The Ultimate Urban Refuge

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Palisades - Lake Shrine LAPalisades - Lake Shrine

A walker and flora/fauna lover’s dream in the city, this 10 acre prized piece of paradise is a former movie set arranged around a large spring-fed lake. In 1950 it was converted into a spiritual sanctuary when the land was bought by the Self-Realization Fellowship “Church of All Religions”. SRF was founded by Paramahansa Yogananada.

Placed discreetly around the lake are statues, waterfalls, fountains, grottos, lush gardens immaculately landscaped, and a windmill which houses a chapel. The windmill chapel hosted former Beatle George Harrison’s funeral service in 2001.

The lake is home to swans, ducks, koi, and lotus flowers. The grounds include the Ghandi World Peace Memorial, where a portion of Gandhi’s ashes is enshrined, a small museum with exhibits on Paramahansa Yogananda’s work, a gift shop with arts and crafts from India, and the Lake Shrine Temple.

Truly this is a rare refuge of stunning beauty and tranquility one must experience. Go here for hours & directions

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Weekend Hikers: Don’t Overlook Parker Mesa Overlook

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Palisades - Parker_Mesa_Overlook

Getting to this spectacular overview of the Southern California coastline requires some strenuous hiking on your part. You will be richly rewarded, first by the very lush upward sloping Los Liones Trail, bordered by canyons carpeted in bright green ivy. Sneak peeks of the L.A. basin and the ocean along the way lead to a plateau with sweeping views of Century City, Downtown L.A. and the San Gabriel Mountains to the east, the ocean to the west. Rabbits and occasionally deer are critters spotted while on this trail.

The plateau is a junction for Paseo Miramar Road going down to your right, and the East Topanga Fire Road Fire Road ascending to your left. Expect to encounter other hikers and mountain bikers coming up from Paseo Miramar. Prepare for a relentlessly uphill 1,250 foot elevation gain via the fire road, taking you to the consummate view at the Overlook. About 8 miles from the trailhead to the Overlook round trip, plan on 4.5 – 6 hours time.

Another great, less time-consuming option is a full moon hike to the plateau (2 hours max). For directions, go here  

No Rush Hour Traffic

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Culver City - Ballona Creek Bike Path1

There is no better way to skirt congested street traffic between Culver City and the beaches than a car-free pedal along a flood channel.

The bike path starts at Syd Kronenthal Park in eastern Culver City and stretches about 7 miles to link with the ocean bike path going from Santa Monica to Manhattan Beach in the South Bay.

The ride is almost all flat and especially peaceful in the morning, with glimpses of wetland birds as you approach the beach. Recent improvements have added some native plants to the scenery. However, there are parts of it that may have some bumps, cracks, stones, and graffiti. Occasionally, there are some shady characters lurking in the shadows below overpasses; best to ride with someone, or a group. The path is well maintained the closer you get to the beach.

For more activities around L.A., go here

Venice Beach Zip Line Opens Today

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Three 750-foot long zip lines that reach a height of 50 feet opened today at Venice Beach for a scheduled three-month test run.

The lines stretch from Windward Plaza to 17th Avenue and the excursion takes about 40 seconds to complete, ending at a landing tower 30 feet high. In true Venetian style, at least 10 local artists will add their touches on site. The thrill ride will give a unique though blurred view that Venice Boardwalkers have missed to date, and contribute revenue to the considerable clean-up operations required for the beach.

Requirements to Ride The Zip Line: Minimum Weight is 60lbs (27kg) Maximum Weight, 250lbs (113kg) Anyone wishing to ride must have their weight verified by a scale before ticket purchase. There is also a maximum height limit of 6 feet 7 inches due to clearance requirements of the ride structure.

Age Restrictions: There are no age restrictions, although riders under 18 must have their parent/legal guardian sign the waiver. All riders or guardians must present ID to verify age at 18 years or over.

Hours & Tickets:  Open from 11 am to sunset and cost $20 per rider ($18 for transit pass holders). The ticket office is across from the zip line’s landing deck south of Windward on Ocean Front Walk.

Your Opinion: Are these towers going to present an eyesore for Venice Beach? Will shrieking zip liners be a noise nuisance? Is this new attraction an exciting addition to the beach environment? Comments are welcome!

More eclectic attractions in L.A. Made Easy

A Sunset High

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Hotel - Erwin Rooftop sunset0Hotel - Erwin RooftopHotel - Erwin Rooftop sunset view

Perched atop the Hotel Erwin overlooking the ocean, “High” is the peak Venice Beach open-air lounge experience, where the nightly sunset is the headlining act.

“High” makes the most of its prime location and delivers an exhilarating spectacle, nearly 360 degree views of the city, from famed Venice Beach and the Boardwalk at its feet to the Hollywood Sign and Downtown L.A. behind. The attitude is casual, the design contemporary and comfortable. A mix of tourists and locals mingle to sample a menu of premium handcrafted cocktails, artisan beers, and selected wines. The food offerings include lobster rolls, bacon cheeseburger sliders, mini-kebobs, and a thickly textured guacamole.

This is the place to relax, replenish, and be revitalized by the cooling, breezy ventilation of the ocean, and the visual stimulation of a flaming yellow ball descending to the horizon. For more about great L.A. attractions, go here