50 Things To Do in Los Angeles

#dtlaskyline

Have you noticed all the lists online lately? Me too! This recent trend has alerted me to the fact that I’m not alone in my love of lists. What’s even more fun than making a list? Crossing things off them, of course! It’s so satisfying!

#losangelesmuralIn a city as vast as Los Angeles, on any given day, there are countless opportunities for tourists and non tourists alike. So many, in fact, it wouldn’t really be reasonable to try and list them all, so for the purposes of this list I’m drawing the line at 50* places.

50 Things to do in Los Angeles* (and Surrounding Areas)

1. DTLA Arts District
Location: 812 E. 3rd St., Los Angeles

#peacegoddessDTLA

The revitalization of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) is nothing short of amazing, especially the Arts District! Biking, street art, restaurants, shopping and more… I guarantee you’ll love it and with so much to see and do multiple visits are in order!


2. LA Art Tours – Graffiti/Mural Tour
Location: 533 Colyton St, Los Angeles

#dtlagraffititourA walking tour of DTLA is the perfect way to view the city’s vibrant mural and graffiti scene and get the lay of the land. The tours are lead by the artist themselves, and you’ll not only be viewing amazing artistry, but you’ll learn all about the culture and lingo of these incredibly talented locals.


3. Pie Hole
Location: 714 Traction Ave Downtown Los Angeles

#pieholeDTLA

Whether you like it savory or sweet you’ll be guaranteed a unique and tasty treat at the Pie Hole, We love the DTLA location, but with 5+ locations throughout the greater LA area you have no excuses! I wish I could show you a photo of the pie, but It never lasts long enough to take a photo!


4. Walt Disney Concert Hall
Location: 111 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

#waltdisneyconcerthall

If you’re a fan of architecture, the symphony, or both then you’ll want to consider a visit to the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. If nothing else it provides an amazing backdrop for those #Instagood pics!


5. The Broad Museum
Location: 221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles

The Broad Los Angeles California

If you only have time to visit one museum while in LA, I highly suggest The Broad located in DTLA. Entry to the museum is free, and the collection is top notch! Do keep in mind that advance reservations are required.


6. Little Tokyo
Location: 115 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles

#hellokittyforpresident

The Little Tokyo district in DTLA is the place to go for authentic Japanese dining, quirky shopping and a healthy dose of kawaii!


7. The Last Bookstore
Location: 453 S Spring St, Los Angeles

#thelastbookstore

When I heard about that cool book seller in Downtown Los Angeles that not only sells books but sells them with flair, I just knew I had to go there! With social media on the rise, the appropriately named, The Last Bookstore, might well just turn out to be the last bookstore!


8. Canter’s Deli
Location: 419 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles

#canters

Canter’s, an LA institution, has been serving up their award winning pastrami sandwiches and other deli fare since 1931. Beyond pastrami, other favorites on my list are the Mish Mash Soup, and the High Hat, which is basically a cupcake married to a ding dong! Delicious!


9. Pinks
Location: 709 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles

#pinkschilidog

No trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a trip to Pink’s a true LA institution! Famous for it’s chili cheese dog, Pink’s has been in the same spot on La Brea Avenue for 76 years and if the perpetually long line is any indication, it’s not going anywhere.


10. The Getty Center
Location: 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles

#gettycenter

The Getty Center features American and European art from medieval times to the present. Not only is it considered an architectural masterpiece, but it’s surrounded by beautiful gardens and on a clear day the views of Downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean are spectacular.


11. Griffith Park Observatory
Location: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles

Los Angeles Griffith Park Observatory

A visit to the Griffith Park Observatory includes something for everyone! Fabulous views of Downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign, Hiking, The Halls of Space, a planetarium, and a cafe. Entrance to the Observatory and parking are free of charge.


12. La Brea Tar Pits
Location:5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

#tarpit

Are you a history lover? Then you’ll love a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits!  It’s hard to believe that at one time Wilshire Boulevard was once the home of dire wolves, saber-tooth cats, and mammoths, but It’s true! Of course that was 50,000 years ago, give or take a few thousand years…


13. LACMA
Location: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

#urbanlight

The largest art museum on the West Coast, it would take multiple visits to see everything LACMA has to offer. Just try and walk by Chris Burden’s Urban lights without snapping a few photos.


14. Peterson Automotive Museum
Location: 6060 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

#petersonautomotivemuseum

Los Angeles is famous for many things, but one of them is not waking! In fact, just the opposite and as the song says, “Nobody walks in LA!” If you’re a fan of cars, movies, or both, then The Peterson Automotive museum is a perfect for you!


15. Chandelier Tree
Location: 2811 W. Silver Lake Drive, Los Angeles

Chandelier Tree Los Angeles California

The Chandelier Tree, created by, Silver Lake resident and artist, Adam Tenenbaum is a magical piece of art which is located in his front yard! The tree’s restored chandeliers have been collected over time through donations, swap meet purchases and film sets. #instala


16. Hurry Curry of Tokyo
Location: 2131 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles

#hurrycurry

If you’re looking for a unique Japanese cuisine experience Hurry Curry of Tokyo located in  Japantown is the place! Get the White sauce I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!


17. Surf Lessons
Location: Santa Monica/Venice

Los Angeles Surfing

Why not give surfing a try?! No matter if you’ve never been on a board before, sign up for a lesson and you’ll be popping up in no time! If I can do it, so can you!


18. The Grove
Location: 189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles

IMG_9913

If shopping is on your list, check out The Grove, not only is it home to many  trendy shops and restaurants it also boasts one of America’s tallest Christmas Tree’s!


19. The Hollywood Sign
Location: Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA 90068

Los Angeles Hollywood SignOne of the most iconic signs in the world, no trip to LA would be complete without at least a quick view of the Hollywood Sign. There are a number of viewing spots around town. One of which is the Griffith Park Observatory located in… Griffith Park.


20. Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Location: 6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038

#hollywoodforever

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, isn’t just the final resting place, of some of film and music’s most celebrated stars, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone, Judy Garland, and Douglas Fairbanks to name a few, but it’s also a fun and quirky place to see an outdoor concert. Check the official website for the current season’s offerings.


21. Hollywood Walk of Fame
Location: Hollywood Boulevard between Gower and La Brea, Los Angeles

Los Angeles Walk of Fame

Everyone should visit The Walk of Fame, which runs 1.3 miles along Hollywood Boulevard between Gower Street and La Brea Avenue, at least once. There are more than 2,500 stars along the Walk and you’ll be sure to recognize a few of your favorites!


22. Mann’s Chinese Theater
Location: 6925 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles

#graumanschinesetheater

If you’re already in the area visiting #21, make the most of your time and visit Mann’s Chinese Theater too! Attempting to fit my feet and hands into the many celebrity prints, which have been pressed into the courtyard floor is always a fun activity.


23. Santa Monica Beach Bike Path
Location: Santa Monica

Bike Path Santa Monica

The 22 mile long paved path stretching from the Pacific Palisades to Torrance is perfect for biking, running, skateboarding or just plain walking! Along the way you’ll find playgrounds, bike rentals, ice cream shops, burger joints and shopping.


24. Street Art Walk
Location: Santa Monica

#sidecardoughnuts

Go on an art walk! Santa Monica is loaded with street art just waiting to be discovered! The photo above, located at Sidecar Doughnuts on 7th and Wilshire Blvd, is a piece by Bumblebeelovesyou, a local artist, and a favorite of mine! Other fun areas with a lot of  street art are Main Street and Pico Boulevard, both of which are also loaded with fun shops and restaurants!


25. Sidecar Doughnuts
Location: 631 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica

#sidecardoughnuts

Sidecar Doughnuts  is our favorite donut shop on the Westside, and we’ve tried a few. Sidecar’s doughnuts are always fresh, tasty, and popular, so be prepared for a long line, and because your first choice will most likely sell out before you make it to the counter, choose a second. Don’t worry they’re all good!


26. Santa Monica Pier
Location: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica

#santamonicapier

Yes, it’s very touristy, but everyone should visit the Santa Monica Pier at least once! Not only does it boast the only over water Roller Coaster in the world, but it also has an adorable little aquarium and an old fashioned carousel!


27. Santa Monica Beach
Location: Santa Monica

#santamonicabeach

Santa Monica is the perfect family beach. It has everything you need for the perfect beach day! Soft warm sand perfect for sandcastle building, a pier complete with amusement park, and tons of nearby shopping and dinning!


28. The Original Muscle Beach
Location: Santa Monica

#musclebeach

Just south of the Santa Monica Pier you’ll find the original Muscle Beach, which features loads of gymnastics equipment, the Chess Park and easy access to the Carousel. My boys and I have always enjoyed trying out all the equipment.


29. Tongva Park
Location: 1615 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica

#tongvapark

Tongva Park is a lovely traditional park just south of the Santa Monica Place Mall on Ocean Avenue. Along with unique play structures, you’ll find beautiful gardens, fountains, and lovely ocean views.


30. Third Street Promenade
Location: 3rd Street between Wilshire Blvd and Broadway, Santa Monica

#thirdstreetpromenade

I’m always up for a stroll and some shopping! Just a short walk from the beach you’ll find world class shopping, restaurants and entertainment at the Santa Monica Place mall and on the pedestrian friendly Third Street Promenade.


31. Montana Avenue
Location: Montana Avenue, Santa Monica

#lovewall

Located just one mile north of Downtown Santa Monica, you could spend all day wandering in and out of the boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants located on Montana Avenue!


32. Menotti’s Coffee
Location: 56 Windward Ave, Venice

#menottis

Get the Spanish Latte! I promise you won’t be disappointed when you taste this delicious coffee concoction! Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go there! Then take your coffee for a walk along the beach!


33. Venice Beach Ocean Front Walk
Location: Ocean Front Walk, Venice

#ilovevenice

Like the sign says, I ❤️ Venice, and not just for the cheap sunglasses and great people watching! No trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a visit to the great weird that is Venice!


34. The Wee Chippy
Location: 1301 Ocean Front Walk, Venice

#theweechippy

Located just off  Ocean Front Walk at Venice Beach, the Wee Chippy is a walk up fish and chips joint, owned by a Scottish fellow. The fish is great, but the chips are easily the best I’ve ever had. Anywhere!


35. Venice Beach
Location: Venice Beach, Venice

Venice Beach Los Angeles California

There’s nothing like the beach in Southern California, and when you throw in everything else that Venice has to offer you’ve got nothing short of paradise! Don’t forget your sunscreen!


36. Venice Beach Skate Park
Location: 1500 Ocean Front Walk, Venice

#venicebeachskatepark

Skateboarding as we know it originated in Los Angeles,  so it makes sense that there’s an awesome skatepark right on the beach. Grab your wheels and drop in for some fun, or be a happy spectator either way, all are welcome!


37. Venice Art Walls
Location: Ocean Front Walk, Venice

#venicebeachartwalls

Just next to the Skatepark you’ll find the Venice Art Walls, where every Saturday and Sunday you’ll find them transformed by professional and amateur street artists alike! Feeling creative, grab a can and join the fun!


38. Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Location: Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice

#abbotkinneysunset

One of the hottest streets in town! Many of today’s most sought after fashion brands have stores on Abbot Kinney, not to mention the many trendy bars and restaurants to choose from. #favoriteplaces


39. Rose Avenue
Location: Rose Avenue, Venice

#roseavenue

Completely transformed in the past few years, Rose Avenue, is definitely worth a visit. Lined with one of a kind boutiques, restaurants and markets, there’s a little something for everyone!


40. Malibu Farm Pier Restaurant
Location: 23000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu

#malibupier

Stay cozy inside on a stormy day or eat out when the sun is shinning, either way the Malibu Farms Pier Restaurant is the perfect little breakfast spot! Locals only! Just kidding, but do check this place out if you’re looking for something a little less touristy.


41. The Getty Villa
Location: 17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades

#gettyvilla

Located on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, the Getty Villa is dedicated to the antiquities and features 7000 years of ancient art. Even if antiquities aren’t your thing, The Villa itself is a site to see.


42. Zuma Beach
Location: Zuma Beach, Malibu

#zumabeach

The drive to Zuma, along the Pacific Coast Highway, is spectacular in itself, and when you get there… Sun, sand, and surf. Need I say more?


43. Solstice Canyon
Location: 3455 Solstice Canyon Rd, Malibu

#solticecanyon

Hiking options in Solstice range from easy to difficult, making this a great destination for families and pets! There’s a waterfall, gorgeous views, and even an architectural landmark, all waiting to be discovered.


44. The Beverly Hills Sign
Location: 9439 N Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills

#beverlyhills

You’ll know you’re in Beverly Hills when you see THE Sign! A lovely and iconic place to take a photo!


45. Rodeo Drive
Location: Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills

#rodeodrive

First timer or resident, there’s something special about a stroll down Rode Drive.


46.The Love Wall (Wall Hopping)
Location: 8549 Higuera St, Culver City

#lovewall

The Love Wall located at Smash Box Studios in Culver City is just one of the many popular wall murals throughout Los Angeles. Your trip to LA is made all that much more colorful when you include one these fun pieces of street art in the background of all your social media posts! #instala


47. Warner Brothers Studio Tour
Location: 3400 W Riverside Dr, Burbank

#centralperk

Los Angeles, is the home of movie magic, which also makes it the perfect place to find out how all that magic happens! During your visit to the Warner Bros Studio Lot you’ll get behind the scenes peeks into many of your favorite television shows and movies both old and new!


48. Universal Studios Theme Park and Studio Tour
Location: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City

#hogwartsexpress

Universal Studios is not just a theme park, but a working movie studio as well! We love the Studio Tour, which is full of fun surprises, and of course there’s Butterbeer!


49. Disneyland Theme Park
Location: 1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim

disneyland-1137

They don’t have call it the Happiest Place on Earth for nothing! Yes, it’s crowded, yes, it’s expensive, and yes, despite those things I absolutely love the Magic Kingdom. Checkout my tips and tricks for a successful visit to Disneyland.


50. Huntington Library and Gardens
Location: 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino

#huntingtonbotanicalgardens

The Huntington Botanical Gardens, has something for everyone! Museums, a library and acres of beautiful and unique gardens, including a fabulous children’s garden!


Living here gives us access to all the amazingness that LA has to offer, however, our family, like many others, often struggles when it comes to deciding how to spend our free time. lucky for us, Los Angeles also happens to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, so hopefully, now that we’ve got this handy list all our problems, and maybe yours, will be solved!

* As fast as we “check things off” we think up more fun and interesting ideas, so stay tuned for 50 More Things To Do in LA coming soon

*Be sure to check official websites for operating hours and ticket prices.


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A Photo Tour of the French Quarter

#frenchquarterangel

New Orleans has many claims to fame, among them its unique architecture, regional cuisine, jazz music, voodoo legends, haunted histories, Mardi Gras and so much more, and while each of the aforementioned deserve recognition in their own right,  for me, it’s the mingling of all these sights, sounds, and smells that make New Orleans so special, a true feast for the senses.

#creolecottage
In some cities this  happy  little cottage might seem a tad bit overdone, but it fits perfectly in NOLA!

No matter how many times I visit there is always something new to discover! I’m constantly stopping to snap a photo of this or that, often multiple times in one block. I always hope that my photos will convey feeling, but in a city as busy as New Orleans, there’s a fine line between a feast for the senses and sensory overload! Do I share the big picture, the small details? What about the scores of tourists in the way, or the parked cars? Include them, or delete? Maybe a little of both?

#stlouiscathedralnight
Late at night is a good time to get that shot with no tourists!

Often, by the time I’ve waited for the car to drive by, or the people to meander out of my shot, I’m half a block or more behind my family. While I’m aware that some of the best shots are captured in early morning or late at night, getting them can prove difficult, as it’s not always the best idea to be out and about on your own, not to mention my family isn’t especially keen on those early morning hours.

#bourbonstreet
Bourbon Street, is tourist hell, but it makes a great photo!

All of the above reasons are why, during my most recent visit, I sighed up for a photo tour with American Photo Safari. I chose the French Quarter tour, and used my mirrorless SLR camera, however they offer tours in other parts of the city, and cellphone users are welcome to join as well.

#frenchquarterangel
Don’t forget to look up when wandering in the Quarter!

Our tour started in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, located just in front of Jackson Square Park, and quite possibly the most photographed building in New Orleans. We spent some time getting to know each other, and our guide Natasha, before doing our best to get some unique shots of this iconic building.

#stlouiscathedral
Even at 9am there are plenty of tourists out and about!

There were multiple haunted stops on the tour including the Cornstalk Fence Hotel on Royal Street, and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, which is not just haunted, but also claims to be the oldest operating bar in the United States.

#hauntednola
I wonder what he’s thinking about?

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is located on the “good” end of Bourbon Street, if you go consider trying the voodoo daiquiri, which tastes just like a grape slushy, but be warned it packs a punch!

#lafittesblacksmithshop
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is lit only by candlelight, I wonder if the ghosts prefer it that way?

It’s been a few years since people tied their horses up to the hitching post, however, there are many of them throughout New Orleans and they add a great deal of charm to the city’s streets. I’d be surprised if I ever saw a horse tied to one, but never say never in NOLA!

#hitchingpostnola

While visiting NOLA you’re sure to notice the gas lamps located on the street corners, hanging from the galleries and doorways, and along the walls. The French Quarter, just wouldn’t be the Quarter without them!

#royalstreet

During the day, they add an old world charm, but the real magic happens at night, especially in the warmer months, when the lamplight mixes with the humid air creating a magical hazy glow.

Over the course of it’s 299 year history the architecture in the Quarter has been influenced by Spanish, French, Creole and American residents. It’s the combination of these different styles that make the Quarter the special place it is today.

#frenchquarterarchitecture

#frenchquarter

#creolecottage

Beyond the colorful and unique street fronts you’ll find that there’s more than meets the eye, magical hidden courtyards, filled with angels, fountains and lush gardens are just waiting for you to discover them.

#frenchquarter
Go ahead, take a peek, you never know what you might discover!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of the French Quarter, and some of the details that help to make it such a wonderful place to visit and explore!

Tips & Advice

  • A recipe for Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Voodoo drink:
    2 oz bourbon 1 oz Everclear or vodka 4 oz grape juice 1 cup crushed ice
  • Are you wondering how much it costs to keep the gas lamps lit? Around $8 per month, or so I was told.
  • The photo tour is 3 hours, and is suitable for all ages and all camera types.
  • The tour is best suited to older children and adults.

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10 things to do in New Orleans with Kids

#mardigrasworld

New Orleans is a magical place that everyone should visit at least once! I’ve been six times! The combination of history, legend, delicious cuisine, music, grit, and art makes it, in my humble opinion, the most unique city in America! What are you waiting for?! Let’s go! Wait! Are you worried that it’s not kid friendly? You’re not alone…

#stlouiscathedralEach and every time I go to NOLA I’m asked the same questions, ” Are you bringing the kids?”, and “Is New Orleans kid friendly?” The answer to these questions is a resounding YES! My boys have been four times, and if you ask them they’ll tell you it’s one of their favorite places!

Here are just a few of the many fun activities throughout the city for people of all ages!

1. The Audubon Nature Institute

#audubonzooStarting with the obvious, If you have animal lovers in your family then consider visiting any or all three of the Audubon Nature Institute’s sites during your visit, which include the zoo, aquarium and an insectarium. Many of the exhibits feature local creatures and habitats.

You can read more about our experiences in this related post: New Orlean’s Familystyle!

2. Ride The Street Car

#stcharleslineThe Street Cars in New Orleans, aren’t just for show, they’ve been used by locals and tourists alike for 150 years! The original, and my favorite, is the St. Charles line. As the name suggests its route is via St. Charles Street, and a ride on this line will take you through some of the city’s loveliest neighborhoods.

I love everything about riding these historic cars, watching the city roll by from the wide  windows, the fantastic sounds they make, the old wooden benches, even the close proximity to other travelers!

#redcarlineNOLAThe fares are very low, and they run often, so you won’t need a rental car during you visit. Get a lovely view of the city and where you need to go all at the same time!

3. Take a River Boat Ride

#MississippisunsetA really nice way to see and learn about the city is to take a ride on the Great Mississippi River. There are two options for riverboat rides, the Steamboat Natchez, New Orlean’s only steamboat, and the Creole Queen a paddle boat. We choose the Natchez, which conveniently docks on the riverfront just on the other side of the JAX Brewery in the French Quarter.

It’s not only a great way to see the city from a different point of view, but along the way, you’ll learn a bit of history, hear a little jazz, and even have a chance to go into the engine room.

4. French Quarter Carriage Ride

#stlouiscathedral

During your visit you’re sure to notice the many carriages lined up along Decatur Street and clip-clopping throughout the French Quarter. Rides are 30 minutes long and your guide will give you snippets of history and point out landmarks along the way.

Mule Carriage Ride New OrleansI loved getting a chance to see the streets of the French Quarter from yet another perspective.

5. Visit a Museum
#mardigrasworld

New Orleans has a number of great museums, many of which will appeal to children!

Mardi Gras World

New Orleans is famous for a certain holiday revolving around eating, drinking and being merry! No, I’m not suggesting you take the littles to Mardi Gras, but how about Mardi Gras World?!

#mardigrasworld

More than a museum, but also a workshop/showroom, Mardi Gras World is the place to go to learn about the incredible parade floats associated with one of the world’s most famous carnivals!

During your visit you’ll have a chance to try on costumes, watch a short film about the history of Mardi Gras floats and sample a taste of King Cake. Next you’ll tour the warehouse where you’ll see the artists in action and learn how the parade floats (they make as many as 500 per year) and props are made.

The Presbytère

#presbytereThe Presbytèrelocated just to the right of St. Louis Cathedral, was built in 1791. It features two permanent exhibits integral to understanding the city: Mardi Gras, and Hurricane Katrina, my kids found both exhibits fascinating.

In the Mardi Gras exhibit you’ll learn the history of the Mardi Gras celebration, and see brightly colored costumes. A perfect companion to your Mardi Gras World visit.

The Hurricane Katrina Exhibit is very powerful. It gives an in-depth look into what led to the catastrophic failure of the city’s levees, which in turn caused 80% of the city to be flooded. You’ll also hear first hand accounts, and see photos and video clips.

The National WWII Museum

#wwiimuseumnolaThis is a fabulous and very worthwhile museum. The information is very in-depth and includes first hand accounts, an easy to follow flow, and a lot of interactive exhibits. They’ve done a great job of not just telling you about the history, but immersing you in the settings as well.

6. Checkout the Art Scene

New Orleans

The Frenchmen Art Market

The family friendly Frenchmen Art Market is an evening art market located on Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny. We love the atmosphere of an evening market, and my little guy loves drawing with chalk on the floor of the outdoor “living room” locate in the center of the market.

French Quarter Galleries

The French Quarter is filled with art Galleries, which we always enjoy poking in and out of. You never know what you’re going to find and some of the art is pretty inventive. Okay, maybe this one isn’t exactly for kids, but it’s not all about them, is it?

Jackson Square

Jackson Square, centrally located in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, is surrounded by local artisans and musicians day and night. If you’re looking to bring home a prize, then this is a great place to find some more affordable works of art!

#jacksonsquarenola

7. City Park

#cityparkNOLACity Park is one of the oldest and most visited urban public parks in the United States, and after visiting a few times I can see why!

There is so much to see and do, including boat rentals, a sculpture garden, botanical gardens, Storyland, festival grounds, ancient trees dripping with moss (begging to be climbed), and the list goes on… In fact so much so, that I think this place might deserve its own blog post… stay tuned!

8. Food Fun

#cafedumonde
Stop taking my picture, I’m trying to eat my beignet!

One can’t talk about a trip to NOLA and not mention food! Whether you’ve got picky or adventurous eaters in your group, you’ll find something for everyone! Here are just a few casual ideas to get you started.

Cafe Du Monde

#cafedumondeThis should be your first stop. Period. Because, beignets.

Dat Dog

With multiple locations throughout the city you can’t go wrong with Dat Dog. Yes, as the name suggests its a hot dog restaurant, but don’t be fooled, it’s absolutely delicious! Beyond traditional beef they have lots of other options, including chicken, alligator and duck! For the adventurous eaters in your group, consider topping your dog with some crawfish Étouffée, or better yet Étouffée fries!

Jack Dempsey’s

#froglegs

Jack Dempsey’s – After hearing this place offered frog legs, I knew we’d be going! This is fried food heaven, and if you’re looking for an experience this is your place! For those picky eaters, not to worry, there’s chicken tenders, amazing mac n’ cheese and plenty of fries!

SnoBalls

#snowizardcoconut

SnoBalls, delicious icees filled with ice cream, are not just a treat in New Orleans, but on a hot day they’re an absolute necessity! We’ve enjoyed Snowizard’s snoballs on Magazine Street a number of times!

You can read more about our food finds in this related post: Let’s Eat Lunch and Talk About Dinner.

9. Go Ghost Hunting

#piratesalleyNew Orleans isn’t just famous for food, music and art, it’s also haunted! Yep, that’s right, with 300 years of infamous history there’s bound to be ghosts. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the cemeteries, vampires, voodoo and other mysterious happenings, just waiting for you er, to be discovered.

Okay, I’m just teasing, well, that part where I said things were waiting for you… the rest is all true, or at least if you listen to the city’s various tour guides it is!

Okay, Okay, in all seriousness definitely take a ghost tour during your visit! We’ve always loved Haunted History Tours! Choose different tours based on your interests, by day if you want to learn more about New Orleans history or a ghost tour by night if you want silly fun! I’ve done both multiple times and it’s always interesting! Our kids came along too! These are not jump out and scare you tours. They focus on legend, history and humor!

10. Listen to Music

#frenchquarter

New Orleans is famous for its music scene and rightfully so! There are many great music clubs in the city, but with kids in tow, getting to them can be a challenge. However, if you’re looking to hear great music, you really needn’t look much further than the nearest street corner. Meaning your kids will also get to join in the musical fun…

#royalstreet

And because you’re in NOLA you can still enjoy the beverage of your choice anywhere you’d like, so long as it’s in a plastic cup! Cheers!

Tips & Advice:

  • The Aquarium and the Insectarium are located  within walking distance of one another.
  • Exact change is required for the street car, alternatively you can purchase an RTA pass.
  • Carriage rides are on the expensive side $20 (cash only) per person.
  • Mardi Gras World’s shuttles will pick you up free of charge from multiple locations throughout the city.
  • Frenchmen’s Art Market is open from 7 pm – 1 am 5 night a week.
  • Favorite streets to find galleries are Royal and Chartres streets.
  • Ghost and cemetery tours are truly family friendly!

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Day Trippers: The Plantations of River Road

#oakalley

#oakalley

Have you ever wondered what it might have been like to live in another era? Wanted to step back in time and witness what life was like without all the modern conveniences we enjoy today? Maybe you’re happy right here in the present, but wouldn’t mind spending a few hours in the past… I definitely fall into that last category!

#oakalleyA history loving amateur photographer, whose favorite movies include Gone with the Wind, and Interview with the Vampire, it’s no wonder that a visit to the plantations of River Road were on my must see list during our recent visit to New Orleans.

Traveling Back…

River Road is a one hour drive outside of New Orleans, so you’ll want to rent a Time Machine, er, I mean car. The route is easy, and along the way you’ll drive through some pretty unique terrain.

#louisiana

It’s important not to time travel on an empty stomach, so we decided to make a quick detour to 1968 in order to eat at Spahr’s Seafood Restaurant, which came highly recommended by a local New Orleanian.

#spahr's

Spahr’s, located in Des Allemandes, Louisiana, the catfish capital of the universe, was a highlight of the day! Not only did we eat a mountain of delicious golden brown fried food, including catfish, alligator, shrimp, hush puppies, and onion sticks, but we dipped all of it in equally scrumptious sauces! All of this was washed down with sweet tea, and to top it all off we shared a slice of peanut butter pie.

While waiting for our food I noticed an outdoor area that looked pretty and decided to step out for a few photos. The manager, Carl, kindly opened the back door for me, which is when I noticed what looked like a statue in the shape of an alligator right next to the picnic area…

#alligator

Then I noticed the sign…

#bewaresign

Wait, that’s not a statue, that’s an Alligator!

The Plantations

At one time there were as many as 500 plantations along River Road, and while there aren’t nearly that many now, there are still quite a few available to visit. Most offer guided tours, have beautiful gardens, exhibitions, restaurants, and gift shops.

#oakalleyWe had time to visit two, and I chose Oak Alley for it’s magical trees, and Laura, a Creole Plantation for it’s historical significance.

Laura A Creole Plantation

#lauraplantationThe Laura Plantation, originally known as the Duparc Plantation, was built in 1804 – 1805 by Guillaume Duparc a French naval veteran of the revolutionary war. Laura, the great granddaughter of Duparc, wrote about her life on the plantation and her memoirs were published in 2002. Laura’s big house is a traditional Creole style raised house and there are several surviving out buildings on the property including six slave cabins.

During the tour we were given access to not only the gardens, but the big house and the slave cabins as well. There are exhibits about life on the plantation, which can be viewed at your leisure before or after the tour.

Oak Alley Plantation

#oakalleyOak Alley Plantation is most famous for its double row of Southern Live Oak trees which are around 300 years old! The trees run from the river to the house and were planted long before the present house was built.

#oakalleyThere is a lot to see and do at Oak Alley and at least two hours are recommended if you plan to see everything. We arrived later in the day as I wanted to get the afternoon light, but still managed to see quite a lot. Tours of the big house run every 1/2 hour, while the rest of the plantation including the slave cabin exhibit and gardens are self guided.

Before our tour of the big house we stopped for a mint julep, which you are welcome to bring with you on the tour! Photos are encouraged and your guide will be dressed in period costume, which definitely adds to that feeling of stepping back in time.

#oakalley

Once we completed our tour it was time to see the oak trees up close!

#oakalley

I spent a good amount of time taking photos and just enjoying walking among the trees. They’re absolutely stunning and it’s no wonder that so many films, television shows and music videos have been filmed here, Interview with a Vampire and Beyonce’s Déjà Vu music video to name just a few.

#oakalley

#oakalley

A History Lesson

#lauraplantationThe plantation homes lining the great Mississippi River Road are a sight to behold, and to visit them is to take a step back in time and get a small glimpse of what life might have been like for these people 200+ years ago.

#lauraplantationThey provide an important look into slavery and a very dark part of United States history. While it’s not easy to see, and read about the deplorable way these people were forced to live, I’m not one to shy away from the truth. Although it was difficult for my children to see and hear about what took place in the not so distant past, it was also a very valuable and worthwhile history lesson.

#lauraplantation

Tips & Advice:

  • River Road is a one hour drive from New Orleans in Vacherie, Louisiana
  • Laura Plantation can only be seen via guided tour.
  • Tickets can be purchased onsite.
  • The tour is 40 minutes long, and children and strollers are welcome.
  • Parking is complimentary, the gift shop sells snack and drinks, and there are multiple bathrooms.
  • The Louisiana Creole versions of the famous Br’er Rabbit stories were recorded at Laura in the 1870s.
  • Families still lived in the slave cabins at Laura Plantation until as recently as 1977.
  • Tours at Oak Alley run every half hour.
  • Children are welcome, and there is a gift shop, restaurant and restroom facilities.
  • You can stay overnight on the Oak Alley plantation.
  • The trees at Oak Alley have a potential life span of 600 years!

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Portland Oregon City of Roses

#portlandrosegarden

My boys were on Spring Break last week, which we spent in one of our all time favorite cities, New Orleans! There’s just something about it, a vibe that we just can’t get enough of! While I’m sorting through my photos and notes from last week, I thought it might be fun to take a trip down memory lane and share our visit to another great city which also has a vibe all its own: Portland, Oregon!

Portland Rose Garden-Portland, is just a three hour drive from Seattle (where I’m from), and with so many family friendly activities, great restaurants, and shopping opportunities it makes a pretty great weekend destination! Having spent quite a bit of time in Portland as a youth, It had been years since my last visit, and I was eager to show my kids around. With only two days to explore we wouldn’t be able to see everything, but we did our best to at least scratch the surface!

#rosegardenA large portion of our visit was spent in Washington Park, which covers over 400 acres, and includes the Portland Zoo, The International Rose Test Garden, Japanese Gardens, multiple museums, playgrounds and picnic areas.

The Zoo

We really enjoyed the Portland Zoo, which has a very Pacific northwest feel about it. The forested areas, natural habitats, and lots of interactive exhibits made the entire experience fun and immersive for the entire family. My younger son really enjoyed the children’s area and petting zoo.

The Gardens

#rosesA highlight of our weekend was our visit to the gardens in Washington Park. We had time for both the International Rose Test Garden, and the Japanese Gardens, which are conveniently located next to one another.

Opened in 1917 the International Rose Test Garden is home to over 7,000 rose plants and 550 varieties. They bloom from April through October depending on the weather. Roses are sent here from around the world to be tested for color, fragrance, resistance to disease and other attributes. We loved walking up and down the rows stopping here and there to smell the roses, and reading all the different names. Our visit took place in June, which is the height of the blooming season.

#portlandjapanesegarden

Having loved our visit to Japan, we are excited at any opportunity to visit Japanese gardens, so as soon as we heard Portland had one we were in! We were not disappointed, and since our visit three years ago, extensive renovations and additions were completed, which I’m sure have only enhanced what was already a spectacular place.

#japanesemapleCompleted in 1967 the idea for Portland’s Japanese gardens was first conceived in the 1950s as a way to create a healing and cultural connection to Japan after WWII. Since that time, they’ve received repeated accolades from visiting Japanese dignitaries, and are justifiably a popular tourist destination.

#japanesegarden

Around Town

If you enjoy a bit of shopping and dining, you’re in luck because Portland has plenty of both! The Pearl District and 23rd Street are great places for poking and in out of shops ranging from one of a kind boutiques to the main stream as well as art galleries, coffee shops, wine bars and more!

We loved our meal at Andina a Peruvian restaurant in the Pearl where the food, service and ambiance were all perfect!

Tips & Advice:

  • The Rose Test Garden is open from 7:30 am – 9:00 pm daily and offers free public tours daily at 1:00pm, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
  • Check the website for the information on the Japanese Garden as the hours vary throughout the year. Complimentary tours are included with your admission.

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InstaLA! Part 2: #WallAntics

Attention #dreamers, wanna be #angels, #lovers, and #wildthings, are you ready for some #instafun?! I hope so, because I enjoyed putting together my previous InstaLA post and the ensuing #wallantics so much, I decided a part two was in order.

#lovewall
#lovewall by Artist J. Goldcrown on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica

From Santa Monica, to Silver Lake, Mar Vista to Venice Beach, Melrose to Downtown LA, and everywhere in between, there is no shortage of fun to be found in and around the City of Angels and I’m so excited to share this next round of #insta favorites and their locations with all of you! While some of these might be familiar, I’m hoping there will be a few surprises as well!

#californiadreaming

Getting a photo isn’t as easy as it looks… Incase you need some Insta inspiration, check out this incredibly silly video of me at the Paul Smith LA Pink Wall… trust me when I tell you I wasn’t the only one…

16 Fun Instagram Locations in and Around LA!

1. Rock Paper Scissors Building
Artist: Risk Rock Location: The corner of Broadway and Cloverfield, Santa Monica

Occupied by post production company, Rock Paper Scissors, the “graffiti” building on the corner of Cloverfield and Broadway, recently received a fresh coat of paint! Take the time to walk all the way around!


2. The Swan Stairs Flight #2
Artist: The Painted Line Mural Co. Location: 2958 Swan Place, Los Angeles

Named for their location, the Swan Stairs were painted in 2015 by The Painted Line Mural Co. and are separated into three different flights totaling 287 steps. Each flight of stairs is unique with different shapes and colors.


3. The Swan Stairs Flight #3
Artist:
The Painted Line Mural Co. Location: 1784 Rotary Drive, Los Angeles

The final of the three Swan Place flights, and my favorite, showcases a quote from the band the Decembrists: “Los Angeles, I’m Yours.”


4. Alfred Coffee
Location:
33371/2 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

Alfred Coffee has become something of an LA institution, and rightfully so! Their coffee is excellent! They have multiple locations throughout town, each with it’s own unique decor. This particular location happens to be conveniently located near the Hidden Stairways of Silver Lake


5. Dreamer
Artist:
Ruben Rojas Location: Walgrove Ave and Palms Blvd., Mar Vista Los Angeles

The minute I discovered this recent street art addition to the Mar Vista neighborhood, I just knew I had to see it in person. I love the bright colors and positive message created by artist Ruben Rojas as part of the Beautify Earth initiative.


6. Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Artist: The Art of Chase & Hashim Thomas Location: 1400 block of Abbot Kinney, Venice

Beyond world class shopping, great food, and overall good vibes, Abbot Kinney is a treasure trove of fabulous art, like this fun mural painted by The Art of Chase. Be sure to walk down both sides of the street, so you don’t miss anything!


7. Barry’s Boot Camp
Artist: Kelsey Montague Location: 1500 Lincoln Blvd., Los Angeles

No matter how many times you drive up and down Lincoln Boulevard there is always something new to discover! My latest discovery was these fabulous wings painted by Kelsey Montague. Of course I had to stop… #whatliftsyou


8. Collete Miller Angel Wings
Artist: Colette Miller Location: Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

With multiple locations around LA, and the world, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard of Colette Miller’s Wings! This particular pair, which are located on Melrose Avenue were pretty busy, with a long line of Instagrammers anxiously waiting their turn.


9. Where the Wild Things Are Wall Mural
Artist: PDB Crew Location: 7629 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

My little one was really excited when he recognized these characters from one of his favorite stories, Where the Wild Things Are, painted larger than life on the side of a wall! He happily posed for this shot, and in fact he requested we have it printed. It now hangs in his bedroom!


10. American Vintage Wall
Artist: Adam Dare Location: 7575 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles

The entire American Vintage shop is covered in fabulous wall art! Big small, pasted, painted, you name it! Artists of all kinds leave their mark here and it’s definitely worth a visit. There’s some pretty neat stuff inside the shop too!


11. Arts District Co-op
Artist: Royal Location: 453 Colyton St, Los Angeles

I’m crazy about the DTLA Arts District and no trip would be complete with a visit to the Arts District Co-Op. Not only will you find loads of #insta opportunities on the outside, the inside is pretty great too!


12. Kiss The One You Love… Mural
Artist: WRDSMTH Location: 300 S Santa Fe Ave, Los Angeles

I’m a big fan of WRDSMTH! He often uses a “typewriter” stencil to convey his very positive WRDs of wisdom, but went a different route this time. Might be a fun place to pose with your sweetheart?!


13. Cafe Gratitude Love Is…
Artist: J. Goldcrown Location: 300 S Santa Fe Ave, Los Angeles

A post shared by Hilary Gudgel (@hilarystyleme) on

While I felt I might be pressing my luck if I asked for an action shot in front of WRDSMTHs mural, I thought I might have a good shot with this one just across the way! You might recognize these #bleedinghearts from my previous InstaLA post as they’re in multiple locations around town!


14. Colette Miller Angel Wings – The Very First Pair!
Artist: Colette Miller Location: Traction and Hewitt in the Arts District, Los Angeles

These are the wings that started it all, and considering how temporary street art can be, its pretty amazing that they are still there. Every pair is unique, why not make a stop at each one if you can?


15. Artist & Craftsman Supply
Artist: Kurt Thompson Location: 1660 S La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles

The Mondrian style wall on the side of the Artist & Craftsman Supply in mid-city is one of LA’s most popular #InstaWalls!


16. Chinese Laundry Headquarters
Artist: @itsaliving Location: 3485 La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles

Last but not least, is my most recent discovery, and one of my favorites, the fabulous California Dreaming wall located at the company headquarters of Chinese Laundry!


Now that we’ve taken so many pics and had so much fun in the process, what will we do with all the photos? I mean, beyond post them on Instagram? Make our own wall art of course!

#8x8project

Los Angeles is a veritable treasure trove of art and fun! The more I search the more I find, so don’t be surprised if there’s an InstaLA! 3 in the future…


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Warner Brothers Studio Tour

#warnerbrosstudios

#warnerbrostour

I love the movies! Do you? One of the reasons I love entertainment so much is the ability to imagine and get lost in lots of different realities. I also love that I can simply walk away when I’m over it. When I sit down to watch a TV show, or a movie I’m ready and willing to believe the unbelievable! Obviously, I don’t sit down and say, “Prepare to suspend belief,” it simply happens. That’s the magic!

Warner Bros Studio Tour Los Angeles California
Belle Haven Prison… good thing this isn’t our reality!

When done right, it’s so seamless, its easy to believe that what you’re watching is actually real. I love nothing more than the ability to settle in with my popcorn, (is there any other movie watching treat) and blissfully forget that it took literally hundreds of people working behind the scenes to create that seamless transition between the real world and places like Hogwarts, The Shire, or Gotham City. Three of my favorite alternate realities!

#batsignal

I literally forget that I can’t actually go to these places, and that Batman isn’t real. Wait! What? Batman isn’t real? I refuse to believe it!

#batmobile
Batman must be real, here’s his car!

Okay, now that we’ve established that one does not simply walk into Mordor, how do they make it look like we can? How do they make it look so real?  Well, it just so happens that Los Angeles, the home of movie magic, is the perfect place to find out! During my recent visit to the Warner Bros Studio Lot we got behind the scenes peeks into many of our favorite television shows and movies both old and new!

#centralperk
After your tour stop by Central Perk for a coffee!?

Now, you might be thinking that a studio tour is incredibly touristy, and it is, but hey there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s touristy for good reason. Next you might say to yourself, but I’m not into theme parks, and to that I say, “Not all studios are theme parks, however some theme parks are studios!”

 

#warnerbrostour
You’ll go inside actual filming locations!

Even the cynic in your group will be won over when they see the location of their favorite television show or movie. At least our resident cynic was!

 

#warnerbrostourYour tour starts with a brief film overview, hosted by Ellen, (her show is filmed at Warner Bros.) afterwards you’ll be split into small groups! The lot encompasses 110 acres, and is big enough to need its own fire department, so this won’t be a walking tour. Your open air vehicle seats about 12 people and will ensure that you’re able to see everything!

#warnerbrostour
You’ll be riding in a vehicle similar to this one!

Along the way you’ll have the opportunity to visit the homes and buildings from some of film and TV’s most popular places, including ER, Gilmore Girls, Dukes of Hazard, the original Batman TV series and Full house to name just a few. You might even get the opportunity to step inside some of them. Don’t worry there’s plenty of time for photo opportunities!

What you’ll see on your tour is largely dependent on what is happening on the lot on that given day. We were treated to exhibits showcasing props from Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Suicide Squad and Batman Vs. Superman.

My favorite exhibit had to be the Bat Mobiles, but we also got the opportunity to visit the sound stage of the Big Bang Theory, the coffee shop from La La Land, and even the set of Central Perk from Friends. If you’re so inclined you can even sit on the Friends couch.

Towards the end of your tour you’ll be given the opportunity to explore, at your own leisure, interactive exhibits dedicated to showing you just how the movie and television magic happens, including costumes, scripts, set dressing, green screens, forced perspective and more.  We held Oscars, “rode” the bat cycle, explored movie props, and made a trip to the studio shop!

Tips and Advice:

  • You’ll need to reserve your tour online in advance.
  • Kids under 8 are not permitted.
  • You’ll be getting in and out of the tour vehicle, so make sure to dress appropriately.
  • The tour is three hours long, but the time flies by!
  • The tour operators are very accommodating, so feel free to ask for a photo stop at any point along the way.
  • Save time for a visit to the  tour studio store, which features items from many well known films and shows and is only available on the tour!

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Downtown Los Angeles Graffiti & Mural Walking Tour

#lagraffiti

A self described urban girl, art lover, and travel addict one of my favorite pastimes is “collecting” street art. It’s a hobby I picked up a few years ago, while traveling in Portugal. Over the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to have collected some great “pieces” from cities around the world, Glasgow, London, Paris and Seattle to name just a few*.

#DTLAArtsDistrict
Lucky for me Los Angeles has no shortage of local and international artists who are literally painting the town, enabling me to continue collecting even when I’m not on the road! I like to think of it as sort of a worldwide treasure hunt, and along the way, I’ve come to know and love the styles of many artists, recognizing their unique styles on sight.

#WRDSMTH
WRDSMTH is a favorite! I ❤️ his positive messages!

The scale, accessibility and temporary nature of street art are all part of its draw, and thanks to social media it’s easier than ever to follow and find new works by some of my favorite artists. When I do discover a fun new piece there’s no time to waste, as one never knows how long it will be on “display.” Legal, or not, you never know when it might be tagged, buffed over, or even torn down.

#WRDSMTHBandit
This  Bandit / WRDSMTH collaboration has since been buffed over.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of discovering pieces on my own, but recently I decided to enlist a little help, and signed up for a graffiti/mural walking tour in Downtown Los Angeles.

#dtlaartstour
The Tour Starts Here out side of Dejavita Boutique!

walking tour of DTLA was the perfect way to view the city’s vibrant mural and graffiti scene and get a feel for the neighborhood. Not only did we view amazing works of art, but we learned about the street art culture including, the techniques, territory, hierarchy and lingo of these incredibly talented artists. It was fascinating and I could go on and on, but let’s get to the art!

Colyton Street

#dtlagraffititour

Your tour begins and ends on Colyton Street just outside of Dejavita and Shreebs Coffee in the Arts District. The tours are led by local artists, and I’m sure just like their art, they all have their own style. Our guide started by giving us a quick lesson in street art vocabulary, “rules” and the history of the area.

We were excited to come back and explore this area after the tour, taking tons of photos and poking in and out of the various shops. I love the DTLA Arts Co-op, which sells local art, jewelry and clothing, some of which is based on art you might recognize from the tour.

The Container Yard

#bumblebeelovesyou
Bumblebeelovesyou & Mikael Brandup

Sadly, you won’t be able to see this Bumbleelovesyou and Mikael B. collaboration, as it’s been painted over. However, you can see the fresh new piece by Deferism, which took its place along with many other fantastic murals, which are located at the Container Yard, an undefined collaborative art space, in the heart of the DTLA Arts District and one stop on the tour. Other stops on the tour were located along Traction Avenue, at The Angel City Brewery, and along 3rd Street.  There was so much amazing art it was hard to decide which pieces to share…

#containeryardDTLA

Traction Avenue

#elmac
El Mac

Angel City Brewery

SAMSUNG CSC

3rd Street

#kimwest
Kim West
#jrpasteup
Paste up JR

The Lingo

Angels –  Famous or respected graffiti artists who have died. Sometimes represented by tags or tributes with halos above them.

Crew –  A group of artists who regularly collaborate often in the same part of town. Examples of local crews: UTI and Mad Society Kings

Legal Walls – Walls, buildings or neighborhoods where artists are encouraged to create graffiti. The ability to create without having to look out for the police means larger and more creative pieces.

Colyton Street DTLA Los Angeles California
Legal Wall behind Dejavita

Mural – A huge work, often on a legal wall. It might be done by an individual, an informal group, or a crew.

#roadtla
Roa

Piece or Masterpiece – Short for “masterpiece.” The term is frequently used to describe a more labor-intensive work.

#tristaneaton
Tristan Eaton

Stencil – A design cut into heavy paper or cardboard, then spray-painted onto a wall. A stencil may be a phrase, an image, or a combination thereof.

Tag – A stylized name or signature done with various materials, such as a marker or an aerosol spray can, often freehand.

#dame
Dame

Throw up – A tag or small “piece” thrown up in a hurry, often located down low.

#graffitithrowup
Throw up

Toy(s) – A derogatory term referring to either poor workmanship, or an inexperienced writer. Going over or “toying” someone else’s work is an act of disrespect. An acronym meaning Tag Over Your Shit.

Wheatpaste/ Pasteup – A type of street art which is literally pasted onto the wall using an adhesive made from flour and water.

#serenity77
Paste up

Woodup – Similar to a paste up, however the stencil is imprinted on wood and then pasted up. This little guy, Nicky Nailed It, is literally everywhere in Los Angeles, often in the least expected places!

Tips & Advice:

  • The Downtown LA Graffiti and Mural tour is offered on Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:30 am. The cost is $12.
  • Reserve your tickets in advance online.
  • The tour starts outside of Dejavita Boutique at 533 Colyton Street.
  • You’ll walk around 2 miles over the course of 2.5 hours.
  • You will be continuously walking and standing for the majority of the tour. It might might not appeal to younger children.
  • Proper attire and walking shoes highly recommended.
  • After the tour, consider exploring the area on your own…

You never know what you might find!

#isabellegorilla

*As you can see my street art collection has grown substantially in recent months, and I’m still collecting, so stay tuned for more discoveries from both near and far…


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The Hidden Staircases of Silver Lake

#swanstairs

#welcome2laCombining three of my favorite things, street art, fitness and exploring, my most recent adventure took place in Silver Lake, one of LA’s most unique, and hip neighborhoods. Upon first glance, it may appear a bit on the gritty side, but a little dirt never hurt anyone, and if you dig just a little you’ll find a treasure trove of one of a kind shops, restaurants and hidden gems just waiting for you to come and discover them.

Speaking of Hidden Gems

#swanstairsLA wasn’t always the car town it is now, and at one time public transportation was the primary mode of travel. People used an extensive network of Staircases to get from their hillside homes to their transit stops. Many of these historic staircases are still in existence though these days they’re used more for fitness and #selfies than anything else. The challenge is finding them

#silverlake
The Stairs are hidden within the Silver Lake Neighborhood.

Because these staircases are steep, narrow, and located within residential neighborhoods, they are often hidden from view. However, once you do locate them, they are available for public use, and many of them have been painted with bright colors and fun designs, adding an extra element of fun.

#swanstairs

Always up for a challenge and enamored with all the local street art in the area it was my mission to explore these stairways and add them to my LA “collection.”

It’s easy to stay on the path if you create it yourself!

I had some very specific spots in mind, so created my own route through the hills. I admit to some initial trial and error, but in the end I came up with a route, which combines art, fitness and coffee! However, if you prefer it the other way around, you can always start with coffee…

This just over 2 mile walk will take you up and down just over 1000 steep stairs. Proper shoes and attire are recommended.

Step by Step Directions:

1. But First, Coffee. Alfred Coffee 3337 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

#alfredssilverlakeAlfred Coffee’s motto is particularly relevant because you’ll be starting your adventure here! Incase, you need something to work towards, you’ll also be ending here.

Direction: Coffee, or not, you decide, and then head to your first stop which is across the street. 

2. Micheltorena Stairs 3400 Sunset Boulevard (Up 205 Steps)

#micheltorenaWhen you see the cheerful rainbow stripes and hearts painted by artist Corrine Carrey, you’ll know you’re in the right place. Before you begin the walk take a moment to snap a few pics! #staircandy anyone!

Direction: You’ll be crossing at the corner of Sunset and Micheltorena and as soon as you cross head left walk a few steps and you’ll come to the Micheltorena staircase. Go up…

3. Descanso Stairs (Down 139 steps)

Direction: When you reach the top of the stairs you’ll continue on Micheltorena Street until you arrive at Descanso Drive. Go left. Take the stairs down and turn right at the bottom onto Larissa Drive, which about 50 feet later will once again become Descanso Drive. You don’t want W. Descanso Drive.

4. Music Box Steps (Down 133 steps)

#musicboxstepsThis next staircase isn’t painted but it is famous! It was named after the 1932 Academy Award winning short film, which was filmed here, The Music Box, in which Laurel and Hardy attempt to move a piano up a large flight of steps. These very steps!

Direction: At the bottom of the Music Box Steps take a right onto N. Vendome Street and walk towards Sunset Boulevard. Turn left on Sunset Boulevard and cross the street using the crosswalk at Descanso Drive.

5. Stair Tempo Staircase 3229 Sunset Boulevard (Up 90 steps)

#stairtempoAlso painted by artist Corrine Carrey, these fun piano key steps add a much needed element of whimsy to this otherwise mundane passageway. It looks like they could use a bit of sprucing up, but that didn’t take away from the fun.

Direction: Walk along Sunset until you come to 3229 Sunset and head up the stairs towards Hamilton Way. Go right at the top of Stair Tempo and your next set of stairs (up 102 steps) will be on  your left. Take them up to Elevado Street and go left. Go left again onto Westerly Terrace.

6.The Swan Stairs, Parts 1, 2 & 3

#swanstairsNamed for their location, the Swan Stairs were painted in 2015 by The Painted Line Mural Co. and are separated into three different flights totaling 287 steps. Each flight of stairs is unique with shapes and colors in different colors. My favorite, the final flight, showcases a quote from the band the Decembrists: “Los Angeles, I’m Yours.”

 Part 1 – Swan Place 2958 Swan Place (Up 77 steps)

Direction: You’ll find Part one of the Swan Stairs at the intersection of Westerly Terrance and Swan Place. Go up… At the top veer left and you’ll find part two is just across the street at 1802 Redesdale Avenue. Go up again… At the top veer left and you’ll find part three is just across the street at 1784 Rotary Drive. Go up, yet again…

Part 2 – 1802 Redesdale Avenue (Up 110 steps)

#swanstairs

Part 3 – 1784 Rotary Drive (Up 100 steps)

 Swan Stairs Los Angeles California

7. Its Time to Head back…

#swanstairs
Once you reach the top its time to head back down…

Once you’ve conquered the Swan Stairs you’ll be working your way back through the hills towards Alfred Coffee.

Direction: 

  • Don’t go back down the stairs tho! continue forward by taking a left onto Webster Ave,
  • left on Dillon Street,
  • right on Effie Street and,
  • left on Cicero Drive.
  • walk to the end of the cul-de-sac and you’ll find a staircase on your right (down 90 steps),
  • At the bottom of the stairs go left onto Redcliff Street,
  • right onto Murray Drive,
  • right onto Berkeley Avenue and,
  • finally a left back onto Micheltorena Street. You’ll find Alfred Coffee at the corner of Micheltorena Street and Sunset Boulevard.
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite going up and down all those steps consider going just a little further to Pine & Crane, a delicious Taiwanese restaurant just a five minute walk up the street. The food is fresh, delicious and affordable!

There are many other hidden and painted stairways throughout Silver Lake and the greater Los Angeles area just waiting to be collected, and once I do, I’ll be sure to update with photos and locations!


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