By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas
Hello, fellow Escapists. Vacations usually mean travel, and this year, despite the threat of the spread of the Omicron variant, is no exception. Some Angelenos are making their first international trips since the start of COVID-19 or swapping their sunglasses for woolen hats on the way back to colder hometowns.
Others embrace the Los Angeles holiday season as a time to stand still, reveling in the relative calm of the city’s emptier streets.
Do you spend the balmy and sometimes weird days between Christmas and New Years back home in Los Angeles? Then this edition is for you. Below you will find different ways to be a tourist in your own city – during holidays and at other times.
Of course, with the spread of the Omicron variant, it’s important to mask up and travel responsibly no matter where you go.
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Book a walking tour with the Los Angeles Conservancy
Despite its modern skyscrapers and many chic storefronts, strolling through downtown Los Angeles is like visiting a living museum, with surprising historical details hidden in plain sight.
You just need to know where to look.
The Los Angeles Conservancy, formed in the 1970s in response to the Central Library demolition project, offers a variety of walking tours for locals and tourists alike.
For example, the Roaring Twenties come to life on the Conservancy’s Art Deco walking tour, which features brightly colored architectural marvels such as Eastern Columbia lofts and the Wholesale Jewelry Mart.
Frequent travelers may particularly want to visit Union Station, which the Conservancy calls “the last major railroad station built during the golden age of rail travel.”
In addition to in-person tours, the Conservancy is also offering a Vintage LA Christmas Virtual Tour, which will transport viewers to locations across LA County that have a long history of holiday decorating. register here for the December 29 event.
Embrace the calm — or even the solitude — in this West Adams garden
Looking for calm after a hectic holiday season? While destinations like Ojai and Joshua Tree offer a healthy dose of tranquility and New Age spirituality, there’s no need to venture so far from Los Angeles.
Instead, spend an afternoon exploring the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardensa lush oasis nestled behind a beaux-arts mansion in the heart of historic West Adams.
Times writer Julissa James included the gardens, created by the Spiritual Inner Awareness Movement, in a touching story that lists 21 places and experiences that help you embrace loneliness in LA
“For many, the Labyrinth and Gardens of Peace Awareness hold a certain mystique,” James writes. “The rich history of the site can transport you.
James recommends walking through the travertine marble maze, inspired by a design of Chartres Cathedral in France. The garden also includes 16 water features, a koi pond and plenty of quiet places to meditate and enjoy your surroundings.
The gardens and the labyrinth are open for visits from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Tickets are $5 and can be reserved in advance here.
See ‘The Obama Portraits Tour’ at LACMA
Normally, you would visit the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC to see the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
The masterpieces, however, are on a five-city tour across the United States, and right now “The Obama Portraits Tour” can be seen at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The portraits appear alongside LACMA’s “Black American Portraits” exhibit, which includes approximately 140 paintings and photos created over 200 years.
Times writer Jeanette Marantos included “Black American Portraits” in her recent roundup of 15 activities for vacationers. “The nearly life-size portraits of the Obamas are displayed together as the only works in a large room to provide enough space for their many admirers,” Marantos describes.
While at LACMA, don’t miss fan-favorite photo spots like “Urban Light,” the cluster of streetlights featured in countless Instagram photos, and the 25-foot-tall granite boulder that’s part of the “Levitated Mass” facility. “If you position your visitors right in the path under the rock, you can get a photo that makes it look like they’re holding the 340-ton rock above their heads,” Marantos writes.
Obama’s portraits will be on display at LACMA until January 2. Advance tickets are required and can be reserved here.
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Spend a day strolling through Culver City
For many of us, life has felt like it’s been on hold since the initial LA COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020. And yet neighborhoods and communities have evolved over the past two years, providing LA travelers have a plethora of new places to rediscover in the city in the New Year.
For example, one could easily spend a day strolling through Culver City, which Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds included in his round-up of 40 Best California Destinations To Visit This Winter.
If you want to take a tour of Culver City, here are some must-see shops, restaurants and public spaces, courtesy of Reynolds:
- Citizen Public Market: This food hall, housing several bars and restaurants, is new to the area, having opened its doors at the end of 2020.
- Helms Bakery District: A collection of furniture and design shops are housed in a 1931 bakery complex.
- The torn bodice: The shop calls itself “the only exclusively romantic bookstore on the West Coast”.
- The Jurassic Technology Museum: This museum is “open by appointment, disconcerting in design”. (I could try to describe it, but I recommend you see it for yourself.)
📰 What I read
- Be transported to Lake Tahoe with these photos taken by Times travel reporter Christopher Reynolds.
- The ski resorts are ready for the season. Times contributor Brian E. Clark explains what’s new and how to hit the slopes safely.
- The small coastal town of Pescadero is perhaps the best kept secretwrites Michelle Robertson in SFGate.
- An electric road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is easier than you think, reports Tim Chester in Afar.
- Eighty percent of North Americans cannot see the Milky Way above their homes. It’s giving dark sky communities new tourist attraction, writes Bailey Berg in the Washington Post.
📸 Picture of the week
🎸 Road Song
Song: “All that I want” by the Weepies
Favorite saying: “Out in the harbor, the ships are coming, it’s Christmas.”
Where to listen: Burton W. Chace Park in Marina del Rey