A Guide to Seeing the More Laidback Side of LA

Los Angeles isn’t all about the Hollywood lifestyle. In fact, there are some areas that are seriously laid back and have a much more boho vibe, being home to quirky coffee shops, independent stores and some great watering holes. As this is a side of LA travellers rarely see, I thought I’d put together a quick guide to one of the best alternative spots – Highland Park.

Highland Park, Los Angeles

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

I’m going to be focusing on the overall feel of the place, as well as things like where to shop, where to grab a coffee and where to spend an evening. So, if you need to find out more about practicalities like accommodation, visit this website.

Highland Park – the basics

Let’s begin with a quick overview of Highland Park. This neighbourhood is in the north-east of LA and is tipped as an up-and-coming destination for the trendiest residents and travellers.

Come here and you’ll experience a quieter side of the city. Yes, there’s still the sunshine and wide boulevards you’d expect, but there are also far fewer crowds and it is definitely populated by ‘normal’ people, rather than movie star wannabes! So, the atmosphere is quite different to what you’d find on a typical LA street.

York Boulevard is the heart of the area and quite recently was revamped, at least in part as a response to Highland Park’s growing popularity. As you’ll see below, this street is lined with some of the best things to see and do here, including vintage shops and great cafes. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what you shouldn’t miss in this neighbourhood.

Cafes, restaurants and bars

The first thing I like to do when I arrive in a new place is to get an idea of where the best places to eat are. Of course, if you’re planning on coming here first thing in the morning, chances are caffeine will be the number one thing on your mind. Should that be the case, I thoroughly recommend a trip to Cafe de Leche, which makes absolutely gorgeous coffee.

Highland Park’s also really good for Mexican food, so I also think it’s worth going somewhere like the Highland Cafe for lunch. This place has a great menu inspired by Mexican cuisine, as well as a nice atmosphere.

When it comes to bars, the Hermosillo is one of the best spots to go to in Highland Park. Previously known as the Hermosillo Club, it serves up craft beers and small production wines, which makes it a real gem if you like your drinks interesting and well-crafted.

Shop vintage

Moving on to shops now, there are some brilliant vintage and independent stores here. My favourite is Pop-Hop Books & Print, which you’ll find at 5002 York Blvd. This small, independent establishment is a bookshop and a print studio (which you may well have guessed from its name!) with a cracking selection of books. Its main focus is fiction, but it also has a brilliant mix of art editions which are well worth checking out if you’re into picking up pretty copies of your favourite books.

If you like seeking out unique clothes, get yourself over to Urchin. Also on York Blvd, this shop stocks vintage gear for both men and women. It mostly sells 60s and 70s clothes, but it also has a nice range of rings, bracelets and necklaces.

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