It's easy to forget that California was once the Wild West. But an afternoon in Rolling Hills Estates can serve as a welcome reminder.
"I'm not just playing this music to set the mood, " Jim Moore says as he tacks up his horse, the lazy twang of cowboy music filling the afternoon air. "I really listen to this stuff."
It's true. With his curled brim cowboy hat and worn-in blue jeans, Moore, a Kentucky native, is as close to a real cowboy as you'll find in the South Bay. He runs Cowboy Boot Camp with some help from his girlfriend, Jennifer, from the backyard stable of a home in Rolling Hills Estates.
With access to the Palos Verdes Peninsula's 100 miles of horse trails (the area is one of only a few places in L.A. County still designated for horses), this is a perfect starting place for a trail ride.
A few horse steps out of the backyard stable and it feels as if you've clip-clopped into a different time and place altogether, with an endless outcropping of stables, white picket fences, free-ranging peacocks, and the shrieking cock-a-doodle-doos of roaming roosters.
Unabated by pedestrian or vehicular traffic, the soft dirt trails meander through the hills and around the Peninsula to spots where, on a good day, you can see from Catalina to downtown Los Angeles to the snow-capped peaks of the San Gabriel mountains.
If you're in for a longer ride, Equine Experiences offers lunch and dinner rides for which food and drinks are carried in saddlebags. For more experienced riders, there also are full moon rides.
Moore has 12 horses, all of them impressively trained and suitable for all skill levels And unlike many trail-riding companies that keep riders at a steady walking pace throughout, if Moore feels you're ready, riders may trot and canter with the horses (he swears he hasn't had an accident yet).
So giddy-up. And go get 'em cowboy.
You know why you're here. Maybe it's the ocean, maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the flip-flops-at-the-office sort of lifestyle.
Then why is it, time and time again, when friends and family come to visit, it's often a struggle to decide where to take them?
Sure, you could go to Disneyland or Universal Studios. You could count the stars on Hollywood Boulevard or ride the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier.
But everyone knows there's more to Los Angeles than movie stars and amusement park rides.
As summer approaches, visitors will be dropping in once again. To help you prepare, here are some suggestions for the top five places to take out-of-town guests.