L.A. is largely known for its terrible traffic, so it’s a wonder why I decided to become a runner when I moved here a few years ago. But it turns out L.A. is a surprisingly active city with great running routes and cool things to see along the way. Through much trial and error, I’ve found some of the best ways to see the West Side on foot while avoiding the traffic, smog, and smug.
The Culver stairs are a local favorite, featuring one of the best views of the city. Park on Jefferson Avenue near the base and take the stairs to the top. Repeat until your legs feel like Jell-O. For a more interesting run leading up to the stairs, park in one of the Culver City neighborhoods near Overland Avenue and Culver Boulevard. Head up to Duquesne Avenue and over to Jefferson Boulevard. Leave your mutt at home for this one, though. The park is not dog friendly.1
I live in the Mar Vista area and love a long run to the beach and back. For my money, Ocean Park Boulevard is the best street for running in L.A. There are minimal lights, a great sidewalk, plenty to look at, a few great hills, and a view of the ocean about two miles out that will keep you motivated. Start near the intersection of Ocean Park and Centinela Avenue and head west.2
Palisades Park is one of the best places to start and end a run on the West Side, especially if you’re staying in a Santa Monica hotel. This route has an insane scenic overlook of the ocean. Parking can be a bit annoying so close to the coast, but you can usually find a cheap around Seventh Street. Head north on the palisades running trail, hit the stairs down to the beach, and continue north. Make sure to save your energy on the way back – those stairs are tougher going up. Dogs welcome!3
If you’re the type of person who needs distractions to endure a long run, this is for you. Start in Marina Del Rey near the beach on Washington Boulevard, head north through Venice, and make your turn at the ferris wheel in Santa Monica. The view of the water and the people watching in Venice are almost enough to distract you from the fact that you’re hungover and not very good at running.4
Every run on my short list should end at this café. They have a big menu with portions to match, so you don’t have to worry about all those calories you just burned. Bonus for outside seating, since you’re probably a bit gamy from that run. The food is eclectic, with options ranging from traditional American to Latin and Caribbean. Pro tip: you can order the cornbread french toast as a side at no extra cost.5