Best of L.A.

Best Of 2010

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Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

Best Dirigible Passenger Airship

While the Eureka zeppelin technically is berthed in San Francisco, it makes frequent trips south to offer L.A.’s thrill-seekers sky rides aboard the only passenger airship in America. The zeppelin is 60 feet longer than the biggest blimp and 15 feet longer than a 747, with a cabin that holds just 12 passengers. But despite its small size, it already has flown more than 5,000 people for special events, custom charter flights and a variety of public tours, cruising at a steady speed of 35 to 40 miles an hour. The ship’s hull is made from material that comes from the same company that makes NASA’s space suits and is filled with non-flammable helium. On windy days, boarding can be a challenge, but once inside the cabin, it’s quiet and peaceful, with big windows that allow for extended sightseeing; even the bathroom has a view. One of only three zeppelins in the world, Eureka serves as a modern-day example of historic aviation, but with innovative, high-tech components that look to the future. Thirty-minute flights start at $199 per person. But don’t you dare call it a blimp; it’s a zeppelin. airshipventures.com/ tours-los_angeles.php. —Tanja M. Laden

Best Beaux Arts Workout Spot — With a Movie (1912)
Los Angeles Athletic Club

Founded in 1880, when the main mode of transportation was the stagecoach, the Los Angeles Athletic Club, celebrating its 130th anniversary, remains a downtown oasis for fine-tuning your body, inside and out. Relocating in 1912 to a stunning Beaux Arts building, the first private club in L.A. no longer has members with handlebar mustaches flying on trapezes in the gym, and it admits women. You can play squash, handball and racquetball or take classes in tai chi, yoga or Pilates. Improve your mind by attending a lecture about wine or business leadership. If you don’t give a rip about self-improvement, try “Move With a Movie,” themed events inspired by films, starting Oct. 21 with Wall Street Ball Street, which combines squash lessons with scotch tasting, stogie smoking and a screening of the Oliver Stone film. Also on the agenda: a pool-party screening of Jaws and exotic dancing lessons set to the Demi Moore turkey Striptease, followed by “an intimate dinner for two” (plus an hour in a boutique hotel room for an extra $129). The LAAC, which has welcomed William Randolph Hearst, Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino, isn’t cheap, but it’s accessible, with monthly fees of $99 for those under 34 and over 64, and $162 for everyone else; $15 for one-time entry with a member. 431 W. Seventh St., dwntwn. (213) 625-2211, laac.com. —Patrick Range McDonald & Karina Longworth

431 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles, 90014
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213-625-2211
Best Yoga in a Garden
Liberation Yoga

There’s nothing quite like a soft breeze and a bubbling fountain to take your downward dog to the next level — which is why Liberation Yoga built a covered garden studio, an urban Eden complete with dark wood flooring, ancient Chinese wood carvings and rustling vegetation. The aim was to encourage “an infinite connection with the organic world,” and by all accounts, it succeeded, creating one of those truly special spots that Angelenos love to discover. Try the Candlelight Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Family Yoga (a one-hour, all-levels Hatha yoga class for yogis ages 4 to infinity) or the monthly Chakra Restorative Yoga, a two-hour candlelit class that uses color, aromatherapy and music to “clear, awaken and renew” your seven major chakras. Your first class is free. 124 S. La Brea Ave., Mid-City. (323) 964-5222. liberationyoga.com. —Caroline Ryder

124 S. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, 90301
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323-964-5222
Best Lift in Venice

Levitating high above the bustling consumptive Abbot Kinney fray, Ascended Living is a tiny, hidden haven for body, mind and spirit (or, as Osho says, bodymindspirit). The happy bamboo studio — a great bright burst of ionized, Ormus-laced air — houses a handful of treatment rooms and a collective of healers and wellness professionals who make magic inside ’em. Among the various progressive treatments available are nanocurrent face-lifts, quantum regenerative facials, oxygen therapies, live blood analysis and bodywork — amazing, blow-your-mind-open-to-the-arms-of-consciousness and trip-your-every-light-fantastic bodywork. (See Ryan Amsel, resident Body Unwinding master.) Ascended Living hosts classes, workshops, lectures and visiting channelers, among many other ascending luminaries, and offers a select assortment of top-tier products, including living herbs, Egyptian healing rods and probiotic skin and dental care. 1418 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. (310) 396-3888, ascendedliving.com. —Dani Katz

1418 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 90291
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310-396-3888
Best Hike to Eagle Rock, But Not the One You Think

For a dose of classic California beauty, endless views and dramatic boulders, hike to Eagle Rock in Topanga State Park, the world’s largest (at 14,000 acres) wildland within the boundaries of a major city. While picnic areas attract crowds of suburban families on the weekends, the trails are usually very open, luring naturalists and runners. Springtime is lovely with meadows in bloom and rare wild flowers sprinkled alongside sycamores and oaks on the 7.5-mile loop trail. Stick to the morning or afternoon for optimal viewing of native flora, and you might see a critter or two. From Topanga Canyon Boulevard, head east for one mile on Entrada Road, then follow signs for Topanga State Park. Park in the lot for $4, or if you’re feeling frugal park down the road. Look for the Eagle Spring Road to take you up to Eagle Rock. The park closes at dusk. (310) 455-2465, parks.ca.gov/ default.asp?page_id=25336. —Jacqueline Bolbat

Best Basketball in the Fog
Del Rey Lagoon

Saturday mornings often find prodigious full-court games on this court tucked away in Del Rey Lagoon Park in a little-known part of L.A. But true lovers of the game understand the magic of having a court to yourself. You can do that here most weekday mornings or even on weekends in winter, especially when the coastal fog is so thick you can’t see one basket from the other. Flush the anxiety meds. Go shoot free throws, alone, blanketed in fog, to the sound of crashing surf. Or do it at night under a full moon. The court lies between Del Rey Lagoon (egrets, ducks, herons) and the last remaining beach foredunes in Los Angeles County, immediately adjacent to a lovely Little League park (great french fries). Bring your spouse and kids and let them play on the slides and swings in a new children’s park. FYI: If you’re looking for weekend pick-up, bring your A-game. A certain sandal-clad Laker head coach has been known to walk by heading to lunch at The Shack. 6660 Esplanade Place, Playa del Rey. (310) 396-1615. —Drex Heikes

6660 Esplanade St., Marina del Rey, 90292
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Best Dirigible Passenger Airship: Eureka zeppelin

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