The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is a huge area that protects the rare Mediterranean environment and offers a multitude of recreational activates from hiking, camping, swimming, surfing, motoring and much more just northwest of LA. Composed many public lands and some private lands encompassing well know and lesser know parks, valleys, beaches and roads, many used for filming familiar movies and shows. Highlights include Paramount Ranch (Dr. Quinn and many films), Malibu State Park (M*A*S*H, Planet of the Apes), King Gillette Ranch (The Biggest Loser), the famous Mulholland Drive and the famous Hollywood Sign (although we much preferred touring along the Mulholland Highway), Topanga State Park, Runyon Canyon Park, Santa Monica Beach & Pier, Topanga Beach, Malibu area and Zuma Beach. There is much more and if one is spending any time in LA, one should spend at least a day exploring and enjoying the area and visiting one of the famous beaches. We would recommend stopping by the Interagency Visitor Center next to King Gillette Ranch to see the exhibits, introductory movie and help with planning your visit including current programs and events.