No-Cost Guide to Downtown L.A.
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
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
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.
Walk Though The Last Bookstore
Walk Though The Last Bookstore
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.
Angel’s Flight Railway
Angel’s Flight Railway
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.
City Hall Observation Deck
City Hall Observation Deck
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.
Santa Monica Pier Part II
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.
Natural History Museum
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!
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’m excited to share that 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 Hollywood Museum, ranked by the L.A. Weekly as the #1 tourist attraction in Hollywood. As much as I love finding hidden gem adventures around the city, I will also probably check out every tourist attraction in the city at some point – I love learning about and experiencing anything related to Los Angeles, even when it is a little cheesy. ;) The Hollywood Museum is the official museum of Hollywood and is home to the largest Hollywood memorabilia collection in the entire world. We all know that Hollywood is the entertainment capitol of the world, but I don’t think many of us know the reason why filmmakers began to flock to Los Angeles in the early 1900’s to make their films! I love learning about history and getting a BTS view of the making of Los Angeles, so I’m always hungry for more information about our city.
Throughout the four floors of the Hollywood Museum, you will take a walk through the history of tinsel town and will see all sorts of memorabilia from some of your favorite TV shows and movies. Think costumes, props, pictures, scripts, personal items, and so much more! Whether you’re a fan of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, I Love Lucy, Superman, Star Trek, Beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise, JLo, Baywatch, Jaws, Planet of the Apes, or Harry Potter… there’s definitely something for everyone here. You’ll be especially fascinated if you’re a fan of cult horror movies – the lower level houses Hannibal Lecter’s jail cell from the Silence of the Lambs, Frankenstein and Elvira, and other memorabilia from some spooky faves.
Something especially cool about the Hollywood Museum is that it’s located inside the historic Max Factor Building where Max Factor (apparently he was Hollywood’s infamous make up king…it was the first time I had heard of him, to be honest!), did the make up for some of Hollywood’s biggest stars back in the day – Katherine Hepburn, Judy Garland, Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, and more. How cool is that? You can check out Max Factor’s make up rooms and see where some of the biggest movie stars got all dolled up!
Overall, I thought the Hollywood Museum had its pros and cons. As you make your way through the exhibits, you can definitely tell some of the cases and décor is a bit outdated and could use some modern retouches. I also thought the organization of some of the memorabilia was a bit confusing and random, but I guess it could be somewhat difficult to organize when you are presenting artifacts from a wide variety of movie genres and decades. On the positive side, I liked that the museum caught your eye at every turn and there was SO much entertainment memorabilia to be seen. I think my favorite part of the museum was the Max Factor make-up rooms and being able to see all the items that Marilyn Monroe owned in particular. To see the actual outfits she wore and some of the beautiful jewelry she owned, and to be able to sit in the chair where she first had her hair dyed blonde, was a special and heartwarming experience! I also liked that while the museum had an overwhelming amount of memorabilia, the entire museum can be explored in about an hour or so, making it the perfect rainy day outing if combined with a warm meal out, either before or after. :)
If you want a healthy dose of tinseltown history and are a total TV or movie buff, the Hollywood Museum is a great #insideLA spot for you to explore during the next rainy day! The Hollywood Museum is open Wednesday-Sunday from 10:00am-5:00pm and is located at 1660 Highland Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028.
I finally made my way to the infamous Getty museum a few weeks ago! I brought my little sister Lauren along for this adventure the day after Christmas. She recently graduated with a degree in Art History, loves art/history/culture more than anything (she even lived in Turkey for 9 months last year, learning and exploring all on her own!), and is one of the most intelligent and fascinating people I know. She had been to the Getty about 3 times before but had not visited for many years, so she was excited to both play tour guide and explore the newer exhibits. The day after Christmas happened to fall on a Saturday, so it was pretty darn packed with what seemed to be both locals and tourists. Even though it was a little hectic and overwhelming here and there, it was still a totally worthwhile adventure.
While admission to the Getty museum is free, you will need to pay $15 per car to park once you arrive. The only downfall about the logistics at the Getty is that the main parking lot is about 1 mile away from the museum entrance. You can either take a free tram up the hill, or if you’d rather stretch your legs after the drive, you can walk up the hill (roughly ¾ mile) to the entrance of the museum. My sister and I both love to be active and didn’t feel like waiting in line, so we decided to walk up to the museum and back to the parking lot afterward. It was chilly outside, and we were pretty drained walking down the hill after perusing the many exhibits, but I still appreciated the exercise.
As you make your way up the hill one way or another, you will arrive at the entrance and be greeted by the iconic and stunning all-white museum exterior. According to the Getty’s website, “A unique destination, the Getty Center incorporates the modern design of architect Richard Meier, with beautiful gardens, open spaces, and spectacular views of Los Angeles.” 1.2 million square feet of white travertine stone from Italy cover the surfaces throughout the Getty Center, making it b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. The buildings are both minimalistic and modernistic, and the grounds are garnished with sculptures of all shapes and sizes. The grounds of the Getty museum are impressive, as are the many views you will experience of Los Angeles since it's perched high up on a hill. I’d recommend checking out The Central Garden Lawn and Garden Terrace Café for some of the prettiest views. Luckily, smog levels were low this day, so we were able to see all the way to the Pacific Ocean and beyond.
Before exploring the many exhibits, we found a shady spot at the beautiful Central Garden to eat our lunch and refuel. The Central Garden is a 134,000 square foot garden with 500 varieties of plants, making it the perfect place for a picnic and quality sista-sista time. It was so pretty and peaceful and was a great way to relax after hiking almost a mile to the entrance. Our Christmas-food-and-wine-comas were still slightly in effect so we laughed at how exhausted we were after the walk up the hill…haha, oh boy!
After lunch, we felt re-energized and were ready to take on the exhibits. The Getty Museum is home to a HUGE collection of art - mostly pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, sculptures, and decorative arts as well as 19th- and 20th-century American, European, and Asian photographs. Here is an overview of the museum contents in the main pavilions, captured from the Getty’s website:
After perusing the various art exhibits in North, East and South Pavilions, we made our way to the Center for Photographs in the West Pavilion. I was excited about the photography exhibits in particular. I tend to find myself drawn to landscape and portrait photography for both personal practice and preference, but I’ve found that all mediums of photography can inspire me in different ways. My favorite photography exhibit at the Getty was Ishiuchi Miyako’s Postwar Shadows. Miyako is an incredible photographer whose exhibit focuses on gritty street photography of the complex life of postwar Japan. I was unable to take pictures of her pictures due to the museum rules, but I wish I could have because her photographs portrayed SO much real and raw emotion, even in the simplest of shots. Showcased were pictures of tiny apartments, now-closed brothels, dark back alley ways, scars on the bodies of veterans, children wandering through the streets, and so much more. The pictures were mostly in black and white and were really thought-provoking. They were obviously in stark contrast to my style and approach, but the exhibit definitely inspired me to practice my street photography skills. We shall see how I can incorporate some of the inspiration and tips I took from her work into my own!
Overall, although there were certainly wonderful highlights of this adventure, I didn’t enjoy the Getty as much as I enjoyed LACMA or the Broad. Being a twenty-something who’s fascinated by bright colors, minimalistic designs, pop culture, politics, hot topics, etc. I find myself most interested in, and impressed by, modern art. I appreciated the Getty because the collections were beautiful and I absorbed so much new information, but now that I’ve been once, I don’t feel a strong desire to go back. The Broad and LACMA, on the other hand, I could easily go back to anytime! Don’t let this opinion discourage you, though – I highly recommend any Angeleno experience the Getty if you’ve never been. It’s a Los Angeles experience that simply cannot be replicated.
Keep in mind that the Getty is open at 10:00am daily except for Monday it is closed all day. It closes daily at 5:30pm, but is open until 9:00pm on Saturday. Admission is free like I mentioned above, but keep in mind that parking is $15 per car. Get a group of friends together so you can split the cost! This is a great outing for those who are on a budget but still want to explore a Los Angeles staple. The Getty is located at 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049.
Los Feliz is a neighborhood located in North Los Angeles, bordering East Hollywood, Atwater Village, Silverlake, and the Hollywood Hills. This city is home to some great L.A. spots including The Los Feliz Theatre, Little Doms, The Alcove, Griffith Park/Griffith Observatory, The Greek Theatre, and more. As much as I love these hot spots, I'm more-so a fan of finding and exploring LA’s hidden gems, so when I heard there was a beautiful, not-so-well-known bridge in a quaint neighborhood in Los Feliz, I added it to my ever-growing Los Angeles bucket list.
Designed by Architect J.C. Wright and built in 1926, the Shakespeare Bridge is named after – you guessed it ;) – William Shakespeare for its vintage charm and gothic style architecture. It’s made entirely of concrete, coming in at 30 feet wide and 260 feet long. The bridge is complete with gothic style towers, arches, columns and charming light fixtures. As you can see from the pictures above, this is a beautiful place to take photos (there was even a couple having their engagement pictures taken when I visited) and walk leisurely along either side of the bridge. You’ll see sprawling views of Los Feliz's neighborhoods on each side and you won’t hear much of anything, unless a car happens to drive over the bridge while you’re visiting. I loved how peaceful and quiet it was. It was also pretty chilly on a cool Los Angeles morning, but luckily I was prepared and bundled up in the appropriate So Cal winter attire.
I would like to mention, though, that as much as I enjoyed visiting this off-the-beaten-path gem, I noticed that there was no place to sit and relax around or on the bridge. The most you can plan to do here is drive or walk over the bridge and enjoy its beauty relatively quickly. It would be nice if there were picnic tables or a designated area for visitors to sit back and relax, but I guess that’s what help keeps this a local “hidden gem.”
Ultimately, this quaint and adorable bridge reminded me of how darn charming Los Angeles can be. In the midst of a busy city with sky scrapers, modern architecture, and all these new "trendy" spots, it’s always nice to get a glimpse of LA’s fascinating (and beautiful) history every now and then. And as much as I have become drawn to photographing the modern architecture of our city (including my favorite Urban Lights at LACMA, the new Broad Museum, the recently renewed red & steel Petersen Automotive Museum, etc.), I still adore exploring unique spots that are rich in history and vintage charm. The 1920’s is a decade I have always been most interested in learning about (and that I would love to temporarily teleport myself to!) so I especially love hidden gems and adventures that make me feel like I’m in an entirely different era.
The Shakespeare Bridge was named a city landmark in 1974 and definitely is worth checking out if you’re in the area! This special sight is located in a residential neighborhood of Los Feliz at Franklin Ave & St George St, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
I am feeling totally inspired. Totally inspired because the city I am grateful to call home offers the some truly unique experiences…and for FREE. Since the Broad Museum opened in September 2015, I’ve had my sights set on visiting. Working full-time limits my adventures to evenings and weekends, so it’s taken me longer than I would have liked to visit. BUT…I finally made it! And it was an incredible experience that I am happy to share with you all on my blog. Out of all art forms, contemporary art is the medium that inspires and resonates with me most. Contemporary art is created by artists living today and typically encompasses some sort of element of the ever-changing environment in which we live in the 21st century - ranging from cultural experiences, advances in technology, pop culture, bold designs, minimalism, and so much more.
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 we waited we were able to catch up on life (it seems like there is never enough time for our girl talk!) and be mesmerized by the exterior design of the museum. And again, I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate the Broad being free. Having no cost associated with it makes it more accessible to more members of the LA community, regardless of whether or not they have the financial means to pay an entrance fee.
As we entered the Broad Museum, and to our dismay, we were told by the curators that Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room was completely booked up for the evening. Although the Infinity Room will be on display until February 2016, there are only a limited number of entrances into the exhibit each day. According to the Broad’s website, the room is a “mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display.” Each individual gets to spend 45 seconds in the room, so you can imagine how quickly this would get booked…a few hundred interested people and boom, you’re out of luck! I’ve seen the Infinity Room on Instagram quite a few times and it looks pretty darn mesmerizing. The museum curators advised us to come right when the museum opens next time to make a required separate reservation for the room.
Truly the only downside of the Broad Museum was not being able to visit the Infinity Room. Everything else was pretty darn amazing. Some of my favorite pieces were Jeff Koonz’ bold and colorful balloon sculptures (pictured above), Cy Twombly’s abstract art, El Anatsui’s copper and wire “cloths” (like the red one pictured above), 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.
We were also completely mesmerized by Ragnar Kjartansson's “The Visitors.” Located on the first floor of the museum, there are 9 musicians who are playing various instruments in different rooms of a mansion. The recording of the musicians is projected onto the walls as they simultaneously perform together. It’s hard to describe, and something you have to experience to understand. That particular exhibit left both of us totally wowed.
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 ‘stuffy’ 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.
Truly the perfect rainy day or winter activity, you can view the incredible and mesmerizing creations by artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Mark Bradford, Jeff Koonz, Barbara Kruger, Roy Lichtenstein, Doug Aitken, and so many more. Don’t miss out on experiencing LA’s newest contemporary art museum – reserve your 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.
Dodger Stadium Tour
This past baseball season I went to two Dodgers games with friends - one in May and one in September. I’ll be honest that I don’t know that much about sports but I have always loved going to sporting events! From the overall exhilaration of the game, the high energy of the loyal, cheering fans, and the mouth-watering Dodger dogs and nachos…it’s no surprise to me at all that baseball games are considered “America’s favorite pastime.” The Los Angeles Dodgers are definitely LA’s most popular baseball team (Sorry Angel fans…) and since they moved here from Brooklyn in 1958, the Dodgers have been one of the most successful teams in the entire Major League.
Seating a whopping 56,000 fans, Dodger Stadium is the third-oldest baseball stadium in the country and has been called home to some of the most iconic baseball players in history. From attending the two games this past season, I knew that Dodger stadium was massive and that the architecture/design was one-of-a-kind. Out tour guide even shared that Dodger stadium is known as one of baseball’s most beautiful and most historic venues, and according to the LA Conservancy, “Dodger Stadium’s Mid-Century Modern lines are as enchanting now as they were upon construction, when Los Angeles was positioning itself as the city of the future, full of modern dreams and pragmatic plans for making them come true.” So wonderfully stated.
When my boyfriend told me that he scheduled a Dodger stadium tour for us during my birthday weekend, I was excited. I knew the behind the scenes tour would be a way to experience Dodger stadium in a whole new perspective and in a unique way. As we entered the stadium a few minutes before our tour began, I was in awe of how beautiful and gigantic the stadium looked without the 50,000 fans filling the seats…it almost looked fake/like a backdrop! It was pretty cool to walk around and explore the top deck without fighting off swarms of people, but at the same time, I missed the smell of the delicious dodger dogs and buzzing energy of the fans. Our tour guide was a die-hard Dodgers fan and excitedly shared with us the history of the Dodgers move to Brooklyn, how the Dodgers got their team name, and a lot of fun and interesting facts throughout the tour.
I’d say there was about 15 other people on the tour with us and some of the highlights for me included seeing the stadium completely empty (this was SO weird and made the stadium seem so much bigger than it did packed with fans), being able to walk ON THE FIELD!, visiting the dugout, the Vin Scully press box, and the World Series trophy and award case.
Tour prices are as follows: $20 for adults, $15 for kids under 14, $15 for seniors 55+, $15 for military personnel, and children ages 3 and under are free.
Click HERE for tour times, tour options, and to purchase your tickets today. Dodger Stadium is located at 1000 Elysian Park Ave. Fans should park in Lot P and meet outside the Top of the Park Store on the Top Deck level adjacent to Lot P.
If you love supporting the boys in blue, this is a unique L.A. experience that you definitely don’t want to miss out on!
Angel's Point at Elysian Park
I've said before that I'm not sure I'll ever tire of the Los Angeles skyline...and when I can see the infamous Dodger Stadium AND the LA Skyline at the same time - talk about a win-win situation. It was beautiful to see these views during the day, but I am definitely adding this spot to my "to see at night" list so that I can experience the city lights twinkling against the evening sky.
While Elysian Park in Los Angeles is home to hiking trails, I decided to take the easy way up and drove to Angel's Point. Angel's Point at Elysian Park is located at 1880 Academy Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90189. Once you are in the park, follow the various signs and drive all the way up the main hill until you can't drive up any further. Park wherever you can find a spot and then walk on the side of the hill until you reach Angel's Point to your left hand side. You can't miss it...you'll see the LA skyline and Dodger Stadium right in the background!
For this adventure outing, I decided to dress pretty casual and comfort is always key for me. On the weekends I'm typically on the go so like wearing comfortable shoes (chucks are my go to!) and a hat to keep the bright California sun off my face. The flannel dress from Forever 21 is one of my favorite pieces for the fall season because it's both comfy and easy to style. Literally, just throw it on, button it up, and you're out the door with a relaxed, yet still stylish look. Shop my look below:
Dodger Hat - on Amazon for $20
Flannel Dress - from Forever 21 for $22.90
Sunnies from Forever 21 for about $5
Update on 8/16/16: I went back to Angel's point at sunset and the view was more spectacular during the day. Love this spot.
San Pedro Sunken City
I heard about the Sunken City through Instagram a few months ago and ever since have been super curious to check out this abandoned, graffiti covered "city." Apparently, a giant landslide back in the 1920's caused the homes in this neighborhood to completely fall into the ocean and it's now literally a "sunken city, " covered in remnants of the homes that once stood in this area. It was interesting to see how the ocean had literally eaten away at this city and to think of everything (homes, personal belongings, etc.) that still remains buried underneath the wreckage. I am not sure if anyone was harmed during this landslide here almost 100 years ago, but I certainly hope not.
My boyfriend and I came here last weekend while exploring San Pedro, and we found the location/date of this adventure pretty fitting considering the Sunken City felt post-apocalyptic. Before visiting, I read online that you aren't (technically) allowed to visit the Sunken City and that you will have to trespass. I wasn't in favor of the idea of trespassing, but if you venture there to explore, you will likely find that you aren't alone! There were about a dozen other people exploring the ruins when we were there on a Saturday afternoon, including young children. Since you will have to trespass if you visit, there is not really an easy way in or out. You either have to climb underneath the fence or you have to hold onto the gate and climb around the edge over the cliffs, toward the ocean. We chose the latter, and it was a little freaky to think you could fall right off the cliff with one bad step. We clung on tightly to the gate as we climbed around it, and we made it safely!
Once successfully inside the gate, you will make your way down the hill to your left hand side to the Sunken City. Apparently there's been some recent TV shows filmed here - like Fear the Walking Dead - and I am definitely not surprised! You will see graffiti of all types on the ruins, cliffs to climb up and over, and totally breath-taking views of the Pacific Ocean. But, please, be smart and careful when you are there exploring! The cliffs along the Pacific Ocean are very tall and, like I mentioned previously, one bad step could launch right you over the edge.
We had so much fun running around, climbing up the cliffs, checking out the graffiti, and enjoying the views of the Pacific Ocean. The main thing I didn't like about the Sunken City was there was SO much trash littering the ground. I guess that's what happens when people aren't technically supposed to be there - there's no trash cans - but come on peeps, haven't you heard the rule "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but foot prints?" It was also somewhat difficult/dangerous to get into, but I would still go back.
Overall, the Sunken City in San Pedro is a unique hidden gem I'd suggest any adventure seeker check out if you're in the area. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes and make sure to bring a camera - there are a lot of cool things to see and photograph. The Sunken City is located at 500 W Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731 and there's plenty of free parking in parking lot outside of Point Fermin Park and on the streets nearby.
Korean Bell of Friendship
Since moving to Los Angeles in April 2015, I have had my sights set on exploring San Pedro, a community in the greater Los Angeles harbor area. San Pedro is a beautiful city right on the coast that takes about 45 minutes to drive to from downtown Los Angeles. It’s well worth the journey and there’s so much to see, do, and experience in this coastal community. My boyfriend and I ventured out for adventures here last weekend and since we were only able to spend half a day here, we visited some of the spots we had wanted to see most. At the top of our to-see list was the beautiful Korean Bell of Friendship, perched on a hill overlooking the Pacific Coast.
According to www.SanPedro.com, the Korean Bell of Friendship was created and donated to the city of Los Angeles in 1976 from the Republic of Korean to "celebrate the bicentennial of the U.S. independence, honor veterans of the Korean War, and to consolidate traditional friendship between the two countries." The bell was created in Korean and then shipped to the United States, weighing in at a whoppin' 17 tons. It's 12 feet high and made out of copper, tin, gold, nickel and lead. The bell's base is covered in the most intricate designs of brightest and boldest colors. The designs were inspired by the Oriental zodiac, and you could spend a good amount of time just looking at the beauty of the bell and its enclosure. The colors and design are pretty darn enchanting. And if you're wondering if the bell will ring when you're visiting - OR if you can ring the bell - don't get your hopes up. It only rings 4 times a year - on the 4th of July, August 15 (Korean Independence Day), New Year's Eve and September 17 to celebrate Constitution Week (info. from SanPedro.com). While you may not get to experience and hear the actual ringing of the bell, the beauty of it and the gorgeous grounds it's located on are definitely enough to attract you to plan your own visit.
My immediate reaction to walking onto the grounds of the Korean Bell of Friendship was, "Wait...where's all the people?" I've found that some of the Los Angeles tourist hot spots (Urban Lights at LACMA, Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, Santa Monica pier, etc.) are typically packed with visitors. There were surprisingly less than half a dozen people at the bell, and it honestly was pretty nice having the Korean Bell almost all to ourselves - especially on a Saturday afternoon! Also, the views from the bell were unparalleled. Upon parking and walking toward the bell, you'll enjoy sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Los Angeles Harbor, and Catalina Island off in the distance. There's plenty of greenery surrounding the bell if you want to bring a picnic or your furry friend to play fetch with. The park that surrounds the bell is picturesque, tranquil, and makes you feel far away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.
If you are looking for a unique adventure in a peaceful location with gorgeous views, I'd add this special spot to your Los Angeles bucket list. The Korean Bell of Friendship is located at Angels Gate Park: 3601 S Gaffey Street, San Pedro, CA 90731. There's a free parking lot right at the park and it's a very short walk to the bell. Enjoy, my friend!
If you've been following along with my blog and Instagram, you'll know that I am a big fan of street art, public art, and urban art. When I heard the the world's largest single piece of art constructed by one individual was located in South Central Los Angeles, I knew I had to take the trip down there to see it for myself. It took one man, Italian immigrant Sabato Rodia, 33 years (yep, THIRTY THREE years...that's dedication if ya ask me!) total to built and he constructed the towers without any machinery or power towels. He built the towers from the ground up in steel covered with mortar, and then decorated the towers with mosaic tiles, glass, clay, shells, bottles, and rocks.
According to the Watts Tower website, "The tallest tower (third from left) is 30 meters high. The tower to the left of it is 29.5 and the next one 16.76 meters high. The highest tower contains the longest slender reinforced concrete column in the world. The monument also features a gazebo with a center column and a spire reaching a height of 38 feet. Rodia's "ship of Marco Polo" has a spire of 28 feet, and the 140-foot long "south wall" is decorated extensively with tiles, sea shells, pottery, glass and hand-drawn designs."
My mom is also a lover of art, so the two of us went on a thirty minute tour, where we were able to go inside of the gated area and see the towers up close. If you decide to make the trip down here, I'd definitely recommend going at a time where a tour takes place so that you can hear more about the history, Sabato's inspiration for creating the towers, and examine the details of the towers up close, rather than from afar. Tours are $7 total. Our guide was super friendly and extremely knowledgeable - he was able to answer any and all questions we had and even offered to take pictures of us throughout the tour! The blogger in me appreciated that very much ;)
If you're a fan of public and urban art, I'd definitely recommend adding this hidden gem attraction to your LA Bucket List! The Watts Towers and Art Center is located at 1727 East 107th Street, Los Angeles California SA 90002. There's plenty of free street parking, and you can click here for more details on tour times and directions.
Before I leave you for the day, I'd like to share that I was reading online about the area of South Central LA and read, "South Central is a relatively impoverished region of Los Angeles infamous for gang violence. However, despite its negative reputation, it has improved in recent years and does offer certain sights for the traveler. This is where you will find the museums of Exposition Park and the famous Watts Towers, and the neighborhood of Leimert Park has developed as an African-American cultural center." I think it's important to mention - and start a conversation - around the reputation that South Central Los Angeles has and the history behind its neighborhoods. Click to read more about the history of Watts and West Adams neighborhoods, the LA riots, gang history, and more.
CicLAvia is the largest "open streets" event in North America, celebrating active transportation, a healthy and sustainable environment, and a love of exploring our city from a unique perspective (aka... not in a car). CicLAvia's website shares, "CicLAvia closes the streets to car traffic and opens them to people, turning the streets into a playground for Angelenos, and connecting people across all communities on car free streets regardless of geographic location, economic class, culture, ethnicities, educational background or age. CicLAvia allows Angelenos to envision an alternative future for Los Angeles – a bike and pedestrian friendly city, a healthy city with alternative transportation beyond the single-passenger automobile." How awesome is that?
Last Sunday, 6 miles of streets were closed in Downtown Los Angeles for people to explore on anything with wheels - from skateboards, hoverboards, roller skates, bikes, wheelchairs, etc. It was a completely unique and mesmerizing experience to travel through downtown Los Angeles by bike and see no cars for miles and miles. It also felt pretty damn fantastic to not have to worry about finding parking anywhere (parking in LA can be a nightmare, especially when downtown). I took full advantage of the road closures and rode all over from Boyle Heights, the Arts District, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, the historic core, and to MacArthur Park. Not only was the ride itself a lot of fun (I forgot how freeing it feels to ride a bike!) but we also took advantage of the convenience of not having a car and made pit stops throughout the day for coffee, food, and beers (but don't worry, mom - not enough to get a "biking under the influence" ticket).
After an exhilarating 8 hour jam-packed day, we ended up at the LA River, underneath the 6th street bridge, which was another check off my LA bucketlist. By the end of the ride, I could barely walk and was drenched in sweat and grime. The next day, I was completely exhausted and it hurt to sit down or move at all for that matter! But the CicLAvia event was entirely worth the soreness and fatigue after, and I am so grateful that I got to experience the heart of LA by bike. It really got me thinking that when you're in a car, it can be difficult to notice everything that surrounds you as you're driving. When you're focused on watching the traffic lights, changing lanes, navigating through traffic, etc., you can forget to take notice of the city you're driving through. I loved biking through the heart of LA because it felt like I saw this area in an entirely new light. I loved taking pictures throughout my ride (yup, props to me for not falling once...very thankful my dad taught me how to ride one-handed when I was a youngin'!) and reviewing them all the next day. I also appreciated the friendliness of so many of the people that attended CicLAvia (I've never before gotten so many "hello's" and friendly waves/head nods in LA...cyclists are some of the most warm people out there!), and the positive energy throughout the day was entirely infectious.
It was such a surreal experience to be surrounded byTHOUSANDS of other Angelenos who love to explore our city and be active at the same time. This was one of my favorite LA experiences to date and a day in which I will remember fondly. Bottom line: I can't wait for the next CicLAvia event! Click HERE for more information and updates on the next CicLAvia event.
Mosaic Tile House
One of my favorite things about the city of Los Angeles is that there are ENDLESS adventures to be had. I’m pretty sure I’ll need to live in this city for years and years to even scratch the surface of everything there is to do, see, and experience! Each and every weekend that I'm in town, I set my intention to discover or experience something new, and the Universe listened and responded to me loud and clear this past weekend. I am so happy to have discovered the Mosaic Tile House in Venice and was able to go on a tour with the lovely homeowners Cheri Pan and Gonzalo Duran. Cheri and Gonzalo are the the most adorable husband and wife in their 70’s, who are very much in love with their art, lives, and each other (Can you say all around #goals?).
Cheri and Gonzalo moved into their house in Venice Beach back in 1994. What was once a regular ol’ bland house on the block is now a colorful and magical oasis, with almost every view-able inch, inside and out, covered in beautiful mosaic tiles of all shapes, colors, and designs. These creative folks started placing colorful mosaics in the bathroom twenty years ago, slowly began adding them into the kitchen cabinets and walls, and then tiles ended up covering almost the entire house, turning it into the most vibrant, unique, and eclectic house I've ever been inside. Every corner I turned, there was something interesting to see. The details and impeccable designs in each room were almost at times overwhelming to absorb. I snapped pictures left and right and fell in love with the intricacy of it all.This home is a reflection of Cheri and Gonzalo's appreciation for art, their deep love for each other, and the colorful, quirky, one-of-a-kind personalities they both encompass.
Gonzalo took me on a tour and explained the inspiration behind each area and room, personal stories from him & Cheri's past, and his love and appreciation for art of all forms. As with everything in life, Gonzalo mentioned that the home is a work in progress, and that they make additions to the designs often. This home has become a true treasure for the neighborhood and the community. Gonzalo shared that neighbors will oftentimes leave broken plates, teapots, and other ceramics on their doorstep to add to the home's collection. While on the tour and hearing these stories, Gonzalo's friendly spirit made it feel like I had known him for years and was stopping by to casually say hello. Cheri had the same magical spirit to her. When she told me she was 75 years old, I honestly couldn't believe her! She is so full of life, energy, and adventure. When I asked her what her secret was to aging well and maintaining her vibrant personality, she answered, "Exercise, art, and making love!"
This is one of my most favorite adventures I've had in all of my Los Angeles explorations thus far, and I would highly recommend that any local Angelino or tourist pay this special place a visit as soon as possible! Here are the details in a nut shell:
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
If you're looking for an outdoor location to get some quality exercise while also taking in breath-taking views, look no further! The Culver City Stairs that lead to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is a spot you'll need to experience for yourself if you're a local to the Los Angeles area. I recently came here with my friend Michael (who's also a super talented photographer, as evidenced from the photos he took of me above - make sure to follow him on Instagram here) and after climbing our way to the top, we spent about an hour or so shooting the views and the sunset.
This 500 foot-high scenic overlook is south of downtown Los Angeles and will present you with panoramic views including the San Gabriel mountains, LA skyline, and Pacific Ocean on a clear day (...but no promises, we all know that LA is no stranger to smog). Also, wayyy off in the distance you can even see the Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Observatory! This spot is pretty cool because you feel like you really are in the middle of Los Angeles - able to experience a 360 degree birds eye view. To get to the top, you can either climb the Culver City Stairs - 282 cement stairs - or you can take the more leisurely route, a roughly one mile trail from the park entrance (basically on the road you drive up if you'd like to park at the top and enjoy the views without the workout - but keep in mind it's a $6 parking fee).
Once at the top, you can catch your breath and enjoy the views, stop at various spots for lunges/sit ups/etc., and check out the pretty gardens with various plants and flowers. I'd recommend coming here at sunrise or sunset in order to capture some great pictures and enjoy the beautiful skies as you get your booty kicked by the stairs. I can only imagine how hot it can get here during the middle of a hot day, so make sure you bring water to hydrate yourself during the climb.
The park's main entrance is located at 6300 Hetzler Rd. in Culver City off of Jefferson Blvd. There is plenty of free parking at the base of the stairs, but as always in LA, make sure to read all parking signs posted. You wouldn't want to pull a New Girl move and get a $78 parking ticket (this didn't happen to me here, but it happened to me recently in Hollywood...major OOPS.).
After seeing plenty of beautiful Instagram posts about Union Station, LA's main railway station, I knew I had to explore it in person and bring my new camera (Canon Rebel t6i) along for the fun! Union Station was built in 1939 and offers passengers an opportunity to travel by train locally, regionally, and long distance. As I walked through the station's door, I was mesmerized by the Spanish colonial architecture, the natural light shining through the large windows, the tiles, and the "back in time" feel to it all. It made feel as if I were transported in time, back to the 1800's, when trains were a form of travel that only the luxurious and wealthy could enjoy.
It's not too often that I get to explore a train station - let alone actually take a train someplace - so it made this adventure a unique experience for me. I loved walking around and playing with the settings on my camera to snap some pics (I still have a lot to learn, but I'm making progress!). It was no surprise to me that Union Station has been featured in some well-known movies - Blade Runner, Pearl Harbor, and Private Eye, to name a few - and was also featured in the beginning of Pharrell William's 24-hour music video for "Happy."
Overall, Union Station is a great place to admire the gorgeous interior, take advantage of the picture-perfect lighting, and observe the busy bodies strolling through the largest railroad terminal in the Western United States. Also, from Union Station, you can easily walk to Olvera Street (the birthplace of Los Angeles in the 1700's), which makes for a great Los Angeles adventure itself.
Click to read more information about Union Station or click to look into train routes and purchase tickets for your next train adventure! Whether you're heading into Los Angeles or decide to make a pit-stop en route to your final destination, hop off at Union Station and explore some of this magical city. Or, if you're a local looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure and enjoy photography, head into Union Station at your leisure to explore! Union Station is located at 800 N. Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. There's a visitor parking lot right out front of Union Station.
Lake Hollywood Park
Oh heyyy, Hollywood!
Built in 1923, did you know that the Hollywood sign used to read "Hollywoodland?" What is now a So Cal phenomenon and a huge tourist attraction, the sign was originally built as a dazzling advertisement for the pricey real estate development, Hollywoodland. Known as one of LA's biggest tourist attractions, this sign may just be the most photographed signs in the entire United States!
If you're in LA for a limited amount of time and are looking for a great place to take pictures with the iconic Hollywood Sign, look no further! Lake Hollywood Park is the absolutely perfect place for you. I was on a mission to find the best place in LA to take pictures with this famed sign, and after doing some researching, I decided that this spot looked to be a pretty good one. As I ventured out here last weekend with my roommate Jessie, I quickly realized that my intuition was right! Not only is this park very easy to get to (and has easily accessible, free parking...even on a Saturday afternoon), but the views were superb. You can park right next to the park and explore the grassy area before you make your way up the hill to see the sign from a few different vantage points.
There were quite a bit of tourists here but also a fair amount of locals, playing with their dogs and even hosting birthday parties. It had a very "family friendly" vibe to it and felt like a very safe part of town. If you head over to this part of town, I'd also recommend you check out the Hollywood Reservoir or the Hollywood Bowl Overlook for a fun adventure on the side!
Go and take your glam shot under one of the most iconic signs in the world! Lake Hollywood Park is located at: 3200 Canyon Lake Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
L.A. Department of Water & Power
I recently stumbled upon the quote, “There’s so much beauty when your eyes lay lost in all the city lights.” While beauty may be subjective, I've always thought that skylines are one of the most beautiful sights to see. Skylines show you the landscape of an entire city in one shot, and while Downtown L.A. isn't the nearly most impressive skyline out there, I still think it’s gorgeous in its own way.
I recently visited the L.A. Department of Water & Power with my friend and local photographer Michael Zikry. He is incredibly talented (and very kind for showing me the ropes of my new camera) so I would highly suggest you follow him on Instagram! This building is a pretty amazing place to be right around Golden Hour and as the evening transcends into dusk and nightfall. As evidenced by some of the pictures above, the views of the LA Skyline from this building were some of the most beautiful I've witnessed so far! If you want to head out for a low-key adventure and see some amazing views, visit the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power at 111 N Hope St.
Let me start off by saying that we’re pretty darn lucky to have quality museums for FREE right in our own backyard. Located right off the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is the gorgeous Getty Villa museum. After being on our both of our LA Bucket Lists for quite some time, one of my best friends Liz and I ventured here over this past Labor Day weekend. Some background info for you: The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa opened to the public in 2006. I’m sure you’ve heard of The Getty, right? Basically, the Getty Villa is like a little sister to the Getty Museum in LA. This Malibu gem is home to 23 galleries total, showcasing arts and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome dating from 6,500 B.C. to A.D. 400. That’s a very, very long time ago, so you can only image how awesome it can be to see all of the art, jewelry, pottery and statues on display from these ancient time periods. The Getty Villa is a great place to get a healthy dose of art history without being too overwhelmed with information.
As if the collections and exhibits inside aren’t beautiful enough, wandering around the grounds of the Getty Villa is a lovely experience. The Villa is a re-creation of an ancient Roman style house and it has a very Mediterranean feel to it. As you cover the grounds you will see gorgeous gardens and fountains, intricately designed pillars and ceilings, and some really beautiful tiles both inside and outside. I’d like to note, though, that the fountains are currently waterless. In an effort to save water during California's well-known and serious drought, the Getty has turned off all the water features…something I can totally get on board with and support!
If you want to dig deeper into the art and culture at the Getty Villa, there is a wide variety of talks and tours provided for free throughout the day. Tours range from showcasing the unique architecture, to the impressive gardens that host over 300 types of plants, to the current art exhibits and installations. If this is something that interests you, click HERE for the various tour options and times. If you’re more of an “explore it yourself” type of person, knock yourself out! There’s plenty to see on your own and you can see as little or as much of the museum you’d like. Click HERE for more information on the current exhibitions and installations. Overall, I really liked the Getty Villa because it was a nice museum day without it being too overwhelming or feeling too touristy.
The Getty Villa is closed only on Tuesdays and is open Wednesday–Monday from 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. It's free to visit but you must reserve your arrival time in advance by clicking HERE. The only thing you’ll need to pay for is parking, which is $15 per car. Bring a few friends along for the adventure and you can split the cost! Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272.
The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine was dedicated by Paramahansa Yogananda (an Indian yogi and guru who introduced millions of westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi), was built in 1920 and opened to the public in 1950. Thousands of people visit this beautiful and peaceful sanctuary each year, and it’s really no surprise to me why they do!
I’d like to start off by sharing that this is most definitely the quietest place I’ve visited in LA. In a city that is no stranger to sirens blaring, people chatting, cell phones beeping, horns honking, music blasting…you get the point - it almost felt like I was no longer in LA anymore. As I made my way around the entire lake (about a 20 minute walk if you stop a few times), I didn’t hear one peep or sound from anyone. I observed many people meditating and sitting quietly around lake on grassy patches and benches, which made the overall experience a calming one.
Ok, let’s take a few minutes to have a quick heart-to-heart before moving forward. This place really touched me and I may have teared up for a second or two sitting on a bench overlooking the lake. I remember a time in my life where silence absolutely TERRIFIED me. Silence is basically this space where you’re forced to sit alone with yourself and with all your thoughts and feelings (and we all know some of those aren’t so enjoyable, huh?). As someone who's previously experienced her fair share of crippling anxiety and tension headaches, it felt good to be OK with the silence. While remembering dark times in my past and thinking about how far I’ve come, the feeling of gratitude overcame me for a moment. Moments like these help remind me that we face battles to not only go through them, but to GROW through them. This quiet space reminded me that I absolutely need to make more time for simply BEING, and less “doing.”
Okay – thanks for listening, dear friend – let’s get back to the Lake Shrine. A truly peaceful place away from the chaos of Los Angeles, visiting the Lake Shrine almost feels as if you were transported to another country. The grounds of Lake Shrine cover ten acres of land and includes a natural spring-fed lake, a large variety of flowers, trees and plants from around the world, and is also home to some cute ducks, swan, and koi fish. As you walk around the lake, you’ll notice the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial (where some of Gandhi’s ashes live), a museum with exhibits on Paramahansa Yogananda's work, a floating boat for silent meditation, and a gift shop with trinkets from India. The temple itself is on a hilltop overlooking Lake Shrine. You’re free to visit this hidden gem on your own or you can also sign up for a short guided tour. The temple tours last approximately 45 minutes and are held on Friday and Sunday afternoons at 3:00pm. Click here for more info on scheduling your tour if you’re interested.
This special hidden gem is located 17190 Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. The Lake Shrine hours vary. Please plan ahead before visiting, and review the visitor information by clicking HERE. With free entrance and a free parking lot right next to the entrance, this is a sacred spot I'd recommend visiting.
If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, please know that there are millions of others in the world that are right there with you. I promise you that you are not alone and that things can get better. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Beverly Hills Sign
HEYO FROM THE 9-0-2-1-0! It's hard to stop into Beverly Hills without taking a picture at the infamous Beverly Hills sign. Shout out to the lovely stranger that took this pic and shout out to me for having the bravery to ask to ask - haha ;) Get your own Bev Hills sign pic snapped at the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd. & Beverly Dr.
One last sidenote: Just 0.44 miles away from the iconic Bev Hills sign is Beverly Hills City Hall, a gorgeous, Spanish Renaissance piece of architecture built by William Gage in 1932. Located at 455 N Rexford Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
Vista Hermosa Park Bench
I'm convinced this is the most picture-perfect bench in the city of LA, where you will get an incredible view of the LA skyline in the background. The popular bench is one of the benches in Vista Hermosa Park: 100 N Toluca St, Los Angeles, CA 90026. There's lots of free street parking in the neighborhoods surrounding the park so don't stress about the parking situation. Once you're in the park, the bench is perched upon a small hill and is very easy to find (we walked about 5 minutes from my car to the bench).
El Matador State Beach
El Matador State Beach is a beautiful beach off of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Malibu, just a few miles north of Los Angeles, and technically still a part of LA County. I’ve visited some of the most popular beaches in LA – from Hermosa, Redondo, Santa Monica, to Venice – but nothing quite compares to this somewhat hidden gem. It's definitely my new favorite beach in LA (by far!) and moments after leaving last weekend, I was already craving to return.
As you enter El Matador State Beach you will come to a somewhat steep walkway down to the beach, which includes a good amount of stairs. Wear comfortable shoes and be careful as you make your way down. Also, take a few breaks throughout the descent to simply stop and enjoy the breathtaking views. As you can see from some of the pictures above, this beach is covered in caves, cool rock formations, and large cliffs. The water seems much cleaner than other beaches in LA and the sand will be sparkling on a sunny day. This beach is adored by locals and especially popular in the summertime, so I would recommend going early in the day if you want to take some great pictures and claim a good spot. As you make your way onto the warm sand, you can spend your day relaxing under the sun, exploring the sea caves, taking pictures, climbing some of the rocks (if you’re feeling extra adventurous), and more. It’s a good idea to walk around and see all of the beach before deciding on your spot for the day.
Please note that there are no trash cans on the beach so if you plan on bringing a picnic or food items, make sure to take your trash with you when you leave. Like they say, take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. :)
I’d highly recommend you make the effort to drive to Malibu to explore one of California’s most unique and pretty beaches. El Matador State Beach is located at 32350 El Matador Beach Rd, Malibu, CA 90265. You can pay $8 to park in the small parking lot here but I wouldn’t suggest doing this as it gets packed early in the day. You can easily park on PCH for free but watch out for the “No Parking” areas so you don’t get ticketed. Also, pay attention to the cars zipping by on PCH and make sure you wait until the roads are COMPLETELY clear before you cross.
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!
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