Magazine article American Forests

At Play in L.A

Magazine article American Forests

At Play in L.A

Article excerpt

If you'll be attending the American Forestry Association's Fifth National Urban Forest Conference in Los Angeles this month (November 12-17), you'll find a city that may look familiar--probably you've seen it in any number of movies. Surely no other city has been filmed more than Los Angeles, the motion-picture capital of the world.

The conference headquarters, the Biltmore, besides being a grand hotel, served as a filming location for The Poseidon Adventure, A Star Is Born, Rocky III, Roots, Ghostbusters, and episodes of television shows such as "Moonlighting." The hotel's Crystal Ballroom is thought to be the most filmed room in the city, and hardly a week goes by without a movie crew showing up to shoot somewhere on the premises.

The Westin Bonaventure, a modern shopping complex just one long block west of the Biltmore along 5th Street, is another Los Angeles landmark made recognizable by exposure on the silver screen. Buut Los Angeles has so much more to offer visitors, especially urban forest conference-goers, than what we see so often in films. Within an hour's drive of downtown are sunny beaches, large public parks, forested mountains, two famous amusement parks, museums, and arboretums.

If your spouse or travel companions are more interested in shopping than in seminars, downtown opportunities range from a garment district where wholesalers offer discount prices to an expanding jewelry district along Hill Street. Or you might send your shoppers to the Seventh Market Place at Citicorp Plaza, a three-level complex with 54 specialty stores anchored by two department stores and featuring a gourmet food pavilion where you can dine outside shaded by palm trees.

In just about any direction from the Biltmore, you can find any number of rooftop gardens. These open spaces in the downtown cityscape offer a cool respite for visitors and locals alike. The designs are interesting--some are atop parking garages, others jut from office or apartment buildings at different floors like steppingstones to the sky.

If you want to tour downtown Los Angeles, do it during the day. Life seems to roll out of the city with the cars at rush hour, and downtown dining within walking distance is mostly (but not exclusively) confined to the hotels.

A good idea for evening is to stay at the Biltmore and sample the pasta bar in the hotel's Court Cafe or dine in elegance at Bernard's, an award-winning restaurant on the premises. At some point during your stay, you will probably feel compelled to stroll through the hotel's grand rooms and magnificent hallways. Don't resist.

Later in the evening, you might meet colleagues in the hotel's Cognac Room, challenge a friend to billiards in the Gallery Bar, or listen to jazz in the Grand Avenue Bar. The Biltmore also has a health club where you can work out, go for a swim, or treat yourself to a massage.

If you've scheduled some time before or after the conference to take in the sights, you may want to begin by having the hotel help you with theater reservations. With the talent pool created by the television and film industries, Los Angeles has become the nation's second-largest theatrical city. Or you might choose to head out to Santa Monica or Burbank for a few laughs at a comedy club. If you didn't rent a car at the airport, factor in cab fare. Los Angeles is just now building an underground rail system, but the Blue Line to Long Beach is completed.

A ferry provides access to Catalina Island, and you might want to visit the Queen Mary, largest ocean liner afloat. Furnished in Art Deco style, it was a premier cruise liner before WW II and now operates as a hotel and restaurant.

Conference field trips may give you ideas for other places where you might like to spend more time. Tree enthusiasts will find the metropolitan area peppered with green spaces such as 4,063-acre Griffith Park--one of the nation's largest municipal parks. …

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