The scene in northeast Los Angeles this weekend was something you'd picture in Boulder or Spokane: happy people kayaking down a bucolic river. The city just opened a stretch of the Los Angeles River closed off from people since the 1930s; encased in concrete to protect against floods that routinely hit the city (the famous Grease car chase happened among the river's concrete banks).
Since the 1980s, locals and environmentalists have worked to return the L.A. River — which meanders for 51 miles from north of the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach and the Pacific Ocean — to its natural state. Pocket parks, hiking paths, and bike trails now dot some of the river's sides and much wildlife has returned, while millions of pounds of trash have been pulled from the water and banks. Much work remains to be done to fix Los Angeles's long-neglected river, but environmentalists are reveling that nature-lovers can now paddle down a serene portion of it. We hear it's quite surreal.
To book your trip, visit L.A. River Expeditions. Tickets are $60 each and trips take off from Rattlesnake Park, near the city's Los Feliz and Atwater Village neighborhoods.