Perched between Malibu, Calabasas, and the West San Fernando Valley, the bohemian vibe of hippie enclave Topanga Canyon makes it one of Los Angeles’ most unique communities.
Topanga’s utter lack of chain restaurants combined with a sense of untamed nature, proximity to the ocean, and small-town feel can almost fool you into believing you’re not in L.A. anymore. It’s the kind of place where no one bats an eye at barefooted shop patrons or pet llamas hanging out in front yards.
So next time you’re on your way to the beach from the Valley consider skipping the 405 and driving through Topanga Canyon instead.
There’s a ton going on there, and we’ve got a rundown of some of the best things to do in the list below (in no particular order).
1. Inn of the Seventh Ray.
Surrounded by nature, this restaurant is one of the most romantic in all of Los Angeles. The outdoor seating, a large terraced garden area next to a creek, is replete with sycamore trees, fairy lights, oak trees and buddha statues. During the cooler months, enjoy the interior and its roaring fireplace. The Inn offers plenty of vegan and vegetarian dishes, and the meat they serve is sustainable and raised naturally. It’s also a great option for Sunday brunch.
2.Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum.
Founded by Will Geer, an actor most famous for playing Grandpa on the ‘70s show The Waltons, this outdoor theater, surrounded by oak trees, offers wonderful theatrical performances with an emphasis on the classics, particularly Shakespeare.
3. Red Rock Canyon Trail
A great place to hike, you’ll want to explore the caves and search for fossils and arrowheads left by the Chumash Indians who once dwelled here. You can also take the canyon trail up to Calabasas Peak for a pretty spectacular view of the surrounding landscape (see Modern Hiker’s write-up for more info on making that trek).
4. Hidden Treasures
Foraging around this reasonably priced vintage clothing shop is like exploring the overstuffed house of a bunch of stylish eccentrics. Don’t forget to check out the pirate trunk near the front door with clearance items going for just a few bucks each.
5. Spiral Staircase
This unique bookstore adjacent to the Inn of the Seventh Ray sells metaphysical tomes, jewelry, statues, spiritual iconography, crystals, chimes and incense.
6. Topanga State Park
Hike on one of the many trails to see some of the most beautiful nature in the area — you might even get lucky and see a deer or two. Be sure to check out Santa Ynez Falls if they’re running, along with the meadows and oak groves. Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and mountain lions.
7. Topanga Days
This annual three-day fair, held over Memorial Day weekend, is a celebration of live music and nature. You’ll find all sorts of food and craft vendors, along with a raucous parade of singing and dancing Topangans on Memorial Day.
8. Cafe Mimosa
Very popular with locals, this coffee shop boasts a shabby chic atmosphere and a koi pond in the garden, the perfect place to linger over a coffee, a Pirates Chai (made with Matcha green tea) or hemp milk. Hungry? Try the pain au chocolat, vegan muffins, quiche or salads.
9. Tuna Canyon Park
This dog-friendly park is a lovely place to stroll and take in some breathtaking sights: the nearby beaches, Catalina Island, Malibu Pier and Santa Monica Pier.
10. Los Angeles Horseback Riding
A wonderful place to disconnect from our screen-centric lives, you can go on sunset rides, moonlight rides and more. If you prefer, ride a mule while taking in views of the beach and mountains.
This tiny clothing store, a local mainstay for over 30 years, features beautiful hippie dresses, Native American jewelry and lots of organic cotton clothing. The selection is eclectic, the size range is large and they have excellent sales.
12. Summit Valley
Edelman Park offers some 650 preserved acres to explore. While not as well known as the other Topanga walking and hiking areas, there are certainly beautiful views and bountiful wildflowers when in season.
This relaxing seafood restaurant is a major destination for locals (both peakers — rich Topangans who live in expensive houses on mountain peaks — and creekers, those who live below them in more humble dwellings). Froggy’s offers a sense of community, live music, lots of outdoor seating overlooking the creek and a bar with a fireplace.
Have you explored Topanga Canyon? What are some of your favorite things to do in the area? Let us know in the comments below!