A photograph of Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in the museum at the Annenberg Community Beach House.

Santa Monica: Swim, dance and tour film star's old beach house

Back in the day, actress Marion Davies' luxurious beach house in Santa Monica had more than 100 rooms and an ornate swimming pool. Little of the original mansion still exists, but what's now known as the Annenberg Community Beach House still has plenty of oceanfront allure.

The beach house will mark its fifth anniversary Saturday and Sunday with an open house that is to feature activities as varied as ballroom dancing and paddleboarding lessons.

Guided tours with architects John Berley and Mia Lehrer are scheduled for 10 a.m. each day. The mansion was financed by Davies' lover, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, and many grand Hollywood parties were held here, according to a history on the beach house website.

Hearst engaged Julia Morgan to design it; Morgan also designed Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif.

Berley and Lehrer were tasked with reimagining much of the site after the 1994 Northridge quake caused severe damage to the few structures that remained. (The original...

Fancy some shortbread and tea? BritWeek Santa Monica Festival comes to Third Street Promenade in early May.

Los Angeles takes on a British accent during BritWeek festivities

Queen Elizabeth II had a new black-and-white portrait unveiled -- she's smiling! -- in honor of her 88th birthday on Monday. Not to outdo her royal highness, but anyone will be able to have their portrait on the front page of the London Times at the BritWeek Santa Monica Festival next month.

BritWeek is a bit of a misnomer because many activities throughout the L.A. area started Monday and last longer than a week. For example, high tea lovers already have been asked to vote for L.A.'s best afternoon tea spot: the High Tea Cottage in Woodland Hills, Ye Olde Kings Head in Santa Monica, the Rose Tree Cottage in Pasadena and the Queen Mary Tea Room in Long Beach.

There are cricket and rugby games as well as U.S.-British art gallery openings sprinkled throughout the festivities that run until the beginning of May.

The BritWeek Santa Monica Festival takes place May 3 and 4 at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. The festival, which is free, runs 10 a.m.-6 p.m. both days.

Visitors can...

The cast of "Pawn Shop Live!" parodies the quirky folks who run Gold and Silver Pawn in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas: 'Pawn Shop' lampoon relocates to Riviera

The colorful characters from a world-famous Sin City pawn shop take center stage in a new show at a Strip resort.

The cast of "Pawn Shop Live!" lampoons the quirky members of the Harrison family, owners of Gold & Silver Pawn and stars of the History Channel’s popular “Pawn Stars” show. The clan has endorsed the show. Some of the Harrisons have said they will make surprise appearances on stage as their schedules allow.

The show, which originally opened downtown at the Golden Nugget, has relocated to the Riviera on Las Vegas Boulevard, just a couple of miles south of the real-life pawn shop.

The parody will be staged in the resort’s Starlite Theatre at 4:30 p.m. daily.

Tickets cost $42 to $103 and are available online or by calling (800) 745-3000(800) 745-3000.



The Line, which reopened in January, made the 2014 Hot List of best hotels in the world.

3 new L.A. hotels make Conde Nast's Hot List of 33 best in the world

Los Angeles hotels, you're the best. Conde Nast Traveler editors selected three SoCal sites — the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Palihouse Santa Monica and the Line in Koreatown — for its 2014 Hot List of the 33 best new hotels in the world.

Ace Hotel, the reimagined 1927 United Artists building, won accolades for best design as an "unabashed hipsters' playground."

Palihouse Santa Monica, described as a "sun-drenched California dream," was deemed among the best hotels for families.

The Line, which barely opened this year as a redo of an existing Koreatown building, received high marks for its two Roy Choi restaurants and low room prices.

Other U.S. hotels that made the cut:

— The Thompson Chicago, and Zero George Street in Charleston, S.C., for best food hotels.

The Dean in Providence, R.I., and the Marlton in New York City for best bargain hotels; and

— The Salt House Inn in Provincetown, Mass., and Andaz Maui in Wailea, Hawaii, for top beach hotels....

The Taxi Magic app on an Android phone. Customer who use the app this week can get a free $15 cab ride.

How to get a free cab ride in L.A. this week

Free rides to and from the airport are hard enough to come by, let alone free rides on demand. Taxi Magic is changing that for customers who use its mobile app to hail a cab in the Los Angeles area this week.

Here's how it works: Download the Taxi Magic app (if you haven't already) or sign in to your existing account. Enter the promotion code "TAXIBACK," and you'll receive a $15 credit for your next cab ride. (For those who haven't used it, you pay for fares using the app too.)

Why $15? Taxi Magic says the average ride in L.A. costs $14, so they're spotting you one free ride — or credit toward a longer one.

The Taxi Magic app allows you to order a cab on demand (without having to wait in line at the airport) or schedule a ride for later. The service area favors downtown and the Westside, stretching as far west as Malibu and Calabasas, but stopping on the eastern side at South Pasadena and East L.A.

The company claims you can hail a cab in L.A. via the app and one will appear in...

The cruise on the Crystal Serenity will educate passengers about the 1939 plight of Jewish refugees who were sent back to Europe after they were denied landing.

Fall cruise recalls plight of Jewish refugees on Voyage of the Damned

The 1939 sailing of the German ship the St. Louis -- popularized in the book and movie "Voyage of the Damned" -- was a painful precursor to the Holocaust. Now, 75 years later, a November cruise will recall some of that ill-fated trip.

The hopes of the 937 Jewish refugees who boarded the St. Louis in Hamburg, Germany, to flee Hitler's Nazi regime were dashed when their plan to land in Cuba and await transport to the U.S. was denied. The U.S. also didn't allow them to enter, and the ship was sent back to Europe.

Some of those refugees will share their stories on a November cruise dedicated to telling people about the doomed voyage. The 14-day sailing starts in New York City and ends in Miami.

"We will breathe life into history by using this unique cruise experience aboard the Crystal Serenity to trace the voyage of the SS St. Louis in a deeply respectful and meaningful way,"  Ruth Kalish said in a statement. Kalish produced a recent film about the voyage called "Complicity: The Untold...

The glow of a headlamp leaves an eerie trail as a guest crosses the longest of eight lines during the Sunset Zip attraction on Kauai.

Hawaii: Kauai zip line gives you an after-dark adrenaline rush

An after-dark zip-line experience is the newest outdoor adventure for thrill-seekers on Kauai.

For folks for whom a daytime zip through the forest isn’t a big enough adrenaline rush, Koloa Ziplines has launched the Sunset Zip, a heart-pumper that begins at 5 p.m. daily on the Garden Isle. While traveling across a total of eight lines, including one nearly half-a-mile long, participants will see the sunset over Kauai’s south shore and, later, the starry sky.

The attraction costs $176 a person. For about $10 more, guests can choose the “Flyin Kauaian” experience in which they soar through the air head-first, thanks to a special harness.

Flashlights and headlamps, which can create an eerie glow after dark, are provided.

The course takes 3 1/2 to four hours to complete.

There’s a 270-pound weight limit, and customers must be at least 7 years old. Anyone 17 or younger must be accompanied by an adult.

Info: Koloa Ziplines(877) 707-7088.

The Stratosphere, which dominates the Las Vegas skyline, welcomed its 40 millionth visitor on Monday.

Las Vegas: Stratosphere welcomes visitor No. 40 million

Amid cheers and applause, the Stratosphere tower welcomed its 40 millionth visitor on Monday.

A balloon bouquet and a prize package were presented to James Kennedy of Birmingham, England, moments after he bought his ticket about 10:30 a.m.

“I am shocked,” said Kennedy, a first-time visitor to Las Vegas.

The tower, which opened in April 1996, dominates the Las Vegas skyline. At 1,149 feet, it soars more than twice as high as two other Sin City landmarks: the replica Eiffel Tower (540 feet) and the new High Roller observation wheel (550 feet). It’s also 131 feet taller than L.A.’s U.S. Bank Tower (1,018 feet).

The Las Vegas icon features indoor and outdoor viewing decks. Admission is $18 for adults and $10 for children.




San Diego: Mexican artist Tamayo's brilliance coming to La Jolla

San Diego: Mexican artist Tamayo's brilliance coming to La Jolla

Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo was a muralist, graphic artist, painter and art collector. In 1981 he donated his artwork and important art pieces he had collected to a museum in Mexico City that bears his name.

Next month selected works from the Rufino Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art will debut at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's La Jolla site. The show underscores the diversity of the museum's collection, including pieces that have been purchased since Tamayo's death in 1991.

The exhibition will feature three paintings by Tamayo, according to a museum announcement: a portrait of his wife Olga, a watermelon still life and a nocturnal sky scape. Tamayo was known for being influenced by many different movements -- cubism, impressionism and fauvism -- and mixing abstract figures with folk art themes in bold colors.

Other works in the collection that will travel to La Jolla include paintings by Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon and Mark Rothko as well as Latin American artists Roberto...

LAX dog-greeter program marks its first year of keeping fliers calm

LAX dog-greeter program marks its first year of keeping fliers calm

Finn, a large Irish wolfhound, spends some of his time cheering up travelers at Los Angeles International Airport. One day after a gunman opened fire at Terminal 3 and left a Transportation Security Administration officer dead last November, Finn was on the job.

A member of LAX's Pets Unstressing Passengers, or PUPS program, Finn moved in and out of boarding gates, stopping for some petting and love from passengers.

"I think after the shooting, Finn attracted attention because he represented something comforting," owner Brian Valente said in an airport statement. "As passengers asked questions about Finn and started to pet him, I could see their bodies relax and their demeanors change."

RELATED: Golden retriever comfort dogs return to Boston Marathon

It's been a year since the airport introduced PUPs, a milestone being marked Monday at a meeting of the L.A. Board of Airport Commissioners.

Finn and 29 dogs of all breeds make up the PUPs team. They appear in post-security-screening areas...

Gear: Blood pressure monitor works with your smartphone

Gear: Blood pressure monitor works with your smartphone

Monitoring blood pressure during travels can be vital, especially for those with a history of heart disease or hypertension.

The new Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor is a compact arm cuff that works with your Bluetooth-enabled iOS or Android device to measure, display and track systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as heart rate.

The monitor also comes with a USB adapter, though you must supply your own cable.

Pairing with your smartphone by Bluetooth is easy once you’ve installed the Withings Health Mate application (free at the iTunes Store or Google Play) and set up a user ID, password and age-gender-height-weight profile.

Then, wrap the cuff around your arm, lining up the BP reader’s metal tube mechanism along your bicep, lock the monitor in place using the integrated Velcro tabs, and press the cuff’s “on” button, which automatically launches the Health Mate app on your smartphone.

When you tap the green start button inside the app, the...

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Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger Mary Forgione likes to hit the dirt when she's on vacation. An avid hiker and runner, Mary likes speed-touring cities on foot and sightseeing by running marathons.