Wednesday, February 26, 2014

50 Amazing "Off The Beaten Path " Things To Do In Los Angeles


Sitting high in the Hollywood Hills as if reaching for the starry sky, Griffith Observatory keeps watch over Los Angeles. The beautiful domed building is one of many iconic LA landmarks. Built in the mid 1930's, through gifts and grants bestowed on LA by namesake Griffith J. Griffith, an avid astronomy enthusiast, as a public gathering place to learn about the science of the sky. He's quoted as saying, "If all mankind could look through that (Mt. Wilson) telescope, it would change the world!" And of course, we now know it has; in no small part due to the Zeiss telescope and the Oschin Planetarium located at the observatory. The planetarium show is spectacular and presented with a live narrator. The recent addition of the interactive spaces and halls encourage independent exploration. Once a month there is a docent lead Sunset Walk and Talk which addresses the objects seen in the evening sky and other questions about the observatory and Griffith Park. Explore the larger universe from the Los Angeles sky during your visit.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

50 Amazing "Off The Beaten Path " Things To Do In Los Angeles


"And away they go".
Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California is home to Oak Tree Thoroughbred Racing. Nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountain Range, the track, one of California's preeminent, sits next to a gorgeous art deco grandstand built in 1934. Live racing happens intermittently throughout the year so best to consult the website for track schedules and other pertinent information. A day at the races is a exhilarating and unpredictable event, although the handicappers will profess otherwise. Watch the horses prance around the paddock and blaze around the track while playing the odds. Often, the long shots outshine the star performers making for a really thrilling time. Make a comfortable day of it by dining in the Club House or even taking the Seabiscuit Tour - a guided trip through the paddock and stables.

Monday, February 24, 2014

50 Amazing "Off The Beaten Path " Things To Do In Los Angeles


Angelenos love to brunch. Nothing says Sunday in LA more than a sunny, buzzy, lingering brunch straddling morning and afternoon leaving you the perfect excuse not to make any other plans for the day. The brunch at the renowned House of Blues on Sunset Bl. by contrast is a particularly raucous experience. Part Sister Act, part  Mardi Gras, and beaucoup energy, the seating is arranged in a dinner theater format set in front of a stage and includes a traditional southern cuisine buffet. Put the crossword puzzle down, push yoga off till tomorrow and go worship LA style at HoB.

Friday, February 21, 2014

50 Amazing "Off The Beaten Path " Things To Do In Los Angeles


You have to see it to believe it. In the middle of an inner-city neighborhood most famous for the racial riots of the 1960's, The Watts Towers rise high into the clouds and spear the sky. The historical landmark consists of 17 spires constructed of steel and concrete mortar and shrouded in mosaics of recycled glass, porcelain, shells, rock and other found objects. They were erected over a 30 year span by one immigrant man, Simon Rodia, as a nod to "nuestro pueblo" (our town). It is a wonderful art installation of whimsey and creativity and
truly awe-inspiring to see this magnificent contribution made by one man as a labor of love, indeed, a symbol of love embedded in the earth for all time and humanity.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

50 Amazing "Off The Beaten Path " Things To Do In Los Angeles


So much more than just a library, The Huntington is a cultural destination where precious literature, art, and botany collide. LA has some of the best galleries and art collections in the world and Pasadena, a rich epicenter of Los Angeles' history, is home to two of my personal favorites, The Huntington Library and the Norton Simon Museum (see another post). It will set you back a pretty penny ($23 for an adult pass on the weekend) but admission includes access to all the art buildings and gardens on the 207 acre property. To meander immaculate gardens like the spectacular rose garden are indeed highlights of the visit but not to be missed are the succulent/desert landscapes and Japanese tea and bonsai gardens. Inside the galleries you'll find some of the most recognizable and important works of the the last three centuries. Spend the day and immerse yourself in a swath of refinement.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

50 Amazing "Off The Beaten Path " Things To Do In Los Angeles


A trip to Los Angeles wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Last Bookstore. This quaint downtown landmark is appealing to bookworms, architecture buffs, vinyl enthusiasts and history fanatics alike; not discounting the countless "philes" who will assuredly find something of interest on the shelves of this amazing book/record shop. Housed in an old bank, the store boasts over 10k square feet of literary bliss including both a vault and a labyrinth. It is also home to art galleries, an extensive vinyl record collection, and hosts various reading and open mic events. Spending a little time in the wonderland of books will give you a shot of smarts and connect you with the best of the past.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

50 Amazing "Off The Beaten Path " Things To Do In Los Angeles


Held a couple of times a month in various locations throughout the city, this is quite possibly one of the coolest things you can do while visiting LA. The Moth Story Slam format is accessible to everyone. A theme is preselected for the night and posted on the website along with the venue. Tellers prepare a truthful 5 minute story around the central theme and rehearse the presentation as it cannot be read. When you arrive at the venue, usually a bar, the m.c. or host asks you to drop your name in a hat. The event is about 2 hours long and they have time for 10 stories and tellers are picked randomly from the hat. Audience members are chosen to judge the stories based on a loose set of criteria and scores are awarded. At the end of the night the presenter with the highest score advances to the grand slam, who has the opportunity to compete in the grand slam event. It is a $8 cover on a first come first serve basis and often sells out. Everybody has a story. Tell yours at the Moth.

Monday, February 17, 2014

50 Amazing "Off The Beaten Path " Things To Do In Los Angeles


One of the most interesting things you'll do in LA is visit a Korean Day Spa. It is unlike any other so reset your expectation and welcome the surprise. We have an entire neighborhood devoted to Korean culture where most of these spas are found. I personally recommend, Olympic Spa, exclusively for women. Once in the spa clothing is forbidden, a challenging endeavor for the modest, but smocks and towels are supplied. Reservations are highly encouraged and whichever treatment you choose be sure it includes the signature body scrub. It will leave you feeling like a newborn. Plan on spending at lease a couple of hours to completely relax and rejuvenate.

Friday, February 14, 2014

50 Amazing "Off The Beaten Path " Things To Do In Los Angeles


This is the best time of year to take to the seas with a virtual guarantee of spotting the majestic mammals (mostly grey whales) as they make their way from feedings grounds in the northern Bering Sea to the southern waters of Mexico for mating.  This has been a record year for sightings with statistical counts double that of last year's collected data and reports of other rare species like orkas, sperm whales and a humpback being spotted. It has also been an exceptionally warm season which makes a day on the ocean that much more comfortable. I recommend Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari. Launching out of Dana Point in southern Orange County, the captains have an uncanny way of knowing just where to find whales, dolphins and sea lions, creating an unforgettable experience for their passengers.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

50 Amazing "Off The Beaten Path " Things To Do In Los Angeles


Venice Beach lours tourists with its funky hippie culture and free love vibe and turns them into voyeurs down on the famed Boardwalk or Muscle Beach. Agreed, this is something everyone should witness once in their life but I suggest a much cooler way to experience Venice - take a stroll along the canals. Lined with million dollar cottages, the canals are a pedestrian paradise dating back to 1905 when Abbott Kinney sought to emulate the romantic canals of Venice, Italy. Today they are deemed a historical treasure and are quite picturesque. They run from the Marina to the South to North of Washington Bl. Each side of the Blvd. offers something different and water levels vary depending on the tide and rainfall. Explore on your own or take a walking tour of Venice by joining Venice Beach Walking Tours.