If you are a Pho connoiseur, you will definitely love Pho Vie. Next to actually being in Vietnam, Pho Vie, in Little Saigon, serves the best tasting oxtail pho. The restaurant is nothing fancy, yet the place is constantly busy. Order the oxtail pho with an extra order of rare beef (just in case the oxtail isn’t enough meat for you!). Warning! It is very addictive. I recommend taking the oxtail out and deboning the meat and placing it back in the noodle soup so that you aren’t struggling with large pieces of bone in your soup bowl. For those who are adventurous, try ordering the salted plum soda. It’s a salty, sour and sweet drink with tingles all your senses and great as a thirsty quencher.
If curious about urban expression, go to Leimert Park ("Luh-MERT"), the intimate and ultimate cultural center of African-American interest. Jazz players, poets, social activists and everyday people are drawn to this area which is architectural reminiscent of NYC' Central Park. This is no coincidence since the design of Leimert Park is by architect Frederick Law Olmstead. Sometimes, Leimert Park gathers much attention, being the scene of social protests involving particular events shaped the black community. More often though, Leimert Park is a quiet and tranquil area where the loudest noise is of a saxophone practicing before a gig or the sizzle of pans in kitchens cooking up soul food. A noteable landmark here is the Leimert Theater (known as the Vision Theater now) with its distinct Spanish style and tower.
Leimert Park is lovely to do for a daytrip. Grab lunch, appreciate the arts and whole architecture of the place which is quite kept up and usually safe despite being not far away from the unfortnate slummish and unseedy parts of the Crenshaw District and South Los Angeles at large. Call Leimert the diamond of the rough of South Los Angeles. For a tourist head's up, nightime adventure here is more suitable for locals who know their way around but Leimert Park does offer nightly entertainment like live jazz. Leimert Park is just a few miles off two freeways, 10 and 110. An official day tour can be arranged (call for info).
...and, oh, by the way. Scenes of the movie, Collateral, are from this area. For you morbid L.A. tourist seekers, the Leimert Park area is where Elizabeth Short, the victim in the infamous Black Dhalia scandal, was found multilated. A nice way to sum up things, right? No, but really, Leimert Park stands for and is noted for what's positive and intriguing about Los Angeles as a cultural paradise. See pics and more info on website.
Visit this north area of Marina del Rey were you can view the main channel and the passing boats sail on by. There are a few park benches, overlooks, sunny fishing spots and metered parking. The adjacent upscale neighborhood offers a crushed gravel path parallel to the Grand Canal, a nesting area for local birds. Cross over the foot bridge from the path to the beachfront, return along the paved oceanfront walk, all while admiring the lush gardens and interesting residential architecture.
100 years ago tobacco magnate Abbot Kinney tried to create a community fashioned after Venice, Italy. What remains of his vision is a charming network of canals, narrow pedestrian wooden bridges and lushly landscaped footpaths coving eight blocks in Venice. Cozy and eclectic, glimpse the beauty of the canals by walking over the narrow pedestrian bridges. Just north of Washinton Blvd., east of the Venice Pier; park on Dell Avenue, and then walk straight ahead to the canals
There's a Chinatown in every city, but LA's Koreatown is the largest concentration of Koreans outside of Korea. Just an incredible place to grab an authentic meal, and at night becomes Karaoke central. Many restaurants here stay open until 4am, and the bars are all-night joints. Try the Brass Monkey for karaoke. And The Corner Place for cheap, heaps of Korean barbecue. HK Market is one of the best of the many huge Korean specialty grocers. The Wiltern Theatre at Wilshire and Western is also one of the city's best live music venues. Oh, and there are three stops there on the subway.
Here is a little city of a Spanish-Italian name, with a heavily Portuguese influenced background, a mostly Korean & Latino population that is known as Little India- What? Come again? The town is Artesia, one of the smallest cities in LA county with about 16,000 residents. Though she is relatively far from the beach, looks rather mundane and is not on the main tourist map, there is interest here to grab a certain visitor's attention here.
What keeps little Artesia on the map is the stretch of Pioneer Blvd which has several dozen East Indian shops. The suburb, about 20 miles southwest of LA, is informally known as Little India. If you want to buy a sari, eat authentic curry, buy gold jewelry or check out Bollywood stuff, you ought to make the trip here.
Though Artesia can be considered "Little India", some could argue that it be also "Little Portugal"- at least in spirit. The town used to have a good number hailing from Portugal. However, these days, ethnic ties to the country are declined with a few percent of the population of Portuguese heritage. Still, there are signs of the Iberian country's influence-mainly at Portguese Hall which has been host to bull fights and different luso-inspired ceremonies.
Artesia is yet another diverse LA suburb with serval ethnicities in one. Mainly, there are those with Asian (especially Korean), but also Latino heritage. Notably, a large number of Filipino are shaped in the population, as well as those with Non-Portuguese Eurpoean ancestry & others.
Notably, the East West Ice Arena, owned by Olympic darling Michelle Kwan is a landmark here. Artesia is close to a much more attractive town, Cerritos and also not too far away from the non-coastal part of Long Beach.
Notes: The locals pronounce the town "OUR-TEASE-SHA", though one can get away also with the basic Spanish way, "Ar-TEH-Sea-A".
Artesia is easily accessible by freeway, of the 5 and 91. The MTA bus passes through the town each day, coming from downtown LA--Pershing Square. Catch MTA 62 (Hawaiian Gardens).
Specifically for a day trip, the Westlake District is a cool way to discover an "Only in LA" kind of experience- looking and counting all of the interesting mural art on buildings, get authetic Mex food (tamales, street tacos,etc) and bargains. This is a neighborhood with a heavy Mexican and Salvadorean population which is not the most pleasing aesthetically but is full of color, as seen on the pictures. The main point of interest in the neighborhood is MacArthur Park where it has become more clean and safe to walk, jog and be at peace. Also, the old Westlake Theater is a landmark to see for local historical interest. Westlake is easily accesible being just a few miles from downtown and being served by a Metro Red Line stop.
Yes, shop in, stay in and /or don't be fooled by the city of Santa Fe Springs.
SFS Outdoor Swap Meet at the old drive-thru
Shop at one of the biggest outdoor swap meets in the greater LA area. The SFS swap meet is THE reason why most locals bother to come here. Items include clothing, furniture, shoes, jewelry, beauty products, home acessories, antiques and many sorts of knick-knacks. Many items are quite commonplace and not too fancy. I would always come in here for clothing, beauty items, books, and music. Bring good walking shoes here. Walking all around and through the place and shopping takes a few hours at least.
Besides shopping there is much entertainment at the venue here. SFS Swap Meet is known really as an often fun (and/or cheesy) place to see popular music artists of yesteryear (anyone remember Steveie B? He's played here :-), cover bands (like one an Eagles tribute band called Desperado), amateur talent shows, dance contest and really offbeat acts. Yeah, zany American culture...gotta love it!
Check website for free and other info.
Santa Fe Springs is a common stop for travellers on long road trip. She's a gateway city to either Los Angeles or Orange county, reachable by the 5 freeway. From the highway, many hotels and motel signs are visible. Most places of accomdations are $60 or less in the area. Mostly, the town is quiet, growing and has a modest, blue-collar feel. If you like to mix in with the locals, here is where to go.
Don't be Fooled..
Santa Fe Springs sounds like an enticing resort area but trust, me it's plain old drab town just enough worthy to consider for living. There are no pretty running thermal springs here- but oh, however, in the city government/downtown area of town there are cutesy water fountains with sculptures of little kids playing (Oh, I'm such a sucker for little things like this in a place, you know! I shall take pics of downtown whenever I choose to stop there hehe :-)
For those seeking to be in a "normal" spot just outside of Los Angeles, Covina would well suit. I recommend coming if you like quaint, not-as-commercial downtown areas, which Covina has. I frequent here ever so often and enjoy the pass of antiques and little gift shops while surrounded by the trees that line the street. For vacation interests, the city hosts one of the largest Christmas parades. There are decent hotels and motels here for travellers at modest prices. If wanting to experience Los Angeles and Pasadena, Covina serves as a good in-between spot to stay....oh, and if you are an IKEA fan, there is one here. One of only a few in the L.A. area! Get your fix of lingonberry pancakes (and oh yeah, furniture and knick-knacks) here!
Reach Covina via downtown LA, Pershing Square to Metro 490, exit Badillo/Citrus
One may have heard something about Encino already watching the movie, Encino Man. Encino is basically a carbon copy of Sherman Oaks (sshh! don't tell residents of Encino this!) ...and Tarzana is too. Oh, last time that I check, Tarzan was nowhere to be found!
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