|Grand Park: "the park for everyone"|
Entrance points at 200 N. Grand Ave., 221 N. Hill St, 221 N. Broadway and 227 N. Spring St., Los Angeles (Downtown)
The last time I visited my sister in San Francisco, we passed a lush, tree-filled park where they hold a free outdoor concert series every summer. Although we have a few free summer programs throughout the city at places like the Santa Monica Pier, Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park and Pasadena's Memorial Park, no such venue existed in Downtown proper besides Pershing Square. While the free concerts at Pershing Square are fun, the park is far from a verdant urban oasis. I would have to say that the only place in Downtown that is remotely comparable to San Francisco's Stern Grove is Grand Park.
The park officially unveiled the first phase of its planned 12-acre invigoration in July of 2012 and has hosted several community and concert events since then. The patch of grassy areas nestled between City Hall and the Music Center, bordered by First Street and Temple Street, is a welcome respite from the cement, asphalt and skyscrapers that dominate the area's landscape. There's an intimate performance lawn as well as a grand event lawn, offering plenty of space to spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic. A community terrace houses several varieties of drought-tolerant plants, and hot pink chairs and tables brighten up the environment.
|Grand Park hosts a Farmers' Market every Tuesday|
The most eye-catching feature of Grand Park, though, is the restored Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain. During sweltering days, children splash in the wading pool in front of the fountain. At night, multicolored lights transform it into a magical location, perfect for a post-performance stroll back to your car from the Music Center.
As with most of Downtown, parking can be a pain, so you're best bet is to take the bus or the Metro Red/Purple Line to Civic Center station. Dogs are welcome throughout the park, as long as they're on leash, and there is a small gated dog park near the Spring Street entrance so they can run free for a bit, too.
Besides special music and festival events – such as free concerts every fourth Sunday of the month, a Dia de Los Muertos celebration and Fourth of July Block Party – the park offers a wide array of community programming. Every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, Grand Park holds a Farmers' Market, and there are free lunchtime concerts at noon every other Tuesday. During the month of May, there are free yoga sessions from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, while Tuesdays boast a Boot Camp in June. See their Event Calendar for the complete schedule, and check out Downtown's newest outdoor haven sometime soon.