Your walk becomes a workout – and your reward is this beautiful view – when you ascend the 196 steps of the Eldred Street stairs in Highland Park. | Photo by T.A. Hendrickson

10 Ways to Turn a Walk into an Adventure

2020 August Editions Health & Fitness More News Picks

Picks from the people who bring you the Boulevard Sentinel

If you have been taking walks to stay fit and alleviate boredom during the pandemic – or if you haven’t been walking but need to get moving – here are 10 ways in or near Northeast L.A. to turn a walk into an excursion or a workout.

Tour the Grounds, Stroll the Gardens

Nearby museums and botanical gardens have opened their grounds even as their indoor venues remain closed. Check the websites for rules on reservations and social distancing – and while you’re at it, consider memberships to your favorite places for perks like free entry and guest passes. (Prices quoted below are for non-members.)

The stunning Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, a hidden gem in Pasadena, offers two-hour visits on Sundays, ideal for experiencing the serenity, contemplation and introspection of Japanese gardens. Pre-registration is required. General admission is $7.50. 

A winding garden pathway at the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena / Photo courtesy of Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

Across the street from the Japanese Garden is the 3-acre Arlington Garden, Pasadena’s only dedicated free public garden. The paths on the site meander among desert, Mediterranean and coastal sage brush habitats, with surprises along the way, including a labyrinth and the Yoko Ono wishing tree where you can hang a handwritten message. 


The labyrinth at the free, public Arlington Garden in Pasadena / Photo courtesy of Arlington Garden

The gorgeous gardens of the sprawling LA. County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia are now open daily until 8 p.m. (Gates close at 7:30 p.m.) The Arboretum is a place to relax if you want to unwind or to engage if you want to learn. A tip: Admission to the L.A. County Arboretum & Botanic Garden is free every third Tuesday. Reservations open on August 1 for the next free day on Tuesday, August 18 – you can reserve a free ticket here. On other days, general admission is $15; students and seniors 62+ are $11; children 5 to 12 are $5; children under 4 are free. You must purchase tickets in advance online

The Madagascar spiny forest at the L.A. County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia / Photo courtesy of L.A. County Arboretum

You can stroll back in time down the main street of the Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights, the open air museum where eight 19th century Victorian mansions from Southern California are preserved and arrayed. The mansion interiors remain off limits, but a self-guided leisurely walk, with a disposable printed guide, lets you take in the extraordinary detail of the exteriors. The grounds are open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in August. Tickets, available here, are $7 for general admission; $5 for seniors and children ages 12 and younger. 

One of many Victorian mansions along the main street of the Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights / Photo by T.A. Hendrickson

The grounds of the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in San Marino – including 16 magnificent gardens on more than 100 acres – are open every day in August from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for a timed entry must be reserved on line in advance. Plan ahead: Tickets are released each Tuesday for the following week. For example, reservations open on August 4 at noon for tickets during the week of August 12 to August 18. Cost is $25 for adults on weekdays ($29 on weekends), $21 for seniors (65+), military and students ($25 on weekends); $13 for children ages 4 to 11 and free for children under 4. 

Shady, secluded and lush, a walkway at the Huntington Library, Botanical Garden & Musuem in San Marino / Photo courtesy of the Huntington

You can take in the year-round beauty, renowned botanical collections and seasonal displays at Descanso Gardens in La Canada/Flintridge, open daily, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Non-members must buy online tickets in advance. Tickets will be released at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 4 for visits from August 8 to August 14; tickets will be released at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 11 for visits from August 15 to August 21. A tip: Tuesday, August 18, is Free Tuesday; reservations for Free Tuesday can be made on August 11. On other days, general admission is $15. Seniors and students with ID, $11. Children ages 5 to 12, $5. Children under 5, free. 

California native flora at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada/Flintridge / Photo courtesy of Descanso Gardens

Take the Stairs

Your walk becomes a workout and an historic exploration when you seek out the public stairways in and around NELA. For an expert guide, check out “Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of L.A.” by Charles Fleming. Some favorites:

The Clermont Street staircase in Mount Washington – 154 steps – offers some shade and dappled light, and, at the top, an expansive view of L.A. 

The Sentinel’s Bill Hendrickson gets ready to climb the 154 steps of the Clermont Stairs in Mount Washington, / Photo by T.A. Hendrickson

The Eldred Street stairs – 196 steps connecting Eldred Street and Cross Avenue in Highland Park/Mount Washington – are a challenging climb, but with each step, the view of Highland Park, Pasadena, Mt. Wilson and beyond becomes more impressive. Fleming calls the Eldred Street stairs “the granddaddy of wooden staircases.”

The Eldred Street staircase – 196 steps – connects Highland Park and Mt. Washington / Photo by T.A. Hendrickson

 A meandering walk through Eagle Rock includes small stairways that connect Holbrook Street with Linda Rosa Avenue and Neola Place with Wiota Street, as well as a “monumental set of [64] stairs” that connects Figueroa Street and Glen Arbor Avenue, also known for its mural as the Tai Chi stairs.

The bottom of the Tai Chi stairs – 64 steps – is on North Figueroa Street in Eagle Rock between Rockdale Avenue and Poppy Street. / Photo by T.A. Hendrickson

Fleming also includes gentler walks in his book, including short-hop stairways along the mostly flat walk past Echo Park Lake and through Angelino Heights, home to Victorian and Queen Anne mansions from L.A.’s past.

In all, there are 42 walks in Fleming’s book, 27 of them on L.A.’s eastside, including in Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Glassell Park, Hermon, Montecito Heights and Echo Park.

What are you waiting for? If you complete all 27 eastside walks, please send us pics.  They may wind up on


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