Are you familiar with the type of tourist who goes in search of the top attraction, who says you can’t visit San Francisco without seeing the Golden Gate or you can’t visit New York without seeing the Statue of Liberty from a distance? Well, if these are the only types of attractions you’re interested in, then when you speed down Sunset Boulevard, you can skip visiting Echo Park. However, if you are planning a trip to Los Angeles and, in addition to the so-called must-see attractions, you are also intrigued by another type of tourism, the one that allows you to see up close the lifestyle and everyday life in a different place, then Echo Park begins to become an interesting option…
Echo Park is a neighborhood in Los Angeles that, thanks to a great urban redevelopment, has become an increasingly popular and artistic area, full of hipsters, murals, art galleries, independent bookstores, cafes, vinyl shops, organic restaurants, and vintage clothing stores.
But that’s not all. The neighborhood can boast some pleasant public parks, a historic area full of Victorian residences, and the Dodger Stadium, one of the most iconic baseball stadiums. If this introduction was enough to make you curious, then let’s get to know Echo Park a little better…
Location and Directions
Echo Park is the first of many neighborhoods in LA crossed by Sunset Boulevard, one of the main roads in Los Angeles. It is located north of Downtown and borders Chinatown, Silver Lake, and Westlake. Bus 2 passes through Echo Park along Sunset Boulevard. However, as we often tell you in our articles, getting around Los Angeles by public transportation is always rather inconvenient. The best way, not only to get to Echo Park but also to visit it, is to use a car (or rental car). This guide that we have written on the subject might be useful to you:
Things to Do in Echo Park
Here is an interactive map to view the location of the attractions. Below I will point out the main places of interest.
Parks and Scenic Spots
- Echo Park Lake: this beautiful park, recently renovated and brought back to life, symbolizes the rebirth of the neighborhood itself. Here you can take pleasant walks around the lake and pay homage to the “Queen of Los Angeles”, an Art Deco statue also known as the “Lady of the Lake”. You can also rent a special swan-shaped pedal boat and enjoy the beautiful view of the skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles in total relaxation.
- Elysian Park: located on a hill on the east side of the neighborhood, this is the second-largest public park in Los Angeles (600 acres), best known for being the home of Dodger Stadium. It has beautiful panoramic views of the LA skyline and the Dodger Stadium and has the advantage of not being as crowded as its main competitor, the nearby Griffith Park. Among the most popular vantage points is Angels Point, where the “secret swing” is located, which offers visitors a rare opportunity to enjoy the view while swinging on a swing hanging from a tree. If you are curious, enter “Swing on top of Elysian Park” in your GPS to find the trailhead of the short trail.
- Baxter Street Stairs: as you may have guessed, Echo Park is a neighborhood that offers several vantage points and this is another one you should consider. Go to 1501 Baxter Street and look for a staircase, climb the 231 steps to Park Drive and admire the view of the skyline of Downtown skyscrapers, which is particularly impressive at sunset. An easier alternative is to drive directly to Park Drive and park around 2101 Park Drive.
The Los Angeles baseball team’s stadium was inaugurated in 1962 (the third oldest baseball stadium that is still in use), which cost over $23 million. You can take the opportunity to see a Dodgers game, or take the “behind-the-scenes tour,” an 80-90-minute guided tour that will show you to the field, trophy room, press room, and other areas that are not normally accessible to the public.
Victorian Houses in Angelino Heights
If you liked San Francisco’s Painted Ladies, you’ll be pleased to know that Los Angeles also has its own Victorian area. Angelino Heights, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the oldest areas of Los Angeles, and the largest concentration of houses dating back to the nineteenth century is on Carroll Avenue, a short road that has been used several times as a set for movies and TV series, such as Witches and the music video of Thriller by Micheal Jackson (at 1345 Carroll Avenue, you find the house attacked by zombies!).
I recommend visiting Carroll Avenue and taking the opportunity to take a short pleasant walk on the street. Because it is on a hill, you can even see the skyscrapers of Downtown LA. If you want to learn more, you can also take a walking tour organized by the Los Angeles Conservancy.
Murals and Art Galleries
Echo Park is also a flourishing artistic neighborhood, as you can tell by the murals that adorn some streets. The most famous mural in the area (on the cover of this article) is located at the intersection of Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, but you can also find more by wandering around the neighborhood.
If you are passionate about this genre, you can visit the Gabba Gallery where, in addition to seeing the works on display, you can see numerous murals on the building and the surrounding alleys. The gallery actively promotes this art form, so much so that entrepreneur Jason Ostro has started a project (Gabba Alley Project) aimed at spreading murals in the city.
Unique Shops, Independent Bookstores, and Vintage Shopping in Echo Park
Echo Park is the right place to go in search of some special and out-of-the-ordinary shops and if you arrive in the neighborhood from the center, passing by the mural described above, you will find almost all of them on Sunset Boulevard in this order:
Stories Books & Café, known simply as Stories (1716 Sunset Blvd) is Echo Park’s challenge to those who claim that the most authentic and independent bookstores are dying. Writers, readers, and artists converge here to read, buy books, attend literary events, musical performances, and even comedy shows while sipping some fair trade coffee and eating fresh and strictly local food.
Those who love to go in search of extravagant and unique shops cannot miss the Echo Park Time Travel Mart (1714 Sunset Blvd), a convenience store that will provide you with everything you need to travel through time. Any examples of products you can find here? Repellent for barbarians, fresh dinosaur eggs, mammoth meat, robot milk, and donuts fresh from… 1985! The store is run by 826LA, a non-profit organization that helps children develop their writing skills.
If you’re looking for a vintage boutique, continue on Sunset Boulevard for 3 blocks and then turn right onto Alvarado Street where you will find the Lemon Frog Shop (1202 N Alvarado Street), a quirky vintage clothing store with apparel with bright colors and patterns from the 50s to the 90s, as well as lots of bargain-priced items.
I Am 8 bit (2147 Sunset Blvd) is a fusion between an art gallery with live performances and a shop selling video games and vintage vinyl records. It is one of those places that are really difficult to categorize, which is exactly the intention of the owners, who define themselves as a creative production company that refuses to be classified, committed to creating unique and memorable experiences.
If you are looking for a “unique clothing store”, not far from the gallery just mentioned you can find Local Boogeyman’s House of Horror (2151 Sunset Blvd), a clothing store entirely dedicated to the Boogeyman that will appeal to lovers of all things horror or to those who are curious to see a different store.
Music lovers, however, will be more attracted by Cosmic Vinyl (2149 Sunset Blvd), a shop entirely dedicated to records that is located in the middle of the two stores mentioned above and that also hosts concerts of local bands inside. This is a treasure trove for those who love oldies or for those in search of rare records.
Where to Eat? Restaurants, Cafes…
As you may have guessed, Echo Park is a neighborhood that tries to stand out and does so in the restaurant industry. If you’re expecting the usual chains and classic American diners you’ll have to think again. Echo Park is an area of cafes, refinement, delicacies, and restaurants with local products and with alternative cuisine options, including vegan and vegetarian. After all, here in the United States, California has been at the forefront of organic cuisine for years, and this is a good area to try it!
- Cookbook (1549 Echo Park Ave): more than a restaurant, this is actually a fruit and vegetable market where you can also find meat, cheese, milk, eggs, and fresh produce. All local products are grown responsibly. They also serve freshly prepared dishes so it can be a great option if you are looking for a quick afternoon snack.
- Valerie Echo Park (1665 Echo Park Ave): a bakery that is perfect both for those looking for a tasty dessert or for a savory snack, such as croutons, sandwiches, soups, salads, and omelets. The owner, who already has 3 shops in the city, is Valerie Gordon, a renowned confectioner who has made her name thanks to her delicious desserts that have become popular far beyond the boundaries of the neighborhood.
- Ostrich Farm (1525 Sunset Blvd): this restaurant is a great place for an excellent dinner in an intimate and minimalist design. Run by Jaime Turrey and Brooke Fruchtman (husband and wife), most customers are local, as are the products served and cooked (some come from the restaurant’s garden). The wine list is enviable, with California, French and Italian bottles and a good selection of craft beers. In addition to dinner, you can come here in the morning for brunch or in the evening for happy hour.
Things to Do in the Evening
Between Sunset Boulevard and Glendale Boulevard, you’ll find the 2 most important clubs in the area, which are major players in the Los Angeles music scene. The Echo and Echoplex have seen bands such as Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, and The Rolling Stones perform throughout their history, while the coveted free concerts on Monday nights have helped launch many emerging bands.
Where to Stay
There aren’t many hotels in Echo Park, but there are some near Dodger Stadium. Generally speaking, if you are in Los Angeles to visit the main attractions of the city, I suggest you choose one of the recommended areas in my guide on where to stay in Los Angeles (Downtown Los Angeles is the closest area, but the other suggested areas are fine since you’ll have to drive to get around the city). If you have special reasons that require you to stay overnight in Echo Park, see this list of accommodations on Booking.com.