Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hidden hot spots in Culver City

Culver City Downtown is my little Rome.

There is a historical hotel "Culver Hotel" in the center of town. Behind the hotel is a plaza that has many open-cafes which remind me of a view in Rome.

In front of the hotel, there is an Italian Cafe "Ugo Cafe". They sell yummy GELATO you must try it.

3865Cardiff Ave, Culver City, CA 90232

My biggest reason to go to Culver City so often is this chocolatier "Essential Chocolate Deserts".

This is a small chocolatier  that sells many kinds of chocolate desert. My most favorite is their imported TRUFFLES from Belgium.

10868 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

My favorite candle store is in Culver City. They make their candles onsite and sell a wide variety of their products.  They also sell defective merchandise with outlet prices. This warehouse is a very eccentric place and it is worth it just to see it.

8771 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

Culver City has the best spot to see the whole of Los Angeles.

6300 Hezler Rd, Culver City, CA 90232
(310)558- 5547

You can go up until the top of the hills by car or walking and there is plenty of parking. 
First you will see the whole of Culver City which is an amazing view.

This is a big hill and there are many flower filled paths for hikers. 

Behind the visitor center, you are on top of the city.

You can only see this view from here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hidden hot spots in Joshua Tree

There is a mecca for Angelenos nearby.

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

The name Joshua tree was given by Mormon settlers. You can see Joshua (Biblical story) try to reach the sky in prayer.

I stayed at the legendary "Joshua Tree Inn" for a night.

61259 Twentynine Palms Highway
Joshua Tree, CA 92252

The rock star Gram Parson used to love this hotel and spent the last days of his life in room 8.

I was in room 7 and on my first day I heard a live band playing nearby, but I didn't see them...

Room 8 could be a little haunted, but the hotel is beautiful and I understand why all the musicians love it here.

The night that I was at the hotel was the "SuperMoon".

The moon arrived at its closest point to the Earth on the evening of March 19, 2011. I prayed for Japan. It was so beautiful to see.

The town of Joshua Tree is very hippie and I really like it.

You may find a beautiful vintage dress and shoes.

For dinner I had a delicious coconut korma at the local Indian restaurant.

"Sam's Pizza and Indian Food"
61380 Twentynine Palms Highway Ste 13
Joshua Tree, CA 92252

 During my stay at the Joshua Tree Inn, I went to the national park twice.

It was my very first time to visit Joshua Tree National Park, however this park is easy to look around. Most of famous rocks and monuments are right by the parking(includes bathroom), and they have signs which explain what you can see from there.

This park is very popular for rockclimbing. Without real gear, I still enjoyed walking around on the thousands of big rocks.

My favorite place was "Hidden Valley" where you can meet "Face Rock".  

Ryan Ranch had a dramatic history. The Ryan family built this 3 room ranch house in 1900, but it was burnt by vandals in 1978.

To see "Arch Rock" was a little bit of a challenge because it is kind of hidden by the other big rocks.

After climbing one of the rocks, I found these gorgeous blue flowers "Canterbury Bells" which are native of Joshua Tree.

As the day passed, the view was looking like an ocean with "Whale Rock".

There was an extremely strong wind in the morning and the day started cold however I found a warm spot by "Skull Rock".
You can enjoy many rock arts made by mother nature.

On the way back home passed by "Cottonwood" and found this flower carpet.
Joshua Tree National Park is in season now in March.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hidden hot spots in Van Nuys and Encino

The Valley is already spring!

At Lake Balboa in Van Nuys, there are 3400 Cherry Blossoms around the lake and they only bloom now in March.

In 1991, a Japanese company "Canare" gave the gift of the Japanese national flower  "Cherry Blossoms" to City of Los Angeles for international friendship.

6300 Balboa Blvd
Van Nuys CA 91406

Van Nuys has many different faces.

My favorite furniture store is in Van Nuys.
6206 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91411

They sell real wood furniture made in  the US. Most of them are hand-made and unique. If you are looking for something special for your home, this is the place.

Also my favorite Korean Cold noodle (Naeng Myeon) place is in Van Nuys.
"Duk Su Jang Restaurant" 
7128 Van Nuys Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91405

Lake Balboa is bordered by Van Nuys, Reseda, Northridge, North Hills and Encino. To the south is Encino, home of a wonderful farm "Tapia Bros".
This is a locally run farm  and they grow fresh products depending on the season (they are also famous for a Pumpkin Patch in October and Tomatos in May). Now is Strawberry time, and they are incredibly sweet!!

"Tapia Bros"
5251 Hayvenhurst Ave
Encino, CA 91316

I used to live in the Valley for few years and looked for a real Sushi restaurant. I probably tried more than 10 of the most famous places and finally found one in Encino.

"4 on 6"
16573 Venture Blvd, Ste 14
Encino, CA 91436

This is a small restaurant nestled behind shops, it is very hidden. If you can find them you must be a lucky person. They open for lunch and I recommend the Lunch Sushi Set for $16.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hidden hot spots in Mount Baldy

From Marina del Rey, you can enjoy the view of snowy mountains in winter.
To get to the San Gabriel Mountains, it actually takes less than 2 hours from here.

I went to one of the mountains, Mt Baldy, to do some snowboarding at a place that I had never gone before. 
Mt Baldy Ski Resort was totally different from any other ski resort in California (includes Mammoth, Big Bear or Mt High).  This place is not for beginners. There is a real excitement here where the nature meets a hardcore snow wonderland.

8600 Mt Baldy Road, Lytle Creek CA 92358

There are only 3 lodges here (The Buckhorn LodgeSnow Crest Lodge, and Mt Baldy Lodge) and no hotels or condos. This time I chose to stay at the Mt Baldy Lodge for 2 nights.
I stayed in Cabin 6. It has 3 beds in 2 rooms. 

Everything in the room was done in a country mountain style and so cute!

My favorite was this patio and garden.  It was so totally private and I could enjoy the gorgeous view of stars at night.
 On their property there is a beach volleyball court, Basketball hoops and a pool (summer time only).  There are even two places to play horseshoes.
6777 Mt Baldy Rd
Mt Baldy, CA 91759

I didn't expect any good food while in the mountains, but the restaurant at the lodge serves great food and the service is excellent. I stuffed myself with yummy fried shrimps and felt very relaxed.

In front of the hotel is the Visitor Center. If you want to do snow play or hiking at the mountain, you will need an "Adventure Pass" to park your car. You can purchase here or online before. Also they sell original souvenirs and this is the only one gift store at the mountain.

 6776 Mt Baldy RdMt BaldyCA91759

           (909) 982-2829


Mt Baldy was a vacation spot by Tongva natives. This Center has replicas of their camping and gave you the feel that you are a part of it.

For breakfast, I had to try the legendary restaurant at "Buckhorn Lodge". It was a nice choice and I enjoyed my french toast and eggs.
"The Buckhorn Restaurant and Lodge"
6870 Mt Baldy Rd
Mt Baldy, CA 91759

Mt Baldy has many beautiful streams of the San Gabriel River and there is plenty of spring water in March.  There is a lot to do here if you enjoy the mountainside without skis.
Even though it was only 3 days with a short drive, I felt like a Mt Baldy trip was such a big adventure.