When most think of Los Angeles, the words “quiet” and “serenity” don’t typically come to mind.
Most of the world is well aware of LA’s beach scene, but what about our gardens and trails? After 16 years seeking out the best of the best, here are nine of my favorite places to escape the cacophony of LA. Arguably the quietest place in Los Angeles (if not the most breathtaking), the Huntington boasts 12 exotic gardens, including one designed just for children, as well as a library and a museum with both permanent and traveling exhibitions. Even on “crowded” weekends, the Huntington is relatively empty, and the property is so massive, it is totally possible to spend the day there without crossing paths with other humans. Most people think “couples” when they think of romantic B&B’s in the woods, and although I tend to agree, I also believe in the importance of romantic retreats for parties of one.
LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is the home of LA’s greatest permanent collection of art including work by Matisse, Picasso, Calder, Hockney, Rivera, and more. The Observatory is jam-packed on the weekends, but if you arrive early enough on, say, a Tuesday, chances are you will find a quiet spot in which to sit and observe the astronomical views of downtown LA, Santa Monica, and beyond. Blocks from the Pacific Ocean, Lake Shrine Temple is part of the Self-Realization Fellowship, which is open to the public and offers tours.
Please follow our Community Guidelines and understand that we moderate comments and reserve the right to delete comments that don’t adhere to our guidelines. And Central Park sounds like it would be crowded, but have you seen how huge that place is? Used to be the Getty was open late one night of the week, and it’s often a nice quiet place to stroll the grounds. Whenever I can slip away to explore, I do—just me, my camera, and the thousands of strangers on the streets of Tokyo. As far as quiet children go, as an author, my goal is to help carve out a space for them in our culture. My wife and I have had to come up with creative techniques to coax him into taking a break. These days, Felix has independent playtime, when he builds quietly with his LEGOs while we listen to music.
This seems to me the most important thing about introverted parenting: respecting your need to have time to yourself, even if you’re in the same room with your kid, and finding creative ways to do so. Okay, so spending time with your child is one thing, but what happens when other parents get thrown into the mix?
Things change when your child grows old enough to show an interest in other kids and making friends. I know parents who enjoy long, unstructured hangouts where everyone flits from activity to activity and space to space. When we invite friends over, we tend to do it around meal times so that there’s a clear end point. Like doing anything as a parent, being an introvert requires a bit more effort and intention on your part since you’re not just managing your child’s proclivities but balancing them with your own as well.
When Felix feels exhausted from a long day in school or even just a short play date with a friend, there’s a warm kind of understanding that passes between us.

My son and I have a special kind of bond, a mostly unspoken one—the kind only two introverts can have and appreciate.
All that forced interaction in the name of good parenting creates a constant low-grade panic that ratchets up when the bane of all parent-introverts rears its ugly head: the birthday party. I felt guilty sticking my hard-working, fully employed wife with solo parent duty just so I could go to the park and run circles in the sunshine. But having lived here for 16 years, I can attest to the fact that there are plenty of beautiful hideaways in which to escape the madness of traffic, tourism, and Trader Joe’s checkout lines. Los Angeles houses three of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world and one of the largest urban parks (Griffith) in North America. Built especially for quiet amidst the noise, this Labyrinth and Garden is the perfect size for an afternoon break from the madness and monotony. I spent a weekend at the Chianti Retreat last summer because I had to finish a project and needed peace with no distractions. Enjoy a quiet lunch at one of the two cafes, and sprawl out under a tree between gallery visits. From fairy led garden tours for the children to live music in the evenings, Descanso is LA’s biggest Secret Garden—an expansive paradise with plenty of trails to wander and trellises to duck behind. Its lush gardens include a lake and many paths to explore, ideal for meditation, painting, and being at one with nature’s Namaste.
When I was an undergrad in the early 90’s they used to let us come there in small groups and study for exams. I also felt that it was always oppressively bright outside, as if a flying saucer (the sun) were constantly shooting laser beams at me, trying to kill me. I lose myself happily in crowds, the camera around my neck both a comfort and a buffer zone. I write my books as honestly as I can in the hopes of cultivating empathy and understanding. As a toddler, Felix had what we called “sha-sha” time (named after what my wife’s grandmother would say to soothe her as a child), a period of 20-40 minutes when he listened to quiet music in his darkened room and built elaborate rail systems with his wooden train set. Sometimes I do chores or cook—activities that relax me (yes, I know, that might sound strange, but I can daydream while my hands are occupied). Having a few of those moments—whether you’re literally alone or not—make it possible to be fully present for your child the rest of the day. When your child is still a baby, you don’t have to worry about unwanted socializing because the play dates at that point are mostly for the adults. They might meet at the playground, mosey down to the nearest ice cream parlor to grab a treat, and finally move to someone’s house, gabbing all the way. My wife and I consider ourselves fortunate that Felix’s energy matches ours, partly because we’re able to understand his needs but also because we’re not often at odds—socializing-wise, anyway. From Santa Monica to Pasadena and beyond, I’ve curated a little collection of LA’s best kept hiding places for those of us who seek meditation, solitude, and zero crowds. I was able to not only finish my project at the retreat but to do so in the middle of the woods, at a table outside my bedroom, with a full cup of coffee to my left and homemade scones to my right. On the weekdays, the permanent collection is always empty, providing an ideal place to wander, think, and marvel at brilliance.

Bonus: you can reserve your seats ahead of time so you never have to deal with trying to find a seat. I’m stuck in a tiny apartment with all my family members, and have to make the rush hour commute to Manhattan!
It’s never crowded and the whole place, with its polished wood floors, white walls, and classy chandeliers, is just so calming.
Most of the time, that is…because at some point, each of us requires a bit of peace, some downtime for recharging our mental batteries. I know: plenty of parents, armed by scientific studies, are against giving too much (or any at all) screen time to little kids. Honestly, though, we don’t often host play dates at our place because we find them generally tiring. The boy has never been a great sleeper, and at the tender age of two he gave up napping altogether. The two of us can construct spaceships, castles, and houses out of LEGO for hours without saying a word. But Felix needs opportunities to zone out, whether it’s with a book or in front of the screen. Besides, if one parent takes Felix to someone else’s house for a play date, then the other parent gets time alone at home, which can’t happen when our home is invaded! As a full-time stay-at-home parent and an introvert, I wasn’t too happy about this turn of events. Even if it wasn’t a by-the-book nap, it provided a peaceful pause in the day’s activities from which we’d emerge renewed. Partaking in any sort of shared activity that requires no verbal communication, like doing art side-by-side, enables us to be together while also being in our own heads.
When he was a toddler, I’d get to the point reading aloud when both my voice and will to live would start to fade, so I began allowing short stretches of TV time. I can make small talk for a while and have deeper talks about life, love, and literature for even longer, but at some point I need to escape. Or he may sit on my lap and show more interest in hanging out with the adults than the kids.
These are all clear signs that he’s reached his social limit and requires a calm space to himself to re-energize.
Felix’s mood would become erratic as well, and eventually, someone—often both of us!—would end up in tears over a ridiculous argument. He has about forty minutes on a school day, once he’s done his homework and before dinner, to watch TV. Of course, being five years old, he doesn’t recognize that or want to acknowledge it, so I offer him an incentive to coax him home—a snack, a special activity, or a favorite TV show.
Afterward, he’s refreshed and ready to rejoin the social world, usually with a minimum of whining.

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