Category Archives: Los Angeles

[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] Lunchtime Libations at the LACMA

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Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Moving to a new city after college is equal parts exhilarating and exhausting, it’s a fresh start for a mature mind and a time and place when one truly comes into their own.  The sights, sounds, and even smells surrounding you become synonymous with your new life as you breathe in the sunshine and the nightlife day after day.  From live concerts, music festivals, and food trucks to the museums, art galleries and art walks, Los Angeles offers a little bit of everything for the creative spirit. Here we have me, eight years in and a bit stagnant, for lack of a better word.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy what the city has to offer, but live here – or really anywhere – for long enough and you’ll  begin to take the things that initially made your city so grand for granted.  Unique locations like Hollywood and Highland, Venice, and Santa Monica lose their glittering grandeur and you’ll begin to curse the overcrowded freeway system instead of being enthralled by the distance from the snow to the sand, or the multitudes of live music venues and museums scattered around each and every nook of town. The arts offer us emotional relief and right now with everything going on politically it’s more important than ever that we all support our local galleries and museums.

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Art and I have slowly but surely been coming to terms with each other. A self professed audiophile and lover of the arts, some specific fine arts like painting, portraiture, sculpting and drawing have been slow but sure to tickle my fancy in recent years.  The more I see that the art world isn’t just full of lackluster landscapes and stuffy old people in silly clothing, but enamored scenes, surreal sculptures and peculiar pieces – the more I’ve come around.  It’s taken a while to figure out which museums I should visit and which I might want to avoid, but the LACMA has a bit of everything for all, and amazing architecture to boot.

Initially part of the menagerie of museums at Exposition Park that were established in 1910, the LACMA broke off from the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in 1961 to give proper focus to the fine arts at a separate location and they opened their doors to the public back in 1965.  Now celebrating over fifty years of the arts, the LACMA currently sits on twenty sprawling acres of land in the Miracle Mile area and has been a staple of artistic culture in Los Angeles ever since. Boasting a collection of over 130,000 works ranging from ancient art and antiquity to the contemporary art of now, the LACMA stands proudly as the West Coast’s largest art museum.

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Located on a conjoined lot with the Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, the LACMA complex consists of eight separate buildings and a sprawling green lawn, perfect for picnics.  The Ahmanson Building houses the Art of the Pacific, the Rifkind Gallery for German Expressionists,  Islamic, Asian and European Art, and Art of the Ancient World which is also hosted in the Hammer Building along with Korean and Chinese Art.  The Pavilion for Japanese Art and Art of the Americas buildings need no further introduction while the Broad Contemporary Art Museum boasts paid exhibits, such as the Piacsso and Rivera Exhibition ‘Conversations Through Time’, an oddly immersive exhibit on the first floor and several areas devoted to contemporary collections.

 

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

For the multitudes of art that I find myself enamored by inside the LACMA, there are an equal number of awe inspiring architectural marvels and sculptures scattered around the grounds.  One of the most popular is the ‘Levitated Mass’on the Fairfax side of the park, and the La Brea Tar Pits make for a fun history lesson, irregardless of your age.  Not to mention, the Pavilion for Japanese Art oozes with incredible design that winds and weaves up and into the sky.

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

 

Open during the week from 11 to 5pm and weekends from 10 to 7, the LACMA has some fantastic food options. For lunch, there are always a bevvy of food trucks right across the way from the LACMA as well as some wonderful options within walking distance, including The Grove, and the Beverly + Fairfax Area.  For a grab-and-go lunch on site, head to the LACMA Cafe,  But if you’re down to lounge lavishly on the patio and people watch in comfort, then head on down to Roy’s and the Stark Bar. Yes, it’s a bit on the pricy side – but why not just pop in for a tasty beverage and a few sharable plates?  My recommendation is an Urban Light drink with their Yellowtail Crudo, and then thank me later.

For more on the LACMA, head to their socials – or take a leisurely stroll into Los Angeles’ magical Miracle Mile area and see the museum for yourself.

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Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

[LA Life] Say Yay to Snow Days!

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Halfway between a creature of habit and victim of circumstance are a multitude of reasons that I’ve barely ever visited the snow.  Growing up as a swimmer in the Bay Area, I loved the sun and water more ways than I could count; while on family vacations we constantly favored beautiful beaches with their sandy waves over the glistening snow-capped mountains.  I barely ever made it to the snow as a child and can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen it in person.  Not to mention, I can be quoted as saying “I’m a Image may contain: tree, snow and outdoor‘Hawaii’ kind of girl” more times than I can count, because bless my parents – they still like to remind me of all those years before I turned into such a nature nymph. To them, it’s any wonder that I’ve turned from a self-professed city kitty into a rough(er) and tumble(r) snow bunny, but here I am – ready for business, and by business I mean nature-inspired personal pleasure.

One of the many, many fantastic things about living in Los Angeles (Southern California…and just California in general),  is that on any given day you can make a trip to the sand or a trip to the snow; if you’re feeling frisky, you can even get a delightful dose of both! Beach days, though beautiful, are proverbially a dime a dozen in the land of palm trees, blue skies and power lines and let’s get real – everyone flocks to the sandy shores: your housemates, your neighbor, your landlord, celebrities and vacationers all come for the beach – which makes hitting those pearly slopes significantly sweeter.  There are near trips and far trips, day trips and trips you should probably make a whole weekend out of. Don’t quote me on exact travel times because, HELLO Los Angeles traffic, but if you’re in the mood for a fantastic day trip – Mt Baldy and the defunct Mt Waterman Ski Lifts make for excellent treks and are just an hour outside of LA proper in the San Gabriel Mountains, while Big Bear in the San Bernadino National Forest is a little over two hours away.  If you’re feeling like an adventure is in the works, Sequoia National Forest is a few hours away and makes for an epic Winter weekend journey.

Pack + Play

For as fun as a snow day is, being fully prepared for your snow day will make things go a hell of a lot smoother (and, warmer!). First things first, make sure you have enough hydration and nutrition to last the day – and then some.  Make some sandwiches, grab some snacks get a good combination of both salty and sugary foods; in case anyone’s body starts going into a bit of shock – it’ll bring them right back! When it comes to water, even though the weather might be a big frightful and frigid, it doesn’t mean your body isn’t working overtime – especially if you head out on a hike.  Make sure you have twice as much as you think you need, and enough for any pups (or, brave cats!) that are along for the ride. Just like in the movie Shrek, when it comes to clothes in the cold – it’s all about layers, so snag a scarf, get a beanie, and a hoodie – or two; if you’ve got fur, this is the perfect time to rock it.  Because of the nature of snow, if you’ve got waterproof pants, socks and or shoes, bring ’em out. Basically, waterproof everything is a plus – GoPro, iPhone 7, you name it – it’s perfect for the snow.  Also, booze…responsible boozing also makes the snow a whole lot more fun.


[LA Life] Get Lit at the Descanso Gardens This Holiday Season

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I’ve been known to gush about the plethora of wonderful parks, gardens and green areas in Los Angeles – so when I found out that the Descanso Gardens was hosting an illuminated evening befit with lights from every direction – I was all ears and eyes.  In tandem with the LA Zoo Lights event, the fabled Descanso Gardens in Altadena is joining in the fun – creating their own Enchanted Forest for the holiday season.  During the day, the sprawling landscape of Descanso consists of a Lilac Garden, a Japanese Garden, California Natives and a sprawling 5 acre rose garden – and at night  for the next four weeks, it’s transformed into a whimsical wonderland with expertly curated and interactive exhibits.

 

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Daytime at Descanso

Technically, hypothetically – it’s helpful if you and your crew acquire your tickets ahead of time but I’ve discovered that anything is possible the day of, especially if you put your mind to it.  If you’re into planning, tickets for the Enchante Forest can be purchased either online or in person at the Descanso Gardens during normal operating hours. Tickets for the Enchanted Forest event run about$30 for weekends through their official website, but I found a discount link through a company called Goldstar for only $21 for as long as tickets last.  Each ticket is timed to a specific entry time, and you’re allowed to enter at any point after and stay until close at 10pm.

Purchase Tickets to Enchanted Forest

As a warning, it gets packed – not to the brim, but you should know that to get in, there’s only one line; it moves fast, but it gets pretty lengthy by the end of the night. There are several bars inside that give generous pours, and some snacks and winteresque drinks like apple cider and hot chocolate.  Perfect for a date night, family night or just a night out on the town with friends getting a dose of something a little different in their lives.

For more on the Enchanted Forest + Descanso Gardens, head to their social media channels:

Facebook | Website | Instagram | Yelp

1418 Descanso Dr

 La Canada Flintridge, CA

 

 

 

[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] Can You Outwit The Escape Room?

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For the last four years, I’ve worked my job from home – which definitely has an equivalent amount of both perks and problems.  On the plus side, I can work from anywhere with a WiFi signal, or from home on my front yard in a bikini, or with my cats in the comfort of my apartment and my pajamas.  Conversely, some days I have almost no social contact and end up talking to the cashier at Trader Joe’s about our cats for twenty minutes because I JUST NEED HUMAN CONNECTION.  So when Disney tells me to come in for the day and do some team building exercises with the entire department, I jump at the opportunity and eat it up like hot cakes.  Well, at least 95% of the time.  We’ve done personality workshops and have volunteered with local shelters…but when I found out we would be doing an Escape Room – my heart skipped a beat or three.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the movie Saw too much (highly possible) or my anxiety was just running away with itself (equally possible), but my initial reaction included thinking “Hell to the no, how can I get out of it?!”  I don’t talk about it much, maybe even at all except to Danny and my family, but I get anxiety, and lots of it. Anxiety over small things, anxiety over big things, anxiety over past actions and future endeavors.  My mind is creative, vast, deep, imaginative – and it tends to run away with itself at times, like the Escape Room.  Being stuck in a room with hypothetically close quarters and people on other teams that I wasn’t as familiar with struck an anxious chord in my body that I couldn’t shake.  After some excellent convincing by teammates, friends and Danny – I put on my big girl pants and saddled up for the ride.

There are multiple variations of the Escape Room around Los Angeles like The Exit Game, The Basement  and Countdown Escape Room, each with their own tricks and treats. Some seem a tad more sinister or brooding than others, but the one we went to reminded me more of Da Vinci Code mixed with some CSI than anything else.  The  Escape Room in Downtown Los Angeles was a pleasant experience that I would actually do over, over and over again.  A mix of problem solving ingenuity and being able to think outside the box while trapped inside a box, the Escape Room was befit with four incredibly different rooms.  The Detective and The Theatre transport you back in time,  while The Cavern  and The Alchemist transport you to another place altogether.

As we descended into downtown Los Angeles, my nerves started getting the best of me – I’m incredibly thankful that I have solid friends that surround me that know how to calm me down.  Plus, you technically only have an hour to outwit the design – after that, you’re released from the room regardless!  As we separated into teams, I tried to translate my anxiety into excitement – because let’s face it, this was about to get fun. My team was assigned to The Alchemist, and once inside the room, I kind of went from 0 to 100 real quick – but in the best of all possible ways.  I think in patterns and have a keen ability to recognize them immediately, not to mention thanks to shows like Law and Order and CSI, I was always under the impression that I’d be a pretty kickass, problem solving detective and after kicking ass and taking names with my team – I actually have some foundation for that claim.  Each room contains hidden clues that need to be unlocked in succession, some of it is cryptography – some of it is ingenuity, but it’s all an amazing amount of brain power, team work and fun.  Though we didn’t get allll the way through, we were damn close – plus our room only had a 18% success rate. The Escape Room was the perfect ploy for team building in an extra special setting.  Games run $30 a participant during the week, and $35 on the weekends.


We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the rooms, so besides what was on the website -there aren’t any- plus, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone that might fancy a game! For more on the Escape Room LA, or to reserve a room for you and your squad – head to their website or socials:

Website | Book a Room | Yelp