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Places

When in: Los Angeles

The southern California city has so much on ­offer that you can spend days on end exploring. Whenever you need a break, head for one of LA’s many outdoor spots for a bit of ­recreation.

Leo Carrillo State Beach

There are plenty of beaches to head to in West LA, but drive a little farther north past Malibu and you’ll arrive at Leo Carrillo, a gorgeous, family-friendly stretch of sand. Often less crowded than beaches closer to LA, the fact that it’s a state park means it’ll be kept clean and tidy.

Leo Carrillo State Beach

35000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Los Angeles

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Skiing in the mountains

No one expected you to go to LA and ski, so why not surprise them? Head to the San Gabriel or San Bernardino Mountains. In winter these peaks offer good snow, although it’s best to check conditions before you go. Mt. Baldy, about an hour from LA, is another popular choice, as is Big Bear.

San Gabriel or San Bernardino Mountains

Big Bear Mountain Resort 880 Summit Blvd, Los Angeles

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Elysian Park, Echo Park

Elysian Park, set in the hills above Echo Park and a stone’s throw from Silverlake and Downtown LA, is a scruffy, less-­trafficked patch of nature that’s ­especially charming because it feels a little bit forgotten. When you’re ready to return to civilization, descend by foot down Echo Park Avenue for as much hipster city life as you could wish for.

Elysian Park, Echo Park

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Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena

Take a slightly hair-raising drive up the curvy 110 freeway and you’ll end up in bucolic ­Pasadena, where you’ll find the expansive Huntington Botanical Gardens, displaying everything from Australian forests to ­Chinese and Japanese traditional gardens. There’s also a library, art collections and all kinds of special exhibitions ­celebrating the incredible range of plant life that thrives in this climate.

Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena

1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino

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Whale watching off Long Beach

A short (for LA standards) drive south and you’ll find yourself in Long Beach, a fascinating city in its own right. It’s also the place to take any of a handful of cruises specializing in whale watching – if you’re lucky you may see gray whales, blue whales, or even humpbacks.

Harbor Breeze Cruises

100 Aquarium Way, Dock #2, Long Beach

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Cycle along the LA River

The LA River may best be known for its appearance in The Terminator. But these days, there are efforts underway to ­restore the river, both the ­greenery that grows in and around it and the cycling and pedestrian paths that run alongside it. It’s a great way to get some exercise while seeing a side of LA you might not otherwise.

LA River

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