A Handy List of Annual Los Angeles Events and Festivals Every Angeleno Should Have on Their Radar

February 17, 2015 by Sina Lewis

Each year Los Angeles is one of hundreds of cities across the country that offers annual festivals and events to entertain the masses. Sometimes the choices can seem to be endless. The time and energy to find the right festival can be draining. But there is a way to narrow down your choices depending on your interests and tastes. Whether you enjoy food, music and everything in between this list will help you to sift through the festival dust to reveal the best one for you.

[Please note, we’ll be updating this post adding more and more options to make the content more valuable. If you have feedback on which festivals or annual events should be added, let us know in the comments below. Consider this a living document!]

L.A. County Fair Ferris Wheel

Credit: Samantha Celera via flickr


Los Angeles Art Show

Artists and galleries from all over the world are represented at this annual show. The galleries represent diverse art genres including modern, contemporary, historic and traditional works, as well as works on paper, sculpture and installations. The Los Angeles Art Show is an excellent event for art collectors and aficionados alike. The show gives the public an opportunity to be the first to preview art from top galleries. But not only art is represented here, art lovers can also enjoy culinary delights and specialty beverages courtesy of L.A.s finest restaurants. In 2014 all ticket proceeds supported St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

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Bacon Festival

The 3rd Annual Bacon Festival honors all things bacon, both sweet and savory. It’s s held on the beautiful Paramount Studios Lot every February. The bacon vendors are some of the most coveted in Los Angeles, including the famous Belly and Snout Restaurant. In addition to the awesome bacon selections the festival boasts over 20 breweries. Since the festival has limited admission, tickets sell quickly so it’s best to plan ahead.

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Festival of Colors 

The Festivals of Colors is described as the world’s happiest event. The festival is a celebration of ancient Holi tradition celebrated in India. The tradition announces the arrival of spring and the passing of winter. Festival attendees gather in small groups to sing, dance and throw colors on each other. It’s an awesome sight to see, young and old alike are covered with colors (red, green, yellow, blue, black and silver). The festival also offers vegetarian food and joyful musical entertainment. Make sure you buy your environmentally safe colors on the Festival of colors website in advance.

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The Cowboy Festival

The Cowboy Festival attracts thousands of cowboy lovers every year. Santa Clarita is home to dozens of cowboy ranches, so naturally the city is a great fit for the festival. Although some of the events have changed over the years, Santa Clarita’s Cowboy Festival delivers an awesome, multi-day lineup of music, food, entertainment and activities for Western enthusiasts of all ages. The Cowboy Festival is a celebration of Santa Clarita’s Western history – from art and music to film and television. Festival goers are transformed to the authentic Old West through music, poetry, cowboy gear, food and storytelling.

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The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire

The Original Faire began in 1963, initially started to serve as a historical education for families. The idea gained popularity and spread across the nation. Faire visitors often dress in Renaissance apparel and vendors create and sell items from days of old. The Faire offers activities such as Archery, Braids for Maids, Tea with the Queen, and Knife throwing. For your eating pleasure don’t forget a succulent fat Turkey leg or two. Make your very own Venetian Masks, Leatherwork and Baskets. Entertainment includes The Jousters; a performance combining art and combat, theater and sport with powerful horses.

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Los Angeles Film Festival

Since Los Angeles is home to the American movie industry, it’s safe to say that Los Angeles has plenty of film festivals. But the The Los Angeles Film Festival stands out because it truly celebrates the art of filmmaking. Unlike some mainstream film festivals, the Los Angeles Film Festival exclusively features independent films. The Los Angeles Film Festival also includes free screenings for the public. If you have a deeper interest in film, there are several discussion panels featuring directors, producers, and actors.  An added benefit of attending the festival is seeing films before they hit the theaters as well as celebrity sightings.

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Mariachi USA Festival

If you are a fan of Mariachi music then this is the festival for you. The lovely sound of the Mariachi is featured at the annual Mariachi USA Festival held at the Hollywood Bowl. This 25 year old tradition unites Mariachi bands from the US and Mexico. Some highlights include folkloric dancers and a performance by the The Mariachi Foundation children’s Mariachi band. The festival culminates in an exciting fire work extravaganza.

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KCRW Summer Nights

For each of the past 5 summers KCRW has put on a series of outdoor shows featuring live band performances and DJ sets. They usually start in July and run through September, but 2015 dates have yet to be set. Of course the best part is these shows are all-ages and they’re all free!

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Long Beach BBQ Festival

The Long Beach BBQ Festival doubles as a BBQ competition. Some of the best BBQ restaurants in the West show up to offer their best BBQ recipes. If you want an all you can eat and drink experience sign up for The Rib Village. The festival entertainment reflects the spirit of the festival featuring blues, jazz and zydeco. After a day of eating BBQ, the entertainment will make you want to dance the night away.

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Day of the Drum Festival

The Day of the Drum Festival is one of the few free festivals in the city. This festival celebrates the contribution of drums and drummers to the world cultures both past and present. The historic Watts Towers is the host of the festival and serves as a perfect backdrop. The festival is also a great place for food with several local food vendors present. The very next day is the Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival tribute to the American music featuring  jazz, gospel and rhythm and blues. The back to back festival weekend is commonly referred to as the Watts Tower Festival.

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Los Angeles County Fair

The Los Angeles County Fair is the fair of all fairs. There is so much to do that you can easily spend an entire week enjoying all the events. The LACF provides entertainment and food from various cultures. The popular concert series featured Earth, Wind & Fire, Heart and Boyz II Men last year. There are fun rides for the kids and adults as well as farm animals and aquatic creatures on the grounds. The fair would not be complete without food. Selections range from standard fair treats like funnel cake, to a full gourmet experience. Good news for those of us who hate traffic, the MetroLink provides late night service from Union Station to LACF on weekends.

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Redondo Beach Lobster Festival

The Redondo Beach Lobster Festival is about more than just lobster. It celebrates life in the surf and sun. The festival features food from highly rated restaurants including a local Redondo beach favorite, Kincaid’s Restaurant. The lobster festival includes an awesome selection of craft beers to accompany your lobster feast. Enjoy activities like Stand Up Paddle Board lessons and the 62 mile Rat Beach Bike Tour. Don’t forget to enjoy the awesome bands and festival vendors.

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Oktoberfest at Alpine Village

With German, Belgian and various other craft beers on 20 taps, plus traditional Bavarian food faire and of course the dancing and the signature style, the Alpine Village Oktoberfest is an annual tradition worth partaking in. In terms of top-notch Oktoberfest options in the greate L.A. area, you’re probably not going to find one more enjoyable and with a longer running tradition. Starts on Sep. 11th, 2015, and runs through Halloween.

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L.A. Auto Show

Internationally recognized as one of the premier automobile events in the world, where else but in the city that defines the car should spectators get a first look at what’s next in the design and technology of our next generations of motor vehicles.

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Tamale Festival

The Los Angeles Tamale Festival strives to continue the tradition of tamale making and that’s a good thing since tamales are so delicious. If you enjoy tamales more than most of us, sign up for the tamale eating contest. There’s also a “biggest tamale” contest for the tamale chefs to prove just how big a tamale they can cook. In addition to the tamales, enjoy the Artesania craft vendors, entertainment and fun kid activities like face painting.

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Variable (It Depends)

Ramen Yokocho

Billed as the largest ramen festival in the United States, Ramen Yokocho has served tens of thousands of eager ramen lovers in the past two years at festivals in Torrance, Little Tokyo, and Santa Anita Park. Their next event is the ‘Ramen Championship’ coming back to Santa Anita Park at the end of March.

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Don’t be shy, share some of your favorite Los Angeles festivals and annual events with the rest of us so we can add them to this list!

Things To Do

17 Fun Things To Do In Burbank If You’re in The Neighborhood

January 30, 2015 by Sina Lewis

Even though Hollywood is considered the ‘capital’ of the entertainment industry, it is actually Burbank that has a lot of entertainment production happening within its city limits. The film industry began taking root in the city as early as 1920, and as a result, the area has an eclectic feel ranging from the urban to small town.

Many Burbank residents describe the city as Mayberry, forever stuck in time. With residents like the magical Disney corporation and Warner Brothers, no wonder it takes on a timeless demeanor. Burbank is definitely a city worth checking out whether you like to shop, eat, drink or enjoy being entertained…

If you happen to be in the neighborhood, whether you recently moved there or are just passing through, let’s take a look at some of the very best things to do in Burbank.

Bob's Big Boy Sign

Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank. Credit: Jessica Rossi on flickr


Burbank Town Center

Unlike many Los Angeles area malls, Burbank Town Center provides free parking. This is a good thing since one can easily spend the entire day shopping in the town center. In addition to the standard mall shopping, the center includes one of 4 IKEA locations in Los Angeles County, 2 movie theaters, and a bungee jump area in the center court. For more shopping take a stroll outside the indoor mall and walk along San Fernando. There are tons of eateries, shops, cafes and bars to enjoy as you walk from the mall all the way to Angeleno Street.

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Magnolia Park

Magnolia Park district is located on Magnolia Blvd. from Victory to Clybourn and on Hollywood Way from Clark to Chandler. Hands down the best part of Magnolia Park is the plentiful vintage shops that line Magnolia Blvd. Pin Up Girl Clothing will take you back to the 1950’s with their authentic department store feel. Another retro gem is the Bearded Lady Vintage which received the 2014 LA Weekly reader’s choice award. Magnolia Park also features a few special events each month. Ladies Night Out happens every last friday of the month and every second Saturday features the Magnolia Park Art Walk. Each event features food trucks, music, and fun for all ages.

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Burbank Farmer’s Market

With all the market choices we have in Los Angeles, this market is unique because of the small intimate atmosphere. The market is located in the heart of Burbank, behind the Burbank City Hall. There are vendors as far north as San Francisco and as far south as San Diego who travel to this market. Farmers include Mike and Son’s Egg Ranch, The Honey Guy, and J & J Grass Fed Beef. The market also features local restaurants and bakeries as well as representatives from local businesses and community groups.

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Studio Tours

Since Burbank is home to several movie and television studios, it’s a perfect place to take a studio tour. One of the popular tours in Burbank is the Warner Brothers VIP Studio Tour. During the tour you will see the exciting backlots from popular movies including a special exhibit devoted to Batman. There is also a Warner Brothers museum featuring costumes, props, sets, and scripts from Warner Brothers history. The Walt Disney Studios is another Burbank destination where you can learn about Disney history during a privately guided visit to include The Walt Disney Archives.

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Starlight Bowl

If the Hollywood Bowl proves too crowded, this pleasant Burbank treasure will not disappoint. The Starlight Bowl is host to a summer concert season including a spectacular July 4th concert and fireworks show. You can pack a picnic dinner and enjoy the concert with your friends or family. The 2015 summer concert series includes performances by Latin Jazz great Poncho Sanchez and the Commodores. Even better, the concert series is affordable at $15 per adult and $8 for children age three through twelve.

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Chandler Bikeway

This Burbank treasure was once a railroad line before it was transformed into this 2 mile biking trail in 2004. In addition to biking, many active Burbank residents rollerblade, jog, and stroll along this trail. The trail is also home to 3 art installations made possible by the Burbank Art in Public Spaces. If you take the bikeway all the way to North Hollywood you can witness the beautiful murals along the way. Every month the Sidewalk Astronomers will bring their telescopes to the Bikeway to educate the public about Astronomy.

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The Batcade

What better way to let off some steam than by mashing some baseballs after a long day at work. The Batcade is one of the best batting cages in the valley, offering both slow-pitch and fast-pitch machines, and allowing you to either pay with tokens for a set amount of pitches or a flat-fee for set amount of time (half-hour or hour). Definitely worth it if you need a serious stress reliever.

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Flappers Comedy Club

Flappers Comedy Club and Restaurant provides world class comedy and food in the heart of Burbank. Presenting over 40 shows a week, this spot is the friendliest comedy club you will visit in the Los Angeles area. Unlike most comedy clubs in the area, you can have a full dinner along with the show. Their roster of talent includes comics from Comedy Central, Conan, Letterman, and several network sitcoms. Some recent drop in headliners include Kevin Hart, Damon Wayans, Bill Burr, and Felipe Esparaza. Flappers also presents a family friendly show called “Two Milk Kids.”

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Ride a horse

The Los Angeles Equestrian Center is located on 50 miles of Griffith Park horse trails. Their motto for visitors is “Everything Equestrian.” This definitely has everything. If you are new to horse riding, the center is home to dozens of horse trainers.  If you already own your horse, the center provides a home for your horse. While you ride through the center you may even see a movie shoot since it’s so central to the major studios. The LA Equestrian Center is also home to several horse shows.

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Places to Eat

Porto’s Bakery

The Porto family opened their first location in 1960 after they relocated to Los Angeles from Cuba. The biggest draw for this Burbank hotspot is the huge selection of pastries and bread. Baked good lovers of all kinds will often line up around the block to choose their baked favorites. However, their wide selection of tamales, empanadas, meat pies and sandwiches do not disappoint. Pastrami lovers should check out their mouthwatering Pastrami sandwich served on Porto’s freshly baked french roll.

Portos Bakery

Ports Bakery. Credit: Marco Antonio Torres via flickr

Market City Cafe

The owners of this Downtown Burbank restaurant stand by their Neapolitan roots presenting traditional favorites such as their Housemade Meatballs and Fresh mussels with white wine, parsley, garlic, and butter. Get there for an early dinner to check out their incredible happy hour specials. This is also a wonderful place to enjoy brunch with lovely live chamber music in the background. Market City also includes a high quality wine selection and specialty cocktails including the Nectar Margarita and Lychee Cocktail.

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Another Broken Egg Cafe

Primarily known for their popular breakfast and brunch selections, Another Broken Egg Cafe serves a wide variety of food. If you are in the mood for eggs, this is your place. A few outstanding menu items include the Lobster and Brie omelette or the Southwest Scramble that includes scrambled eggs, breakfast chorizo, onions, diced tomatoes & green chilies with Cheddar-Jack, guacamole, salsa & flour tortillas. Be prepared to wait, this cafe is an extremely popular Burbank brunch destination.

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Bob’s Big Boy

Big Boy’s is known nationwide for their burgers and milkshakes but the legendary diner also is a registered California historical site. Known as the oldest remaining Big Boy in America, this location maintains it’s 1950’s charm. Enjoy a milkshake served 1950’s style in a large silver tin goblet. They also serve three types of Coke including cherry, vanilla and chocolate. Top it off with the famous Big Boy double decker hamburger. As you leave, make sure you get a photo with the larger than life Mr. Big Boy himself.

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The Castaway

The Castaway is a full service restaurant but the happy hour is not to be missed. In addition to awesome specialty drinks like their Acai Margarita and the Maui Itch, select food items are half off during happy hour. Plus their Oysters, Tacos and Chips and Salsa are 2 bucks! The best part of this spot is the breathtaking views of the valley and surrounding mountains. This is a perfect spot for parties and celebrations as well.

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Luna Vine Wine Bar

Located in the quaint Magnolia Park section of Burbank, the Luna Vine Wine Bar is a cozy spot to have a drink. Wine director, Nick Caballero includes a wide array of choices bound to please every palette. Despite the wine bar label, Luna also includes an extensive beer list. If you arrive with an appetite Luna Vine Wine Bar has an full menu including a wide variety of specialty cheeses to accompany your wine selections.

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Burbank Bar and Grille

Burbank Bar and Grille is an awesome bar with both indoor and outdoor seating areas to enjoy good food and drinks. The happy hour drink specials include $3.50 Coors Light and $4 well drinks. Food specials include $6 hot wings and nachos. There is also an incredible 1980’s cover band on Fridays to entertain their post happy hour crowd. Get there early to save a table for your happy hour buddies because this place fills up fast.

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The Park Bar & Grill

Two words: dollar tacos. The Park Bar & Grill is an great place to meet great people and watch your favorite sports teams. Besides the $1 Taco special on Fridays The Park has a wide selection of drink specials on various nights of the week including $2 jello shots every other Thursday night. It’s also a cool place for live music featuring live jazz and blues on various evenings. If you are a game lover The Park has life size Jenga and Connect Four Tournaments plus Texas Holdem.

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For even more information on things to do in Burbank check out the official Downtown Burbank website for upcoming events and activities.

Also, if you live in the area, let us know what you like to do in Burbank for fun!

Cool Spots

10 Free Museums in L.A. That Need To Be at the Top of Every Angeleno’s To-do List

December 28, 2014 by Sina Lewis

Los Angeles is home to a wonderful variety of museums to enjoy. In fact there are so many museums that taking the time to visit them would be exhausting. Besides, with admission and parking fees it could easily put a major strain on your funds. But it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to experience art and culture in the city of angels.

To make it easier to explore Los Angeles museums, we’ve already created a handy list of pretty much all free museums in L.A. County. That list itself is huge, but to make your life even easier we decided to break down the list to highlight some of our favorites in effort to inspire you to get out there and take advantage.

So without further adieu, here’s the cream of the crop!

Museums That are Always Free

The California Science Center Aquarium. Credit: Brian Champlin.

1. California Science Center

The California Science Center is an inspiring oasis for individuals of all ages. The fact that this center is always free allows families on a budget to enjoy this memorable learning environment. The California Science Center is open 362 days for those who have hectic schedules. The center is home to The Space Shuttle Endeavour.  MORE about Endeavour ..But you will have to make reservations in advance to see this addition to the center.

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2. Hammer Museum

If you ever take a stroll through the beautiful UCLA campus you aren’t far from The Hammer Museum. The Hammer Museum strives to challenge their visitors to see the world in a new light and inspire change. All of the programs at the museum are free too. This includes lectures, symposia, film series, readings, and musical performances. An added bonus is the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden which is among the most distinguished outdoor sculpture installations in the country.

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3. Griffith Observatory 

Everything at the Griffith Observatory is free; the parking, the building and the grounds. There are also several special events at the observatory including Sun, Moon and Planet viewings at the Star Parties. On clear nights visitors are able to use the public telescopes to view the night sky on their own. Visitors can also take a hike around Griffith Park at the Sunset Walk and Talk event lead by the Park Ranger and Observatory Guide. Free WiFi is also available on the grounds.

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Griffith Observatory Los Angeles CA

Griffith Observatory. Credit: Amatullah Guyot

4. The Getty

The Getty is broken into two locations, The Getty Center and The Getty Villa. Both are free, but ticket reservations are required through the Getty website. The Getty Center is located on a hill amongst the Santa Monica Mountains. The Center has beautiful gardens and awesome views of the Los Angeles area. The Museum includes pre-20th-century European paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts, contemporary and modern sculpture. The Getty Villa is guaranteed to transport patrons to ancient Greece and Rome. The views are breathtaking inside the museum but the gardens are an oasis of peace and tranquility. Parking for both locations will cost $15 per car or motorcycle, and $10 per car or motorcycle after 5:00 p.m. Active duty military parking is always free.

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5. Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

LAMOTH has a dual mission to both commemorates those who perished and those who survived the Holocaust and provide free Holocaust educate to the public. The museum also provides dialogue with an actual survivor of the Holocaust. LAMOTH strives to provide as many artifacts as possible to allow the viewer to learn about the events visually. An interesting part of the museum is the layout. The rooms descend and decrease in light as you travel through the museum taking you towards the darkest part of history and then back to normalcy.

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Museums with Free Days

Visit Natural History Museum Los Angeles

1. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

California teachers with ID, and active military always get in free. But the museum offers 14 Free Tuesdays a year. The LaBrea Tar Pits are also a part of the Natural History Museum and is also free. The best part of the Natural History Museum is the vision to allow the public to enjoy, value and become stewards of the living Earth. The museum boasts one of the most extraordinary dinosaur exhibits in the world, there are more than 300 real fossils, and 20 complete dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures for patrons to examine.

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2. Los Angeles County Museum of  Art

LACMA is the largest museum in the western United States, spanning over 20 acres. Patrons are greeted by the popular installation, Urban Light, the 202 restored cast iron antique street lamps. Thankfully, Los Angeles County residents get into LACMA for free after 3pm all weekdays. You will need to the time to visit again and again since there is so much to see and explore.  LACMA also offers free admission on the second Tuesday of each month plus Target offers free admission on select federal holidays.

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3. Norton Simon Museum

Norton Simon expressed his vision eloquently by stating that “art can help us to understand ourselves more fully”. The museum is regarded as one of the most remarkable private collections spanning 2,000 years. In addition to the collections, The Sculpture Gardens are a delightful addition to the museum including a diverse collection of art dispersed throughout. This includes over a dozen works from India and Southeast Asia in the Asian Sculpture Garden. Admission is free for all visitors the first Friday of every month from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Oh, and if you love botanical gardens, check out the nearby Huntington Library in San Marino, which also offers a free day the first Thursday of every month (though space is limited, and you must make a reservation!)

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4. Museum of Contemporary Art

MOCA is the only museum in Los Angeles devoted exclusively to contemporary art. There are three MOCA museums to enjoy; MOCA Grand Avenue, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, and MOCA Pacific Design Center. All three locations focus on challenging works of art created since 1940. MOCA also places art works in historical context, and links the range of the visual arts to contemporary culture. MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen are free on Thursdays but the MOCA Pacific Design Center is always free.

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5.  Skirball Cultural Center

The Skirball Cultural Center is more than a museum. It’s a place to experience music, theater, comedy, film, family, and literary programs. Skirball is a center to explore Jewish Heritage but it is a place that welcomes people of every ethnic and cultural identity. Their ongoing exhibit Noah’s Ark not only tells an ancient story but teaches patrons about how the ark was constructed through hands on exercises like building the ark and conducting a storm. Through the exhibit patrons also learn the value of creating a community to make the world better. Every Thursday is free at the Skirball but access to the campus, Ruby Gallery exhibitions, shopping and dining is always free. Parking is also free.

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What is your favorite free museum (or museum with a free day!) in Los Angeles? Share your ideas below!


10 L.A Secrets for Travelers Visiting Los Angeles for the First Time

December 21, 2014 by Sina Lewis

There are so many things to do and see in Los Angeles that it can be overwhelming. Of course doing the same thing as every other tourist can be even more frustrating, especially when L.A. has so much to offer.

As a first time traveler it can be tough making the decision about where to go and what to do. After all, your time and money are precious resources. But there are some secrets to make the first trip to our city much easier. Los Angeles doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience. In fact, it can (and should be) be an extremely diverse, rewarding, and fun way to spend your travel time.

Let’s take a look at some of the secrets to a successful first time trip to the city of angels, making sure you get to see the real L.A. while also getting the most bang for your buck.

Hermosa Beach Pier

Hermosa Beach Pier. Credit: Neil Kremer via flickr

1. Getting to Los Angeles

LAX is the largest airport in the Los Angeles area so it’s pretty much the airport everyone flies into. As a result parking and traffic are insane. Besides, it’s pretty far from most of the Los Angeles destinations outside of the beach cities. Instead try flying into Burbank Bob Hope Airport. Burbank Airport is a smaller airport that still accommodates major airlines and rental car companies. The Metrolink is literally across the street from the airport for access to various destinations in Los Angeles. Disney, Warner Bros. and NBC Universal are 10 minutes away, and Bob Hope is the closest airport to Hollywood, the Valley, downtown L.A. and Staples Center, Griffith Park, the L.A. Zoo, Dodger Stadium, the Rose Bowl and much more.

2. Where to Stay

The Valley has a bad rap, but don’t believe the naysayers. At first glance staying anywhere in the Valley doesn’t make sense. However, depending on where you stay in the Valley it can be very convenient. Check out North Hollywood.  The Metro in downtown North Hollywood will take you directly to Hollywood and DTLA. Parking is easier to find and there’s plenty of places to eat and entertain. There are hotels in the area minutes to major Hollywood studios. North Hollywood is also very convenient to most of the major freeways you will need to get to the beaches and other Los Angeles destinations. If you decide to fly into Burbank Airport it’s a 15-minute drive from North Hollywood.

Of course that said, depending on what your key interests and desired activities are, you’ll want to book a place that has a decent proximity to your core plans. L.A. is so spread out it that just picking the most random, cheapest hotel you find could backfire, so be sure to bust out your Google Map and do some estimations on car / transit times to your preferred destinations. 15 miles may sound close in your head, but that could literally take well over at hour at certain peak traffic times depending on where you’re coming or going from.

3. There’s more to Hollywood than Hollywood Blvd.

Every tourist inevitably wants to go to Hollywood Blvd. and no one should tell you not to. Who wouldn’t want to see the Walk of Fame or fun characters like Spiderman (equipped with a fanny pack for cash tips), Marilyn Monroe and Superman. But Hollywood is more than Hollywood Blvd. For a change of pace check out the Melrose Avenue District. It has a pretty eclectic vibe with tattoo shops, restaurant, and vintage shops to explore.

 4. Explore the Secret Staircases

Before the days of traffic Angelenos walked in some parts of the city. As a result, there are staircases hidden all over the city. In fact, Charles Fleming wrote a book that outlines all of the staircases and routes to follow. There’s a MeetUp group devoted entirely to exploring and climbing the hidden stairs. But before you hit the stairs pack water, sunscreen and plenty of energy. Some routes have up to 1500 steps!

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 5. Beaches

Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach are on the top of every tourist’s list. However, if you want to avoid the massive crowds and experience an authentic Los Angeles beach trip try Manhattan Beach, Long Beach or Malibu. Manhattan Beach is a wonderful beach city with a small town feel. There are adorable shops and restaurants to explore. Check out Manhattan Beach Creamery for their delicious ice cream, cakes and specialty candy. Long Beach has a great boardwalk with historic sites like the famous Queen Mary cruise ship. Stroll through the East Village Arts District to check out the galleries and boutique shops. Finally, Malibu is another awesome beach as an alternative. Duke’s is a great place to have a drink and watch the sunset after a long day at the beach.

Runyon Canyon View

Runyon Canyon. Credit: Ryan Vaarsi via flickr

6. Hike

Griffith Park one of the best parks with the observatory and the hiking trails plus the views are breath taking. During the Griffith Park hike you can see the Hollywood sign and a lot of the valley. Depending on your hiking level there’s a hiking route for every type of hiker. For those who are new to hiking try an easier hike, and for those of you who are hiking experts try one of the challenging hikes. Whichever hike you choose, it is a great way to spend time getting to know the city.

7. Los Angeles for Free?

There are tons of free things to do in Los Angeles, you just have to know where to look. If you plan your trip well you can take advantage of the free museum days throughout Los Angeles County. If you love yoga and being outdoors try a free class in Runyon Canyon.

Also, it’s very common for famous celebrity comics to drop in local clubs to try out new material but you don’t have to spend a fortune to see them. If you’re looking to save money, here’s how you can get in for free to a bunch of local comedy shows.

8. Eat and Drink like an Angeleno

No trip to Los Angeles is complete without a trip to In n Out. Order from the secret menu like a true Angeleno. Food trucks are some of the hotspots for good eats in Los Angeles, check out Brun’s Creole Soul Kitchen or El Chato Taco Truck. While you enjoy the food, explore the neighborhood for an out of the ordinary tourist experience. Or you can check out an authentic speakeasy style bar or a beer bar to take it easy after a long day of tourist activities. Finally, if you are celebrity obsessed eat at The Ivy where celebrity sightings are the norm.

9. There is an actual Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles is comprised of several downtown areas but there is an actual Downtown Los Angeles commonly referred to as DTLA. It’s possible to spend an entire vacation in DTLA alone. DTLA is relatively easy to do on foot but there are also public transportation options as well. If you decide to take the train walk through the glorious and historic Union Station. If you want a great guided tour the LA Conservancy Historic Downtown Tour is a great way to enjoy the city by foot. Check out the beautiful Disney Concert Hall, the City Hall observation deck, and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

For fashion lovers the Los Angeles garment district is not to be missed. Finally, El Pueblo De Los Angeles the historic town where forty-four settlers of Native American, African and European heritage established in 1781.

Going to a Lakers or Kings game at Staples Center? Make sure you check out all the amazing things to do that are right around the corner from the arena.


And on top of  that, keep in mind that alot of the DTLA activities are free!

10. Take a day trip

There are some incredibly close destinations that are a great add on to your first trip to Los Angeles. You can reach Santa Barbara easily by train for a scenic route to your day trip adventure. While in Santa Barbara, there is plenty to do including wine tasting or a nice walk on the beach. Palm Springs is another destination to check out while you visit. There are the Desert Hills Premium Outlets to enjoy and wonderful Desert Hot Springs to relax after a day of shopping.

Getty Center View

View of L.A. from the Getty Center. Credit: Justin Vidamo via flickr

As you can see, there’s more to see, do and eat than you can probably get around to in on visit.

But we hope these few nuggets of advice will help to make your first trip to Los Angeles will be much easier to navigate. Enjoy your adventure!


12 Spots for the Best Pizza in Los Angeles Even East Coasters Can’t Resist

December 14, 2014 by Sina Lewis

Pizza, a subject as divisive as politics. While everyone pretty much loves pizza the pizza camps can be extremely opinionated, each with their own favorite restaurant, and their own favorite style… Chicago-style deep-dish, Sicilian, thin crust, gourmet…. the choices are endless.

One of the most most divisive is the east coast versus west coast pizza battle. Well, maybe it’s not so much a rivalry as a one-sided hate fest, with east coasters proclaiming their dominance and scoffing at the notion that you can find a good slice anywhere near the Pacific ocean.

Granted, it’s hard to argue the supreme quality of many (most?) New York and Chicago establishments, but that doesn’t preclude the idea that there are actually some quality places out here in L.A. where you can have a truly premium pizza experience.

To that end below you’ll find 12 of the best pizza joints in Los Angeles (in no specific order) that we think even east coasters won’t be able to resist.

Oh, and because we know this list is sure to incite debate, make sure to let us know in the comments what your favorite pizza place in L.A. is. 🙂

Rundown starts after the jump!

Stella Barra Pizza

Stella Barra Pizza. Credit: Sam Howzit via flickr

1. Stella Barra

Since this pizzeria has a presence in Chicago as well as Los Angeles, it makes it one of the best contenders for best pizza for east coast transplants. Stella Barra serves 400 to 500 artisan pizzas each night, including the Shaved Mushroom with Gruyère pizza topped with Organic Italian Sausage made on site. But Stella Barra also boasts home made pasta, breads and pastries.

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2. Hollywood Pies

If you are a fan of the Chicago style pizza variety, this is your spot. Hollywood Pies proudly claims the title “Home of LA’s best Chicago Pizza”. Even looking at these pies will transport you back to Chicago. Try the Capone made with Whole milk mozzarella, house-made meatballs, pepperoni and mild Italian sausage. Take the authenticity further and get your pie Native Style with Crushed whole tomatoes, olive oil and oregano.

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3. Mother Dough

The Los Angeles Times considers Mother Dough’s the best Margherita pizza in the city. This Neapolitan pizzeria also offers a delicious Pork Belly pizza that pizza lovers need to try. This sauceless pizza is topped with buffalo mozzarella, smoked pork belly, maple syrup, chives, cayenne pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt. The Baby Clam pizza is also worth the taste. But don’t forget to check out their dessert selections which include the flourless chocolate cake with carmel sauce and lavender sea salt.

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Hollywood Pies Deep Dish

Hollywood Pies deep dish. Credit: LWYang via flickr

4. Tomato Pie Pizza Joint

Tomato Pie Pizza Joint started when New York transplant Garrett Policastro had a hard time finding a decent slice of “Pie” on the West Coast. One of the best things about Tomato Pie is the pizza by the slice. So you can try several pieces of pie. For the gourmet palette try the Prosciutto Happiness topped with Thin-Sliced Prosciutto, Caramelized Onion, Fresh Fig, Arugula, and a Balsamic Reduction.

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5. Cruzer Pizza

For the vegans amongst us, never fear! Cruzer Pizza is the only 100% animal free vegan pizzeria in Los Angeles. And this place does not disappoint. In fact, there are unique pizza combinations on the menu such as The Jamaican topped with vegan chicken and sausage marinated in teriyaki/turmeric sauce and including peppers and onions. Cruzer Pizza also offers gluten free crust options.

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6. Masa of Echo Park

Masa of Echo Park is another Chicago style gem. But this spot makes their crust even more authentic to include cornmeal. Every single ingredient is made from scratch and many are imported to contribute to the authentic Chicago style taste. This includes whole pear tomatoes, the cheese under sauce, chunky garlic-filled goodness cooked to perfection with Masa’s secret recipe including sweet italian sausage and Scala’s Giardiniera. For the vegans out there, Masa has a pretty extensive menu just for you!

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Deep Dish Pizza Masa of Echo Park

Small deep dish at Masa. Credit: The Pizza Review on flickr

7. PizzaRev

What Pizzeria allows you to  pick out your dough, sauce, cheese and toppings to create a pizza masterpiece? PizzaRev does! PizzaRev can bake your pizza in less than three minutes with their 900 degree stone ovens. But if you would rather try your pizza the PizzaRev way check out the Mediterranean pizza with white sauce, mozzarella, feta, spinach, artichoke hearts, and black olives. Don’t forget to try dessert, PizzaRev has a dessert pizza to die for topped with butter, cinnamon, frosting, powdered sugar, chocolate, caramel, and oreo cookie crumbles

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8. Village Pizzeria

This spot makes everything in house including the sausage, meatballs, pesto,marinara sauce, balsamic and Italian dressings. Their dough is made with fresh yeast as well. The owner of Village Pizzeria is a Brooklyn native so he brings the authentic Brooklyn pizza tradition to the West. The best thing about this pizzeria is the create your own pizza options, even for a slice! They will make your pizza anyway you like it whether it’s no cheese, well done or partially done.

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9. Pizzeria Mozza

Pizzeria Mozza is apart of the Osteria Mozza restaurant family. This upscale pizzeria presents out of this world pizza combinations that will please every palette. A few combinations include the goat cheese, keeks, scallions, garlic and bacon pizza as well as the brussels Sprouts, guanciale, red onion and mozzarella pizza. Pizzeria Mozza also has an awesome variety of wines to accompany your pizza selection. Dessert is not to be missed, try the Banana Gelato Pie with hot fudge and candied hazelnuts.

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The Fennel Sausage at Pizzeria Mozza. Credit: yosoynuts on flickr

The Fennel Sausage at Pizzeria Mozza. Credit: yosoynuts on flickr

10. Vito’s Pizza

Don’t let the price scare you, these pizzas are HUGE! Vito’s offers 18″ pies that will feed you and a group of hungry friends. Try the Cheri O’ pizza also know as the “Chi Chi” equipped with arugula, gorgonzola, prosciutto di parma, toasted pine nuts on top of a white pie which includes a mixture of several cheeses. This pizza is guaranteed to appease your pizza cravings beyond your expectations. While you are at it, check out their calzones and sandwiches which are equally delicious.

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11. Zelo Gourmet Crust Pizza

This pizzeria offers a wonderful cornmeal crust. They also offer pizza by the slice so you can try their tasty pizza creations. Their best selling pizza is the fresh corn pizza including balsamic marinated roasted red onions, both mozzarella and smoked mozzarella topped off with fresh chives. Zelo even offers half baked pizzas for pizza lovers to cook at home.

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12. Milo and Olive

Who doesn’t love wood fire pizza? Milo and Olive has an open kitchen to make their pizzeria more inviting. Pizzas include the roasted potato pizza with a rosemary cream sauce topped with caramelized onions and Parmigiano Reggiano. Pizza lovers can add arugula, farm egg, anchovy or prosciutto to any pizza on the menu. Their wine and beer list is hand picked from a group of trusted wineries and breweries.

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Oh, and here’s a few more honorable mentions that were just outside our top 12:


Abbot’s Pizza Co.

Pitfire Pizza

Mulberry Street

Joe’s in Santa Monica  

The Oaks Gourmet

Did we miss your favorite pizza spot in L.A.? Share your pick and tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Things To Do

15 Fun Things to Do in Hollywood Next Time You’re in the Neighborhood

December 7, 2014 by Sina Lewis

When people say “I’m going to Hollywood” one instantly thinks of a bright eyed actor traveling across the country to pursue a career in the movies. But going to Hollywood is a fun experience for angelenos and tourists alike.

Hollywood attracts millions of people each year probably because there’s so much to do, whether it’s trying local cuisine, taking in one of the local landmarks or seeing a few of the iconic attractions.

Since we live in such close proximity to Hollywood, why not join in on the fun? There are dozens of exciting and interesting things to do in Hollywood, so let’s take a look at 15 ideas on the list below to get you started.

Hollywood Bowl Fireworks

The Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Margaret Napier via flckr

1. Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl is the largest natural outdoor amphitheater in the United States. It’s the place to be for summer music in SoCal, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. The Hollywood Bowl is an awesome place to have a picnic with friends and family before the concert. But get there early, premium picnic spots go fast. Since parking is a pain in Hollywood take advantage of the Bowl Shuttle, or Park and Ride. Hollywood Bowl is also within a reasonable walk to and from the Hollywood/Highland Metro Station.

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2. Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood sign is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in the world. But it’s pretty tricky getting a closer look since the only way to get a closer look is to hike to it. The three best hikes to view the Hollywood Sign are The Mount Hollywood trail, The Bronson Canyon trail, The Cahuenga Peak hike, and The Lake Hollywood trail. However, the closest view isn’t always the best. You can witness amazing views of the sign at Hollywood and Highland, The Griffith Observatory and Mulholland Drive. The Department of Parks offers a shuttle to the sign for a limited time as well.

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View from Mt. Lee

A view from the top of Mt. Lee. Credit: James Gubera via flickr

3. Hollywood Walk of Fame/ Hollywood Boulevard

Did you know Shrek and Bugs Bunny have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? You can see their stars and hundreds of others on Hollywood Boulevard and surrounding sidewalks all over Hollywood. Then you can find your favorite celebrity star and take a selfie! Hollywood Boulevard is also famous for the celebrity impersonators. You will find Superman, Spiderman, Marilyn Monroe and Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. But even better you might find some rather unusual characters that don’t fit any particular category, that’s what makes Hollywood Boulevard so fun.

4. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel opened in 1927 and is the birthplace of the Academy Awards. This old time Hollywood charmer has alot to offer for everyone, even if you aren’t a hotel guest. The decor and architecture alone will take you back in time. The Tropicana Bar and Pool is an oasis in the middle of the hectic Hollywood Boulevard hustle and bustle. Day or night you can lounge by the pool, and have a cocktail. If you worked up an appetite walking along Hollywood Boulevard, 25 Degrees restaurant has one of the best burgers in LA according to the LA Times.

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5. Capitol Records Building

Capitol Records was the first record company based on the West Coast. Their iconic building located on the corner of Hollywood and Vine attracts tourists from all over the world. Some believe this first circular building is built to look like a stack of records. Unfortunately, the building is not open to the public however you can view a mural created by Richard Wyatt outside featuring Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday and various jazz musicians.

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6. Take the Metro

The Metro Red Line extends from Hollywood/Highland to Vermont/Wilshire. It’s fun to hop on and off the train to explore Hollywood. If you purchase the 1-day Pass, you can travel as much as you like for $2.50. Start at Hollywood/Highland and you are in the middle of the exciting part of Hollywood Boulevard. Hop back on and get off at Hollywood/Vine to take a look at the Capitol Records Building. Continue on as far as DTLA if you wish. Heck with one connection you can go as far as Culver City! Whatever you decide the freedom and fun of traveling the Metro can become addictive.

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7. Check out the Melrose District

The Melrose District of Hollywood is a day trip in itself.  If you start your stroll at Highland you can walk on Melrose the 1.5 miles all the way to Fairfax. The Melrose District was formerly an underground and new wave shopping spot in the 1980’s and it has maintained some of the edge over the years. Stop by some of the vintage spots like Crossroads Trading and L.A.’s favorite open air vintage market Melrose Trading Post (only open on Sundays). Grab a bite to eat at Blu Jam Cafe or a sweet treat at Sweet Lady Jane. As the day comes to an end catch a show at the famous Groundlings or watch your favorite team at The Parlor Hollywood Sports Bar.

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8. Eat Food

We touched on 10 places to eat in Hollywood in a previous post. But there are many more options to explore while you are hanging out in Hollywood. Get down and dirty with a legendary LA Dirty Dog wrapped in bacon. You can also stroll through the Hollywood and Highland Center to eat at a plethora of eateries including Woodfire BBQ, French Crepe Company, Cho Oishi and Cold Stone Creamery. For a longer scenic stroll down Hollywood Boulevard, grab a slice of pizza at Joe’s Pizzeria. The Bowery Bar Hollywood is a great place to eat and have a drink before continuing your Hollywood journey.

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10. TCL Chinese Theatre

The Chinese Theatre was declared a historic-cultural landmark in 1968, and for good reason. The theatre was built in 1927 with materials imported from China. The Chinese Theatre started as the place for world famous movie premieres and still lives up to that legacy. During your stroll through Hollywood you may catch a glimpse of celebrities on the red carpet. A few select celebrities allow imprints of their hand and feet prints to be included in the Forecourt to the Stars. Just like the Walk of Fame, many fans take selfies with their favorite celebrity hand and foot prints. You can try to find your favorite celebrity print too!

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10. Shop

Hollywood is a destination for several retail shopping stores in recent years. Hollywood and Highland Center is a full service shopping mall equipped with stores ranging from the upscale Louis Vuitton to the fun Flip Flop Shop. Get your holiday decorations all year long at Christmas in Hollywood. If you need LA souvenirs there are several that sell miniature oscar award statues and personalized Walk of Fame stars. For a more unique and creative shopping experience check out Space 15 Twenty’s shops, restaurants, galleries and events.

11. Hop on a Tour Bus

Some Los Angeles natives wouldn’t think to step foot on a tour bus. But riding on a Hollywood tour bus can prove to be an awesome experience. Starline offers The Original Movie Stars’ Home Tour which may include Katy Perry, Ellen DeGeneres, or Jennifer Lopez. The tour also includes The Hollywood Sign and the Sunset Strip. For a real Hollywood tour experience, try the TMZ Bus Tour. The TMZ tour is lead by real TMZ reporters and includes stops at famous celebrity hangouts and hot spots. They even throw in some juicy stories during the tour just like on the show. You might even spot a celebrity during the tour.

12. ArcLight Hollywood

For an extraordinary cinema experience head to the ArcLight Cinema Hollywood. This theatre boasts premium seating with more leg room, double wide arm rests and seats 3 inches wider than your normal cinema. All seating is reserved so you don’t have to worry about arriving early for the best seats. The ArcLight boasts an onsite cafe that is more like a full service restaurant, with items like Grilled Salmon and Kale Waldorf Salad. The best part of the ArcLight is their dedication to showing a diverse selection of film including cinema classics and limited releases. If you plan ahead some movies include a Q&A with the filmmakers after select screenings.

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13. Barnsdall Park

Barnsdall Park is a hidden gem in the eastern portion of Hollywood. Their mission is to be a dynamic and vibrant artistic, cultural, and recreational destination for Los Angeles and the world. They certainly live up to that mission. Barnsdall Park isn’t just a park, it includes a theatre, a museum, wine tasting events and art classes. But the most iconic site is the famous Frank Lloyd Wright creation Hollyhock house. Hollyhock is the first of 7 of Wright houses built in Los Angeles and is definitely worth the trip. Unfortunately the house is under renovation, but you can still take a look at the exterior as you stroll through the Park.

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14. Amoeba Music

Amoeba is a rare musical treat for all types of music lover. Despite the recent demise of the record store, Amoeba still carries CDs and Vinyl. They also buy and trade music that you may want to part with. Amoeba prides itself on putting the customer first, that’s how much they love music! In addition to their awesome customer service, Amoeba offers free live concerts on site. Their concerts cover every genre imaginable from Blue Grass to World Music. For the schedule visit Live Shows at Amoeba and plan a concert during your Hollywood visit.

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15. Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hundreds of years of Hollywood history is buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Stars buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery include Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin. You can also read up on the history of each individual as you tour the grounds. But Hollywood Forever doesn’t just offer burial grounds but cultural events as well. Catch a concert or attend their annual Dia De Los Muertos festival. The festival features food vendors and performances by Grammy Award Winning artists. Check out their website for a list of all the events at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

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What do you like to do for fun in Hollywood? Let us know some of your favorites in the comments below!


10 Tips on How to Meet People in L.A. If You’re New to the City of Angels

November 30, 2014 by Sina Lewis

Moving to a new place is a daunting experience, especially when it comes to making new friends and creating your own social circle when you don’t really know anyone at the time of your move.  Of all the cities I have personally lived in, this city has proved to be the most challenging place to meet new people. Many would admit that because our city is so spread out it can be problematic just getting around. Plus the traffic is awful enough to actual discourage people from going out and meeting new people or trying new things.

But let’s face it, spending the day on Facebook and Twitter trying to connect doesn’t cut it. Humans are meant to interact on a personal and intimate level.

So how do you make new friends in a city like Los Angeles? I assure you, where there’s a will, there’s a way. And for those of you who have the will, I’ve got a rundown of ideas for you to help get you started.

Check out the list below!

Watching over L.A.

Credit: Mark Mitchell via flickr


Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups.  More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day. And let me tell you, Los Angeles has thousands of groups in your area. MeetUp claims there are over 90,000 meet ups this week alone. You could technically have plans to meet new people each day of the week. And the possibilities are endless, There are hiking groups, singing groups, cooking groups and groups for sports lovers. With MeetUp there is absolutely no way you will not meet new people.

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2. Hiking

Hiking is supposed to be great exercise but there’s more than meets the eye. Los Angeles has tons of places to hike, there’s no excuse to turn down a great hiking experience. Runyon Canyon is supposedly the most popular hiking spot but there are many more scattered throughout Los Angeles. With all those people enjoying nature it’s easy to strike up a conversation or simply say hello. You never know who you might meet. And if you have a dog in tow that’s even better, who can resist saying hello to a furry friend. Check out some of the links below to get you started!

The 9 Easiest Hikes in Los Angeles

The 7 Toughest Hikes in Los Angeles

Sierra Club

213 Hikers

Tree People Hikes

3. Networking Events

If you are involved in a career that requires networking this will be a breeze. But just because you attend an event to network doesn’t mean you can’t connect with people beyond business. In fact, it’s refreshing to encounter people who are genuinely interested in others. Striking up a conversation with people attending a network event is pretty much expected so it won’t be so awkward. In fact, Meetup has a huge after work networking group.

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4. Take a Class

Have you been dying to learn how to knit or play batmitton? There are others out there who would love to learn the same things as you. Remember the days when you made your best friends in school? It still works! There are so many opportunities to enjoy learning in the city. Not only can you take classes at the local college but your local YMCA and local gyms offer classes too. A few ideas to ponder are Improv for the People to learn the basics of Improv or if you are interested in learning a new language try the Pasadena Language Center. For the foodies out there Hipcooks would be an awesome choice for your culinary skills. Not only will you learn a new skill or hobby but you will definitely connect with others in your class. Who knows, you may meet a new friend.

Hipcooks Class

A Hipcooks class can be a great way to meet new folks who love food.

5. Go to the Gym

There are two opinions about meeting people at the gym. For hardcore gym rats the gym is for getting it in, drinking your post workout shake and hitting the showers. But if you want to meet people there are tons of opportunities. The gym is generally a positive environment with people trying to better themselves. So it is ripe with opportunities to strike up a conversation with the person on the treadmill next to you. And if you don’t connect at least you will get into awesome shape! CrossFit is one of the more popular fitness trends that encourages fellowship amongst members.

6. Lock N Key Events and Speed Dating

For singles out there dating isn’t all about finding your future mate. There are people to meet along the way to connect with. Lock N Key events are great because while you are looking for the person with the key to your lock you end up chatting with everyone at the event. Even if you don’t end up with a match, you are bound to meet people to connect with. Likewise with Speed Dating, before and after the event there are opportunities to connect with others.

7. Do Regular Stuff

Going to the grocery store or doing laundry is not glamourous but it is something everyone needs to do from time to time. How about going to a different grocery store this week? While you’re there grab the free food samples that most stores offer and talk to others about how good the food is. Or perhaps instead of getting drinks at a bar near your home, venture out to another part of town and meet new friends! There’s also some incredible independent bookstores in Los Angeles where you might strike up a conversation while taking in a free event.

Last Bookstore Performance

A special presentation by Roz Hefland at the Last Bookstore brings folks together. Credit: Melissa Wall via flickr

8. Volunteer

In a previous post we mentioned a bunch of volunteer opportunities in Los Angeles, and as it turns out, volunteering is not just a great way to give back to the city, but you also meets lots of new like-minded people at the same time. It’s very natural to gravitate towards others when you are attempting to make our city a better place to live in. Volunteering bonds people, especially when you are in challenging environments and situations. Working together for a common cause unites humans and can result in lasting friendships.

9. Explore

For natives and newbies alike, there is always something new to explore. It’s very tempting to stay in our own hood since each of our cities have so much to offer. But what if you decided to take a day trip to Santa Clarita in the north or San Pedro in the south? There are plenty of festivals and activities that tons of people flock to. Visiting local museums (especially the free ones) in each city is another way to connect as well. Go out and explore, you are bound to meet people you would not meet by staying in your own neck of the woods. And if you need more ideas on what to do, here’s a massive A-Z list of stuff to do in Los Angeles.

10. We Like L.A.

This is a shameless plug but honestly, this is an awesome way to meet people. We have already had two group hikes, our last one in October, and there are more activities on the horizon. Since everyone is pretty much like minded in our deep like for Los Angeles, it’s a sure thing to have something in common with the fellow angelenos that follow We Like L.A.

We Like L.A. Group Photo at Hollywood SIgn

photo credit: Alberto Aguilar

Although we offered a few suggestions, there’s always lots of great ways to meet people in Los Angeles. Let us know your favorites in the  comments below!

Things To Do, Volunteer Opportunities

16 Awesome Volunteer Opportunities in Los Angeles for Angelenos Looking to Give Something Back

November 17, 2014 by Sina Lewis

Because we all really do like L.A. I think each of us, from time to time, ask ourselves how can do things to give back to this amazing city of ours.

But what form should our charity take? After all, there are so many organizations and causes out there that need help, how does one figure out where to donate time and/or resources? What’s really going to make a difference? Well, the truth is that’s really up to you and what you’re interested in.

Do you enjoy arts and culture? Do you have a soft spot for animals? Or do you have an interest in education. After you determine your interests it’s time to search for the ideal volunteer organization. And that’s where we come in.

Consider this list a starter compilation of  of awesome volunteer opportunities if you’re looking to give back to the city of angels. And even if you don’t find the exact cause that’s right for you on the list, it ought to give you some excellent ideas moving forward. Either way, the most important thing isn’t what you’re donating your time to, it’s the choice to donate at all.

After all, as JFK once said…

“Ask not what your country (or city) can do for you, ask what you can do for your country (or city)”

Volunteer to Help the Homeless

Los Angeles inhabits enough homeless individuals to fit into Dodger Stadium. Unfortunately, the crisis is not improving; the number has increased by 16% in the last two years. That said, here is a list of 7 organizations that are helping to end homelessness in our city.

The Giving Spirit Los Angeles

Credit: The Giving Spirit on Facebook

1. Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries serves high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women with free services and programs, and operates several social enterprises that serve as job-training sites. Documentary buffs may have seen this organization in the documentary by Academy Award winner Freida Lee Mock: G-Dog the Movie.

Supporting their social enterprise is a great way to give back. Keep in mind Homeboy Foods makes their food available at several Farmer Markets and at the Homegirl Café.

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2. Midnight Mission

Midnight Mission is celebrating its 100th year offering a bridge to self-sufficiency for homeless people through counseling, education, training and job placement.

Volunteer opportunities include meal service prep, clothing sorting, tutoring, plus professional services such as tax preparation and legal services. You can volunteer anywhere from once a year to weekly.

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3. Los Angeles Rescue Mission

The Los Angeles Mission has existed for 75 years providing help, hope and opportunity to men, women and children in need. The Mission hosts the annual Thanksgiving Feast, which attracts several celebrity volunteers.

Volunteer opportunities include decorating, graphic design, cooking grant writing and photography. Commitment levels range from one time to weekly.

The Los Angeles Mission also has a boutique on eBay that you can support.

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4. LAMP Community

Lamp achieves one of the highest success rates in the nation for ending homelessness. In addition to emergency housing, LAMP Community offers supportive housing permanent supportive housing HIV/AIDS support groups and transgender support groups.

To put the advantages of supportive housing in perspective: A night in a Los Angeles jail costs $64, a night in a mental hospital costs $607, and a night in a general hospital costs $1,474. A night in supportive housing costs just $30.

One of their popular programs The Art Project, seeks volunteers to lead workshops in drawing, painting, photography, and other media.

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5. Downtown Women’s Center

DWC is exclusively dedicated to serving the unique needs of homeless and very low-income women in downtown Los Angeles’s Skid Row community. They provide supportive housing and an onsite health clinic providing health screenings and workshops.

In addition to their supportive housing, DWC has a Day Center that offers clean private bathrooms, showers, meals, laundry facilities and fresh clothing.

Their social enterprise MADE is a unique boutique selling items created by DWC residents.

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6. The Giving Spirit

The Giving Spirit volunteers assemble and personally distributing survival kits to the children, women and families living on the street. The kits contain over 70 individual items. The Giving Spirit has distributed over 29,000 kits on Skid Row and the greater Los Angeles area.

This organization is unique since they have two outreach events each year, during the holiday season and summer. For those with limited time commitment this could be a great opportunity to help!

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7. San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission

Sadly, their original Mission burned down in May so they are specifically in need of help rebuilding. The SFV Rescue Mission serves homeless families in addition to individuals. Families make up a very large portion of the homeless population so organization like SFV Rescue Mission are especially critical to help the unique needs of the families facing homelessness.

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Volunteer to Help Kids

Children are the future of our city, country and world. Herbert Hoover, our 31st President said “Children are our most valuable resource.” Child poverty in L.A. is at its highest in 20 years. This puts children at risk for injuries and pre mature death. If you have an interest in making a difference in a child’s life, these organizations might be for you.

826LA Tutoring Center

Credit: 826LA

8. 826LA

826LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to help teachers inspire their students to write. Volunteers work one-on-one with students in after school programs at either a Mar Vista, or Echo Park Location. They also have a Time Travel Mart store where you can make purchases that benefit the foundation.

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9. School on Wheels

School on Wheels provides a unique opportunity to meet a homeless student at a public location once a week for one hour. School on Wheels strives to improve subject knowledge, increase self -esteem and self- confidence, as well as being a positive role model in the life of the student in need. In fact, the OWN Network did a feature on School on Wheels.

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10. Big Brother Big Sisters of America

Big Brothers Big Sisters staff members work with their partners in the education and juvenile justice communities to find children facing adversity and assess how their programs can have the greatest impact. Big Brothers Big Sisters targets the children who need the most help, including those living in single parent homes, growing up in poverty and coping with parental incarceration.

Getting together doesn’t require a special occasion or expensive activity—just a few hours every month doing things the Little and Big already enjoy such as playing catch, reading books, going to a museum, or providing advice and inspiration Some Bigs meet their Littles on the weekends. Others get together with their Littles in the evenings. Each Little and Big can develop a schedule that works for them.

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11. Reading to Kids

Reading to kids is a grassroots organization dedicated to inspiring children with a love of reading. Reading is proven to enrich the lives of children and increase their opportunities for success.

At the monthly reading club, pairs of volunteers read aloud to small groups of children, while their parents receive training on how to encourage their children to read at home. Kids, parents, teachers, and school libraries receive book donations at the end of the reading clubs. These are important donations, as 60 percent of low-income homes do not have age-appropriate reading materials for children.

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12. The Richstone Family Center

The Richstone Family Center is an organization dedicated to preventing and treating child abuse, strengthening families, and preventing violence in families, schools & communities. Specifically, they have a Kid’s Club program where volunteers can lead projects to teach children photography, cooking, sports, and more. The center also provides academic assistance to children either through individual sessions or in small group settings.

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Volunteer to Work With Animals

It is often said that dog is man’s best friend, yet there thousands of dogs and other animals are abused, neglected and killed in shelters. After all, Mahatma Gandhi said “you can judge the morality of a nation by the way the society treats its animals.” If you have a love for animals, and want to make this city a better place for our furry and not so furry friends, here are some ideas for you.


Credit: NKLA on Facebook

13. NKLA

NKLA is an initiative led by Best Friends Animal Society, bringing together passionate individuals, city shelters and an entire coalition of animal welfare organizations to end the killing of healthy and treatable pets in city shelters in Los Angeles, by the year 2017.

They provide spay/neuter services so fewer animals go into shelters, and increase adoptions so that more animals are placed into new homes. NKLA has a beautiful Pet Adoption Center located in the heart of West Los Angeles.

One of their popular volunteer events is the NKLA Adoption Weekend which brings together many of the NKLA partners. The last event helped 500 animals find forever homes!

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14. Rescue from the Hart

Annie Hart and her husband – James Hart, started their own rescue after years of supporting animal advocacy for many years.

They provide medical and emotional care through vets, trainers and foster homes. They also share rescue stories, called Rescue Tails, to further demonstrate the need for animal advocacy. Rescue from the Hart hopes to inspire others to change the lives of animals in need.

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15.  Hope for Paws

Hope for Paws was started by Audrey and Eldad Hagar. They have been featured in the Huffington Post numerous times. Their YouTube videos get millions of hits from around the world, and they are based right here in Los Angeles.

Many people abandon their pets and dump them in the streets. The animals are then put at risk of starvation, abuse and death. “These valuable creatures help us whether it is assisting the blind or finding people under the rubble from an earthquake. They help us in times of war and during human catastrophes. We want to help both humans and animals alike live harmonious and fulfilling lives together” – Hope For Paws

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16. The Mutt Scouts

The Mutt Scouts in addition to rescuing animals focuses on helping animal with special needs. Basically, they rescue disabled animals that others are not able to rescue. In fact, The Mutt Scouts recently rescued a paralyzed dog in Mexico and managed to get it across the border!!

The Queen Latifah Show recently featured this amazing organization. The animal rescue world is a small one, Hope for Paws also appeared on the show and works together with The Mutt Scouts to help Los Angeles animals in need.

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Other Volunteer Opportunities

Still on the fence?

There are organizations available to help find the perfect volunteer opportunity for you. LA Works and Volunteer Match can help you narrow down your search by location, time commitment and interest.

You can also set up alerts to let you know which organizations in your area are in need of help.

And of course since we might have missed some great organizations on the above list, please let us know in the comments below where you think are great places to volunteer in Los Angeles.

Happy volunteering!