Downtown LA in a Day

For my birthday (which was ages ago), instead of a normal present, I asked for a getaway to Los Angeles to visit LACMA, the LA County Museum of Art. I didn’t know what to expect but I was blown away by the breadth of their collection! It truly is a world-class museum.

Urban Light
Urban Light and one of LACMA’s buildings in the rear

But first, let’s back up. We can play this like you are spending your whole day in LA. Traffic is a giant bummer, so we’ll pretend like you woke up there. Could be that you stayed at The Ace, where we stayed for my birthday, or in an Airbnb in the downtown area. Or crashed with a friend. I’m sure you know someone who knows someone who lives near… right?

For breakfast you can go a couple of ways. You can eat at Bottega Louie, which is basically what it would be like if Marie Antoinette designed a brunch restaurant–an amazing bright white emporium of small but impeccably crafted sweets, and big entrees. Or, you could poke around for a smaller place like Poppy & Rose, which is aptly named since it sits right in the midst of the Downtown LA Flower District. It’s hard to mess up brunch, but a meal that makes a lasting impression is worth writing about—so I include both places which were each very good. Also near the Flower Market is the Fashion District, where  you can find almost every kind of fabric and sewing notion known to man.

Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall by architect Frank Gehry

After brunch it’s worth driving around Downtown LA to check out some impressive sights like the famous Walt Disney Concert Hall and the new Broad [modern art] Museum across the street. The MOCA is right there, as well, so pay the parking meter and poke around these three famous sites. If you wanted to make your day an Art Triple Feature, you could check out the Broad and MOCA before lunch, and the LACMA after lunch. That is, if you have the Museum Stamina.

The Broad
The Broad

I just mentioned lunch — depending on how early you ate breakfast you may be in the mood to grab a bite. Go to the Grand Central Market— you won’t be disappointed. I heard that the line at Eggslut can get really long, so if it’s short (like it was when I was there), get on it. If it’s too long, just pick any type of cuisine and I’m sure you will find another vendor that fits the bill. I highly recommend Berlin Currywurst. The Market has been open for almost 100 years but is experiencing a kind of renaissance (or, you could call it gentrification or hipsterification). It’s really helping along the revival of rundown (scary) DTLA move from sketchy to nice, and by the way, the food is delicious.

Eggslut burger and “slut” (coddled egg with mashed potato)

Now head west a few miles to (in my opinion) the main event. Let me pause for a moment and tell you to drive through the super fancy neighborhoods near LACMA. WOW! You may even recognize some of the exteriors from movie locations. (I’m horrible at that kind of thing so I wouldn’t recognize any). You can park underground at LACMA so your car stays cool. The exterior of LACMA has a lot of interesting things to view without paying admission. The buildings themselves, from different eras and different architects don’t “match” but they “go,” kind of like a good outfit. You can see Levitated Mass, a giant boulder installation that caused quite a stir when it made its way to LACMA, and Urban Light (photo at top), the installation that launched a million selfies. You can even see an Alexander Calder mobile and fountain around back.

With admission, though, you can see art from every region in the world and almost every time period. It really is an extensive collection. Back in September we were there just about all day but didn’t even get the chance to see it all. I even went back a month ago and still haven’t seen everything there is to offer. The limited time exhibits are so, so good. The first time I saw a fascinating collection of works by Noah Purifoy, who I’d never heard of and now know so much about, and the second time Angela and I got to experience the famous Rain Room.

LACMA Calder
Alexander Calder – Three Quintains (Hello Girls)

Don’t forget that LACMA is directly adjacent to the fascinating La Brea Tar Pits, which are actual, active tar pits that have been excavated over the years and contain preserved animals. Like, real preserved prehistoric animals. You can see a lot of the tar pits by just walking around the outside, but if you pay for a ticket you can go inside the main building and get a tour and learn a lot more information and context about what you’re looking at. Oh yeah, and since they’re adjacent to the art museum you only have to pay for parking once, which is a huge win.

To be completely honest, I usually skedaddle before traffic gets bad so my tips for LA are more concentrated on the morning and midday—truncated around 4PM. My evening tips are lacking. LACMA is closer to Koreatown though, so do yourself a favor and get some authentic Korean BBQ nearby. Then, if you don’t have to be rolled outside by your friends (many KBBQ places are all you can eat) you can head back downtown to Spring Street to find some trouble to get into. Or instead, you can grab a quick In-N-Out burger and go catch an up-and-coming band or a newly released movie. You are in LA after all.


The Ace Hotel Palm Springs

Not terribly long after The Bucket List came out, I learned of The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. Until this point I didn’t know there was anything cool in Palm Springs, and I had certainly never heard of a young person spending any time there. After looking into it, staying at The Ace was now on my newly-forming “bucket list.” Fast forward what, like 5+ years? Thanks to a coupon code, we made it happen for July 2015.

Ace Palm Springs

There are people out there who don’t understand staying in cool/nice hotels “just ’cause” when they could book a Super 8 for half the price. I don’t think that type of person has ever laid poolside at The Ace for two days with zero responsibilities and no itinerary. I really do like doing things on vacation (gimme the Freedom Trail in Boston or the whole slew of Smithsonian museums in DC any day), but after a very crazy spring semester at work and action-packed summer (so many weekend trips!) it was nice to have a little getaway and no obligations.

A few years ago we got a good online rate for The Saguaro which we really liked, and I was curious to see what The Ace would be like since those two are the most popular “hipster” hotels in Palm Springs. We really liked The Ace in Portland so my expectations were pretty high.

Ace Palm Springs

Ace Palm Springs

Luckily, my expectations were met, nay, exceeded. The bed? comfortable. The room, a welcome cool retreat from the unrelenting July-in-Palm-Springs heat. Next let’s talk amenities. Not that we cracked into anything on the minibar (something like $5 for a bag of chips? $8 for water? and up & up & up), I like a place that gives you quality options. Also, the hooded caftan-style robes provided were the most addicting things to wear ever and had me contemplating buying one, but alas, they cost almost the price of the room. There was also a record player on the bedside table with a pretty robust little speaker system and records to play! I planned ahead and brought along some favorite LPs as well.

The room’s interior was so inspiring! I liked the industrial-chic glossy sealed concrete floor, and the wood & white color combinations. Someday we’d like to get a little bit more in-depth with redoing the inside of our condo and I definitely want to draw a lot of inspiration from The Ace’s clean and crisp vibe (including the Portland Ace, too).

Ace Palm Springs

Ace Palm Springs

We had originally planned on bringing Mosey along, so we got one of the dog-friendly rooms with a patio and fireplace. After looking at the forecast for that weekend, (highs in the 110s!), we left him at my parents’ house. Even sans pooch it was nice to have the large patio with locking gate. The afternoon we arrived with our friends, we shared lunch that we’d brought in a cooler (a really great way to save money). We could hang up our swimsuits and towels to dry– almost instantly in that heat! The fireplace was easy to operate, a simple light switch, but not needed. If staying at The Ace in the fall or winter, I think the fireplace in the evening would be very nice indeed.

Ace Palm Springs

Ace Palm Springs

The pools: When we arrived Sunday afternoon, the main pool was packed and loud. The house DJ had things bumping. Locals can buy a pool day pass so it’s kind of a place to see and be seen, I think. There were no available chairs so we went to the other, smaller pool where it was nice and quiet. They have these awesome, huge, circular padded poofs and my pals and I were able to snag one. The next day, Monday, the large pool was much quieter and the music they played was perfect for lazing in a pool chair, snoozing in that gray area between awake and asleep. And getting a killer sunburn (ouch).

Ace Palm Springs

Ace Palm Springs

The cool sunshades are what you’ll see a gazillion instagrams of… I wasn’t sure how they’d compare to a standard umbrella but let me tell you… game changer!! You can pivot them in any direction for ultimate sun blockage! Solid endorsement from me. Now I want one for my condo patio… The chairs are really cool, too. Not sure if you can see in the photo, but the backrest part of each chair had its own little canvas tent piece for ultimate sun protection.

Ace Palm Springs

Well, 700+ words later I guess you could say I enjoyed myself! I didn’t even get to touch on the brunch at King’s Highway, the on-site restaurant. Anyway, what a nice getaway not too far from home. Definitely more expensive than The Saguaro but if you can get a coupon, or if it’s a special occasion, I say The Ace is hard to beat!

I’m Around

Well, it is hard to blog without a photo editing software. Photoshop had been making my mac run like quicksand, so I updated the RAM and now it is having some visual component problems. Calling in some friend favors to tinker with it… but for now I am more or less photo-less. I’m not hiding in a cave though– iPhone to the rescue! Follow me on instagram to see what I am up to.

In the meantime, I am…

Soda & Swine

eating at the new Soda & Swine in Liberty Station. Eager to support such a delicious eatery much closer to home than North Park (where most of the good food is). Mmmmm… meatball sub….

drinking Pope’s Blend coffee from Reverie Roasters in Wichita. Was gifted a bag and some mugs and am thoroughly enjoying both.

cooking a lot! Doug and I took a Sur La Table cooking class last week and the food was phenomenal. I am eager to recreate the recipes at home. However, last Saturday we had friends over and I made choripan and pebre which was an all-around hit.

stressing out about our refinance. It’s been a little over a year since we bought our home and already we have made money! But I can’t wait for the phone calls, e-mails, and hurriedly faxed documents to come to a close (and have a little more money in pocket each month, too).

Balboa Park

viewing the Coney Island exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art. With art museums, I tend to be easy to impress. I love art! That said, this Coney Island exhibit not only impressed me but blew me away! The combination of paintings, photos, original ride components, postcards and ephemera, and videos dating from 1900-today was very, very well curated and encompassed the whole feel of Coney Island. Even though I have never been there, I now feel that I have! Psst: The art museum is only $5 on Fridays 5pm ’til close.

watching How I Met Your Mother, the last season. When you know what is coming at the end, and then re-watch, it is all very obvious and much less outrageous. Unpopular opinion: I loved the ending the first time I saw it! And even more so now!

So… what’s new with you?