Planner’s Travel Series
About the series: Welcome to our ongoing travel series of blog posts written by planning students and professionals about what to do in a given city when looking for Brunch, a Brew, or a good idea on a Budget. To cap it all off, we include a fun planning fact!
About the visit: Los Angeles cannot be tackled in 36 hours! I’ve spent two months this summer in LA as a transportation planning intern at a consulting firm. In that time, I’ve barely scratched the surface of entertainment, activities, and restaurants to explore. There are many amazing things about LA’s culture, history, diversity, and beautiful natural surroundings that could be discussed, but to keep it short, sweet, and somewhat planning focused I’ve attempted to narrow it down to a brunch, brew, and budget activity.
There is a lot of buzz around Sqirl, but the food lives up to the hype. The wait, atmosphere, and overall “cool LA” vibe can be a bit much, but if you go on a weekday you’ll likely get food and a table in no time. Located in the hip Silver Lake neighborhood, the minimalist decor brunch spot serves some excellent hash, crispy rice salad (order it Crispy Disco style), ricotta and jam toast, and more. The hardy serving sizes will keep you sated hours after your visit.
If you’re short on time consider grabbing food from one of the many street vendors and food trucks scattered all over the city. Part of LA’s culture, these vendors are beloved across the city and will surprise you with their low prices and yummy food.
Los Angeles has a bar for every type of mood or scene. Angel City Brewery in the Arts District has a beer hall vibe in a big space, so it’s a good spot for a large group or a last-minute outing. The HMS Bounty in Koreatown is a unique option for a dark dive bar vibe in a maritime themed restaurant.
As a transportation planning student, I can’t help but suggest a multimodal activity. Los Angeles is known for its traffic and car culture, but it also has a well-stocked bus, light rail, and subway network. I’ve outlined a bike> transit > walk route to explore downtown, Exposition Park, and Santa Monica. Starting in downtown Los Angeles visit the LA Central Library and get a snack at Grand Central Market. Next, rent a Metro bike share (or any start-up micromobility device) and head South on the Figueroa protected bike lane. This flat three-mile bike path has two miles of protected lanes, bicycle signals, and sections with separated transit islands. Unveiled in August of 2018, the Figueroa Corridor has improved crosswalks, enhanced transit stops, and dedicated bus lane segments.
Once you reach Exposition Park cruise one of their museums (Natural History Museum, California Science Center, or the California African American Museum to name a few) or rose garden before hopping on Metro’s Expo Line. Take the light rail to its final stop in Santa Monica, situating you two blocks from the famed Santa Monica pier. Round out your journey with a sunset stroll along the pier or boardwalk.
Planning Fun Fact
The LA river was paved in the 1930s and 1940s to control flooding that would periodically damage the city. If visiting the river for the first time you’ll be surprised to see a river channel slightly resembling a skateboard park ramp. As planning, landscape architecture, and flood control techniques have evolved over time, there are now efforts to unpave the river and restore it to its natural habitat.
About the Author: Tory is a second-year master’s candidate in the Department of City and Regional Planning with a concentration in Transportation Planning. A passionate advocate for accessibility in transportation, she actively promotes access and multimodal transportation as a volunteer and former board member of the Raleigh bicycle advocacy group, Oaks & Spokes, and as an intern at Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants. Tory received her undergraduate degree in Nonprofit Management and Fundraising from Indiana University. In her free time, she enjoys bicycle camping.