Mostly because there has been little love given to the East side of Los Angeles I decided I had to post again.
Sure the West Side has some stuff (the beach being my favorite)but most of the real culture is on the East (and yes, Los Angeles has culture, those that say we don’t have been staying west). For the purposes of this particular argument I am deffining anything East of La Cienega as East. This is not technically correct, but since “West Los Angeles” is La Cienega to the Ocean I am defining East as anything NOT “west”.
To start off with, we have an amazing Natural History Museum on the east side, as well as the beautiful park it is built on. While you are there, check out the rose gardens and maybe the science center and aerospace museum. I haven’t been, but I am told that the Pavillion of Wings (butterflies) is well worth the price of admission. It is open until labor day.
Pasadena is great, all around, you could spend a good amount of time in old town. A bit touristy but fun.
The Huntington Library has already been mentioned. Descanso Gardens , is also well worth a visit.
As for a music scene, personally I don’t think any of the venues west of La Cienega play anything worthwhile most of the time, but YMMV depending on your taste in music. My favorite venue bar none is Spaceland in Silverlake. Many a major (by my indie rocker standards) band has played there, and it is about the size of your local bar. The Echo and Mr. T’s are also very cool, though a bit bigger (size not prominence) and don’t get the same level of artists.
If you like Mexican food, culture, or just like having a good time, you must go to Alvera Street. I cannot stress this enough. Alvera Street is AMAZINGLY COOL.
We have a Chinatown, but I am not a fan. I lived right next door to Korea Town for a while though, and K Town has some good food. Also you might want to check out Los Feliz while you are in the neighborhood and maybe stop by the Dresden (as seen in the major motion picture Swingers) and grab a late night bite at Fred 62’s (best 24 hour diner in the world.)
And if you ARE in Los Feliz, check out Griffith Park. The park itself is neat, and the Zoo and Museum of the American West are not bad either. Unfortunately the Observatory is closed until 2006, but you can still see the planetarium show at the satelite, which seems kinda cute.
Hollywood was kind of my home base as a teenager (went to high school there), and the knitting factory is a cool venue also, probably my second favorite venue in the city. There is the typical tourist stuff, Mann’s (Gramans) Chinese theater, the Hollywood Wax Museum, etc. They have recently tried to give Hollywood a makeover, and it didn’t really work right. So it isn’t as cool a place as it used to be, much more commercial and obviously a tourist trap, which is a shame. I wouldn’t recommend spending lots of time there because of this, but if you get a chance to, you should check out the American Cinematheque located at the Egyptian Theater. The Egyptian is beautiful, and they show great movies.
Lastly on this tour of all things not West Side centric, we come to a stop that is borderline, but does fall east of La Cienega so is technically NOT a west side place. The Silent Movie Theater is one of the only two working silent theaters in the world, and the only one in the Northern Hemisphere (at least that’s what they claim). They aren’t open much, and it looks like they won’t be screening again till August, but if you are out here on a Monday night, it is well worth the trip. Live musical accompaniment, and great silent films. It is something everyone should get to experience at least once in their lifetime.
Of course I didn’t get to mention The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or The Petersen Auto Museum (both almost being westsiders), or the fact that Wicked is playing at The Pantages theater in Hollywood. (Also a beautiful building). Or any of the stuff at the music center downtown. Or the walking tours of the historic downtown theater district. Or dozens of other cool things to do. Don’t even get me started on the Valley.
So um, head over to the east side. You don’t’ want to hang out with those darn Westsiders anyhow.