Category Archives: museums

banish boring summers

It’s no secret that Los Angeles is a highly sought out vacation destination by out-of-state and overseas visitors. Whether you’re looking for staycation ideas (local NPR has a list) or entertaining out-of-town guests, I’ve listed some free or wallet-friendly activities/events.

Hollywood Bowl
This outdoor concert venue is so unique to LA. I love picnicking on the benches and enjoying the music and warm summer nights. Tickets start as low as $12 and there are multiple parking and park+ride shuttle options. I was there last week and we parked at Hollywood and Highland for $13 (versus $20 or $25 for stacked parking at the Bowl). Check out their calendar here for upcoming performances.

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Malibu Wines (website)
Located 25 miles north of Santa Monica, this outdoor space is perfect for celebrating birthdays, showers, or simply enjoying good company. I visited for the first time a few months back and spotted celebrity chef, Susan Feniger (of Border Grill/Top Chef Masters). They have live music during the weekends and you can bring food and non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy with wine available for purchase.

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The Getty Center (located in Westwood)
Boasting an impressive private collection of art, the architecture is what woos me for repeat visits. I recently went on a docent led architecture tour where we learned about renown architect, Richard Meier’s inspiration behind this iconic cultural landmark. I highly recommend their free tours offered daily. Admission is free and parking is $15 which is also good for the Getty Villa in Malibu (same day visit only). The Getty Center also hosts summer evening events; check out their website for details.

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Dance in Downtown
The Music Center in downtown Los Angeles (connected to the Dorothy Chandler pavilion) hosts free outdoor dance lessons and live music/DJ on select Friday nights. This is one of my FAVORITE things to do in the summer (especially the Bollywood and 60’s nights). So what are you waiting for? Grab a friend or 2 and shake a tail feather. All levels and ages are encouraged to participate (comfy shoes recommended). You can view the calendar here.

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For my OC friends (didn’t forget you guys), here are a few cool things to do~

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa has an annual summer movies series where they show classics, musicals, animation films in a family friendly environment for free! Check out their calendar for upcoming dates. Tip: park at South Coast Plaza and walk over to avoid a parking fee.

segerstrom movie

Photo credit: shared from Segerstrom’s facebook page.

Anaheim, home of Disneyland, The Honda Center, Angels stadium and the newly remodeled Anaheim Packing House, is home to 20-plus gourmet eateries. This is still on my list of places to visit. Check out this article for details on this new culinary destination (open daily, free parking). See their website for details.

Hope you enjoy long summer days with these suggestions. Don’t be shy, what are your favorite summer activities/events?

A local’s guide to LA

I hosted my friend/travel buddy from San Diego during the weekend between Christmas and New Years. As a fellow foodie, she was game for exploring some of my fave eats and ways to appreciate this city. Here’s where we ate/did over a weekend.

We enjoyed a late lunch (30 min wait) at Shin-Sen-Gumi in Little Tokyo for their delicious Hakata ramen ($6.95) which always hits the spot without leaving a dent in my wallet.

ramenPhoto credit: Ed K. (via yelp)

We headed over to Urth Caffe in the arts district just a couple miles away to indulge our sweet tooth cravings. We ordered Spanish lattes ($4.00) and split an Earl Grey tiramisu ($6.95) which was creamy and a little sweet. I hear what makes their Spanish lattes so wonderfully addicting is they use condensed milk (what doesn’t taste better with condensed milk?).

urth

After our cafe experience, we took a little break and enjoyed a rooftop view of the city at Perch near Pershing Square in downtown. It was challenging to find parking on a Friday night but after circling the area for about 20 minutes, I scored the last spot in a parking lot for $5 a block over. A staff member at Perch was telling us that Sunday and Thursday nights are pretty slow. On busy nights like Fridays, there’s a wait to access the rooftop lounge (but well worth it). Cocktails will run about $12-$15 which seems standard in downtown.

perchOverlooking Pershing Square and the ice skating rink

Although my friend hadn’t been to the LACMA, I had a feeling it would be a bit crowded given that it was a Saturday and between holidays. My favorite LA museum is actually the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City. Their current exhibit are the best photographs from 125 years of National Geographic. Using various mediums of LCD screens, large screen video presentations, and printed shots, it’s an engaging experience across decades, genres, and styles. Photojournalists were sharing their motivation for at times risking their lives to capture images that reach a mass audience in order to bring awareness to issues whether it’s about war/conflict in Afghanistan or seeing the curious face of an endangered species. This is a must-see exhibit featured until April 27, 2014. Free admission and $1 validated parking (on weekends).

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Although it was a bit out of the way, I wanted to take my friend to Venice since it’s a cool beach neighborhood and home to Gjelina and Gjelina Take Away GTA (to-go place next door). I had been to Gjelina last year and fell in love with their squash blossom pizza. Unfortunately, since squash blossoms aren’t in season, we shared the rustic and simple (yet satisfying) pomodoro burrata pizza ($15) and salami pizza ($15). They use the freshest ingredients and the woodfire oven results in a chewy crust. For $15, it’s a pricey pizza for a single serving but an occasional luxury. Given that it’s take-out, we sat in a makeshift alley adjacent to GTA to enjoy our oven-fresh pizzas. So good!

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What trip to LA would be complete without a taco run? We enjoyed some late night eats at El Flamin’ Taco in Ktown. This truck has a well-stocked salsa bar, juicy al pastor ($1.35) on handmade tortillas, what more could I ask for? It’s a cash only place (one minor inconvenience); closed on Mondays.

taco

Salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy.

Not pictured, a nutella cronut ($3.75) which is a croissant donut from SK Donuts. Deliciously rich and crispy. Recommend sharing with a friend or two.

All in all, we had a great time catching up over good eats and talking about our future travel destinations. I’m thankful for close friends to spend quality time and it gives me more reason to explore new places to take visitors to taste and experience the rich diversity that LA has to offer.

Until we meet again friend! Here’s a shot of my friend on one of our trips to Vegas.

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