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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Day Trippers: Joshua Tree National Park

#joshuatree

Perception can be a powerful thing, especially perception of one’s self. Shaping  everything from what we wear, who we interact with and even where we travel. For example, I’ve always considered myself an indoor* city girl, which meant most of my adventures involved the exploration of larger cities, with an emphasis on indoor activities, but lately that seems to be changing.

#joshuatreeSince I began writing hilarystyle almost two years ago I’ve found myself branching out more than ever before. My desire to see more, experience more, and learn more, not just about the wide world, but about the places closest to me, and the need to share what I’m learning has become a passion. I’m breaking out of my self imposed box and I have this blog to thank for it!

Which leads me to the subject of my current post… An outdoor adventure in nature!

The Joshua Tree National Park

#joshuatreeThe Joshua Tree National Park is located just over two hours from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, and while that might be stretching the limit of a day trip, it’s very doable. More than just the name of an incredibly popular U2 album,  people come from all over the world to enjoy the park’s unique trees and alien like desert terrain. Hiking, camping, rock climbing and stargazing are just some of the activities available within the park.
#joshuatree

Having recently purchased a new lens for my camera, my main interest in visiting the park was photography. I was excited to take photos of both the Joshua trees and the night sky, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t on my side and the sky was overcast and grey.

Although conditions weren’t exactly ideal for photography, we made the most of our trip, stopping at three different locations within the park. We took a leisurely nature walk in Hidden Valley, did a bit of “rock climbing” along Park Boulevard, and our final stop was the appropriately named Skull Rock. I really enjoyed our visit to Joshua Tree, which offered something for everyone in our group, even me a self described indoor girl.

Hidden Valley Nature Walk

#joshuatree

Park Boulevard

#joshuatree

Skull Rock

#skullrock

Bonus Stop: The World’s Biggest Dinosaurs

#cabazondinosaurs
While researching our drive to Joshua Tree I discovered these wonderful and very large dinosaurs. We just had to stop! The World’s Biggest Dinosaurs, these giant concrete statues, are probably most well known for their appearance in the 80s movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. We were delighted to stop and take photos with them, before heading on our way!

Tips & Advice

  • There is no food of any kind for purchase inside Joshua Tree National Park. Trust me there is NO food. Make sure to bring snack and drinks with you.
  • There are no flush toilets in the park.
  • Wear proper shoes, especially if you think you might like to climb up on any of the giant boulders throughout the park. My kids couldn’t stay away from them!
  • Wear layers. Joshua Tree is a desert environment and the temperatures can be quite extreme. The day of our visit it was only a high of 45 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Stop at one of the park’s ranger stations before you enter. The rangers will provide you with a free map as well as directions and advice.
  • The Ranger Station exhibits give a brief but nice overview of the history of the park and the trees.
  • There are many hikes and walks throughout the park. The degree of difficultly varies and there is something for every ability.
  • If you’re interested in Night Sky photography Joshua Tree is one of the few places in the United States where you can see the Milky Way.
  • From the website: Do not rely on GPS directions to navigate to or within Joshua Tree National Park! Vehicle navigation systems sometimes try to route you onto backcountry roads with ruts or soft sand that may be impassable to your vehicle.

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InstaLA! 15 Places to Snap Those InstaGood Pics

These days it’s all about documenting. After all if you haven’t posted it on Instagram, were you really there? Of course you were, but sharing the fun is a big part of any experience, which is one reason why I started this blog in the first place! Sharing the fun!

#paulsmithwallla
The famous Pink Wall at Paul Smith on Melrose #paulsmithla

As an amateur photographer, I appreciate that a great photo, not only documents the moment, but also tells the story. So, as a tourist in my own town, I’ve been on a quest to see new places, enjoy the moments, AND get that #pic.

Are You Looking for that LA Experience?

#madeinla
Another Insta Icon the #madeinla wall at  Cisco Home on Melrose

Whether it be a #selfie, a portrait, or just your surroundings, If you’re looking for more than just a photo, but an experience to go along with it consider some of these #fun on and off the beaten path LA locations:

1. Colette Miller Angel Wings Location: 453 Colyton Street, Los Angeles

If there’s one #instapic you have to take while visiting the City of Angles it’s the one with a pair of Colette Miller’s Angel Wings. Surely, you’ve heard of Colette Miller’s Angel Wings project by now, and if not, you have now! With multiple locations around LA, and now the world, you are bound to run across a pair! This particular pair is located just outside the DTLA Arts  District Co-op, which also happens to be a great shop!


2. Fnnch Honey Bear Mural Location: 608 Mateo Street, Los Angeles

The #insta #opportunities in Downtown’s Arts District are endless. No matter your taste, there is street art for everyone! It was while looking for another piece that we came upon this lovely “little” honey bear by the San Francisco based artist known as Fnnch. Of course I had to take a quick #pic with my #littlehoney!


3. The Most Famous Artist Mural Location: 608 Mateo Street, Los Angeles

You might already be familiar with the polka dot wall as it’s become an #icon of the LA #instawall scene. (Is that a thing? I guess it is now!) The work of Matty Mo, otherwise known as The Most Famous Artist, its just one of many murals made with the intention of being featured on social media. It’s conveniently located in the same area as some other pretty nice pieces.


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

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! Not only that, the building itself makes a lovely #instawall backdrop! Do keep in mind that it’s incredibly popular and advance reservations are required.


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

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. 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.


6. Elliot Smith Figure 8 Wall Location: 4334 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

Just a few minutes away from the above #instaspot you’ll find the Elliott Smith Figure 8 Wall. If you’re a music lover, you might be familiar with Elliot Smith, who met a tragic end in 2003. This wall was featured on the cover of his last album and has since become a place where fans can snap a #pic and pay tribute to the deceased singer. As my husband is a big fan of Elliott’s music, our son is also named Elliot…


7. Micheltorena Stairs Location: 3400 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

Painted by artist Corrine Carrie the Micheltorena Stairs are not only a lovely spot for an #instapic, but part of a larger network of “hidden”stairs within the Silver Lake neighborhood. If you’re feeling inspired after you snap your #staircandy pic, why not consider an urban hike! You’ll get some exercise along with your #snap!


8. View of DTLA Griffith Observatory Location: 2800 E. Observatory Rd, Los Angeles

The views from the Griffith Observatory, are quintessential LA, so it’s no wonder this very view was featured in the movie LA LA Land. Not only will a visit here provide you fabulous views of #DTLA, but the #iconic Hollywood Sign as well. Thats two birds with one #instastone!


9. The Hollywood Sign Location: 2800 E. Observatory Rd, Los Angeles

#hollywoodsign #griffithpark #hollywood #losangeles #california #icon #staycation #fun #hilarystyleme

A post shared by Hilary Gudgel (@hilarystyleme) on

One of the most famous icons in Los Angeles and the world, no trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a glimpse of the famous Hollywood Sign!


10. Urban Light at LACMA Location: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

There’s something so magical about artist Chris Burden’s Urban Light installation, I could spend hours there! I couldn’t stop taking photos. The solar powered installation is made from 202 restored cast iron street lamps from 1920s and 30s Los Angeles. Part of LACMA’s permanent collection, the exhibit is free to the public. Urban Light is an incredibly popular place to take photos and hang out, so unless you visit in the middle of the night, expect to have other people in your photos.


11. Carrera Cafe Location: 8251 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles

Located just across the street from the pink #paulsmithla wall on Melrose Avenue, Carrera Cafe, is not just a pretty face, but also a lovely little cafe with both sweet and savory treats.


12. Social butterflies LA Location:  8222 W. 3rd St, Los Angeles

You’ll be kept plenty busy exploring all the restaurants, shopping, galleries and fun #wallcandy on West 3rd Street, which is located in West Hollywood about one mile from Melrose Avenue.


13. Palm Tree Photo Mural Location: 1130 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice

For a guaranteed LA experience and those #instagood #instapics don’t miss one of the hottest streets in town, Abbot Kinney located in Venice. Both sides of the street are lined with not only fabulous street art, murals and pasteups, but many of the most sought after fashion brands have stores here. After you’ve snapped and shopped, you can satisfy your hunger in the one of the many trendy bars and restaurants. It’s #instapic heaven! This Noah Abrams photograph is on the wall outside of Kit and Ace.


14. J. Goldcrown’s #bleedinghearts #Lovewall Location: corner of Santa Clara Avenue and Abbot Kinney Boulevard

While you’re in the neighborhood, why not make a stop at J. Goldcrown’s #bleedinghearts #lovewall, which is painted on the side of the Green Leaf Chopshop. Don’t worry, it’s okay to take photos at both! Then stop by the TOMS store and pick up a matching pair!


15. Will Rodgers State Beach  Location: 17000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Los Angeles

Tourist or not, there’s nothing quite like an LA #sunset, and the best part: It happens each and every night!

#happysnapping


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Would you like directions to all these fabulous places? Why not take me with you! you can download this and other fun hilarystyle articles using the GPSmyCity app!

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The J. Paul Getty Museums 

#gettyvilla

I had the best time during my visits to the Getty Villa and the Getty Center, two world renowned art museums, and I didn’t even look at the art. Yep, it’s true! I was so busy enjoying everything else they had to offer, I ran out of time, which is why both of these LA institutions will be going on my Repeat List and should definitely be on everyone else’s Must List.

The Getty  Villa

#gettyvillaLocated 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.

#gettyvilla

Built in the early 1970s it was modeled after the Villa dei Papiri, a roman country home which was located in Herculaneum, Italy.  Herculaneum, along with Pompeii, was buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD and has only been partially excavated.

The Getty Villa Los Angeles California

My friend, Melissa, and I had the most amazing time here, it was the perfect day out. We  enjoyed two guided tours, architecture and garden, watched a brief film about the history of the Villa and its creator, J. Paul Getty. We also enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the Getty Cafe.

#gettyvilla

As I mentioned we ran out of time and didn’t see much art, even so, this may have been the most fun I’ve had at an art museum… well… ever!

Tips & Advice:

  • Entry to the Getty Villa is free, but reservations, which can be made online, are required. There is a $15 fee for parking.
  • The museum tours of the art, architecture, and gardens are complimentary.
  • The food in the cafe was excellent. Consider eating there while you enjoy beautiful views of the Villa and gardens from above.
  • I hope to visit again in the summer when the there will be performances in the Villa’s amphitheater.
    The Getty Villa Los Angeles California
  • Don’t forget to leave time for the art!

The Getty Center

#gettycenter

If you’ve been to LA you might have noticed the Getty Center, a large white building perched on the hillside above the 405.

#gettycenterview

While the Getty Villa features antiquities through the fall of the Roman Empire, 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 view of Downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean are spectacular.

#gettycentergarden

The museum campus is vast and there are many different areas to explore. My boys loved the gardens and it is our goal to come back each season to see how they’ve changed. Hopefully, we’ll find time to see some of the art during one of those visits! Stay tuned!

#gettycenterview

Tips & Advice:

  • Entry to the Getty Center is free. There is a $15 fee to park. Unlike the Villa reservations are not required.
  • Once parked you’ll take a complimentary tram up the hillside to the Getty Center.Getty Center Los Angeles California
  • If you’re visiting with children, the casual Getty Cafe is cafeteria style and offers something for everyone.
  • We plan to come back every season to see the changes in the gardens.

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