The Intersection Of Art & Architecture Is In Culver City

Featured

Culver City - MODAA

The Museum of Design Art & Architecture and Gallery is dedicated to exploring the symbiotic kinship between art and architecture through its mixed-use facilities, and by an on-going series of cutting edge exhibitions.

Along the ground floor are the offices of Studio Pali Fekete Architects (SPFA), the architects of the building, as well as a cafe/wine bar and the MODAA gallery. Upstairs, seven live and work residences span the entire length of the structure, housing two principal architects and six independent businesses. Although the project is relatively new, it has rapidly asserted itself as a focal point for the architecture community in Southern California.

Past shows include “Jerrold E. Lomax: The First 80 Years,” “Australia Contemporary: Aboriginal Art + Modern Architecture” and “Out Of Plane — Light On White.” Exhibitions tend towards the inventive, futuristic and whimsical. Get on the mailing list for some lively receptions. For Hours and Directions

L.A.’s Hidden Hot Spot for Spicy Food

Featured

Restaurant Zam Zam

Forget about ambiance….this place has none. What it does have is the freshest, yummyiest, most authentic and least expensive Pakistani cuisine in the city. A classic hole-in-the-wall specialty market, they virtually conceal the fact that it’s also a restaurant. No menu either, it’s whatever they’re cooking that day, that is what you eat. You definitely need to call them ahead of time to make sure they have what you like (if you’re choosy), and enough of it. I believe they make biryani only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

 

Some like it hot…if that’s the way you like your meal, raging spicy hot, stop here. Their biryani (spiced rice with chicken or beef, lentils, and onions) is something to write home about. Their chicken tikka – you haven’t eaten chicken tikka unless you’ve had Zam Zam’s!

 

Finally, the naan and fragrant, spicy shish kabobs are simply out of this world….do yourself and your stomach a favor.

 

Caveat: it’s easy to drive by and miss this place, the sign is tiny and worn. So note the street address carefully! Click here for directions

The Boutique Rebellion Lives Here

Featured

W. Hollywood - Melrose Avenue

Melrose Av. is the outlandish rebellious teen to Rodeo Drive’s exceedingly mature, conventional and opulent adult. It’s a funky, New Wave, walking/shopping/dining/ spectacle for people-watching, both beguiling and bizarre.

 

The street is in a perpetual, ephemeral state of quasi-demented one-upmanship of hipness and business turnover that range from trendy boutiques to tatoo shops dressed up in flamboyant day-glo hues and neon signs, not to mention both creative and creepy business names like “Humphrey Yogurt,” “A Star is Worn,” “Retail Slut,” “Wacko,” and “Warbabies”.

 

Melrose can also entertain with quirky cafes, comedy clubs, night spots, record stores, nostalgia shops, books, jewelry, and antiques.

 

Some say that Melrose Av. is losing a bit of its “edge”. Still, it continues to produce a hearty fringe element in the area of design, fashion, and business concepts. Directions here

The Ultimate Urban Refuge

Featured

Palisades - Lake Shrine LAPalisades - Lake Shrine

A walker and flora/fauna lover’s dream in the city, this 10 acre prized piece of paradise is a former movie set arranged around a large spring-fed lake. In 1950 it was converted into a spiritual sanctuary when the land was bought by the Self-Realization Fellowship “Church of All Religions”. SRF was founded by Paramahansa Yogananada.

Placed discreetly around the lake are statues, waterfalls, fountains, grottos, lush gardens immaculately landscaped, and a windmill which houses a chapel. The windmill chapel hosted former Beatle George Harrison’s funeral service in 2001.

The lake is home to swans, ducks, koi, and lotus flowers. The grounds include the Ghandi World Peace Memorial, where a portion of Gandhi’s ashes is enshrined, a small museum with exhibits on Paramahansa Yogananda’s work, a gift shop with arts and crafts from India, and the Lake Shrine Temple.

Truly this is a rare refuge of stunning beauty and tranquility one must experience. Go here for hours & directions

Room With A Tree, & Caribbean Cuisine

Featured

Restaurant Caribbean Treehouse

Do not adjust your computer screen…there is a real tree bursting from the floor and thrusting through the ceiling of this small but festive and funky Caribbean eatery. That’s not something you see every day.

On weekends, they serve a dish called the Sparrow Special – give it a whirl if you happen to be there at that time. It’s composed of chopped salt codfish with sauteed onion and tomato, boiled cassava, plantains, and “dumplings” which are essentially baked pieces of dough. For you “spiceaholics,” owner Carol makes her own hot sauce that will have your taste buds doing jumping jacks.

For an invigorating beverage, try out the delicious Caribbean favorite known as Sorrel, which they make fresh here. Sorrel is an herb from a slender plant that tastes like a cross between hibiscus and strawberry when made into a drink.

With Calypso music blaring joyfully from the sound system, the atmosphere is ideal for social and happy occasions. Go here for hours and directions

Free Ticket to Korea (No TSA Shakedown)

Featured

Korean Cultural Center2

This simple yet elegant, serene center serves as a heritage house for the 100,000+ Korean community in Los Angeles. The rich traditions and culture of Korea manifest through a variety of expression here, from permanent exhibitions of textiles and objets d’art to ongoing rotations of calligraphy, folk art, and photographs.

Cinematic programs of Korean content are featured the last Thursday of each month. Performance events are held throughout the year in the building auditorium, such as Korean traditional music and dance, plays, lectures, and educational seminars.

For those who wish to learn about the culture more experientially, the center offers classes in Korean language, history, music and dance. For Hours and Directions

A Perfect Day for the Beach Bike Path

Featured

Marvin Braude Bike Path

The bike path that straddles the beach from Pacific Palisades through Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach, ending in Torrance is also known as The Strand and Marvin Braude Bike Trail. The path is a virtually flat, paved, 22 mile long breezy pedal along the beach, with a circuitous route around the bay and flood channel bordering Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey. At the channel it connects with the Ballona Creek bike path, which terminates in Culver City.

Stunning visuals of the beach and ocean, combined with the scent of cleaner air, make for an invigorating ride. Have plenty of water and some snacks in tow; if you forget to bring, there are dozens of stores and cafes along the route. See more beach activities here

New Ice Cream Flavors to Savor

Featured

Restaurant Cool Haus0

Coolhaus made a reputation for themselves with homemade, all-natural ice cream sandwiches delivered by adorably-designed food trucks (by Fred Flintstone?) across the city. They use fresh, local, and organic ingredients whenever possible, scooped and lodged between two cookies. It is a revelation to cool the palate with their creamy mint chip ice cream and savor real mint flavor, as if the leaves were just picked, dried,  and crumpled into the recipe.

The names and flavor combos can be mind-jarring, e.g. Red Velvet, Whiskey Lucky Charms, Beer & Pretzels... Others sound a bit more sobering, like Lemon Ginger (ginger cookie and lemon ice cream), Oatmeal Cinnamoneo (oatmeal cookie and cinnamon ice cream), Coconut Almond, and Chocolate Truffle Banana.

Now that Coolhaus has a fixed retail store location, their selections have expanded exponentially, and the boldly inventive combos flourish even more so. Non-dairy, gluten-free, and Vegan options are also available.  Find the store here

Samosas & Bollywood in the House

Featured

Restaurant Samosa House1

This Indian grocery store-cum-vegetarian cafe has been the go-to market over 25 years for West Side seekers of Indian food. Also an outlet of a spice importing and distribution company called Bharat Bazaar, they roast and grind spices on site (and package some for sale).

Three years ago it expanded from a makeshift back-of-the-store deli counter into an eat-in or takeout cafe. The samosas are justifiably famous. The filling is traditional — potatoes and peas — but the seasoning! Fresh roasted spices make the difference; the flavor is bold and full-bodied but not spicy hot. Each order comes with house-made mint and tamarind chutneys.

Recently the buffet menu at Samosa House has expanded to include hotter fare for the palate from south India like Uttapom, a pancake loaded up with onion and chili, complemented by three side dishes for just $6.99.

To complete the feast for the senses are the endlessly looping and entertaining Bollywood productions shown on the overhead monitors. Directions and hours

FREE Entry, Every Tuesday in September

Featured

Exposition Park - Museum of Natural History1

The dinosaur rules this museum the way they ruled the Earth for 185,000,000 years. The recently opened exhibition is considered one of the world’s best. Every bone was meticulously pieced together from disparate excavation sites to re-create a real size skeletal facsimile of four species of dinosaurs. Fossil displays leave clues as to what behaviors these massive creatures implemented to survive as long as they did. The work put into designing and curating the new Dino Hall is truly impressive.

The Mammal Hall was just renovated and features some clever interactive components that kids old and young will adore. Insects (including a separate building known as the Spider Pavilion), birds, Native American artifacts, and a room highlighting California history round out what should be a fascinating three hour adventure at the museum. Hours + Directions

Best Little Ethiopian Restaurant Not In Little Ethiopia

Featured

Restaurant Awash

This place will appear closed from the outside, and looks diminutive on the inside with just ten tables and a bar, but it’s always filled with regulars who seem to know each other. No wonder. The wait staff is incredibly friendly and will make you feel right at home, as they serve up some of the best Ethiopian fare around. This cozy eatery more than holds its own against the best of Fairfax Avenue’s Little Ethiopia, without the parking headaches.

Ingredients are fresh and well prepared. As a plus to “sour pusses,” the Injera bread has less of a sourdough taste. If you’re vegetarian, the combo plate of yummy lentils, potatoes, spinach, salad, etc. is a top choice and will stuff at least two tummies at the table. Some veggies are potently spiced, but a heavy dollop of rice is there to avoid a lingering burn. Fish could be added to this combo as well.

The secondary alternative is the beef alitcha tibbs which have a juicy, buttery sauce mounted by heaps of fresh garlic and ginger. It’s a tamer dish spice-wise and very delicious, though a bit “awash” in oil.

 

Overall, this is the quintessential neighborhood restaurant for the Ethiopean ex-pat community; coming here is not only gastronomically satifying, it’s a cultural experience. For directions, go here

Weekend Hikers: Don’t Overlook Parker Mesa Overlook

Featured

Palisades - Parker_Mesa_Overlook

Getting to this spectacular overview of the Southern California coastline requires some strenuous hiking on your part. You will be richly rewarded, first by the very lush upward sloping Los Liones Trail, bordered by canyons carpeted in bright green ivy. Sneak peeks of the L.A. basin and the ocean along the way lead to a plateau with sweeping views of Century City, Downtown L.A. and the San Gabriel Mountains to the east, the ocean to the west. Rabbits and occasionally deer are critters spotted while on this trail.

The plateau is a junction for Paseo Miramar Road going down to your right, and the East Topanga Fire Road Fire Road ascending to your left. Expect to encounter other hikers and mountain bikers coming up from Paseo Miramar. Prepare for a relentlessly uphill 1,250 foot elevation gain via the fire road, taking you to the consummate view at the Overlook. About 8 miles from the trailhead to the Overlook round trip, plan on 4.5 – 6 hours time.

Another great, less time-consuming option is a full moon hike to the plateau (2 hours max). For directions, go here  

Only Westside Acu-Clinic Open 7 Days/Week

Featured

Yo-San U

Whether you’re traveling cross-town or from overseas, aches, pains and strains can accumulate from daily normal activities (or lack thereof).

Yo-San is a community-oriented clinic that provides hands-on experience for Yo-San University students. Each intern is closely supervised by a highly trained licensed acupuncturist and/or Doctor of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) to treat the public, with never more than a few minutes of wait time.

For the patient, Yo-San acupuncture can be an inexpensive, effective treatment for pain or sluggish energy. TCM will address not just symptoms but root causes such as poor blood circulation, stagnant digestion, even emotional/stress factors.

After a session you may want to invest in some medicinal herbs for a current condition, as preventive maintenance, and/or to optimize your immune system. For contact information, click here

“The Manor”: Part of L.A. Theater History

Featured

B.H. Greystone Mansion3

Greystone Park and Mansion in Beverly Hills, with its impeccably landscaped English gardens, spectacular views of the city, and Tudor-style architecture, was the estate of oil tycoon Edward R. Doheny. A fictionalized story by Kathrine Bates has become a summer theatrical fixture, retelling the family tragedy of Doheny’s involvement in the Teapot Dome scandal and his son’s murder.

Theatre 40’s critically-acclaimed, iconic drama of history, mystery, mayhem, and intrigue, returns to the scene of the original crime. Audiences are again snooping behind actors through several ornately decorated rooms of Greystone’s first floor as murder, madness and murky secrets are revealed. Its memories of past enigmas make Greystone an ideal summer destination for a grand performance of “The Manor.”

Back for a record 11th consecutive year, “The Manor” continues as one of the most dynamic productions in L.A. theater history.

WHEN: August 15-16, 29-30 @ 6 pm; 17, 31 @ 1 pm

WHERE: Greystone Park, 905 Loma Vista Drive, Beverly Hills

MORE INFO: Click here   

Best Falafels & Pastries in Historic Little Armenia

Featured

 

 

 

Restaurant Falafel Arax Hollywood - Little Armenia Sasoun Bakery

The birthplace of the Armenian community in L.A., Little Armenia covers an area of East Hollywood, bordered by Hollywood Blvd. between Vermont Av. and the 101 freeway to the north, extending to Santa Monica Blvd. going south, Vermont and Harvard east to west. Unlike L.A.’s Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Ethiopia, and Little Tehran, it is not overwhelmingly Armenian in character. Thai Town makes a highly visible overlap on Hollywood Blvd. from the west, and Latino businesses are noticeable as well.

The name “Little Armenia” was officially christened by the city in 2000, to reflect the large Armenian population and hundreds of highly visible Armenian businesses within this area. You can find just about anything Armenian here, from restaurants and churches to auto mechanics and doctors.

St. Garabed Church is the place of prayer for the vast majority of Armenians living in Hollywood. Located on Alexandria Avenue, it was constructed in 1978. The church is across the street from the Pilibos Armenian School.

A visit to the Arax Sandwich Shop is mandatory for the best falafel sandwich plate in the city, and for pastry patrons give Sasoun Bakery a whirl.

Best Pakistani Food? Among Radiator Repair Shops!

Featured

Restaurant Al-Watan1

A nondescript property adjacent to a butcher shop on a boulevard known for radiator repair shops, Al-Watan is an anomaly in the elite world of superior cuisine. Some of the most vividly smoky tandoor-cooked meats you will ever taste can be found here.

Spicy, meaty kebobs inflected by the flavors of ginger, cardamom and chilis, come to fruition in a clay oven (always essential), leaving a strong imprint. King among the stews is Haleem beef, braised with shredded wheat until it breaks down into a thick gravy with the flavor of well-browned roast-beef drippings.

As meaty as Al-Watan is, even vegetarians are gratified here: Navratan Korma is a mixture of cauliflower, green beans, and carrots stir-fried with chili and plenty of spices. This is akin to a wonderful Pakistani ratatouille, the flavors of each vegetable fresh and distinct while contributing to the cumulative effect of the cumin-scented whole.

Al-Watan is a peak performer of Pakistani food, acknowledged by many as the best restaurant of its genre in L.A.! For more about Al-Watan and other eclectic L.A. dining, look here

No Rush Hour Traffic

Featured

Culver City - Ballona Creek Bike Path1

There is no better way to skirt congested street traffic between Culver City and the beaches than a car-free pedal along a flood channel.

The bike path starts at Syd Kronenthal Park in eastern Culver City and stretches about 7 miles to link with the ocean bike path going from Santa Monica to Manhattan Beach in the South Bay.

The ride is almost all flat and especially peaceful in the morning, with glimpses of wetland birds as you approach the beach. Recent improvements have added some native plants to the scenery. However, there are parts of it that may have some bumps, cracks, stones, and graffiti. Occasionally, there are some shady characters lurking in the shadows below overpasses; best to ride with someone, or a group. The path is well maintained the closer you get to the beach.

For more activities around L.A., go here

Venice Beach Zip Line Opens Today

Featured

Venice Zip Line0 Venice Zip Line1 Venice Zip Line2a
Three 750-foot long zip lines that reach a height of 50 feet opened today at Venice Beach for a scheduled three-month test run.

The lines stretch from Windward Plaza to 17th Avenue and the excursion takes about 40 seconds to complete, ending at a landing tower 30 feet high. In true Venetian style, at least 10 local artists will add their touches on site. The thrill ride will give a unique though blurred view that Venice Boardwalkers have missed to date, and contribute revenue to the considerable clean-up operations required for the beach.

Requirements to Ride The Zip Line: Minimum Weight is 60lbs (27kg) Maximum Weight, 250lbs (113kg) Anyone wishing to ride must have their weight verified by a scale before ticket purchase. There is also a maximum height limit of 6 feet 7 inches due to clearance requirements of the ride structure.

Age Restrictions: There are no age restrictions, although riders under 18 must have their parent/legal guardian sign the waiver. All riders or guardians must present ID to verify age at 18 years or over.

Hours & Tickets:  Open from 11 am to sunset and cost $20 per rider ($18 for transit pass holders). The ticket office is across from the zip line’s landing deck south of Windward on Ocean Front Walk.

Your Opinion: Are these towers going to present an eyesore for Venice Beach? Will shrieking zip liners be a noise nuisance? Is this new attraction an exciting addition to the beach environment? Comments are welcome!

More eclectic attractions in L.A. Made Easy

A Sunset High

Featured

Hotel - Erwin Rooftop sunset0Hotel - Erwin RooftopHotel - Erwin Rooftop sunset view

Perched atop the Hotel Erwin overlooking the ocean, “High” is the peak Venice Beach open-air lounge experience, where the nightly sunset is the headlining act.

“High” makes the most of its prime location and delivers an exhilarating spectacle, nearly 360 degree views of the city, from famed Venice Beach and the Boardwalk at its feet to the Hollywood Sign and Downtown L.A. behind. The attitude is casual, the design contemporary and comfortable. A mix of tourists and locals mingle to sample a menu of premium handcrafted cocktails, artisan beers, and selected wines. The food offerings include lobster rolls, bacon cheeseburger sliders, mini-kebobs, and a thickly textured guacamole.

This is the place to relax, replenish, and be revitalized by the cooling, breezy ventilation of the ocean, and the visual stimulation of a flaming yellow ball descending to the horizon. For more about great L.A. attractions, go here

Something New Brewing Downtown

Featured

Downtown - Angel City Brewery1a

In 2013, Downtown L.A. welcomed its first and only brewery. After massive restoration of a 100-year-old Art Deco brick building that includes the original floor tile work in the lobby, Angel City added a wavy moustache-shaped bar to serve its crafted suds to thirsty after work and nightlife-seeking patrons. Staging of special events, from art openings to music CD release parties and Taco Tuesdays, occur with regularity; food trucks convene in front and carry-in food is permitted. And, an on-site retail store offers basic essentials.

A perpetually rotating selection of old school, small batch, crafted beers is poured from the tap, with several exclusively available at the brewery. Tours are arranged by appointment to walk you through the brewing process and the historical context of the building.

Angel City’s unabashedly funky warehouse presence brings a cool, casual, and lively dimension to the burgeoning Renaissance of Downtown L.A. For more new L.A. discoveries go here  

The Art of Making Scents

Featured

Downtown - Inst. for Art & Olfaction“The Institute for Art and Olfaction aims to instigate greater engagement with the art and science of scent.” Such is the mission statement fashioned by founder and native Angeleno Saskia Wilson-Brown. She had an extensive background in media production and distribution before trading it in to pursue her newly-acquired passion for perfumery, and scents in general.

Saskia discovered that places to study perfumery were nonexistent, or required affiliation with a company sponsoring an academic program in order to be admitted. In addition, the creation of scents are shrouded in secrecy prior to being patented. “A few secret multinationals run by an army of chemists create most of the perfumes,” she notes.

From a studio which is part laboratory, part classroom, and event space, she engages participants with all things related to the art of making scents, encouraging experimentation. Programs encompass hands on workshops, residencies, and special projects that integrate various disciplines from scientific data to art. Collaborative efforts are developed between perfumers, scientists and other creative practitioners.

The intent is to expand the world of scent beyond traditional boundaries of appreciation and use, elevating the art, science, and philosophical discourse of olfaction. No other public institutions in the western U.S. to support the practice. Go here for more about eclectic L.A.

FREE SUMMER WESTSIDE JAZZ FEST CONTINUES TOMORROW

Featured

The Promenade

It seems a bit paradoxical that a frenetic outdoor shopping mall bordering one of the world’s busiest freeways be named after a recluse. While Howard Hughes would never have showed up among legions of mall maniacs, there is much to lure both shoppers and music lovers to The Promenade bearing his appellation.

If you like your live music outdoors with 14 food court options and a range of other shopping opportunities, The Promenade at Howard Hughes Center will tick your social list of summer happenings.

JazzFest features free Saturday concerts in the Center Court all summer long through August 31. Great jazz entertainment varies from Latin and world beat to contemporary and straight-ahead. Check out the details and list of performers

The Community Couch of Venice

Featured

Talking Stick

The Talking Stick is a cozy coffeehouse serving primarily the artists, writers, musicians, and merchants of Venice. However, no one will feel like an outsider here, whether you’re visiting from Silver Lake, Seattle, or Sao Paulo. Talking Stick is a welcoming and spacious ambiance for patrons to unwind and enjoy live performances and other events. The atmosphere is casual, and the sounds emanating from the stage range from mutedly reverential to raucously rockin’.

How eclectic is it? Every Sunday, the space is initially occupied by the Venice Beach Fellowship hosting a church service at 10:30; World music takes over the third Tuesday of each month, led by talented Ladino singer/guitarist Stefani Valadez. The third Sunday of every month is the Jazz Forum (a jam session). There are jazz/funk fusions, blues nights, hard rock, Klezmer music bands, spoken word open mics, tribal dance jams, and film evenings. And, “Second Sunday” art receptions.

Now under new ownership, the coffeehouse is open 24 hours, serving beer and wine with a vegetarian-only menu. While absorbing the good vibes and sounds, Talking Stick has quality sandwiches, pastries and teas to tantalize the tummy, along with new soupy concoctions featuring a flavorful 13 bean variety (we counted them).

For more about Venice, click here:

Line Up for the Party on the Pier

Featured

S.M. tour - Pier1

If you’re in the Santa Monica vicinity during July or August, the Pier hosts its 29th Annual Twilight Dance Series every Thursday night, featuring famous and up-and-coming acts from all corners of the globe, in concert. Admission is free. Click here for this summer’s lineup. 

Besides the summer concert series, the Santa Monica Pier is a recreation and entertainment center featuring restaurants, shops, an aquarium, and the Pacific Park amusement rides as its daily main point of interest.

First site of note to your left is the Looff Hippodrome, an exotic California/Byzantine/Moorish style fantasy structure that shelters the carousel. It was built in 1916 and has been listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. The current carousel is a hand-carved 1922 Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel that underwent two renovations, restoring this timeless merry-go-round for current and future generations. A Ferris wheel, video game arcade and roller coaster ride make this place a favorite for kids and teens. Underneath the Pier, Heal the Bay Aquarium is also fun for families at just a $3 entrance fee.

Crowds are usually large and festive, so don’t come here if you’re in a meditative state. For more about places to explore and things to discover in Santa Monica, go here

 

Wingin’ It In Westwood

Featured

Westwood Crest Theater

Home to the world-renowned main campus of UCLA (University of California – Los Angeles), Westwood provides several other attractions to balance the academic-collegiate atmosphere. At one time this was the place to go for star-studded movie premieres during the Golden Age of Hollywood (1930s). Four landmark theaters graced in various stylistic hybrids of Art Deco, Streamline Moderne, Spanish Colonial Revival, and Moorish, continue to roll film for public consumption.

The cultural amenities expand with the Hammer Museum and its permanent collection of 19th century French paintings, exhibitions by emerging artists, film screenings, lectures, preview receptions, and summer concert series. Around the corner are the majestic Monterrey Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival apartments with breezy courtyards, fountains, and gardens, constructed originally in the 1930s. A few blocks away is the Italian Cultural Institute, featuring a gallery and theater, lectures, conferences, concerts, and special events that often include an enormous dollop of home-made pasta.

Another world is just blocks away. Known as Little Tehran, it’s the prime commercial district for L.A.’s Persian community. A profusion of Persian shops and restaurants (from casual to fine dining) line each side of the boulevard, including the incomparable Saffron & Rose Ice Cream Shop, the gold standard for the gourmet sweet tooth.

For more to explore and the complete Westwood Walking Tour, click here

Tune In To This Station

Featured

Union Station

An architectural jewel opened in 1939, this hub of rail transportation for all of Southern California is known as the “Last of the Great Railway Stations” built in the United States.

Union Station blends Dutch Colonial Revival with Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne styles. Travertine marble covers the lower part of the interior walls, and the upper part is embellished with an early form of acoustical tile. The floor in the cavernous main hall is terracotta tile, with a central strip of inlaid marble (including Travertine, an unusual touch in flooring). Enclosed garden patios frame the waiting room.

The station serves Amtrak for long distance hauls, the Metrolink trains for the greater Southern California region, the Metro Rail lines for L.A. County, and dozens of bus lines operated in metro Los Angeles.

For more about historic L.A. go here

Coolest Summer Trail in L.A.

Featured

santa-ynez-falls-081c

Dense, woodsy environs within the city limits of La-La Land? Believe it folks, this trail will pleasantly surprise you with lush vegetation dwarfed by oak and sycamore trees, a rushing creek (typically peaks from January – April), woodpeckers pecking, other birds and tiny lizards rustling in the bush, crows and the occasional raptor hovering above. Deer can often be spotted if you start early.

While most hiking trails in the local mountains are in open space on parched inclines covered with chaparral, Santa Ynez stands out as a shady haven on a hot day, or a cool untrampled refuge from the din of civilization.

The trail traverses the creek a number of times before you arrive at a juncture with a narrow rectangular wooden pole, offering the option of turning right to the waterfall, or left to continue by the creek and then ascend up a rocky trail with dramatic sandstone formations and canyon/ocean views to Trippet Ranch Fire Road. Shortly after veering left from the pole, you will encounter a cave perched atop a series of boulders to your left. A brief series of two doable hoists gets you inside for rest, meditation, or spying on passersby below.

Lately the waterfall trail has been overgrown from lack of maintenance, so if you want to rough it a bit, be my guest. Keep in mind that the flow is diminished to a trickle most of the year; best to do between January and April.

The trail is essentially flat for the first 35 minutes or so, until a set of stairs takes you into sandstone boulder terrain where the workout really begins. Round trip time is about two hours.

Click here, then scroll down for directions  

Spanish Colonial Gem Shines in East L.A.

Featured

 

Restaurant Tamayo's1

Outside of East Los Angeles, this distinctive architectural landmark is virtually unknown. The two-story Spanish Mission style classic was constructed in 1928, and fell into disrepair until its full restoration brought it back to a lofty state of grace and elegance.

The esteemed Mexican artist Ruffino Tamayo lent his name to the restaurant to remind Mexican-Americans of their rich cultural heritage. His works, noted for exceptional form, texture, and color, enrich the walls of the restaurant.

Tamayo is el barrio‘s hot spot for special occasions, from weddings and quinceaneras to business meetings. The dining room is cavernous, with an ultra-high open wood beam ceiling, a large fountain in the middle of the room, and exquisite Mexican tile work on the periphery.

The food, while not the top Mexican cuisine in town, is good enough to sit down and enjoy the classy, spacious surroundings.

Click here to explore more of iconic/eclectic L.A.!

This Gallery Rocks

Featured

L.A. Made Easy

Mouche is one of the few galleries in the world focused on rock music and celebrity art. Owner Keiko Noah has assembled a collection of artistic works from rock stars, along with other celebrities and public figures. Some have achieved broad recognition among art critics, others remain unknown, awaiting discovery. Photographs, paintings, jewelry, and animation are on display at the Beverly Hills gallery location.

Legendary featured artists include: Ronnie Wood (Rolling Stones guitarist), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith lead singer), Jimi Hendrix, Grace Slick (Jefferson Starship), Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead) and Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac). Photographic works of well-known rock music shutterbugs like Lynn Goldsmith and Robert Knight are featured as well.

Click here to explore more of iconic/eclectic L.A.!

Warning: May Be More Addictive Than Crack Cocaine

Featured

Restaurant Saffron & Rose Ice Cream3

Little Tehran a.k.a. “Tehrangeles,” is officially recognized by the Persian Square signage on Westwood Blvd. as a historic district in the city of L. A. Here you will find Persian restaurants, cafes, book stores, beauty salons, immigration services, a gift store, antique shop, and what many dessert pundits consider to be the best ice cream shop in L.A.

The game changing ingredients: saffron and rosewater, which imbue an adventurous flavor and ultra-creamy texture.to create remarkable homemade Persian ice cream.

A powerhouse lineup of flavors includes white rose, green tea, orange blossom, caramel, lavender, cappuccino, pistachio and cantaloupe, apricot, almond, date, watermelon, guava, and strawberry. And the cheerful owner will let you sample every one.

The product is 100% natural, gluten free, made with fresh fruit, veggies, and toppings; whole, organic, hormone-free milk and homemade rosewater.  And some of their recipes date back 2,400 years, padding credentials of long-standing excellence.

Saffron & Rose is a friendly family-owned enterprise. A Saffron & Rose rehab facility may be forthcoming.

Go here for more discoveries of iconic/eclectic L.A.

Up Against the Berlin Wall in L.A.

Featured

Museum Row - Berlin Wall

In front of the Variety Building across from the L.A. County Museum of Art are ten sections of the Berlin Wall, the largest segment outside of Berlin. Once the Wall segments arrived in Los Angeles, four artists painted five assigned segments in public view. It is part of The Wall Project of the Wende Museum in Culver City, preserving cultural artifacts and archives related to the Cold War in Eastern Europe.

As a public art initiative to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, it loudly conveys the museum’s mission on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares.  Measuring nearly forty feet long, it continues to attract hundreds of visitors every day.

More about other eclectic attractions can be found in the new resource guide for L.A.

Please give us a “Like” if you like :-)

The Epitome of L.A. Weirdness

Featured

Museum of Jurassic Technology

You won’t know what to make of this museum, but most everyone who comes appreciates its quirkiness.

No life-size dinosaurs here, just a series of oddball inventions cloaked in a dark room. It will absorb all of your attention and challenge your critical thinking skills, and your concept of a museum.

The tiniest sculptures on needle heads, a whole room dedicated to cat’s cradle, a bell wheel hanging from the ceiling, art slides shown through a microscope to see art made out of butterfly scales and diatoms, an exhibit focused on camping trailers, and paintings of Russian dogs that were shot into space are some of the enigmatic exhibits you’ll get to mentally dissect.

Bizarre, perplexing, eerie and engrossing, the Jurassic Museum of Technology provokes contemplation, wonder, suspense and possible brain damage (kidding). Designed to raise questions more so than resolve them, there’s a subtext of a practical joke here.

The complimentary tea and cookies with a docile resident dog for company are definitely grounding after such a mind-blowing experience.

More about other eclectic attractions can be found in the new resource guide for L.A.

Please give us a “Like” if you like :-)

In Search of a Salty Detox

Featured

Playas del Coco

Why is a stroll along the ocean shore so calming to most of us? Our bodies are composed of mostly positive ions. The salt content of the ocean generates high quantities of negative ions, providing balance to the body chemistry, even facilitating the removal of impurities.

Micro particles of salt help purify the lungs, reduce inflammation, cure skin issues and decrease depression. A recent discovery took me to a Salt Room at a local L.A. spa, constructed of Himalayan salt blocks on the walls and Himalayan salt rock on the floors. Supplemented by heat from far-infrared panels, the invisible rays penetrate the body and raise the body’s surface temperature. This activates the metabolism to promote detoxification and healing. When I left the spa, it was like walking on water!

More about the spa and other fascinating attractions can be found in the new resource guide for L.A.

Please give us a “Like” if you like :-)

Grounds for Solitude in L.A.

Featured

Japanese garden1

Inspired by the traditional Zen gardens of Kyoto, the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden is a magnificent morsel of landscaping paradise. This garden is tidily tiered on a hillside with full complement of Japanese trees and plants, carefully arranged amidst trickling streams, gracefully curved bridges, stone gardens, and the Japanese tea house centerpiece.

Among Zen concepts expressed in the design are preferences for naturalness over artificiality, concealing parts of the whole to nurture a sense of mystery, an overall quality of maturity and mellowness that comes with age and time.

Many structures in the garden – the main gate, garden house, bridges, and family shrine – were built in Japan and reassembled here. Antique stone carvings, water basins, lanterns, the five-tiered pagoda, and symbolic rocks are also from Japan.

For the complete aesthetic and serene experience of a traditional Japanese garden in L.A., there is nothing quite like this.

Explore other special L.A. places and attractions here

The “Great Wall” of L.A.

Featured

Great Wall

Did you know that L.A. has its own Great Wall, reputed to be the longest one of its kind in the world?

The brainchild of muralist/educator and socio-political activist Judy Baca, this sprawling display of public art was accomplished by student artists representing minority communities in L.A. One of the most spectacular murals in a city famous for its murals, the Wall portrays the history of California from pre-colonial times to now.

The mural stretches for over 1/2 mile in a flood control channel. Oddly, most people born and raised here or even media pros who cover the arts don’t know it exists.

Excerpt from the new book, “L.A. Made Easy: From Iconic to Eclectic,” by Terry Braverman ©2013 All Rights Reserved

L.A. Made Easy cover

                                                                                                                                                    Are you in or coming to L.A.? Seeking new or off the radar venues to discover? Here is the new official “One Stop Shop” for attractions, activities, walking tours, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and hotels. Listed sections like Historic Districts, Hikes, and Museums save time and help focus on your areas of greatest interest.  Over 250 listings of what to see and where to go.

For a Limited Time Only, You Can Download the iPhone App Version

Also available as E-book                                                                                  And Kindle

The Hobbit House

Featured

Culver City Hobbit House2

Fairy tales inspired a housing movement originating from L.A. in the early part of the 20th century. The “Storybook House” designs were a raging fad but faded over time to make way for the onslaught of pre-fabricated stucco box/cookie cutter models that monopolize the Southern California landscape today. One of the few remaining is the Hobbit House, a lopsided configuration that looks like it melted and hardened into its oddball shape.

Keep in mind that although this property was granted historical landmark status by the city, it is in fact a private residence, not open to the public. However, you can discreetly take some steps up the driveway and approach the house with its adjacent garage/upstairs apartments for close-up photo ops of the pointy turrets, swayback roofs, stumpy wooden posts, ogival windows, pirate’s nets, chain links, the turtle/koi rich pond, and marvel at the intentionally off-kilter construction that distinguishes this amazing fantasy house                                                                         Excerpt from the new book, “L.A. Made Easy: From Iconic to Eclectic,” by Terry Braverman ©2013 All Rights Reserved

FREE DOWNLOAD

L.A. Made Easy cover

                                                                                                                                                 Are you in or coming to L.A.? Seeking new or off the radar venues to discover? Here is the new official “One Stop Shop” for attractions, activities, walking tours, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and hotels. Listed sections like Historic Districts, Hikes, and Museums save time and help focus on your areas of greatest interest.  Over 250 listings of what to see and where to go.

For a Limited Time Only, You Can Download the iPhone App Version FREE!

Also available as E-book                                                                                  And Kindle

Escondido Falls, the Hidden Gem of the Santa Monica Mountains + Free Download

Featured

Escondido Falls

With all the global gallivanting I’ve done, it’s easy to overlook the treasures buried in my own backyard of Los Angeles. This is an easy hike to the highest waterfall in the Santa Monica mountain range, a mere 30 minute drive from my palatial palace ..errr… humble one bedroom apartment.

The hike starts on the pavement along a road that branches off Pacific Coast Highway called Winding Way. After a mile, an obvious trail takes you down into the dense canopy of Escondido Canyon, crossing a creek several times. Lurching oak trees, riparian woodland and coastal sage dominate the scenery. As you approach the base of the lower falls, you can see the water dropping over the lip of the 150 foot upper falls in the distance. The lower falls are about 50 feet high and gush (or trickle, depending on time of year and your perception) over a moss-carpeted wall into a beautiful shallow pool.

This hike takes about 3 hours, with a 400 foot elevation gain.

Directions: from the Santa Monica (10) Freeway westbound, head towards the ocean where the freeway transforms into Pacific Coast Highway. Drive through the town of Malibu past Malibu Canyon Road and Pepperdine University. The parking lot is on Winding Way on the east side of Pacific Coast Highway. Park here and proceed uphill on the trail along the road to the dirt trail beginning at the end of the pavement.

©2013 Excerpt from “L.A. Made Easy: From Iconic to Eclectic” by Terry Braverman, All Rights Reserved

L.A. Made Easy cover000

FREE DOWNLOAD                                                                                     Seeking new or off the radar venues to discover? Here is the new official “One Stop Shop” for attractions, activities, walking tours, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and hotels. Listed sections like Historic Districts, Hikes, and Museums save time and help focus on your areas of greatest interest.  Over 250 listings of what to see and where to go.

For a Limited Time Only, Launching April 17, You Can Download the iPhone App Version FREE! http://www.guidegecko.com/iphone-app.html

Also available as E-book: www.guidegecko.com/los-angeles (Starting April 17); Kindle: http://www.guidegecko.com/los-angeles-app.kindle (Starting April 22)