Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
It's expensive, it's in Newport Coast, and only 1 percenters can afford to play it regularly, but according to the people who take this shit very seriously—such as Golf Digest, which annually ranks the top 100 public golf courses in the United States (and who can argue with that? It's a DIGEST!)—Pelican Hill's South Course clocks in at 61st on the 2015-16 ranking, seven slots better than the previous year. What makes it special? Well, the name kicks ass, since who doesn't like pelicans? The views, both from the two par-3s perched above the Pacific Coast and the inland holes resting atop higher ground overlooking PCH, are always killer. And its designer, Tom Fazio, is one of the most heralded in the sport's history. Though it stretches less than 6,600 yards from the tips, the course is as bedeviling as it is beguiling. Some might even say it's worth the price of admission: $320 at peak times, $180 for twilight (four hours before sunset) and $105 for evenings (two hours before sunset).
Readers’ Choice: Monarch Beach Golf Links
The picturesque Thousand Steps Beach is not just a place to work out at until your legs feel like Jell-O, but it's also a great place to be stoned, especially at night. Next time you're feeling like being one with nature and herb, head down to the gorgeous shores of Thousand Steps Beach to witness a clear night sky spotted with a sea of sparkling-white stars. If you're faded enough and stare deeply up above, the tiny beacons of light will start to blur into vivid white streaks across the pitch-black sky to the soothing soundtrack of ocean waves crashing onto the shore. Pair this beautiful setting with some indica, and you've got one of the most relaxing places in Orange County. And with the city of Laguna Beach inching closer to passing a medical-marijuana initiative this November, Thousand Steps Beach may become South County's first stoners' paradise.
First, drive to Fifth and Grand streets in the Financial District, find cheap parking, and rise in an elevator 1,000 feet in the air to take in a 360-degree view of Los Angeles via the OUE Skyspace LA, the tallest open-air observation deck in California. For $8 more than the usual $19-to-$25 entry fee, you can ride the enclosed slide affixed to the 70th to 69th floors of the U.S. Bank Tower. Calm your nerves across the street at LA's Central Library, where four large murals depict different points in Golden State history. Ying your yang in the outdoor Maguire Gardens before walking half a block on South Flower Street to Public School 213, a mellow gastropub that serves pleasing appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, salads, wine, cocktails, craft beers and dinner fare, all in the $$ range.
OUE Skyspace LA, U.S. Bank Tower, 633 W. Fifth St., Ste. 840, Los Angeles, (213) 800-5659; www.skyspace-la.com.
Los Angeles Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., Los Angeles, (213) 228-7000.
Public School 213, 612 S. Flower St., Los Angeles, (213) 622-4500; www.psontap.com.
Readers’ Choice: Mutt Lynch’s
This isn't your average PC café, but rather America's first facility dedicated to e-sports. Whether your competitive game of choice is League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Hearthstone, Halo, Smash or Call of Duty, Esports Arena holds events and tournaments for every premier title. Add in special meet-and-greets and signings with pro-gamers and elite teams and gaming organizations such as Team Solomid, and you have a modern-day gamers' paradise.
Self-described as "a family training center," the Dragon House Gym lives up to the billing; many who took classes as children under Sensei Daniel Higgins now bring their own children here to learn boxing, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu and other forms of self-defense. The Dragon House Gym also specializes in getting you in shape—fighting or otherwise—through personal-training sessions. After transforming your rocking bod, you can cover it up with Dragon House clothing, available for sale in the front.
Readers’ Choice: Gracie Barra Garden Grove
After arriving at UC Irvine in 2010, Mark Deppe has specialized in out-of-the-box thinking that has led to more outside attention on the school. Having coordinated six consecutive Guinness World Records, Deppe generated even more international buzz by helping to establish an e-sports program that actively recruits the best gamers to major in computer game science and/or participate in live gaming competitions at the Bren Events Center. Deppe is acting director of an e-sports program that was mocked in some corners when it was announced in 2015. But the offering of e-sports scholarships, the opening of a state-of-the-art arena and the enrollment of the brightest gaming minds at Irvine have shot naysayers down as if they were Soap MacTavishes.