On a warm days, it’s hard to beat a ride on the swan boats of Echo Park. You’re surrounded by water, greenery, ducks, geese and hillsides full of quirky Angeleno architecture (including Aimee McPherson’s century-old Angelus Temple).
Also, you’re traveling by foot-powered paddles, and the pedaling is easy because you’re in no hurry and you don’t have far to go. Maybe you’ll want to do a circuit of the lake (really a man-made reservoir). Maybe you’ll sidle up to the towers of whitewater rising from the mid-lake fountain. Maybe you’ll eat at the Boathouse Bistro next to the dock. Maybe you’ll wait until after dark (because the swans light up).
The boats are managed by Wheel Fun Rentals and are open year round. Rentals are $12 hourly per adult, $7 for those under 18. Reservations required. The small boats can seat two adults and two children under age 10. The large boats can seat up to five people. Hand-crank boats are also available.
Though there’s a public lot at 1149 Echo Park Ave., you may well end up seeking street parking. Try Laguna Avenue, just east of Echo Park Avenue. As in many areas of the city, you may expect to see tents belonging to unhoused people — but a lot has changed around the lake. In March 2021, city officials temporarily closed the park, removed a large homeless encampment, arrested more than 180 protesters and later reopened the park. Walking around the lake on Aug. 1, I saw a few troubled souls, a few anglers, two maintenance workers cleaning up, many happy families, a dozen turtles next to the lotus flowers at the south end of the lake and zero tents.