The Autry is California’s only museum and cultural center dedicated to the history, art, and stories of the American West. Located in Griffith Park, the Autry features special exhibitions, lively programs, and hands-on activities for kids.
• For $74, you get a one-year Family Deluxe membership (a $149 value). Benefits include unlimited admission for either three adults and their children (ages 2–17) or two adults and their children plus one adult guest. Other perks include six one-day guest passes, three one-day Safari Shuttle passes, two Choo-Choo Train passes, and one free stroller rental.
Many people feel an indescribable urge to follow in the footsteps of celebrities long passed?hoping that a connection to their genius or charm still lingers in the air of their apartments and favorite pubs. The guides of Esotouric understand and share this urge, though they prefer to roam the paths of history by bus. After scouring the famed neighborhoods of Los Angeles in search of interesting and outlandish locations, they share their findings on bus adventures that retrace the trails blazed by local artists, filmmakers, writers, and actors.
Esotouric's odysseys wind through haunts such as Raymond Chandler's favorite breakfast spot and the salon Charles Bukowski visited for his weekly knuckle-hair perm. Coloring their tours with anecdotes about the films adapted from his noirish stories, guides also visit locales captured in the cinematic landscapes of James M. Cain. Various tours explore Southern California?s culture, literature, and architectural sides, giving history hounds the chance to sniff out sinister deeds in old-time tattoo parlors, burlesque shows, and crime scenes.
With so much vibrant blue ocean nearby, a simple, mobile dive certification operation like LA Dive and Ride makes perfect sense. Owner Andy Brohard has spent years in the water, first as an enthusiast and later as a certified SCUBA instructor, offering lessons to beginners looking to master the art of the dive themselves. Newbies begin with an online education program, then practice their dive skills in serene, safe pools around Los Angeles. From there, four dives off Catalina Island indoctrinate newcomers into the real-life world of scuba diving, all while Brohard or members of his staff watch carefully. Both private and group sessions are available, and LA Dive and Ride occasionally schedules club meetings every month with guest lecturers, screenings related to diving and the ocean, and other cool events.
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Brands Used: Thomas Wooden Railway, Chuggington, and Brio.
Pro Tip: All Gift Shop proceeds aid the restoration of the trains and educational outreach at the Museum.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Members only playday
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
What is the experience customers can expect, and how do you make it special?
Our kid-friendly staff provides wooden engines for our museum visitors to borrow while they play and learn at the Museum. Located in beautiful Griffith Park, the Museum is a great escape where the kids can play, the parents can relax, and admission is free.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Watching the Museum visitors pretend and play on the painted railroad track in front of our store.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Our store is run by the 501(c)(3) non-profit group which provides tours for school groups during the week, restores and operates the big trains on the weekends, and provides a service-learning program for high school students and other adults who give tours on the weekends. We are part of the Presidential Service Awards—and our volunteers provided over 6,000 individuals tours last year.
DanceGardenLA was created by Zahra Zuhair and Jenna, who have been belly-dancing since childhood and have travelled the world accumulating impressive professional credits. Zuhair has trained in traditional folk and Eastern styles?including Lebanese, Turkish, Moroccan, and Tunisian?but her specialty is Egyptian belly dance, which she has studied with some of the top teachers in Cairo. She has also been featured on the cover of Zaghareet! magazine and has written, directed, and choreographed productions as the artistic director of the Ghazella Dance Company and Po Na Na Dance Theatre. Jenna acted as a goddess bellydance instructor on an episode of Sex and the City, and made appearances on The Tyra Banks Show and the Food Network program Aarti Party. She has also starred in several bestselling belly dance-instruction DVDs.
Thanks to their more than 50 years of combined teaching experience and a talented team of award-winning instructors, the studio was named the Best Place to Learn the Art of Bellydancing in 2012 by LA Weekly. The site recommended instructor Princess Farhana's "witty repartee (and Hollywood rock-scene anecdotes)," and described the predominantly female atmosphere as "always encouraging, never intimidating." The crew teaches classes including classic and tribal-style bellydance, Bollywood, and cutting-edge dance fitness such as Bellyquake and E5.