acre refuge where locals walk past quake faults, over volcanic intrusions, and through shady oak groves–all minutes from Jennifer Garner’s place. The 2.6-mile Santa Inez Trail leaves from the end of Vereda Montura Road, follows a creek along the Santa Inez Canyon bottom past sandstone walls, and ends at a waterfall so lush you’ll forget you’re in the nation’s largest, smoggiest city.
Grab a sea kayak and surf with dolphins at Cabrillo Beach, off L.A.’s southernmost tip. Beginners should avoid the waves and explore the canals of America’s biggest harbor, while skilled paddlers can push past the break and hug the dizzying cliffs of Palos Verdes. Peninsula Paradise’s $40 rental fee (www.paloverdestours.com) includes dropoff and pickup.