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One of the quickest and most exhilarating highs in L.A. is also one of its most literal. At 7,903 feet, the stretch of Angeles Crest Highway that crests at Dawson Saddle is the highest road in the county. It's also one of the most enchanting. Within moments of taking Highway...
Best Jogging Trail
Ballona Creek Bike Path
Yes, you are permitted to run on Ballona Creek Bike Path, which stretches from Syd Kronenthal Park in Culver City all the way to Playa del Rey Beach. There will be cyclists whizzing past you, homeless dudes slouched over on the shoulder, and occasional taggers beautifying bridge underpasses. But this...
Playa del Rey
When Angelenos want to hit a beach, many of us think we have to choose between a spot that's close but gross, or a clean spot that requires an hour's drive. Not so with Playa del Rey Beach, which is right here within the L.A. city limits and absolutely sparkling...
Best Place to Call Me Ishmael
Moby Dick Reading Marathon
Herman Melville's Moby Dick can be a bear to read, with chapter after chapter of nautical terms and incorrect biology. (Sorry, Herm, but whales aren't fish.) But the beast of a novel is a joy to hear out loud, and there's no better place in town to do that than...
Best Canyon Hike
Los Liones Canyon to Parker Mesa Overlook
The hike through Los Liones Canyon to Parker Mesa Overlook is no secret to outdoors enthusiasts in Los Angeles. On weekends, the trailhead parking lots at the top of Los Liones Drive in Pacific Palisades fill quickly. But don't let the crowds deter you — they're there for a reason...
Best Healing Encounter With Animals
The Gentle Barn
If you're feeling a bit blue, sometimes a nice animal cuddle is the best way to get your sense of hope back in order. Go hug a sheep, a cow, a goat or even a turkey at the Gentle Barn, a 6-acre rescue sanctuary that's home to more than 160...
Best Dog Park
Lake Hollywood Park
Grassy dog parks in Los Angeles are hard to come by, let alone one in the shadow of our most iconic landmark. Yet Lake Hollywood Park, tucked away in the hills just below the Hollywood Sign, is just that. Technically it's not an off-leash dog park, just another on-leash park...
Los Angeles Athletic Club
Before there were paved roads in Los Angeles, before there were streetcars or even railroads, and before Hollywood arose from a bunch of fig trees, there was the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Founded in 1880 as a place for gentlemen to box, lift kettlebells and fly on a trapeze, much...
Best Astrology Reading for Those Who Think They Don't Believe
Oak Tree Healers
In a city as big as Los Angeles, it's easy to feel lost, and not just when Google Maps goes on the fritz. We all crave guidance occasionally, and astrology can be one way to get it, but what if you're not into all the mystical mumbo jumbo that goes...
Best Hidden Park on an Old Oil Field
Vista Hermosa Natural Park
Hidden behind a high school, a soccer field and hilly streets of cracked pavement and aging homes, the 10.5-acre Vista Hermosa Natural Park is an oasis of grassy meadows, winding dirt paths, gurgling streams, picnic tables, dozens of oaks and native plants, such as white sage and coyote bush. Downtown's skyscrapers...
Best Garden Tour
Are you a plant nut? Take the Getty Villa Garden Tour. Perhaps you already guessed that the herbs, trees, bushes and flowers in these gardens are approximately what would have been planted at an ancient Roman villa, since the building is a re-creation of the Villa Papyri, buried when Vesuvius...
Best Disc Golf
Chavez Ridge Disc Golf Club
Like regular golf, disc golf is more about enjoying the outdoors than the game itself. In 2006, the Chavez Ridge Disc Golf Club (CRDGC), a scruffy group of Echo Parkians, founded a world-class disc golf course in the forest hills of Elysian Park. One of the steepest DG courses in...
Best Table Tennis
Allen & Sons Table Tennis Club
It doesn't look like much, with its off-putting, covered-over front door on Sherman Way between a busy cake-decorating supply store and a check-cashing outfit. But step inside Allen & Sons Table Tennis Club in Canoga Park and you'll find the air filled with the tang of competition. At eight Butterfly...
Best Polo Fields
Will Rogers State Historic Park
Best Polo Fields If your life could use more interaction with horses, there’s no better place to go on a summer weekend than Will Rogers State Historic Park. For more than 60 years, the Will Rogers Polo Club has been playing games on a field first laid out by the...
Best Bingo With Balls
Uniquely combining pinball with bingo, Looff's Lite-a-Line has bounced silver balls since 1941, when it first opened at the Pike, the long-gone amusement park in Long Beach. Inside, you're immediately hit by buzzes, bells, plinking and clacking. Before you sit down, you'll notice it's a mini-museum as well — thanks...
Best Four-Story Golf Range
Aroma Golf Range
Koreatown may not have a proper golf course, but that doesn't mean K-town residents have to leave the neighborhood to practice their swing. The Aroma Golf Range is a full-service, 150-yard enclosed driving range in the heart of the district on Wilshire Boulevard. The range features four stories from which...
Best Beach Yoga
The same folks who decided that people should be able to ride a Ferris wheel where they fish have come up with, arguably, an even better combination. The Santa Monica Pier offers ROGA — running plus yoga — workouts on Saturday mornings for free at various times throughout the spring,...
Best Sea Life Rescue/Education
Marine Mammal Care Center
Feel your heart expand while learning a little bit about local sea life at the Marine Mammal Care Center. Visit this outdoor facility to watch the rehabilitation of seals and sea lions recovering from injuries, and see abandoned pups that were brought here as orphans. MMCC's mission is to nurse...
Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens
Ancients knew the power of a meandering labyrinth (different from a maze, which has dead ends). The compressed journey to the center and back out again mimics a spiritual quest to a shrine or mountaintop. Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens, L.A.'s best labyrinth, tucked off Adams Boulevard in densely urban...
Best Eastside Yoga
A yoga studio for the real Eastside was embraced almost as the second coming. Finally, yoga for the people. And that's almost what Leah Gallegos and Lauren Quan-Madrid call their new space: People's Yoga. Bringing the chi to Chicanos means "Yoga y Luz" classes in Spanish, prenatal yoga, yoga for...
Best Lake in Los Angeles County
Technically a reservoir formed by the Pyramid Dam, Pyramid Lake's bright blue waters fill a picturesque valley in the San Emigdio Mountains. It looks more like Switzerland than Southern California, and even though it's only about an hour north of the city next to the I-5 Grapevine, it's unknown to...
Best Craft Classes for Adults
Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum
While it's best known for exquisite shows of folk art, longtime Miracle Mile cultural outpost the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum is also the best place to take inexpensive craft classes. Workshops range from learning to create musical instruments and knit sculpture to printmaking — there are antique...
Best Music Lessons
Eagle Rock Music Studio
Channel your inner rock deity even if finances have left you feeling decidedly un-godlike. Eagle Rock Music Studio, opened in 2007, provides low-cost group or private music classes and takes a hands-on approach to help students of all ages and all experience levels reach their musical goals. Whether your instrument...
Given the Kings' big win this past season, more L.A. denizens ought to take to the ice. The best place to get all frosty this fall and winter without leaving town is L.A. Kings Valley Ice Center in Panorama City, where Hollywood Curling offers classes and friendly amateur games in...
Best Park for a BBQ
The site of one of the worst fires in Los Angeles history is now its best place to have an outdoor BBQ. The art deco Pan-Pacific Auditorium was a Fairfax District landmark until it was destroyed by a spectacular fire in 1989. Instead of rebuilding the structure, city fathers turned...
Best Secret Hike
Cross Town Trail
Way up in the foothills of far-flung La Cañada Flintridge, you'll find the Cross Town Trail hike, whose prize attraction is a 20-foot-tall teepee erected amidst a tangle of public and private lands and trails. The quickest route to the teepee is from the end of Harter Lane, where a...
Best Way to Do Good and Not Know What You're Doing
Do Good Bus
The concept of the Do Good Bus is simple: You sign up, you get on the bus, and you have no idea where you're going. Founded in August 2010 by Rebecca Pontius, the Do Good Bus has taken trusting volunteers to work with organizations including MEND Poverty, Los Angeles Regional...
Best Place to Skateboard
San Pedro Shred
San Pedro Shred has been in existence for a mere two years, but the skateboard festival is already the coolest reason to visit the harbor area. The summer event, which this year went down on June 14, features a half-pipe, a street course, the Freeride Hill — where skaters descend...
Best Dance Lessons
Evolution Studios' Tap-a-holic
Admit it, after watching old movies featuring Shirley Temple and Bojangles or Fred and Ginger, you've had a secret yearning to learn to tap dance. Luckily, there is a fun and friendly dance studio in the San Fernando Valley that focuses purely on the art of tap dancing. At Tap-a-holic...
Best Cliff Jumping
A mile's hike into Malibu Creek State Park is an old-fashioned water hole called Rock Pool. A ring of cliffs ranging from 20 to 50 feet high surrounds the deep, green water. On the weekends, the cliffs serve as a launching pad for brave cliff jumpers who practice their sport...
Best Irreverent Shabbat
East Side Jews
When the sun sets on Friday nights, Jews all over the world light candles, drink wine and break challah bread — ancient rituals honoring Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest. Many go to synagogue, or spread out their finest lace tablecloth on the dining room table for an elegant meal...
Best Surfing Lessons
You might not recognize John Philbin's name, but his face is familiar to any fan of surf movies. He played Turtle in the cheesy classic North Shore; and in Point Break, alongside Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves, he robbed banks, shredded waves, played beach football and skydived into a lake...
Best Old-Fashioned Petting Zoo and Pony Ride
Montebello Barnyard Zoo
A zoo for the rest of us — or at least those who can't get it together to visit the pricey Los Angeles Zoo — the Montebello Barnyard Zoo offers pony rides, trackless train rides, a small petting zoo and a modest carousel that looks like something out of the...
Best Place to See Wildflowers
Butte Valley Wildflower Sanctuary
In the high desert of L.A. County, a number of wildlife sanctuaries and open lands let you walk undisturbed, gaze at desert plants and animals, or just enjoy the silence. Butte Valley Wildflower Sanctuary is one of the prettiest of these open spaces. Perched on a plateau above Saddleback Butte...
Best Nine-Hole Golf Course
Altadena Golf Course
Throw on that polo shirt, grab your clubs and call your caddy, because we've got the best nine-hole golf course that won't swallow your wallet. Open sunup to sundown, 365 days a year (including holidays), Altadena Golf Course is the perfect place to enjoy the green without the unwanted company...
Best Running Race
Los Angeles Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon
Let's face it: A marathon is too damn far. Ironically, running 26.2 miles is unhealthy, and there's plenty of science to back that up. Not to mention that the L.A. Marathon is poorly managed, to an almost absurd extent. (Good luck using the bathroom before the race; the line will...
Best Urban Cave
Most people who live in L.A. have never visited Hollywood's Bronson Canyon cave, originally built as a granite quarry in 1903. Yet millions have seen it in TV shows such as Batman (yes, the Bat Cave), Bonanza and Gunsmoke — and in films including Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,...
Best Composting Class
Los Angeles County Smart Gardening
Compost can be made up of almost everything you throw away in your kitchen: fruit scraps, vegetable waste, paper napkins, newspaper, even coffee grounds. But what is composting? It's a magic trick by which you turn trash into nutrient-rich soil (and help save the Earth). If you want to start...
Best Public Gardens You're Not Visiting but Should
Greystone Mansion and Park
Transport yourself to the indulgent 1920s with a trip to this National Historic Landmark in the heart of Beverly Hills. Enjoy the view and vintage architecture while strolling the luxurious 18-acre estate of the Greystone Mansion and Park. Throughout the gardens surrounding the 46,000-square-foot mansion. you'll find quiet terraces where...
Best Beer-Fueled Yoga
Bends & Booze
Whether you're choosing to fuel your practice with the promise of a cold pint at the hour's end or would rather down a draft before class to loosen up your sun salutations, no one's judging. Bends & Booze, a free class every Sunday morning from 11 a.m. to noon at...
Best Birdwatching Group
BirdLA is a loose supergroup of local Audubon chapters and other birdwatching organizations promoting bird awareness. It offers bird-watching tips and resources for budding birders — for example, explaining how to ID a bird from its call or physical features. Its website features answers to such urban mysteries as "How...
Best Ocean Swim Workout
Lifeguard Tower 26
What if you want to go for a real, long swim? Say, a few miles? Lifeguard Tower 26 in Santa Monica is an unassuming lifeguard tower, next to large parking lots and a bathroom/shower facility, which acts as home base for both official and unofficial ocean swim groups. Among the...
Best Ice Rink
The closure of the Westside's venerable Culver Ice Arena earlier this year left only a handful of year-round ice skating rinks in the L.A. area, including the Pasadena Ice Skating Center and the L.A. Kings' Valley Ice Center in Panorama City. Located by the northeastern edge of Griffith Park in...
Best Public Pool
Hansen Dam Aquatic Center
Set among nine acres of grass and sandy beach, Hansen Dam Aquatic Center is L.A.'s largest public pool, but it looks like a resort you'd see in Palm Springs, complete with cabana rentals and two impressive water slides. The modern, 1.5-acre walk-in pool overlooks the vast Hansen Dam Recreation Area...
Best Day Trip
Wanna get away? Catalina Island is closer to L.A. than Ventura or San Diego, and getting there is much more pleasant. Just head to the port at Long Beach or San Pedro and board the Catalina Express, and you'll disembark in our local island paradise about 75 minutes later, feeling...
Best Spin Class
Hollywood Wilshire YMCA
Joe Wolf, a massage therapist and nursing student by day, fills the Hollywood Wilshire YMCA's spin studio Tuesday through Thursday evenings with a crowd ready for a fast, fun and absolutely grueling workout. When he's not making the rounds to personally pump up participants, he seems to channel Andre the...
Best Martial Arts Instruction
The Yard Muay Thai
Don't confuse Muay Thai, the Thai kickboxing discipline, with muy Thai, which is Spanish for very Thai. Such cross-cultural hybridization, however, is what you're likely to find at the Yard Muay Thai, a spacious, inviting martial arts emporium offering highly accomplished fighters/teachers, a family environment and open scheduling where instruction...
Best Kids Yoga
An entertainment producer and mother of three, Antonia King was startled to realize that L.A. had no yoga studios for children. So in 2012, she launched Zooga Yoga, a studio offering yoga classes to kids of all ages, from babies to teenagers. Naturally, the younger ones are not adept at...
Best Event for Cyclists
L.A. Critical Mass
With more than 4,000 cyclists participating monthly, L.A. Critical Mass claims to be the nation's largest community bike ride. On the last Friday of each month, cyclists of all stripes — from serious riders to families with kids — gather at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue (last stop of the...
Best Illegal Hike
In 1929 an oceanview cliffside neighborhood in San Pedro began sinking swiftly into the sea, leaving behind only the homes' enormous, eerie concrete foundations. Two homes were destroyed and the rest were quickly relocated, while the earth continued slipping until the mid-1930s. Now colloquially known as Sunken City, the broken...
Best Small Park
Averill Park is a small, dense, unexpectedly enchanting pocket park in San Pedro, which will take you back to the Los Angeles of yesteryear. Named for Averill Weymouth, the land-development company that donated it in 1920, the park has been lovingly maintained. The meandering walkways with heavy chain handrails have...
Best Bouldering Gym
Located in downtown's Arts District, just off the Sixth Street Bridge, L.A. Boulders has become a top destination for bouldering — otherwise known as rock-climbing without ropes. The gym opened in January in a vast warehouse next door to a shooting range in the up-and-coming neighborhood. Inside are three massive...
Best Makeup Lessons
Donna Mee Agency
The Donna Mee Agency's private makeup application lessons go way beyond the usual "what foundation goes with my skin tone" advice you'll get at the mall. Mee and her army of artists specialize in corrective techniques and contouring (in the industry, Mee is known as "the makeup guru"). This means:...
Best Alien-Themed Day Trip
Beaches, vineyards, mountain towns — there's lots to explore within a day's drive of L.A. But there's only one place where you can rejuvenate your cells using extraterrestrial science. The Integratron is a small, domed structure in the desert, designed by aircraft engineer George Van Tassel based on instructions he...
Best Lawn Bowling
Holmby Park Lawn Bowling Club
Lawn bowling may not be the most strenuous sport but it is perhaps the most elegant. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., the members of the Holmby Park Lawn Bowling Club can be found on the exquisitely maintained greens at their home base, tony Holmby...
Best Wine Country That's Closer Than Napa
Valle de Guadalupe
Sure, there are lots of regions of California where you can give wine tasting a go. But the crowds, extreme expense and layer of snobbery in places such as Napa and Sonoma are enough to turn you off to the hobby altogether. In Baja California, there's a burgeoning wine scene...
Best Place to Clown Around
The Clown School
David Bridel studied under French master clown Philippe Gaulier, who also counts Sacha Baron Cohen as a former student. Bridel holds numerous titles at USC and now, thanks to the Clown School, he's sharing his knowledge with L.A.'s burgeoning buffoons. The school has separate classes for adults (seven Sundays, 5...