peace of mind among the solemn stone beams and under the carved wooden roof. Finish your trip at the LA State Historic Park inside Chinatown, where you can picnic near a pond while getting an amazing view of Downtown buildings.
Walking up the stairs at Walt Disney Concert Hall, you will see one of the arguably most beautiful places in the city—the Blue Ribbon Garden. Clothed in billowing steel curtains, the garden is covered with herbs, forage and edible flowers. The queen of plants in the garden is ‘A Rose for Lily,’ the famous rose-shaped stone fountain designed by Frank Gehry for Lillian Disney, with petals covered in thousands of pieces of tiles and porcelain. The garden also attracts folk musicians and pedestrians looking for more relatable music than the typical concerts. The garden is the place to go if you are looking for a picnic place or a quiet spot in the middle of Downtown.
Location: 111 S Grand Av, Los Angeles, CA, USA
As one of Los Angeles’ first neighborhoods, Carroll Avenue symbolizes the charm and romantic imagination of LA that attracted its initial settlers. The street, the 1300 block in particular, parades Victorian-style houses, many of which are listed as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments. The stately pastel-colored manors have housed famous people from the late 19th century, including merchant Aaron Phillips and LA’s first City Councilman Daniel Innes. Symbolists would say that the magnificent houses prophesy the glamorous celebrity culture at LA. It is thus only natural that Michael Jackson was drawn to the manors and shot the final scene of Thriller at 1345 Carroll Avenue.
Location: Carroll Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Los Angeles is the city with a spunky spirit to flaunt its cement walls. When you confront the Mondrian Wall at Artist & Craftsman Supply, you will be torn between the urge to stroke this no longer pretentious yet phenomenal piece of art, and the need to Instagram it from the other side of the street. The wall, as a part of a series of colorful walls in LA, shows you the genius of LA—channeling high art into pop culture to make space for selfies. It is not clear where the boundary between the grayish city streets and the colorful grids in Mondrian’s painting lies, nor can you tell whether you are located in the city that is turning into art, or whether art is encroaching into the city space and swallowing you.
Highly representative of LA’s coastal fun, Venice Beach also supports a city resident’s love for people-watching and serendipitous purchases. It is Atlantic City for Angelenos, where common people come to load off and appreciate things they normally don’t see or do, like spending hours watching street artists’ performances or having their fortune told. Strutting down the famed Ocean Front Walk (or the Boardwalk), you will see boutique stores, henna tattoo parlors and specialty restaurants. The beach has been a darling to a century of filmmakers, and if you join in a walking tour, the guide will tell you all about legendary movies filmed on the beach such as Heat and White Men Can’t Jump, as well as other fun facts about the beach.
To grasp the sublimity of Los Angeles, take a drive on Mulholland Drive, the 21-mile tortuous road lying on the eastern Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills. The drive has mind-blowing views of Hollywood and San Fernando Valley, which you can take all in at the Hollywood Bowl Overlook and the Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook. Hop on your bike and appreciate the city’s beauty at a distance. Go at night and you will see burgeoning city lights, perfect for a romantic getaway. The drive has mesmerized director David Lynch, whose 2001 film Mulholland Drive did the beauty of the highway and the view justice.
The pinnacle where two of LA’s largest streets, Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, meet is a cultural scene not to be missed by flâneurs. The low-key, coral-colored buildings and the bohemian air have attracted street artists, musicians and writers, who like to hang out at the gourmet Intelligentsia Coffee. The junction is also known for its outspoken support for LGBT rights, having held one of the first protests in the nation against police harassment of gay bars. Cruising around the buildings, you will see an eclectic array of shops, including a Mexican restaurant, a military surplus store, a comic store and a general store that sells just about everything. A must-stop-by place is Pazza Gelato, which boasts artisan gelato all made from scratch, and daring flavors such as coconut curry and the Plain Venezuelan—velvety cholocalte gelato with a 72% cocoa content.
Location: 3916 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA