L.A.'s Top Dog Parks and Horse Havens
From Hidden Valley and the Palisades to Lake Hollywood and Palos Verdes, these puppy runs and equestrian centers let your beast run free (unless a leash is required).
The Hollywood Reporter is counting down the best spots for horses and dogs to cut loose in the Los Angeles area. Find the perfect spot below.
Hummingbird Nest Ranch 2940 Kuehner Dr., Santa Susana
Nestled in the hills of Santa Susana in southern Ventura County, this 124-acre thoroughbred training facility was built by Texan billionaire David Saperstein in 2004. In addition to the Spanish Mission-style main residence, it has a man-made lake, six guesthouses and a barn with 37 individually heated stalls. Currently, boarding is limited but the venue is available for concerts, fundraisers and weddings: Kaley Cuoco tied the knot here last New Year's Eve, as did Vanderpump Rules star Scheana Marie on July 27. Oliver Stone’s Savages, The Biggest Loser and FX’s The Bridge have filmed here.
Middle Ranch 11700 Little Tujunga Canyon Rd., Lake View Terrace
With 600 prime acres in the San Gabriel Mountains, Middle Ranch (created by Cecil B. DeMille in 1916 as a working livestock ranch/weekend retreat) is horse heaven. Steven Spielberg’s daughter Destry trains at Meadow Grove (one of the property’s many farms), and Alfre Woodard’s daughter Mavis Spencer is a graduate. Down the road, the more informal Upper Middle Ranch is where Zooey Deschanel takes lessons at Storia Stables.
Los Angeles Equestrian Center 480 W Riverside Dr., Burbank
The heart of the riding community known as “the Rancho,” this Burbank facility has 12 rings and an Equidome. Producer Marta Kauffman keeps her dressage horses here, and William Shatner and Sylvester Stallone as well as fitness guru Gillian Michaels have also trained on site. Meanwhile, Sovereign Place is a clubhouse for staff from nearby studios including Disney, NBC and Warner Bros.
El Campeon Farms 999 Potrero Rd., Thousand Oaks
A bounty of grassy pasture — the ultimate luxury in a desert clime — and breeding and training facilities mingling with working cattle ranches all make Hidden Valley's El Campeon a desirable riding destination. Until last year Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi lived just down the road from the complex, which has served as the location for many of Budweiser's memorable Clydesdale-themed Super Bowl ads. Boarding is limited to a handful of trainers and family friends, like Tom Selleck’s daughter Hannah, whose grand prix jumpers reside here.
Malibu Creek State Park 1925 Las Virgenes Rd., Calabasas
Much of this park was once part of the 20th Century Fox backlot, where films including Dr. Doolittle and Planet of the Apes were made. When Ronald Reagan was a young actor, he bought a weekend retreat and wooed future wife Nancy on horseback here. Efforts are underway to establish the Ronald Reagan Equestrian Campground on the site. Nearby, director Philip Atwell (who helmed the famous Tupac hologram video as well as episodes of The Shield) purchased Malibu Creek Ranch and is turning the dramatic oak-lined premises into a showcase for hunters, jumpers and events.
Will Rogers Polo Club 1501 Will Rogers State Park Rd., Pacific Palisades
Once playground to the 1920s and ’30s horsey set, when singing cowboy Rogers entertained Walt Disney, Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, today the club, fashioned by celebrated California architect Cliff May into what many consider the epicenter of L.A.'s equestrian world, still hosts polo and horses ride in park (no overnight stabling). Riding is limited to a public ring that requires membership, and there is a two-year waiting list to join. On weekends, locals like Jennifer Garner and Patrick Dempsey join the pony posse. Although Steven Spielberg built a separate arena nearby for his family’s private use, in 2002 the DreamWorks captain also purchased an 8.3-acre public tract for $12 million to prevent a sale to developers. Every September the club hosts the glitzy Veuve Cliquot Polo Classic Los Angeles.
Peter Weber Equestrian Center 26401 Crenshaw Blvd., Rolling Hills Estates
There are about 3,000 horses living on the stretch of land from Manhattan Beach to San Pedro, with more than 100 miles of trails winding through the mountains and right to the surf’s edge. The atmosphere here is more laid-back and Western than the hunter-jumper scene. Near the huge public boarding facility is Cowboy Boot Camp, which offers an “introduction to horsemanship” for the general public as well as actors required to ride for screen projects, and the Empty Saddle Club, which has its own herd of cattle for roping and riding.
Sepulveda Basin Off-Leash Dog Park
Simi Dog Park 2151 Lost Canyons Dr., Simi Valley
With breathtaking views from atop 30 hilly acres, this park is a day trip for those in the Los Angeles basin. "It's gorgeous and well worth the drive," says Rick Karl, whose Hollywood Dog Training School in North Hollywood has schooled Lassie as well as the terrier who played Toto and George Lucas' and Steven Spielberg's non-acting pooches. "Most dog parks have been taken over by professional dog walkers who arrive with six to eight dogs, which can be overwhelming for owners," says Karl. "This place hasn't really been discovered yet."
Sepulveda Basin Off-Leash Dog Park 17550 Victory Blvd., Encino
Located on the outskirts of Lake Balboa Park, this spacious, low-key dog park is viewed as something of a well-kept secret. Spread over 6½ acres with well-maintained grass and oak trees for shade, it features separate enclosures for large, small and mixed-size dogs. The more adventuresome can pack rollerblades and hit the paved seven-mile track around Lake Balboa (leash required). Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale and their Pomeranian Chewy have been known to pop by. Nearby Pets Naturally (13459 Ventura Blvd.) offers organic food (including raw meat) and botanicals and draws clientele such as Wanda Sykes, Blair Underwood, Channing Tatum and producer Jon Landau (whose flully Pyrenean mastiff attracts lots of admiring attention).
Alice's Dog Park 3026 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena
This spacious pup outpost favored by Eastside entertainment types is part of Vina Vieja Park. The grounds are split into a 2½- acre area for large dogs and a one-acre pen for smaller and special-needs pets. “Anything east of Fairfax is known as ‘Dogtown,’” says Addie Daddio, who estimates that she places 40 dogs a month from her Love That Dog Hollywood rescue, based at the Hollywood Center Studios on Las Palmas. “It’s a huge dog-loving community.”
Laurel Canyon Dog Park 8260 Mulholland Dr., L.A.
The mostly-dirt surface detracts from any “park-like” quality, but the stand-around-and-chat vibe makes Laurel Canyon popular for low-impact networking. Down the hill is Maxwell Dog in Studio City, a well-curated boutique launched by a former Disney exec that includes Italian leather leashes and recycled-denim dog beds — Hilary Duff, Miley Cyrus, Rose McGowan and Amanda Seyfried are regular customers.
Lake Hollywood Park 3200 Canyon Lake Dr., L.A.
While it’s not officially a “dog park,” pets are allowed to roam free here. Ashton Kutcher enjoys walking his gray mutt here, and Rachel Bilson strolls up from Los Feliz with her two dogs. Those who want to give their pups (and themselves) a break can drop them off at the resort-like Paradise Ranch, a cage-free boarding facility close to Burbank Airport in La Tuna Canyon. “We have three pools with wade-in entries,” says owner Brian Kneier, who also offers training. Michael C. Hall, Steven Tyler and Regina King have all left pets here.
Runyon Canyon Dog Park 2000 N. Fuller Ave., L.A.
Favored by stars and star gawkers, this three-mile ribbon of dirt trail allows dogs off-leash. “It’s fine if you go early in the morning, but by 9 a.m. it’s full of people clad in black,” says Bumble Ward, a longtime 20th Century Fox publicist who recently launched Hive Communications. Gina Gershon and The Big Bang Theory's Cuoco are among the more recognizable faces.
Leo Carillo State Park and Beach 35000 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu
For those whose pets like to play oceanside, leashed dogs are allowed in the designated area north of lifeguard tower three at this Malibu beach (north of Zuma, south of Point Mugu) as well as at Point Mugu’s Sycamore Cove. Stars like Adam Sandler, Minnie Driver and Melanie Griffith parade their pups on the private Malibu Colony Beach. Those craving a free-run surf romp can head 60 miles further southeast to Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach, the only off-leash beach park in L.A. County.
Palisades Park Ocean Avenue from Colorado Avenue to San Vicente Boulevard, Pacific Palisades
Leashes are required here, but this ocean-front promenade is the nicest “dog walk” in the Westside/Malibu area. Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades also offers on-leash hiking. Westsiders who crave a free run can head to the Herb Katz Dog Park at Joslyn Park (633 Kensington Rd.) or the Airport Park Dog Park (3201 Airport Ave.). Each is slightly more than one acre with woodchip footing — not exactly arcadia, but everything a dog needs for fun.
The Boneyard Duquesne Avenue in Culver City Park
With a wood-chip ground cover and a convenient location close to Sony, this one-acre park features separate large and small dog enclosures — however, the limited shade makes it a more of an early morning or evening destination. “It has a hill, which the dogs like,” says Nikki Ferraro, owner of Rover, an upscale grooming and boarding spot on nearby Lindblade which counts Eva Mendes and Stevie Wonder as clients.
Westminster Dog Park 1234 Pacific Ave., Venice
A smaller, off-leash enclave with a tiny patch for the teacup set, this park offers people-friendly picnic tables and pet-friendly watering bowls. Anjelica Huston is known to pop by with her terriers. Despite the ground cover's recent upgrade from dirt to wood chips, the dogs still tend to get dusty, and the parking lot is small (about 20 spots), but as far as dog parks go it’s the only option in Venice.