TOURific Escapes is a food tour company. We are experts at the local area, and we’ll show you the city with a personal touch and tempt you with tastings you may not have discovered on your own. With our friendly tour and roomy and comfortable ride, you’ll feel like your best friend is showing you the best parts of town.
If Seuss blew balloons, they'd look something like the creations at Balloon Celebration. Complete with starbursts, tubes, and balloons twisting inside of balloons with bright latex blossoms, every sculptured balloon bouquet is customized to the client's liking. Mix and match 50 different species of balloon in 80 different shades of color to convey any message of your choosing.
If you've ever stood on the second floor of the Los Angeles Central Public Library and marveled at the explosion of color within the rotunda or the 12 adjacent murals depicting California history, then you have the Los Angeles Conservancy to thank. When the library was scheduled for demolition in the mid-1970s, concerned citizens formed the Conservancy to save the rotunda, the exterior limestone sculptures, and the library's many other architectural treasures. The group finally convinced the City Council to preserve the library in 1983, after years of public discussion, debate, and book-sniffing sit-ins. Ever since, it has advocated for greater Los Angeles's historic sites and educated people about the city's architectural heritage. The Conservancy is responsible for saving and revitalizing landmarks such as the former Cathedral of St. Vibiana, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, and the world’s oldest remaining McDonald’s restaurant.
To accomplish its mission, the membership-based nonprofit offers a number of ways people can experience these beautiful and storied places. The Last Remaining Seats series earned a Reader Recommendation for Best Film Series and Best Downtown Event in the Los Angeles Downtown News' 2012 poll, in which the conservancy’s walking tours also earned the title of Best Downtown Tour. But the organization does more than save grandiose public buildings: increasingly, it also focuses on smaller community projects such as garden apartments and sites that reflect the area's rich Latino culture.
Executive director and 20-year Conservancy veteran Linda Dishman explained to Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times, "People are becoming more vocal. …That's one of the great secrets about Los Angeles: People really identify with their neighborhoods." The Conservancy also presents annual preservation awards to honor the efforts of individuals who fight to save places such as Pann’s Coffee Shop and Griffith Observatory.
Six Taste co-owner Jeff Okita succinctly described his TripAdvisor Top 10 Pick tours to the Daily Trojan in 2011, calling them "a way for people to connect to different communities through an accessible medium, which is food." During four-hour excursions, in-the-know guides walk with fellow explorers through iconic Los Angeles–area neighborhoods—including Little Tokyo and the heart of downtown—stopping into gems to sample the eatery's cuisine and learn about the area. This cultural education is paramount for Jeff, who told the Christian Science Monitor in 2010 that "we choose the restaurants based on their story and what they add to the understanding of a neighborhood, its people and its history."
Guides currently lead more than 15 tours a week through eight different neighborhoods, with most tours meeting between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to the regularly scheduled excursions, the staff also leads specialty outings that focus on more adventurous cuisines, including intensely spicy dishes in Thai Town and lost seafood recipes in Atlantis.
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.