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Places

A Walk from Downtown to Chinatown

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I often work in Downtown, either for meetings, projects, or just cause I don’t want to work at home. I finished my work early and decided that I was going to brave the maybe possible multiple hours wait to get Howlin’ Rays. It’s been a while since it debuted, I just felt it was time to just find out. Well, in the interest of maximizing my time… I actually edited all these pictures on the VSCO app while waiting in line.

The people in line with me were pretty appalled that I’m from LA and I hadn’t tried it yet. Everyone else in line seems to have already done it one time or another. All I’m gonna say is it’s incredible, does live up to the hype, tender and juicy delicious chick, the rub is amazing, the spices combo is unlike anything I’ve had before, it’s a new kind of food for me (Nashville hot), the pickles were eat and the staff was really friendly. It’s hidden in this random part of Chinatown surrounded by businesses with a more normal traffic than this place. I would say what makes this more successful than those businesses is the branding. This is a great example as to why you need a brand strategist for your business.

Anyway! Here are some pretty pictures of DTLA architecture. Scroll to the bottom for more suggestions on what to explore around this area =) 

9th & Main

  • Pattern Bar – famous downtown bar themed after fashion as it is in the fashion district. All cocktails are named after designers. I recommend Jimmy Choo <3
  • Peking Tavern – underground bar with GREAT dumplings and AWESOME happy hour specials
  • Preux & Proper – gorgeous interiors and Southern food with a twist. Must!

8th & Broadway 

  • Il Caffe – Swedish coffee shop with beer and wine. Food looks pretty expensive so I haven’t gotten anything to eat here. Pop on to 9th & Main to go to the food court in that building instead. I recommend Bakery Nosh for the sweetest lady in downtown
  • Sonoratown – one of my most visited spots. When I say cheap, I mean, take advantage before they raise them cause they are popular. They even expanded their space so it’s huge and always busy.

Hill St. to Chinatown 

  • Lots of street art – look up, look down, look to the side… you’ll find some art
  • Pershing Square – it reminds me of Washington Square Park in NYC. It can have lots of homeless people but they’re all friendly =)
  • Jewelry district – lots of hidden gems around here 😉 Just explore
  • Grand Park – kept pretty clean. Props!
  • Angel’s Flight – take a ride! Bring cash
  • Grand Central Market – always good to pop in here for a pint or some candy
  • Howlin’ Rays – review up top!

A Day in LA! Inland Version

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Coming to LA for a short amount of time but you want to hit up the most iconic spots in one day? Easy! These are 6 spots in LA that you can do within 8 hours. I wanted to make sure our cousin from Canada got to see all the best spots usually featured in film and GTA. Starting off with a quick hike and ending it with a lot of food.

Places! The Japanese Garden in Van Nuys

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I’m around Van Nuys sometimes when I volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society in Mission Hills. I actually came here right before my QUEST on Van Nuys Boulevard to relax and read a book before I took on hours of walking.

If you’re looking for a Japanese garden to meditate, relax and center your thoughts, you must make your way to THE Japanese Garden in Van Nuys. It’s the largest one I’ve been to in LA. You can find other gardens in Pasadena, at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center and at the VA Hospital near The Getty. But none of those even compares to this one. Incredible massive, gorgeous landscape architecture, very well taken care of, super cheap to enter ($5 donation), and good to go in the summer or winter. There’s plenty of shaded areas as well as greenery to sit on. They have many beautiful creatures living there, some I can’t even name. It’s really worth the drive up here.

It is located right next to the Donald C Tillman Water Reclamation Plant so you can take actually take a look at that at the end of the garden’s pathway. Make your way up the stairs by the concrete building. There’s an amazing view of the garden from up there, which is where I got the panorama shot below!

Quests! Van Nuys Boulevard I (Left Side)

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QUEST TIME! Finally a quest. I came up with this idea about a year ago due to my dire need to do as much as you can in one sitting, whether it is with work or with fun.

What’s a CITY QUEST? A quest is a way for you to tour all the best spots in a specific area in the city of Los Angeles. Most of my quests are meant to be done by foot, thus achieving a very active step count! But, it’s LA, a lot will require you to drive cause it’s a giant place.

Why is this something you should pursue? This idea sparked during my birthday last year. My girlfriend gave me a book on ALL the essential LA spots to see. I told my friend I would make it my mission to hit all those spots by my next birthday. However, at the time, I lived pretty far away from all the hot spots: far East in San Gabriel Valley. So, heading into the city would take me 1+ hours to drive there… which, if you live here, you know it’s not a drive anyone wants to do. I HAD to make it worth that longggg hour drive.

What was my main inspiration for this? I researched, made spreadsheets, inspected maps for random locations, and that’s how I arrived at QUESTS. If you ever played video games (inspiration for this is from Hearthstone by Blizzard), there are usually certain challenges that you need to complete to unlock a prize or the next level. With this, you get to experience all of the hot spots in that vicinity in ONE day… and it’s a physical challenge because you will cash in a lot of steps for the day. It’s a perfect way to combine staying active while seeing our City of Angels!!

Perfect for your friends visiting out of town! I use these guides when showing around people from out of town. They get to cover the most ground in the most efficient way, sooo no fear of missing out any of the best places in LA. This city is jam packed with hidden treasures and you’ll always find something new along your quest.

***** This post features the LEFT side of the boulevard starting at this restaurant which also had very cool murals. The murals should all be in order from bottom to top, except for Mona Lisa as it is very hidden behind some bushes so make sure to look behind you! *****

FIRST QUEST: 10 MILES OF VAN NUYS BOULEVARD

10 mile loop
20,000 steps
From 12:30 - 4:30 PM
Parked by Ay Papa Que Rico, and then looped back