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EXCLUSIVE | Los Angeles: What to See & Do Part Three

EXCLUSIVE | Los Angeles: What to See & Do Part Three

There's no better place in the world for touring film studios. Taking nothing away from Universal Studios (see Top 4 with the kids), Warner Bros (3400 Riverside Dr., Burbank; 818-972-8687) and Paramount (5555 Melrose Ave; 323-956-1777) specialize in small-group tours of their the back lots, where, among other things, you might visit the set design, costume and prop shops and see film and TV crews and even actors on their way to the set.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles, better known locally as Olvera Street (845 N. Alameda St; 213-680-2525), is something of an outdoor museum with free walking tours of the city's original Spanish settlement of 1781, and is home to some unique shopping and restaurants. Nearby ethnic enclaves include Little Tokyo and Chinatown. In addition to Chinese restaurants and shops, Chinatown also boasts nearly a dozen small art galleries around the pedestrian Chung King Road.

The Museum of Tolerance (9786 W. Pico Blvd; 310-553-8403) uses multimedia presentations to examine the destructive force of prejudice throughout history, including the Nazi Holocaust and modern-day genocide.

Watts Towers (1765 E. 107th St, Watts) is a hundred-foot objets trouv?s effort by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia, who finished the towers in 1954 after three decades of labor. The Watts Towers Arts Center (1727 E. 107th St, Watts; 213-847-4646) features an educational display of the towers and exhibits by black artists in the community.

Beaches are a big draw for visitors, although Angelenos are fair-weather beach-goers; you may have it to yourself from October through June. Wide Will Rogers State Beach (nicknamed "Ginger Rogers Beach"), in Santa Monica, is the most popular gay beach. A few miles south, Venice Beach has a carnival atmosphere, although most people are here for the street-vendor shopping, parade of oddities, and the world-famous Muscle Beach along Ocean Front Walk. Zuma Beach is Malibu's top surfing beach, while Matador and Pescador beaches, just north of Zuma, are smaller, quieter and prettier.

L.A. is a paradise for biking and rollerblading. A classic cruise is the Pacific Coast Bike Trail, which links Pacific Palisades to Torrance, 22 miles away, via Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey, and Manhattan and Hermosa Beaches. There are bike rental shops along Santa Monica's beach.

For hiking, one easy and central spot is Griffith Park (323-913-4688), the largest, urban park in the United States. Despite much-publicized wildfires in 2007 it remains a popular destination for more than 4,000 acres of hills, playgrounds, fields, creeks, forests, the Art Deco Griffith Observatory, the outdoor Greek Theater, and views of the Hollywood sign. Close-in and cruisy is dog-friendly Runyon Canyon, at the top of Fuller Drive north of Hollywood Blvd. The gay hiking group Great Outdoors leads regular hikes and other outdoor activities like volleyball.

Frontrunners Track Club (323-460-2554), the international gay and lesbian running group, sponsors runs and walks four days a week in the Los Angeles area, as well as numerous special events throughout the year.

Marina Boat Rentals (13719 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey; 310-574-2822) rents a variety of sail and powerboats.

Los Angeles Equestrian Center (480 Riverside Drive, Burbank; 818/840-8401), Malibu Riding and Tennis Club (33905 PCH, Malibu; 310-457-9783) and Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stable (3400 N. Beachwood Drive, Hollywood; 323-469-5450) offer guided rides, lessons and rental horses.

Z.J. Boarding House (2619 Main St, Santa Monica; 310-392-5646) and Zuma Jay (22775 PCH, Malibu; 310-456-8044) rent surfboards, boogie boards and can arrange lessons as well.

Working out and (not just gay) life in L.A. go virtually hand-in-hand, and there are high-quality gyms throughout town. In West Hollywood 24-Hour Fitness Sport (8612 Santa Monica Blvd; 310-652-7440) is very popular with a gay/lesbian crowd but kind of rundown; it has relatively good facilities including free weights, weight machines and aerobic equipment. The popular lap pool out back is surrounded by chaise lounges, which, despite the uninviting concrete deck, always attract afternoon sun-worshipers.

Crunch (Sunset Plaza, 8000 W. Sunset Blvd; 323-654-4550) is a high-end alternative with state-of-the-art, trendy equipment, including punching bags and a boxing ring, and a clientele that mixes gay and straight, plasticized Beverly Hills types, celebrities and cruisey, good-looking wannabes.

Farther east in Hollywood is Gold's Gym (1016 Cole Ave; 323-462-7012). The neighborhood is a bit rougher, but the gym, which is two floors of freestanding weights, cardio machines and aerobics studios, is very gay-friendly. The big boys train here, as well as a number of notable celebrities.

On the Westside, between Westwood and Santa Monica, Sports Club LA (1835 Sepulveda Blvd; 310-473-1447) is 100,000 square feet of facilities, 65 personal trainers and an in-house spa, all immaculately kept and attracting a well-heeled clientele of professionals and "industry" people. There's nothing particularly gay about it, but with facilities this good it's hard to complain.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

Related Articles:
Los Angeles: Introduction
Los Angeles: Where to Stay
Los Angeles: Where to Eat
Los Angeles: Where to Play/Meet
Los Angeles: Resources

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