What You Can and Can’t Do Outside in Los Angeles

Whether it’s the warmer weather, the bioluminescent waves or just some general relief for our mostly-indoor lives, we know that plenty of Angelenos are itching to be outside right now.

But we also know that trying to comprehend the trio of “safer at home” orders from California, Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles can be an impenetrable chore. So we’ve taken the state’s recent list of permitted outdoor activities and compared them to both the county and city orders to more plainly sort out what you can (and can’t) do outside in L.A.

The important thing to remember: If there’s ever a different between orders, you must comply with the stricter one. For example, the state says you can explore rock pools—but beaches and beach access points are closed in L.A.

We’ll keep updating this info (and our list of closed venues) as conditions change, too; California Governor Gavin Newsom has talked about beginning to lift some restrictions in a matter of days, while L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has talked about taking “baby steps” in regards to L.A.’s order, which is set to expire on May 15.

In L.A., you can…

Be outside in general

This seems like an obvious one, but in the early days of the stay-at-home order, some people thought it literally meant that you were unable to leave your house. All levels of government, however, say that residents are still encouraged to go outside as long as they’re practicing safe social distancing measures (keeping at least six feet away from others is the big one to keep in mind).

But you can’t engage in an indoor or outdoor public or private gathering, except with members of your own stay-at-home household.

Walk, jog or run (and walk your dog)

And if there’s not a suitable place in your neighborhood to so, the city says you and your household are permitted to go for a drive to someplace outside. You don’t specifically need to wear a mask while running, but if you’re going to be in a crowded area you should definitely bring one along.

Both the city and county parks agencies list dog parks as being open, but with the caveat that they’re subject to closures (the latest public health guidance from the county says to avoid them, which is a bit contradictory).


On Saturday, May 9 all trails in both L.A. County and the City of Los Angeles are allowed to reopen (with the exception of Runyon Canyon). Long Beach, which has its own health departments, has also reopened trails, while Pasadena is reviewing whether to open its trails and the Rose Bowl loop during a city council meeting on Monday.

But you must wear a mask in the trailhead parking lot, as well as on crowded stretches of the trail. Also, state parks and nearby national recreation areas and national forests have yet to formally announce their reopening.

Cycle or skateboard

Bicycles, roller skates, scooters and skateboards are all totally fine by the city (though the state reminds us not to do them in groups), and the state has added BMX bikes and quads into the mix, as well (finding a spot to take them out locally would be a challenge, though).

But city skate parks are closed, and the county has closed bike paths on the sanded portion of the beach. Similarly, the beach cities have closed access to the Strand, and the Venice Boardwalk is only open for travel to essential businesses located on the boardwalk.

Go to the local park (and a pair of botanical gardens)

Most city and county parks have remained open, including fishing lakes, boat launches and even two botanical gardens, the L.A. County Arboretum and South Coast Botanic Garden (both require reservations).

There are some grey areas when it comes to parks, though: The state lists having a picnic with your household members as a permitted activity; the local orders are silent on this and generally ban gatherings, but they do more generally allow for “passive outdoor activity” with members of your same household.

But you can’t access playgrounds or indoor facilities. You also may find that restrooms are closed, or that parks may close entirely on certain holidays (this was the case for Easter, and originally for Mother’s Day; Grand Park has already announced it’ll be closed on the Fourth of July).

Play a sport—but mostly solo or in your own backyard

The state guidelines are full of all sorts of safe, sporty recreational activities that you can do—though we’ll admit most are the equivalent of throwing a ball up in the air. Here’s what the state suggests: throwing a baseball or football, kicking around a soccer ball (but not having a group game), singles badminton, solo canoeing, golf (sans cart or caddy), no-contact martial arts (as long as it’s not in a group), singles table tennis and singles volleyball. On May 9, golf courses will reopen, (but pro shops will need to stay closed, and restaurants and concession stands there will only be able to offer takeout).

But in L.A., all sports facilities are closed and leagues canceled, while group sports are explicitly prohibited. Specifically, all tennis courts, baseball fields, aquatic facilities, soccer fields and basketball courts are closed. So, yes, you can technically kick a soccer ball, but not on a field and not with a group of people.

Go for a drive

Contrary to some rumors a few weeks ago, the LAPD is not ticketing people for being outside of their homes (but L.A. drivers are speeding more, and therefore have been ticketed more, which might explain it). The county’s public health department has consistently said that going out for a drive is totally fine, whether it’s to get groceries, to head somewhere else outdoors or simply to take a scenic drive (but remember that more miles means more unnecessary gas station visits).

But beaches, piers and beach parking lots are closed. And be advised that some routes may be closed, and though you can cruise along Mulholland Drive, all of the overlooks are closed. In other words, you can go for a drive, but you can’t get out of the car at many of the usual recreational spots.

Do a bunch of wholesome activities

California’s long list of permissible recreational activities includes a bunch of ideas that are mostly obvious, but we still applaud the positivity. This includes meditation, yoga, photography and gardening (though not in a group—which we never realized was a thing), as well as some adorably quirky entries like trampolining and tree climbing. It also includes horseback riding; while this is allowed locally, as well, facilities are only open to those boarding horses (meaning, the pony rides in Griffith Park are closed).

Read the full Timeout article here!

Joyce Rey
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