Best of L.A.

Best Of 2010


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Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

Best Giant Pile of Sand

There’s nothing like a giant pile of sand to play in, especially for those who love to indulge their inner child or treat themselves to a killer workout. And for that the Manhattan Beach sand dune is the ticket. Just south of LAX, at Sand Dune Park, sits a 100-foot-high dune perfect for climbing and playing. Fit folks of all ages run up the tall slope, working their quads, calves and feet (it’s better if you do it barefoot). The tip-top of the dune offers views of Santa Monica, the Hollywood Hills and huge jets taking off and landing. The only distraction is the giant power plant in neighboring El Segundo, which mars the view with its industrial structures and plumes of smoke. Because of overuse of the dune by athletes, which led the city of Manhattan Beach to close it for many months, online reservations and a $1 entry fee are required to climb the dune, which is bordered by a small park with a swing set and other playground fare. 33rd Street and Bell Ave., Manhattan Beach. —Christine Pelisek

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, —Patrick Range McDonald & Karina Longworth

431 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles, 90014
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. —Caroline Ryder

124 S. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, 90301
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, —Dani Katz

1418 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 90291
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, default.asp?page_id=25336. —Jacqueline Bolbat

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. tours-los_angeles.php. —Tanja M. Laden


Best Giant Pile of Sand: Sand Dune Park


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