9 Places to Go in L.A. When You Really Need a Pick-Me-Up

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In Los Angeles everyday stresses pile up like traffic on the 405. An angeleno’s list of worries includes items such as rent, relationships, car payments, job-hunting, cost of living and, in some cases, the gnawing sense of existential isolation that comes from living in a sprawling metropolis.

You know, just your basic hot mess.


But if you’re feeling down about life in L.A. then allow me to offer a humble suggestion. In order to get yourself out of a rut you’ve got to adjust your frame of mind. In order to calculate a solution you have to think positively. And sometimes finding the right perspective is a matter of putting yourself in the appropriate environment. Feelings, then thoughts, then action.

So where can you go in our city to shake loose a few good vibes and put a smile on your face?

I have some ideas for you…

1. The Dog Cafe

What if there were a place in Los Angeles where you could relax with a tasty cup of coffee while snuggling with man’s (and woman’s) best friend right in your lap? There is!

It’s called The Dog Cafe and the idea is simple: Provide a space where adoptable pups from local shelters can meet humans in a non-shelter environment, get to know each other, and maybe even form a connection strong enough to lead to adoption.

Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are highly recommended.

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[RELATED13 Things Your Dog Really Wants To Do With You in Los Angeles]

Dog Cafe LA Featured
Image via The Dog Cafe

2. Sockerbit

The soothing white walls of Sockerbit’s narrow interior contrast nicely with their colorful selection of pay-by-weight Swedish candy. Come for the heavenly ambience, stay for the sugar buzz.

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Sockerbit in Los Angeles
Sockerbit. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

3. Vista Hermosa Park

Sometimes what you need most when you’re down is a quiet place with a breathtaking view.

For me, that place will always be a bench on top of a modest hill at Vista Hermosa Park.

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[RELATED12 Totally Sick Views of Los Angeles You Can Get To Without a Big Fuss]

Vista Hermosa Park
Photo Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

4. Scoops

Scoops makes around 50 unique flavors per week, with its total reserve of recipes ranging in the hundreds, perhaps as high as 1000. And these aren’t your grandma’s flavors. Offerings you might find at Scoops include brown bread, ricotta toffee, sweet potato green tea, or chocolate wasabi.

Keep in mind, however, that flavor selections change daily. Even if you stop by one day and sample a batch that blows your mind, you may never eat that same flavor again. Such is life at Scoops, where the surprise is often half the fun.

Cash only. Locations in East Hollywood, Highland Park, Chinatown, and a franchised spot on Overland Ave called Scoops Westside.

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Scoops Ice Cream East Hollywood
Sccops in East Hollywood. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

5. Huntington Library

The 120 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and flora at the Huntington Library is ample territory to roam, admire, reflect, and hopefully appreciate all the little things that life has to offer.

TIP: They offer a free admission day on first Thursday of every month, but reservations are required and usually get booked up in a flash. Be sure to stay on top of the exact time/date when the reservation link is dropped if you want to scoop up the freebies (usually about 35 days in advance).

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[RELATED7 Awesomely Peaceful Places in L.A. To Help Harvest Your Inner Calm]

Huntington Library Bridge

Japanese Garden Bridge at the Huntington Library. Credit: Michael Saechang via flickr cc


6. UCB Sunset or Franklin

The formula is pretty simple: The Upright Citizens Brigade is synonymous with comedy. Comedy leads to laughter. Laughter is good for the soul.

Most shows are $5, so it won’t empty out your wallet either.

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Upright Citizens Brigade Exterior
Photo Credit: Liezl Estipona

7. Soap Plant Wacko

Billed as ‘the second happiest place on earth’ the Soap Plant’s inventory includes some 50,000 weird, wild, and (yes) wacko items, from electronic fart machines and kitsch LPs to magic eight balls, ugly dolls, and a seemingly endless supply of vinyl bobbleheads. It is pop surrealism at it its most surrealistic. If you can’t find something here to make you smile you’re probably not even trying.

ALSO: While you’re there be sure to check out the La Luz De Jesus Gallery in the back of the store. Most recently they were exhibiting a pop art coaster show, along with a naked, though slightly mutilated, statue of Donald Trump.

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[RELATED17 Offbeat, Kinda Weird, But Totally Cool Things to Do in L.A.]

Soap Plant Wacko
Inside Soap Plant Wacko. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

8. Button Mash

A combination of savory bites and classic arcade games is an intoxicating brew and at Button Mash they get the mix just right. The rotating selection of games features favorites like Contra, Mario Brothers, Frogger, Punchout, Street Fighter II, TMNT, and more. The food, as prepared by the same duo who made Starry Night Kitchen, includes standouts such as the crispy tofu balls, shrimp toast, and garlic noodles. There are plenty of beers on tap too!

Guests under 21 are allowed in until around 9 p.m., but they start carding entrants around 8:15 p.m.

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Button Mash Echo Park
Button Mash in Echo Park. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

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9. Galco’s

If Galco’s massive selection of unique sodas, spirits, and vintage candy isn’t enough to lift your mood, just try having a conversation with store owner John Nese.

John’s passion for offering as many choices as he can to his customers is absolutely infectious (watch below), and he’s always happy to engage with inquisitive customers.

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via Chowhound / YouTube

Want to mind more fun spots to hang out around Los Angeles? Get more ideas via the Cool Spots section of our blog!



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