12 Reasons To Love LA

Our New Year’s resolution? Get out, get inspired and get to know this epic metropolis we call home.

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  • Written by
    Darren Elms


Last Call for Pacific Standard Time One of the greatest art events to hit Los Angeles—about Los Angeles—will soon depart for good. But you still have time to catch this multi-venue exhibit before it becomes the stuff of coffee table literature. Pacific Standard Time marks the largest collaboration of the city’s cultural institutions (more than 60) and encompasses every major LA arts movement from 1945 to 1980. Highlights for the sunset months of the exhibit include a curator’s gallery talk on Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in LA Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970 at the Getty Center on January 25, a closing celebration at the Watts Towers Arts Center on February 12 and a discussion with acclaimed Santa Monica portrait artist Don Bachardy and writer Susan Morgan at USC Doheny Memorial Library. For a complete calendar of events, visit pacificstandardtime.org.


Romance Revisited at Hotel Bel-Air A beloved hideaway of glitterati and locals alike, the Hotel Bel-Air recently underwent a massive renovation and restoration that closed the property for more than two years. Only within the last few months, the hotel grounds reopened to the public, and a collective sigh of relief echoed through discerning Hollywood circles. Beautiful, brilliant and more luxurious than ever, this carefully tucked away retreat has lost none of its charms and gained a few new ones during its absence. Aside from the elegantly redesigned guest rooms, suites and lofts, expect a new dining experience by LA’s favorite chef de cuisine, Wolfgang Puck, and a spa experience courtesy of Swiss skin care experts La Prairie. Reserve your Valentine’s rendezvous here and guarantee love insurance for a full year. hotelbelair.com


Explore The Hidden Bars of Hollywood Boulevard Prohibition-style, with none of those pesky police raids. Hollywood Boulevard is no stranger to vice, but none captures our imagination more than what’s going on behind the bar. Forget about those nightclubs filled with reality stars soaking up their last few seconds of fame. We’re talking about real watering holes with class and culture to spare. Start your crawl down at former dive Harvard & Stone, then cruise west toward Wood & Vine, a gorgeous venue housed in the historic Taft Building. Last but not least, order something old school from one of the red-jacket bartenders at Musso and Frank. With 90-plus years experience in the booze biz, it doesn’t get more intoxicating than this.




Live Like a Railroad Magnate in PasadenaHenry E. Huntington had something more than locomotives on his agenda when he ventured out West around the turn of the last century. The railroad tycoon invested heavily in real estate throughout the mostly undeveloped San Gabriel Valley, including an expansive estate that would become home to one of the grandest collections of art and botany in the country. The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino remains one of those treasures we should consider lucky to have in our own back yard. This spring, the famed Japanese Garden will reopen after a year-long overhaul, just in time for its 100th birthday. Cherry blossoms, blue skies and fragrant jasmine flowers … count us in. Free admission every first Thursday of the month. huntington.org

Another property once owned by Huntington is the Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa. This modern reincarnation of the original preserves the hotel’s regal façade, sprawling lawns and innate elegance. New additions include American cuisine by Chef David Féau at chic restaurant The Royce and stylish bar The Tap Room. Why not make a reservation and make a weekend of it? pasadena. langhamhotels.com


Reserve Your Last Remaining Seat May means movies. At least in our book it does. We’re not talking about the big blockbusters debuting Memorial Day weekend. In downtown LA, a whole different kind of cinematic experience awaits you. Sandwiched between flea markets and fast food restaurants, many of the city’s most astonishing movie houses of the 1920s and ‘30s sadly collect dust during the year. But come spring, the Los Angeles Conservancy opens these doors to the public for a film festival like no other. Last Remaining Seats invites audiences to experience classic movies as they should be seen, up on the screen. Films like North by Northwest, King Kong and Goldfinger have made the cut in recent years, projected in such golden era theaters as The Orpheum and the grand Los Angeles Theatre. What gems will make their return this year? laconservancy.org


Embrace Ecotourism Okay, we fibbed. You don’t need to get in the car for ALL our adventures. One of the best requires only two wheels. Bikes and Hikes LA offers eco-friendly, health-conscious sightseeing LA tours on bike. One of their most popular tours, LA in a Day, takes riders through some of the city’s most celebrated neighborhoods, including Hollywood to Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Santa Monica, Venice and Marina Del Rey. Less smog, less traffic jams, more outdoor awesome. bikesandhikesla.com


Seek Hidden Treasure at Flea Markets We’re suckers for a good deal. We post local ones all the time on OurSouthbay.com. But sometimes, you’ve got to dig a little deeper to find, say, that mid-century George Nelson bench you covet. It’s amazing what some folks find at flea markets, and fortunately for us Angelenos, this city has some of the biggest and best in the whole country. Two of the finest are just up the 110 freeway in Pasadena. The grand dame of them all, the Rose Bowl Flea Market, features more than 2,500 vendors and welcomes 15,000 to 20,000 buyers every second Saturday of the month. Don’t be surprised if you see a celebrity sifting through the same pile of antique books. rgcshows.com A smaller but equally fun market happens the first Sunday of the month at nearby Pasadena City College. pasadena.edu/fleamarket En route one morning, we also discovered a handful of amazing estate sales in the posh area. Warning: should curiosity draw you inside one of those stately manors, you may leave with a vintage fondue set. estatesales.org




Honor the Ex-Pats London 2012. While Olympic enthusiasts brave the pricey airfare and crowded sporting venues for a taste of world-class athletics, we’ll be hanging with the British ex-pats in Santa Monica. The seaside town drew countless Brits back in the pre- and post-war years of the last century, and their influence shines at some of the city’s most beloved establishments. Places like The Continental Shop and The Tudor House offer teas and treats suitable for a queen. The best English pub, Cock ‘N Bull, serves a traditional roast dinner of lamb or beef served with English Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes. A close runner-up, Ye Olde King’s Head, has the fish and chips or bangers and mash to wash down with your pint of beer. If you want to join us for the big opening day festivities on “the telly,” find us here.


Ride into the Sunset The best view in Hollywood? It’s not the top of Yamashiro’s or even the vistas of the Griffith Park Observatory. To experience the hills the right way, saddle up on a horse, courtesy of Sunset Ranch out of Griffith Park. These expert equestrians offer a whole menu of sightseeing expeditions, from short one- or two-hour rides to the top of Mt. Hollywood to more elaborate adventures that end with a BBQ or Mexican dinner fare. Tip your hat and enjoy the ride. sunsetranchhollywood.com


Conjure the Spirits of LA’s Past Does Marilyn Monroe’s reflection haunt a mirror at the Roosevelt Hotel? Is that a whiff of gardenia perfume coming from the spirit of Peg Entwistle, a distressed starlet who flung herself from the “H” in the Hollywood sign? Dearly Departed Tours might have the answers. Scandal! Murder! Mayhem! This is the mantra of the decidedly adult journey into the dark underbelly of the City of Angels. From Bela Lugosi to the Black Dahlia to Michael Jackson, it’s shocking to discover that a town famous for fairy tales could be so, well, grim. dearlydepartedtours.com


Eat Your Way ThRough LA You don’t need to be a food aficionado to know that some of the best cuisine in town hits the tables in and around Third Street and Beverly in mid-Los Angeles. Animal and Canter’s on Fairfax, A.O.C. and Little Door on Third and, of course, the famous Farmers Market—these are just a few hot spots that keep our mouths watering season after season. If you want to sample more than just one eatery on a single occasion, we suggest checking out the Melting Pot Walking Food Tours. Brazilian, French, Japanese and everything in between highlight this sample-friendly saunter to some of the best food joints in town. They also offer tours of East LA flavors and Old Pasadena. Come with an empty stomach and an open mind. meltingpottours.com


Shore Up Some Holiday Magic We love a good parade. Especially when it involves water. You could get in the car and drive through neighborhoods twinkling brightly with holiday lights, or you could sail to one of LA or Orange counties’ glorious annual boat parades. Every Christmas season, coastal towns like Marina Del Rey, Long Beach and even here in Redondo Beach break out the yachts, sailboats and other watercraft for a stream of floating holiday spectacle. Down in the OC, Newport Beach and Dana Point host their own waterfront parades under dazzling winter skies. A seasonal treat for the whole family and the perfect way to cap off an amazing year. Make 2012 a memorable one!