A Mid Week Vacation Day at Laguna Beach in Orange County

Summer is soon coming to a close, the school year is restarting, and people are returning from their vacations. So today Travelin’ Local is visiting the beautiful beach and upscale village town of Laguna Beach in Orange County.

High Surf is Waiting

Laguna Beach has the distinction of being the second oldest town in Southern Orange County.  In 1900, Laguna Beach had approximately 5 families struggling to make a living via farming.

Because its lack of water and land was ill-suited for farming, the founding Laguna Beach families decided to rent its property to surrounding inland communities to escape the summer heat. Thus began Laguna Beach’s dedication to tourism, which remains the mainstay of its current economy. By the 1920s, Laguna Beach was discovered by a group of landscape artists who laid the foundation for its art community, which still thrives to this day. Over the years, other groups have celebrated and discovered the magnificent beauty and artistic culture of Laguna Beach including hippies, yuppies, rock stars, movie industry professionals, business executives, beach lover’s and everyday people.


View Laguna Beach Walk in a larger map

In Travelin’ Local’s inimitable tradition, I took a walking tour of the Main Beach area for today’s Walk My World Virtual Tour. Known the world over for its splendorous beauty and artistic community, I highly recommend a visit to Laguna Beach’s beaches, parks, galleries, unique boutiques, and great restaurants. Feel free to click each of the yellow markers to enjoy the local flare. For my next Walk My World Tour of Laguna Beach, I’ll be walking its other outstanding areas and neighborhoods.

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Burbank Town Center: A Shopping Mecca

Burbank Town Center

Burbank, for decades the butt of the Tonight Show’s Johnny Carson’s jokes, used to be a long time laid back working class town.

Over the last few years, however, it’s become home to many movie and television studios, including Universal, Disney, Warner, and Columbia Pictures. Not to mention all of its new development, and in this case—a haven for shopping, strolling, eateries, and hanging out with friends.

Inside

At the Burbank Town Center they have three interior levels of shopping including Macy’s, Sears, Sport Chalet, Bed Bath & Beyond, an AMC Theater with 14 screens, Old Navy, New York & Company, American Eagle, Zales, Aldo Shoes, and Charlotte Russe. Their exterior line-up includes IKEA, Barnes & Noble, Loehmann’s, Office Depot, California Pizza Kitchen, Corner Bakery, PF Chang’s and more.  What’s not to love?  Need more ideas?  Here’s a link for their full list of stores.

At the Burbank Town Center, there not just all about commerce, but they give back to the community as well:

Burbank Town Center launched a great new program called My School’s Cool! It’s as easy as 1,2,3! Every dollar you spend at the mall earns one point for participating schools. Drop off your receipt at any of the Customer service desk located on the lower level behind the glass elevator and each point you turn in can earn much needed funds for participating schools!  Click here for participating schools.

San Fernando Blvd.

But, the great shopping doesn’t start and end at the Burbank Town Center. Leading up to it is a great street packed with small and large shops and restaurants. Starting at the intersection of Angeleno and San Fernando Blvd, walk down the street to have lunch at Fuddrucker’s, catch a movie at the AMC theater, continue shopping, and then stop by Market City Caffe for dinner.

Fuddruckers

Travelin’ Local is always about where to go and what to do, and shopping is a ubiquitous part of what we do.

And as the saying goes: “Shop till You Drop!”

A Day of Shopping at The Grove

Not too long ago, the areas around The Grove, were run-down older apartment buildings, motels, and the hither and yearn of urban decay– so typical of inner-city life and living. Then something changed—the private sector stepped in to improve the quality of people’s lives, and of course to make money.

For shopping, dining and simply loving life, The Grove is your ultimate entertainment destination. From your favorite boutiques and restaurants to choreographed fountains, you’ll enjoy an experience like no other in Los Angeles. Why not head to The Grove?

The Spirit of Los Angeles

With its quaint streets, building facades, and various points of interest, shopping at The Grove is an experience—you can go from zero to hero in only a few minutes—to finding that perfect summer dress, wedding gift, or some furniture for your apartment or house–The Grove has it all.

Of course, you’re welcome to stop by for a quick shopping trip–but the best way to really enjoy The Grove is to spend the day, casually strolling past the choreographed fountains,

Choreographed Fountains

or the life-like statues. It’s family friendly. This little boy’s antics were cute as he played with the various water fountains.

Look Mom, water!!

Of course, if you spend the day, you’ll want to know which shops you’ll find there. The list is impressive, including: Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, Forever 21, Pacific Sunwear, Victoria Secret, and J. Crew, to name just a few.

For a complete list, click here.

What’s a day shopping with friends without enjoying lunch out? Be prepared to enjoy yourself at Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill or Maggiano’s Little Italy or maybe The Farm of Beverly Hills. Of course, these are just three of the many restaurants, food outlets, and café’s at The Grove.

At the end of the day, if you’d like to visit the neighboring Farmers Market, just hop on the electric powered trolley whose tracks meander between the two locations.

Trolley Track

If you visit The Grove–until August 28–Subaru is sponsoring free Movies in the Park,” featuring all time favorite movies “Under the Stars.”

Call me a hopeless romantic—but an evening under the stars viewing classic movies sounds so dreamy. I can’t ’t wait to see the movies. Staycations when Travelin’ Local just doesn’t get any better. At least until I find the next “in” spot!

A Quick Tour of the Hollywood & Highland Center

Do you like to shop?

That’s a rhetorical question to Angelinos, and others, of course. Yesterday, I went, I came, and I conquered in my search of the total Hollywood Walk of Fame experience, and I found more than I thought I would.

What did I find, curious minds are asking?

Truth be told, in the upcoming weeks I’ll be featuring all of the goodies I found during my foray; but for today I’d like to converse a bit about one of Los Angeles’ leading entertainment, shopping, and eating destinations:

The Hollywood & Highland Center

Home to the Kodak Theater, the Hollywood & Highland Center is a favorite shopping and eateries destination. With five stories of shops and food, including Planet Punk, American Eagle Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret, Baja California, Green Earth Café, and so many others, the Hollywood & Highland Center is uniquely Southern California, with its creamy pastel colors and hip aesthetic.

With that and the great art deco and modern architecture, how could you go wrong?

Upon entering, you’re greeted with

The Road to Hollywood

Following your own personal red carpet and walking up the stairs, your path leads you here.

Ok, let the shopping begin

Of course what good is shopping without eating Al fresco?

Let's Eat

Let’s see, so far, you’ve done a little shopping and had some lunch, now what?

How about a little time to stop and smell the roses?

Just go to the top of the stairs to embrace the stunning view of the Hollywood Hills with the Hollywood sign as a backdrop.

Hollywood Hills

Or maybe you’d like to walk around The Road to Hollywood?

Road to Hollywood

And read a few of the funny “quotes” on the walkway

Cute Quotes

So far you’ve had a grand day, walking, shopping, and enjoying the gorgeous surroundings. Upon your departure, as you step onto the sidewalk toward the cross walk, suddenly, you stop and do a double take:

Apes on Hollywood Blvd.

When Travelin’ Local in Hollywood, some of the locals may look like extras in a film, but we know that the Apes here don’t bite. And friendly too!

Here’s to a grand time and kudos to the developer and people that built the magnificent Hollywood & Highland Center—I could spend a whole lot of time and money there, but just being able to enjoy its sights, sounds, and some get-a-way time–truly seemed like a great vacation day in the middle of the day and city.

But for some serious eating and shopping, it can’t be beat!

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Olvera Street the Alley of the City of the Angels

Olvera Street

Los Angeles City of the Angels

Taking a quick appraisal of most of our State’s–and the Southwestern States– its hard to not see our history from simply reading a map or street sign—from San Francisco, San Jose, Sonoma Valley, to San Diego. Practically everything California was, is and remains deeply rooted in Spanish and Mexican history, culture, and language.

Talk about the original mixing bowl and melting pot we’re it. California’s present day reality is still deeply rooted from the settlement, the pueblos meaning housing, that fueled quite a bit of the migration and discovery of California by ways and means from Mexico.

Old World

In its most basic form and substance—California’s development, character, and style are uniquely American and a product of the no-holds-barred “West we Go” and frontier Pilgrim spirit. Indeed sans Alaska and Hawaii, this is where it all stopped.

Demographically and physically, not only is it the oldest part of Los Angeles, Olvera Street pays homage to Mexico’s influences here–with its own panache it’s both a shopping Mecca and haven for our history and for our partisan indulgence for everything Mexico– from food to leather goods to puppets to pottery.

Let's Shop

Early History of Los Angeles

Los Angeles was founded in 1781 by a group of Spanish settlers consisting of 11 families — in all about 44 men, women and children in total.

The town, complete with a church and rectangular plaza surrounded by house lots and planting fields, was placed in its current location adjacent to Olvera Street in the early 1800s. Spanish colonial rule lasted until 1820. The town came under the control of newly independent Mexico in 1821. During this time of Mexican rule, which lasted until 1848, the Plaza area was the heart of Mexican community life in Los Angeles and center of an economy. Source: Olvera Street

Authentic Mexican

Mexico City and Los Angeles are Sister Cities

Over the years, both citizens and the city’s local leaders have helped to keep this area a central location of activity, celebrating Los Angeles’ connection to its neighbors to the south. In fact, Mexico City has been a “Sister” City to Los Angeles since 1969.

Step up

Besides the obvious shopping and authentic Mexican food, what attracted me to this street was the old architecture that lines the alley.

The genuineness, charm and historic warmth was immediately felt by me as I not only walked these old tiles and steps of Olvera Street, when Travelin’ Local and living here I keep one eye to living “La Vida Loca” and the other to my next sublime adventure.

The Third Street Promenade by Day

tl4-23a

Third Street Promenade is an all pedestrian street in Santa Monica, and is considered one of the premier shopping destinations in Los Angeles.

Due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean–coupled with Los Angeles’s Mediterranean climate—the Third Street Promenade draws crowds from all over the Los Angeles basin.

The Third Street Promenade is a great example of what government, business, and a community can accomplish while working together. Until recently, the Promenade was a rather shabby part of town, filled with vacant, dilapidated storefronts.

Third Street has been a center of business in Santa Monica since the town’s inception in the late 1800s. The Promenade’s roots date back to the 1960s, when the Santa Monica Mall was developed as an outdoor shopping promenade similar to the one known today, though less upscale in nature. By the late 1970s, it was in serious decline.

But that all changed, in the late 80s into the 90s, when the area went through a rejuvenation that’s continuing until the present.

After a two-year planning process to develop a new approach to the area, a 1986 bond issue to fund the project and a 1988 groundbreaking, a new and revitalized Third Street Promenade launched in September, 1989. A key driver for the economic vitality of Santa Monica, the Third Street Promenade continues to thrive 20 years after its redevelopment.

Look Mom

The former asphalt of old Third Street has been overlaid with hexagon-shaped tile and both ends of the avenue are now guarded by large, topiary dinosaur fountains.

The Third Street Promenade

Here on The Promenade you can always find a crowd of people enjoying the sunshine while visiting its upscale boutiques, trendy sidewalk cafés, and shops.

Let's park here

Although biking on the Promenade isn’t allowed, biking to the Promenade is the perfect way to get there. In fact, to help increase the ease of biking to and in Santa Monica, new bike racks have been installed on Second Street and the Promenade.

Pink Ice

Although we’re spoiled in Los Angeles because of our temperate and bountiful sunny weather, not everything in life is free—so with April’s spring showers and cleaning almost over, if you need to purchase a few items to enhance your summer, the Third Street Promenade is the perfect place to get ready and prepared to enjoy the soon upcoming summer season.

Along with stores and restaurants including Starbucks, Pink Ice, the Gap, and several movie theaters, here’s a complete list of all the stores, eateries, and business’.

Great Street Performers

What I found—and everybody else–interesting and alluring about the Promenade, is that not only can I enjoy a day of shopping and walking, but on any given weekend, the streets are lined with performers; singers, musicians, dancers, and acrobats.

After a day of walking, window shopping, and taking pictures, I’m feeling good knowing that I’m saving money, time, energy and being green, by both shopping and having a chill day vacation by Travelin’ Local.

Charming Larchmont Village

A few days ago between our rain showers, I ventured to a new location, Larchmont Village–a little and quaint section of Los Angeles known for its shops, boutiques, and restaurants tucked on Larchmont Boulevard between Beverly Boulevard and 1st Street.

In fact, recently, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to limit the scale of new development projects in Larchmont Village because:

Larchmont Village is the model for all neighborhoods in Southern California,” said Los Angeles Councilmember Tom LaBonge. The ordinance calls for a 35-foot height limit on all buildings, a five-foot setback and a 50-foot limit on linear street frontage. Source: Beverly Press

Heady words and true as well. I’m so glad the Council approved this measure because Larchmont Village literally extends out from the residential areas from the south and north. With its Spanish architecture, palm trees, pastiches of different colors on its stuccos–it’s a tight and succinct “tucked in” area that the word Village is both apropos and not a misnomer.

Larchmont Village is the kind of place you want to sit with a cup of coffee, a scone, and the Sunday newspaper.

Or do some window shopping.

Or walk your dog.

Or enjoy a romantic dinner.

Or listen to some live jazz.

Check out the laid back atmosphere.

Did I mention shopping?

By the way, Larchmont Village is holding its Semi-annual Sidewalk Sale this weekend. If you’re in the area be sure to stop by and get some great bargains while “chilling” with friends and family.

What’s happening in your neighborhood this weekend? Do you have any special plans for Travelin’ Local?

Please Mom, please!

“It would look so cute on me. That one with the pink flowers would so match the pink streak in my hair.”

“Honey, we have spent enough money today. We’ve already stopped by so many small boutiques here on the Venice Beach Boardwalk.”

“But, Mom, please, please. I’ll do the dishes for a week.”

“You’ll have to do the dishes regardless of whether I buy the dress or not.”

“Oh, Mom, you always say that.”

“You’re right, Honey, I always say that, because it’s true. You do a good job doing the dishes.”

“Yes, I do. So, I deserve a reward. How about a dress?”

“You think?”

“Yes, Mom, I think it’d be great.”

“Okay, Honey, let’s go take a look.”