Nestled in between the looming skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles and the uber-trendy coffee shops of Silver Lake, Echo Park is a humble hybrid of the urban downtown scene and the laid-back vibes of LA suburbs. In Echo Park, many of Los Angeles’ most unique cultural facets come together to create a community that has a vibrant and distinctive energy. Riddled with vegan cafes, quirky thrift stores, Mexican fruit stands and bold street murals, Echo Park features a fusion of the city’s most beloved cultural staples.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the Echo Park area is the park of the same name, which has undergone renovations in recent years to clean up the water in the lake. The houses in the Angelino Heights neighborhood have made cameos in famous Hollywood media like the “Thriller” music video. And just a few blocks away is the renowned Dodger Stadium, where families and friends gather together for baseball games. From navigating the most culturally significant landmarks to scouting the artsiest eateries in the locale, prime highlights what this charming Los Angeles community has to offer.
The perfect place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, Echo Park is many Angelenos’ ideal escape from the hubbub of urban life. As I strolled around the perimeter of the park, I saw families pedal boating with kids in tow, millennial women jogging in Lululemon clothes and even a man meditating on the grassy knolls. Besides the family-friendly feel of the place, the park has splendid views that took me by surprise. The park’s lake overlooks the downtown financial district and blends sleek cityscape with beautiful greenery in a truly breathtaking way. Popular things to do here range from boating with the DTLA skyscrapers as a backdrop to sipping lattes from the park’s lighthouse-shaped cafe, Beacon.
The site of the haunted house from Michael Jackson’s epochal “Thriller” music video and the Halliwell Manor from the television show “Charmed,” Carroll Avenue has enjoyed its fair share of the limelight. Located in Echo Park’s Angelino Heights neighborhood, the street is lined with impressive Victorian-style homes that struck me as somewhere between breathtaking and haunted. Whether I was looking at the sprawling front porches or the quirky weathervanes, the houses made Carroll Avenue one of my favorite locations to sightsee because of their nostalgic feel and cultural significance.
The venue seems inconspicuous at first glance; the beige exterior and humble marquee are overpowered by the colorful shops nearby. However, The Echo is a local favorite in terms of intimate concert venues. Although most of the shows are done by punk-rock cover artists, there have been some notable performers like Beck and The Rolling Stones that have graced the venue in the past. The disco balls on top and wall of beer on tap add even more allure to the lounge-like space. The Echo features cover bands almost every night for prices as low as $10 and is an essential part of the city’s nightlife. Although I did not get a chance to catch an under-21 show, the friendly staff and decked-out interior made attending a show here a new addition to my bucket list.
Sage Organic Vegan Bistro is a quaint cafe tucked in the corner of a building on Sunset Boulevard that does not attract much attention from the outside. However, the shabby industrial space spruced up with ample greenery and mason jar light fixtures makes the interior a hipster heaven. Upon walking in, I smelled the distinct gingery smell of raw juiceries, which added to the ambience. I’m neither vegan nor vegetarian, which made me skeptical of eating at a vegan bistro. However, the fare is flavorful and delightful, not just for vegans but also for carnivores and everyone in between. My favorite item from lunch there was easily the hot wings dish. Made from firm, fried cauliflower doused in tangy buffalo sauce, these vegan buffalo wing alternatives will make even the most devout meat-eaters concede to their greatness.