Living in Los Angeles is pretty great, and every neighborhood has a lot to offer. We love living in Mar Vista, and we explore our 10 blocks all of the time, but this is a big city with lots to see. Plenty of new things are always popping up all over this major metropolis, and with traffic being so difficult and public transportation being somewhat limiting, we don’t often get out of our 3 mile radius.
So we chose a free Sunday, and treated it like one of the many day trips we’ve taken in the past. We played tourist in our own city; and we brought some friends along with us!
It was Sunday, and on Sunday we go to the Mar Vista Farmer’s Market. Ok ok. It isn’t out of our 3 mile radius, so not much of a start for a day trip, but it’s still a nice LA thing to do.
Of course on day trips we don’t have our cars, so we dealt with all of the same adversity today as we would in another city. For $7 you can purchase an all day pass on the LA Metro. This pass gets you a full day of transportation on the rail and bus lines throughout the city. After the farmer’s market we grabbed a friend and started off. Here we are catching our first train at the Metro/Culver City Station.
Cat and I used to take time out for train days like this when we first started dating. I’ve always liked the subway (well…Metro is what it’s called since most of it is above ground), and the freedom it allows to look around as you traverse the city. Any time we would see something that looked interesting we would jump off and check it out. Our first interesting thing of the day ended up being the Exposition Park Rose Garden at the California Science Center. I’m quite a fan of roses. It was fortunate that they were in bloom! A short walk from the Expo Park/USC Station we found ourselves surrounded by beautiful, blooming rose bushes that were all so fragrant and unique. While my favorite rose has always been the Double Delight, I found out that Mr. Lincoln is a pretty close second.
Here’s Cat getting in there for some Double Delight deliciousness.
We found out that our friend who was with us from the start of this trip had never been to Union Station. Even though she had grown up in LA, and had dropped people off at Union Station, she had never been inside. So we made our next stop a quick stroll through the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States.
Directly across the street from Union Station is the famous Olvera Street; the first street in Los Angeles.
What would you find on the oldest street in Los Angeles? The oldest house of course! Originally built by wealthy cattle rancher Francisco Avila, the house was part of his 4,439-acre land grant that spanned across most of Beverly Hills and the Miracle Mile district. The house was built using tar from the La Brea Tar Pits and clay from the LA River (prior to the river being paved).
Just across from Olvera Street you’ll find the Pico House Hotel built by Pio Pico, the last governor of California while still under Mexican rule. This was the first 3 story building in Los Angeles and the first luxury hotel.
Just a man enjoying a smoke on a beautiful, sunny Southern California day.
Time to gather some more friends! First, a photo in the historic original ticketing area of Union Station.
Quick drink while we wait at the Traxx Bar inside of the station.
Off to catch the next train!
Time for food! If you’ve followed our other day trips (or if you’ve attended one with us), you know that we normally eat constantly. This is probably the longest we’ve gone on any day trip without food. Here it is lunch time, we’ve already had a Bloody Mary, and nothing but some Wetzel’s Pretzels Pizza Bitz at the station while we waited for our friends.
We took the Purple Line train from Union Station, and after a quick 15 minute walk in the hot sun, we found ourselves at Hong Kong Banjum. It’s a hole in the wall restaurant in Koreatown that serves cheap and delicious food. We went just to get their Jangjangmyeon, and it did not disappoint.
While eating lunch we discovered that another member of our group had never seen Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (at one time Mann’s, and currently TCL) or the Hollywood Walk of Fame. So, back on the train; this time the Red Line to Hollywood. Upon exiting at the Hollywood and Vine station we were immediately immersed in street vendors, street performers, characters in costume, and crowds of tourists. It was tough to get through the mayhem and keep our group together, but we managed to end up in one piece at our destination.
One of many famous hand and footprints memorialized at the historic Chinese Theater; the last theater built by Sid Grauman who was also responsible for the beautiful Egyptian Theater just down the street.
If you live in LA then you know we have a few staples when it comes to street food. Possibly the most famous are LA Dogs; also called street meat or danger dogs. If you look through some of our other travels you’ll see I have a serious love of hot dogs, and danger dogs are no exception. Not the best hot dogs in the world, but unbeatable coming out of a late night pub needing something to help soak up the eminent hangover juice sitting in your stomach. Also, there’s bacon so of course they’re delicious.
Another historic Hollywood landmark; the Roosevelt Hotel. Built in 1927, it is the longest continually operated hotel in Los Angeles. The Roosevelt is a true piece of Hollywood legacy. The first Academy Awards were held in its ballroom, Marilyn Monroe lived in the hotel for 2 years, and the mural by the pool is painted by David Hockney. Originally funded partly by Sid Grauman (yep…the same!) and Louis B. Mayer (Metro Goldwyn Mayer, aka MGM), the provenance that is the Roosevelt Hotel is unsurpassed by any other Hollywood landmark.
We considered having a drink here at the Roosevelt, but it was just too crowded. They have apparently turned their pool into a day club setting on the weekends (complete with a drunk girl trying to explain herself after having been thrown out), so we jumped back on the train to head downtown for some more familiar surroundings.
Next stop, Brack Shop Tavern. Korean food was delicious and filling, but the cocktails have started flowing and we need to keep a steady intake of food coming to offset the drinks. Above you can see some of their appetizers, specifically pretzels, elote, and vegan mac and cheese.
Our group of day trippers.
The mural in the back of Union Station.
Waiting on the platform at Union Station for the Gold Line train.
Next stop, Chinatown to pickup a few more friends to join our day trip.
We went straight over to the Melody Lounge for some drinks with our waiting pals.
The now expanded group!
Here’s the view from the Chinatown Station. One more stop before heading home.
Cat and I both love New Orleans jazz. It is different from all of the jazz we find in the other places we visit. Don’t get me wrong; blues in Chicago, Big Band in New York, and Django style gypsy jazz at my favorite local bar have all been incredible. But there is a special place for New Orleans, Dixieland jazz. We are always looking for Dixieland music in Los Angeles, and we’ve been pretty disappointed with the available options until we found the California Feetwarmers. They’ve got everything we’ve been looking for. So even though we were tired from running around the city all day, and we probably didn’t look our best, we made one final stop to hear some sweet dixieland music at Seven Grand.
Another successful day trip! I know it’s not quite the same since we didn’t have to wait at the airport, and we didn’t change climates, but it had all the elements that we love from our other day trips. Running around a city with friends, never getting in a car to fight traffic, exploring new places and old favorites, and stopping for anything that seems interesting are just some of the reasons to get out and adventure whenever, and wherever, you can.