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September 29, 2008

Layover Nation: LAX and One Deserted Beach

Michael Kinsley on Dockweiler State Beach
Note to self:  Bring flip-flops

Finally. On Friday Michael Kinsley bid adieu to Seattle and set out to test the six winning entries in our Airport Layover Contest. His itinerary: Seattle-Los Angeles-Auckland-Singapore-Dubai-Zurich-Amsterdam-London-Reykjavik-Copenhagen-Seattle. Whew! His first post comes from Los Angeles. Take it away, Michael.

So far so good.

First stop was LAX. Goal was to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean and a stroll along the beach. The plane from Seattle landed early (thank you, United!). I hopped in a cab--an option often overlooked in Los Angeles and therefore easy--rarely much of a wait. The closest beach is right behind the airport and takes about five minutes to get to. Called Dockweiler State Beach, it has palm trees and picnic tables and is generally underpopulated. Or, on this warm sunny day when all the beaches in LA were underpopulated, Dockweiler was close to deserted.

The trouble with Dockweiler is airplane noise (yes, it's that close) and the lack of a commercial strip. Across from the beach is the unattractive back end of the airport, plus some industrial something that could be anything from a sanitation plant to a chemical warfare research facility.

Layover Nation

So I got the cab to take me to a 24 Hour Fitness branch in Manhattan Beach, the next town down. There, I paid the day rate of only ten bucks (an option to keep in mind at almost any layover in America, though the price can vary) in the hopes of getting some exercise in preparation for my next leg of 13 hours by 1:15, and by 2 p.m. (well, maybe 2:30) had been picked up by some friends and was headed to the beach. Late lunch at a funky burger joint, a quick dip in the ocean, and at that point I could have headed back to the airport and caught a 6 p.m. plane if necessary. It would have been tight. But this also happened to be the night of the first presidential debate, and my plane didn't really leave until 10:30 p.m. 

Further reading:
* Entries from the Airport Layover Contest
* The winning layover ideas
* How Dockweiler State Beach was chosen
* Layover entries mapped: Latin America and the Caribbean
Layover entries mapped: Australia and New Zealand


I was surprised you decided to go to Dockweiler to watch planes instead of following my suggestion of doing flying trapeze at the Santa Monica Pier. You would have had a lot more fun. Maybe next time you are in LA, you can try it out.

Next time, try Playa Del Rey. A sleepy little beach town - by LA standards - just north of LAX and south of Marina del Rey. You have the beach and can walk over to Culver Blvd for drinks and food.

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