As busy and hectic as my life typically is, I’m always in search of a quiet and serene place to relax in this chaotic city. I’ve learned that sometimes you need to venture just outside of Los Angeles to really find and enjoy that peaceful and tranquil setting you’re looking for. This brings me to a new just-outside-of-LA destination that I recently discovered and wanted to share with you all: the little-known Los Angeles Arboretum. The LA Arboretum is located in Arcadia, just minutes away from the infamous Santa Anita Racetrack. I’d say from Downtown LA, it’s about a 30-45 minute drive over here (and parking here is free – woo!). The Arboretum is basically a giant park that will take you about 2-3 hours in total to fully walk through and explore. It’s home to a wide variety of plants, trees, flowers, green houses, animals (the prettiest peacocks are all over the place near the entrance), and plenty of areas to sit back and relax with a good book or good friend.
The LA Arboretum is local, hidden gem with plenty of photo ops, whether you’re looking for a spot to take some professional pictures or just snap some shots with your iPhone. Make sure to grab a map on your way in to get the lay of the land and to ensure you stop by all the main attractions, and I'd recommend bringing a camera, water, sunscreen, hat, and comfortable shoes for walking.
Overall, any place near Los Angeles that allows me to explore beautiful nature in a peaceful and quiet setting gets an A in my book. Click here to read all about the lovely Los Angeles Arboretum, and click here for the Arboretum’s hours of admission.
If your childhood was anything like mine, Disney movies were probably a close fried of yours growing up. From Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Aladdin, Pocahantas, The Lion King, and many more - these movies were such an integral part of shaping my - and so many other youngin’s - imagination and creativity. I'll always consider myself a kid at heart and am quite the dreamer/creative thinker, so of course I still enjoy watching both the classic and new Disney movies. Since moving to L.A. almost two years ago, Disneyland has been near the top of my L.A. Bucketlist. I've been to Disneyland a few times growing up and loved it, but it's been about 15 (ish?) years since my last visit so I was well overdue for a Disneyland outing. And, just as I remembered as a child way back then, it did not disappoint. :)
Disneyland is one of two theme parks (next to the newer California Adventure park) built at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. Anaheim is about a 30-60 minute drive from L.A., depending on where you are coming from. It opened on July 17, 1955 and is the only theme park designed and built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney himself. Since 1955, more than 600 million guests have visited Disneyland, which is almost double the current population of the US. In 2012, Disneyland attracted 16 million visitors throughout the day, which equals to an average of 44,000 visitors per day. All I can say is WOWZA – it sure is popular! And obviously, for good reason. Disneyland, L.A.’s most beloved theme park, allows visitors to “enter a magical kingdom where you can sail with pirates, explore exotic jungles, meet fairy-tale princesses, dive under the ocean and rocket through the stars—all in the same day!” (thanks Disneyland website). Aaand it has plenty of yummy treats to enjoy, super fun rides, cute shops to peruse, and much more to be entertained by. There’s truly something for everyone here, and all ages are welcome!
For our trip to Disneyland on President's Day, we arrived at the Mickey & Friends Parking Lot at about 7:45am and made it to the front gate by about 8:15am. I am so glad we woke up extra early to enter right around opening time (8:00am), because the park was so nice and quiet until about 9:30am/10:00am. And then, as expected, it became extremely crowded and chaotic. I'd definitely recommend coming first thing in the morning to enjoy the park before it gets too busy.
We spent a solid half-day at Disneyland (it definitely wears you out, y'all) and felt like we got to see the whole park and experience (and eat) all of the top things we wanted to. Our favorite treats were the Mickey-shaped Beignets from Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square and the infamous Dole Whip (a tasty ice cream float with pineapple flavored frozen yogurt and fresh pineapple juice) from the Tiki Bar in Adventureland. Our favorite rides were all of the Star Wars rides (we love all things Star Wars!!) including Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, Star Tours, and Hyperspace Mountain. Before your visit, I would highly recommend reading about Fast Passes HERE - we got fast passes for all our of top rides as soon as we entered the park, and the longest line we waited in was only about 10-15 minutes. This made our Disneyland experience so much more enjoyable.
Overall, who could not love Disneyland?! I had a really fun and memorable day at one of our world's most beloved them parks, and I'd love to go back soon (and hopefully before another 15 years passes me by...)! Click HERE for all of the details you need to know about Disneyland, and click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Out of all of the things I enjoy about living in Los Angeles, In-N-Out Burger is definitely near the top of the list (and it’s becoming a pretty long list). I mean, who could resist their perfectly cooked fries smothered in grilled onions, melted cheese, and tangy spread, or their delicious, fresh burgers with all of the fixings? And don’t even get me started on their creamy Neapolitan milkshakes…
BRB, I am now drooling.
But really – In-N-Out is a Los Angeles/California fave and something I will truly never tire of. In-N-Out Burger was founded in Baldwin Park, California, just about 20 minutes outside of Los Angeles, in 1948 by Harry and Esther Snyder. The restaurant was the first drive-through hamburger stand in California, and visitors could simply pull “In-N-Out” to order a burger, fries, and cold drink. This was a unique concept at the time and something that not surprisingly gained popularity. To date, there are hundreds of In-N-Out Burgers open in California, and it truly is “quality you can taste.”
When I saw a friend post on Instagram about visiting the replica of the first ever In-N-Out just outside of Los Angeles, I knew this detour would make a unique addition to my blog. This replica In-N-Out is tiny – only about 100 square feet inside – and it closely resembles the first of its kind built way back to almost 70 years ago. It’s adorably decorated with classic red and white awnings, vintage soda bottles in the window sill, a vintage cigarette vending machine, and a display of their classic menu - but with prices that will sorta blow you away.
This replica is free to visit and open to the public Thursday through Sunday from 11:00am – 2:00pm. If you stop by at any other time, you’ll still be able to see the cute burger stand but a big metal fence will be in your way – so I’d recommend going when this spot is open to visitors. While you can peer inside of the burger stand and see what In-N-Out’s first kitchen looked like, don’t expect to order your burger and fries here. The replica doesn’t serve food, but lucky for you (and me!) there is an In-N-Out Burger just a 2 minute drive away. So, if you’re an LA local, the next time you’re craving their incredibly delicious animal style fries or that juicy double-double, head on over to Baldwin Park and stop by the replica before/after you dine. The best adventures are those that come with a delicious meal on the side, and I hereby give you permission to fully and completely #treatyoself (not that you ever need anybody's permission to indulge - it just felt fun to write that).
The replica of the first ever In-N-Out is located at 13766 Francisquito Ave., Baldwin Park, CA and from there you’ll see the “real” In-N-Out just beyond the freeway.
Enjoy, my friends!
If you’re looking for your next great outdoor adventure in LA’s own backyard, Griffith Park is home to a wide variety of hiking trails. There’s something for everyone in these sprawling mountains, and I think we can all agree it’s sometimes necessary to escape the busy and bustling streets of LA and enjoy fresh air and nature all around us. Within Griffith Park, you can hike up to the hidden gem Wisdom Tree, the iconic Hollywood Sign, the famous Griffith Observatory, and many other trails varying in difficulty level. Griffith Park is also home to Bronson Canyon, and inside of it, the Bronson Caves – somewhat of a hidden gem, somewhat of a Hollywood iconic location. This man-made cave has become a well-known filming location for a wide variety of movies and TV shows over the past 50+ years. It’s most well known, though, for being the cave that the Batmobile stormed out of in the 1960’s Batman TV series starring Adam West. When it’s not being used for filming, visitors can walk right through the 50-foot tunnel-like cave and explore it at their leisure. Pretty cool, huh?
What’s great about these unique caves is that the hike to get up here is definitely an easy one. From the parking lot (more details on easy parking are below) to the caves, it was only about a 10-minute walk at a very small incline. Total, it’s about 0.6 miles round trip. So, it’s more of a leisurely walk than a hike, but you can continue to explore the trails within Bronson Canyon/Griffith Park beyond the cave if you’re interested in getting more of a workout.
For the best parking for the Bronson Caves hike, plug this trailhead address into your GPS: 3200 Canyon Drive, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA 90068. There is a small parking lot at the trailhead and there is street parking along Canyon Dr. if this lot is full. The trail to the Bronson Caves starts on the fire road (easily identified by the red steel gate closed shut) on the right hand side at the end of the road by the parking lot. You will take this road about a quarter of a mile until you see the Bronson Caves on your left hand side. While these directions may sound simple and probably even a little too vague, trust me - you can’t miss the caves! Overall, this is an easy and unique adventure to go on in if you’re looking for something simple and if you’re already in the area. Bring your buddies and a camera – that’s really all you need to go out there and explore!
For other hiking ideas in LA, here are some of my favorites that I’ve blogged about before:
Malibu Wine Safari Tours takes guests on a journey through the 1,000 acre Saddlerock Ranch and vineyards in the gorgeous back hills of Malibu, allowing you to taste delicious wine and meet & feed adorable safari animals on the way. This year instead of buying things I didn’t need on Black Friday, one of my best friends and I decided to go on a Black Friday adventure instead. I had been to the beautiful Malibu Wines outdoor winery before with friends, but had on my bucketlist the Malibu Wines Safari tour for something fun and unique to do in LA.
My friend and I and a group of about 15 other people embarked on a fun 1.5 hour journey in a large, custom-built, open-air safari jeep. We chose the "Explorer Safari" tour for $65 each, which included a tasting of 6 different wines throughout various stops on the tour as well as adorable animals to see and feed. We got to meet some cute llamas (Michelle O'llama was my favorite furry friend!) and alpacas, a small family of zebras (the few week old baby was so adorable!), and some furry bison. Along the journey, our tour guide shared fun facts about the grounds, the history of Saddlerock family and ranch, and the stories of where the animals came from. Our tour didn't include meeting Stanley the Giraffe, but if it's within your budget, I'd recommend you add this on to your tour!
The tour was fun, the animals adorable, the wines tasty, and the scenery incredibly beautiful. This made for a wonderful post-Thanksgiving adventure, and I was so impressed by how beautiful and massive the rolling hills of vineyards were that supply wine directly to Malibu Wines. If you're looking for something fun and unique with a friend or family in town, I'd recommend you read more about the Malibu Wine Safari tours here - keep in mind that reservations are required in advance!
Los Angeles is full of some incredible hidden gems. Some of my favorites that I've explored so far are the Mosaic Tile House, Hollywood Reservoir, DTLA's Central Library, and the Fine Arts Building. Since living in Los Angeles for over a year now and exploring the ins and outs of this city, I'm learning that I sometimes need to step outside of the city lines to continue discovering exciting and special hidden gems to share with my beloved readers. This brings me to an adventure I recently went on in Laguna Beach, a beautiful coastal city just south of Los Angeles and in Orange County. Specifically, I visited Victoria Beach, a white sandy beach home to a whimsical, beautiful, straight-out-of-a-story-book, 60-foot cement tower, commonly known to locals as the “Pirate Tower" or "La Tour," which is french for tour.
According to a mini history lesson on CaliforniaBeaches.com, this tower was built during the same time as the house at the top of the cliff, all the way back in the 1920's. It was originally built as a way to get from the house down to the beach, and there is a spiral staircase built within the tower to enable people to do so. The staircase is not open to the public, and the public is not permitted to go inside of the tower. The house at the top of the tower is known as the "Norman House" and was built for CA State Senator William Edward Brown and his family as a vacation home.
While Victoria Beach is lined with the Norman House and many other beautiful cliffside mansions, the beach itself is open to the public and there is a cement stairway leading directly to the beach from the neighborhood streets (direct address of home to the left of the staircase listed below). The staircase is fairly short (sandals will be just fine), and as you make your way onto the beach from the staircase, you will begin to walk down the beach to the right hand side. The tower is only about a 3-5 minute walk down the beach to the right, but this walk will be easy or more complicated due to the tide level at the time of your visit. I'd recommend looking up low-tide times before you go, since high-tide will make the trek over to the tower basically impossible (because there will be little to no beach and the waves will be crashing into the rocks). I looked up the low-tide levels before I made the trek down here, but the day I visited happened to be somewhat stormy (because, life) and the tide level seemed much higher than it should have been at the time. I was able to walk over to the tower but got slightly wet while doing so (not typically a big deal, but it was pretty chilly out) and could only stay for a few minutes before the incoming, crashing waves started to freak me out a little. If the tide is low and the weather nice, you should be able to easily walk around the large rock/cliffs. After you walk for a few minutes, you will soon approach a circular concrete pool full of sand and water. Continue to walk just past the pool and you will see the lovely tower on your right-hand side. Snap some pics, hang out and have a picnic with friends, go for a swim in the wavy waters, relax and read a good book - or whatever type of adventure your heart desires!
Here are the need-to-know details:
Address: Put this address into your GPS: 2713 Victoria Dr , Laguna Beach, CA 92651. The staircase is directly to the right of this address.
Park: Visitors are not permitted to park in the neighborhood. Park on PCH and walk down to the address listed above (it shouldn't take you more than 5-10 minutes tops). People drive FAST on PCH so please be careful, folks.
More Info: Click here to read plenty more reviews, tips, and insights on Yelp.
Happy exploring, my friends!
P.S.: I included some additional pictures of the tower and beach below, but taken from others. I found them online and thought they were b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l! The day I visited it was obviously pretty crowded and not as picturesque as it would have been minus the high tide and cloudy skies. Enjoy!
Beautiful pictures from others...
If you're looking for a (gorgeous) upscale food court with incredibly delicious food vendors just outside of Los Angeles, look no further! This historic railroad building in Anaheim has been transformed into a modern, whimsical, food lover's paradise. With immense natural lighting, succulents of all types hanging from the ceilings, minimalistic decor, boutique style food vendors, and live music - this place fits in quite nicely into the eclectic city of Los Angeles. The various 20 or so food merchants all appear to have high reviews on Yelp, which shows that each and every spot here is thoroughly enjoyed by its visitors. You can click here to review all of the vendors, to map your foodie adventure out before you go. No matter what you're craving (coffee? boba tea with cotton candy? goat cheese and apple grilled cheese sandwich? ice cream? dry shaved ice? #allthefoods), Anaheim Packing District has probably got it. And lucky for you, there is free parking on the streets nearby the Packing District, which can sometimes be a rarity around the LA area. But in case you go when it is unusually crowded, you can pay $3 for valet and then head in and explore to your hearts (and stomachs) content!
Anaheim Packing District is located at 440 S. Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA, 92805 and is open from 9:00am - 10:00pm daily (but keep in mind some vendors don't open until 12:00pm daily).
Click HERE for more information. Enjoy, my friends!
I always appreciate when I can get outside and enjoy the fresh air on the weekends considering 90% of my week is spent indoors. And luckily, the day my friends and I decided to go hiking in Palos Verdes gifted us with the most beautiful Southern California weather – sunny and 75 degrees with a calming and cool breeze. As we drove into the beautiful city of Palos Verdes, just south of Los Angeles and near San Pedro, I felt a sense of calm come over me. I took in a deep breath of ocean air and was grateful to be away from honking horns, traffic, smog, and my typically busy weekend life for this short while.
After my friends and I easily parked at the parking lot directly next to Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, we made our way down the main path to the left of the parking lot. There are plenty of trails located here and it’s easy to find your own way without a map or any knowledge of the trails (or at least was the case for us). This trail is right along the coast the entire way and has limited shade (wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, etc.!), but the views from each and every turn were so beautiful! We all commented on how blue the water was, how stunning the cliffs were towering over it, and how it didn’t feel like we were in Los Angeles anymore. We followed the trail along the coastline for about 45 minutes or so before turning around and following the trail back the same way we came. We probably could have put in a little more effort during our hike, but... our stomaches were growling and burritos were calling our names!
I’m not sure what the swimming conditions are like here or what it’s like to explore the tide pools (we didn’t bring swim suits so didn’t even try to swim, but I read online after we visited that the tide pools here are closed until further notice due to falling rocks and unstable cliffs above). But, even if you are unable to currently explore the tide pools, you can still treat yourself to a great hike with gorgeous coastline views!
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is located at 5970 Palos Verdes Dr S., Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. There is a parking lot directly next to this address that will cost you $0 for 30 minutes, $6 for 2 hours, or $12 for the day.
Click here for more information about the Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve.
Since moving to Los Angeles in March 2015, I've had various moments that have taken my breath away and absolutely amazed me - the kind you "oooh" and "ahhh" over. And stepping inside this hidden gem, the Fine Arts building in the financial district of Downtown LA, was definitely one of them. LA: if you keep swooning me like this, I may never be able to move away from you!
Built in 1928, and today declared as an official Historic-Cultural Monument in Los Angeles, this Los Angeles landmark building was originally built to house galleries of local DTLA artists. Today it houses both studios and galleries for local artists throughout its 13 stories, and the lobby is open to the public daily, featuring rotating artist's work each month. My friend Crystal (@QueenofSmarts on Instagram; who introduced me to this space - thank you, my friend!) and I entered the space around 11:30am and on a Saturday, and other than a security guard standing behind a reception deck, we were the only ones in there. I immediately thought, "Whoa. How come I've never seen or heard anything about this building?" I guess that's what makes it such a special "hidden gem." Both the exterior and interior are impressively designed with a Romanesque style, and some of the interior design touches make me feel like I was back in the 1920's. I was especially a fan of the beautiful, vintage mailboxes toward the back of the lobby area, the intricate detail in the bronze elevator doors, and the decorated ceilings with vintage chandeliers. The artwork and sculptures in each of the glass casings lining the walls of the lobby were interesting to read about and beautiful as well. We took our time to visit each casing, read about the artist and their work, and soak in all that this special place had to offer.
If you're a fan of beautiful architecture, a free adventure, and love art - look no further, my friend. This almost 100-year old building is just the place for you to explore. Stat. Take your time to marvel in the design both outside and in, while you browse the works of art available for the public's enjoyment.
Hours of Operation
Unfortunately, I was unable to find the lobby's hours online and also couldn't find a contact phone number to call and ask. I visited on 11:30am on a Saturday and had no problem entering the space.
811 W. 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90017
Los Angeles continues to inspire me with its special hidden gems, one-of-a-kind historic landmarks, and impressively designed architecture. Looking forward to what I will discover next!
Saint Vincent Court: A quaint alleyway in the bustling jewelry district of downtown Los Angeles that resembles a quiet European street - complete with a cobble stone street, street-side cafés, and charming architecture.
My friend Crystal (@queenofsmarts on Instagram) brought me here last weekend after our brunch date at Bottega Louie, and as we made our way over there, walking off our waffles, she told me, "This hidden gem is going to be great for your blog!" so of course, I was excited to explore this unknown territory. As we entered the small, picturesque, quirky alleyway I thought, "How have I never heard of, or read anything about, this place?" The plaque on a wall by the main entrance of St. Vincent Court reads: “This was the site of Saint Vincent’s College from 1868 to 1887. The College, now Loyola University, was founded by the Vincentian Fathers in 1865 and was the first institution of higher learning in Southern California.” St. Vincent Court was the location of the first institution of post-secondary education in Los Angeles. Pretty interesting, huh?
Currently listed as California State Landmark #567, today this area is home to a mixture of European, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisines, a traditional-style barber shop, and other small shops. This whimsical, eclectic, adorably designed alleyway will make you question if you are still in the urban mecca of Downtown LA. Specifically, seeing a moped parked right outside of a French bakery made it feel like I was in Paris for a moment or two - #agirlcandream.
From my research online, it looks like businesses open at 11am daily but most are closed on Sunday's. When we visited, on a Saturday around 11am, it was very quiet and there were only a few other people here. Although not very well known, this square is home to LA's first college (hooray for history!), free to visit, and is open to the public. It's basically waiting for you, and others, to walk it's cobblestone alleyway at your leisure. And if this hidden gem in DTLA doesn't make you crave a trip to Europe, I'm not quite sure what will.
If you're interested in visiting Saint Vincent Court, plug this address into your GPS: St Vincent Ct, Los Angeles, CA 90014.
Adventure is out there, my friends, sometimes in the most unexpected places.
You don't need to dine atop a fancy rooftop in L.A. to see and enjoy sweeping views of the L.A. skyline. Enjoy my 10 favorite (free) downtown L.A. skyline views below - with pictures (100% of pictures are my own) and addresses for each of these spots. I hope you find this post helpful, and happy exploring to you!
1. City Hall Observation Deck
Those with a government ID (drivers license or ID card) can visit the observation deck at Los Angeles City Hall for FREE on Monday-Friday from 9:00am-5:00pm. This observation deck is located on the 27th floor, and the views of the developing skyline from this spot are picturesque. Click here for more information about this spot in another one of my blog posts. Los Angeles City Hall is located at 200 N. Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles.
2. Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Building
The views from the L.A.D.W.P. building in Downtown L.A. are some of my absolute favorite! Click here for more information about this spot in another one of my blog posts. This building (the surrounding grounds are open to the public) is located at 111 N. Hope Street in Downtown Los Angeles.
3. Pershing Square
Pershing Square is a public park smack-dab in the middle of Downtown L.A. The park hosts some pretty amazing 360 degree views of the L.A. skyline. It's a peaceful and quite place to kick back and enjoy an urban picnic as you enjoy the views. Pershing Square is located at 532 S. Olive Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
4. 1st Street Bridge
The First Street Bridge connecting East L.A. to Downtown L.A. is a great spot to enjoy D.T.L.A. skyline views because it is the bridge that runs perfectly perpendicular to it. You can see First Street Bridge's location here on Yelp.
5. 4th Street Bridge
Although not as impressive or perpendicular as the view from the First Street Bridge, the 4th street bridge also connects East L.A. to Downtown L.A. and has gorgeous views of the L.A. skyline. The bridge itself is impressively designed. You can see 4th Street Bridge's location here on Yelp.
6. Beaudry Ave. Overpass
I was driving from Downtown to my apartment recently and stumbled upon this beautiful view. There are meters nearby, so you will need to park at one of these, and then be careful as you walk to this overpass (look for traffic, waiting for the walking symbol, etc)! Cars drive very quickly around here. The address here was near 505 S. Beaudry Ave; Los Angeles, CA 90017.
7. Angels Point at Elysian Park
While Elysian Park in Los Angeles is home to a variety of hiking trails, it's also home to an incredible view of the L.A. skyline + Dodger Stadium. Click here for more information about this spot in another one of my blog posts. Angel's Point at Elysian Park is located at 1880 Academy Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90189.
8. Griffith Observatory
Welcome to LA's gateway to the cosmos - the incredibly beautiful Griffith Observatory! Not only is this a great (free) location to check out and enjoy the impressive astronomy exhibits, but you will have beautiful views of the L.A. Skyline and even the Hollywood Sign. Click here for more information about this spot in another one of my blog posts. The Griffith Observatory is located at 2800 E. Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
9. Hollywood Bowl Overlook
As you enter the lookout point at the Hollywood Bowl Overlook, you will be greeted with a stunning view of the L.A. Skyline - especially as the city lights begin to twinkle in the early evening. Click here for more information about this spot in another one of my blog posts. Hollywood Bowl Overlook is located at 7036 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068.
10. Debs Park Hike
If you're in the mood for an active adventure, the L.A. skyline view from the top of Debs Park in Northeast L.A. is both unique and impressive. Click here for more information about this spot in another one of my blog posts. To get to the entrance of Deb's Park that I prefer in Highland Park, put this address into your GPS: 4651 Griffin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90031.
If there’s anything my friends and family know about me, they definitely know I love bargain hunting! Whether it’s perusing thrift stores, looking up sales online, selling articles of clothing I no longer wear to second-hand stores, and more, I have taught myself to be financially conscious and enjoy stumbling upon good-deal treasures. Last weekend one of my dearest friends, Liz, and I braved the Pasadena heat and explored a bargain hunter’s paradise: the well-known Rose Bowl Flea Market. Visiting this L.A. favorite flea market has been on my L.A. bucketlist since I first moved here, so I was very excited to finally make the journey over here. The Rose Bowl Flea Market is only open on the second Sunday of each month, which has made planning a time to visit somewhat difficult for me this year so far.
Built in 1922, the Rose Bowl is an athletic stadium located in Pasadena, just outside of Northeast Los Angeles. The Rose Bowl is the 17th-largest stadium in the world and the 11th-largest stadium in the United States, and the Rose Bowl has even been named as a United States National Historic Landmark. The Rose Bowl stadium has been the home football field for the UCLA Bruins since 1982 and also hosts concerts, special events, filming’s…and of course, the Rose Bowl Flea Market! For almost 50 years, more 20,000 people visit the Rose Bowl Flea Market each and every month.
Whether you’re looking for clothes, jewelry, antiques, furniture, art, house décor, event décor, plants, shoes, or just about vintage anything – this is the place for you to explore if you’re in the area! For the duration of this blog post I will be sharing 10 tips for those planning to visit the Flea Market, with my thoughts and stories weaved in between the content. :) Check out my tips below:
1. Bring cash. General admission costs $9.00 per person to enter after 9:00am, and children under 12 are admitted free with an adult. I was disappointed to learn that the Flea Market charged an admission fee, but I still think it was worth it to experience this L.A. staple as least one (although I’ll probably be back). Cash is also wise to carry with you here because some vendors accept credit cards, some do not. And just a heads up: the ATM on-site charges a $5 fee upon withdrawal. #NoThankYou.
2. There’s no need to stress about parking. Because unless you want to pay for VIP parking, general parking is free! We arrived at about 12:30pm on a Sunday and had no trouble finding a free parking spot with only about a 5-minute walk to the entrance of the Flea Market. Pay close attention to the signs posted as you enter the Rose Bowl parking lot, and you should have little or no trouble finding a free parking spot.
3. Hydration is key – but pricey if you purchase water on-site. I’d recommend bringing your own unopened water bottle because my friend Liz and I both paid $5 for a Dasani water bottle. How overpriced is that? It’s very warm and sunny in Pasadena on most summer days, so you can become dehydrated much faster than you may think. Plenty of clean restrooms are located throughout the Flea Market, so feel free to drink up!
4. Speaking of the heat, make sure to bring or wear protection from the sun. Whether that includes sunglasses, sun hat, sunscreen (lather up, my friends), parasol, super cool umbrella hat, etc. you’ll want to have something that shades you throughout your adventure here. There is little to no shade at the Flea Market and the last thing you need to leave here with is a bad sunburn.
5. Dress comfortably. Wear comfortable shoes (you will do A LOT of walking – the Flea Market is pretty huge) as well as comfortable, light-fit clothing. From looking through racks of clothing for sale, to bending over to pick up items that spark your interest, to standing and/or walking most of the day, being uncomfortable will make your time here not nearly as enjoyable. Comfort, for me, always trumps “dressing to impress,” and the Flea Market has a very casual vibe to it.
6. Map it out. As soon as you enter the Flea Market after you purchase your admission ticket, grab a map from the information kiosk. The map is color coded, will help ensure you don’t miss out any area, and will inform you of where to go to look for certain items. My friend Liz had a coworker hosting a booth in the white area (vintage clothing, shoes, and antiques), and this map made it easy for us to find her and her adorable pop-up shop “Carny Couture.”
7. Grub before you go. Before I visited the Rose Bowl Flea Market, I read on Yelp that the food here was not only overpriced, but overall not that tasty. So, my friend Liz and I grabbed brunch at The Lincoln in Pasadena before we ventured over to the Flea Market (highly recommended!). I was glad we ate before we arrived because once we got there we had plenty of energy to explore and the few food vendors present did not look very appealing to either of us (and yes, they were super overpriced).
8. Bring somethin’ to carry your goodies in. Since it was our first time at the Flea Market, neither of us thought to brought anything to carry our purchased items in (#noobs). I’m pretty sure that not many of the vendors give away shopping bags if you purchase something from them, so I’d recommend bringing either a cart (like this one) or a large bag of some sort to carry all of your treasures in. The Flea Market also sells rolling carts as you walk in, if this interests you (could also be good for farmer’s markets, buying groceries, etc.).
9. Plan your day accordingly. The Flea Market opens at 9:00am and vendors start packing up at 3:00pm. We thought it may be too crowded if we arrived early, so we waited until about 12:30pm to arrive and explored until the vendors began packing up. I’m not sure what the crowds would have been like earlier in the day, but between 1:00pm-3:00pm the crowd level was totally reasonable (even comfortable enough for the introvert in me), and I never felt overwhelmed or anxious by the amount of people that were there.
10. Relax and have fun! There’s no doubt you will be able to spend hours here browsing the unique vendors, shopping for special gems, people watching, and spending quality time with whomever you go with (or quality YOU time!). While it can be easy for some to get overwhelmed by the amount of vendors and walking distance to cover here, shift your energy toward being excited about the treasures that are waiting for you to find them. Get ready to explore to your hearts content!
I hope you have a fun and memorable adventure to the infamous Rose Bowl Flea Market if you get the chance to visit, and I hope you found the tips above helpful! The Rose Bowl is located at 1001 Rose Bowl Dr, Pasadena, CA 91103and is open on the second Sunday of each month from 9:00am-3:00pm. For more information, click here to visit the Rose Bowl Flea Market’s website.
Since moving to the city of Los Angeles, I’ve fallen in love with many aspects of this sprawling urban mecca. From the variety of things to do and see here (I truly can’t remember the last time I was “bored”…), my ever-growing “foodie” bucketlist (one could eat at a new eatery daily and it’d take them years and years to try ‘em all), the beautiful landscapes and scenery, the history of some of this cities unique and fascinating locations, and even the creative opportunities my blog has given me, I guess you can say I’m still smitten as a kitten, nearly 14 months later. One of my favorite things in Los Angeles, though, especially to photograph, is the L.A. skyline and the architecture Downtown. I’ve scouted out many spots to go shooting with my friends, enjoy researching and learning about the evolving history of DTLA, and have enjoyed evenings out on most (actually, I think I’d say all at this point…) of the towering rooftop bars and eateries downtown. Since I’m a lover of heights, amazing views, and DTLA in general, you can only imagine how excited I was when I heard back in Fall 2015 that Skyspace was opening in June of 2016.
In case you haven’t yet heard, Skyspace, which opened to the public on Saturday, June 25, 2016, is the tallest open-air observation deck west of the Mississippi. Located nearly 1,000 feet above ground in the U.S. Bank Tower in the Financial District of DTLA, Skyspace will now be the premier destination for the most picturesque, 360 degree views of Los Angeles. After looking more into this observation deck online, I signed up to be on the priority list for tickets, and as soon as they become available to the public, I gathered a group of friends who were interested in attending the Grand Opening with me. It pays to be organized, and we snagged a group package before they were soon sold-out.
To make things even more exciting, earlier this year Skyspace announced that in addition to the observation deck towering 1,000 feet above ground, they were beginning to install the very first of its kind: a Skyslide attached to the side of the building. The Skyslide is forty-five feet long, made of four-inch-thick glass, and is affixed from the 70th to the 69th floor of the US Bank Tower. I guess you could say this attraction wasn’t created for the faint hearted! Check out a short video of the Skyslide here.
It all sounds pretty darn amazing, huh? Unfortunately, the Grand Opening event was one of the most unorganized and, thus disappointing, events I've been to in Los Angeles. On Saturday evening, my friends (some who live outside of LA and drove in for the occasion) and I made our way downtown to the Skyspace grand opening, all feeling pretty pumped to partake in a special part of LA's history. Upon arrival, we easily grabbed our VIP tickets and headed into the building to go through security. Once we made it through the security line, we took the elevator from the 1st to the 54th floor. As we explored the 54th floor, I was pretty amazed! There were large interactive screens showing a rolling film of the many scenes of Los Angeles at night, and the cinematography was absolutely breathtaking. There was also a beautiful, colorful infinity mirror that you can walk on top of (pictured above), and it was pretty intriguing. This was a great start to this event, so we were even more excited to make our way up from the 54th floor to the 70th floor, where the observation decks and Skyslide are. Once we made our way to the top of the 70th floor, right around 7:30pm (which is when our Skyslide was scheduled for), we were in shock to hear that we would have to wait in a 1.5-2 hour line to go on the Skyslide! There was very little AC, nowhere to sit, and it was very crowded and stuffy. We were all shocked. Hadn't we paid for VIP so we could get to the front of the line? Why did I schedule the Skyslide for 7:30pm if they weren't going to honor this? We attempted to ask staff members what the deal was and why we had paid extra to have a set Skyslide time. Everyone seemed to be confused. No one had an answer. Everyone directed us to talk to someone else.
So, we thought if we went outside to the observation deck for about an hour that we would come back inside and the line would be hopefully shorter. Unfortunately, the 2 observation decks were pretty small, were packed with people (I'm only 5'4'' so I couldn't see over everyone. I had to squeeze my way in to take any pictures and see the views), and while it's an "open air" observation deck, there were very large glass panels separating you from the views (I understand this is a safety measure, but there are many rooftops downtown with barriers with no large glass panels). It was hard to stay with my group because there was so many of us, so we kept getting separated and then having to find each other. After we enjoyed the sunset outside (it was definitely beautiful, and I love seeing Los Angeles all lit up! I have such an appreciation for the views we were able to experience, and I realize how lucky we all are to have even had a chance to see these views on opening night!), we made our back to the Skyslide line, hoping that it had shortened. To our disappointment, the line was now longer and it was completely stopped while Skyspace was setting up fireworks on the decks (which we could not see from inside). At this point, we weren't going to be on the slide until about 11:00pm, 3.5 hours after our scheduled entry time. We decided to leave, because we were all hot and tired from standing for over 3 hours, hungry and thirsty (they stopped selling water bottles at 9pm…), and were ready to make the night a little more fun. It pained me to leave without going on the sky slide that we paid so far in advance for. It seems as though many others shared our disappointment, and I overheard people asking for refunds, vouchers, etc. I do wonder if Skyspace will honor any of these requests.
Ultimately, while the night was partly disappointing, I understand that this is a grand opening for a huge event. Of course it was going to be packed. Of course it was going to be slightly unorganized. Of course it was going to be a little chaotic. But I didn't imagine I would leave without getting what we all paid for. I am thinking good thoughts for everyone at Skyspace and hope they not only figure out how to ease their processes and work out the kinks, but also apologize to the many excited folks who did not get what they paid for. I acknowledge my privilege that I had the opportunity to see the very beautiful views from this 70-floor-high observation deck (it was pretty amazing to be up that high!), and as always, I am hopeful and excited for the LA adventures to come.
(Update on 6/28/16: Skyspace has sent me complimentary Skyspace & skyslide tickets for our entire group to try it out again. Great customer service. We're planning on doing the Skyslide in early August, and I will update this blog post when I go on it. Thank you, Skyspace!)
Basically, my advice to you would be to WAIT to go to Skyspace. Wait a few weeks, maybe even a few months, for them to smooth out their processes. And honestly, I wouldn't even say this a "must see" or a "must do." There are plenty of other fantastic views of Downtown LA that you can experience (and some for free!!) and without all of the chaos that ensued at this venue as it's in its beginning stages. I put together a short list below of some of my favorite DTLA views, linking them to my blog posts with all of the details for you:
But, if you are set on going, here’s ticket information from the Skyspace website:
Guests can purchase tickets online, at the box office, or by phone. To purchase tickets online, CLICK HERE and consider the tips below:
I am truly grateful to have had this opportunity to attend the Grand Opening, and it's an evening I won't be forgetting anytime soon. Skyspace is located in the US Bank Building at 633 West Fifth Street; Los Angeles, CA 90071. You can call 213.894.9000 for more information or visit their website by clicking HERE.
Update on 7/25/16
We finally went back to have a skyslide redo (thank you, Skyspace!), and I was happily surprised at how uncrowded Skyspace was on a Sunday afternoon, almost 2 months after the grand opening. The skyslide was really fun (and not scary at all - it goes by too fast to be scary!). The ride was probably about 2 seconds total, and before I could fully take in the views surrounding me, the ride was over. I was unable to upload the video to my blog that I took on the way down, but here's a few more pictures I took on our second time visiting:
Happy first day of summer, Los Angeles! And wowza…is it HOT out or what?! I could personally do without this 100 degree+ heat, and I truly hope everyone is staying cool, hydrated, and safe out there.
I recently visited Echo Park Lake while I was in this Northeast L.A. neighborhood, and while I have previously featured Echo Park Lake Pedal Boating on my blog, I wanted to write another post on the lake and share with you a great eatery conveniently located on-site. As you can see from the pictures shared above, Echo Park Lake is a beautiful and lush oasis located smack-dab in the middle of urban Los Angeles. Although this spot continues to gain popularity among both locals and tourists, I’d still consider this location a “hidden gem” because of how peaceful and quiet it is here. While each time I visit there seems to be more and more people here, it’s still relatively uncrowded – which in Los Angeles, this is quite the nice treat. Oh, and there’s free parking on the streets surrounding lake – sans meters! That’s one way to know that this is not yet a “tourist hot spot.” This is a great spot to bring a blanket and have a picnic, bring your running shoes and get in a workout, or bring out-of-town guests by to walk around the lake and see beautiful views of the DTLA skyline off in the distance.
While I’ve been to Echo Park Lake before, I had not yet visited the restaurant on-site…or even knew there was a restaurant here! When recently looking up brunch spots in Northeast L.A., I stumbled upon Square One at the Boathouse online and thought it looked like a spot I should add to my (ever expanding) LA Bucketlist. Lovely lakeside views and a delicious looking menu with both sweet and savory options are two ways to attract my interest, that’s for sure. :)
Square One at the Boathouse is a café located directly on the side of Echo Park Lake. You order your food at a counter inside, are presented with a number, and then grab a table outside on the patio where you wait for your food to be delivered to you. You can order a variety of coffee, juices, breakfast items, lunch items, vegan options, and more – I was definitely impressed with the overall contents of the menu considering this is a smaller, order-at-the-counter establishment. I was feeling pretty hungry the morning I visited so I ordered both the Avocado and Egg Toast (with arugula, pickled fennel and radish, sunny side egg on 5 grain bread) and the brioche French Toast Bites with maple-infused cream on the side. And, yep, I ate and enjoyed every bite. The food wasn’t to-die-for, but it was overall pretty good and definitely filled me up! I'd rate it a solid 7.5 out of 10. Lounging lakeside was very warm, but luckily there was shade from the various umbrellas, and the views surrounding me were beautiful. It felt calm and had a very casual vibe to it – which is a nice break from some of the more popular weekend brunch spots throughout Los Angeles. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to dine here again, but I’d definitely stop by again if I’m hanging’ around Echo Park Lake...and would totally recommend you do the same!
Square One at the Boathouse is open 8:00am-6:00pm daily, and the restaurant/Echo Park Lake is located at: 751 Echo Park Ave; Los Angeles, CA 90026.
Click here to read more about Square One at the Boathouse and here to see the full menu.
Click here to read more about the Echo Park Lake pedal boating experience.
Stay cool out there, my friends!
It’s no surprise that there is an overwhelming amount of special spaces & places in DTLA that are worth exploring. But if you’d consider yourself a junkie for beautiful architecture and capturing that perfect aesthetic shot, there’s one space in particular you’ll want to add to the top of your list. The Central Library in DTLA is an architectural gem and one of the most photogenic locations in all of DTLA. Whether or not you’re planning to rent any books (but hey, it’s free to get a library card and there’s also free wifi here!), exploring the Art Deco inspired building itself is well worth the visit.
The Central Library opened in 1926 and is today considered a DTLA landmark, landing at #46 on the list of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monuments. It’s currently the third largest central library in the nation, covering 538,000 square feet on 8 floors total. It has over 6 million books, free wifi to the LA community, free adult literacy programs, veterans resource center, and much, much more. This place is doing so much good for our community. And it's strikingly beautiful, obviously!
I recently teamed up with Happening in DTLA to explore LA's largest library and write a more detailed article about what makes this place so special. Rich in history and impressively designed and decorated, the Central Library is a one-of-a-kind space in DTLA. Click here to read my article Art Deco Lives! Checking Out DTLA's Central Library and make sure to check out all of the other great content at Happening in DTLA.
DTLA is developing at rapid speed… attracting both locals and visitors alike to check out the newest restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, coffee shops, and mix of retailers. But with so many new businesses popping up all over DTLA, it’s important to remember that there are also businesses that have been a part of this community for decades. And they are just as worth checking out as the new places in town! This brings me to share a historic hidden gem in the heart of DTLA: The San Antonio Winery. Founded over 99 years ago in 1917, The San Antonio Winery is the last winery standing in Downtown and has become a landmark here in the city. In fact, in the early 1960’s it was officially declared by the city as a Historic-Cultural Monument and remains #42 on the list.
Encompassing a rich almost 100-year-old history, an informative and fun urban winery tour, and a variety of delicious wines to taste, San Antonio Winery is a true hidden gem in DTLA. Four generations of family have kept the winery not only still standing, but still flourishing, in the heart of DTLA.
I recently teamed up with Happening in DTLA to explore LA's last standing winery and write a more detailed article about the winery and my experience here. Click here to read my article Through the Grapevine: DTLA’s Last Winery Explored and make sure to check out all of the other great content at Happening in DTLA.
Summer is soon approaching in Los Angeles. As if we don’t have almost-perfect weather year-round, the summer weather in Los Angeles can’t really be beat. The sunny, mid-70’s days turn into lightly breezy evenings, allowing Angelenos to enjoy a variety of fun outdoor activities both during day and into the night. I try to be outside as much as possible in my free time, and some of my favorite outdoor activities from last summer include the Cinespia outdoor moving screenings and Twilight concert series at Santa Monica Pier (would recommend them both). Organizing fun summer outings for a group of friends is a great way to do something new and different while taking advantage of our beautiful Southern California weather.
This brings me to sharing about a beautiful outdoor location for a summer adventure… Malibu Wines! Malibu Wines is a unique wine tasting room located in the middle of Santa Monica Mountains. The tasting room is entirely outdoors and makes for a fun day (it’s very easy to spend a whole day here!) with friends. They offer wine tasting flights, wines by the bottle, and mimosas, and you’re able to bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages inside, to enjoy alongside your wine.
I went to Malibu Wines this past weekend with a group of friends to celebrate my dear friend Elli’s birthday. I had been here before, but each time I enjoy this spot more and more. From listening to the live music, to sipping delicious white wine outdoors in the fresh air, to spending quality time with your best friends – ahhhhh *insert sigh of content*. If you enjoy social outings that involve sun, wine, picnics, and live music – this may be your new favorite spot, my friend. Read more below on some of the highlights of Malibu Wines as well as tips and things you should know before you go!
Tips & Things To Know Before You Go
Plan Your Visit!
Open daily from 11:00am-7:00pm, Malibu Wines is located at 31740 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265. Visit the Malibu Wines Website for more information.
Time and time again, I read articles and online editorials about the value in trying new things in life. Whether it’s learning a new skill, trying out a new hobby, making a new friend, visiting a new place, etc. - these new opportunities allow us to learn more about the complexities and fascinations of the world, and more about ourselves, in the process. Something I love most about Los Angeles is that there is always an opportunity to learn, discover, or experience something NEW here. I’m pretty sure it would take hundreds of years to experience all of the adventures that Los Angeles has to offer. As a full-time working adult, this, of course, makes me thankful for my weekends. Weekends are the time I have to decompress from the work week, explore and photograph our vast and adventure-filled city, let my creative and innovative soul flow freely, and spend quality time with my dear loved ones – all while cultivating new experiences. To this end, something new that I tried last weekend was a fun double date outing to beautiful Newport, a coastal city about 45 minutes south of Los Angeles.
As much as I’m a fan of trying new things, I’m also a big fan of getting the most bang for my buck. :) I find myself frequently browsing discount sites/apps – like Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Local and Gold Star - to see if there is anything that especially sparks my interest and something that my readers and social media followers may also be interested in. I recently stumbled upon a Groupon deal for the Gondola Company of Newport that shared, “We will row you across the beautiful bay, through the canals and beneath the picturesque skyline; a taste of Italy in Newport Beach, California...” Ahhhh *insert peaceful sigh*. I was sold!
I had no idea that Newport Beach was home to canals similar to those in Venice Beach and thought an hour gondola ride through the canals would make for a fun weekend adventure outing with friends. My hunch about this was right, and this double date turned out to be such a blast. Read more below for some of the highlights of the adventure and tips/things you should know before you go. Bon voyage!
Tips & Things to Know Before You Go
Have fun if you decide to go on this adventure, and feel free to let me know if you have any questions! Gondola Company of Newport is located at 3431 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, CA 92663. Call 949-675- 1212 with any questions or visit their website by clicking here.
“Have you been to the Time Travel Mart?” a friend asked me, mid-conversation about being especially interested in finding and exploring Los Angele’s hidden gems. “No, tell me more!” was my response at the time, and after researching online and on social media, I became increasingly interested in visiting and writing about this unique and satirical gift shop. Our city is full of the most interesting places to explore, and my L.A. bucketlist seems to be growing by the week (if you have any other hidden gems you’d recommend to me, please comment below!). I added this store to my list to explore the next time I was in the Northeast L.A. neighborhood of Echo Park, so after a few girlfriends and I enjoyed brunch at Ostrich Farm this past weekend (which I would highly recommend, by the way), we walked just across the street to pay this spot a visit.
“Whenever you are, we’re already then” is the slogan for the Time Travel Mart. According to their website, “We are the convenience store for time travelers! No matter the era, we have just the thing to help you through your travels.” The Time Travel Mart in Echo Park is small but mighty – it’s about the size of a mid-sized living room but is packed to the gills with all sorts of bright colored posters, gag gifts, and novelty items galore. My friends and I were impressed at the wit and humor in some of the knick-knacks for sale, and my favorite items were some of the colorful, quirky T-shirts. These included a shirt for adults that stated, “former child,” a shirt for kids that stated, “future adult”, and a shirt with a big green dinosaur that stated, “All my friends are dead.” Ha!
This ain’t your average trendy or modern LA gift store, that’s for sure! This store draws you in and lets you use your imagination to explore (and laugh at) life in a different time – from either long ago in the past or far away to the future. You’ll find plenty of satirical gifts here like barbarian repellent, evil robot memory eraser, Viking deodorant, dinosaur eggs, mammoth chunks, and so much more. Other items for sale include coffee mugs, books, records, cards, posters, and all sorts of other random knick-knacks from different time periods, making for great gag/random gifts for your quirky friends or family members. What surprised me the most, and what I think is very important to mention, is that all proceeds from the Time Travel Mart help support the free programs at 826LA (think tutoring, creative writing workshops for kids, and more).
Whether you want a blast from the past or a look into the world's future – visit Echo Park’s unique Time Travel Mart at 1714 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026. This mart is open daily from 12:00pm-6:00pm. Call (213) 413-3388 with any additional questions to visit their website by clicking here.
Happy traveling through time, my friends!
In my opinion, hiking has the ability to both make you happy and healthier. Not only does the physical exercise lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other physical ailments, it’s also been proven to help reduce stress, decrease anxiety, and help alleviate depressed moods. Outdoor exercise enables you to disconnect from our digital world, gives you a healthy dose of vitamin D from the sun (but don’t forget to wear sunscreen, pretty please!), and many think of being outside and connecting with nature as a spiritual and enlightening experience. As someone who works 40 hours/week at a desk (and blogs/works on social media almost every weekday evening and on-and-off throughout the weekend), it is imperative to my health and happiness alike that I not only exercise and move my body, but that I unplug and get outside as much as possible to enjoy the fresh air.
Since moving to Los Angeles over a year ago now (crazy how time flies!), I’ve been on the lookout for new and unique hikes and outdoor adventures. I’ve hiked some of the more popular spots – Runyon, Griffith Park, and Hollywood Sign - and have also discovered some hidden gems, including the Jim Morrison Cave, Baldwin Hills Park/Scenic Overlook, and now Deb’s Park in the beautiful Northeast LA neighborhood of Highland Park. Deb’s Park, short for Ernest E. Debs Regional Park, is a 300 acre state park northeast of Downtown L.A., named after former County Supervisor Ernest E. Debs. I condensed my thoughts on this hike into various categories below; enjoy and let me know if you have any additional questions!
Hiking Trails & Directions
To get to the entrance of Deb’s Park that I prefer in Highland Park, put this address into your GPS/maps app: 4651 Griffin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90031. You can park on Griffin Ave, directly outside of the green gate and then walk up the paved path to the trailhead. Stay on the main trail as you make your way up the mountain – it will weave back and forth at a low/moderate incline. It shouldn’t be difficult to stay on the trail, but after about a half mile or so, you should see a short green staircase in the woods that leads to another trail. When you see this, stay to the main trail on the right and do not go up the staircase (as I’m not quite sure where that leads).
There are a number of trails available to hikers in Deb’s Park. I’d recommend doing your research online (Here is a great Modern Hiker article and of course there is plenty of feedback on Yelp here) before venturing out there. Or, you can explore it at your leisure and discover your own path.
Go and get your hike on!
I hope this information is helpful to you in either 1) inspiring you to get outside and hike more, or 2) or to visit Deb’s Park specifically and explore this beautiful Northeast L.A. hidden gem. The world - and all of the splendid, unique, and inspiring adventures in it - are yours for the taking!
I love to explore Los Angeles in my free time and share off-the-beaten-path adventure ideas with my readers (there was more than 20,000 views and 6,000 new visitors to my site last month - THANK YOU!) and social media followers. I think I like doing this so much because I have personally gained joy and fulfillment from saying “yes” to more adventures and learning about the city I live in, and in turn, hope that others can gain something from getting out and about more. It wasn't too long ago when I would spend my weekends watching Netflix, eating junk food, and laying around looking at every social media site possible for hours (I am NOT condemning these actions - but for me, they weren't adding a whole lot of fulfillment to my life). So, starting a blog about Los Angeles tourism has benefited me, my mental wellness, and my outlook on life in more ways that I can express.
I do want to acknowledge, though, that I am able to experience Los Angeles from a perspective that not everyone shares. I work full-time during the week and have the financial means set aside money from each paycheck for “fun funds.” I have a car to drive myself around Los Angeles and never have to worry about how I'll pay for that next tank of gas. I am able-bodied and can walk up and down stairs, go on long hikes, and explore the world on my own two feet. I live in a single apartment and do not have any family members under my care, either physically or financially. English is my first language, so it is easy for me to communicate with others in the city whilst out and about. I am not writing these to discount my hard work or to invalidate what other people similar to me have accomplished; I am writing this to acknowledge that not everyone has the same ease of access to Los Angeles adventures that I do.
I think we, social media peeps and bloggers, can sometimes easily promote the idea of, “If you just follow your dreams you will live a beautiful life!” or, “You can accomplish anything if you just try hard enough!” or, “Come on! Explore! Get out there!” I want to acknowledge something important that I think doesn’t get mentioned enough in the world of blogging: there are situations and life circumstances that may prevent, or make it more difficult, for others to experience travel and tourism. While I want to encourage others to get lost in this mecca we call Los Angeles, I realize that we all have different obstacles to overcome.
So, what can we as a blogging community do to connect with more Angelenos? I’ve learned that just because I’m able to share my view of Los Angeles from the camera I hold, doesn’t mean I can’t try to see our city through someone else’s lens. I think we can start with acknowledging our own privileges and think about socio-economic differences when sharing ideas and inspiration related to fashion, travel, food, and more. I try to make an effort to share budget-friendly LA adventures, but what I perceive as “budget friendly” may not be to another. What I could exclaim as “affordable” may still be out someone else’s budget. Because of this, I put together a list of my favorite and actual no-cost downtown Los Angeles adventures. This guide does not include ideas on low-cost transportation, but I encourage you to read more about Los Angeles' public transportation here (thanks to my friends at the LA tourism board!).
While I may not be able to provide content that is relatable to each and every person seeking new experiences in Los Angeles, I can make an effort to craft adventure plans that are more accessible to a larger audience. Because of this, I hope you enjoy some free downtown Los Angeles activity ideas below. Feel free to comment with any other suggestions you have for fellow Angelenos!
Exploring Downtown L.A. With No Entrance Fees
The Broad Museum
One of my best friends Liz and I ventured out to The Broad Museum on a Saturday evening around 5:00pm. We did not have pre-scheduled ticket reservations, so we were prepared to wait in the standby line. We had our fingers crossed that it would go quickly, but apparently the onsite ticketing line can have a wait of anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours…Eek! Luckily, we only have to wait about 30 minutes before we were able to enter the museum.
While there are over 2,000 works of art in this museum, it felt much more like a comfortable, friendly, and eclectic art gallery than a pretentious museum. I was pleasantly surprised at how many young people were visiting – a good amount of teenagers and early twenty-somethings – who were perusing the art and enjoying the experience with their friends.
Some of my favorite pieces were Jeff Koonz’ bold and colorful balloon sculptures, Cy Twombly’s abstract art, El Anatsui’s copper and wire “cloths,” and Robert Therrien’s “Under the Table.” This sculpture in particular made Liz and I feel like we were in Wonderland! Oh, and of course, Andy Warhol never disappoints. I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate the Broad being free!
Reserve free tickets and check out the museum times by clicking HERE. The Broad Museum is located at 221 S. Grand Ave. in Downtown Los Angeles.
L.A. DEPARTMENT OF WATER & POWER
You don’t need to dine atop a rooftop in Los Angeles to see sweeping views of the city. Urban picnic, anyone? Pack a lunch and relax at the Department of Water and Power, one of my favorite locations in all of Los Angeles. As evidenced by some of the pictures above, the views of the LA Skyline from this building are some of the best in the city. Visit the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power at 111 N Hope St.
Olvera Street is the official birthplace of L.A. in 1781. I went on a short walking tour by myself (literally by myself – no one else showed up for the tour) and had a very friendly, super knowledgeable docent. I learned a brief overview of the history of L.A. and how Olvera Street is now part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. The City of Los Angeles offers free walking tours here which are roughly 1-hour long. Click here for more information on the free walking tour, or visit Olvera Street on your own at: 845 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
The Last Bookstore is California’s largest used and new book and record store. Downstairs is a ginormous bookstore (pictured above) and the upstairs area includes lofts full of local artists’ studios and galleries. I loved wandering around, exchanging friendly smiles with all of the artists, and briefly checking out the expansive collection of old and new books. The decor is vintage, eclectic and beautiful in a unique way, and it’s truly a book lovers paradise. There are books on sale, of course, but it’s an adventure in itself (and free) just walking through the bookstore. If you decide you want to pay it a visit, don’t forget to look for the infamous tunnel of books on the second floor! Check out this one-of-a-kind bookstore at 453 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
“Still splendid more than 100 years after its 1893 opening, its magical light-filled Victorian court, open cage elevators, marble stairs, and ornate iron railings make this one of downtown's most photographed icons,” shared the L.A. Conservancy. The Bradbury Building is one of the oldest commercial buildings in Downtown L.A., and is definitely one of the most beautiful. Although I was slightly disappointed that guests are only permitted to visit the first floor of the building, I was still amazed at the intricate detail and architectural design inside this historic building. Visit the Bradbury Building for free at 304 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
Right across the street from Grand Central Market, is the Angel’s Flight Railway. Here’s what the LA Conservency has to say about Angel’s Flight Railway, “Angels Flight Railway is one of Los Angeles' most enduring landmarks. Constructed and opened in 1901, it carried passengers up and down the steep slope between downtown and the top of Bunker Hill, then a fashionable residential district. Billed as the "shortest railway in the world," the funicular has two cars, Olivet and Sinai, connected to the same cable and counterbalancing one another.” The railway stopped running in September 2013, and it has yet to reopen. Although you cannot ride on the shortest railway in the world currently, you can still check out the vintage charm of the railway station and walk up and down the steps adjacent to the railway. Visit Angel’s Flight Railway at 351 S Hill St., Los Angeles, CA 90013.
Pershing Square is a public park smack-dab in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. The park is one square block in size and hosts some pretty amazing 360 degree views of the LA skyline. It’s peaceful and quiet place to kick back and relax, would also make for a good picnic location. Pershing Square is located at 532 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
Chances are you probably haven't heard much about visiting LA's City Hall...unless you've done jury duty there or know someone who works there. But did you know you can visit the observation deck on the 27th floor for free and see great views of the city? I loved being able to see one of my favorite buildings in LA - The Walt Disney Concert Hall - from a bird's eye view and also the DTLA skyline which I find myself falling more in love with every time I see it.
If you are planning a visit to the Observation Deck at LA's City Hall, you will need to bring a government ID (you check in at the front desk and get a visitor sticker. You'll also have to go through a metal detector.) and go on a weekday during business hours - it's only open Monday-Friday from 9:00am-5:00pm. You can walk 360 degrees around the outside deck on the 27th floor and enjoy stunning views of the city. LA's City Hall is located at 200 N. Main St. in downtown Los Angeles.
G’day, friends! I’ve blogged before about visiting the Santa Monica pier here. During my last visit I indulged in experiencing all of the novelty the pier has to offer to visitors – the sweet, tasty (and very messy) cotton candy, entertaining people watching, riding on the Ferris wheel and enjoying the picture-perfect coastline views, and even renting bikes from the bike shop at the end of the pier and cruising to Venice Beach and back. Looking back on it, this day was one of my favorites from Summer 2015, my first summer living in Los Angeles.
This most recent visit to the Santa Monica Pier was to practice photography, or “shoot” as we like to call it, with two of my talented photographer friends Michael Zikry and Kjrstin Berg. Golden hour (the hour right after sunrise or the hour before sunset, also commonly referred to as “magic hour”) is my favorite time of the day to shoot as the lighting is softest during this time than when the sun is higher in the sky. This light makes for incredible pictures, as it doesn’t create harsh shadows or over-exposed images. The warm, golden glow of the sun during “Golden Hour” is especially helpful for newbie photographers like myself, because the light helps create some incredibly beautiful shots with minimal effort on our part. Landscape photography is my favorite type of photography, so shooting beautiful scenes at golden hour and even at sunset makes me very, very happy, and I love reviewing my "art" the day after a great shoot.
My photog friends & I chose the Santa Monica pier to shoot on this particular occasion for a few reasons. First, not much can compare to the beauty of the sunset along the coast of Southern California, especially when the clouds are doin' some awesome things (like was the case on this day). Second, I think the Santa Monica pier is often thought of as busy/touristy/chaotic/loud/etc. Which, yes, the introvert in me agrees with and sometimes prefers to avoid. But what some people may not realize, though, is that if you take a step back from the action on the pier and enjoy the beach directly alongside it, you'll see just how peaceful and quiet (and even romantic) this space can be. The Santa Monica Pier is the most visited attraction in Santa Monica, or coastal Los Angeles for that matter, and is walking distance from the Third Street Promenade (think bars, restaurants, shopping, events, etc.). This is one of LA's premier beach destinations for both visitors and locals, and hundreds of thousands of people visit annually. I liked shooting this location in particular because the images I captured, to me, represented Los Angeles lifestyle in a unique way. As much as this city has a "go-go-go" mentality, there's also a much softer side to it. The images below that I captured ignite feelings in me like self-reflection, finding peace in the midst of chaos, and not being afraid of the darkness.
Now that you know a little more about my favorite time of the day to shoot, more information about the often-visited Santa Monica Pier, and the emotions I was trying to capture in these images, I hope you enjoy the pictures below of my most recent visit to this beautiful location.
Wayfarers Chapel, sometimes referred to as the "The Glass Church" is located in Rancho Palos Verdes, roughly 45 minutes from Los Angeles. From the pictures above, you can probably understand why it's known for its unique modern architecture and picturesque location, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I first heard of Wayfarers Chapel on a "Hidden Gems in Los Angeles" list online, and I immediately added it to my LA Bucketlist. As a newbie photographer, I have become more and more interested in architecture, natural lighting, and beautiful spaces that photograph well. And to my luck, Wayfarers Chapel was more beautiful in person than I hoped it would be, and it photographed extremely well. My boyfriend and I visited this spot last Fall (although I forgot to add it to my blog until 6 months later - oops!) and both were pretty amazed at the design of it. I had never before seen a piece of architecture structured quite like this, and we were both pleasantly surprised to find the chapel empty upon arriving. Not only did this make for better pictures of the inside, but we also wouldn't want to impose on anyone's space while I was snapping pictures.
According to the Wayfarers Chapel website, Lloyd Wright, son of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, designed Wayfarers Chapel as a “tree chapel, a natural sanctuary set in the midst of a forest." He states, "I wanted particularly to allow those trees and those trunks to be seen and the space beyond and into infinity to be observed, so those who sat in the sanctuary would perceive the grandeur of space out beyond and around them.” The website also shares this about his inspiration, "Lloyd Wright’s inspiration came on a trip through the redwood forests of northern California shortly following the end of World War II. He stopped at a little restaurant surrounded by trees. During lunch he looked up through a skylight and saw the magnificent redwoods rising up on the sides and branches arching overhead like a great natural cathedral. So impressed with the sight he vowed that if he ever received a commission for a church this would be his inspiration." The church was built in 1951 and still stands beautifully almost 70 years later.
The grounds surrounding the chapel are also gorgeous and very well taken care of. You'll see a variety of Redwood trees, pine trees, flowers, roses, large lawn spaces, and benches. There were a few visitors lounging around and enjoying the peace and quiet of this place, taking pictures of the views, and there was even a couple scouting out this spot as a potential wedding venue. What a beautiful venue this would make for a wedding! Overall, this chapel is a one-of-a-kind work of abstract and asymmetrical art, with huge glass windows, incredible natural light, and is located in a lush oasis with a beautiful view. I'm hoping that description is enough to make you want to plan your own visit :) - I'd highly recommend this place to both locals and visitors alike.
It's FREE to visit Wayfarers Chapel, and it's open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.. The Visitors Center is open daily from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Parking is also free, and there is a lot right next to the Chapel. Clean restrooms are available in the Visitors Center. For more information on this special hidden gem, visit the Wayfarers Chapel website.
Wayfarers Chapel is located at 5755 Palos Verdes Dr S, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275.
The range of activities in Los Angeles continues to amaze and inspire me. All in a weekends' time you can lounge on a beautiful, warm beach in Santa Monica, adventure your way through the concrete jungle downtown, AND explore nature/the beautiful back hills of Hollywood. Ok, that may be a busy day but you catch my drift…there’s no shortage of things to do here! I’ve lived in the city of Los Angeles for almost a year now (crazy how time flies), and now that I’ve gotten most of the more “touristy” attractions checked off my LA bucketlist (think LACMA, Griffith Observatory, Runyon, The Broad Museum, Venice Canals, Santa Monica Pier, etc.), I’m excited to be able to spend more of my free time exploring hidden gems, finding new places, and creating unique LA blog content.
My love for off-the-beaten-path adventures leads me to today’s blog post…Hollywood’s iconic and beloved Sunset Ranch. My mom and sister came down to visit me last weekend, and since my mom is a huge lover of horses and rides for fun often, she suggested horseback riding through the Hollywood hills as a “girls day out” for us. Family is everything to me, and the days we can spend creating memories together will always be my favorite adventure in life.
We started our day at the Sunset Hills Ranch, which is located at the end of Beachwood Dr. in the neighborhood on the outskirts of Los Feliz/Hollywood. The ranch itself has a traditional country feel to it – and I couldn’t help but think wait, am I still in Los Angeles? After snapping a few pics of the rustic farmhouse décor we made our way to the check-in kiosk where we were fitted with helmets and assigned to our horses. I got Geronimo for the day – a charming, somewhat stubborn horse who definitely had a mind of his own (so I guess you could say we related to each other a little bit). We got all settled on our horses and we began to follow our guide Isaac through the ranch and up into the Griffith Park trails. Isaac was awesome, and if you go to Sunset Ranch, I’d ask for him! It was interesting to hear about his background, how he became employed by the ranch, and how much he loves horses and the great outdoors. He was super helpful throughout the ride too (like when I dropped my camera lens cover while going downhill – opps - or when my sister’s saddle began slipping right off of her horse – double opps).
The four of us went on a 2 hour ride together through the park trails, and it was the perfect amount of time. Around the 1:30 hour mark my upper and lower back and inside of my thighs began to feel VERY tired and sore. Horseback riding is definitely a decent workout. As we ventured throughout Griffith Park, we saw views of the Hollywood sign, Burbank area, San Gabriel Mountains, Griffith Observatory, and the LA skyline. I wore my camera around my neck, but I would suggest just bringing an iPhone or something you can easily store in your pocket because my camera became a little annoying (and heavy). Since it requires two hands to maneuver, I was unable to use it for most of the ride. Also, if you’re afraid of heights, BEWARE, because the horses like livin’ on the edge. Literally. Geronimo trotted on the edge of the trail (mere inches away from a 50-100 foot drop) for most of the trail ride. At first I was pretty freaked out, but Isaac didn’t seem at all concerned and I figured Geronimo knew what he was doing. Sometimes you just have to relax and enjoy the ride, huh?
Although it did take some effort to balance on the horse and steer our large furry friends every once in a while, the entire experience was pretty peaceful and relaxing. It was quiet out in the good ol’ LA countryside, which allowed my mom, sister, and I to chat and have some quality family time. Overall, we LOVED this experience. But I did need a 3 hour nap afterward. :)
If horseback riding through the beautiful hills of Griffith Park at all interests you after reading about my experience, here are the tour options from www.SunsetRanchHollywood.com:
Keep in mind that there is a 240 lb. weight limit to ride the horses at Sunset Ranch. Located just a few minutes from the center of Hollywood, this is the perfect Los Angeles experience if you like horses (or want to learn how to ride – beginners welcome!), want to try something new, and love a good outdoor adventure.
Sunset Ranch is located at 3400 N Beachwood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068. I was a little confused when I got there, so keep in mind these details: there will be a guard at the top of Beachwood Drive. Tell him you are going to Sunset Ranch and he will open the gate for you. Park in the dirt parking lot. If it’s full, you can park right next to the white fence by the picnic table – but leave enough room for a large truck to drive up.
Visit www.sunsetranchhollywood.com for more details or give ‘em a call at (323) 469-5450.
About 95% of the year, Los Angeles affords us with perfect adventure and exploring weather – sun shining bright, a cool ocean breeze every now and then, and a comfortable temperature at around 70 degrees. But, during the other 5% when the sky is gloomy and rain is pounding, most of us (myself included) would rather nix the adventures and stay inside with hot chocolate and Netflix. This winter, though, I’m on a mission to continue my adventures indoors because a little rain shouldn’t stop me from doing what I do best…exploring! I am collaborating with the L.A. Tourism Board (@DiscoverLA on Instagram) on their #InsideLA campaign, which includes a “101 Things to Do in L.A. On a Rainy Day” list. I’ll be photographing and sharing a variety of fun experiences with my blog readers and with their 1 million+ social media fans over the next two months. Such a fun and exciting opportunity!
As part of the #InsideLA collaboration with @DiscoverLA, I was able to explore the acclaimed Natural History Museum (NHM) with one of my best friends Dacia. Museums make for the perfect rainy day adventure and we’re lucky that we’re not short on museums to visit in Los Angeles! I’ve explored LACMA, The Broad, Getty Villa, Getty Center, Grammy Museum, and Hollywood Museum, and there are still SO many more I need to check out! The Natural History Museum has been on my LA bucketlist since moving here, so I was pretty stoked to finally make it here. The NHM is home to some amazing exhibits including the Dinosaur Hall, the Hall of Gems and Minerals, Age of Mammals, Becoming Los Angeles, beautiful outdoor gardens, and so much more. Because large museums like this can tend to be overwhelming for some (myself included), I love that the NHM offers a 1-Hour Guide here if you are short on time or are only interesting in seeing the top/most popular exhibits.
So, I think we can all agree that dinosaurs are pretty freakin’ cool. It’s crazy to think that 100 million years ago these gigantic creatures roamed our Earth. True story: growing up I was in love with dinosaurs and the Jurassic Park movies. I had a small green dinosaur figurine that I named Dino (I know, so original) and carried him around with me everywhere in 4th grade. Writing this out makes me feel (and probably sound) like I was an insane 9 year-old (…and I’m not totally denying it), but man, I loved that Dino. All of my friends and teacher, Mrs. Davis, even knew and appreciated Dino. Anyway – back to the NHM – based on the fun fact I just shared, I was most excited about seeing the highly acclaimed dinosaur exhibit! Located on the first floor of the museum, Dinosaur Hall, has become known as one of the most extraordinary dinosaur exhibits in the world. This 14,000 square foot exhibit is home to more than 300 fossils, 20 complete dinosaurs, and some giant sea creatures. Dinosaur Hall is home to the world’s only T-Rex Growth Series, which highlights the way this dinosaur changes over time, from just a baby, to a teenager, to an adult. Trust me when I say it all looks JUST as cool, if not cooler, than it sounds!
Also, because I am in love with all things Los Angeles, I have to say somethin’ about the “Becoming Los Angeles” exhibit. This exhibit tells a 500-year story about how the City of Angels grew from a tiny pueblo to one of the biggest cities in the country. The exhibit has 6 main sections: the Spanish Mission Era, the Mexican Rancho Era, the early American Period, the emergence of a new American city in the late 19th century and early 20th centuries, the Great Depression, and World War II to present.
Most definitely a worthwhile #InsideLA activity when it rains, I’d recommend any LA local or tourist explore the NHM if you get the chance or are in the area. A healthy dose of history is good for us all – and here you’ll be mesmerized by more than 35 million objects in total, some as old as 4.5 billion years. It’s a great adventure for when it’s gloomy/cold/wet outside, and most of Los Angeles agrees with me that it’ll be worth your while – it has an impressive 4.5 star rating on Yelp.
General Admission tickets to the NHM are $12 and $9 for students - click here to purchase your tickets. Open daily from 9:30AM-5:00PM, The Natural History Museum is located at 900 Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking is available onsite for $10 per car. Go and get yo’ history on!
EXPLORE YOUR HEART OUT
L.A. is an amazing and diverse city full of culture, history, art, nature, museums, and attractions - which results in countless things to do & see - no matter your budget. Time after time I find that when you seek new adventure, you will find it!
DISCOVER THESE L.A. LOCATIONS: