The Joshua Tree Music Festival

I have friends who try to visit every music festival on the west-coast. I am not one of those people. I have been taken to a few, and they can be really fun, but listening to the same kind of music all weekend gets on my nerves. (Whether it be reggae, electronic, folk, blue-grass, or just about anything.) Plus, if the food isn’t good, I’m stuck all weekend eating protein bars.
The consistent exception to this is the Joshua Tree Music Festival in May. This festival consistently provides huge differences to the usual music festival experience, and I almost never miss it. Plus, it’s only a two-hour drive from LA, so I don’t even have to go that far.
http://www.joshuatreemusicfestival.com/

The Music: 
I don’t know how they do it, but they always have the largest variety of music that I have ever seen at a festival. They have bands from all different states, countries, continents, and music genres. In the same weekend, there has been a Korean punk band, a Venezuelan rock band, Australian folk music, British DJ’s, solo guitar players, a local Joshua Tree band, and more. Plus they get the most interesting fusion music…there was a group that did Celtic/Indian fusion, a modern New Orleans brass band, and a Australian band that did traditional chanting/ditchery doo mixed with rock and techno. Plus, the music isn’t just varied, it’s also great! Whoever chooses the music has my vote for good taste.

The Desert:
Joshua Tree happens to be one of my favorite places, so the setting is ideal. It’s very warm in May, so dress lightly for the daylight hours. Luckily, they have the dance area shaded, and they have been providing free water. The backdrop of the desert mountains adds something extra to the good music and good vibes, so I always consider this another excuse to spend a weekend in my favorite camping spot. (Without the hassle of cooking camp food.)


The Food: 

Along with good music choice, the festival also features great food vendors. Since I’ve spent so much time camping in J-Tree, it’s great to be eating gormet food without starting a fire or cleaning camp-ware. The vendors are different every year, but so far they’ve had: a raw food booth, Caribbean (mmm, plantains, coconut rice and gumbo), fancy pizza (strawberry and pesto even!), Acai smoothies, and assorted veggie plates (sauteed greens, yucca, etc). They always have vegetarian and vegan options, so even pickier eaters should be satisfied. And they always have a coffee booth, so you don’t even have to go without your ice-blended macchiato.

The Art and Activities: 
I look forward to the art installations every year, they’re always different and always creative. It’s hard to explain the different set-ups with light, photos, and structures; it’s one of those things you’ll have to see for yourself. There’s also activities through-out the day, such as: yoga classes, hula-hooping, meditation, and workshops. (Almost all of which are included with your festival pass.)

The Price:
Of course, for me a good deal is always what rounds out a good experience. And this music festival is one of the best priced festivals out there. You can buy one day, or all three. If you can’t afford a ticket, there is amble volunteering opportunities. You can check wristbands, or do promotion. So click the “volunteering” button on their website to use that option. The ticket prices go up as the dates get closer. They start as low as $70 for all three days if you buy early! They go up in increments, to $100 for the weekend, and up to #130 at the door. This is still a great price for all the bands, art, and fun. Here are the ticket prices until May 4th, 2012, minus the $15 camping fee:

Three Day Pass- $ 100
Friday Only Pass- $ 50
Saturday Only Pass- $ 70
Sunday Only Pass – $ 50
Buy Tickets Here

Prices After May 5th:

Three Day Pass- $ 120

So if you need a weekend of desert dancing, don’t miss it!

The Joshua Tree Music Festival

I have friends who try to visit every music festival on the west-coast. I am not one of those people. I have been taken to a few, and they can be really fun, but listening to the same kind of music all weekend gets on my nerves. (Whether it be reggae, electronic, folk, blue-grass, or just about anything.) Plus, if the food isn’t good, I’m stuck all weekend eating protein bars.
The consistent exception to this is the Joshua Tree Music Festival in May. This festival consistently provides huge differences to the usual music festival experience, and I almost never miss it. Plus, it’s only a two-hour drive from LA, so I don’t even have to go that far.
http://www.joshuatreemusicfestival.com/

The Music: 
I don’t know how they do it, but they always have the largest variety of music that I have ever seen at a festival. They have bands from all different states, countries, continents, and music genres. In the same weekend, there has been a Korean punk band, a Venezuelan rock band, Australian folk music, British DJ’s, solo guitar players, a local Joshua Tree band, and more. Plus they get the most interesting fusion music…there was a group that did Celtic/Indian fusion, a modern New Orleans brass band, and a Australian band that did traditional chanting/ditchery doo mixed with rock and techno. Plus, the music isn’t just varied, it’s also great! Whoever chooses the music has my vote for good taste.

The Desert:
Joshua Tree happens to be one of my favorite places, so the setting is ideal. It’s very warm in May, so dress lightly for the daylight hours. Luckily, they have the dance area shaded, and they have been providing free water. The backdrop of the desert mountains adds something extra to the good music and good vibes, so I always consider this another excuse to spend a weekend in my favorite camping spot. (Without the hassle of cooking camp food.)


The Food: 

Along with good music choice, the festival also features great food vendors. Since I’ve spent so much time camping in J-Tree, it’s great to be eating gormet food without starting a fire or cleaning camp-ware. The vendors are different every year, but so far they’ve had: a raw food booth, Caribbean (mmm, plantains, coconut rice and gumbo), fancy pizza (strawberry and pesto even!), Acai smoothies, and assorted veggie plates (sauteed greens, yucca, etc). They always have vegetarian and vegan options, so even pickier eaters should be satisfied. And they always have a coffee booth, so you don’t even have to go without your ice-blended macchiato.

The Art and Activities: 
I look forward to the art installations every year, they’re always different and always creative. It’s hard to explain the different set-ups with light, photos, and structures; it’s one of those things you’ll have to see for yourself. There’s also activities through-out the day, such as: yoga classes, hula-hooping, meditation, and workshops. (Almost all of which are included with your festival pass.)

The Price:
Of course, for me a good deal is always what rounds out a good experience. And this music festival is one of the best priced festivals out there. You can buy one day, or all three. If you can’t afford a ticket, there is amble volunteering opportunities. You can check wristbands, or do promotion. So click the “volunteering” button on their website to use that option. The ticket prices go up as the dates get closer. They start as low as $70 for all three days if you buy early! They go up in increments, to $100 for the weekend, and up to #130 at the door. This is still a great price for all the bands, art, and fun. Here are the ticket prices until May 4th, 2012, minus the $15 camping fee:

Three Day Pass- $ 100
Friday Only Pass- $ 50
Saturday Only Pass- $ 70
Sunday Only Pass – $ 50
Buy Tickets Here

Prices After May 5th:

Three Day Pass- $ 120

So if you need a weekend of desert dancing, don’t miss it!

A Day in the Pacific Palisades

 
 

The Pacific Palisades is beautiful little part of LA that’s not very known or visited, so it’s a great place to get some nature and culture without the crowds. It’s north of Santa Monica in the mountains, where Sunset Blvd. goes all the way to the ocean. 
Most of the activities in the Palisades incorporate some outdoors or sun, since it’s almost like a little mountain town that’s not really part of LA.


Lake Shrine (Self-Realization Fellowship)
The well-known Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda dedicated this place in 1950. It’s open to the public and free to get in, and you really can’t miss this beautiful gem. It’s a small lake, filled with turtles and swans and surrounded by lush gardens. There are many really odd and interesting things surrounding the water…namely a houseboat, a Dutch windmill (which is a meditation room), and a shrine containing some of Gandhi’s ashes. (No, really. Him and Yogananda were friends.) It’s a truly relaxing place, with many opportunities to take in the scenery by a small waterfall or under garden trellises. There’s also a small museum and a gift shop which are worth checking out. There’s also a large temple, a “Church of All Religions,” where they host services and group meditation classes. Check their website for a list of classes and holiday hours. They are closed Mondays, and in rainy weather. 
Phone: (310) 454-4114 
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9 am – 4:30 pm, Sunday Noon – 4:30 pm, closed Mondays

Hiking:

Los Liones Hiking Trail
When I want to go to a more remote spot in the Palisades with easy parking, I come to Los Liones. You turn onto Los Liones Dr. from Sunset going North, and just drive until it dead ends. There is a good amount of parking spaces by the trail, by the restrooms, and on the road, all right by the trail-head. It’s a decent workout going uphill, but all scenic and tree-lined. Once you reach the first “summit,” you’re awarded with a 360 view of the ocean and the city, which I never get sick of. Another great thing about this trail is that you can just keep going for miles after that, as it connected with other trails and goes on for quite awhile. Often it’s just as satisfying to hike back down. The only downside to this trail is that it’s not a loop, you just take the same way down as you did coming up. 


Temescal Canyon Hiking Trail
Temescal is by far the most well-known hike in the Palisades, but can be convenient if you want to walk to the downtown afterwards. The trail goes in a nice loop, which can get quite physically challenging at times, and has some nice stopping points. There’s a few small waterfalls on the way (except in the dry season), and some great views. Parking is a little strange for multiple reasons: You have to pay if you park in the lot ($7 as of this writing), and there are police camera’s in the lot that will send you a ticket if you don’t stop at the stop signs. You can park from free on Temescal Blvd. and walk into the park, although some people believe it supports the park to pay the parking fee. You might have to ask directly to find the exact trail head, there are many entrances and exits, and the trail branches off at certain points.
15601 W Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset 

Also worth checking out: Will Rogers State Park farther east on Sunset (also paid parking), and the many many trail-heads hiding in the Palisades, with entrances scattered on many small streets. 

Will Rogers State Beach:
This is a secluded patch of beach where Temescal Canyon hits the PCH. There’s free parking on the PCH (just be careful of fast drivers), and it’s a bit hidden from the rest of the Santa Monica coast. There’s rarely many people there, and it’s so wonderful to jump in the water after a hot hike in the mountains. Be careful on the walk down from the car, but enjoy some sun without the throngs of people that crowd the Santa Monica and Venice sands.
(Pacific Coast Highway & Temescal Canyon Road)

The Ghetty Villa:
Many people have been to the Ghetty museum off the 405, but the Ghetty Villa has recently opened back up, and is a unique setting. This was John Paul Ghetty’s actual residence, and is filled up with art, artifacts, and antiques from ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.
The large “backyard” garden is also worth the visit, perched on the mountain and covered in flowers. It’s free admission, but the trade-off is that you do have to pay $15 a car for parking, which isn’t so bad if you go with a couple other people. Parking is actually free on Saturdays after 5pm, when they are open late until 9pm, or when they have free programs and are open late. And don’t try to park in the neighborhood, I know from personal experience that they will give you a ticket or tow your car. And they are closed Mondays, so plan accordingly.
17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California 90272
Phone: (310) 440-7300
Hours: 
Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Saturday , 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Monday, CLOSED


Restaurants:
So, I love the Palisades…but I’ll admit to its lack of noteworthy restaurants. (And this is not from lack of experience, I worked in the downtown Palisades for over 5 years.) It’s not that the restaurants are awful, they’re just not fantastic enough to write a whole entry for. If you’re wandering around after a hike, feel free to stop in and try them out. Otherwise, please see my next blog for Santa Monica restaurants, which are only a short drive away.

Bike Downtown LA with CicLAvia

Los Angeles is definitely not known for it’s bike-friendliness. Aside from the beach path, it can be a little scary riding through the streets of LA, weaving through the many angry, fast-moving cars. But this Sunday, April 10th, they will be closing off 7.5 miles of downtown LA for bikes and pedestrians only! Inspired by a similar street closure event in Bogota, Colombia, you can have the chance to walk, talk, bike, socialize, and discover places on the streets of LA you would have never noticed by car.
And, to make it more festive, there will be booths, food, and activities. If you’re worried about parking, there are many “meeting” spots in different parts of town for bikes and buses. Also, participation is free, which always makes a good event even better.
Check the website and blog for FAQ’s, map, meeting spots, and other info.

Basic Stats:

Sunday, April 10th 2011
10am–3pm

http://www.ciclavia.org/
http://ciclavia.wordpress.com/

A Day in the Korea Town Spas

Since life in Los Angeles can be a bit stressful, there’s almost nothing better than spending the day at a relaxing Korean spa. “So why not spend the day at an upscale spa in Santa Monica?” you ask. Well, I can’t really relax when I know I’ve spent half my paycheck getting in. Plus, the saunas in most western spas just don’t get warm enough. (140 degrees? What is that, a warm day in the Palm Dessert?)
But my spa visits in Korea-town rarely disappoint. Since admission can be as low as $15, I don’t even have to feel guilty about spending the money. Plus, a whole day in out and out of steam rooms, cold pools, Himalayan salt saunas, and tea tubs leaves me feeling like a new person. Posted below are my favorites, with a comparison of prices, amenities, and other factors. They’re not too far from each other, but if location is very important you can see a map of all spas in relation to each other here:  Spa Map
Otherwise, click on the address after each description to see the google map location of the individual spas.
Also, please note that bathing suits are not allowed in the spas. So, you have to be decently comfortable with nudity. (It’s a good time to expand your comfort zone, right?)


Natura Spa
Best for: Cleanliness, smaller spa that’s rarely crowded, Korean food cafe, great price. 
Cons: Hard to think of one, but I guess saunas are on the small side. 
This spa is a lesser known find, but it’s a chill alternative to some of the bigger, more crowded spas. It’s especially clean, and provides robes, towels, drinking water with fruit, and other nice perks. It has all the things a spa would need…clay, jade, and wood saunas, steam room, cold pool, and different hot tubs. At $15 for all day entrance, it’s one of the best deals.  
3240 Wilshire Blvd, LA 90010 
Phone: (213) 381-2288

Hours:  Mon-Thu 6 am – 10 pm
              Fri-Sat 6 am – 11 pm
              Sun 7 am – 10 pm
General Admission: $15

Wi Spa
Best for: Couples, families, 24 hour facilities, cleanliness and the most unique saunas.
Cons: Slightly higher entrance fee, not great for people who don’t like kids.
This is truly one of the most unique spas that I have visited. There are the separate women’s and men’s areas, but the top floor is actually coed. (They give you a a shirt and shorts to wear in the coed area). The different kinds of saunas are my favorite part. Most spas have a “mud sauna” and a “salt sauna,” where the walls are covered with mineral mud, jade, and crystal salt. But the Wi Spa makes it special…the Mud Sauna is inches deep in heated mud balls, which you crawl into and cover yourself with. I can feel the healing minerals all around me as I sink deeply into mud bliss. The Himalayan Salt Sauna is similar; a bed of pink salt crystals to lay yourself in. They also have a special sauna called the Bulgarama, which is 245 degrees. I always spend some time there, smelling the warm cedar and chugging water to keep from getting dizzy.
They also have a kids room, complete with toys, and a camera that projects your little ones onto a t.v. screen seen from the coed area. There’s also a restaurant upstairs if you get hungry…just be careful if your vegetarian, because their “veggie” entries usually contain fish.
2700 Wilshire Boulevard, LA 90057
Phone: (213) 487-2700
Hours: 24 hours 
Basic Admission: $25


Hankook Spa
Best for: Woman only, mineral water, large facilities, great prices for admission and treatments, ice room. 
Cons: Often a lot of people, no men’s facility, and treatment room is in the open.  
A few of the Korean spas are women only, and this is one of them. Not only is the entrance fee cheap, but the treatments are well-priced and often eliminate or reduce the spa fee.  They also have some food dishes for sale, and often serve complimentary tea.
3121 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Phone: (213) 388-8899
Hours: Mon – Sat: 7am ~ 11pm
Sunday: 7am ~ 9pm   
Basic Admission: $15

Olympic Spa
Good for: woman only, large spa, Korean restaurant, good prices.
Cons: One of the most popular Korean spas, so weekends and evenings can get very crowded.
As mentioned, this is one of the most well-known spas in Korea town. The facilities are very large, so it can be a really fun place to spend a day. But be wary of the after-work and weekend crowd, as there can be a lot of people.
3915 W. Olympic Blvd, LA 90019
Phone: (323) 857-0666 

Hours: Mon-Sun 9 am – 10 pm
Beverly Hot Springs
Good for: Real mineral spring water, not very crowded, stone-cave walls.
Cons: The priciest of the Korean spas, treatments do not include spa admission, 2 hour limit on spa use.
The specifically unique feature of this spa is the actual mineral water used in the tubs. They use it for the hot and cold tubs, and some people swear by it’s healing power. It only has the basic amenities (hot and cold pool, sauna and steam room,) but it’s decorated in an interesting way. The walls are made of stone, in a way that it looks like an underground cave.
The big downside is the price…although it is cheaper on weekdays. And they technically give you a two hour limit, although they don’t seem to hunt you down if you go a little over.
Phone: 323-734-7000
Hours: Mon-Sun 9:30 am – 9 pm
Entrance Fee: Mon-Thurs: $30, Fri-Sun/Holidays: $40