You can send them rocketing around inside the confines of a vintage machine, you can slam them with a stick far into the sky, or tenderly guide them along a lawn. You can furiously slap them over a tiny net, slide them underneath a galloping horse — or even track their precise positions on a celestial map.
Whatever your inclination, Los Angeles is in love with balls, from tiny to huge. In L.A. Weekly's 2014 Best of Los Angeles issue, we reveal some of the greatest fun you can possibly have with balls.
Best Polo Fields — Will Rogers State Park
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 famed humorist. Watching the games is free, though admission to the park costs $12 per car. There’s something soothing about watching teams of horses race back and forth, but keep alert — the ball doesn’t always stay on the field of play. Kids can pet the horses between games, which should keep them happy. For you, there’s another selling point: Booze is allowed. —Gene Maddaus
1501 Will Rogers State Park Road, Pacific Palisades, 90272. (818) 509-9965, willrogerspolo.org.
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 ping-pong tables arranged on a large, Olympic-style rubber floor, people flash “drop dead, pal” stares and smirks as they zap the ball across the net. Beginners, pros, individuals or groups — everyone is welcome. A day pass is $12, a monthly membership $70. Think of it this way: You can lose fat and get your cardio going for about the price of cable TV, which has the opposite effect. If you’re too embarrassed to subject anyone to your ping-pong “skills,” private coaching is $60 per hour — or try your reaction times and aim against the Newgy robot for $10 an hour. —Jill Stewart
21915 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, 91303. (818) 330-5756, mypingpongclub.com.
Best Bingo With Balls — Looff's Lite-a-Line
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 to the Looffs, a family who designed carousels across the United States. You can see their first carousel horse and bizarre funhouse figures, photos and paraphernalia — even the lead car from Cyclone Racer, the Pike’s famed wooden roller coaster, which was set on a pier. Because this is gambling, the game is 21-and-over only, with photo ID required. You get a free trial run, then load up your game card with $10 or so (each game costs $1.20). Pick a seat at one of the 64 pinball-like machines, then try to line up five balls in a line to win. —James Bartlett
2500 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, 90806. (562) 436-2978, looffs.com.
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 with it? With Carolyn Leigh at Oak Tree Healers, you don’t have to be. Leigh looks at astrology from an empirical perspective. She explains up front: The stars and planets don’t cause things but are a snapshot of the energy infused in you depending on the date, time and location of your birth. For $110, Leigh creates a personalized star chart and spends 90 minutes walking you through it, giving insight into who you are and why things are happening. You leave with a full picture of how your consciousness functions and how to better control your world. The reading enlightens and empowers, without the hocus-pocus. —Ali Trachta
Address given with appointment. (310) 365-6855, oaktreehealers.com.
Up next, some ways to ball old-school...
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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 to whack balls, with 15 teeing stations on each floor. The highest floors are the cheapest, but all are affordable, ranging from 8 cents to 10 cents per golf ball, $12 for a bucket of 111 balls or, for the truly devoted, $18 for 180. A fully automated system returns balls hit down-range through pneumatic tubes and mechanically tees up a new ball for you each time one is hit from your station. Whether you’re looking to perfect your drive or need an idea for a cheap date, Aroma Golf Range makes for a fun outing. —Chris Walker
3680 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown, 90010. (213) 387-2111, aromaresort.com.
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 of snobby country club golfers who judge you based on the clubs you’re packing. On weekdays you can walk nine holes from dawn to 3 p.m. for just $16.50; twilight hours are $12.25 and super-twilight hours are $7.50 (weekends and holidays cost a bit more). At any hour of the day, seniors can walk nine holes for $10.50 and juniors for $3.75. One of the biggest draws is Altadena’s driving range, which is entirely constructed on real grass, giving golfers a more realistic practice setting. And although it’s an easy course to walk, you and your caddy can get fancy, cruising in a golf cart for a bargain $16 — or $11 solo. —Ani Ucar
1456 E. Mendocino St., Altadena, 91001. (626) 797-3821,
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 Park. The club has been around since 1927, and its roster consists of ex-professors, philanthropists and former captains of industry. President Tom Seres and the other 150 or so members — who range in age from 30 to 100 — are devoted to their sport and are happy to provide free lessons. On the lawn, surrounded by some of the most expensive real estate in Southern California, the atmosphere is decidedly friendly. Everybody wears white. Everybody wears flat-soled rubber shoes (to preserve the grass). Between and even during games, everybody partakes of the complimentary light snack of coffee, fruit and pastries. All sports should be this genteel. —Gendy Alimurung
646 Comstock Ave., Holmby Hills, 90024. (310) 550-6116, losangeleslawnbowling.com.
See what other incredible things our city has to offer in this year's Best of L.A. issue.