Subject: Hometown Tourist - Los Angeles (long)

Several years ago, I saw a feature in an airline magazine called Celebrated Weekend. In it, a celebrity describes how readers can spend a weekend in the celebrity's home city.

I thought about my own version of a "celebrated weekend" in Los Angeles where I live. This is what I wrote. It might give you an idea or two on being a tourist here in LA. With the diversity of neighborhoods, cultures and landscapes in Southern California, it is easy to find and explore new places.

Friday is a good day to avoid the freeway so we will save cross-town trips for later in the weekend. We'll start with a little physical activity to work up an appetite. We can rent a bike and ride along the bike path that parallels the ocean. Maybe we'll stop in Venice. You can see Muscle Beach and the outdoor basketball courts where White Men Can't Jump was filmed. We'll see all kinds of modes of transportation along the path - single bike, tandem bicycle, roller blades, skateboards, razor scooters, recumbent bikes (where you pedal sitting down), maybe even a unicycle or two. On the way to lunch, I'll drive you past the former offices of the advertising firm Chiat-Day which has in front of it a huge sculpture of a pair of binoculars by Claes Oldenburg. It's weird, but very LA.

We'll go have lunch somewhere near Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. We might see a celebrity since this is a popular shopping area for the wealthy residents nearby. I once saw Arnold Schwarzenegger buying bagels with his family. Afterward, we'll browse the shops for a bit until it is time to head up to the Getty Museum ( J Paul Getty's art collection and education center used to be housed in a re-creation of a Roman villa overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Pacific Palisades. It was a gorgeous setting but they ran out of room. So the Getty Foundation spent $1 billion leveling a mountain top in Bel Air and building a stunning campus. It sits like a castle overlooking all of the LA basin. We'll spend the afternoon and early evening enjoying its collection and gardens because we want to watch the sunset from on high. It is a sublime experience. You will feel like the king of the realm. Dinner? It just depends on your taste. We can go Northern Italian, Southern Italian, Mexican seafood, Mexican Oaxacan, Southwestern, Japanese sushi, Japanese not-sushi, California fusion, maybe even good old American. Just name your preference, it's close by. If you are up for it after dinner,we'll catch the rhythm and blues show at Harvelle's on 4th Street in Santa Monica.

On Saturday I'll give you a choice for the start of our day - we can take a walking tour of historic Los Angeles offered by the Los Angeles Conservancy I am especially keen on Art Deco or the Broadway Theater tours. Or else we can take a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains. Depending on the time of year, the wildflowers might be out. We could hike through Malibu Creek State Park where we can see the set of the tv show MASH. The ocean breeze up high feels especially nice in the hot days of summer.

Our afternoon activities depend on your energy level and mood. Maybe you want to see a movie while you are in LA. So a matinee would bein order. There are some beautiful restored movie theaters - the Crest in LA, the Egyptian in Hollywood. Or maybe you want to do some real shopping. We could head over to Melrose Ave or Silver Lake for both the regular as well as the trendy stuff. Great people watching too. Unless you really object, I will avoid Beverly Hills and Rodeo Dr.

Saturday evening will be a special event of some kind. If you are in LA during the summer months, we are definitely going to the Hollywood Bowl ( It is one of my favorite experiences anywhere. We will be sitting outside with 18,000 others in a natural amphitheater up in the Hollywood Hills. While the flatlands below swelter in the summer heat, we are cool and comfortable. As the sun sets, we munch our gourmet picnic basket goodies (you brought the wine, right?). Then the Los Angeles Philharmonic or the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra starts the show. Since it is a weekend, we will probably hear a pops concert. And maybe special guest performers. If we are lucky, the show concludes with a brilliant fireworks display. Other possibilities - a baseball game at Dodger Stadium (another LA jewel) or an outdoor movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery ("watch the movie both above and below the stars"). This is LA. There are plenty of choices.

Sunday morning we'll get brunch from the food stalls at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. The menu offers regular brunch fare such as fresh squeezed orange juice, pastries, crepes and omelettes. Or perhaps you prefer homemade tamales, huevos con chorizo or tacos al pastor. This market is a real happening. We'll sit in the sun and enjoy the live music. The kids can have their face painted, construct a craft project or ride the ponies. But don't tarry - we have to get over to Pasadena relatively early. If it is the 2nd Sunday of the month, we're going to the Rose Bowl Flea Market ( Over a million items on sale by over 2000 vendors. Even if you don't need gifts for the folks back home, this is fun browsing and people watching.

If you still have time before you head out, we'll go to the nearby Norton Simon Museum ( It has one of the finest collections of European paintings anywhere. Probably second in the US to the Metropolitan Museum in NY. The gallery space was recently renovated by Frank Gehry. They also have a lovely garden modeled on Monet's at Giverny. A most civilized way to end our weekend.

You may have noticed that we bypassed all theme parks and most Hollywood attractions. We did not drive past the stars homes. We did not hang out on the Sunset Strip. Well, maybe you can visit those spots on your next trip, perhaps during the week when the crowds are smaller. But you don't need me as a tour guide then, so tell me all about it when you get back.

In the meantime, hang loose, dudes and dudettes.

Mark Los Angeles