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December 08, 1985|ELLEN MELINKOFF

In With the Inn Crowd In researching his book "Small Hotels of California" (Chronicle: $7.95), Bill Gleeson visited many of the state's most charming getaways. These are his favorites in Southern California:

El Encanto Hotel, Santa Barbara. "It's tucked away in the hills above the city and makes you feel as though you're in a tropical garden. Exudes an air of privacy."

Glenmore Plaza Hotel, Avalon, Santa Catalina. "One of the original Avalon hotels. This must have been what Catalina was like around the turn of the century. There's a really impressive fourth-floor suite with a cupola that has a 360-degree view."

Colonial Inn, La Jolla. "This was once a residential hotel, and many of the homey touches, such as built-in china cabinets, were left intact when it was renovated. A less formal alternative to La Valencia nearby."

Ingleside Inn, Palm Springs. "I can't think of a better place to spend time. It's expensive but not pretentious."

Mission Inn, Riverside. "This is an opportunity to stay in a medieval castle without leaving Southern California." (Inn is currently closed for renovation.) Bound for Glory Book lover and collector Margaret Lecky has taught bookbinding at UCLA Extension for several years. She always advises her students to work on fine press books--"good books, good paper, good printing." These are her favorite sources for books to read as well as bind:

Zeitlin & Ver Brugge, West Hollywood. "Huge scientific section and fine press books."

Dawson's Book Shop, Los Angeles. "All kinds of books, including a lot on California."

Peggy Christian Bookseller, Los Angeles. "A very good, all-around bookstore. Nice children's books."

Cherokee Book Shop, Hollywood. "A good general store." Acres of Books, Long Beach. "An incredible selection. So big!"

Fowl Lines Deborah Ashin hosts the daily "KKGO Dining Adviser" radio show as well as "The Audible Feast" aired weekly on KCRW. She loves to order duck wherever she dines, and these are her favorite duck dishes:

Duck breast with raspberries at Cafe Jacoulet, Pasadena. "Delicate sliced duck breast."

Duck with garlic at Saint Estephe, Manhattan Beach. "The most artistic presentation you can imagine."

Peking duck at Abacus, West Los Angeles. "The chef comes out and carves it at the table."

Roast sliced duckling salad at Velvet Turtle, citywide. "A main course for lunch, it's a generous portion of duck with a vinaigrette sauce."

Duck a l'orange at Le Petit Moulin, Santa Monica. "The perfect interpretation of a classical dish." Green Scenes Bob Cornell, a partner in the Los Angeles-based Zen Landscape design and construction firm, works with native California plants as often as he can. These are his favorite public places to see native plants: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont. "This garden has all native California plants. The desert area has rock mounds. It's best in spring for the wildflowers." Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, "Very well done." Descanso Gardens, La Canada Flintridge. "There's a native plant section here . . . sometimes it's quite lovely." Lummis Home, Highland Park, "An example of how native plants can be used at a residence." Quail Botanical Gardens, Encinitas, "A small garden with a native section." California Crazy Photographer Robert Landau focused his attention on Southern California's most outlandish places for his book "Outrageous L.A." (Chronicle: $12.95). These are his favorite such places:

Stovall's Space Age Motel, Anaheim. In addition to its "atomic, sub-particle theme," the topiary gardens feature dancing hippos (and more).

High Desert Christ Monument, Yucca Valley. "An outdoor carved sculpture garden with cactus."

Dog House, Los Angeles. "This is a bar on Alvarado Street, across from MacArthur Park."

Church of the Superet Light, Los Angeles. "It's in downtown Los Angeles on 3rd Street. It's a little religious garden with purple neon. Go at night for maximum effect."

Wheel-In Truck Stop, Cabazon. "With its two huge dinosaurs."

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