The Los Angeles River and Garden Center is a Hidden Gem

Jan 25, 2011 by Lisa Newton

I’m sure all of you recall the downpours we had last December.

During a break in the rain, it looked like the very nasty weather might be coming to an end:

The dark skies suddenly opened, and the sun appeared. Alas, God and nature were only teasing us, and within a few hours, the rain was coming down again.

But during those few hours, I was very lucky and fortunate to find one of Los Angeles’ hidden gems–the Los Angeles River and Garden Center.

Built in 1956, the then, Lawry’s California Center, was a “showcase of restaurants and shops to promote Lawry’s seasoning and sauce products.”

Over the years, three restaurants, La Cocina, Lawry’s first outdoor dining area; an evening dining restaurant, known for its steak–and a third restaurant, Los Portales, were located at the California Center home.

However, the restaurants have come and gone, and in 1991, owner Thomas J. Lipton Co. closed their doors.

Today, the beautiful area has been renamed the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens. Here, behind its ivy covered walls, there’s a diverse and historic complex containing Los Angeles’ diverse sounds, colors and quilt of reality that’s part of our tranquility, and one of the most perfect locations for a wedding in the LA area.

When entering the Los Angeles River and Garden Center facility, located at 570 West Avenue 26, there’s plenty of parking amongst its beauty.

Once you step inside the gates, you no longer feel that you’re even in the city anymore.

Now run by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Los Angeles River Visitor Center at the River Center is an “exhibit hall that celebrates the eleven miles of our indigenous Natural River where reeds, willows, mule fat, and native riparian plants have returned.”

The self-guided exhibit, located in the California Building, describes the history of the Los Angeles River, its current status, but most importantly, it contains and has a plan and vision for the River’s future.

After you’ve learned a little about the history of the LA River, take some time to stroll the grounds and park setting of the River Center.

Trees, flowers, fountains, and both the overall ambiance and setting will leave you with an impression of the city which you probably never knew existed before.

Besides being a wonderful spot for a wedding or your next upscale micro-convention, the River Center is also home to several non-profits concerned with the environment and the greening of Los Angeles.

These include Friends of the Los Angeles River, Northeast Trees, the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, and the National Parks Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.

So, rain, shine, or anytime you want, the next time you find yourself with nothing interesting to do, take a drive, or better yet, a bike ride to the Los Angeles River and Garden Center.

You’ll be happy you did, and you never know, it just might change your way of thinking.

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Culture, Family, Northeast LA, Parks, Recreation, SoCal
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