Located about 23 miles from Los Angeles is the city of Lakewood, California. The city’s population of 81,000 people and its proximity to Los Angeles give it an urban feel, but the abundance of tree-lined streets and more than 150 acres of parks and green spaces add a small-town touch. In fact, Lakewood has so many trees, it’s been designated a Tree City USA.
Lakewood has everything you need to make your time in the city enjoyable and convenient. There are numerous restaurants in the city, particularly downtown in the area known as Restaurant Row.
Whether it be small, locally-run boutique shops or bigger shopping centres, such as Lakewood Center and Lakewood Marketplace, shopping areas are located all around the city.
Many festivals and events occur throughout the year in Lakewood, including Pan American Fiesta and Summer Concerts in the Park, which is held on Thursday evenings in the summer.
Lakewood’s central location also allows easy to access to other major attractions in the region, including Disneyland and Universal Studios.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in Lakewood, California.
1. Start Your Visit with a Relaxing Afternoon in Mayfair Park
With 18 acres of recreational space, Mayfair Park in Lakewood is the perfect place to spend an afternoon relaxing or catching up on your fitness routine. It’s one of the city’s top recreational areas due to the number of amenities on-site, including a swimming pool, playground, picnic area, and walking trail.
2. Enjoy a Leisurely Visit to the Norwalk Nature Center
When visiting an urban area, it’s nice to escape to a more natural setting to get away from the noise and crowds. The Norwalk Nature Center in nearby Norwalk is the perfect place to enjoy such an escape.
During your visit, you’ll meet the domesticated animals that live on-site. There’s a lovely garden with vegetables, fruit trees, and a pond.
3. Enjoy a Delicious Meal at Humblebrags Eatery
Whether you arrive for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Humblebrags Eatery in Lakewood has an extensive menu with items to suit every taste, including a variety of starters, salads, sandwiches and burgers.
Dinner entrees, such as Penne Pesto Pasta and various chicken and steak dishes, are also served, and local craft beers are available on tap.
4. Catch up on Local History at the Dominguez Rancho Adobe
Dominguez Rancho Adobe is a museum in nearby Rancho Dominguez showcasing the story of the Dominguez family homestead. During a visit to this museum, you can take a guided tour or explore the grounds on your own.
As you make your way through, you’ll see two beautiful gardens – the Rose Garden and the Cactus Garden – and you’ll be able to visit the on-site gift shop.
Living history programs, such as the Battle of the Old Woman’s Gun re-enactment, are held throughout the year along with other seasonal events, including Dia De Muertos Celebration.
Speakers come to the museum throughout the year to do talks on various topics, including the history of Native American Indians in the area and the history of California.
5. Escape into an Urban Wilderness Along the West San Gabriel River Parkway Nature Trail
Yes, it’s possible to escape into nature in Lakewood, even if you’re surrounded by an urban landscape. The West San Gabriel River Parkway Nature Trail stretches along the scenic San Gabriel River. Along the 2.5 miles of trails, you’ll see native plant life, wildlife, and stunning natural scenes.
6. Try Your Luck at the Gardens Casino
If you’re looking for an exciting evening out on the town, the Gardens Casino in nearby Hawaiian Gardens is the place to be. Enjoy various table games like Texas Hold’em and access to several flat-screen televisions and a cocktail bar.
At the Triple 7 Sports Bar and Grill, you can choose from a variety of dishes from around the world made with fresh California produce. Handcrafted mixed drinks and local craft beers are also available.
7. Book a Tee Time at Lakewood Golf Course
Enjoy a day on the greens at this 18-hole, 7,033-yard championship golf course that has been voted one of the premier courses in the region.
Lakewood Golf Course features many sand bunkers and par 3’s, along with a practice area featuring two putting greens and a pitching green. Lessons for golfers of all ages and skill levels are available.
8. Indulge in Worldly Dishes at Hanako Japanese Cuisine
If you would like to try something different for a change, skip the all-American local food scene and sit down to a meal featuring traditional and modern Japanese dishes at Hanako Japanese Cuisine in Lakewood.
Walk into a homely atmosphere and be served by friendly and professional staff who will cater to your unique taste.
The menu features many options, including ramen, rolls, chicken teriyaki, shrimp fried rice, and tempura plates. A sushi bar is also available, and the extensive drink menu includes a variety of beers, wines, and sake.
9. Enjoy Art in an Outdoor Setting at the Cerritos Sculpture Garden
Situated in nearby Cerritos, the Cerritos Sculpture Garden is the perfect place to see local art and enjoy an afternoon in a lush, outdoor environment.
This attraction was gifted to the community as a 50th-anniversary gift. The first sculptures placed in this stunning setting were dedicated to the Cerritos Air Disaster. Also on site are a variety of other sculptures, including the Statue of Freedom, Mirage, and The Elements.
As you walk through the garden, you’ll enjoy a peaceful, natural environment surrounded by trees and stone walls.
10. Explore Del Valle Park
Del Valle Park in Lakewood is another one of the city’s beautiful parks where you can go to enjoy beautiful scenery and quiet surroundings in a natural setting.
While there, stretch your legs as you explore the landscape, have a picnic on the sprawling lawn, and grab some pictures in front of the huge replica of a Douglas F3D Skyknight jet fighter. Throughout the year, many events are held in this park, including concerts featuring local musicians.
11. Take the Little Ones to Lakewood Equestrian Center
Children and adults alike enjoy an afternoon wandering the grounds of the Pony Time Lakewood Equestrian Center.
During a walk-through of this facility, you’ll discover a petting zoo with many domesticated animals, such as sheep, alpaca, rabbits, goats and llama. On certain days, pony rides are available, and parents with children under six can learn how to groom and saddle a pony.
12. Indulge in the Arts at the Long Beach Museum of Art
If you’re interested in art, the Long Beach Museum of Art is a great place to see, learn about, and be inspired by local and international art.
There are many exhibits on-site; some are permanent while others change from time to time, so there’s always something new to see with every visit. While you may mainly associate art with paintings, this museum displays a variety of art forms, including textiles, glassworks, and sculptures.
On certain days throughout the year, workshops are held. Once a week, a tour that allows visitors to learn more about art and the museum is offered.
13. Explore the Pacific Ocean at the Aquarium of the Pacific
While you may never get to explore the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, you can certainly get an idea of what it’s like and what creatures lurk there with a visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.
This huge aquarium has 32 displays across 19 different habitats, representative of the Pacific Ocean’s diverse ecosystem. Within these habitats are more than 11,000 marine animals representing 500 species.
As you explore the aquarium, you’ll learn about the ocean and its inhabitants, watch a series of 3D and 4D films, see a wide variety of sharks in the Shark Lagoon, see how the animals are cared for behind the scenes, and even pet some of the sea creatures.
14. Embark on an Adventure with Harbour Breeze Whale Watching
The offshore waters near Long Beach are the perfect place to view whales up close and personal, and Harbour Breeze Whale Watching will take you there.
Join an experienced crew on an offshore adventure onboard a safety-certified, eco-friendly, double-decked boat and head for the deep waters where the big ones are. And by big ones, I’m talking about grey whales, blue whales, and several other species that are often spotted in these waters.
You’ll also likely spot dolphins and many species of seabirds. The crew is knowledgeable about the marine animals you’ll see, and they provide an educational and entertaining narrative throughout the tour. A snack bar and washroom are available on the vessel.
15. Enjoy an Afternoon of Fun at Golf N Stuff
At Golf N Stuff in nearby Norwalk, there’s plenty of excitement to keep visitors of all ages busy for an entire afternoon.
The main attraction is the vast green landscape featuring four fun and challenging 18-hole mini-golf courses with various themes, including a haunted house and the old west.
Also on site are the Disk ‘O Thrill Rides and the Indy Raceway, where you can get behind the wheel and speed along a twisty track.