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Best Wine and Beach Combo
Rosenthal Vineyards and Topanga State Beach
Some of the first things that come to mind when outsiders imagine living in California are sunshine, beaches and wine. Pretty much all Californians while away our afternoons with our feet in the surf and rosé in our cups, right? We wish. But we can prove them right every so...
Best Animal Experience With Wine
Malibu Wine Safari
When life burdens you with stress or sadness, Malibu Wine Safaris, on winding Mulholland in Malibu Canyon, has some healthy medicine to soothe your soul. A visit with lovable and friendly wild animals, including a giraffe, zebras, water buffalo, yaks, llamas and alpacas, plus wine tasting and breathtaking views is...
Best Free International Garden Walk
Gardens of the World
If you're looking for a private meditation spot to literally stop and smell the roses, Gardens of the World in Thousand Oaks will help you press your internal reset button. Spread over 4½ serene acres, this privately owned park opened to the public in 2001 and offers a charming and...
Best Public Garden
Built on a 3-acre site that once was the garden of a mansion on Pasadena's "Millionaires Row," Arlington Garden is the city's only public garden. Situated between busy Orange Grove and Pasadena avenues, it's easy to bypass, but this hidden treasure is worth a stop. Free to the public, with...
Best Place for the Birds
Sepulveda Dam and Wildlife Reserve
If you sometimes prefer the company of birds to humans, the Sepulveda Dam Wildlife Reserve is just the place to decompress. The rare evergreen diamond of wilderness smack in the middle of urban sprawl is known to attract more than 200 bird species, from Western scrub jays to great egrets,...
Best L.A. River Fishing Spot
North Atwater Park
Renewed interest in a more natural L.A. River has led to a push to make it more fishable. On Sept. 5, Friends of the L.A. River (FoLAR) organized the second annual fly-fishing competition on a foliage-filled section of the river in North Atwater Park. While the steelhead trout have long...
Best Secret Lake
Ernest E. Debs Regional Park
Did you know there's a lake high above L.A., on a trail offering views of downtown and Pasadena? Well, you're not alone. Ernest E. Debs Regional Park occupies 300 acres of old ranch land in Monterey Hills, a tiny neighborhood bordered by El Sereno, Montecito Heights and the equally tiny...
Best Public Pool
Annenberg Community Beach House
If you don’t have a rich friend with a beachfront estate and sparkling pool, the Annenberg Community Beach House is the next best thing. There’s not much but the marble-tiled pool left of the historic, five-acre compound built in the 1920s by William Randolph Hearst for actress Marion Davies, but...
Best Cliffs for Watching Sunsets
Point Fermin Park
There are more than 70 miles of coastline in L.A. County, much of it facing west and offering numerous vantage points to watch the sun slip into the Pacific. Seeing the ever-changing light show of vibrant colors — smog-infused oranges and lurid hot pinks fading into an ephemeral shimmer of...
Best Hiking Trail
Officially, it's called the Betty B. Dearing Trail, which begins in Wilacre Park. But everyone calls it Fryman Canyon. The simple 3-mile loop on a fire road offers sweeping views of the San Fernando Valley and the occasional rattlesnake. It's not difficult, but it offers access to other trails that...
Best Hidden Hike
Beacon Hill Trail
Park just south of Griffith Park at the three-way intersection of Cadman Drive, Shannon Road and Griffith Park Boulevard. Walk north on Cadman, past some mansions built on the leafy hillside, and enter the woods. Keep walking and discover a path up a grassy hill overlooking the L.A. River and...
Best Hike to Scare Yourself Silly
Devil's Gate Dam
Haunted legends surround this peaceful-looking park and hiking trail in Pasadena's Arroyo Seco. Beneath a craggy boulder, shaped by Mother Nature into the undeniable profile of a horned devil, lies a bubbling brook and a flood control dam. Devil's Gate Dam's historic reputation as a portal to evil goes back...
Best Night Hike
Skip the crowded vistas at Griffith Park and opt for something a bit more secluded in Altadena. The hike up to Echo Mountain is a moderate, 5.8-mile round-trip climb with a 1,503-foot elevation gain. It's a brilliant trek at night because once you get on the actual trail, it's nearly...
Best Scuba Dive Site
Shore dives are a pain. You have to walk into the surf, battle the waves and crawl your way out. A better option is to head to Catalina. Diving the island's Casino Point is remarkably easy: A convenient set of stairs will lead you down to the kelp forest below,...
Best Campsite 90 Minutes Outside of L.A.
One of the great things about Los Angeles is that you don't have to go all that far to get away from it all. Buried deep within the Angeles National Forest lies Buckhorn Campground, just 47 miles from downtown Los Angeles. At 6,500 feet, it's a good 10 to 15...
Best Joshua Tree Getaway
Barbara DeSantis' Boulder House has become a fixture among young weekend warriors in need of serious relaxing and otherworldly exploration. Beyond the reach of the smog and behind a shield of thousands of Joshua trees, DeSantis' four-bedroom vacation home (it sleeps up to 14 and starts at $695 per night)...
Best School for Rock Stars in Training
Neighborhood Rock School
You're never too young to rock at the Neighborhood Rock School. The school's curriculum is concerned with the transformative and therapeutic qualities of music, particularly the rebel yell that's the hallmark of youth. With a mission to provide every child with access to music education, Neighborhood Rock School offers music...
Best Place to Play Farmer for a Day
Underwood Family Farms
If you're in the mood to get a little dirt under your fingernails, nothing could be better, fresher or more fun than picking your own vegetables. Underwood Farms takes the hardest part out of farming and allows visitors to grab a wagon, head out into its expansive fields and pick...
Best Place to Practice Tricks and Learn About Skateboard History
Skatelab Skateboard Park & Museum
Skateboarding was invented under our Western blue skies; with the notoriety of Venice's Dogtown Boys, its history as a sport was pretty much solidified here. We're also privileged to have the first and biggest skateboard museum in the world, located in nearby Simi Valley. The Skatelab Skateboard Park & Museum...
Best Way to Sail for Free
Volunteering with LAMI
Have you ever watched Pirates of the Caribbean or Master & Commander and thought, "I want to sail like that"? If so, head down the 110 to San Pedro and learn how to sail a tall ship (a big, badass boat with a large crew) with the L.A. Maritime Institute...
Best Weekend Hangout
The L.A. River is covered in concrete. Fed by a wastewater treatment plant, it runs through bleak industrial zones on its 48-mile course to the sea. Nevertheless, for decades the Friends of the L.A. River has been on a heroic and half-mad quest to naturalize the channel and open it...
Best Adult Ballet Classes
C. Round Ballet Works
Conventional wisdom tells us that ballet is one of those things that you have to learn as a child. (Putting on a tutu and pointe shoes for the first time as a grownup just feels wrong.) The techniques take years to master, and adult beginners often are ignored in open...
Best Ballroom Dance Lessons
If you trip over your own feet at the mere thought of attempting a waltz or foxtrot, Ballroom Blitz will cure your chorophobia (fear of dancing — seriously, that's a thing) in no time. Since 2004, married team Susannah and Anthony Cuesta have choreographed countless wedding first dances and led...
Best Bowling Alley
Shatto 39 Lanes
It's a weeknight in Koreatown and Shatto Lanes is packed — no small feat in a neighborhood that's elbow-deep in bars. Shatto Lanes is an old-school oasis from the $14 craft-cocktail tyranny that's taken over Los Angeles' nightlife. For that price, you can bowl two sets with shoe rental —...
Best Place for Frisbee Golfers
Chavez Ridge Disc Golf Course
Frisbee golf is a real thing, combining the precision, hand-eye coordination and extremely low aerobic workload of golf with the mellow, playful vibe associated with tossing a Frisbee. At each "hole" of the course, a player sails the Frisbee from the designated mark to a raised metal basket, which is...
Best Place to Learn Dodgeball
Stoner Rec Center Open Gym
Dodgeball in L.A. is serious business. Multiple leagues boast hundreds of players, many of whom devote hours per week to the sport — some even going semi-pro. There's strategy, there's camaraderie and there's commitment. It's also a lot of fun. So how do you break into this beast of a...
Best Easy Horse Riding Experience
This tucked-away equestrian enclave in southern Burbank, between Riverside Drive and the L.A. River, boasts weathered stables, the refreshing scent of soil and straw and a backdrop of dramatic mountains. It's a slice of pastoral America — which is one of the reasons that Good Pony is the perfect place...
Best Free Archery Lessons
Woodley Park Archery Range
If watching certain scenes from Game of Thrones has you yearning to unleash your inner archer, head to Woodley Park Archery Range. The free lessons, held every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning on a first-come, first-served basis, cover the nuts and bolts of archery; the neighborhood park where they're held...
Best Soccer League
Pasadena Adult Soccer League
Finding the right soccer game can be tricky. Some games are too hard, some are too easy. Most are disorganized messes, with ornery players and fields that resemble the dust bowls of Rio de Janeiro. Even many of the organized leagues can be cold and unfriendly to the newcomer. That's...
Best Grassroots Day at the Races
The Encino Velodrome is the perfect place for cyclists who like to ride fast without being hit with a face full of diesel. The 250-meter oval concrete track banks at 28 degrees, and riders can safely reach speeds of up to 45 mph. The grassroots, volunteer-run, nonprofit facility boasts a...
Best Radical Bike Ride
Ovarian Psycos Bicycle Brigade has serious street cred as one of L.A.'s most politically conscious bike crews, and Clitoral Mass is its pinnacle event (this year it was held Aug. 1). Since 2012, the annual summer ride has been bringing together hundreds of women and woman-identified cyclists. The organizers are...
Best Gym to Get Rowdy, UFC Style
Glendale Fighting Club
There are other legendary gyms in Los Angeles, but this one rules when it comes to redefining what it means to fight like a girl. As home gym to the ESPYs' 2015 Best Fighter Ronda Rousey, Glendale Fighting Club dominates in the world of UFC, attracting fans, amateurs, pros and...
Best Boxing Gym
Wild Card Boxing Club
Do you think you can handle the training regimen of a pro boxer? Find out at Wild Card Boxing Club. Run by renowned trainer Freddie Roach, the no-frills gym is open to pros as well as the public. For $5 a day, you'll train a few feet away from boxers...
Best Stair Walk
The Big Parade
The Big Parade is a full weekend of urban hiking, covering 35 miles and 80 public stairways in two days. Dan Koeppel, an author and pedestrian advocate, organized the first event in 2009, and it's been held annually since. Generally, a couple hundred people join in for some portion of...
Best (Slightly Sadistic) Pilates Instructor
Antony Ferguson at Hunt Pilates
Hunt Pilates in Sherman Oaks is home to a British import named Antony Ferguson who loves to make you hurt. A former professional rugby player with a background in classical ballet (yes, really), Ferguson puts his students through their slow, measured, excruciating paces with a refined flair for alignment tips...
Best Kundalini Class
Taylor Jap Inder at Ra Ma Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology
Arguably the most esoteric of the yoga lineages to make its way to the West, Kundalini yoga is beginning to infiltrate the mainstream. Still, just because A-list celebrities are dipping their toes into the deep, rich waters of this ancient yogic form doesn't make it more accessible. Enter Taylor Jap...
Best Psychedelic Journey That Won't Leave You Hungover
Melissa Schade's Contemporary Dance Class Warm-Up
While I could gush for eons about Melissa Schade's every dance class at the Sweat Spot in Silver Lake, let us focus our attention on her warm-up, which doubles as a vision quest. Schade leads her Thursday and Saturday morning classes through an intelligent unfolding of isolations, extensions, crunches, planks...
Best Morning O (Yes, That Kind)
Every Thursday morning, about 20 folks convene in a house south of Sunset in Silver Lake for OM Circle, a group Orgasmic Meditation gathering that's focused on a 15-minute clitoris-stroking practice. Despite the bevy of spread-eagle women whose clits are stimulated by certified OM trainers, there is nothing lewd about...
Best Buddhist Meditation Center
Against the Stream
American Buddhism, for all its go-with-the-flow ethos, can still be a pretty stodgy practice. Not so at Against the Stream, founded by ex–punk rocker and ex-crackhead Noah Levine, a tattooed iconoclast who has become one of the most respected teachers of Buddhism in the country. Against the Stream's ethos is...