By Steve MacNaull
I’m no star quarterback like Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams.
But, let me on the football field of the Ram’s SoFi Stadium and I can triumphantly complete a five-yard pass.
You see, my wife, Kerry, and I are on the SoFi Stadium Tour (US$30).
The highlight is actually running through the players’ tunnel to music-pumping adulation and pom-pom-shaking cheerleaders and onto the field to throw the football and run its 100-yard length.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, SoFi is the new US$5-billion home of the LA Rams and the LA Chargers.
It’s not just the largest stadium in the National Football League, but is hailed as an architectural marvel and global sports and entertainment destination.
The palm-treed, indoor-outdoor stadium resembles a spaceship, has a retractable roof, seats 70,000 and is awe-inspiring from the millions of blades of artificial grass on the field to the LED-light display on the roof that dazzles passengers in planes taking off and landing at nearby Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Therefore, SoFi just had to become a tourist attraction in its own right, offering the touring experience on most non-game and non-concert days.
The tour also includes simply taking in its vastness from the open-air concourse, checking out the Corona Beach House mega-suite, sitting in the best seats in the house on the 50-yard line in VIP section 219 and the aforementioned on-field shenanigans.
Kerry and I were lured to LA in all its Southern California glory by the City of Angels’ #StartYourComeback campaign urging Canadians to return, or visit for the first time, as COVID travel restrictions ease.
The base for our LA Comeback long weekend is the newly renovated and reopened, five-star, 400-room Fairmont Century Plaza on the aptly named Avenue of the Stars beside Fox Studios.
We launch the weekend at the curved mid-century wonder of a hotel by crashing the LA Confidential Magazine party on the chic, 17-storey, rooftop pool deck.
There are glasses of Champagne, people watching and views of the metropolis lighting up for the night.
The Fairmont Century Plaza is also home to the modern American brasserie Lumiere, where we dined on sea bass and California Chardonnay, and the sumptuous Fairmont Spa, where we indulged in a one-hour ‘Together’ massage.
Rooftop bars would become a theme of our LA comeback.
We reward ourselves with more sparkling wine after a bike ride on The Strand at High, the 7th floor rooftop of the Erwin Hotel in quirky Venice Beach.
The view is all Pacific Ocean, wide beach, palm trees, LA sprawl and a diverse rooftop crowd of craft beer-sipping surfers to dressed-up couples on dates.
The Strand is the 30-kilometre bike path hugging the Pacific Ocean from Torrance to Pacific Palisades.
We peddle the busy section from the tacky, but fascinating, carnival atmosphere of Venice Beach’s promenade to the Ferris Wheel and roller coaster on the Santa Monica Pier and back.
It provides the quintessential LA vibe we’re after — famous sights, sand, sun, palm trees and yet more people watching from two wheels.
On our final LA day, we head downtown for some culture at the Broad Museum, with its Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein displays of art, and listen to the Los Angeles Philharmonic play Mahler classics at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Afterward, it’s a dinner of seared shrimp and Riesling at Spire 73, the highest open-air restaurant and bar in the Western Hemisphere perched on the 73rd-floor rooftop of the InterContinental Hotel.
The hip scene and the view of the sun sinking into the Pacific bathed in an pinky-orange glow caps off an ideal #StartYourComeback long weekend in the City of Angels.
Air Canada makes it easy to jet to Los Angeles with increased frequency from Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, and non-stop flights from Calgary.