Category Archives: Adventure

[Traveling Tales] Take it to the Top: Conquering Gray’s Peak Trail

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“You might not find any wifi in the forest, but I promise you’ll find a better connection”

For the better part of the last decade,  any weekend with time to spare and sun to catch magically evolved into a festival fueled adventure somewhere along the West Coast.  Over the last few years, our festival family reunion and pre-Summer kickoff was Lightning in a Bottle – delightfully and delectably getting us ready for the rest of festival season.  When the time came this year to figure out where we wanted to lounge lavishly and enjoy each others company, we took a long hard look at the growth we’ve elicited from ourselves at Lighting in a Bottle – which comes easily when you’re surrounded by the prismatic love, light and laughter of the event.  Each year, though challenging for individually unique reasons, provided the perfect platform to acknowledge myself in the moment and grow from it.  Paired with sweeping landscapes and myriads of magical music, I almost dare you not to be moved – because I have been, over and over and over again.

Even as I describe what we didn’t experience this year, I feel blessed and gifted with my past experiences.  As I marinate in my own newfound maturity, I amuse myself in what I’ve become – knowing full well that growth is synonymous with growing pains, and I effectively feel like I’ve graduated from a phase of my life, and of myself.   All together, these thoughts synthesized themselves in a way that made me opt for a new journey for Memorial day this time around the sun. So, instead of feverishly packing our apartment to fit inside a tent, we packed an overnight bag and it was off, off and away to Big Bear for a weekend of sun and fun with a few friends that have become a hell of a lot more like family over the last few years.

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Just a hop, skip and a few hour drive into San Bernadino, Big Bear already sits at an elevation of nearly 7,000′ – even before you head out on your hike or snow inspired romp through the woods, and has a little bit of something for everyone – granted that everyone’s a bit of a nature nut.   We might have cut our lodging options short by not planning our trip until literally three days before the weekend, but thanks to AirBnB finding an a beautiful place to stay  – fully equipped with patios and a hot tub on a budget – was super easy.

After to getting into town late Friday night, on Saturday morning the group made a bomb little breakfast and got to packing for our hike.  Several sandwiches, a few mixed drinks and some salacious snackables later and we were off, off and away for what turned out to be an intense but well worth it hike up Gray’s Peak Trail.   All together, the hike up Gray’s Peak is about Seven Miles each way with 1300′ to climb in elevation.  One thing we didn’t know beforehand, but damn well are sure of now: at about 8000′ in elevation is when people start toying with altitude sickness and at approximately 8300′ – at times, you could really tell that we weren’t in Kansas at sea level anymore.

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Even though the few websites we found on the hike claimed that it was great for kids, my friends and I can attest that those kids must be jacked up on Mountain Dew because we all had our collective asses handed to us.  There were a lot of fun ‘turnouts’ – if that’s what they’re even called if you’re not in a car – that got us to jump off the beaten path and forge our own trail, but in a respectful way – of course.  There were a few places with tiny streams, stemming from the base of the mountain and loads of little lizards running amuck every which way.  Near 8k’, you could tell that the trees were starting to be weathered under the altitude but that all changed when you got near the pinnacle, it literally felt like you’d walked through a portal and into Fern Gully.   There’s a couple things that make this a Summer hike in my book – like the incline and the potential weather, but it also turns out that the trailhead is closed for public use between December and April because it’s in the middle of a bald eagle wintering habitat area – how effing neat!

Packing Pro Tips

Make sure everyone has enough water, and a backpack between two people is perfect.  Layers, extra socks, hiking shoes cause you want your ankles.

Things I’ve learned as a novice hiker, but expert adventurer:

  • Cameras are always a must, sure your phone has one – but point and shoots are fun, too! Make sure you take at least one group photo before you head up the trail and into the sweat zone – yeah, now you get it.  Extra points if you remember to bring a collapsible tripod – you’ll really be your groups MVP, most valuable photographer.
  • Your phone has a compass on it, don’t be afraid to use it – but also, put that thing away and enjoy the hike!
  • Hydration is key, super key. Drinking and hiking is fun, but in the Summer it’s not the smartest – make sure you’ve got enough water for the walk up, and the walk back; plus, being more hydrated makes the drunk more fun – if you’re into that type of thing 😉
  • A bag per every two people is appropriate, that way you can also switch off with carrying duty – make sure you toss in some sammies and full bars for meals, and for snackables both nuts and dried fruit have a lot of protein.  Last, but not least if you’re weird like me and don’t really enjoy chewing – throw in a few ensures to top it off.
  • Everybody loves layers – especially for hikes.  Bring an change of socks in case you encounter water, shorts / pants depending on what you start off in and a hoodie.
  • Do a gut check with everyone before the hike starts and make sure everyone’s comfortable with the adventure ahead, you never know who’s in super great shape, or who might have some hesitations about an all day excursion.
  • Leaves of three, let them be. Poison Oak is no joke and usually it’s kept off the trail – if you’re like me and like to forge your own path, know what it looks like…or better yet, just wear pants.

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For more on Big Bear, head to their website or social channels:

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[LA Life] A Lunchtime Romp Along the LA River

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Los Angeles is a stunning landscape where you can cruise from coast to snow capped mountain and back to the desert in less than a day – if you really wanted to.  But did you know you don’t have to leave the city of Los Angeles to get a hearty dose of nature into your system?  Between Exposition Park, the Getty Getty VillaHuntington, Arlington and Descanso Gardens there are rolling acres of unique plants, flowers and trees in echo of habitats around the globe, and the multitudes of parks spread around the city like wildflowers preserve the natural landscape of Los Angeles.  Griffith Park is the second largest urban green space in California and the eleventh largest in the United States. And then there’s the LA River.

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Back in the day, long before I moved to Southern California – my parents told me an old adage about Los Angeles: LA, it’s where the rivers are paved and the streets aren’t.  Now, as a kid this statement made me laugh but for different reasons than it does now, because until I heard that ludicrous statement, it never once occurred to me that Los Angeles had a river that ran through it all.  Now, after almost a decade of living here, I can fully attest to the veracity of both sides of this absurd but accurate statement.

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Sprawling over 50 miles through the heart of Los Angeles, the LA River begins up in the Santa Susana Mountain Range, which stretches between the San Fernando and Simi Valleys. and flows into Long Beach. Over the last two decades, and in conjunction with the Friends of the LA River,  the city has decided to revitalize about 30 miles of the river and both bring back the ecology of the area and promote its biodiversity.  With multiple stops for river trail access, local recreation areas and riverfront parks, delicious restaurants as well as nearby metro stations – you could easily make a whole day out of gallivanting down the banks of the river while exploring true hidden gems of the city.

So far, I’ve only gallivanted along the paths in North East LA, but so far – so beautiful. There are several different bike paths that take you along the river in Frogtown, and if you bring good enough shoes you can even make it down to the banks and enjoy a little picnic in the middle of the city, relaxing as the river ripples along – bubbling up to say a little hello; just do yourself a favor and pack some sunscreen because bugs. There were several lush parks to take a pack lunch to, and with amazing sandwich shops like Wax Paper along the route how could you not? I highly recommend the Steve Julian. Now, I personally don’t know how to ride a bike – but the bike path by the LA River makes me damn well wish I did – plus, now that I know the Spoke Bike Cafe is just a hop, skip and a jump down the trail, I just might finally learn…one day ;).

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For more about the LA River Trail and all the amenities on the way, head to their website or social media pages:

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[LA Life] Frolic Among the Flowers at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

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Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Over the last year, my life has uncovered a bevvy of nuanced ways that it has to re-prioritize what’s important. Call it a quarter life crisis, or simply just growing up – but the things that used to sit on top of my pyramid of needs have reorganized themselves into a quieter, calmer lifestyle.  An avid audiophile through and through, when I pulled away from going to music festivals and concerts it was like I spearheaded an investigation into who I was at my core.  A daughter, a dreamer, a lover, a cat lady, a nature nymph, a very silly girl who cares very deeply about the world she cultivates around her. Two years ago, four years ago, ten years ago – I couldn’t escape the monotony of my home life enough:  living in Los Angeles, there is literally something to do at every second of every day, and I dove in head first, exploring new eats in new cities and musing around music festivals like it was my job, which eventually – it was.  At 23, it was the perfect lifestyle – at 28, still amazing; but as I cruise into the meat of my thirties, that’s just not what I want out of life at this current moment.

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What do I want? I want to be nurtured by nature, I want to analyze my psyche through the scope of the arts and I want to take things just a little more slowly, a little more sweetly.  Over the almost nine years that I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’ve watched as this self professed ‘City Kitty’ has evolved into more of a ‘Country Cat’.  I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Big Sur and Sequoia, breathing in the the crisp, clean air while I revel in the romanticism of the great outdoors. Though we’ve been in a major drought these last few years, major rains during this past Winter have done their part to change the lay of the land and bring some much needed water to the area – and the Springtime Southern California desert has responded in kind with the Super Bloom.

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Just a hop, skip and a jump up the 14 Freeway from Los Angeles lies the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.  Sitting right on the outskirts of Lancaster, and potentially one of the only valid reasons to go to Lancaster at all, the AV Poppy Reserve is surrounded by rolling hills and a sweeping skyline.  Part of the California National Park system, the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve spans 1,781 acres acres and boasts a wide variety of trails to take you from corner to corner of the park. The state natural reserve is located on the states best natural poppy bearing land. But, beyond the orange beauty of the California state flower, the Poppy Reserve and outlying areas are covered with luscious blue lupines, and yellow goldfields and cream cups.

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Though the Poppy Reserve is stunning, and boasts plenty of walkable trails – I found that the best Poppies were right on the side of the road.  With ample turnouts available from Castaic Lake all the way up to the Reserve, you could literally spend the entire afternoon staring into the soul of flowers.  And boy, do those flowers sing back.If you couldn’t get enough of the sprawling desert landscapes of Lancaster, the Arthur B Ripley Desert State Park is only about 8 miles West of the Poppy Reserve, and has plenty of wildflowers and juniper woodland, in addition to the area’s native Joshua trees.

For more of my photos from the Poppy Fields, check out my album here 🙂

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Southern California and plan your trip to the Poppy Reserve now! For more on the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, head to their website and social media channels –

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Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

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Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

[LA Life] Lunchtime Relaxation Along Echo Park Lake

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Arguably, one of the best things about Autumn and Winter in Southern California are that they feel like anything but.  Beyond an occasional fresh breath of brisk air around dusk, the sunshine is radiant, flowers are blooming around every corner and the parks around the city are bustling with an effervescent energy.  What I’ve discovered recently, is that no matter what part of Los Angeles you’re in – you’re never more than 10 minutes from a lovely and lush patch of park, if that.  And I would know – recently, I’ve started up (yet another) part time gig and it’s required me to be slightly more mobile than working from my home office, and I’ve found myself getting reacquainted with neighborhoods from Silver Lake to Echo Park, Los Feliz and Highland Park; mostly to do with the fact I’ve gotten lost more times than I’d like to admit.  One of the highlights to these recent roadtrips is roaming open space and breathing in the little treasures our city has to offer.

The great outdoors –  something that more often than not is taken for granted.  Did you know that for basically the entire time you’re working Monday through Friday, the sun is gallivanting through the sky, on a predictable yet beautiful path while it doles out showers of sunlight at every angle – even gracing us with technicolor beginnings and endings when we’re lucky enough to be in the right location?  Yet, for the most part – we’re inside, staring at a computer monitor, behind a desk, wearing a monkey suit and tap-tap-tapping away at our tasks until the sweet sensation of five o’clock rolls around.  Let’s be honest, that’s no way to live – so during lunchtime, do yourself a favor: get out, get moving, lap up some sun and reenergize your day the natural way.

Plants use sunlight do undergo photosynthesis, creating the oxygen that we breathe.  As humans, we don’t necessarily go through the same exact process – but sunlight clearly has it’s own set of health benefits.  Just a few minutes of sunlight has proven to improve mood by boosting levels of serotonin (have you ever visited Oregon in the Winter…?), and stimulating the body to produce Vitamin D, boosting health and the immune system. Plus, getting some exercise in the middle of your day is always a good call – a brisk walk might not be a run, but it’s not sitting on your ass at home, either.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been compiling a list of my favorite public spaces to plop into – and after several visits in the last few months, Echo Park Lake is slowly topping my list. First and foremost, there’s that spectacular view of the downtown skyline – it looks fantastic, especially with some clouds dotting the sky.  Then, there are loads of space on the luscious green grass skirting around the lake, while geese and duck gleefully flock around the park.  If you’re feeling adventurous, or a tad romantic – rent out a paddleboat for a spin on the lake!  Two points for you if you happened to paddle out to the floating library installation earlier this year, you’re the real MVP.  Though there’s no designated parking for Echo Park Lake, the outer rim of the lake offers a plethora of street parking – as do the surrounding neighborhoods.  The park has also accepted that we’re living in the 21st century and has it’s own WiFi for anyone trying to get some work done, or maybe just stream their music a little bit easier.

 

For more on Echo Park Lake, head to their social media channels – or just pay the park a leisurely visit.

Website | Facebook | Yelp 

[LA Life] Enjoy an Intellectual Double Date with the Natural History Museum and California Science Center

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Living in Los Angeles for the past eight years, you could say that I’m a bit spoiled from a cultural perspective – but to be honest, I really wouldn’t have it any other way.  This city eats, sleeps, breathes and oozes keen artistic history and introspection, with interest piqued around each and every corner.  No matter your age, or the last time you went, museums have the innate ability to inspire a sense of childlike wonder and amazement to come out and play.  From Contemporary Art to Modern Art, archaeology and cultural history – museums provide a birds eye view into the beauty of the past and an intelligent projection of the future. Plainly put – a day wasted at the museum is simply never a waste.  

Most museums in the area are essentially one stop shops – The Broad sits downtown and houses contemporary art, the Getty and Getty Villa are vast and stunning anthologies of history – but sit alone and secluded; but then there’s Museum Row in West Hollywood and the library of museums at Exposition Park, each home to several stunning venues of nuanced interest.  Museum Row plays host to the LACMA, the Tar Pits and it’s museum as well as the Craft Art Museum and Peterson Automotive Museum while Exposition Park houses the Natural History Museum, California Science Center, USC Fisher Museum of Art and the California African American Museum. Since I used to live near the Tar Pits, I’m a bit biased – and some could argue spoiled – so an adventure West didn’t really strike my fancy; but a double date with the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center? Sign this kitten up for a dichotomous day-adventure, stat!

Exposition Park sits in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, and is surrounded by the University of Southern California.  My friends and I know the area best for the incredible music concerts, Massives and raves held at LA Memorial Colosseum over the last decade like Electric Daisy Carnival, Camp Flog Gnaw, How Sweet It Is, Nocturnal Wonderland and so many more.  I don’t know whats more grown up than getting your knowledge on in the same place you got your PLUR on, so two points for us – at least. Spanning 160 acres, Exposition Park evolved from privately owned fairgrounds and a racetrack into a cultural center for young Los Angeles at the turn of the last century.

First things first, let’s talk some pro tips. The directions might tell you to enter the parking lot at Expo Park via Exposition, save yourself a headache and come in on Vermont with some cash, parking is $12 and they don’t accept credit cards. When visiting the Natural History Museum – save yourself some time by purchasing the tickets online; you can even do it while you’re waiting to get in.

World’s Largest Ammonite

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much for artistic museums, less the Getty Villa and some incredible architecture; but historical fossils and technological progress always find a way to pull at my heart strings. Hands down, my favorite part of the NHM is the Gem and Mineral Hall. Each corner of the room sparkles with a technicolor glow with vibrant greens and blues which don’t make sense as minerals, iridescent shimmers and even some stones from outer space.  Indoors you can wander and wonder through the Dinosaur Hall, American Mammal Hall, African Mammal Hall, Marsh environment and Insect and Bird exhibits.  If you take the adventure into the great outdoors, you’ll get a prime view of Expo Park’s esteemed Rose Garden (more on that later!), the edible garden and a pollinators garden; easily one of the most tranquil areas on the grounds.  In about three hours, we managed to meander through the entire breadth of the Natural History Museum, leaving no stone unturned (pun, slightly intended) – and with the perfect amount of time to visit our second stop!

The California Science Center is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Natural History Museum – providing a wonderful contrast to the artifacts that you were just musing over. Olus, it’s free to get in and explore – while certain flight simulators and IMAX movies will cost ya between $5 and $12..  There are ample learning centers around the building, but before I get into that: there are also a good amount of food options to choose from! Though the NHMLA does have a quick service deli and sit down restaurant on their bottom floor, their food was no match for the Science Center’s food court.  But, let’s get beyond our stomachs. The Cal Science Center eagerly explores global ecosystems and gets in a fair share of hands on learning.   Stand in the splash zone or explore tide pools, stand in the middle of a hurricane, play with sound waves and wrap your head around the capsules that we sent humans to space in for days at a time (they’re tiny!).All the museums in the area open at 10 in the morning and close at 5pm,  but it’s no reason to leave straight away.  Take a stroll through the historic Expo Park Rose Garden and stay for sunset, you can thank me later.

For more on the Natural History Museum Los Angeles, the California Science Center and the Exposition Park Rose Garden – check out their social channels.

Natural History Museum: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

California Science CenterWebsite | Facebook | Twitter 


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[LA Life] Get Your Culture On With Summer Happenings at The Broad

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As someone who admittedly understands most other forms of art – the written word, music, architecture, plays, musicals, theater, opera, film and dance – over the sculpted, drawn or painted variety, some of their mystique, culture and history had always escaped me.  But, the good news – I’m definitely not beyond reproach and have maintained both an open mind and heart to see what truly moves me.   Growing up in the Bay Area, we visited Science Museums, Botanical Gardens and open spaces from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, and all areas in between – but visiting a museum and looking at art was never in the cards.

Once I moved to Los Angeles and fully grasped how much culture was oozing out of the concrete jungle of our city, I started to get the itch for new and different types of art.  The LACMA, the Getty and the Getty Villa are all so unique in what they offer.  I’m a little biased because I was at the LACMA for the Tim Burton exhibit, but that was ghoulishly fantastic.  I find myself constantly drooling over the Grecian Architecture and landscaping of the Getty Villa, while the Gardens of the Getty are something entirely special to behold.  But the irony, was that I didn’t fall in love with art in Los Angeles.  I fell in love while I was in the South, in the depths of Arkansas on a work trip.  I’d done some remedial research before the flight and discovered the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art – a beautiful museum tucked deep into the town of Bentonville.  Beyond the stunning architectural design, this was the first time I was truly moved by Norman Rockwell’s canvases and Andy Warhol’s paintings.  Once I planted myself back in Los Angeles, I had a new outlook on the artistic endeavors around the city and as well as a new willingness to explore every niche genre of it.

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Ever since word got out last year that a new modern and contemporary art museum would be placed smack dab in the center of Downtown Los Angeles, I was intrigued at what they would have to offer Then, when the architectural design for the venue finally went up – I was absolutely enthralled.  So when I finally had the chance to visit The Broad with Danny this past weekend for their Nonobject(ive) Summer Happenings, I was over the moon excited and absolutely jumped at the chance.

The Broad, Los Angeles’ newest museum, opened just last September to fill some contemporary art chasm that vast amounts of local and street art couldn’t. Founded and funded by the esteemed Eli and Edythe Broad, the 120,000 square foot venue was immaculately designed by the combined brainpower of Renfro, Diller Scofidio and Gensler, and boasts over 2,000 prominent paintings and pieces of art distributed between it’s two floors of gallery space.   But when their Summer Happenings swing into bloom, the outdoor courtyard becomes transfixed into an open air concert venue with stunning acoustics against the textured exterior of the building while the insides are engaged in spoken word and performance art while attendees ebb and flow through the first special exhibition at The Broad, Cindy Sherman’s Imitation of LifeThough some of the performances this past weekend were a tad lacking – Sky Ferria’s DJ Set, I’m looking at you – it was a wonderful reason for my first visit.

Though I did enjoy bits and pieces of the museum, there was a large portion that felt like a multimedia smorgasborg and sensory overload. Swimming through troves of hipsters sipping on the latest fads and latest drinks, it was hard to actually get some breathing room regardless of if you were in the middle of the crowd during one of the many performance pieces or simply observing a piece of art.   As expected, the pop art from Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol colored me moved; but more than that, I also discovered new art and artists that I appreciated.

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I  found the emotive work of Jean-Michel Basquiat to be pulling at my heart strings, and I fell in love with the work of Takashi Murakami – both Of Chinese Lions, Peonies, Skulls, And Fountains as well as the detailed, grand and inspiring In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow (above). Standing 82′ in length, I could’ve spent an entire day analyzing the vibrant colors and intricacies within it. And who doesn’t adore neon, or vibrant, shiny, gigantically fake balloon animals – so, those were cool too, I guess.

The great thing about art, is it’s all subjective – the real question is: are you moved enough to feel – something, anything?  Maybe, just maybe, certain forms of art just aren’t my thing, maybe I need to go back on a day where I can move like molasses between rooms, taking ten, fifteen minutes to digest the art…or maybe I just wasn’t high enough; either, or. Whichever. The good news is that I’ll keep digesting the world around my like I’m at a buffet, and eventually – I’ll have my just desserts.

If you’re interested in getting attending the Nonobject(ive) Summer Happenings, you have two chances left! Tickets for the penultimate event on 8/20 with Rostam and Sparkle Vision are available here.  The final showing lands on September 24th with Sophie and Vessel, tickets go on sale August 15th. Or, if you’d like a more laidback and relaxed visit, visit online and reserve your spot. Admission is free to the general public unless there’s a special event, but that wait list is legendary.

For more about The Broad Museum and their contemporary collection of art, head to their site and socials –

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



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[LA Life] Revel in Monkey Town’s Evolved Dining + Entertainment Experience

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Beyond being daring, bold, engaging or thought provoking – being ‘different’ is good for you, while experiencing and entertaining different endeavors is healthy for the psyche. When we experience something outside of our social norms, we evolve, we push the limits of our own comfort zones and passionately pursue unique creative endeavors, avenues and adventures in the process.

When I moved to Los Angeles back in 2008, almost eight years ago to the day, it was because I found meaning in the pseudo glamorous glow of the neon lights and late nights of Hollywood, melding minds with the like-minded and lost souls, twin and triple flames chasing shots and dreams.  For the last eight years, I’ve delved headfirst into the entertainment industry any way I could, from modeling to movies, beauty blogs and music festival PR; after eight years, I’ve seen a lot, but I’ve also seen a lot of the same thing – so when I hear about something different in this town, I take notice. Back in May, I noticed an article from the LA Weekly about ‘Monkey Town‘; after chuckling at the name for a minute and letting the click bait sink into the back of my brain, I couldn’t resist reading more.  And I’m so glad I did!

 

What exactly is Monkey Town?   Think Dinner and a Show on steroids or Dinner Theater: The Next Generation with 40 of your new best friends and a 5 star meal. At Monkey Town, you’ll dine on an expertly cooked, and wine paired, meal from none other than chef Nick Montgomery of Osso fame while submerging yourself inside a four walled cube where you’ll experience a handful of short films like you’ve never experienced film before.  The movies range from immersive and nature laced to ironic and introspective –  and everything in between. Plus, the musical accompaniment switches biweekly, and provides a perfect stage to showcase locally loved and underground talent.

My experience at Monkey Town puts the evening on par with the excellence of Cirque du Soleil.  Though both enterprises are completely different shows, the former being a five star, five course dinner, live entertainment and a nearly 360° audio visual experience while the later is a breathtaking adventure into aerial arts, body contortion and the human relationship, their immersive ethos and next level creativity are unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  And if there was ever an option to experience the two events back to back – mark my words, I’ll be the first to sign up.  My chances of that happening are unfortunately slim to none, as I’ve heard the LA leg is Monkey Town’s final tour.  So, if you live in Southern California or plan on passing through the Los Angeles area this Summer, snag your tickets for this one of a kind experience right now.

Purchase Tickets Here

For more on Monkey Town and their three month pop up dining experience in Los Angeles, head to their website and socials.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter