A diverse and low-key neighborhood in central Los Angeles, Echo Park is a secret gem that often gets passed over by its hipster neighbor, Silver Lake. This area is completely walkable and home to many prospering artists, writers, and musicians. Oh, and Leonardo DiCaprio grew up here. Do we really need to know anything else? Here are ten fun things to explore the next time you’re passing through Echo Park.
One of the first things to grab your eye when you enter Echo Park is the colorful mural welcoming you at the corner of Echo Park and Sunset. Walk around a little and find even more beautiful murals on various neighborhood walls. The owner of The Gabba Gallery, Jason Ostro, recently started the Alley Project, an ongoing public art event around L.A. One of the alleys he chose happened to be in Echo Park, where he’s been recruiting 20 local artists to paint animals in the alley behind Bob Baker Marionette Theater (check this out too!).
Echo Park Time Travel Mart | Courtesy of Time Travel Mart
This eclectic little shop is so amusing. The Echo Park Time Travel Mart is a convenience store with everything you need to travel back and forth in time, like fresh dinosaur eggs, robot milk, and Viking deodorant. No, it’s not just for kids. Grown-ups like to time travel too. What’s really cool about this convenience mart is that it’s affiliated with 826LA. This literary non-profit organization is dedicated to helping kids develop their writing skills. All proceeds of the Time Travel Mart sales go to this organization, and there’s even a tutoring classroom behind a secret door in the back of the shop.
What’s even better than a good restaurant? Cookbook is Echo Park’s greengrocer. This tiny grocery store has it all. Meat, cheese, milk, eggs, fresh produce, spices, and even freshly prepared foods. How does it all fit in such a small space? You don’t really need a large selection when you have quality products like this artisanal grocery supplies. Cookbook ensures that all of the products they stock are responsibly grown, which makes for extra tasty food. Every meal made with Cookbook ingredients is delightfully scrumptious!
At the area’s namesake, Echo Park Lake, you can find locals walking on the path around the lake, or enjoying a picnic or a book on the grass. Of course, if you forgot your picnic, there’s always sidewalk vendors selling something delicious, and the Square One at the Boathouse has drinks and pastries too. After you’re full, now comes the fun. Echo Park Pedal Boats has made a comeback since the lake reopened after the big renovation. Not only can you rent pedal boats to cruise around the lake but also gondolas and canoes.
People say bookstores are dying, and technology is taking over. However, in the artistic oasis of Echo Park, Stories Books & Café has been luring in local writers, readers, and artists since 2008. Not only do they buy, trade, and sell books, but this shop also hosts diverse literary events, including book release parties, live music, and comedy shows. The café at the back of the shop serves fair-trade coffee and locally baked goods, too. With a patio out back, this is the perfect place to hang out and read that new book.
In Los Angeles, we’re lucky to have amazing weather all year-round, and beautiful parks throughout the city to enjoy the greenery and the beautiful views. So, while you’re in Echo Park, take a hike. The highly underrated Elysian Park has some of the best views the city has to offer. It isn’t cluttered with tourists like Griffith Park, and you can even bring Fido. A hike around the park gives you views of the infamous Dodger Stadium, and Angels Point offers a beautiful view of the Downtown skyline.
Opening Day at Dodger Stadium 2015 | Courtesy of Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers
Home of Los Angeles’ beloved baseball team, Dodger Stadium is the third oldest major league park in the nation, only behind Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Take the family to a Friday night game for fireworks in the park, or go to one of the many themed games throughout the season. You can even watch a movie in the park after some of the sporting events. If you can’t come for a game, you can always stop by for a stadium tour to see the beautiful views and hear about its legendary past.
A fashion lover’s delight, this quirky vintage bazaar’s storefront is blossoming with colors and patterns, the display luring you in with its enticing promise of hundreds of items under $10! Lemon Frog Shop is flourishing with clothes, shoes, and accessories from the 1950s through the 1990s. Their selection of shoes is to die for, you’ll want all of them. After the hours you’ll spend looking through their selection, stop by Tierra Mia Coffee next door to caffeinate for the rest of your day.
San Francisco might have Steiner Street’s Painted Ladies, but Angelino Heights, one of Los Angeles’ oldest neighborhoods, has its own Victorian beauties. Carroll Avenue has been registered in the National Register of Historic Places with having the highest concentration of Victorian homes in the city, and the breathtaking beauty of the 19th-century homes are really a sight to see. If you want to learn about the historic area, take a walking tour with the Los Angeles Conservancy.
One of the hippest nightclubs in the city, The Echo & Echoplex feature nightly music events. Entry prices are reasonable, which makes this the perfect place to find new bands in the L.A. music scene. These two music venues are known for their eccentric bookings and embrace Indie groups of a ranging talent base, from well-known to new on the scene. You can even order pizza from the bar, which is made by Two Boots next door. Let’s face it, we all know pizza is necessary when there’s beer and music involved. By Lauren Haynes