Discover Los Angeles: the ultimate health escape

February 28, 2017

Picture this: a sunny day, a spa escape, a fun concert and an incredible meal. As we continue to explore the city of Los Angeles in our health and rejuvenation series, we present to you 4 incredible spots for a perfect—and very healthy—getaway. You can squeeze them into a single day, although we recommend spreading them over a weekend, for a truly memorable experience.

Start your morning with a hike

Whether you prefer a leisurely walk, a long hike or an intense run, Runyon Canyon is an excellent outdoor option to discover the city.

This is a public facility, so it’s open all day, except from dusk till dawn. You can easily spend two to six hours here, walking around, climbing the hills, taking pictures and just admiring the incredible views that Runyon Canyon unfolds in front of your eyes. Climb to the very top and you will have the core of L.A. in the palm of your hand, with the renowned Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory on the left, and the core downtown skyline on the right.

Views from the Runyon Canyon peaks are definitely postcard-worthy.

The park is well-known for celebrity spotting, and many models go for runs here. There are also free yoga classes—for all levels—held in the park throughout the day (donations are welcome).

USEFUL TIP: Don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes, a water bottle to stay hydrated, layered clothing in case it gets too windy, and your camera. This may sound too “touristy”, but a selfie stick is also helpful in case you want to pose with the stunning city view as your backdrop. There is also a love-lock area on top of one of the hills!

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Follow up with a luxury spa

An urban oasis in the heart of the city, the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles Spa is an 8,000-square-foot space, with nine treatment rooms, a signature Couple’s Suite, a full-service hair salon and a boutique. All services offered here are inspired by leading product lines and abundant natural resources of the Southern Californian locale.

This is a great follow up to a hike, especially if you are opting for a massage. As soon as you arrive, everyone will know your name before you even introduce yourself. The massage therapist will pay close attention to the areas that you specifically want them to work on. For example, if you are a victim of the allergy season, they will apply their magic to your sinuses and you will actually be able to breathe freely after the session.

A massage at the Spa is an absolute must for any health escape in Los Angeles.

A massage at the Spa is an absolute must for any health escape in Los Angeles.

The Spa is exceptionally convenient if you are travelling or have a fully packed day of outdoor activities. For example, if you just came from Runyon Canyon, you may not have packed certain items that the Spa smartly offers to all guests. In addition to the “regular suspects” (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion), you can find a deodorant, contact lens solution, mouthwash and even make-up remover here. If you wear contact lenses, this is particularly useful, prior to the use of the eucalyptus steam room or cold plunge showers.

USEFUL TIP: At the end of your experience, head to the co-ed Sanctuary—a private relaxation chamber. Large TV screens adorn the centre of the room here and play video clips of stunning beaches from various parts of the world, while soothing music plays gently in the background. It’s a perfect opportunity to lie down, meditate and unwind for as long as you wish.

Catch a moment of meditation at The Sanctuary.

Catch a moment of meditation at The Sanctuary.

Add a touch of entertainment with an outdoor element

There are few experiences more quintessentially “Los Angeles” than spending a summer evening—or, considering Californian weather, any evening for that matter—under the stars, while watching a concert or a show at the Hollywood Bowl.

Known as the world’s largest natural amphitheater, the Bowl has hosted pretty much every celebrity you can think of: from Bob Dylan and Elton John, to Prince and Lady Gaga. Fun fact: when Beatlemania arrived at the Bowl in August 1964, all 18,000 tickets for the event were sold out immediately. The noise from screaming fans overpowered any sound coming from the stage, and The Beatles returned to the Bowl the following summer for two more shows. You can find a photo from that performance at the Bowl Museum, as well as a variety of documentaries, projections of vintage movies and state-of-the-art audio stations. The Bowl is also home to the shows by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Fireworks are a Hollywood Bowl tradition, each show averaging over 1,600 individual explosions and 100 bouquet showers.

Until June 2017, the venue is also running the Attention Pilots | Hollywood Bowl and the Skies Above exhibit, which explores the long-standing efforts by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which operates the Bowl, to keep the skies above the venue clear of aircraft during performances. Phil’s work over the years has included outreach to airplane and helicopter pilot associations, air traffic controllers and the air support division of the LAPD. One of the exhibition’s highlights is the large room that displays colourful “no fly” posters produced since the 1970s, which were distributed to help dissuade aviators from flying over the Bowl in the summer.

The Bowl is an excellent follow-up to the Runyon Canyon—it’s a quiet oasis in the middle of the city, with hillsides covered in native vegetation, including chaparral, sycamores, pines and the holly plant that gave the area its name. Animals living in the “neighbourhood” include deer, coyotes, opossums and many varieties of birds. And just in case you didn’t get a good view of the Hollywood sign from the Runyon Canyon, the Bowl sits right across from the Mount Cahuenga that has the sign on its peak.

USEFUL TIP: Picnics at the Bowl are a staple of L.A. summers (although, again, the weather is so good here all year long, that you can easily do this in the early spring or fall). There are food kiosks and stations throughout the venue, but guests are encouraged to bring their own food and wine too—and there are even fold outs in all boxes for wine bottles.

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Wrap it up with a superb dinner

Every adventure-filled experience must be complemented by a memorable meal, and our top choice in L.A. goes to Faith & Flower.

A contemporary restaurant located in the WaterMarke Tower in the South Park district, the venue’s name pays homage to two major renaissance periods—the 1920s and modern day—that have fundamentally shaped the downtown Los Angeles community. “Flower” refers to the street that the restaurant can be found on, while “Faith” is the street’s alleged name back in the 1920s.

This is a very fun place, full of surprises, so prepare to fall in love with its cuisine and décor. As you arrive, you will immediately notice the funky wall art, featuring plant-inspired motifs, shapes constructed of handheld mirrors and peacock patterns. Take a seat and observe the table in front of you, graced by green goblets and books. Open The Return of Sherlock Holmes copy, and you will realize that a cleverly presented menu is hidden inside, arranged like an actual novel with its own Table of Contents.

Inside Faith & Flower in downtown Los Angeles.

Inside Faith & Flower in downtown Los Angeles.

Cocktail list is abundant and delicious, featuring crafty names, such as Writer’s Block or Dusty Fedora. A popular choice is the renowned English Milk Punch, with the recipe that reportedly took four years of development. It’s a melange of rum, brandy, bourbon and pernod absinthe, so prepare to awaken your senses. Alternatively, there is a wine list, carefully selected by the venue’s wine director Jared Hooper, a decent beer assortment and a humongous absinthe selection.

Service is fast, attentive and friendly—our host Augustine immediately made us feel at home with his upbeat and humourous approach. He also knew the menu like the back of his hand and was very creative in his suggestions to accommodate any food allergies.

At Faith & Flower, healthy food options seamlessly blend with the epitome of fine dining. Persimmon and Chicory Salad beautifully pairs roasted hazelnut vinaigrette, with manchego cheese and pomegranate; Roasted Heirloom Carrots arrive with palm sugar glaze, goat cheese, pistachios and bacon lardons; Seared Ocean Trout is a celebration of all senses with white-wine braised cabbage, fingerling potatoes and grain mustard jus; and the Shellfish Risotto is a hands-down winner, with lovely lobster emulsion, sitting atop Caribbean shrimp and mussels.

Wrap up the meal with the Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta and Hazelnut Chocolate Feuilletine because you only live once, because everyone visiting Los Angeles should try these two dishes, and because a getaway could not have a more delicious ending!

USEFUL TIP: The Oxtail Agnolotti is the most popular dish on the menu, and for good reason.

FAJO would like to thank the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board and its partners for organizing this trip and experience.

Stay tuned for part 3 of our Los Angeles health and rejuvenation guide that will focus on West Hollywood!

By Hannah Yakobi
Photography by Hannah Yakobi, courtesy of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board and their partners, and courtesy of each venue

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