Although more known for the glitz of Hollywood and the fantasy world of Disneyland, the SoCal area is full of opportunities for fans of the great outdoors. The L.A. basin is bounded on one side by over 100 miles of coastline and on the other by several chains of mountains.

Why not take advantage of all that L.A. has to offer? Here are 10 great ways to see more of Southern California than the bright lights and big city without getting too far from home.

A Day on the Green

www.savesomegreen.com


With internationally renowned public access courses like Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, PGA West and Torrey Pines, it’s not hard to imagine why many consider California to be the world’s greatest golf destination. But like actors, the Los Angeles golf scene comes in many different forms.

First you have your A-List Courses (world famous layouts) – they are luxurious, visually appealing and popular with golfers all over the globe. Next you have your Supporting Actors (modern daily fee courses) – these venues are well crafted, well groomed and take pride in their performance. Finally, you have your Extras (municipal courses) – you can find them everywhere in the L.A. region, they are reasonably priced and still fun to play.

Hiking the Hollywood Hills

Spending an afternoon hiking Mount Hollywood is what most people call a nice “walk in the park.” Mount Hollywood has a three-mile trail along Griffith Park’s ridge where hikers can have breathtaking views of Los Angeles, the San Gabriels and the infamous Hollywood sign.

The trail is well maintained so hikers can bring along their dogs to enjoy the charming walk. Mount Hollywood is more of an easy stroll than a hike, so if you’re looking for a good workout, this might not be the trail for you. Nonetheless, it never hurts to get out and walk a few miles.

To get to the trailhead: US 101 to Vermont Avenue exit; north on Vermont Avenue (toward Hollywood Hills); enter Griffith Park; park on street at corner of Vermont and Commonwealth Avenues.

Giddy-Up on Horseback

(818) 591-2032; www.losangeleshorsebackriding.com


Horseback riding is a fun way to be outside and enjoy the scenery around you. Exploring in the Santa Monica Mountains has got to be the ultimate experience for riders of all skill levels.

There’s a beautiful ranch located at the top ridge of Topanga Canyon that was featured as the most beautiful place to trail ride in Los Angeles magazine and National Geographic. Riders can see 80 miles out from the top of the trails with breathtaking views in every direction.

So whether you’re out to impress your special someone with a romantic sunset ride or simply want to go out and have some fun, horseback riding is an awesome alternative. Plus, with gas prices going up, it might be the newest craze.

Chow at Farmer’s Market

6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; www.farmersmarketla.com


The original Farmer’s Market may no longer look like a typical farmer's market, nevertheless, it is a gem where you can get some of the best food in town and do some of the best people watching in the country.

What makes the Farmer’s Market wonderful is that it’s outdoors and it has the feel of a country bazaar. In other words, it has a street life, something lacking in many L.A. attractions. The Market has several gift stores selling tchotchkes, clothing, etc., and there’s live entertainment on certain nights.

Get Sporty at Redondo Beach

(310) 318-0610; www.redondo.org


A typical day at Redondo Beach will see thousands of people on foot, bicycle, skateboard and rollerblades enjoying the sun and surf. Surfing is a key element of the South Bay lifestyle.

Now that it’s summertime, you can join in on the fun and bring out the “SoCal Bro” within. But if surfing doesn’t do it for you, maybe the hype of beach volleyball will. The wide and flat sand beaches provide the perfect venue for the sport.

The Redondo Beach Recreation & Community Services offer great programs for residents and non-residents of Redondo Beach. They are also famous for their sailing academy.

Soak Up Santa Monica Beach

Ocean Avenue at Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica


The mother of all beaches, Santa Monica Beach, is enormous. And when the weather is good, it’s usually packed. It’s a mix of locals from all over the Southland and tourists from all over the world. If you’re looking for privacy, this isn’t the place for you.

It has restaurants, lifeguards, bike rentals and the famous Santa Monica Pier with its Ferris wheel and amusement park rides. At Santa Monica Beach you can do almost anything.

You can stroll down to Venice and join the fittest for a workout at Muscle Beach or play chess at the International Chess Park. Or bike down to Marina del Rey and have lunch at Fisherman’s Village. You can be as active or laid back as you want to be.

Dare Yourself to Skydive

(800) 585-5555; www.laskydiving.com


Get ready for the most exciting time of your life! At Los Angeles Skydiving you will be accompanied by the most enthusiastic skydive professionals on a thrilling adventure.

Most first-timers go tandem with a professional. Though the training is fairly minimal (one hour to go tandem; four to six hours to go solo), the professionals at L.A. Skydiving make sure you are safe and stay in control.

Each jump includes about a minute of freefall, followed by a canopy ride that lasts anywhere from seven to nine minutes. This adventure gives you the ultimate outdoor experience, but for a price.

Up, Up and Away

(800) 759-7433; www.1800skyride.com


For something a little less daring, experience the freedom and tranquility of floating across the sky, with a bird’s eye view of the city. Los Angeles has never looked more beautiful than from far above the treetops!

Balloon Rides near Los Angeles are generally flown around sunrise or sunset, when air conditions are generally clear, calm, cool and stable. The peace and gentleness of ballooning make for a perfectly romantic setting. Just make sure your special someone isn’t afraid of heights!

As you drift along for an hour, you will see breathtaking views of Los Angeles’ most famous landmarks and sites.

Sights and Sounds of the Hollywood Bowl

www.hollywoodbowl.com


Here’s a venue that you’ve probably passed a million times before. But have you ever had a true Hollywood Bowl experience?

The “Bowl” was voted the best major outdoor concert venue by Pollstar, and for good reason. The famous amphitheatre, which seats over 17,000, has been around for 86 years and is still home to some of the best concerts in the country.

Why not see a show this summer at one of the country’s coolest venues? There are a ton of concerts scheduled for the month of July, so book your seats now!

Sight Seeing on Wheels

(800) 789-9575; www.hollywoodtours.us


While nothing screams “tourist” quite like a double-decker bus, bus tours are without a doubt one of the best ways to get to know Los Angeles. As tour busses roll through town, not only do people get to see some of the most famous sights, they get to learn a tremendous amount about the area.

In just a few hours, people can see everything from the glamour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills to the elite boutiques of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard. A ride in the open-air trolley offers plenty of photo opportunities as well as a fun afternoon in the L.A. sunshine.