San Gabriel to DTLA: Join the Free Great Los Angeles Walk

The annual strut-on-the-Saturday-before-Thanksgiving event, which explores iconic LA neighborhoods and thoroughfares, is back.

S. Greg Panosian/Araya Diaz/Getty Images

What to Know

  • Saturday, Nov. 20 at 9 a.m. (arrive a bit earlier for a "pep talk" and info); the walk, which is 13 miles, should take about three-four hours
  • San Gabriel Mission is the start point
  • You'll be walking to El Pueblo, along the historical path of Los Pobladores, with further adventuring along Grand and Broadway in DTLA

Plenty of cities have celebrations in honor of their birthdays, but it takes a special place to take a lengthy saunter, an airy adventure filled with memory, meaning, and spectacular sights, to honor the important day.

Los Angeles, of course, is that special place.

Each September, for the last several years, at least, a group of locals make the on-foot journey from San Gabriel Mission to El Pueblo de Los Angeles, retracing the nine-mile route taken by Los Pobladores, the early settlers of the area, in 1781.

Of course, the route is available to anyone throughout the year, and not just on LA's birthday (which is Sept. 4, but then you know that, surely). To pay tribute to Los Pobladores, and to connect with the story of our city in a community-minded and contemplative way, the Great Los Angeles Walk aims to follow that route on Nov. 20.

Nov. 20, in 2021, is the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and if you're familiar with this free event, you know it always sets out, five days before the holiday, on a remarkable ramble.

Those remarkable rambles have long covered sizable swaths of the city, with past Great Los Angeles Walks inviting can-do adventurers to amble along Wilshire Boulevard, through Hollywood, and to the beach.

The 2021 path is a shorter one comparatively, and the walk should wrap up, for many people, around noon or 1 o'clock at Olvera Street.

To continue the fun, though, the event's energetic founder, Michael Schneider, and other gambolers who are feeling game, will saunter further into downtown, with an exploratory stroll along Grand Avenue and Broadway, with stops to see Angels Flight and Grand Central Market.

You're free to keep on keepin' on beyond Olvera Street if you like, or you can wrap up your day there.

It's a together-but-on-your-own kind of thing, and, with that in mind, you'll need to arrange for your transportation to San Gabriel Mission and how you'll return home from DTLA.

It's year 16 for this uplifting urban outing, a happening that not only helps people get to know other locals who are interested in our city's stories, shops, spots, and LA's vast everything-ness, but there's fresh air and exercise involved, too.

That's certainly a bonus, as we all amble up to the fourth Thursday in November, and the heaping helpings of stuffing and pie that may await.

A good plan, if you've never joined a Great Los Angeles Walk? You'll want to read up on the specifics of how the event rolls out, what you can expect, how breaks for food and rest might work, what to wear, and the general logistics.

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