Best Of Sports & Recreation
Best Hike Through Modern-Day Ruins
Old Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park
The hike through the Old Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park is like traipsing through a lost episode of The Addams Family. Hikers can ascend to its twisted, metal ruins, dating to 1912, making these remains of lion's dens and monkey cages almost ancient by Los Angeles standards. You begin
Best Mountain Getaway
One of the greatest things about living in L.A. is how easy it is to get out of L.A. Nearby beach getaways and ski excursions abound, but on the list of easy weekend trips is the often overlooked, but delightfully charming, mountain village of Idyllwild. Nestled among pine trees and
Best Yoga Party
Hollywood Power Yoga
"Ain't no shame in the block!" shouts yoga instructor Henry McMillan at Hollywood Power Yoga to practitioners making modifications. Serene as students may feel in Downward Dog, McMillan keeps the vibe upbeat. "It's a yoga party," he says. "It's important that people have fun and feel good." What McMillan achieves
Best Dodgeball League
What's better than smashing a frenemy in the gut with a hard-hitting power throw during a rip-roaring dodgeball game? Knowing that doing so is helping to better the community in which you play. The recreational (yet fiercely competitive) WeHo Dodgeball league started up a little more than a year ago,
Best Aerial and Floor Exercise Classes
Cirque School L.A.
If you're into being fit but looking for something a lot more adventurous, try Cirque School L.A. fitness classes, which work every part of your body combined but offer far more excitement than a spin class ever could. Aerial Fitness gets you in shape while getting upside down. If you're
Best South L.A. Alternative to Huntington Gardens
Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park
This year at the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design graduation, Dean Jennifer Wolch introduced the commencement speaker, landscape architect Randy Hester, by calling his Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park one of her favorite public parks in L.A. Opened in 2000 in a former pipe-storage yard used for William Mulholland's
Best Free Tennis Courts
Rustic Canyon Park
Tennis buffs know there's nothing more frustrating than playing on free city courts. Street noise, rowdy players and unkempt surfaces are just some of the problems. Step into leafy and mostly hidden Rustic Canyon Park in Pacific Palisades, just past the Santa Monica city border, to find six dream hard
Best Cheap Yoga Classes
Bryan Kest's Power Yoga
With two Santa Monica locations, Bryan Kest's Power Yoga is a Westside yoga consortium offering equal-opportunity health and wellness via its donation-based payment program. Patrons pay what they can for each class (the recommended donation is $15), and donations are collected via honor system, so there's no weird pressure or
Best Place to Volunteer If You Love Animals
Since 1989, PAWS/LA has helped seniors and sick and disabled people to keep their much-loved pets when times get tough. Considering that pets often are credited with contributing health and happiness to one's life, the organization is undertaking important, even life-saving work — and it relies on volunteers to carry
Best Roller Rink Untouched by Time
Almost everything about the Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale is just as you remember, except the patrons: the hot dog stand, the DJ booth, the zigzag pattern on the carpet in the locker area, the faded posters behind the ticket booth, promising hot roller-disco babes inside. Where else can you dance
Best Place to Volunteer
Project Angel Food
Founded in 1989 in response to the AIDS crisis, Project Angel Food's staff and volunteers cook and deliver nutritious meals to people with AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses in Los Angeles County. It's important work: Since its founding, Project Angel Food has delivered more than 8 million meals to
Best Boxing Classes
City of Angels Boxing
Former pro boxer Alex Brenes brings an enormous amount of enthusiasm and skill to his Chinatown boxing gym, City of Angels Boxing, where he cracks the whip (and also cracks jokes) to get people in shape. Located in a funky, mural-filled warehouse that has all the necessary boxing amenities, Brenes'
Best Place to Hit a Quick Nine Holes
Roosevelt Municipal Golf Course
Located across the street from the landmark Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, the Roosevelt Municipal Golf Course, which is operated by the city, is no ordinary nine-hole course. It's fairly challenging — watch out for the many sand traps and narrow fairways — but not overwhelmingly so, with incredible views
Best Strange History Hike
In the early 1930s, Los Angeles was home to a secret Nazi compound, Murphy Ranch, which plotted world domination from the peaceful brushlands of what is now Rustic Canyon. One story goes that a wealthy Pasadena thumbtack heiress and her equally gullible husband were manipulated into believing that the United
Best Tai Chi Class
Tai Chi for Health
On most Saturday mornings, longtime expert and instructor Terry Dunn has held Tai Chi for Health in Santa Monica's extraordinarily beautiful Palisades Park, with a breathtaking view of the Pacific as his backdrop. Tai Chi is about slow, graceful movements — a kind of moving meditation — which the Chinese
Best Hiking Trail
Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park
On the fringes of Los Angeles County lies the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park. Located where the Simi Hills merge with the Santa Susana Mountains, the 680-acre park is a quiet and truly wild-feeling expanse of rolling meadows, deep canyons and rocky outcroppings that look as spaghetti Western as
Best Stair Climb
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
While these exposed steps aren't as charming as the well-trod stairways of Silver Lake, they are notable for their challenging unevenness — the chockablock unpredictability of their size and height prevents walkers from developing an easy rhythm. Some steps at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook are more than a foot
Best Urban Bike Lane
Metro Orange Line Bike Path
When San Fernando Valley residents put a stop to light rail years ago, some people made fun of them. Then the wildly popular, super-quiet Orange Line busway opened between North Hollywood and Warner Center, and recently the northward extension was finished to Chatsworth. The 14-mile-long Metro Orange Line Bike Path
Best Place to See a Miniature World
Abalone Cove tide pools
You can lose hours and hours staring into the little galaxies that are the Abalone Cove tide pools. Depending on what the tide is doing (be sure to check, because high tide is considerably less exciting), you'll see purple sea urchins, starfish, hermit crabs, nudibranchs, sea snails, sea hares, mussels
Best Beekeeping Classes
HoneyLove Bee Mentoring Workshops
Want to keep bees but don't know how? Husband-and-wife beekeepers Rob and Chelsea McFarland teach you at their HoneyLove Bee Mentoring Workshops, held in their hilltop bee sanctuary in Moorpark. Sessions are fluid, unstructured and very much hands-on. You will learn as much from other attendees as from the McFarlands,
Best Iconic Movie Landmark-Turned - Stairs Workout
Music Box Steps
"That's the house up there, right on top of the stoop," Oliver Hardy points out to Stan Laurel as they attempt to move a giant piano up a daunting set of concrete steps leading to a house on Descanso Drive. During the now-infamous slapstick routine from Laurel & Hardy's Academy Award–winning
Best Baseball Diamonds
Scholl Canyon Ballfields
The scent of pine infuses beautiful, mountaintop Scholl Canyon Ballfields, set against the rugged Verdugo Mountains and operated by the city of Glendale. In the distance, you can see the tips of downtown L.A.'s skyscrapers. There are three spotless, deep-green ballfields surrounded by towering eucalyptus trees: a huge one with
Best Beach Butt Workout
Cuerpaso Beach Camp
A cuerpaso (which roughly translates in Spanish to "hot body") is something you might end up with after a committed workout regimen of soccer drills and dancing barefoot on the Santa Monica Beach sand. At Cuerpaso Beach Camp, personal and celebrity trainer Tadeo Arnold caters to those of us who...
Best Deluxe Spin Class
For every fitness enthusiast who blasts the effectiveness (and cost!) of spin studios that incorporate arm weights while on the bikes, there are the cycle-class cultists willing to pony up $25 or so for these premium burns. At least with Flywheel, one of the popular East Coast fitness fetishes to...
Best Zip Line
Navitat Canopy Adventures
Forget the dinky new zip line out in Venice Beach. Navitat Canopy Adventures has the real tree-skimming experience in the heart of the San Bernardino Mountains. Located at the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, Navitat's Wrightwood zip line and rappelling experience offers adventure-seekers 10 different zips, descents and cable...
Topanga Canyon State Park
Topanga Canyon State Park couldn't be more stunning -- and unlike many of the area's ruggedly beautiful parks, camping there couldn't be any easier. A short, secluded, one-mile trail will take nature lovers into the verdant fields and clusters of protected California live oak trees that cover much of the...
Best Stair Walk
Walt Disney Concert Hall
L.A. is famous for its hidden hillside stairs. The best stair walk downtown follows the architectural curves of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's iconic home, Walt Disney Concert Hall, via an exterior aerial pathway. Enter from Grand Avenue (just to the right of Patina's entrance) or from the west side of...
Best Place to Hang Out With Turtles
UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden
You could be forgiven for not being aware of the UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, even if you've lived in Westwood for decades. It's tucked off a busy corner of Hilgard Avenue, on the western edge of the UCLA campus, with fairly minimal signage. Easy enough to just whoosh...
Best Bug-Watching Stroll
Tarantulas slip from their earthen burrows at night, when the black males and brown females dine. You may be able to spot one at dusk, on a five-minute walk off Dirt Mulholland in Woodland Hills on the undeveloped West Mulholland Trailhead path some call Tarantula Trail. The path takes you...
Best Place to Channel Robin Hood
Pasadena Roving Archers
Would you like to spend your Saturday morning pretending to be Robin Hood (Cary Elwes' version, not Costner's or Crowe's, please) or doing your best Mockingjay as Katniss Everdeen? Pasadena Roving Archers has that covered for you — without the cosplay. While it sounds more like a band of merry...
Best Place to Shoot Down Inanimate Objects
Triple B Clays
Have you ever been severely wronged by a clay pigeon — just had your entire life ruined by a lifeless disk of clay? Triple B Clays is easily the best place in Los Angeles to get your legally sanctioned revenge on hundreds of them with a real, live shotgun. Adjacent...
Best Place for Serious Horsing Around
Cowboy Boot Camp
Man's best friend may be a dog, but unlike a dog, a horse actually serves as reliable transportation. For an annual fee, Cowboy Boot Camp offers riding lessons, trail rides, clinics such as "Equine Emergency & First Aid," "Clipping & Body Shaving" and "Bit Understanding" (not the comedy bit, but...
Best Freeway-Adjacent Hike
Eagle Rock Canyon Trail
The hoariest cliché about Los Angeles is that it's the place where you can ski and surf on the same day. No one does that. Because, duh, traffic. The whole dumb idea must have come from some 1960s tourism campaign. And no one skis anymore, either. They go hiking. Here's...
L.A. is notoriously terrible at public spaces. Not for us the stately city square or grassy riverfront pavilion ennobled with statuary and ringed with decent restaurant options. For whatever reason, that is a code we cannot crack. About the best we can muster is Grand Park, the Front Lawn of...
Best Bike Path
Ballona Creek Bike Path
Earlier this year, our city fathers saw fit to bring CicLAvia to the Westside. They shut down several lanes of Venice Boulevard and turned it over to bicycles. You could ride unimpeded all the way to the beach. Cyclists could be forgiven for scratching their heads, because on the Westside...
Best Mall-Walk Exercise Route
Westfield Topanga Shopping Mall
Where else can you cram in 30 minutes of vigorous walking without encountering a single rude driver, red light, backing-out vehicle, searing sun, smog or downpour while at the same time eyeballing the window displays of Tiffany & Co., Neiman Marcus, L'Occitane en Provence and Burberry? Westfield Topanga Shopping Mall...
Best Theme Park Ride
Transformers Ride at Universal Studios
Humans manning the robot-turned-vehicle Evac are on a mission to help Autobot transformers stop evil Decepticon robots from destroying Earth. The moment the Transformers ride at Universal Studios begins, you are immersed in fierce action amidst burning skyscrapers and shattering glass — thanks to ultra-high-definition 3-D glasses and 30-foot-tall photorealistic...
Best Westside Water Slide
Stoner Park Pool
For Westsiders who think of Sam Dimas' Raging Waters as "Road-Raging Waters," Stoner Park Pool has the water slide for you. Nestled in the northwest quadrant of the 10 and 405 crossing, it's no run-of-the-mill, chutes-and-ladders–style ride. A real spiral with three solid curves and a satisfying splash at the...
Best Yoga for Feeling Buddhist
Black Dog Yoga
As is the custom for Valley businesses, Black Dog Yoga is found on the second floor of a strip mall near a frozen-yogurt shop. About 40 instructors, 90 weekly classes, retreats and teacher training are offered at this huge, 7,000-square-foot yoga haven whose four main rooms are washed in spare,...
Best Children's Play Space
Kids love to paint but, as a rule, they're a bit less interested in cleaning up — which provides a great opportunity for a lesson about personal responsibility. Or maybe just take them to Play. At this Mid-Wilshire spot, you can walk in off the street, plunk down $10, and...
Best Yoga Studio
Stepping into Liberation Yoga in Mid-City feels a whole lot like returning to the loving embrace of your old college dorm room. The ambience is thanks to founders (and couple) Christine Burke and Gary McCleery, who were both theater directors and now are deeply devoted to spiritual health as well...
Best Skate Lessons
Soul Skating L.A.
Learning how to ride a skateboard properly, in this era of trick-oriented street skating, is best done via show-and-tell. Many kids in the barrio don't have access to big brothers or older cousins who ride, but Soul Skating L.A. and its founder, Armando Gonzalez, are the next best thing. Basic...
Best Basketball Courts for Jump Shooters
Live Oak Park
In a city full of funky cement basketball courts with chain nets, Live Oak Park stands out as a local park that makes playing hoops so enjoyable it has morphed into a regional draw, bringing regulars from Inglewood, Lawndale and all over the South Bay. Not only does it feature...