Ode to LA

My boyfriend and I have started a tradition of adventuring on Tuesdays — mainly because neither of us have class and I can make the trek up to LA… but more so because it’s Tuesday and what better time is there to explore with my love?

Since he spends more time in LA than me, he’s my go-to tour guide and is chock-full of fun facts about the buildings, history and development of the city. We started our day early and were able to pack in so many cool sites and places, while spending very little (making it the PERFECT adventure for college students). So if you’re wanting to explore LA on a dime or trying to figure out how to adventure without spending a fortune, look no further!

Our morning began at The Original Pantry in Downtown Los Angeles, which opened in 1924 (and moved to this location in 1950). The delicious smell of pancakes, coffee and bacon flooded the restaurant and the atmosphere had the charm of a neighborhood diner in NYC.

b-pantry6Image courtesy of Mr. Breakfast

Breakfast: About $18 (for 2)


La Brea Tar Pits
 were next on the agenda, we got there before the actual museum opened (9:30am) and *accidentally* evaded having to pay for parking (not complaining, at all!) Charlie also has a family pass so we were able to get in for FREE. The tar pits are absolutely fascinating and it’s incredible to know that the current site where LACMA stands, as well as many other apartment buildings, used to be the home to many species of animals that were claimed by the tar pits.
Admission: FREE (with pass)
*If no pass, $9 for College Students with ID
$12 for adults
**FREE General Admission the first Tuesday of every month (except July/August)


The Hammer Museum operated by UCLA currently has an exhibition “Tea and Morphine, Women in Paris, 1880 to 1914” and I had been dying to go. I’m a self-proclaimed francophile, as well as a lover of Impressionism and that general time in history. The exhibit did not disappoint, filled with many works by Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, Manet and others. The walls were lined with related quotes, like:
“She wanted to die, but she also wanted to live in Paris.”
-Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Admission: FREE
Parking: $3 with validation
Total so far: $21


Following the Hammer Museum, we headed to the Greystone Mansion, also known as the Doheny Mansion, located in Beverly Hills. The Tudor-style mansion was completed in 1928 and was gifted from the oil tycoon, Edward Doheny to his son, Ned. Four months after Ned, his wife, their five children, and many servants moved into the mansion, he died in his bedroom in a “murder-suicide” with his secretary, Hugh Plunket. There are many speculations as to what the truth is, but as story goes, Ned was a closeted gay and having an extramarital affair with his secretary, Hugh. Whatever the case, the mansion is now on the register of National Historic Places and the grounds are open to the public (although getting into the actual mansion is very rare). The mansion has been used for MANY film productions including: The Big Lebowski, Entourage (they were filming near here today), Ghostbusters II, Gilmore Girls, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Revenge, The Social Network, Spiderman, The Vampire Diaries and many more!
Admission: FREE
Parking: FREE

The Grand Central Market makes an excellent stop for lunch! Located next to Bunker Hill, the market opened in 1917 to a flourishing entertainment and commercial district situated in between Victorian mansions. The market has a variety of different cuisines, produce, spices and flavor, ideal for even the pickiest of eaters!
Tip: It is CASH ONLY, but there are ATMS available. Parking here can be kind of crazy — we were able to find parking down the block for $5.50.
Lunch: About $14 (for 2)
Parking: $5.50
Total so far: $40.50
front 2 Bradbury Buildingvia GlamAmor
tumblr_m06d532xD61qjlza3o1_r2_1280-1via QuietOntheSets
Since we’d already paid for parking, we decided to hotfoot it to our last few destinations. 
Right across the street from the Grand Central Market is the most beautiful building, EVER. The Bradbury Building, built in 1893, is an architectural landmark. The building’s brick facade is pretty, albeit kind of average (it’s a gorgeous brick building, but nothing particularly special). It’s the interior of the building that I fell absolutely head over heels for. The interior black wrought-iron was completely crafted in France and then displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair (1893) before being installed in the building. The “bird-cage” elevators go up to the fifth floor, and even though the building is rimmed with the black iron-work, it feels very airy and light. It’s primarily used as an office building today, but has also been used for many movie sets, like: Blade Runner, The Artist, Chinatown and 500 Days of Summer.
Admission: FREE

Los Angeles City Hall
was next on the agenda, so we walked a couple blocks, went through security, got our visitor passes and headed up 27 levels to the Observation Deck. The deck offers breathtaking views of Los Angeles, in every single direction, 360 degrees. The interior of the building is also very pretty, particularly the 3rd floor.
Admission: FREE
via StruxTravel
Pico House from Early Views of Los Angeles Landmarks
We then headed to good ol’ Olvera Street, created in 1930 as a tourist attraction, highlighting the customs and traditions of early California. Olvera Street is claims to be a “living museum paying homage to a romantic vision of old Mexico,” and this can definitely be seen with the colorful street lined with vendors, piñatas, Mexican pottery and margaritas(!). The Avila Adobe is also here (unfortunately it closes at 4pm, we got there at 4:06!) and has the distinction of being the oldest standing residence in Los Angeles, built in 1818. The Pico House (built 1869-70)  is right across from Olvera Street and stands tall as a historic building that once served as the most lavish hotel in Southern California in the mid-late 19th century.

Admission: FREE
Ice Cream Churro: $6
Total so far: $46.50




Right across the street is a gorgeous Catholic Church named “La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles” or The Church of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels. The church of Los Angeles was found in 1814 as a sub-mission to the nearby Mission San Gabriel.
Admission: FREE
(This reminded me of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks)

The Union Station was right across the street and I hadn’t been before, so we decided to check it out. It’s a bustling place, known as the “Last of the Great Railway Stations.” This is most likely because its opening pre-dates WWII by just a few months, in May of 1939.
Admission: Free

The last place on our adventure was one that Charlie kept raving about, claiming that this bookstore was the essence of me. That could’ve meant a lot of things, so I kept my fingers crossed. We arrived at the most whimsical, decorative book haven, and I never wanted to leave. Imagine a Harry Potter–meets-Alice in Wonderland bookstore fused with a dash of hipster and manic librarian with a good taste in music, and you’ve got The Last Bookstore. The walls are lined with floating books, pages propelling toward you, collections of literature from around the world (a lot of them are at used prices too!) But, that’s not all. I was already in love with the place, and then we went upstairs. This fantasy playground of books enters into a labyrinth on the second floor, complete with a book tunnel, a destroyed bank vault and $1 books. Talk about heaven! This place really is too good for words and I highly suggest taking a trip to visit this wonderland and venture into the labyrinth (for good measure and $1 books).

Admission: Free
Books: $5
Total Cost of the day: $51.50

Why not turn a regular Tuesday into the most excellent adventure? Getting away doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive and there are fun facts around every corner!

Bonne soirée. CLEO

Old LA Zoo