World Peace Day is November 17, and it seems like this year, finding a path to peace is more important than ever. Labyrinths aren’t just for meditative moms and dads; the pattern has a strong pull on little people, too. While your wee ones might not reap the Zen effects of following an ancient spiral pattern, they will have a blast walking (or running) through, again and again. Read on to discover our favorite local magical spirals.
photo: Peace and Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens via Facebook
Zen Awaits at the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens
Here’s your chance of practicing Zen and the art of entertaining the kids! This spiritual oasis and Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Monument in the heart of the city features a marvelous hand-carved stone labyrinth made of Travertine and modeled after the labyrinth in the medieval Chartres Cathedral in France. Tire the tykes out first by checking out other aspects of the gardens, such as the Koi pond, water fountains and lush, green nooks. This way they might be better equipped to practice quiet appreciation as they walk the peaceful path. Admission is free but reservations (easy to make online) are required to enter the grounds. Unlike the labyrinths listed below, this place has a bit of a hushed, meditative vibe, as people are drawn here to reflect quietly. It’s a great opportunity to teach peace and mindfulness to even the youngest set.
3500 W Adams Blvd.
photo: Sylvie Greil
The Little Mermaid Leads the Way to the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Labyrinth
This privately owned cemetery in Glendale is open to the general public and features a bombastic statue collection, including a replica of the original Little Mermaid from Denmark at the pond by the front. The Memorial Park is gorgeously landscaped with gently rolling, green hills and has a beautiful, small labyrinth, also modeled on the famous original in Chartres. Set at the Gardens of Contemplation, this tiny, but very pretty stone labyrinth boasts fantastic views. Fun at a cemetery may sound a bit blasphemous, but sculpture scouting (peacefully and quietly that is) on a Sunday drive is a concrete way to connect the kids with art history. Yes, you need your car. The area is immense. The lush park was designed with an eye toward classic European art. Thus you’ll find a statue of David by Michelangelo, lots of Old World children statues, and other really cool stuff like imposing murals and art. Tip: Bring flowers to place at a site that captures your fancy.
1712 S Glendale Ave.
photo: Wendy L. via Yelp
An Ancient Affair: Labyrinth at Arlington Garden in Pasadena
This lovely, formal botanical park feels like someone’s private garden but is actually Pasadena’s only dedicated public garden. It’s small but full of treasures to discover. Part of the fun of a visit is exploring what’s around the next corner: an olive allée, a small, fragrant orange grove, all manner of plant arrangements, sculptures and the piece de resistance: a beautifully serene spiral. The pattern of this classical, seven-circuit labyrinth is more than 5,000 years old. Boggle your kids’ minds by telling them they are walking one of the oldest and most sacred designs in the world. Admission is free daily from sunrise to sunset and visitors are invited to linger via little tables and chairs hidden along and dotting the paths. Bring a picnic, as there are a plethora of sweet nooks for chillaxing and snacking.
275 Arlington Dr.
photo: Sylvie Greil
A Mini Stonehenge and More: Descanso Gardens Labyrinth
At this lush, 160-acre escape, you get two labyrinths at the price of one: a Fibonacci sequence tucked away among the oaks and ferns and a mini hedge maze for the littlest ones. Each has a magic of their own. You can tell you’re getting close to the Children Labyrinth near the Rose Garden from the squeal of toddlers as they run through the maze, featuring a couple of adorable miniature chairs fit for gnomes and fairies in its center. Tell the kids to behave, as the site is guarded by animal statues that want them to respect the forest!
The Fibonacci is more deserted, made of 33 small, Stonehenge-like rocks set too far apart for kids to jump on or over, but loads of fun to explore. The way the light filters through the canopy here is dreamy. After some labyrinth loving, hop on the Enchanted Railroad (check schedule ahead of time) for a sweet choo choo ride. There’s also the Japanese Garden and the Ancient Forest, growing plants pretty much unchanged since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Descanso holds lots of events such as movie nights, the Little Owls Reading Nest, Toddler Treks and more. Admission is $4 for kids and $9 for adults.
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Cañada Flintridge
photo: Sylvie Greil
Have you encountered any magical mazes or labyrinths in or near LA? Recommend your favorites in the comments.