Sunday, December 20, 2009

Griffith Park Holiday Light Festival

If you're not yet in the holiday spirit, maybe a holiday light festival will do the trick for you. For pretty much the entire month of December, you can enjoy a beautiful holiday light festival in the Griffith Park area.

The month starts off with vehicle free nights, in which you can bike ride through the neighborhood and as you get closer to Christmas, vehicles are allowed. If you'd like, you can also park at the LA Zoo and take a shuttle and enjoy the ride through the festival.

For more information, visit:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Free Day at Disneyland

This year, you get to go to Disneyland for free on your birthday; next year, they're being a little more flexible with when you decide to use your free admission. In exchange for a day of volunteering, Disney is offering you a free admission to a Disneyland resort in 2010.

Its simple, all you have to do is sign up for the program beginning 1/1/2010. Then you select a participating organization to volunteer with and once your service is completed and verified, you get your free admission!

For more information, visit:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Off N Running

Interested in taking a scenic tour of Beverly Hills or Santa Monica and concurrently getting your workout? How about a "Running From the Paparazzi" tour where YOU get to dodge photographers? Select from 3 different running/walking tours (all tours ranging from 2 - 5 miles) for about $60.

For more information visit,

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Amazing L.A. Race

Ever thought that participating in the Amazing Race would be fun? If so, you may want to try participating in the Amazing L.A. Race. This race is described as a scavenger hunt/guided tour/race, and the world's only competitive sight seeing tour. The group is broken down into teams of 2 - 8 individuals. Each team is given a list of clues that will take them through Hollywood and Downtown L.A. landmarks (on foot and via public transportation). The team to finish first wins.

The race lasts between 4 and 5 hours. Registration is $59.00 per person, but currently you can get tickets for $29.50 on

For more information, visit:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mission Inn

If you're up for a 1 hour drive and you appreciate unique architure, you may want to check out the Mission Inn in Riverside. Three years ago, I went to the Mission Inn for a friend's rehearsal dinner and I was surprised by this stunning Riverside landmark.

The Mission Inn is comprised of a hotel, spa, restaraunts, and chapels. A couple hours to walk around the premises and catch a meal at one of the restaurants should be enough.

For more information, visit:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Local Film Festivals

This weekend I found out about two film festivals, the AFI Fest and the Santa Monica Film Festival, taking place in the greater Los Angeles area. The AFI Fest started on 10/30 and ends on 11/7; the Santa Monica International Film Festival starts on 11/14, but I can't quite figure out when it ends.

In any case, you can obtain FREE passes to either festival.

To obtain more info, be sure to check their websites:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Themed Restaurants

Yes, I know, themed restaurants can be cheesy, but if you go with a group of friends, it can definitely be fun.

Below is a list of some restaurants you may want to check out:

Medieval Times (Buena Park, CA) takes you back to the 11th century where royal families invited guests to watch knights compete on horseback. Tickets for adults are $55.95 plus tax; tickets for children are $37.95 plus tax. Online you can find coupons for $15 off adult admission; $10 off children admissions. There is also a Four Pack promotion where you can get 4 admissions for $120.
For more information, visit:

Pirate Dinner Adventure (Buena Park, CA_. I think the name says at all. Admission for adults is $56.95 plus tax; admission for children is $37.95 plus tax. You can also get an online coupon for $10 off adult admission; $5 off children's admission.
For more information, visit:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Long Beach

Today, I figured I'd write about Long Beach since I ran around the city today as part of a half marathon (my first!).

I was surprised to see how much there is to do in the city. I knew about the Queen Mary ( and the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific (, but I didn't know about a lot of other places.

If you enjoy art, Long Beach features both the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA, and the Long Beach Museum of Art ( Additionally, there is the Long Beach Opera ( and the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra (, which you may enjoy.

If the arts aren't your thing, you may like to take a trip on the Rocket Speed Boat ( Trips are available for $15 adults and $10 children (there is a $2 coupon on their website). If you're interested in a party boat, they offer that, too!

Another thing that caught my attention was the Murder Mystery Dinner cruises ( For about $60 you get a 3 course meal and live entertainment.

The Tall Ship American Pride ( definitely stood out from the other boats in the area. You can board this tall ship to take a trip to Catalina, to go whale watching and various other fun excursions depending on the time of the year.

If shopping is your thing, they have that, too! There are many shops and restaurants, including: and At the Pike, you'll even find a ferris wheel!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Los Angeles Crime Tours

Believe it or not, there are a few tour companies in the area that specialize in infamous Los Angeles crime scenes.

Esotouric offers various tours, including one focusing on the Black Dahlia. Tours typically take place on Saturdays, last an average of 3 hours, and cost about $60.

For more information, visit:

Dearly Departed offers The Tragical History Tour which highlights locations of celebrity scandals and death. The tour last about 3.5 hours and costs $40. Tours are available practically every day of the week.

Dearly Departed also offers a Helter Skelter Tour, which is darker that The Tragical History Tour and focuses on the Manson Murders in the area. This tour also lasts about 3.5 hours and costs $50. It takes place one or twice a month.

Last but not least, this month, Dearly Departed will be offering a Hollywood Horror Film Location Tour. This tour lasts 4 hours and costs $50. It will take place on Saturdays and Sundays towards the end of the month.

For more information, visit:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Enjoying the Outdoors

If you're tired of being indoors all week and are longing to spend some time outside, consider visiting the following gardens for a nice walk on a beautiful day.

Virginia Robinson Gardens
One of the first homes in Beverly Hills, Virginia Robinson Garden is a 6 acre estate full of exotic gardens. Guided tours are available on Tuesday - Friday from 10am to 1pm, however, reservations are required. Admission fees are $10 for adults; $6 for students & seniors, and $3 for children.

For more information , visit:

Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Featuring countless plant collections from around the world, the Arboretum stretches over 127 acres (across the street from the Santa Anita race track). The arboretum offers concerts, tours, events and activities. Admission fees are $8 for adults; $6 for students & seniors, and $3 for children.

For more information, visit:

The Huntington Library
The Huntington Library features not just a research library, but an art collection and 120 acres of botanical gardens. The gardens feature a desert garden, a Japanese Garden, a Rose Garden and a Chinese Garden. Admission fees range from free for members to $20 for adults on weekends, so be sure to check the website for more info:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Derby Dolls

I've never been to an L.A. Derby Doll event, but it is definitely on my things to do list this year. From what I understand, an event/game consists of two teams of 5 hardcore "no non-sense" ladies roller skating on an indoor track and basically roughing each other up in an effort to win the game!

If it sounds like its your type of event, be sure to check their website out:

The next event is scheduled for October 3rd and the season ends in early December, so don't miss out!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Marina del Rey Harbor Tours

Hornblower Cruises and Events is now offering 45 minute narrated tours of the Marina del Rey harbor. Tours depart every Saturday and Sunday between 12 and 5 (every hour on the hour) and no reservations are necessary. Tickets can be purchased for $11 for adults and $7 for seniors, kids and military.

For more information, visit:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Walking Tours - Los Angeles Conservancy

If you feel like taking a walk, you may want to consider a walking tour offered by the Los Angeles Conservancy.

"The Los Angeles Conservancy, the largest membership-based local historic preservation organization in the country, is dedicated to the recognition, preservation, and revitalization of the architectural and cultural heritage of greater Los Angeles."

The Conservancy offers a myriad of walking tours (usually on Saturdays and Sundays) at roughly $10 per person. I've only taken one tour, The Broadway Historic Theater District tour, but I loved it. Just be sure to wear your walking shoes and bring your camera and some water with you.

Other tours include: Angelino Heights, Biltmore Hotel, Art Deco, Downtown Renaissance, Evolving Skyline, Historic Core, Union Station and Union Station Family.

For more information, visit,

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beach Day

How about we keep it plain and simple today? If you want to enjoy a beautiful summer day in California, go to the beach!

There are plenty of beaches to select from. Orange County officially has the cleanest beaches, but L.A. County has some decent ones, too. My favorites would have to be Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Will Rogers State Beach. I hear Paradise Cove is also a great one.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Movies at LACMA

I recently read on that every Tuesday at 1pm, LACMA presents TUESDAY MATINEES featuring classic films from the Warner Bros. library. The admission cost is: $2 (adults and children); $1, seniors (62+).

After doing some additional research, I found out that the museum also offers other movie screenings through its FILM SERIES PROGRAM. Unfortunately, this program will go on hiatus in November 2009, so you may want to check it out in the VERY near future. Ticket prices for these screenings are as follows: $10 general admission; $7 museum members, seniors (62+), and students with valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased at the museum box office 323-857-6010 or online, Apparently, they sometimes sell out, so you may want to buy your tickets in advance. The admission fee includes both films in a double bill, unless noted, and it covers your entrance to the museum...not bad!

If you go in the evening, there is plenty of street parking, but if you decide to see a Tuesday Matinee film, your best bet will probably be the parking lot across the street from the museum.

For more information, visit:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Duffy Boats

Ever heard of a duffy electric boat? If you’re looking for something to do this summer and you have at least $85 to spare (for a 1 hour ride for up to 10 people), you may want to consider renting a duffy electric boat in Newport Beach (by the way, Newport Beach was recently ranked one of the best beaches in the country!). Apparently, the boats are easy to operate.

You can tour the harbor or use the boat to get to the many restaurants on the harbor. Rentals are available 7 days a week ($85/hour M-Th; $99/hour F-Su). Reservations are strongly encouraged.

For more information, visit:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Friday Night Sing-Alongs & Dance Downtown at the L.A. Music Center

I recently found the entry below on and I thought I'd share with you. Sounds great if you're interested in doing something free in the city!

Belt out popular favorites and classic tunes with hundreds of your fellow Angelenos while accompanied by live musicians. Friday Night Sing-Alongs are liberating songbirds from the shower stall and bringing them to Downtown L.A. Singers of all levels are welcome. Limited seating capacity.

For more information, visit:

The Music Center will also offer "Dance Downtown" twice in August and once in September. Dance Downtown basically consists of beginner dance lessons (donations are accepted) and outdoor evening dancing on Friday evenings from 6:30pm to 10:00pm.

Aug 7: Merengue & Salsa featuring live music by Charangoa
Aug 21: Argentne Tango
Sep 18: Brazilian Samba

For more information, visit:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Zip Lines

I heard on the news the other day that Southern California now has its first zip line. Zip lines are popular tourist attractions in Costa Rica, Hawaii and various exotic locations, and now we can zip line in Big Bear.

A zip line basically allows you to "fly"through an area, usually a forest, at tree top altituldes. If you're afraid of heights, this probably isnt' the right activity for you, but if you're the adventurous type, it is definitely something worth considering.

Not sure what the zip lines are like in Big Bear, but if you can't get to Costa Rica or Hawaii, zip lining through Big Bear is a good alternative.
For more info, visit:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Outdoor Summer Events

Throughout the summer, various cities offer fun & free outdoor activities open to the public. Below, you'll find a few.

In Century City, at the mall, outdoor movie screenings take place every Wednesday at 8pm, starting June 3rd and running through the month of August. Movies include Ghostbusters, Top Gun, and My Fair Lady. For more information, visit:

At the Santa Monica Pier, the Twilight Dance Series begins July 2nd and runs through September 3rd. The concerts start at 7pm and end at 10pm. There are various artists that will perform throughout the summer. For more information, visit:

In Culver City, on Thursday nights from July 9th to September 3rd, the public is invited to attend the 15th Annual Culver City Music Festival. The performances will take place in the City Hall Courtyard and will feature a wide range of artists. Fore more information, visit:

At The Grove, you can free all-time family favorite movies under the stars. Bring a blanket (no chairs, please) and enjoy the evening. Thursdays at 8pm, July 2 through August 27.

At The Grove, visitors can also enjoy free musical entertainment at The Grove every Friday from 3-6pm; Saturday from 3-6pm and 7-10pm; and Sunday from 3pm-6pm.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunset Ranch

If you're up for a local adventure, you may want to consider horseback riding at Sunset Ranch in Hollywood. They offer various public and private tours ranging from roughly $60 to $85 per person. A few years ago, I was part of a private tour, which departed Sunset ranch in the early evening, went over the hill into Burbank for dinner at Poquito Mas and then back to the stables.

The tour was about 4 hours and lots of fun, as we were all rookies and had the added thrill of a storm on the way back from dinner. It can get a little nerve wracking at times, particularly when the horses get to close to the edge of the trails, but nothing to worry about...they don't want to fall any more than you do! I highly recommend bringing some friends along for the adventure.

For more information, visit:

Monday, July 6, 2009

More Winetasting

I've already written about winetasting in Malibu. If you have more time, however, you may want to consider driving out to Santa Ynez, Los Olivos or Temecula. All offer a nice selection of wineries and a fun day of winetasting. I personally prefer Santa Ynez/Los Olivos, but Temecula is closer, so they each score points.

For either location, you can chose to explore on your own or purchase a tour package from a local operator. If you don't have a designated driver, perhaps you should consider the latter option. Tours start out at about $50 - $60+/per person.

For more information visit, the websites listed below:

Santa Ynez/Los Olivos


Monday, June 29, 2009

Channel Islands

If you're looking to get away for a few hours and you love hiking and nature, you may want to consider visiting one of the Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel and Santa Barbara...also known as the Channel Islands National Park).

The best way of getting to the islands is by boat. I've personally only visited Anacapa, it is the closest one to the "mainland" about 1 hour away by boat. There is nowhere to purchase food on the island, so I recommend you pack a lunch, drinks and snacks for the trip. Once you arrive on the island, it is yours to explore. If you don't mind the cold water, you can also snorkle or kayak, but you must bring your own equipment. Remember, you must enjoy nature and hiking if you plan on visiting Anacapa, otherwise, you might end up bored out of your mind.

Island Packers offers boat rides to the various islands at reasonable prices (e.g. a day trip to Anacapa will run you about $45 for adults and $28 for children). For more information, visit:

For more information on the Channel Islands National Park, visit: http://http://www.nps/.gov/chis

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wine Tasting, Horseback Riding, and Lunch or Dinner

While perusing through the June 2009 issue of Sunset magazine, I came across the headline, Horseback Wine Tasting. Naturally, I read on!

Turns out that the Fess Parker Winery in Los Olivos (Santa Ynez Valley) offers a few wine tasting tours with a twist, horseback riding. There are three different tour options all lasting about 2 hours each. The tours range from $150/per person to $200/per person.

Los Olivos is beautiful and I'm sure the views are spectacular.
For more information, visit:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Camping in the Angeles National Forest

I, by no means, consider myself an outdoor person. Yes, I enjoy hiking and spending time outside, but let's not forget that I'm also afraid of wildlife.

My friends, somehow, managed to talk me into a camping trip in the Angeles National Forest. I was definitely skeptical, but figured that if I was going to camp with anyone, it was with them, experienced outdoorsy women. They had all the know-how and the equipment, so I thought, why not?

It was definitely a fun experience, despite the warnings of bears and the plethora of field mice at night. We set up our tents, ate, drank and hiked together for a couple of days (okay, I only stayed for one night). The location was absolutely beautiful!
If you're interested in camping in the Angeles National Forest, visit:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Movie Screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The initial thought of seeing a movie at a cemetery is probably not the least bit appealing to you. The first time I heard of this, I thought it was absolutely insane. I figured only goths would attend such an event, but I was definitely curious.

I packed a blanket and some food and headed for the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to see an Alfred Hitchcock movie. To my surprise, hundreds of other people had beat me to the cemetery. There was a neverending line at the entrance to cemetery, which I could not believe! The most fascinating part was that everyone looked completely normal; there were couples, families, groups of friends. Unfortunately, for me, however, I had arrived too late and there was no chance I was getting in to see the movie.

I haven't returned since, but I definitely intend to, except next time I have to plan a little better. Perhaps arriving an hour or so beforehand would help. The screenings take place during the summer (and are in the evening). Be sure to arrive early and bring food and drinks (alcoholic beverages are permitted), blankets and pillows. You can park on the cemetery grounds for $5 or there is street parking in the neighborhood. Oh yeah, and there is a DJ spinning before and after the movie, how is that for "interesting"?

For more information, visit:

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Grunion are Coming!

Last year, after years and years of hearing about the grunion run, we decided to head out to Cabrillo Beach to see what all the fuss was about.

First, let's start by defining grunion. In layman terms, grunion is a type of fish. "Grunion are known for their very unusual mating ritual. At very high tides, the females come up on sandy beaches and dig their tails into the sand to lay their eggs. A male then wraps himself around the female to deposit his sperm. For the next ten days the grunion eggs remain hidden in the sand, but at the next set of high tides the eggs hatch and the young grunion are washed out to sea ("

Yes, I know it sounds weird, but it is quite interesting to witness. The "grunion runs" happen late in the evening, about 10, 11pm, during the summer. There are hundreds and hundreds of people on shore waiting for the arrival of the grunion. Many people bring buckets to catch grunion (...and eat them??).

Volunteers ask the crowd to keep their distance and to avoid flash photography while everyone awaits the arrival of the grunion. As soon as the grunion arrive, the crowds can see the silvery fish flopping on the shore. Then the volunteers move out of the way and people start rushing towards the water (some to observe and others to "fish"). It can get pretty chaotic (if you bring young children, please be careful), but it is definitely worth experiencing at least once.

We didn't stay long, an hour or so was enough for us. Most of our time was spent waiting for the grunion. Please be aware that sometimes the grunion are a no show, so don't be disappointed if this is the case. Be sure to bring some blankets and some snacks!

For more info, visit:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Skydiving, anyone?

Yes, I know, sky diving is not exactly for the faint of heart, but if you're scared, I encourage you to overcome your fears and give it a try. I only tried it once (quite frankly, it was enough for me) and with the exception of the extreme heat that day, it was an unforgettable experience.

After much research, a few of us decided to try skydiving at Skydive Elsinore in Lake Elsinore. The day went something like this...
Naturally, you start the process off by signing your life away; the signing of the waiver is even documented on video. You don't jump alone, so you are introduced to your tandem buddy who is later strapped to your back. You practice a little on land and then it is a matter of waiting until it is your turn. You board the plane, sit side by side with the other jumpers (about 20 people total). Don't be alarmed if the plane door is open, apparently it is normal for it to be open as you take off. I, of course, nearly had a heart attack. Oh yeah, and don't make the mistake of looking out the window like I did, it only scares you! Seeing a lake look like a spot doesn't really make you feel better about jumping out of a plane. Anyway, at a certain altitude you start preparing for the jump. You and your tandem buddy are strapped together and when it is finally your turn you approach the open door. You crouch down, rock back and forth and on the third rock, you jump

It goes by so quickly that I don't remember a freefall feeling whatsoever! I do remember that we were moving so fast that I couldn't breath normally, but the adrenaline was rushing!! My tandem buddy tapped his watch to notify me that it was time to pull the parachute (otherwise, I would have completely forgotten) and then we glided down. It was great!!! When we landed, my legs wouldn't stop shaking, but I felt like I had just taken the world on...and won!

Looks like one tandem jump along with video and photos is now running at $279.00. For more information, visit:

If skydiving is just too much for you, you may want to try iflyhollywood. It is indoor skydiving using a vertical wind tunnel. I won't even try to explain it, check the website out and I think the pictures & video speak for themselves. Seem safe and its cheaper, too with a Double Flight First Time Flyer Package starting at $59.95. For more information, visit:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Joshua Tree Jeep Tours

If you like the desert, you may want to look into taking a Joshua Tree jeep tour. Looks like a fun experience, as long as you don't wait to to take this tour anytime during the summer! I've actually never been to Joshua Tree (I know, I'm lame!), but if and when I go, I wouldn't mind taking one of these jeep tours.

There are various companies that offer the tour and the average cost is about $125 per person for a 4-5 hour tour.

For more info, visit:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hiking in the L.A. area

I really enjoy hiking! I guess after spending most of the week in an office, who wouldn't want to be outdoors, right? For the most part, I frequent local parks for hiking: Runyon Canyon, Franklin Canyon, and Fryman Canyon/Wilacre Park.

Runyon Canyon is great, but you have to like dogs if you plan on hiking here. This park is not as lush as some of the other local options, but it is always busy and there are a few different trails to explore. Since there isn't a lot of shade, I like to go in the mornings when its cool. As far as parking is concerned, there are a few free spots if you enter through the Mulholland Dr. gate. Otherwise, look for street parking. If you enter the park through the gates at the bottom of the hill (near Franklin and Fuller), your only option is street parking.

Franklin Canyon is great. I feel like I've left the city when I visit this park...I guess it is because there are so many trees and even both a lake and a pond (with fish, frogs, turtles and ducks). You can enter Franklin Canyon Park through the entrance at the top of the hill (near Mulholland Dr and Coldwater Canyon) or through the entrance at the bottom of the hill (off Coldwater Canyon and Beverly...near the Beverly Hills Hotel). There are plenty of free parking options throughout the park. Beware: there are cameras at the STOP signs in the park, so be sure to make complete stops otherwise you'll receive a ticket in the mail.
Fryman Canyon (Laurel Canyon and Fryman) is more lush than Runyon Canyon, but not as lush as Franklin Canyon. It is a good option for a fairly easy hike. Parking is available on the lot for $3 or you can just park along Laurel Canyon Blvd.
Griffith Park is another great place to go on a hike, but I'm not as familiar with the trails there The views are spectacular! Every now and then, however, there are mountain lion spottings in the area, which needless to say, freaks me out! There is plenty of free parking throughout the park.

Beachwood Canyon is pretty cool, too, but I did have an encounter once with a coyote. Oh yeah, and every now and then you may have to share a trail with a horse (or two, or three). The stables are nearby, so horses are a common sure to watch your step! From the trails in Beachwood you get quite close to the Hollywood sign, which is pretty amazing. There are several parking spots near the entrance (Sunset Ranch) at the top.
Don't let my phobias of wildlife get to you, though, if you want to enjoy some time outdoors try a hike at one of these parks. There are plenty of people around and you don't have to worry about getting lost.

For more info visit:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hollywood Bowl

Tickets for the Summer ’09 Hollywood Bowl season went on sale this weekend! There is no excuse, whether you’ve never been to the bowl or you have, you need to get tickets to at least one show this summer.

Gather all your friends, bring some food and wine and enjoy a beautiful Southern California evening at the bowl. As usual, there is a wide array of performances to select from. From Mariachis to Abba; Eric Clapton to Poncho Sanchez; Natalie Cole to Depeche Mode and Tchaikovsky to the Beastie Boys. Tickets prices start as little as about $10 for many of the shows. Of course, you get what you pay for, but if you’re there to just drink and hang out with your friends then what does it matter where you sit, right?
For more information visit:

If you’ve never been to the bowl for a show, parking is a nightmare, so I highly recommend the taking a shuttle! You can get shuttle information on the Hollywood Bowl site.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Trapeze Classes

I first heard about trapeze classes about 3 or 4 years ago. I was really excited about signing up for a class, but for one reason or another, I didn't get around to it until last December. Being the good friend I am, I decided to invite my closest friends and their significant others to participate in the activity...yes, I was scared and needed some support.

I looked into a few schools and decided on Hollywood Aerial Arts in Inglewood. My friend, Melissa, recommended the school and after doing some research, I found the prices at this location to be the most competitive.

The first attempt was the most terrifying despite the fact I was harnessed in. I couldn't help but to scream when I stepped off the platform. But once I landed safely on the net below I felt phenomenal. My friends enjoyed the experience as well, despite the fact that some of them were scared of heights and even shed a tear or that's friendship!

I highly recommend signing up for a class; its a great experience. Classes are held several times a week at Hollywood Aerial Arts. You can sign up for high flying trapeze classes and pay anywhere between $25 and $40 for a class. The only caveat is that its not the most picturesque location, but the staff is great! For more information, visit:

If you're interested in looking into other schools, here are some links: (Woodland Hills, CA) (Santa Monica, CA)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Flying Lessons

Flying lessons? You're probably thinking thanks, but no, thanks, right? I haven't taken an aviation class before, but I know a few people who have and they love it! I actually wouldn't mind trying it one day.

If you're open to a taste of piloting a plane, you may want to look into Hollywood Aviators. I read about this school a few years ago, but don't personally know anyone who has taken classes there.
Hollywood Aviators offers an introductory 1/2 hour class at $99!
The class includes: Preflight briefing, half-hour flight (full-hour flight also available), FAA-certified flight instructor and post-flight debriefing. If you want to try the 1 hour class, it'll cost you $175. For more info, visit:

If you're really serious about flying, drop me a note and I'll find out where my friends took their classes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pageant of the Masters

I wasn't familiar with Pageant of the Masters until about 4 or 5 years ago when a colleague told me about it. It sounded different, so I decided to go check it out for myself.

I have to say that the event was interesting and unlike anything I had ever seen before. Upon arrival, we all took our seats in an outdoor amphitheater (think Greek Theater). The lights dimmed and the "show" began. On stage, the audience observed what seemed like a large, beautiful painting. After a few moments, however, we realized that technically we weren't looking at a painting, we were looking at a "live picture". Everyone in what appeared to be a painting was real!

The "live picture" was accompanied by a live orchestra and live narration, which quite frankly I don't recall, but I read on the website. Anyway, the curtains closed and about 5 to 10 minutes later they reopened with yet another live picture. This went on for an hour or so, but it was phenomenal. I never imagined such a show existed!

The event takes place every year from the beginning of July to the end of August in Laguna Beach. As you enter the theater grounds, you can shop at various booths where vendors are selling art and food. Across the street from the theater, the Sawdust Festival takes place and nearby you'll find plenty of restaurants where you can enjoy a nice dinner.

My only recommendation is to get seats as close to the stage as possible, so you can really appreciate the show. Otherwise, don't forget your binoculars!
For more information, visit:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Animal Adventures at the L.A. Zoo

You no longer have to leave the country to participate in a wild animal adventure. We have plenty of options here in our own backyard. The Los Angeles Zoo is not just a place you can go for a day of fun.

From October to May, the zoo offers Zoopendous Nights, a night-time experience for kids over the age of 7. The cost per person is $45, but it includes activities, a pizza party, a continental breakfast and plenty of fun!

The L.A. Zoo also offers Zoopendous Nights Family Overnights, which is similar to Zoopendous Nights, but includes a tour of the zoo after dark and is geared towards families. The cost is $45 for members and $55 for non-members.

Last, but not least, the L.A. Zoo offers the Wild Wonder Slumber from June to September. Wild Wonder Slumber consists of an all-night outdoor sleepover party, which includes a tour of the zoo after dark, activities and meals. The cost of this option is slightly higher at $65 for members (children 7-12 pay $45); $85 for non-members (children 7-12 pay $60). For more information, visit:

SoCal Savings - As I've previously mentioned on this blog, The Skirball Cultural Center is free on Thursdays! Presently, they are featuring the Noah's Ark Exhibit and a Superhero Comic exhibit, which are both quite fascinating. The Noah's Ark Exhibit is interactive, so kids (ages 2-9) don't get bored. The Superhero Comic exhibit is also fun and even has a costume area where both kids and adults can dress like their favorite superheroes. For more information, visit:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Renaissance Pleasure Faire

A few years ago, a few of us took a trip down to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire (in Irwindale) to see what it was all about. Truthfully, we didn't really know what to expect; we were just hoping for a day of fun.

Upon entering the faire, it was clear we were Renaissance Pleasure Faire virgins. We were among the minority of attendees who weren't dressed in costume and I'm sure we looked stunned, maybe even a little afraid! Unfortunately, I don't have pictures from that outting, but I found pictures online and included them in this post for your viewing pleasure. I think the pictures give you an idea of what to expect at the event.

This year, the faire is scheduled to run from April 4th - May 17th. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $25 (adults) and $15 (kids). If you buy them online and print them at home, you can save a few bucks. As for parking, you must pay an $8 fee to enter the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, which covers parking costs. For an additional $10, you can valet. For more information, visit:

SoCal Savings - I recently discovered a new site, While perusing the site, I noticed they have a calendar of FREE events! So, if you're looking for something to do (anything from hikes to exhibits), be sure to check the site out:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sailing Adventures

For those of you who don't know, I'm a HUGE fan of the beach, the ocean, boats, etc! Recently, I read about an experience that I had to share with you.

In San Diego at the Maritime Museum, they offer a 3 hour sailing trip aboard the schooner, Californian, for $42 per adult and $31 per child (under 17). The boat looks amazing and the price doesn't seem bad at all for a 3 hour tour, along with admission to the museum and its fleet of historic ships. FYI, this tour is known as the Adventure Package.

The Maritime Museum also offers other "tour" options, if you're interested:
Whale Watching Whale watching trips aboard the America yacht are available for $65 for adults and $34 for children (12 and under) through April. Check the public events calendar for more info:

Catalina Adventure Sails
Sail trips to Catalina (lasting between 3 and 4 days) are available from $475 per person to $575 per person. These trips look like they primarily take place around holiday weekends.

California Coastal Voyages
Beginning in June, they will offer California Coastal Voyages that take passengers to various Channel Islands. These expeditions, however, are pricey at about $2K per person!

SoCal Savings - From March through May 22nd, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is running its Shark Lagoon Nights promotion. Basically on Fridays from 6-9pm, guests are invited to visit the aquarium's Shark Lagoon (free!). For more info visit:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kogi BBQ

Here's a unique one that has been in the headlines recently: Kogi BBQ!

Kogi BBQ consists of two Kogi Korean taco trucks that roam the streets of L.A. selling their tasty tacos. The only way to find out where the trucks are headed next is through their Twitter feed, which you can find on their website at If you're not familiar with Twitter, in their own words, it is "a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?" For more info go to

Apparently, these tacos are quite the rave! People are so into this that by the time the trucks arrive at their next destination, there is already a line of people waiting! The best part is that not only is the food supposed to be delicious, but it is inexpensive, with tacos at about $2! So, if you've never chased a taco truck around L.A., you may want to consider it.

SoCal Savings - There are many "Kids Eat Free" restaurant promotions going on right now due to the state of the economy. I came across this website that lists promotions by city, just select your city from the drop down menu and a list will appear.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Whale Watching

One of the best experiences I've ever had is Orca whale watching in Victoria, British Columbia. It was phenomenal!! We wore life suits (not life jackets, life suits!) and went about an hour into the middle of nowhere. The whales came super close to our tiny boat (the boat literally looked like an inflatable raft, but we were assured it was Coast Guard material). I've included some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

No, I'm not suggesting you make the trip to Victoria (of course, if you have the chance, you should definitely take advantage of it), but try whale watching in Southern California. I've done it once or twice and have actually seen whales AND dolphins!

According to one of the websites I researched, gray whale watching season is from December to May and then blue whale watching season begins in June and lasts through December.

Here are a few options, if you're interested: (Newport Beach) (Newport Beach) (Newport Beach/Long Beach)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Local Wine Tasting

If you're in the mood for wine tasting, you don't have to drive to Temecula, Los Olivos, Napa or Sonoma...although if you have the time, I say, GO FOR IT! There are actually a few tasting rooms nearby that you may want to consider. I've never been to these, but they're definitely on my "places to go" list.

Malibu Family Wines (Malibu)

Malibu Estate Vineyards - Cielo (Malibu)

Rosenthal Estate Wines Tasting Room (Malibu)

San Antonio Winery (Los Angeles)

And then, of course, there are numerous wine bars in the area. Here is a link with the top 10 (thanks, Guevara!):

SoCal Savings - If you haven't already heard, Disneyland is running a birthday promotion this year. You get free admission into one of the parks (Disneyland or California Adventure) on your birthday. Just register & you'll get your ticket! For more info, visit:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Ponies

So, this option isn't exactly anything out of the ordinary, but it is one that many of us tend to forget about...the race track! Santa Anita (Arcadia) is open from December through April and Hollywood Park (Inglewood) is open from April to July. There are also autumn dates, but they haven't been announced yet. I personally prefer the Santa Anita race track.
It is always great to go to the track with a group of friends and enjoy the races, food and a few drinks, of course. The parks always have some type of promotion going on, so check the park's promotion calendar online and you may benefit from free admission, or a free towel.

Admission for Santa Anita ranges from $3.50 to $20.00 and parking is as little as $4! For more info visit:

Admission for Hollywood Park ranges from $7.00 to $20.00 and parking is only $3. For more info, visit:

SoCal Savings - For a limited time, Santa Anita race track is offering free admission on Fridays. On Fridays, guests can also get $1 hot dogs, $1 sodas, $1 popcorn & $1 beer. Not so, shabby, huh? The outting can definitely be inexpensive, the key is not to go overboard with the betting!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Murder Mystery Dinners

Several years ago, I participated in a murder mystery dinner in West L.A. I have to admit, it was cheesy, but definitely "different."

Recently, I came across a murder mystery dinner option, except that instead of taking place in a restaurant, this one takes place on a train in Fillmore (Yes, I know, you're probably wondering, where the hell is Fillmore? It is in Ventura County...about 50 miles from Los Angeles).

For approximately $89 per person, you get a 3 course meal and entertainment aboard a train. Interesting, huh? For more info, visit:

As you'll notice, this company does not just limit their product offering to murder mystery dinners, they offer everything from Margarita Madness Trains to North Pole Express Trains among others. Sounds like LOTS of fun...if you go with the right people!

SoCal Savings - If you're tired of going to the same dive bar for happy hour, I came across a website that you may be interested in checking out: Seems like Alex at UCLA did some research and I don't think we should let it go to waste. The site lists over 50 places in the Los Angeles area where you can get a cheap drink. Cheers! Salud! Kanpai! Proost! Cin cin!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gondolas in Southern California

When you think gondolas, you probably think Italy, right? Well, guess what? There are gondolas in Long Beach and Newport Beach, too! Yeah, I know, its not the same thing, but with this economy, do you really want to go to Europe where your dollar is worth even less? Hell, with this economy, can you really afford to go anywhere?

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, a gondola ride may be a nice, romantic thing to do with your significant other (if you haven't made any plans...and if it doesn't rain). Check it out!

Long Beach -

Newport Beach -;

SoCal Savings -If you happen to be in Long Beach, you may want to drop by and visit the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) On Sundays, thanks to Target, visitors are admitted for free to the museum (oh yes, and parking is free, too!). For more info, visit:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Big Screen

There is a great selection of Academy Award nominated films out right now, but if you've seen them all, there are a few different movies & theaters you may be interested in checking out.

IMAX - Yeah, yeah, I know you're probably thinking, 'eh, big deal,' but they do actually have some amazing documentaries at some of the locations. Presently, at the California Science Center near USC, you can catch Wild Ocean 3-D or Sea Monsters 3-D. You can park for free behind the Coliseum (regular street parking) for up to 2 hours or drop about $8 to park in one of the lots. Parking enforcement is very strict about the 2 hour street parking zones, so I don't recommend you take a chance.

EL CAPITAN - Okay, so this one is geared more towards kids, but I finally went last summer and I liked it. You can park across the street at Hollywood & Highland for up to 4 hours for just $2, just don't forget to validate your ticket at one of the Hollywood & Highland shops (the Nestle Cafe and Auntie Anne's Pretzels are probably your cheapest options if you're watching your wallet).

FAIRFAX SILENT MOVIE THEATER - This one is interesting. 'Built in 1942 by John and Dorothy Hampton, The Silent Movie Theatre ran for decades as the only fully functioning silent movie theatre in the country. It has been fully restored to its original, vintage 1940s art deco design, along with a brand new screen and sound system, to help a new generation enjoy the pleasures of cinema in a beautiful theatre.'

Don't let the name fool you, it isn't just about silent movies at this theater. The theater has an obscure selection of movies on the calendar. If you're interested, they also offer various membership packages starting as low as $25 a month (and there is plenty of street parking available).

LAST REMAINING SEATS and CINESPIA CEMETERY SCREENINGS - These two unique "big screen" options are only available during the summer, so I'll be sure to write about them then.

SoCal Savings -
If you're thinking about going to Magic Mountain DON'T buy your tickets at the park! Instead buy them online and print them at home and you'll save $20 per ticket. Regular admission is $59.99 per adult, but if you plan ahead & get your tickets on the Six Flags website, you can get each adult ticket for only $39.99 and each child ticket for $29.99. For more info, visit:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

And More Food

Last summer, my friends and I decided to take a cooking class through HipCooks ( We were fascinated by the fact that we'd learn to prepare a Spanish feast and we'd get to bring our own wine and drink it while we learned to cook!

We went over a few different recipes:
1. Squid Salad
2. Seafood Paella, Chicken Paella and Chorizo Paella
3. Red-wine Soaked Oranges with Natilla

Each time we finished a recipe, we all sat down together to eat. The recipes were quite easy to follow and the food was delicious! The instructor also emailed us the recipes, so we didn't have to bother taking notes during the class.

The only disappoinment was that due to the strict permits held by the establishment, there was a limit to the amount of wine we could drink during the class. I think that between 12 of us, we only had 4 bottles...that's about 2 glasses each, if that!

If you're interested in taking cooking classes, there are plenty of places to look into in the L.A. area, including HipCooks and Sur La Table. Here is a link from, which lists a few other options:

If eating is more your thing, there are several culinary school restaurants where you can get a multiple course meal at an unbelievable price. I haven't tried any of these restaurants yet, but I found write-ups on Check out the restaurant's website to see what is on the menu and what the prices are.

SoCal Savings - My blog posting "Ordinary, but Either Free or Inexpensive" was quite popular... I assume that I received a good response because people are being very careful with their money during these tough economic times. The objective of this blog is not to inform you of free or inexpensive outings, but of "different" things to do in the area. Due to the popularity of the posting, however, I've decided to include a "SoCal Savings" blurb in my entries whenever I learn of a great offer.

This week's SoCal Savings is for Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona. If you're not familiar with Glen Ivy, it is a resort that offers mineral baths, a plethora of pools, a red clay mud bath, a spa and anything you need to help you relax, including alcohol. Admission during the week is $48 per person. Through February 26th, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, you can take advantage of 2 for 1 admission for $35! From February 26th through March 18th, the promotion is valid on only Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For more info, visit:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Food, Food, Food

I'm totally fascinated by food and I'm a sucker for gimmicky restaurants like Korean BBQ (see pictures), Brazilian Churrascarias and Japanese Shabu Shabu. Oh yes, and how could I forget The Melting Pot ( I'm not particularly keen on restaurant chains, but The Melting Pot is definitely an exception.

Then, there are gimmicky menus, let's see, JAR has Mozzarella Mondays (, Grace has Doughnut Shoppe Wednesdays ( and Campanile has Grilled Cheese Thursdays (

All very clever, but I came across progressive dining and found the concept to be fascinating. I haven't tried it, but it is definitely on my things to do list. The idea of progressive dining is to have a 3 course meal, sometimes more, across numerous restaurants, instead of just one. So, for example, appetizers are served at one restaurant, the main course is served at another and dessert is served somewhere else. The pros: you get to test out the food and the service at different establishments. The cons: you can't get too comfortable at any one place.

I did some research and found a company, Melting Pot Tours, that offers various progressive dining experiences in the Los Angeles area ( If you look on sometimes they offer tickets at nearly half price for these tours. If you decide to sign up for goldstar, please use this link:

I also came across an even more interesting one that includes water taxi transportation (yup, that's right, a water taxi!), but it is in Oxnard (Channel Island Harbor, to be exact). Be sure to check it out, Progressive Dining ( I'll have to test this one out for myself sometime this summer. Sorry, not aware of any coupons/discounts for this tour.

On another note, I found out today that the Queen Mary in Long Beach is offering free admission to Southern California residents throughout the month of January. The admission includes a self-guided tour of the Queen Mary. All you need is a CA ID/Driver's License. Parking is only free for the first 30 minutes, then the prices are as follows: 31 minutes to 1 hour: $3.00; 1 hour to 12 hours: $12.00; 12 hours to 24 hours: $15.00. For more info, visit:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ordinary, But Either Free Or Inexpensive

In light of the economy and the number of people I know that are unemployed, I thought this week I'd write about free and inexpensive things to do, instead of "unusual" things to do. You'd be suprised at all the special offers!

LACMA - The Los Angeles County Museum of Contemporary Art offers "Pay What You Wish" admission any day after 5pm; Free admission on the 2nd Tuesday of the month; and Free Holiday Mondays on various holidays throughout the year. For more info, visit:
MOCA - The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles offers free admission on Thursdays between 5pm and 8pm. This offer applies to MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Admission to the MOCA Pacific Design Center is always free. For more info, visit:

Getty Center & Getty Villa - If you've never been to the Getty, you're missing out. Both locations are absolutely gorgeous and FREE! Parking for either location is $10 per car. For more info, visit:

The California Science Center - Admission to the permanent exhibition galleries is free, but they do accept donations. Right now they're featuring a DEA exhibit, which is pretty fascinating. For more info, visit:

Natural History Museum - Admission is free on the first Tuesday of each month. The pictures posted in this entry are for this museum. For more info, visit:

As far as parking is concerned for both the California Science Center and the Natural History Museum, you can park for free on Menlo Ave. between Exposition and King. Right in front of the Los Angeles Swim Stadium, there are several free 2 hour parking spots.

The Skirball Cultural Center - All exhibits are free on Thursdays. For more info, visit:

Huntington Library - Admission is free to all visitors on the first Thursday of every month with advanced tickets. Hours on Free Day are 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. For more info, visit:

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens - Admission is free on the third Tuesday of the month (the tram is not available on free days). For more info, visit:

Center Theater Group - The Ahmanson Theater, the Mark Taper Forum and the Kirk Douglas Theater make up the Center Theater Group. All 3 of them offer great shows and you can get tickets for as little as $20 through a program called Hot Tix. Apparently, the theater puts aside a small percentage of tickets for each show and sells them for $20 each. The catch is that if you order over the phone, they won't tell you where the seats are located, but if you go to the box office, they'll tell you. If you order over the phone, they'll also mail the tickets to you for free and will not charge you any lousy Ticketmaster fees. I've purchased a few of these Hot Tix seats and I've sat in the front row (on the end), in a box and in the front row, center of the balcony. Not bad, if you're on a tight budget...and aren't picky about your seats. For more info, visit:

I also recommend you check out They offer discount tickets to many shows, sporting events, etc in the Los Angeles area. They do have a service fee on each transaction, but its still lower than Ticketmasters' (can you tell I'm not a fan of those fees?). If you decide to sign up, please use this link:

Last but not least, if you, like me, have no shame using coupons, you may want to consider getting your hands on an Entertainment '09 book The book offers some great deals (e.g. buy one get one half price or buy one get one free) for restaurants, museums, movie theaters, etc.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Purpose

If you're anything like me, you like to spend your free time doing things that are not just fun, but often a bit out of the ordinary. I'm not exactly amused by doing the same things over and over (although I do have my favorites). I'm actually quite bored by monotony. I'm constantly looking for new places to explore, new websites to shop on (I HATE the mall!), new books & magazines to read, new cuisines to try (I LOVE food!) and the list goes on and on and on.

The purpose of this blog is to share info on some of the fun (and sometimes out of the ordinary) things there are to do in SoCal. Some of the things you may have heard of and others you may not even be interested in knowing about, but rest assured that contrary to what some may say, there is plenty to do in Southern California!

For the most part, I rely on the internet, newspapers, magazines, TV and friends for places to write about, so if you have any feedback on any of the activities/tours/classes or would like to see a write up on something specific, please feel free to post a comment or drop me an email! My goal is to update this blog at least once a week, but we'll see how that goes. Enjoy!