Philanthropy isn’t just a family business for Charles Annenberg Weingarten, it’s also a favorite pastime. The founder of Explore.org and vice president of The Annenberg Foundation, has lived in Santa Monica Canyon for fifteen years.
The Strawberry Flag Project
Currently the greatest place to see art is the Strawberry Flag Project at the Veterans Center off Wilshire. It might be the most innovative art installation in the history of L.A. Anyone can spin bikes that are, through solar power, irrigating the strawberry field. It’s between art and science and it’s a must-see. I checked it out last week and I got on one of the bikes and rode for like an hour. The Veterans Center looks like The Shining but they’re going to be selling their jam at Whole Foods.
The Annenberg Community Beach House
Anytime I can sneak into the Annenberg Community Beach House pool, I do. I have to go early in the morning to get some laps in. You have to be there by 6:30. It’s such a beautiful pool.
Malibu – Surfrider Beach
I’ve been doing stand-up paddle for two years. I was taught by some lifeguards on Maui’s North Shore. When I’m in town, I try to go on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
The Santa Monica Senior Center
I find it fun to walk in and talk to people there. My dog, Lucky, and I go in together. I’ll sit and read a book or chat for fifteen minutes. People are so focused on money, but I always think time spent is much more valuable. If you walk into any elderly center for ten minutes you will enrich someone’s life. And no one will ask for one penny. There’s a lot of wisdom there.
Afro Funke at Zanzibar
My friend Rocky Dilwani from Ghana does live music on Thursday nights, and I try to go check it out. It’s really eclectic, that’s what is nice. It’s all types of people from all over—a cultural salad bar.
Yang Chow Restaurant
If you’ve been there, you don’t want to go anywhere else. Yang Chow is the Nate ‘n Al of Chinese food. It’s always mobbed and it feels like a deli. I discovered it while I was working on a project downtown. They have this famous orange shrimp and all the basics. It’s a fastball right down the middle.
Ivy at the Shore
It’s a great introduction to Santa Monica. I was a waiter there twenty years ago, so some of the people know me. Actually, I got fired. I had this phobia of opening expensive wine bottles in front of clients, so I’d insist they order specialty drinks. It’s a long story. I wasn’t the best waiter—I knew too many of the clients.
Vic’s Barber Shop
Whereas a woman loves getting a manicure and pedicure, as a man I just love getting a shave. At Vic’s, it’s fifteen bucks. I go in on Sunday mornings. Lucky comes with me and gets a treat. It’s such a throwback in time on a street filled with oppulance. I don’t even know how it’s in business.
The Massage Place
Ask for Danny. He’s Thai and he gives a deep tissue/Thai massage that is as good as any five-star spa in L.A. I book him for two hours. I’ll paddle out and set up Danny. I go right to him. It’s the greatest combo.
It’s the best movie experience on the Westside. You can purchase your seats and tickets in advance, so there’s no stress going to the movies. It takes all the anxiety away. I just took my daughter to see Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Images courtesy of (in order): (1) Flickr/*clarity*, (2) beachhouse.smgov.net, (3) Flickr/Paraflyer, (4) 01.smgov.net/SeniorCenterPage, (5) zanzibarlive.com, (6) yangchow.com (7) tripadvisor.com, (8) Flickr/szlea, (9) themassageplaces.com, (10) landmarktheatres.com