Zoo Lander

One of LA's most unique outdoor dining spots was inspired by an animal attraction. And no reservations are…

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One of LA’s most unique outdoor dining spots was inspired by an animal attraction. And no reservations are required! Tucked in a less-traveled part of Griffith Park, the Old Zoo earns a four-star rating for ambience… though you’re in charge of the menu. The backstory: When the Los Angeles Zoo opened its doors in 1966, the former zoo was abandoned but left intact. While the animals had moved, their enclosures remained. So the park got creative by adding picnic tables and barbeque grills, reinventing the space as an original way to enjoy an alfresco meal. Tables in the larger enclosures are good for group gatherings. For something cozier, head up the canyon behind the picnic area to a private spot beneath the sycamores (no tables here). Put on your flip-flops and pack your best PB&J—it’s time to dine on the wild side!

Bus a Move: The Old Zoo Picnic Area can be reached by bus and a 1-mile walk or bike ride (see italics).

From Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles, take the Metro 96 bus north for about 40 minutes and get off at the Los Angeles Zoo stop. Walk or bike south on Crystal Springs Dr. for 0.75-mile and turn right on Griffith Park Dr. After less than a quarter-mile, when the road veers right, continue straight to enter the Old Zoo Picnic Area. Walk up the hill to the old exhibits. The Old Zoo is dog-friendly but the bus is not. 

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