I came back to snap some pics at nighttime too, pictured below!
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that there are some really great places to get amazing skyline views of the City of Angels (and that I'm on a mission to find 'em all). You can hike Runyon Canyon in Hollywood, visit the Griffith Observatory, or wine and dine on an LA rooftop (Perch is still my favorite restaurant view!). But – if you want to see an amazing view for little effort (maybe 100 steps total) and little cost (zero $ in fact), I have the perfect spot for you – The Hollywood Bowl Overlook! Not only is this spot super easy to get to but it’s the perfect outing if you have guests visiting with kiddos or those that aren’t fans of puttin’ on their hiking boots. From this not-so-well-known Hollywood Bowl Overlook you can see the Hollywood Sign, The Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Bowl, AND downtown Los Angeles…win-win-win-win! Apparently on a clear day, you can even see all the way out to the Pacific Ocean.
As you enter the lookout point, you’ll be greeted with a stunning view of the LA Skyline. You’ll also notice that there are stairs that lead up to all around better views - including the Hollywood Sign, Downtown LA, and the Hollywood Bowl. If you want to see anything up close and personal, you can put coins into the various telescopes and check out the scenes from a clearer view. Signs are also placed around the lookout points so you can learn some of LA’s history while you’re up there.
Whether you’re a tourist or local Angelino, I would suggest you don’t miss out on one of the most stunning views of the city. The Hollywood Bowl Overlook is located at: 7036 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068. There are only a few parking spots in the lot right next to the lookout point, but I’d suggest parking on the side of the road at the tow-away zone (Ok, clearly don’t come to me for any legal advice, but I parked here for a short while and had no problem.).
Let's run wild, baby! If you’re looking for a free, off-the-beaten path adventure, I’d recommend you schedule a visit to the old abandoned L.A. Zoo. The Old L.A. Zoo (originally named The Griffith Park Zoo) opened in 1912, only a few miles from the current Los Angeles Zoo site, with just 15 animals. After the city realized the zoo was too small and that conditions weren’t ideal for the animals housed there, a new, much larger zoo was built. Since it’s closure, the Old Zoo has been used in a number of movies, including “Anchorman" and is now frequented with adventure seekers, curious minds, and photographers.
Throughout this eerie abandoned zoo are old animal cages and enclosures, covered in graffiti of all colors, which makes it a really interesting place to explore. It was definitely a little strange and also sort of sad to think that the animals in this zoo lived in such small cages and enclosures. I also couldn't help but think of how eerie this place would be at night...haunted much? Most of the cages are locked up or fenced off, but there are some places where the fence has been cut and you can squeeze your way in. Of course my friend Evelynn and I crawled through every opening we could find to explore and take pictures (sorry for trespassing, mom)! The cement stairways were my favorite part of the zoo...Lions and tigers used to crawl through these stairways from their cages to their exhibits for the public to see. You can cover all of the Old L.A. Zoo in less than an hour, and make sure you bring a camera/phone if you have one because there are a ton of cool photo opportunities.
Because it can be a little confusing to find and I like to help make your adventures as smooth as possible (insert *virtual hug*), here are instructions on how to get there: Coming from the Hollywood area, take Los Feliz Blvd, make a left on Crystal Springs Rd (toward Griffith Park), and then a left onto Griffith Park Dr. Once you get to the intersection of Crystal Springs Rd. & Griffith Park Dr. you'll see signs for the Merry-Go Round and Park. Park in the Merry-Go-Round Lot One. Walk from the Merry-Go-Round to the large childen’s playground called Shane's Inspiration. When you reach the playground/multi-colored bathroom, you will make your way up the hill to your left hand side. You will see a stair case, which you climb up and then BOOM, you’re there! You can also follow the signs for the Shakespeare plays and they will take you there. Don’t be discouraged if you get a little confused…it took us a few tries to find the right place! I guess that makes it more of an adventure, right?
Bring a camera/phone, comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and set aside some time to explore and let your inner animal out!
This summer I was able to be on 9/80 schedule at work, meaning I work 9 hours/day for 9 days and then get 1 day off every two weeks. To celebrate my last “Summer Friday” of the year I decided to take a day trip to the beautiful Avalon on Catalina Island. I had never been to Catalina, and this was on my LA Bucket List since I moved to the city a few months ago. In case you need a quick 4-1-1: Catalina is an island about 25 miles off of the coast of LA, accessible by personal boat, ferry (the route I took), or helicopter. Catalina is a popular tourist destination because it appeals to all types of visitors – the adventure junkies, the foodies, the busy city escapers, family vacationers, the photographers, and more. Catalina offers something for everyone and since it’s fairly easy to get to from LA, it’s the ideal spot to say “BRB L.A.” and get away for some much needed R&R.
Avalon is the city on Catalina Island to visit, and is the bay that all of the ferry’s from the mainland take you directly to. Avalon is located on the east side of Catalina Island and is only 2 square miles in size. Catalina Island itself is about 75 square miles, but most of the island is considered a conservancy area, where it is maintained in its natural (and beautiful, I might add) state. Avalon has about 3,500 local residents and about 1,000,000 visitors each year.
So, now for my visit to this beautiful just-out-of-LA destination...The Universe works in the most magical ways and it turned out that one of my friends was going to be visiting her boyfriend (one of the few Catalina locals, born and raised) on the Island the same day! She asked if I wanted a tour of the island and to spend the day together catching up, and I of course said HECK YES! It was the perfect day to explore because not only did I get to experience the beauty of Catalina through the eyes of a local, but I also got to spend the day catching up with a really amazing friend of mine.
I took the Newport Flyer to Catalina and purchased a GroupOn for $35 (normally $70). I totally would have posted the GroupOn Deal here but I just checked and it’s no longer valid. The boat ride from Newport was about an hour from dock to dock. I liked the ride because you could barely feel the boat swaying back and forth. I was slightly nervous about getting sea-sick but the ride was actually super peaceful and enjoyable. I was greeted by my friend Rebecca as soon as I exited the boat and could barely contain my excitement for our adventure! We started our day with a scenic tour of the island in her boyfriend’s jeep and, as you can see from some of the pictures above, the views were INCREDIBLE! It was great to see the beautiful Avalon bay from both sides and to see some of the back country of Catalina. I understand that you probably won’t have a local to chauffeur you around for the day like I did, so click HERE to check out an hour-long scenic tour offered for $18. This is the perfect way to see some of the highlights and best photo opps of Avalon if you’re just visiting for the day. You can also rent a golf cart for a few hours and cruise around the island at your own pace if you would rather not be on a guided tour. Click HERE to get all the info on renting a golf cart on the island.
Depending on how much time/funds you have available, you can also partake in one of the many adventure activities that Catalina offers after cruising around the island in the morning, including an inland adventure tour on a hummer, zip lining, snorkeling, rock climbing, and so much more. Click HERE for all the details on these.
After Rebecca gave me an incredible tour of the island and I was practically drooling over the island’s beauty (or maybe just salivating thinking about how thirsty I was…), we had enjoyed a cold beer and then headed to our submarine ride (all thanks to her kind boyfriend, Cesar!). The submarine ride was about 30 minutes long, and it was an interesting way to experience the crystal clear waters of Catalina without actually getting wet. The water surrounding Catalina Island makes you feel as if you were transported to Hawaii for the day. If I had more time there I would have loved to go on a snorkeling or snuba expedition because the gorgeous water and sea life are some of Catalina’s most popular attractions. I’ll definitely be adding that to my to-do list for my next Catalina adventure!
Rebecca and I ended the day at Descanso Beach, enjoying fresh ceviche, poke bowls, and Catalina’s famous Buffalo Milk cocktail (A MUST ORDER…especially on a hot day!). Catalina’s signature drink (which doesn’t actually contain milk from buffaloes) is a tasty milkshake with vodka, Kahlua, crème de cacao, milk and fresh bananas, all blended with ice and topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg. We enjoyed our lunch and drinks with a picturesque view of Descanso Beach, and no reservation was needed. I liked Descanso Beach because it felt removed from the somewhat touristy feel of downtown Avalon/the main beach area. You can rent a cabana at Descanso, but I don’t really think that’s necessary as there was plenty of space on the beach to sit and relax or just grab a cocktail and bite to eat on their patio. Click HERE for more info on Descanso Beach Club (dining, cabana rentals, etc.).
Overall, my day trip to Catalina was one of my favorite days of Summer 2015, and one in which I will remember fondly. I only had less than 6 hours total on the island but the day never felt overwhelming or rushed, and I still felt like I got to chill out and relax on the boat ride there and back. The scenic tour and Descanso Beach Club were definitely the highlight and my top two recommendations for anyone interested in doing a day trip to Catalina.
Before I bid you adieu, here’s a few extra Catalina tips:
Special thank you to my friends Rebecca and Cesar for being my amazing Catalina tour guides, and I can’t wait to go back and visit them again! Bon voyage, my friends!
My friend Dacia and I wanted to do something fun and unique after brunch last Sunday, so we decided to check out the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live for the Taylor Swift Exhibit (#totalfangirls #swifties #25goingon13… more on this in a minute!). The Grammy Museum is a 30,000-square foot, four floor museum that celebrates the well-known music event on T.V. – The Grammy’s – with exhibits on genres ranging from classical and jazz to rock and hip-hop to pop. If you’re one of those people that cringes at the word “museum,” trust me when I say this isn’t your typical walk-around-and-think-about-what-you’re-going-to-eat-after museum. There are so many interactive exhibits throughout your visit here and if you’re the kind of person that likes letting loose and acting like a kid every once in a while, this is the place for you! Many of the exhibits are interactive which makes for a really fun and unique experience for music-junkies. There are sound proof rooms featuring video clips, headphones and touchscreens at many exhibits, simulated recording booths and instruments, so many beautiful costumes on display, and a ton of super cool memorabilia from some of our country’s most famous musician’s.
Ok…now for the reason why we paid this museum a visit…the TAYLOR SWIFT EXPERIENCE! Taylor and I are the same age, and I feel like I’ve basically grown up with her. She’s helped me through a heart break or two, has inspired me to shake, shake, shake it off when people aren’t kind, and to embrace my uniqueness…awkward dance moves and all! This girl will never go out of style, and I adore her as a musician, person, and public figure. If you are also a fan of hers and are in LA, you MUST check this place out. As you walk into the exhibit on the second floor of the museum, you will be greeted with a giant lit up dance floor. This is not your basic dance floor though – it actually lights up when you step on it and is continuously playing “Shake It Off.” After you take a quick dance break and begin to walk through the exhibit, you’ll find T. Swift memorabilia from when she was a child and throughout her music career, costumes she’s worn, lyrics she’s hand written in journals, and so much more. You can also go into the theatre and watch a 20-minute clip on a general overview of her music career. The movie was my favorite part of this exhibit because it showed some of her Grammy acceptance award speeches, the highlights of her music career, and super cool behind-the-scenes footage of her in the recording studio. We also loved the mural on a large wall completely covered in T. Swift’s magazine covers. Overall, this was a really fun and unique outing that I would recommend any music lovers or Swifties to go and check out stat.
Friends, make sure you plan accordingly - the Taylor Swift Exhibit is only on display until October 4, 2015. And because I love to share the love, click HERE to buy your tickets for 50%! $13 for 2 tickets or $26 for 4 tickets.
The Grammy Museum is located at L.A. Live downtown - 800 W Olympic Blvd. Suite A245, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You pack park right under the Grammy Museum at the L.A. Live parking lot – it’s $5 for 2 hours, which should be plenty of time for you to explore the museum.
Nothing gets me quite excited as a new adventure! What makes me even more excited is being able to be outside in nature, get some quality exercise, and catch up with a friend all at the same time! I’m pretty much the queen of adventure multi-tasking… #winning. Anyways – I hiked from the Hollywood Reservoir to the Wisdom Tree to the Hollywood Sign this past weekend and am excited to share with you the details on this hike and how you can see these beautiful sights for yourself. This hike was roughly 4 miles roundtrip and took us about 2.5 hours to complete. My old co-worker and friend Linh and I parked on Hollywood Drive as it intersects with Wonder View Road. A good address to put into your GPS would be 3052 Lake Hollywood Blvd. Park your car along Lake Hollywood Blvd. and then walk up Wonder View Road (visitors are not permitted to park near the fancy houses on Wonder View Road). Walk all the way up the road, past the gate, and then enter the trail head from the dirt road.
The trail is pretty steep and it is uphill almost all of the way. Make sure you bring some hiking shoes with a great grip (I personally love my Merrells – not the cutest style but SO worth it to be comfortable on trails with rocks, dirt, etc.) because a lot of the dirt/rocks on the trail are pretty loose and you wouldn’t want your adventure to get turned upside down by a bad fall. As you make your way up the steep trail, you will fall in love with the views! As you reach new heights you will be able to see the Hollywood Reservoir, the downtown LA skyline, and the Griffith Observatory far off in the distance. You will follow the trail all the way up to the Wisdom Tree, which is about 0.8 miles from the start of the hike (according to Yelp). The Wisdom Tree has become a legend in LA - it is the only tree left standing after a bad fire roared through Griffith Park in 2007. Sounds pretty holy if you ask me! This is the perfect place to snap some pics because not only is the tree itself beautiful, but you will have 360 degree views of our beloved city. Also, there are two boxes underneath the Wisdom Tree where hikers can leave special notes for future visitors. I think this is a special touch and makes the experience more meaningful for those who leave and read the notes of wisdom. As we were leaving the Wisdom Tree, there was even a group setting up for a proposal with balloons, pictures of the happy couple, and all their close friends/family. How sweet is that? :)
When you’re at the Wisdom Tree, you’ll also be able to see the back of the Hollywood sign, which you can continue hiking to if you’re up for it (obviously I'd recommend it, because you're already half way there!). If so, continue on the trail heading up the mountain toward the sign. It's about the same distance from the tree to the sign as it is from the trail head to the tree. This section of the hike is definitely a little steeper and more rugged, so go slow and take your time. Head down to the paved road and you can see an awesome view of the famed Hollywood sign behind a chain link fence. Get your camera/phone out because this is the ideal place to snap a few pics before making your way down the same trail that you just entered from. As we were heading back from the Hollywood sign, we got caught in the most magical rain, lightning and thunder storm. At first I sort of freaked out and thought, “AHHHHH what do we doooooo?!” but then I realized there was nothing we could do but laugh, enjoy mother nature’s timing, and do our best to be safe as we made our trek down. I’m thankful for the crazy storm because I got some great pics of the lightening and have never heard thunder as loud in my entire life. Pretty damn cool if you ask me. I’m just glad neither of us were struck by lightning and made it down in one piece! Whew. How's that for an adventure?!
I loved this hike because the trail was pretty empty, the views were incredible, and it was a challenging workout. I love that LA truly has SO many different adventures to offer, and this has been one of my favorites so far. Grab your hiking shoes, a buddy, sunscreen, camera (and a selfie stick if you insist – do you!), and hit the trails, my adventuring friends!
Santa Monica, I absolutely aaadore you. Last weekend one of my best friend’s Liz and I ventured out to the infamous Santa Monica pier after enjoying brunch. I’ve been to the Santa Monica pier once or twice in my life, but I was younger and didn’t necessarily appreciate all of the activities that the pier had to offer… Which is quite a lot, let me tell you! Liz and I first stopped on the pier to grab some cotton candy (adventures need to be fueled by something...preferably sugar and/or coffee in my case) and then headed over to the ferris wheel. This has been something on my LA bucket list since I moved here and we had so much fun checking this activity off! It was $8/each for the ride and the ride lasted about 15 minutes. You can see 360 degree views ranging from the Santa Monica Pier, Pacific Park (the small theme park on the pier which includes a few rides, roller coaster, ferris wheel, and carnival games) , and the beautiful beach on either side of the pier. As we went around and around we of course took a ton of pictures, laughing at our failed attempts to look cute while eating cotton candy as it quickly withered away from the ocean mist (and got all over our outfits and in our hair…opps).
After the ferris wheel we stopped at Sea Mist bike rentals, directly to the right of the pier, and rented bikes for $7/hour each. We rode along the boardwalk (made for bikes only, which is great because you aren’t running into a bunch of walking tourists) to the Venice beach boardwalk. The ride there only took about 20 minutes, so we stopped for some pics and checked out the happenings (there’s always somethin’ going on at the Venice boardwalk…musicians, graffiti artists, roller skaters, dancers, performers, vendors, and more), before turning around and riding back to the pier. It was 80 degrees out, so we were pretty exhausted, over-heated, and thirsty as we returned the bikes and walked like total zombies to my car.
I would say it was a great day checking out some of the best activities the Santa Monica pier has to offer, and I would highly recommend you ride the ferris wheel and rent bikes for what is sure to be a fun-filled afternoon. Bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and water. You can park right next to the pier for $12/entire day. Enjoy!
It’s the natural born explorer in me that always loves a good adventure…even when you get lost and are driving around for 30 minutes, have no cell/gps reception, and end up asking a stranger on his evening walk where the heck you are (thank you for your help, kind sir). One of my best friends Dacia and I met up for an after work adventure this week and decided to check out the Hollywood Reservoir. Hollywood Reservoir, you ask?! Well, at least I certainly did when I first heard of this spot. I had no idea that a “Lake Hollywood” or “Hollywood Reservoir” existed. It's a beautiful and unusual place to explore, and you definitely don’t feel like you’re in the midst of the typical Hollywood/LA hustle and bustle. It’s a very quiet, tranquil, 3.3 mile walk, on a flat and paved surface (you can bike, skate, walk, dance…however you wanna move) up in the Hollywood hills. You’ll heard birds chirping and wind blowing rather than police sirens, car alarms, and cat fights. What a breath of fresh air! (Literally...not an ounce of smog in sight. Hallelujah.)
In case you're interested, here’s a short cliff-notes-version of the history for you: The Hollywood Reservoir, also known as Lake Hollywood, is a reservoir located in the Hollywood Hills behind the Mulholland Dam. The Mulholland Dam was designed and created in 1924 by the LA Department of Water and Power as part of the city's water storage and supply system. It can hold 2.5 billion gallons on water and the deepest point is 183 feet. Kinda cool, right?
So that you don’t get lost and can avoid any unnecessary stress, here’s how to get there: Take the 101 North and exit at Barham. Turn right onto Barham and then take a right onto Lake Hollywood Blvd. Lake Hollywood Blvd is going to do a lot of crazy things – like twists and turns – but just stay on it. It will wind up through a hilly residential neighborhood. Once you get to the Wonder View Drive intersection, go down the hill toward the reservoir and park on the street near the gate to the reservoir path (on your right hand side, at the bottom of the hill). You’ll see other cars parked there and a gate with a few signs on it and port-o-potties behind the gate. Enter through the gate and follow the path around the reservoir for about 3.3 miles. In about 1 mile from the start of the hike you will find the most picturesque views of the Hollywood sign! It’s so beautiful and incredibly tranquil. Just make sure you go after 6:30am and before 7:30pm. You wouldn't want to get locked in and have to spend the night with the wolves (yes, apparently there's some wild animals up there).
This is definitely an off-the-beaten-path thing to see and do in LA. I’m so happy that I stumbled upon it and that I am now able to share it with you. I hope you have an opportunity to see it for yourself. Happy exploring, my friends!
I finally got to check off one of the most exciting items on my LA Bucket List: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art! …or LACMA as it’s known to the locals. Created in 1965, it’s definitely become the most popular art museum in Los Angeles, drawing in over 1,000,000 visitors each year. According to the museum’s website: “LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection that includes over 120,000 objects dating from antiquity to the present, encompassing the geographic world and nearly the entire history of art.”
Before you even step foot inside the museum, prepared to be in awe of some of the exhibits that are outdoor and free to view for the public. The first piece of work to see is the Urban Lights by artist Chris Burden (RIP). This modern art display has become an iconic landmark in LA. Located at the front of the museum, it simply cannot be missed. The Urban Lights are 202 restored cast iron antique street lamps from the 1920’s and 1930’s that once lined the streets of LA. The lights are so beautiful and majestic to look at – both during the day and at night – and all of LA must agree considering how busy this spot always is! You will see selfie sticks galore and maybe even some professional photoshoots goin’ on. Yup, welcome to LA!
The second outdoor exhibit to check out before making your way inside is the Levitated Mass, a 2012 large-scale sculpture by Michael Heizer. The sculpture is a 21.5 foot high, 340-ton boulder sitting on top of a concrete walkway that visitors can walk through. The walkway is lined with palm trees on its right side, which makes this an ideal spot to take pictures and also get your own picture taken (don't be shy!). The area around this exhibit can get busy so you may have to wait a few mins for people to clear out before capturing your perfect pic.
Once you check out the outside grounds, you will make your way up to the ticket booth where you’ll purchase your ticket into LACMA. One ticket will allow you to view all exhibits, and general Admission tickets are $15 and Student tickets (with student ID) are $10. What’s really awesome, though, is that LA residents get in FO’ FREE after 3:00pm on Friday’s with proof of LA County residency. How’s that for ballin’ on a budget?!
The exhibits inside LACMA are a mixture of diverse, eclectic, modern, and historical pieces. You’ll discover Asian art, Latin American art, modern and contemporary art, Islamic art, and more. One of my favorite exhibits at LACMA was the work of one of my favorite artists, Pablo Picasso. There were about twenty works by Picasso, many of them portraits of women which my mom and I found beautiful and unique. I of course was trying to snap a few pics of them and I got YELLED at (yes, like sorta loud and in front of a ton of people) as I was not supposed to take pics of this particular exhibit…*insert monkey w/ hands over eyes emoji*. The other exhibit that I really enjoyed was Noah Purifoy’s Junk Dada. Noah was one of the founders of the Watts Tower Arts Center in LA (on my LA bucket list, of course), which was created out of debris from the 1965 Watts rebellion. Back in the 1960's Noah would search the streets post-riots to collect materials to create incredible pieces of art. All of his work was so colorful and full of varying textures and materials. I found it amazing that he literally turned trash into treasure! My mom and I explored the various exhibits for about two hours before calling it a day. We probably could have spent double the amount of time here if we were better prepared, but we were getting hungry/thirsty/tired (bring snacks!!).
Overall, I really loved my first time experience at LACMA and am so happy to have spent the day here with my mom! I'm not the biggest art connoisseur but love museums and creative spaces where all forms of art are both expressed and honored. Whether you’re an LA native, new to the town, or tourist visiting for a limited time, PLEASE go to LACMA, even if it’s just the outside to visit the infamous Urban Lights or Levitated Mass. Click here for parking information (spoiler alert: it’s $12) and admission hours. LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90036.
Chances are you probably haven't heard much about LA's City Hall...unless you've done jury duty there or know someone who works there. When I told some co-workers and friends that I was going to visit - or had already visited - the Observation Deck at LA's City Hall, no one I spoke with knew that you could go inside for free and see the views of the city from the 27th floor! Honestly, I wouldn't have known either if it wasn't for my obsession with browsing Yelp/random websites for fun and free things to do in LA in my spare time.
I'm a big lover of heights and skyline views, so I was super excited to visit the observation deck and get some sweet pics of the city I love. It was somewhat confusing finding my way to the top - I had to take 3 separate elevators to get to the 27th floor. I'm terrible navigating my way around places which is funny considering I love to explore. I was surprised to find that the observation deck was outside and there was only a railing separating me from falling 27 stories (definitely freaky, but I thought I would have to take pics from behind glass, so this was a pleasant surprise). Because I was so high up and could feel the wind blow through my hair, I started feeling somewhat queasy after being up there for a few minutes. You really feel like you are a bird floating around the outskirts of the city. The nausea stuck around while I was up there - for about 15 mins or so - before heading back inside to navigate my way down. 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, make sure you 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.
The Original Los Angeles Flower Market, serving So Cal since 1921, is a 50,000 sq. ft. marketplace home to over 50 independent flower vendors. It’s located in the famous Los Angeles Flower District (the single largest and most successful wholesale floral district in the entire USA) in downtown LA.
This LA spot is a sweet haven for any flower lover or nursery connoisseur – there’s everything from daisies, roses, lilies, hydrangeas, tulips, orchids – you name it, they got it. The whole experience was somewhat overwhelming because there are SO many choices and I really don't know much about flowers other than that they're pretty, haha. After making my way around the warehouse (and trying to stay out of the way of the many people who meant BUSINESS with their flower carts…I almost got ran over more than once) and checking out all of the bright and beautiful flowers, I decided on a bundle of colorful roses for $3.85.
This vibrant spot is located at 754 Wall St., Los Angeles, CA 90014. There’s plenty of metered parking on Wall St., the side streets nearby, and also a parking lot on roof of the flower market. Visit the LA Flower Market website by clicking here for open hours and admission prices ($1-$2 depending on the day).
The Manhattan Beach Pier is located in the beautiful city Manhattan Beach, in the South Bay of LA. The pier is 928 feet long and is home to a coffee shop and small aquarium on the end of the pier. As you can see from the images above, this is a picture pier-fect spot to snap a few pics and kick back and relax. Manhattan Beach was the birthplace of beach volleyball so you'll see plenty of beach-goers playing a game or two, lounging on the sand, enjoying a picnic, riding bikes along the boardwalk, taking pics, and more. I like Manhattan Beach because it's not as touristy as Santa Monica or Venice and it has a really chill, relaxed vibe to it. It's nice to escape the heart of the city and enjoy some peace and quiet along the Golden Coast. The MB pier is my favorite pier I've seen so far in So Cal (make sure you not only walk along the pier, but go underneath it too!) and I'll be sure to be on the look out for others. Visit this quintessential So Cal spot for yourself at the end of Manhattan Beach Blvd. There's plenty of metered parking along the Blvd.
There are few buildings in LA. that I've seen so far that truly take my breath away. The iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall certainly does, though, and this venue is an architectural gem in downtown L.A. This venue is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonics, a widely-known American orchestra and also hosts a variety of other musicians and performers. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the exterior design was made entirely of stainless steel and has no straight lines on any of its edges - the edges are entirely curved. It's mesmerizing to walk around the outskirts of the building and explore the secret garden and reflective hallways on the side opposite of the main entrance. I'd highly recommend any tourist or Angelino come and see this building, whether it's to catch a concert or show (click here for upcoming shows and click here to buy tix) or just walk around and check out the architecture on a nice day. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Avenue; Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Update on 5/11/16:
Last June, I wrote the blog post above about the unique beauty in the exterior design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I also posted on Instagram that it was on my L.A. Bucketlist to experience an L.A. Philharmonic performance inside of this hall. Almost a year later, I have checked this L.A. activity off of my bucket list, and it was such a memorable experience. My girlfriends and I purchased tickets for wine tasting + show here through Goldstar, and the evening turned out to be really special.
I was so curious as to what the interior design looked like, and upon entering, it blew me away! According to the Walt Disney Concert Hall website, "Inside the warm, Douglas fir-lined interior are 2,265 seats that are steeply raked and surround the stage. Ernest Fleischmann, former Executive Director of the LA Phil, felt that balconies and boxes reinforced a social hierarchy and proscenium arches separated players from listeners, and he urged that they be eliminated. In Walt Disney Concert Hall, the orchestra plays in the space in which the audience sits. The vineyard style seating brings the audience close to the orchestra, and offers an intimate view of the musicians and conductor from any seat."
In addition to the fascinating interior design, the music was fantastic, performances lasted about an hour and a half long, and my friends and I agreed this was both a highly entertaining and culturing outing for us. I would recommend any local Angeleno or tourist to see a concert here if you get the chance.
Snaps for the L.A. Phil!
...only in good ol' Silverlake would you find a 100 year old sycamore tree entirely covered in chandeliers (around 30 to be exact). I'm ALL about this enchanting hidden LA gem. I originally heard about the Chandelier Tree via Yelp while browsing things to do & see in this cute and eclectic part of town. Apparently the house belongs to a nice man who has inherited all of these chandeliers and decided to turn them into a beautiful modern art display for the public to enjoy (read his story by clicking here). Honestly, how thoughtful is that? There's a parking meter underneath the tree where you can donate quarters to help the homeowner pay the electric bill, but the quarters won't turn chandelier lights on if they're off. Please keep in mind that the lights aren't always on (truth: I came here a few weeks ago when I was in the area and they weren't on around 8:00pm) but I got lucky the second time around when I stopped by at around 9:00pm. There's plenty of street parking and chances are you won't be the only one visiting this magical tree. I accidentally crashed what seemed to be a first or second date...oops.
I'd highly recommend you bring your next date or best bud along to see this pretty one-of-a-kind sight. It's a really romantic evening setting in a peaceful and quiet neighborhood. The Chandelier Tree is located in Silverlake at 2811 W Silver Lake Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90039.
The Grove is a bustling outdoor mall in Los Angeles that's home to clothing stores, restaurants, and a state of the art movie theater. If you’re in LA and have some free time, this is the perfect place to walk around and soak up some California sunshine. LA sure knows how to design beautiful malls *insert heart eye emoji* and The Grove is totally proof of this. I walked around this gorgeous venue after visiting the LA Original Farmer’s Market (located at the front end of The Grove) and there were many families, friends, and tourists browsing the shops and strolling along. If you’re an out of town visitor and are into the touristy-type of things, here’s some extra things you’ll want to do and see here:
Decisions, decisions, decisions. If you're easily overwhelmed and feel a tinge of panic every time someone asks you, "Where do you want to go out to eat?" TAKE A DEEP BREATH before heading into LA's Original Farmer's Market (OFM). This awesome open-air marketplace was established in 1934 and has become the most popular and iconic outdoor market in the LA area. The OFM doesn't really feel like your traditional farmers market with temporary booths and canopies - it has more of a "marketplace" feel with more than 100 eateries, grocers, tourist shops, and food/treat stalls. The OFM is open daily and the same vendors are selling their goods, day in and day out. Whether you’re in the mood for pizza, crepes, donuts, ice cream, or something more unique – there is something to satisfy any and all of your cravings here. The OFM is melting pot of cuisines, and I can almost guarantee you'll have food envy of what everyone else around you is ordering because it all looks so darn delicious.
I recently met my friend Evelynn here, and we had such a lovely afternoon of treats & chit chat. We walked a full loop around the OFM to check out all of the spots before deciding on ordering crepes from the French Crepe Co. I ordered Crêpe Phillipe - spinach and mushrooms in a creamy mornay and mushroom sauce (so. darn. good.). We had such a nice convo about trying new things, stepping outside of our comfort zones, and experiencing all that LA has to offer. We stopped by Dylan's Candy bar afterward for some sweet treats, and while I had planned to save my candy to enjoy throughout the week, I (naturally) finished the bag before I even got to my car...haha. All I can say is it's a really good thing I love to work out, and life's all about balance, right?
I can't wait to bring out of town guests here and to try more of the vendors. A definite must-do when visiting LA, the Original Farmer's Market is open Mon - Fri 9:00 am - 9:00 pm, Sat 9:00 am - 8:00 pm, and Sun 10:00 am - 7:00 pm and is located at 6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Parking in the two Farmers Market lots is free (with Farmers Market merchant validation) for 2 hours.
Lights. Cemetery. Action!
My roommate asked me if I wanted to go to an outdoor movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and after googling what this event entailed (in short: classic film + cemetery + boozy picnic), there was just no way I could say no. Since 2002, Cinespia has hosted Hollywood Forever Cemetery outdoor movie screenings when the sun goes down, and it's become one of the most popular summer evening experiences in LA. Not only is it an experience itself to walk through this famous cemetery, it was so much fun to picnic & drink some wine with my best girlfriends at this picture-perfect setting.
Movie tickets were $14 and we got to see an Alfred Hitchcock film, Vertigo. Although I'm still somewhat confused about all that happened in this suspenseful classic (truth: I was hydrating too much and had to go to the bathroom twice, ending up missing portions of the movie...haha, whoops), I'm glad I got to see it. It was only my second Alfred Hitchcock film experience to date, and I'd like to mention I still highly regret watching Psycho in the 8th grade - showers have never been the same. Also, what was SUPER cool is that Alfred Hitchcock was buried about 50 feet from where we were sitting! How crazy is that?! I would highly recommend you check out a Cinespia movie screening this summer and encourage you to go buy your tickets before they all sell out - which I've heard they definitely will. Pack a picnic with snacks/wine/beer (no hard alcohol allowed), bring blankets + warm layers, and kick back with your best buds in this magical & spooky setting. Click here to learn more about Cinespia's movie screenings and click here to purchase your tickets.
I went back to Cinespia's outdoor movie screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery again this summer (can't believe the post above was ONE year ago!) and it was just as much fun as the first time around. Tickets have increased to $16, but in my opinion, it's still totally worth the price. You are not only paying to see the movie (we saw an adorable Audrey Hepburn film called Sabrina), but you are also paying for the unique setting and overall "summer in LA favorite" ambiance of the whole event. If the Hollywood Forever Cemetery isn't a cool place for an outdoor movie screening in Los Angeles, then I don't know what is! My friends and I packed up a great picnic and had a blast chatting and snacking before the movie began. I will definitely be back here again this summer, and plan on making this event one of my annual summer in LA traditions!
I am happy to share that I had a chance to visit L.A.'s gateway to the cosmos...The infamous Griffith Observatory! At this 70+ year old observatory, visitors can look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, and experience amazing views of the LA skyline and the Hollywood Sign. It's truly a one-of-a-kind spot in L.A. and is worth the long wait for free parking and heavy traffic congestion (even on a random weekday evening). One of my best friend's, Dacia, and I headed out to the Griffith Observatory for a guided "Sunset Walk & Talk" event. Each month the observatory offers a free sunset hike led by a Park Ranger and a Museum Guide. The hike starts on the Observatory's West Terrace and goes about a half of a mile through the Berlin Forest on the hill just north of the Observatory. This guided hike goes at a pretty moderate pace and has stops along the way to discuss the highlights and history of Griffith Park and stars/planets you can see in the nighttime sky. The guides are very warm and friendly and are happy to answer any of your questions. We had Ranger Sherry as our guide and we basically want to be her when we grown up…she really knows her stuff.
Here are the scheduled Sunset Walk & Talks for the duration of 2015:
July 28 - 7:45-8:45 p.m.
August 25 - 7:20-8:20 p.m.
September 22 - 6:40-7:40 p.m.
October 20 - 6:00-7:00 p.m.
November 24 4:30-5:30 p.m.
December 22 4:35-5:35 p.m.
If you are planning on attending a Sunset Walk & Talk, make sure to dress warm, my friends...and maybe bring some coffee or hot cocoa in a thermos while you're at it. We were freezing our butts off in our light sweaters and sweat pants and definitely should have been better prepared. We only made it on approximately 40% of the hike and had to dip out early because we are total babies and were too cold! These Cali girls clearly don't know how to handle anything below 65 degrees. Yikes.
If you are interested in visiting the Griffith Observatory - very highly recommended - the park is open each day from sunrise until 10:00 p.m. Admission to the Observatory building, grounds, telescopes, and parking is always FREE! Don't let the stars continue to shine above you each night without witnessing them at least once from this spectacular view - visit the Griffith Observatory at 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
Los Angeles is home to so many different sports teams, and it always seems like there's some sort of sporting event happening in this city! Whether you're in town for a limited or extended period of time, it would be a good idea to kick back and enjoy a game or two with some friends if you are able to. A Dodger baseball game on Memorial Day was the perfect event to kick-off summer in LA, and I'm hoping to catch a few more games this summer. I'd recommend finding tickets on StubHub or Ticketmaster, bringing sunscreen/sunglasses, and a jacket for when it cools down at night. Purchase parking online for the General Lot - it's $10 online or $20 at the gate when you arrive. Come hungry and leave happy (well...if your team wins, that is). Dodger stadium is located at 1000 Elysian Park Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Have I died and gone to heaven? That's pretty much what I asked myself when I visited the famous Venice Canals in Venice, CA for the first time. The Venice Canals were fashioned after THE Venice Canals in Italy and were constructed in the year of 1905. This would be a really romantic spot to bring a date, but also a great place to take a relaxing walk with your friends after brunching on Abbot Kinney. The homes surrounding the canals are absolutely stunning to look at and cost a pretty penny, I'm sure (a girl can dream, right?). It's also in a great location, as it's a 5 minute walk to the beach and a 5 minute walk to Abbot Kinney. If you visit Venice, you must stop by here for a few pics and a tranquil escape from the busy city of L.A. Stroll through the Venice Canals at your leisure at Carroll Ct & Eastern Canal Ct, Venice, CA 90293.
Katy Perry was spot on when she sung, "Nothing comes close to the Golden Coast." Visiting Venice is an LA right of passage. I felt like I was walking through an episode of Californication and felt positive & chill Venice vibes from the friendly & famous beach-front city. Did you know that Venice Beach is the second largest tourist attraction in California, only behind Disneyland? This means you better get over there if you haven't yet! Visit the iconic "VENICE" sign and get your pic snapped at 80 Windward Ave, Venice, CA 90291.
One of my best friends Liz told me about Echo Park Lake and how you can rent pedal boats, so we put this on both of our LA Bucket Lists. We came here on a cloudy Saturday afternoon, and it was nice to not have the hot sun scorching us as we pedaled merrily around. This is the perfect activity for a weekend afternoon - you will see sweeping views of the L.A. skyline, the iconic Echo Park Lake fountain, and the gorgeous park that it's smack-dab in the middle of. Get ready to put your pedal to the medal and Visit Echo Park Lake at 751 Echo Park Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90026. Costs $10/hour per person (cash only), it's open daily, and no reservations are necessary.
I like sights that look unordinary. Imperfect. Odd. Original. Different. Abnormal. I like things that make you stop and go, “What the heck is happening here?" That’s how I felt about seeing the Projection LA installation at the famous Bates Motel on Sunset Blvd. After seeing some of my favorite LA fashion & lifestyle bloggers visit this location, I knew I had to see the hype for myself. It’s too hard for me to explain on my own, so here is French artist Vincent Lamouroux statement on his work:
"On Sunset Boulevard and Bates Avenue, a transitioning facade, an abandoned motel as a commonplace, archetype of the constant mobility of contemporary society. A white coat now adorns the architecture. The limewash thoroughly covers the building and the adjacent billboard, as well as the palm trees that surround it. The urban space is disrupted. An abandoned space is transfigured and enhanced, perhaps eluding its last glory. The motel's intriguing aspect is accommodating an imaginary drive away from our habitual quest for sameness. Projection induces both an appearance and a disappearance; it revisits our existing landscape with new eyes and envisions the building’s surfaces as screens for the projection of our desires."
Mind. Blown. The famous motel is located at 4301 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029, but check Projection LA’s Facebook page before you go, to make sure it’s still in white-out mode.
Culture and history has always fascinated me. I got 3rd place in the History Bee in 5th grade and you better believe I still remember that proud moment! I was so excited when I got to visit Olvera Street, the 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 friendly, very knowledgable docent. I learned a great overview on the history of L.A. and how Olvera Street is now part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. At the end of the tour, the tour guide smiled and said to me, "We live in a pretty amazing city, huh?" Yes sir, we absolutely do! And let’s not forgot to taco ‘bout how delicious the street tacos + fresh lemonade were! Bring cash for the food and other vendors in the Olvera Street marketplace. You’ll find some great gems here – including toys, shoes, shirts, purses, jewelry, blankets, and more. 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.
“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,” stated 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. The lighting in here is pretty fantastic for taking pictures. Visit the Bradbury Building and be amazed for free at 304 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
In May 2012 KROQ said, “If you’re looking for a vintage record or rare book that you can’t find anywhere else, or if you’re interested in discovering a cool spot to hang out at during the week, The Last Bookstore may be just the place for you.” The Last Bookstore is California’s largest used and new book and record store. I’ve always had a love for books and reading, so I added this well-known bookstore to my LA Bucket List before I had even moved here. 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. If you decide you want to pay it a visit, don’t forget to look for the infamous tunnel of books! Check out this vintage, one-of-a-kind bookstore at 453 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
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: