Magazine article Sunset

Best of the West: Our 10 Favorite Things This Month

Magazine article Sunset

Best of the West: Our 10 Favorite Things This Month

Article excerpt

1 Urban renewal

Between Santa Monica's gleaming art moderne City Hall and its honky-tonk pier, where the Rand Corporation's massive headquarters used to sprawl (picture wonks in narrow ties charting the course of the Cold War), lies a pair of parks covering 7 acres in all, designed by the same landscape architect who gave Manhattan its High Line. Unveiled four months ago and already a magnet for picnicking couples and families, the manmade hills and crroyo of Ken Genser Square and Tongva Park (named, respectively, for a former mayor and a local indigenous people) contain drought-tolerant native grasses and succulents, hill slides and forts for kids, and observation decks shaded by dreamily wavelike metal trellises facing the Pacific, tongvapark.squarespace.com

2 Desert cool

Seems as if there's always a new hotel opening in Palm Springs, but this one is a big deal. Really. Take a '50s celebrity hangout that's fallen on hard times. (That'd be the onetime Red Barn, between the Ace and the Saguaro hotels on Palm Canyon Drive.) Add two of the best-credentialed hoteliers in town. (They'd be Douglas and Josie Smith, the original team behind the Korakia Pensione.) Keep the low-slung redwood bones, the eourty ard-with-pool setup, and the original barn--it'll make a rustic-chic salon and bar--but eighty-six just about everything else. (Which means reinvigorating the 20 guest rooms with horse-trough bathtubs and original cedar shingle ceilings, and creating a poolside waterfall backlit by fire at night.) Oh, and change the name to something quirky ... like the Sparrows Hotel. Mission accomplished. From $150; sparrowshotel.com.

3 Far East by Southwest

For 34 years, the Ten Thousand Waves spa, a few miles north of Santa Fe, has felt like a little bit of Kyoto transplanted to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Now that's truer than ever: The spa has opened its first restaurant, Izanami, which serves Japanese-inspired seasonal small plates. This summer, you'll be able to dine outside, but for now, have a hot soak under the stars, then come in to try housemade gyoza with pork (left) and maybe grilled Wagyu tri-tip with wasabi, paired with a Japanese microbrew or a little something off the 50-deep sake list. $$; tenthousandwaves.com.

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4 PUPPY LOVE

Designed to keep hunting dogs cozy in wintry Colorado Rockies campsites, the plush-lined, inflatable Westwater bed would, of course, work just as well under your desk at the office, in your kitchen at home, or in the back of your minivan. Sweet dreams, best friend. 2 1/2-by 30-by 40-in. bed, $90; fishpondusa.com.

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5 Transplanted visionary

David Hockney may be a Brit by birth, but he's a true Westerner when it comes to adopting the latest technology. Exhibit A: his iPad drawings of Yosemite (left) in David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition, the de Young Fine Art Museum's survey of the prolific artist's 21st-century oeuvre, which ranges from massive oil paintings of bucolic Yorkshire landscapes to intimate charcoal portraits to a multiscreen video drive through the desert. But hurry--the show, the largest the museum has ever mounted, closes on January 20, and San Francisco is the only place on Earth it's appearing. From $25; deyoung.famsf.org.

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6 HOT DATES

A new year dawns, and by the time you're ready to deal with it, no bearable 2014 calendars remain on the shelves. …

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