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Escape to LA

With holiday fares throwing costs into the stratosphere, why not travel close to home?

Andrea Huber

MOCA & The Arts District  
If you’re going to do MOCA and the Arts District, I recommend starting at the museum. It’s a classic and sets the stage for a day spent appreciating art. MOCA is laid out nicely and the docents are knowledgeable and eager to chat. From there, head to Gallery Row. The area is one of the most metropolitan feeling neighborhoods in LA – and with the population in downtown on the rise, galleries are staying open as people dedicate long evenings to strolling between them. :: moca.org :: galleryrow.org

Daikokuya Ramen
At first it seemed like such an LA thing to pay $10 for something that, at its very best, looks quite similar to the Top Ramen I survived on in college. But good ramen, I discovered after a 45-minute wait, is a whole different beast. The broth was savory and rich with flavor, the noodles were al dente and the bowl was piled with shallots, a soft-boiled egg, sprouts, and pork. Daikokuya opened an Orange County location last year, but the experience isn’t quite the same outside of Little Tokyo. :: daikoku-ten.com

Wurstküche cooks sausages. It’s in the name (if you understand a touch of German). But not just any sausages, sausages like rattlesnake and rabbit with jalapeño or smoked alligator and pork. The sausages are served with Belgian fries and a choice of more than 24 imported beers. The dining room is a giant hall filled with long picnic tables wrapped in butcher paper. Everything is simple and straightforward. And spectacular. :: wurstkucherestaurant.com

Lucky Strike Lanes
The only thing that identifies Lucky Strike as a bowling alley, in the way I knew them when I was a kid, is the fact that there is bowling. Gone are the ashtrays and bolted down benches. Gone are the terrible food and watered-down Cokes. This is bowling at its most sleek and stylish. Giant movie screens line the walls and the menu offers specialty cocktails and real food. Between frames, stretch out on plush couches and bob your head along with the in-house DJ – this is family entertainment LA Live style: big and loud and giddy. :: bowlluckystrike.com

The Junk Food Platter
In the bottom floor of The Ritz-Carlton’s sister hotel, JW Marriott at LA Live, Kerry Simon’s LA Market serves up American classics with postmodern twists. We didn’t have a chance to eat a meal there but we did make room for the Junk Food Platter based on its awesomely irresistible name alone. The Junk Food Platter delivered exactly what it promised: Fruit Loop crispy treats, homemade Ding Dongs, cotton candy, and a cup of cocoa on the side. There are those wonderful moments of any vacation in which you say: “Let’s indulge!” This was ours. :: lalive.com

Caña Rum Bar
There are people who mix drinks, those who take it seriously and then there are the bartenders at Caña. The Caña crew elevates mixing drinks to an art form. Luckily, the folks behind the bar are also excited to share the “whats” and “whys” of their complex concoctions. This is fortuitous, otherwise how would you know you’re drinking zucchini juice, herbal tinctures and roasted pineapple syrup with your aged Barbadian rum? The fact that the bar is set up like the sort of speakeasy Hemingway would have frequented makes the experience that much saltier. :: 213nightlife.com/canarumbar

The Ritz-Carlton
This hotel towers so high over downtown that from the 101 Freeway there’s no need for navigation, just simply look up. Since it's right at LA Live, The Ritz-Carlton is literally dead-center in the thick of it all. By staying at the Ritz, we were able to walk wherever we went. Of course, as with all great hotels, there is the temptation to not go anywhere at all. This effect is especially strong while lounging at the rooftop pool on the 26th floor. It was the hotel, with its 10-zillion thread count sheets and its cookie bar at the club lounge that made our “closecation” feel like a real trip. :: ritzcarlton.com

If you’re going to splurge, you have to splurge in a way that fits your tastes. I love food but I also love to cook, which means splurging on food is tricky. I hate paying a lot for a dish that I could probably pull off at home. Therein lies the magic of WP24. Unless you are Wolfgang Puck, you could never make this at home. The food is Puck’s famous modern Chinese cuisine and it tastes incredibly purposeful. Every flavor, every bit of presentation is created with intention. Ingredients are combined and prepared in a way that I had never seen before. From one course to the next, I felt like I was learning something with my tastebuds. The fact that the restaurant is on the 24th floor of The Ritz-Carlton, with sweeping views of the city, makes it that much better. :: wolfgangpuck.com

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