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Southern California Close-Ups: Los Angeles' park neighborhoods

Here are 10 itineraries for the Griffith Park, Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Echo Park areas.

March 30, 2012|By Christopher Reynolds | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Elysian Park, near downtown, is home to Dodger Stadium (1000 Elysian Park Ave.; losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com). But first, take Stadium Way or Echo Park Avenue to Academy Road. And pretty soon -- boom! -- you're at the Los Angeles Police Academy (where you're likely to hear shots from the nearby firing range). Show up between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. on a weekday, and you can eat at the L.A. Police Academy Revolver & Athletic Club Café (1880 Academy Drive; www.lapraac.com), where the 9mm Burger is a bargain at less than $7. Don't miss the old photos, nightsticks, handcuffs, brass knuckles and true-crime magazines on the walls. If you get a chance, thank a cop. The city's crime rate has been dropping since the early 1990s, and homicides happen about as often as they did in 1967, when the population was far smaller and Don Drysdale was pitching in the nearby stadium. Speaking of which: The Dodgers play 81 home games a year in Dodger Stadium (which dates to 1962), and if you can afford it (remember, you're paying the many divorce lawyers of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt), see one. But whether you do or not, consider a nightcap at the Short Stop (1455 W. Sunset Blvd.) in Echo Park. For decades it was a cop bar, and it has a police patch collection by the pool table and a set of lockers where officers used to lock up their guns. The cops stopped coming a decade ago, and a younger, shaggier set has claimed the place. There's a jukebox, a batch of old Dodger pictures, a mirror ball hanging over the dance floor and a vintage photo booth. Mug shots, three bucks.

4. To the top of Hollywood

Charlie Turner Trailhead (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

First, make yourself at home. Claim a suite at Los Feliz Lodge (1501, 1503 and 1507 N. Hoover St.; www.losfelizlodge.com), a collection of four Spanish-style courtyard bungalows from the 1920s, surrounded by residential blocks and available for short-term stays. The units, opened in 2007, are walking distance to dozens of restaurants, shops and the Sunset-Vermont Metro station. All have kitchens and rates well under $200 a night. But don’t get too comfortable. Because on that first morning, you’ll be rising before dawn and driving five to 10 minutes up the hill to the Griffith Observatory parking lot (which is free but fills fast; 2800 E. Observatory Road). You’ll start at the Charlie Turner Trailhead, just north of the lot, and hike uphill. You're climbing Mt. Hollywood, whose peak (1,625 feet) offers staggering views. It's a three-mile round trip through scrub and chaparral, the pines of Berlin Forest and the shady oasis of Dante's View. From the mountaintop on a clear day, you can see the sun rise to the east and a sliver of Pacific to the west. Almost every day, you'll get an eyeful of the Los Angeles basin, the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Mountains and the Hollywood sign on nearby Mt. Lee. As the mist lifts from the ridges, listen to the bird song -- and the Koreans. Dozens of Korean Americans like to begin their days with hikes here. So does City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who hollers greetings in their language and carries a football on his dawn hikes. He's been on this trail almost daily since 1978.

5. The village of Los Feliz

Fred 62 (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

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