Best of L.A.

Best Of 2013

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Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

Best Children's Play Space
Play
Photo: Gene Maddaus

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 within moments your kid is painting. When he finishes one portrait, the teacher will gladly bring another blank page. And another, until he gets bored with the whole idea and decides he wants a snack. All the cleanup is done by trained professionals. Play also has music classes and plenty of toys to keep everybody occupied. 5814 W. Third St., Mid-Wilshire. (323) 988-1189, play-losangeles.com. —Gene Maddaus

5814 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, 90036
MAP
323-988-1189
Best Hike Through Modern-Day Ruins
Old Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park
Photo: JuanCarlos Chan/Los Angeles Dept of Recreation and Parks

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 by parking near the creepy carousel straight out of Something Wicked This Way Comes. Along the way, it may give you a chill to come across the many inhumane little cages old-timey folks thought were nice homes in which to keep the beasties. Sites like ModernHiker.com will help you plot your course so you know exactly where to go and what to bring. The full hike can cover up to three miles and take as long as two hours. For those with a less adventurous spirit, simply visit the old bear habitat off the grassy knoll. Today it's a picnic area. Griffith Park Drive, Griffith Park, 90027. (323) 913-4688, trailhead coordinates: 34.13527, -118.286357. laparks.org/dos/parks/griffithpk. —Erin E. Maxwell

4730 Crystal Springs Dr., Los Angeles, 90027
MAP
323-913-4688
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 home to an abundance of log cabins, it's just a couple hours east of Los Angeles, though you feel as if you're much farther north. Idyllwild is the perfect place for the ambitious outdoorsman, the California sophisticate or the chilled-out hippie. You can hike, rock-climb and mountain-bike, as well as shop the unique boutiques, go wine tasting and enjoy good dining in the town square. But there's also a vibe here, something that tells you you've found the good life. Ask the local folks, and many will tell you how they came to Idyllwild for a visit — and never left. After one weekend, you start to see why. idyllwildtowncrier.com. —Ali Trachta

Best Yoga Party
Hollywood Power Yoga
Photo: Ali Trachta

"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 is an atmosphere that's somehow tranquil and peppy at the same time. In a word: namaste! There are no bogus sounds of the rainforest pumping through the speakers. Instead, artists like Robyn, Empire of the Sun and M83 are the soundtrack here. But lighthearted as the energy may be, the workout is serious. Like any good party, the movement is nonstop, and in no time, the air is thick with sweat. But if you need a break, McMillan says, just kick it in Child's Pose. Party on, yogis. 1310 N. Wilton Place, Hlywd. (323) 871-4088, hollywoodpoweryoga.com. —Ali Trachta

1310 N. Wilton Place, Los Angeles, 90028
MAP
323-871-4088
Best Dodgeball League
WeHo Dodgeball

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, and players have flocked to its courts to get their game on. But they've also found themselves part of an organization that's serious about giving back. League founder Jake Mason says, "Our fundamental belief is that WeHo Dodgeball is not only a community itself but a large part of the local community." That's meant collecting a U-Haul van's worth of clothing for the Gay & Lesbian Center, raising money for AIDS Project L.A., spearheading a toy drive for the West Hollywood Sheriff's station and hosting a fundraiser "open gym" for AIDS Walk. All that and a chance to win a trophy? Sign us up. West Hollywood Park, 647 N. San Vicente Blvd., W. Hlywd. (323) 638-4225, wehododgeball.com. —Ali Trachta

647 San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood, 90069
MAP
323-848-6501
Best Aerial and Floor Exercise Classes
Cirque School L.A.
Photo: Diamond Bodine-Fischer

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 not up for the aerial route, try an AcroFit ground class. There's also a 90-minute stretch class that safely increases your flexibility no matter your current range of motion. The staff at Cirque School L.A. is prepared to train anybody, regardless of current fitness state and goals. Classes are small, and tasks are tailored to each student, so it never becomes routine. If you haven't been able to commit to a fitness plan, or if your current workout regimen is more regimen and less gratification, don't despair. Join the circus, or at least Cirque School L.A. 5640 1/2 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd. (424) 226-2477, cirqueschoolla.com. —Diamond Bodine-Fischer

5640 1/2 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90028
MAP
424-226-2477
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Best Children's Play Space: Play

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