Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hidden hot spots in Westwood

Let's talk more about the center of Los Angeles.

Westwood is located just west of Beverly Hills and is the home of UCLA which has one of the hottest museums, "Hammer".
10899 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90024

This is a futuristic building in the middle of a big city, however the inside looks just like a beautiful jeweled casket.
There is a good-looking cafe with a beautiful courtyard decorated by bamboo and Japanese maples.

You are able to visit here without admission so it is a great place to bring your own lunch or drinks for a picnic too.
Every Thursday at 12:30 pm, they have a free meditation session

It might be an odd and novel experience for everyone to be quiet in a museum with over 80 people.

Hammer is one of the only museums that supports a momentum in Meditation Resolution.

The Hammer museum is celebrating it's 20th anniversary now, so they offer free admission Nov.26, 2010 to Dec.18, 2010

Also, the museum is free on every Thursday so please go and enjoy their art collection from Van Gogh to contemporary.There is a large underground parking garage beneath this building and you can park $3 for 3 hours with museum validation.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hidden hot spots in Solvang

Towards the end of November I traveled to Europe in my car.  I got to Denmark  in about 2 hours driving, can you believe it.

Actually, Solvang is a Danish village near  Los Angeles.  You really feel like you are in a true European town because of the people and the culture they share with you.

I stayed in town for 2 nights at the Solvang Inn and Cottages.

1518 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA

This is one of the oldest hotels in Solvang and is owned by a Danish bakery family.You can have some fresh Danish pastry compliments of the house across the street at their cafe.

It is a fairy tale themed cozy hotel, I recommend here for a family with small children.

The reason why I chose this hotel was the location! From this hotel you can walk everywhere in the town with ease.

Solvang is also famous for wine tasting bars don't want to have to drive here.

My reason to come back to Solvang is this store...

1679 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang, CA 93463

This is the only one chocolatier which is handmade by Danish people in Solvang.

Their chocolate truffles are amazing, they taste like a sweet Danish dream. 

If you are a chocolate lover, you need to try this at least once in your life!

Who is this famous person from Denmark?

It is Hans Christian Andersen who is the author of "The Little Mermaid",  "The Ugly Duckling", and "Thumbelina".

In Solvang you can visit his museum and find his original fairy tales.
1680 Mission Drive, Solvang CA

You can also find the statue of the little mermaid across from the museum.

This is a replica of the famous mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I was quite interested by the mermaid actually having legs.

She looks so sad and meaningful.

There is a wonderful playground for kids and dogs!
900 Alamo Pintado Road, Solvang CA 93463

You can experience apple picking with only a 5 minute drive from the center of the town.

Apple season is August to November.

Depending on the season they have different kinds such as Gala, Golden, Red Delicious, Fuji, and Granny Smith apples.

The apples are organic and pesticide free and admittance doesn't cost a thing. You just pay for whatever you pick.
1200 Alamo Pintado Road, Solvang CA 93463

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hidden hot spots in Las Vegas

If you live in Los Angeles, you probably have the opportunity to go to Las Vegas frequently. 

I just went there on the first weekend of November 2010. It was about my 7th time to visit.
The last time I was in Vegas, the MGM was totally different. I was very amazed how the whole city changed. Everything looked brand new in such a short period of time. I felt like I was there for the first time.

This time I stayed in the Excalibur Hotel for 2 nights.


The Excalibur hotel used to be the largest hotel in the world. 

I just wanted to see the castle from my hotel window.

3850 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109

The next day I went to see the White Lion at the Hotel Mirage. I've seen some White Tigers before, but I didn't even know a White Lion existed.

At the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, White Lions really do exist and they are extremely gorgeous!

They have many friendly dolphins too. You can also become a Dolphin Trainer for a day for $550 if you are over 13 years old.

I was shocked to see the Citycenter for the first time. The buildings were brand new and super futuristic!

Their indoor shopping mall "Crystals" has luxurious European fashion brands and several romantic restaurants.

3720 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas, NV 89158

Another big purpose to go to Las Vegas is the abundance of OUTLET malls. There is no shortage of shopping opportunities around the city. This time I chose to go to "Las Vegas Premium Outlets". This mall is only a 10 minute drive from the STRIP.

The outlet was renewed about 3 years ago and became a stylish outdoor mall. My favorite shop was "LeSportsac"  They only have one outlet store on the west coast.

875 South Grand Central Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89106

Also there is a great lunch spot "Makino Seafood & Sushi Buffet". It is only $15 for an all you can eat for lunch. The outlet has a wide array of shops including Coach, Juicy, Diesel, Burberry and many surf brands like Volcom, O'Neill and Hurley.

If you have kids over 3 years old you must read this! I found the perfect daycare "KIDS TYME" at "The Orleans Hotel and Casino".

They have great facility and watch your kids for $7.50 per hour up to 5 hours. Kids can purchase meals such as hotdogs or mac&cheese. They are open until 12:30am!

4500 West Tropicana Ave
Las Vegas, NV

On the way back to Los Angeles I found a unique store called "Alien Fresh Jerky".

This is a cute gift store you must see and they have yummy jerky you can get for $8 per package or 3 for $20.

72242 Baker Blvd
Baker, CA 92309

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hidden hot spots in Azusa

Early Sunday morning, I was heading towards the San Gabriel river in Azusa. 

First I decided to stop by the Gateway Center to get the latest information about the river.  The staff had excellent suggestions for fishing, hiking and playing in the river.

1990 North San Gabriel Canyon Road
Azusa CA 91702

To get to the river is quite easy and it's only a 1 hour distance from LAX.

From LAX, take 105 E, 605 N, 210 E to the Azusa Ave exit. After the exit you  take the same road going up to the north until you see this view.

After you get this point, any place you stop by could be your own spot for the day.  It's your adventure. 

* In order to park your car on any street you need a parking permit ($5) so please stop by any gas station or forest welcome center. 

The east and west forks of the San Gabriel river are perfect for water play. Most everywhere you can walk through the river and some places are deep enough for "cliff jumping".

It was the first day of October but Azusa was pretty hot like 80F so the cold water made me feel great.

This is where we found our own spot.

It was a beautiful day and we really appreciated the gorgeous California weather.