LA, is Americas’s second largest city, encompassing over 500 square miles and home to just under four million people. Trying to “see it all” can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Not if you think of LA as what it really is, a city of neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and charm.
Whether you’re a local or just visiting I find the best way to see the City of Angels is to pick a specific area of town and focus on it. You’ll have to drive a few extra miles, Angelenos are famous for staying in their own neighborhoods, but you’ll get a whole day of exploration and fun for the price of a “little bit” of traffic! Feeling ambitious, pick two neighborhoods, we did!
Exploring Silver Lake and Echo Park
For the second installment of our culture club we chose Echo Park and Silver Lake two of LA’s most hipster neighborhoods. We started in Silver Lake, which is also the more gentrified of the two. Echo Park is on the grittier side, but I really like that about it. Both are a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants and hidden gems just waiting for you to discover them.
You might also be interested in: Things to do in LA’s Koreatown
We started our day at Alfred, which is famous around town for it’s But first, Coffee slogan. If you ask me, Alfred Coffee has their priorities straight, because as far as I’m concerned nothing happens before coffee! Beyond their coffee and tea beverages, Alfred also serves a lovely and delicious version of one of LA’s more popular dishes, avocado toast! Not an avocado fan? You’ll find other food items as well.
Alfred Silver Lake is located at: 3337 1/2 W Sunset Blvd., LA. They are open Monday thru Friday 6:30am to 5:00pm and Saturday and Sunday 7:30am – 6:00pm.
Lark Cake Shop
Having just enjoyed a bite to eat next door at Alfred, we stopped in Lark Cake Shop at the request of the kids, and thankfully we were in the mood to say yes! The Ice Box Cake was delightful as was everything else we sampled.
Lark Bakery is located at 3337 W Sunset Blvd., LA
The Maven Store
Okay, so this wasn’t a kid friendly activity, but we couldn’t resist stopping in Maven, a Louisiana based clothing shop with it’s unique and affordable apparel, jewelry, and gift items for a bit of retail therapy.
The Maven Store is located at: 3333 W Sunset Blvd., LA. Hours: Monday – Saturday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sunday 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm.
The Hidden Stairs of Silver Lake Walk
LA 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, and many of these historic staircases are still in existence. These days they are used primarily for urban hikes and exercise and a climb to the top will grant you fabulous views of the city.
Because these staircases are located within residential neighborhoods, they are often hidden from view, so finding them can be a challenge, but don’t worry I’ve done that for you.
Along the way we took the time to stop for rest breaks and to enjoy the flowers, murals and art installations along the route.
We were surprised and delighted during one of our rest stops when we unexpectedly met up with Party Goats taking a break of their own between engagements. Apparently party goats is a thing!
The stairs are steep and some quite narrow. Bring plenty of water, be mindful of high temperatures and wear appropriate attire. The Goods Mart on Silver Lake Boulevard falls in the middle of the route and is a great place to stop for more water and snacks.
The Hidden Staircases walk begins at the Micheltorena Stairs across the street from Alfred Coffee. Hours: 24 hours but remember it is a residential area, so be respectful. You’ll find the route we took here: The Hidden Staircases of Silver Lake.
Honey Hi turned out to be a perfect place for us to grab a late lunch after climbing all those stairs. The menu is filled with organic, sustainable comfort food and is vegetarian and child friendly with a casual atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed my chimichurri skirt steak and the dragon fruit lemonade was as tasty as it was pretty.
Honey Hi is located at 1620 Sunset Blvd., LA. The cafe is open every day from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
The Echo Park Time Travel Mart
Wherever you are, we’re already then.
How could we resist a visit to The Echo Park Time Travel Mart, a convenience store for time travelers? Inside we found fun from every era, past, present and future including, dinosaur eggs, robot milk, t-shirts, and so much more.
All proceeds help support the free programs at 826LA a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.
The Time Travel Mart is located at 1714 W Sunset Blvd., LA. The Mart is open Monday – Sunday 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm.
Echo Park Lake
The kids were very excited about our next stop, Echo Park Lake, where our main goal was the Lake’s swan pedal boats. We weren’t the only ones with this idea, and the line was long, but we took turns waiting, while the rest of the group passed the time walking the lake path and watching the turtles and other wildlife in the park.
Recently upgraded to include shade canopies, these brand new swan boats can hold from 2 – 5 guests. Apparently our kids had forgotten how tired they were after our stair hike because they really wanted to pedal, so we sat happily shaded in the back enjoying the fountain and city views while they did all the work.
The Lake’s annual Lotus Festival celebrates the bloom of Echo Park Lake’s famous floating flowers. This free event celebrates the Asian-American community in LA and has been taking place for 38 years. This year’s festival celebrates the Chinese community. Expect food, dragon boat races, and hundreds of glorious lotus flowers.
The swan boats are open 7 days a week 9 am – Sunset. The last boat goes out 1 hour before sunset. Adutls are $11 and children (17 years and under) $6 for a one hour rental.
Admission to The Lotus Festival is free. This year’s festival takes place on Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15, 2018, from 12:00 pm.
Established in 1886 Angelino Heights is one of LA’s oldest neighborhoods and was the city’s first recognized Historic District. It is well known for it’s large concentration of unique architecture including Victorian, Turn of the Century and Revival. While again, not exactly a kid friendly activity, our drive through the neighborhood gave the kids a chance to rest before arriving at our final stop of the day.
One of the homes was featured regularly on the television series Charmed. Due to its picturesque beauty the entire neighborhood has been featured in countless television shows and films.
Angelino Heights is located within the boundaries of the Echo Park neighborhood and just a short drive from Echo Park Lake.
Our final stop of the day found us back in the Silver Lake neighborhood. We wanted to end our day with a visit to Milk Shop, an old fashioned ice cream parlor and bake shop with a modern day twist!
Not only were the treats Insta worthy, but they were delicious. I couldn’t resist the cookie dough to go, yes please!
Milk Shop is located at 1639 Silver Lake Blvd. They are open 12:00 pm to 10 pm Sunday to Thursday and 12:00 pm to midnight Friday & Saturday
Fancy a little more time in this area? Here are three additional destinations very worth making time for with or without the kids.
Neutra VDL House
Architecture lovers won’t want to miss a visit to the Neutra VDL House located on Silver Lake Boulevard. Built by the famed Modernist architect Richard Neutra 75 years ago, the VDL house was named a National Historic Landmark in 2017. Tours of the home and garden are available, and are given by architecture students.
The Neutra house is located at 2300 Silver Lake Blvd., LA. Tours of the VDL House are ONLY on Saturdays from 11am to 3pm. Admission is $15 Adults and $10 Students and Seniors. Children under 15 are free as are members of the press and Cal Poly Pomona students, faculty and staff.
Pine & Crane
Pine & Crane is aTaiwanese restaurant in the heart of Silver Lake with a casual family friendly atmosphere. The food is fresh, delicious and affordable.
Pine and Crane is located at 1521 Griffith Park Blvd., LA. Their hours are Wednesday – Monday 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm. They are closed Tuesdays.
The Chandelier Tree
Should you find yourself in the area after dark I highly recommend stopping by The Chandelier Tree. Created by, Silver Lake resident and artist, Adam Tenenbaum the tree is located in his front yard. Visitors to the tree are very welcome and if you’re so inclined you can contribute to Adam’s electric bill, by inserting coins into the meter beneath the tree. Check out this neat little video to learn more about the Chandelier Tree.
The Chandelier Tree is located at 2811 W. Silver Lake Drive, LA.
Where we went: