Art on the Outside in West Hollywood

Art on the Outside” is a program sponsored by the City of West Hollywood’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission.

Sun and Moon

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An Artistic Bike Rack Tour of Downtown Los Angeles

Bike Rack

Simply put, if you’re riding a bike to a specific location and intend to stay or stop there for any period of time, having a bike rack for your bicycle is a necessity. Most bike racks are plain steel, twisted metal, or perhaps consist of a parking meter, a light pole, or anything that’s fixed for you to be able to lock your bicycle onto.

However, it doesn’t have to be like that at all; indeed the emerging trends are creative, flexible, and work to secure your bike while being artistically, and neighborhood friendly.

Sponsored in 1994-1995, by the Los Angeles City Department of Transportation, “The Bike Stops Here” project was funded with an $18,000 Cultural Trust Fund grant from the Community Redevelopment Agency. With the direct involvement of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), ten uniquely designed bike racks were installed in downtown Los Angeles.

So the next time you’re riding your bike downtown, try looking for an artistic bike rack, instead of the everyday ho-hum norm:

Pershing Square - Corner of Olive St. & Fifth St.


Grand Hope Park - Hope St.


China Town Library - Yale St. and College St.


LAPD Central Station - Corner of 6th St. & Maple Ave.


Geffen Contemporary Museum - 152 N. Central Ave.


LA Times Building - First St. & Spring St.


I’ve included a map so you can easily find them:

View Artistic Bike Racks in Los Angeles in a larger map

Although there are new bike racks planned for East Hollywood, they’re not installed yet.

515 South Flower St.

If you know about or have seen any unique bike racks in and around LA, please feel free to share them with us so we can feature them in one of our stories.

Grand Central Market - 304 S. Broadway

Join Travelin’ Local’s new Facebook group and upload your photos. Be sure to include your blog and/or web address so I can provide you with proper attribution.

LA Mall - 310 North Main St.

Cause after all is said and done, Los Angeles is the second largest city in the nation; and we comprise and represent various neighborhoods and people from all walks of life, ethnic groups, and our cultural landscape literally changes block by block.

City Hall East - Main St.

So join our project by submitting all the bike racks you can find in your neighborhood while Travelin’ Local, because living here is about having fun and then sharing it with your friends at the same time.

LA’s Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House on the market for $15 Million

As I drove up the winding road leading to the Ennis House, I was overwhelmed by its sheer size and magnitude.  It’s striking.

Ennis House

And it’s for sale.  Now is your chance to own a part of history, architecture, and an artist’s worldview as expressed in his meticulous attention to design, detail, and devotion to his own aesthetic genius.  How often is a Frank Lloyd Wright house which features breathtaking views of Los Angeles–and so much more–available for purchase? The question is rhetorical. The answer is, not often.

Ennis House Foundation

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, hard economic times and harsh environmental factors have forced the Ennis House Foundation’s Board to make the decision to sell Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis house.

“Given the current harsh economic realities, private ownership would be the best way to save the house and honor my grandfather’s intentions,” said Eric Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson and member of the Ennis House’s Board of Directors.

The property sustained heavy water damage due to the heavy rains in 2005, and was briefly red-flagged by the building inspectors. Due to the state of the current economy, the decision to sell it to the private sector was made in order to have the iconic Los Angeles Ennis Hose fully restored.

Early History of the Ennis House

The Ennis House is located in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles; more specifically, on the south slope of the Griffith Park hills. Commissioned by Charles and Mabel Ennis, it was one of the 4 homes designed and built in Los Angeles by Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright completed his drawings for the home in 1923, and the construction in 1924. The home is also Frank Lloyd Wright’s largest use of his signature textile block designs, constructed primarily of interlocking pre-cast concrete blocks, as described below.

This residence is one of the most unusual of Wright’s California designs. In it, he combined elements from his past work with a new vocabulary created specifically for the sun-drenched, slightly rugged topography of South­ern California. Aware that his client shared his affinity for Mayan art and architecture, he drew inspiration from that culture’s highly ornamented and organized buildings. Thomas Heinz, Architectural Digest, October 1979

The Ennis House has been designated as a city, state, and national landmark.

Side Door Entrance

Ennis House Textile Block Facts

  • The Ennis House is the largest of four textile-block houses designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright, between 1922 and 1924. Each of the homes—including the Storer and Freeman houses in Los Angeles and the Millard House in Pasadena—features a unique block construction.
  • The last and most complex of this series, the Ennis House seems to rise organically from its setting. Indeed, the blocks for the home were partially constructed from decomposed granite taken from the building site.
  • The patterned concrete blocks were cast and joined by steel rods and grout inserted into continuous concave joints during the building process. The result is an inter­locking construction, where the rods and the grout work like a warp and a weft in weaving, giving textile-block architecture its name.
  • Textile-block architecture also derives its name from the blocks’ geometric impressions. Wright designed a specific pattern for each of the four houses. The blocks of the Ennis House were inspired by the façades of Mayan buildings in Uxmal, Mexico.

The Ennis House Property Details

    Wright Light
  • Commanding a hillside at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Ennis House is sited on a half acre in Los Feliz, near the Griffith Observatory.  Totaling approximately 6,000 square feet, the estate consists of a main house with a smaller chauffeur’s quar­ters, separated by a paved motor courtyard.
  • A gate opens to the generously proportioned motor court, off of which a door grants access to the home’s ground-level entrance.
  • The billiards room with a bar and open fireplace awaits off the entry.
  • A low, shadowed lobby introduces the interior to the main residence—a Wrightian device that prepares residents and guests for the dramatic burst of light and space awaiting atop the marble stairs.
  • An elevated dining room with a massive fireplace serves as the centerpiece of the house. The soaring window is appointed with art-glass and facing windows feature mitered corners—another Wright signature to invite the outdoors into the house.
  • High ceilings and numerous art-glass windows afford­ing sprawling views of Los Angeles enhance the living room. The glass-tile mosaic fireplace (at right) in the living room is one of only three ever created and the last remaining intact example in any Wright residence.
  • A long window-lined loggia on the north side (at right) overlooks the pool and flows from the public rooms to the master suite, the guest bedroom suite, and a small Japanese garden.
  • The kitchen and pantry are accessed through an elevated hall above the entry. A small bedroom with a bath is also included in this wing.
  • Inside View

  • A bridge leads from the main residence to the chauffeur’s quarters, which are located above the four-car garage.
  • The chauffeur’s quarters comprise a bedroom, bath, kitchenette, and comfortable living area with approxi­mately 12-foot-high ceilings. Far-reaching views of Los Angeles to the east, Hollywood to the south, and Beverly Hills and the Pacific Ocean to the west add to the splendor.
  • The blocks measure 16 by 16 inches with a thickness of 3.5 inches and could be rotated to provide alternating patterns for the exterior and interior walls. The blocks act as both structure and ornamentation.
  • A total of approximately 27,000 blocks featuring 24 design variations were used in the house. Some of the units are patterned on both sides; others only on one; some are half blocks; and the remainder are quarter blocks. A number of them were inset with glass to allow light to filter through.
  • Although the home appears stalwart and fortress like from the outside, the interior has a visceral quality, bril­liantly illuminated by numerous art-glass windows that cast a soft tapestry of light and color into its cool-toned rooms.


For further information regarding the Ennis House’s decision to sell the estate, you can access the foundation’s press release here. And to learn more about the extent of the Ennis House’s damage, NPR wrote about it in a 2005 story.

Travelin’ Local’s coverage of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House and Barnsdall Park has presaged our interest in covering this new tender of Wright’s Ennis House masterpiece for the astute owner who can restore this architectural masterpiece–by one of the greatest architects in history–back to its former glory.

Christie’s Great Estates has the actual listing. If you’re interested in purchasing a house which defines an era, an icon, and a city, tell them you read about it on Travelin’ Local.

Why do you love Livin’ in LA?

Why do you love livin' in LA?

Los Angeles is all grown up now and we’re one of the world’s greatest cities.

It’s no secret that we are trendsetters in cinema, music, television, medicine, business, art, museums, fashion, business, education, style and lifestyle just for starters.

Of course, many still think LA is just one big sprawling mess. Our naysayers always strut about, using their usual ad-homonym attacks against our great city, including:

“You can’t get from here to there.”

“You can’t breathe the air.”

And so on, down their laundry list of complaints.

But we know better–we know how great our city is. We know we’re not perfect, but for many of us, we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. We’re proud of our city and its accomplishments.

Why do I Love Livin’ in LA?

Let me count the reasons:

Our beaches

Our Beaches

Our weather

Our Weather

Our Culture, Lifestyle and Art

Our Culture, Lifestyle and Art

Our unique Architecture and Design

Our unique Architecture and Design

Our proximity to the Mountains and the Desert

Our proximity to the Mountains and the Desert

Our Creativity

Our Creativity

Our Gardens, Palm Trees, and Greenery

Our Gardens, Palm Trees, and Greenery

Our Metro’s Mass Transit

Our Metro’s Mass Transit

Our World Class Restaurants and Food

Our World Class Restaurants and Food

Our Friendly people

Our Friendly people

Our Los Angeles Lakers

Our Los Angeles Lakers

Our Entertainment Industry

Our Entertainment Industry

Our Fashion

Our Fashion

Our dedication to health

Our dedication to health

Our Greenness

Our Greenness

Our schools

Our schools

Our hospitals

Our Hospitals

We want to hear your Opinions

We’d love to hear your opinions and share them with our readers. We’re more than happy to publish your responses and link them back to your website–if you don’t have one, then your responses are still published here for others to read.

So give a shout out to the world why you Love Livin’ in LA!

LAPD’s New High Tech Headquarters

New LAPD Headquarters

The new Los Angeles Police Department’s headquarters adds to the ambiance, and the enduring endeavor to permanently change the literal and functional face of downtown Los Angeles. Slated to replace the old Parker Center, the current headquarters will eventually hold court for over two thousand workers.

Staff has already moved into the 5th and 7th floors, and as soon as the final details are finished, the rest of the LAPD will call this gorgeous building home–of course, the top floor is strictly reserved for the LAPD’s Police Captain and staff.

It’s a fully loaded high-tech building–including its architecture, landscape, interior design, and digitally advanced features.

The new LAPD headquarters contains top to bottom WIFI availability for officers, a 400 seat auditorium, and several large conference rooms that are equipped with large screen monitors and associated systems, to upload all kinds of digital communications and presentations.

Located in the shadows of LA’s City Hall, a fascinating part of the new LAPD building, is its Park.

Dirt walkways

Its park uses drought resistant plants and U shaped dirt sidewalks for water retention; and for the sustainability of the water aquifer. The dirt walkways’ surrounding the park, blend with nature, and tells its own story– which is one of a small but people-friendly park. But time will tell if office workers will accept and withstand the forces of nature that the park endures–the mud when rain and the morning dew occur.

Plant Terraces

The garden surrounds the building on all of its three sides, and also serves as a partial security measure because of its raised yet esthetically pleasing garden beds, palm trees, and terraced entrance–all playing their intended role of a part welcome; and a part to stay away.

Next time you’re Travelin’ Local and want to sit down and enjoy a cool breeze blowin’ through the trees, while looking at the scenery, LAPD’s new HQ park is where it’s at both literally and artistically—it’s totally refreshing and cool.

LA’s Free Museum Days


Los Angeles is a Mecca for museums, from the Getty Museum, to the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Neon Art, or the Museum of Contemporary Art.

For families with children, there’s the Kidspace Children’s Museum, the Skirball Cultural Center, and the Page Museum at La Brea Tar Pits

It’s a treasure to have all of these Museums in our city to choose from, and a pleasure to be able to go from one to another, especially when it’s free.

If you’re a regular visitor to Travelin’ Local, you’ve probably noticed the Free Museum Days link in the top toolbar.  We’ve now upgraded its layout to make it even better. Now it’s organized into a calendar to coincide with each museum on the list.

Travelin’ Local now makes it easier to know which Museum exhibition corresponds with their affiliated free days. This helps you to quickly and efficiently choose where to go better.

Introducing TL’s Free Museum Days Calendar (TLFMC):

From the list, some museums have one free day per month, or just a few hours per day per month. However, others are free all the time.  But in all frankness you’ll need to plan ahead, even for the free days.

For example, the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens is free for one day per month, but you need advance tickets.  To access additional information on our tab, be sure to click the particular museum you’re interested in, and from there you’ll find a map of the particular Museum’s location, other pertinent links, and additional information such as phone numbers, etc.

Don’t forget that on Saturday and Sunday, October 3rd-4th, the Fifth Annual ‘Museums Free-For-All,’ will be held. It’s a joint effort by the participants to present the arts and culture to the diverse communities in Southern California that they serve. It’s presented by the Museum Marketing Roundtable.

Here’s a list of the 22 participating museums:

For more information, visit:

Now Travelin’ Local visitors can more easily find what they’re looking for when they’re looking for it. Now that next trip to a local Museum is just a click away to find the information or questions that you need and want.

San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts

San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts

After my enchanting, vibrant, and colorful visit to Balboa Park’s Botanical Building, I walked across the Park’s Prado, to San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts aka (“MoPA”).

The mission of the Museum of Photographic Arts is to inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film and video.

Since its founding in 1983, the Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) has been devoted to collecting, conserving and exhibiting the entire spectrum of the photographic medium. The museum’s endeavors consistently address cultural, historical and social issues through its exhibitions and public programs.  Source: MoPA

In MoPA’s current exhibition, the work of one of the most well known, and respected photographers in the world—features an overview of Ansel Adams’ extraordinary life, by showcasing his photography of the Sierra Nevada’s and Yosemite Valley, his coverage of the Manzanar Japanese internment camp, his little-known commercial work and color prints, and his famous and iconic signature black and white masterpieces.

The Tetons and the Snake River

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

As a professional photojournalist, I always try to emulate the process of “visualization” of taking a picture in my mind first, and seeing its end result before the shutter is snapped. Adams’ was perhaps one of the true genius’ of knowing what he wanted from a picture before he took it—and many of his iconic pieces will stand the test of time forever.

The Key to a Photograph from Ansel Adams from SilberStudios.Tv on Vimeo.

The rest of the current exhibit includes pictures from the Museum’s permanent collection– Picturing the Process–which provides a reality backdrop from which—and how– we gauge our current world.

The Photograph as Witness explores the ways photography has evolved as a powerful and poignant tool to document history, culture, and events.

The third component of the exhibit includes Jo Whaley’s beautifully layered and detailed photographs of insects, set against intricately constructed backdrops. Her large installations is multi-hued–with color as the background–drawing the viewer into the various pictures of insects that she photographed and juxtaposed between art, science, and an homage to style and substance.

MoPA’s Gift Shop and Membership Information


Not only do I highly recommend becoming a member of MoPA, I also am a huge fan of both their online and onsite unique Gift Shop. They have many interesting things to buy—from books, catalogs, and cards, to lectures, education programs, and curricula, to online prints and other merchandise.

I purchased a Mobile Satellite Photo Clip, which is a photo hanger that hangs from the ceiling. It actually caught my eye as it was literally being used in the Gift Store’s window.

Southern California is home to many of the world’s finest museums, institutions, and arts organizations. As I am Travelin’ Local, today’ story is yet another example of our area’s uniqueness– San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, is truly one of the greatest museums dedicated to the Art of Photography and Photography as Art in the world.

Hawthorne honors the Beach Boys

As was the case when I stumbled upon Figueroa Courtyard, I was headed to a different place but last week, I ended up in the sleepy neighborhood of Hawthorne, CA. Hawthorne, as I was to later find out, is where the Beach Boys hail from. The Wilson Brothers and the band grew up, went to school, and eventually formed their iconic sound and band in Hawthorne as well.

Hawthorne is the birthplace of the Beach Boys and the surfing sound and ethos that came to define a state, a sport, and music.

This quiet neighborhood is where the Beach Boys Monument is located and commemorates their home. With local patron assistance, the monument was built to remind people of the humble beginnings of one of the most popular rock bands in US history.

Beach Boys Home Monument

Each brick of the Beach Boys monument has the name of a contributor. If you go there, however, you won’t see the Wilson brother’s home. It was demolished when the California Department of Transportation built Interstate 105.

The monument — features a stone carving of the 1963’s Surfer Girl album cover and a plaque designating the site as a state landmark — stands on what was once the Wilson’s family’s front yard.

Surfer Girl

At the dedication ceremony in 2005, 800 Beach Boys fans from all over the world– including one British fan club which was included 50 people– came to share the music with two of the original Beach Boys, Brian Wilson and Al Jardine.

Ironically, I literally stumbled upon this monument while Travelin’ Local, which wasn’t the first time or place that this occurred. Therefore, I’m including a map below so you can find it for yourself:

View Beach Boys Home Monument Location in a larger map

I have very fond memories of growing up in the Midwest and listening to the Beach Boys on cold winter days, wishing and hoping that I could be living in California instead. Now my dream has come true.

When Travelin’ Local, there’s always a new and exciting adventure to be found, explored, enjoyed, and captured every single day.

And that includes a trip down memory lane:

Santa Monica Takes a Close Look at Parking

Santa Monica City Hall

A few days ago, Santa Monica’s City Council surprised many people by voting to not build any new parking spaces. Instead they want to better utilize existing parking facilities. By doing so, the local government is promising that there won’t be a shortage of parking in downtown Santa Monica, but a better use of the current parking available. Typically, Travelin’ Local doesn’t cover “news” per se, but in this case, the “greenness” of this story has propelled our interest for coverage.

In fact, the good news continues. Santa Monica will also be increasing its parking rates, or in layman’s terms—it’s efficiency ratios.

The City of Santa Monica Parking Rates

The city’s decision was the result of a recent study that was completed by Walker Parking Consultants.

Important findings which made an impact on the city’s vote from the study include the following:

Because a significant number of the total number of available spaces remained empty during peak hours of operation, the logic started to take hold that in order to increase competition due to the under-market rates that are prevalent at the more conveniently located and cheaper public structures on Second and Fourth streets–where the price of parking in those are substantially under market–it forces visitors to compete for those spots, thereby leaving less utilized spaces empty. The end result is that the more expensive spaces at the private garages and public structures that are on the outskirts of Downtown, including the Santa Monica Public Library and Civic Center, remain empty. Source: The Santa Monica Daily Press.

Rate Changes

The daily maximum rate will increase from $7.00 to $9.00, the evening rate from $3.00 to $5.00, and the monthly parking permits will now increase from $82.50 to a cost of $121.00. With this new cost structure, the city’s leaders have made the decision that by changing the parking rates, people can still enjoy a full day’s activity in Santa Monica, without “breaking the bank.” Additionally, the parking meter rates will increase from $1.00 per hour to $1.50 per hour.

Recommendations from the Walker Parking Consultants study:

  • Use increased parking revenues to fund additional programs to support employee access to Downtown by transit, bicycle and carpooling;
  • Use increased parking revenues to support shuttle service to outlying parking resources, including the Civic Center Parking Structure during parking structure reconstruction;
  • Use parking revenues to enhance parking operations, parking technology, way-finding, parking occupancy assessment, and capital replacement and repair;
  • Implement a centralized valet operation to access private parking spaces during off-peak periods, supplemented by agreements with office building owners to make empty spaces available to the public on evenings and weekends; and
  • Regularly review parking occupancies and adjust parking rates to encourage optimal use of public parking resources. Source: Santa Monica Government

Mode of Transporation in Santa Monica

Another huge upside to this gentle step-up –an increase in parking prices - is that the higher parking rates will force people to examine alternative modes of transportation, beyond their automobiles. Those include increased usage of bikes, mass transit, and walking.

75% of the current car commuters to Santa Monica are single passenger

In fact, according to a study from UCLA, as parking rates increase, the number of single drivers decreases.

Effect of Daily Parking Cost of Mode Choice

So with a nudge meant for a change, as a result of the City of Santa Monica’s decision, try using your bike or using the Metro or Santa Monica’s Big Blue busses when you commute.

After all, it’s green, cheap, relaxing, and just a great way to have a good time while you’re Travelin’ Local.

What is a Dog Park and where are they in Los Angeles?

Living in the city with a dog, isn’t easy. No matter if you live in a small apartment or large house, dogs need to run free every now and then.

Although there are plenty of places you can walk your dog, where do you go when you want to let your dog run free and off his or her leash, a place where you don’t have to worry about them running away, or being exposed to danger?

On one of my first visits to Los Angeles, I saw a dog park, which for me, was a totally new concept and something I never knew about or had seen. Having lived the previous 20 years in suburbia without a dog, I never remember seeing a dog park. But, living in the city, it’s great to have one close by.

What’s required for a Dog Park?

Run and Relax

Plenty of Open Spaces for running as well as a place for their owners to sit and relax

A dog waste station

A Dog Waste Station

A Watering Station

A Refreshing Watering Station

The Rules

A List of Rules

Big Dogs and Little Dogs

A separate area for large dogs and small dogs (this isn’t mandatory, but nice)

Shoe Scraper

A shoe scraper just in case

Here’s a map of the Dog Parks scattered around the city:

View Los Angeles County Dog Parks in a larger map

So, if you’re a dog owner and need a place for your dog to run around and mingle, we’re sure this map will help you let find a dog park near you so you and your dog can have some fun while Travelin’ Local.

Finding Public Art at the Figueroa Courtyard in Downtown LA

Figueroa Courtyard in Downtown Los Angeles, at the corner of 3rd and Figueroa, is a unique 5 acre walkway and courtyard. If you want to relax, immerse yourself in the sounds of a running fountain, and enjoy its unique and fascinating public art sculptures and installations, this is where it’s at.

Interestingly enough, I was on my way to somewhere else, when I just happened to stumble upon the Figueroa Courtyard, and I’m glad that I did. Not only does the Courtyard and its public sculptures capture the imagination, they’re fun and quite fascinating.

Sometimes, when Travelin’ Local, I’m amazed at the treasures that can be found just by happening to be at the right time at the right time, or just looking around, which is how I landed smack-dab in the middle of Figueroa Courtyard.

Figueroa Courtyard

Upon entering the courtyard, and barely visible in this shot, are the waterfalls that stand guard above each side of the sidewalk flowing down from its two sided concrete entrance mount. The molded spheres of different sizes and textures add a three-dimension to the landscape. Here’s a closer shot:


What I found most amazing about this location, was that each time I turned a corner, a new discovery crossed my path:

Ronald Hines Scultures

These whimsical and colorful outdoor installations and sculptures were completed by the artist, Ronald Hines. The well-placed and thought-provoking pieces added a degree and kind of aesthetic that’s rare when you just sit on a park bench, or traverse from or to the office structures. Blending with the landscape, they were aptly appropriate and seemed quite natural, despite their unusual design and structure; perhaps that was the objective of the artist and it certainly accomplishes his goal. I would return in a heartbeat to just sit on one of its park bench’s to enjoy the courtyard and public art. Even though it was very hot the day I was there–the temperature was at least 10 degree cooler inside the courtyard’s landscaped setting.

As I continued my unexpected journey and walk through the courtyard, I found this unique water arrangement:

Figueroa Fountain

With its crisscrossing paths of colored tiles, rock formation, round rock spheres, and its rotating fountain streaks of water, its especially appealing for both the eye and mind, as its relaxing sounds of water falling removes you—albeit temporarily—from feeling like you’re still in the big city.

Looking beyond the fountain, the next entry point to enter is the portion of the shaded walkway, with its festivity of plants, trees, and grass:

Winding Sidewalks

Continuing along the winding sidewalk, you’ll walk by the perpendicular peppered colored tile designs that gently invite you to move closer toward the area, to the three additional outdoor sculptures by Ronald Hines. His aesthetic is soothing yet allows you to feel itss physical experience, while the various metals, materials, color combination’s, content, and ideas appeal to the psyche. For what is art, but to see what the artist intends for you to see and to ponder?

La Laurena

When you’re ready to leave, the city welcomes you with open arms, ready for our next public art adventure.

3rd and Figueroa

With a different location initially in mind, I discovered something totally unque while Travelin’ Local. Now, I have a great excuse to go back to my original destination, so another Figueroa Street story is not far off.

Sunset on Mount Soledad Mountain

I visited Mount Soledad during my recent visit to San Diego.

Because this was the first time I was able to see and photograph an ocean sunset from such a great vantage point, I wanted to be able to share the experience with Travelin’ Local’s readers this Sunday morning. These photographs were taken during the 12 minutes leading up to the sun’s setting over La Jolla.

0 minute

This is minute 0 for my trio of sunset pictures. I love the colors here, and its contrast between the ocean, fog, and clouds.

If you look closely, you can see the ocean at the lower right of the mountain, at the same time that the fog was rolling in as the sun was slowly setting over the horizon. Although there was unusually heavy cloud cover, this picture’s soft pastel colors and the clouds playfulness, create a peaceful ambiance of time and space.

6 minutes

This photo was taken 6 minutes later in almost the exact location. As you can see, it’s getting darker and the sun is further setting. The color has moved from the fog to the clouds.

12 minutes

6 minutes later, the orange sky is slowly shifting to pink and purple hues. The distinction between the fog and the clouds is even more dramatic.

When Travelin’ Local in San Diego, you’re able to enjoy the sunset from Mount Soledad, and witness first hand the ephemeral change of daytime to evening, while literally being on top of the world.

The Botanical Building at Balboa Park in San Diego

I recently wrote a story about Balboa Park, and talked about the magnificence of the Botanical Building at Balboa Park in San Diego.

I’ve always loved flowers, gardens, and the natural habitat of plants, so for me walking through the arboretum and seeing it inside was both enthralling and enchanting.

Before entering this magnificent homage to nature, first you have to pass a few fish along the way at La Laguna– the 43 feet wide by 195 feet long pond—which presages the entrance to the Botanical Building’s entrance.

I wasn’t the only one looking for fish:

Botanical Garden

And neither of us was disappointed:

Koi Pond

Looking at it now, remembering that it was used as a swimming pool during World War I remains a distant remnant from what it resembles now.

Lath Designed Ceiling

From outside, the lath design looks unassuming; but from the inside, the brilliance of the design resonates and radiates its clearness.

Since I’m not a Horticulturist, I don’t know many of the plants names– either the common name or the botanical monikers.

However, if I ever saw a plant where the name fit the plant so well, this is it:

Medusa’s Head

Meet “Medusa’s Head.”

It’s not often that a botanical garden gives visitors the chance to touch the exhibits, but here it’s encouraged:

Please Touch

For many years, the Botanical Garden’s sponsors have been criticized for hosting an enclosed garden in the middle of the City of San Diego’s already established tropical beauty–its climate is temperate so why ensconce a garden inside when they can flourish and grow outside?

Here’s why:

Walking through paradise

Because by just entering the Botanical Building and being able to walk down its short paths, looking up at its magnificent ceiling, seeing how the landscape architecture was delicately constructed, and being able to bask in the surroundings is priceless and a once in a lifetime opportunity.

San Diego’s Botanical Building is a great place while Travelin’ Local, to relax and just get away from it all, if only for a few minutes.

History, Museums, Art, Gardens, and Music at Balboa Park in San Diego

Balboa Park in the heart of downtown San Diego, is home to San Diego’s Historical Museum, the Model Railroad Museum, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Natural History Museum of San Diego, the Rueben H. Fleet Science Center, and the San Diego Museum of Art, to name just a few of its many attractions.

San Diego Museum of Art

It’s one of the city’s and nation’s most beautiful and important parks, and a place for individuals, families, organizations, and friends to go and find an incredible and vast array of things to do and see; or to just relax at one of its hundreds of grassy parks, and variety of land uses.

Measuring approximately 1,200 acres, which equates to the size of about 909 football fields including the end zones, Balboa Park, which was “placed in reserve in 1835, is one of the oldest sites in the United States dedicated to public recreational usage.”

To get an idea of the size of Balboa Park in relation to the rest of the city, the Google Map below visually illustrates it:

View Balboa Park in a larger map

San Diego’s Balboa Park is fascinating, mesmerizing, and unbelievable in its beauty and scope. Walking down “El Prado,” the main street that traverses the Park–was and is a weekly and daily ritual for many of San Diego’s residents, and is considered a premier destination for world-wide visitors from across the state, nation, and world.

I literally walked past and into more museums in one day than I could in most cities in a week.

Casa del Prado

Pictured above is Casa del Prado, home for the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, the San Diego Junior Theatre, the San Diego Youth Symphony, the San Diego Botanical Foundation, and the San Diego Floral Association.

From its inception dating back to 1916–and several renovations later– the Casa del Prado stands as a testament to San Diego and its citizens working together to keep history vibrant, alive, and as the heart and soul of the city.

Botanical Building

The Botanical Building

With construction beginning in August of 1913—almost a century ago–the Botanical Building is today, what it was back in the day– a garden of tropical plants to astonish visitors; and that it does. In front of the Lath House– as it’s popularly called–is La Laguna, a 250,000 gallon pond.

During World War I La Laguna was converted into a swimming pool so sailors at a Naval Training Station, then located in Balboa Park, could learn to swim. A cement liner was placed on the bottom. Source: The Highs and Lows of the Botanical Building in Balboa Park

Museum of Man

The Museum of Man

With its Spanish colonial and mission style architecture, the Museum of Man, the only San Diego Museum dedicated to anthropology, the landmark building was originally constructed for the 1915–1916 Panama-California Exposition. Over the years, this building was also known as the California Building, and it has probably been mentioned more often than any other building in San Diego in studies of American architecture. Today, a key focus of the museum is “to create and display dynamic and educational anthropological exhibits about people and places throughout the Americas and around the world. Source: Balboa Park

Spreckels Organ Pavilion

The Organ Pavilion

Without the generous donation by John D. Spreckels, whose name the Organ and the Pavilion proudly bear, the Spreckels Organ Pavilion might never have been built. Dedicated on New Year’s Eve in 1914, every organ concert at the Pavilion is free, pursuant to John Spreckel’s bequeath.

The Organ was recessed behind the grand arch and into the pediments above. A twenty-foot plus attic between the organ chamber ceiling and the roof acted as an insulator against rapid temperature changes. Flexible cable connected the organ to a movable console. Besides acting as a giant sounding board for the organ, the central structure contained rooms for the organist, chorus and staff, including five bathrooms which soon became godsends for the many people who participated in events at the Pavilion. When the organ was not in use, attendants lowered a 20,000 pound plus corrugated steel curtain immediately behind the arch to conceal and protect the pipes. Source: The Spreckels Organ Pavilion at Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Because I was in San Diego on a Saturday, I couldn’t enjoy the Spreckels Organ Pavilion’s weekly Sunday afternoon concert, but as soon as possible, I’ll be heading back on a Sunday to hear the free concert.

Travelin’ Local is a colossal experience when you have the world in your backyard, and Balboa Park is a world within itself.

Los Angeles is full of Stress Relievers

In a recent article published by Forbes, they ranked Los Angeles as the second most stressful city to live in. To determine their rankings of the “most” stressful cities, Forbes—using Federal data– analyzed factors including sleep, air quality, drop in home price values, unemployment percentages, as well as the ratio of sunny days per year to non sunny days in order to determine each cities ranking– from most stressful to least.

To be sure, living in Los Angeles can be stressful. For starters, just get on the freeway at rush hour or read the front page news in the LA Times; sometimes you can cut the stress in the air with a knife:

Housing prices are down, unemployment is up, jobs are scarce, people are grouchy, there’s no money, no time, and not much energy.

However, when in turn, I asked my followers on Twitter why they loved living in LA, I received responses like these:

Shelley Rae

@LisaNewton the WEATHER of course (does living in Long Beach count)?



@LisaNewton - the opportunities, the weather, the amount of stuff do to nearby, the beach, la tech.



@LisaNewton Easy: The weather & the beaches ;)



@LisaNewton Besides everything?


So while it is indeed stressful living in Los Angeles there’s a flipside as well. Just have a look:

“Fishing in the City”

Los Angeles Historic Walks

The Hollywood Reservoir

A Guide to Walking the Venice Canals in Los Angeles

This is only a tiny sample of the things that we do, the stories we write, the places we go, and many of the other great treasures and unique institutions that makes living and Travelin’ Local in Los Angeles, the reasons we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Travelin’ local offers you the best that our city offers–it’s all here. You just have to know where to look. With the addition of our exciting Mapping Los Angeles Public Art project, you’ll be able to find those places easier as well. We’re here to serve you Los Angeles. We want you to go out and enjoy the city you call home.

Stress is here, but stress relievers abound.

It’s just waiting for you–so let’s get out there, Los Angeles, and lower our “stress!”

Let’s Visit Santa Monica’s Beach Parks

Recently, I took you on a short tour of Crescent Bay Park in Santa Monica, but it’s just one of four parks that border the Santa Monica Promenade. You can reach the others below by walking or by bike.

Beach Park is a fantastic park for kids:

Beach Park

With its toddler friendly playground, many families camp out, bring their lunches, lawn games, and small tents for a full fledged day outside.

Croquet anyone?

If you forget your kid’s bikes, you can always rent a few:

Hey Mom, can we ride our bikes?

Further down the Boardwalk, is Ocean View Park, where you can enjoy a tennis match on one of its six tennis courts.

Ocean View Park

The last park on today’s tour of Santa Monica’s Beach Parks is the South Beach Park. One of the main features of the South Beach Park is both its easy entrance to the beach and bike path accessibility.

South Beach Park

By adding these three parks to Travelin’ Local’s previous Santa Monica Walk, you’ll have increased the total amount of your walk for all four parks to a total of almost 4 miles.

View Walking Tour of Santa Monica in a larger map

Don’t forget:

Santa Monica Pier 100th Anniversary

On Wednesday, September 9th, the Santa Monica Pier will be celebrating its 100 Anniversary, so be sure to attend for a fun evening celebration which will include the biggest fireworks display in almost two decades.

Because you’re Travelin’ Local for a centennial commemoration, always remember to celebrate with moderation.

Mount Soledad Cross and Park in San Diego

Mount Soledad Cross

Nestled high above the hills of La Jolla’s Mount Soledad Mountain, is the “Mount Soledad Cross.“ 

Mt. Soledad is about 820 feet high, and its western orientation overlooks the La Jolla coastline; its eastern vantage point view proffers views of Interstate 5 and surrounding communities; and the gentle south side includes the sights of the opposite side of the mountain, where Pacific Beach is located.

When I first entered Mount Soledad Park, I was consumed by its sheer beauty, depth of symbolism, its Latin cross, and the memorial plaques built to honor our Veterans. Although there’s been some controversy about the Cross, and whether it mixes religion and state, I’m only mentioning it because it’s been an ongoing issue. Personally, I feel it’s a whole lot of hullaballoo about nothing.

Luckily enough, my visit was during sunset, so the translucent beauty of the sky, sun, fog, ocean, Cross, lights and views afforded me the rare luxury of experiencing both place and time that such a landmark deserves.

Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial

Along with the Mt. Soledad Cross, meant to honor the fallen Veterans and active duty servicemen, the Mount Soledad Veterans Association has been building several Memorial Walls, as pictured below.

Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial

The Veterans Memorial Walls at Mt. Soledad comprise

  • Six concentric walls will ultimately hold 3,200 black granite plaques purchased by donors and engraved with the names and photos of war veterans - currently more than 2,700 are in place
  • Each plaque ‘tells the story’ of a veteran’s military service or that of a group’s military service
  • Unique memorial that honors U.S. veterans - living and deceased – that have been honorably discharged from any branch of the U.S. military
  • Includes uniformed members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard also Merchant Marine veterans who served during WWII
  • Originally dedicated as Korean War Veterans Memorial in 1952
  • Large American Flag proudly flies over the Memorial
  • 23 bollards honor community and veteran organizations (sold out)
  • Brick pavers honor veterans and supporters of Mt. Soledad (pending replacement of walkways by 2010)
  • Open to the public Source: Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial

Restoration of the Cross

In December 2008, a local San Diego painting contractor, Bay Cal Painting donated time and material to restore the cross. "Workers used a 60-foot boom to power-wash the monument and re-weld parts of the steel interior. They used 25 gallons of paint on the cross and applied another four to eight gallons to the fence and green base around the cross. [Jim] Codde, [co-owner of Bay Cal painting], said the project, done by his company and several others, could have cost $40,000 at market prices. That’s excluding the maintenance the company has said it will handle for the next 20 years. Source: Wikipedia

Starting at the mountain’s base at the bottom, which is at the intersection of La Jolla Scenic Drive and Torrey Pines Road, here is the route to get to the top of Mt. Soledad:

View Road to Mt. Soledad in a larger map

The winding road up the hill is narrow and hilly, but there is parking at the top. Most of the houses on Mount Soledad are among the most expensive and modern in the country–with most homes starting price at or around 3 – 5 million dollars. Their views are of the Pacific Ocean and much of the architecture of the area is hyper post-modern, sleek, and elegant.   Mount Soledad Park has a grassy area surrounding the Cross, with several benches and vantage points to take advantage of the view, or to just sit down and relax with a friend.

Sunset on Mount Soledad

The sun is setting upon the ocean; and the skies and clouds become one with the Soledad Cross and Park. In an upcoming story, I’ll feature photos of the various vantage points during my sunset visit, because when Travelin’ Local in Southern California, some days it feels like you’re literally in Paradise.

Dolores Restaurant: The Westside’s Most Famous Diner

Dolores Restaurant

The other day I was ravenous for a traditional breakfast. I didn’t have to go far to find a local restaurant with both hearty fare and food with a homemade taste. Located at the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd. and Purdue, Dolores Restaurant is a hop, skip, and jump from the 405.

Old Fashioned Diner with homemade flavors

First opened in 1944, Dolores Restaurant and Bakery has provided traditional American cuisine for the Santa Monica-West Los Angeles area. Many Los Angelenos have eaten and dined here more than once. Dolores’ menu is wide ranging and continental including omelets, Italian fare, fried chicken, fish, corned beef, pastrami sandwiches, sirloin steak, and much.

This morning, I felt like having a hearty breakfast of eggs over easy:

Eggs over easy and sausage

And a large helping of pancakes:

Pancakes with maple syrup

My girlfriend wanted an early lunch of a luscious Hamburger and Fries:

Luscious Hamburger and Fries

Dolores Early History

Dolores was founded by Amanda and Ralph Stevens, who after owning various restaurants in different states moved to Los Angeles in 1944 and opened the Dolores drive-in restaurant in Hollywood.

There were many drive-in restaurants in Los Angeles during the mid 1940’s and Dolores fit right in. Then, in 1956 the Stevens’ son Robert and his wife Lucille moved to Los Angeles to help manage the newly leased Dolores Restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. and La Cienega in Beverly Hills. The restaurant was a hit with the local teenagers in the 40’s and 50’s with its carhops, Suzie Q’s and JJ Burgers became a staple in the community for the next thirty years.

These "good times" would soon end when in 1981 Dolores drive-in was forced to close down to make room for a high rise office building. The last of the remaining Dolores Restaurants is the one you see today located at 11407 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Los Angeles where the food and service are like they have never been before. Source: Dolores

Let's have fun at Breakfast

If you want to enjoy your meal with free wifi, Dolores provides that also.

Travelin’ Local is as much about the old as the new, and having a meal of comfort food at Dolores is just what the doctor ordered.

Welcome to the Cathedral of our Lady of Angels

Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, the Cathedral of our Lady of Angels is a quiet, art-filled oasis in the middle of a bustling city. When I first saw this immense building, I didn’t realize it was a church. From the outside, it’s a modern structure, with a dramatic design.

Cathedral of our Lady of Angels

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An Exercise Walk at Barnsdall Art Park

If you’re not familiar with my virtual walking maps and the walk area covered, they’re located here on the Walk My World side button. They reflect the actual 2-3 mile walk that I’ve taken complete with pictures, sights to see, shops to visit, or a great restaurant along the way.

Today’s walk in Barnsdall Art Park is a bit different in only one aspect–it’s an exercise walk. The walk itself is a little under ½ a mile, but after 30 minutes, along with having a good workout, you’ll be able to enjoy Barnsdall Park’s unprecedented Public Art, views of Los Angeles, and a sense of tranquility unlike any other location in a city the size of Los Angeles.

Including its 160 steps, and a gentle incline and upslope of its grassy and hilly ups and downs, the Barnsdall Art Park Walk will get your heart pumping while you’re nestled, literally, above the city.

Here’s a couple of the sights you’ll enjoy on your Exercise Walk at Barnsdall Art Park:

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