Exploring Los Angeles: The Best of Highland Park

From cocktails to yoga and coffee to vintage shops, we share our favorite Highland Park spots.

The neighborhood of Highland Park in Northeast Los Angeles has made quite a name for itself over the last few years. Generally beating out fellow “trendy” hoods like Echo Park and Silver Lake in local conversations among Angelenos, Highland Park also ranked as one of the hottest markets in the country by real estate website, Redfin. Yes, it’s true, artists and musicians from surrounding neighborhoods seem to be flooding in by the busloads, but Highland Park has been able to hold on to its rich community charm.  York Boulevard and Figueroa Street are two strips that house most of the restaurants, coffee shops, and vintage stores. But also sharing those streets are barber shops, dollar stores, and small markets that have been Highland Park trademarks since the ’80s. The history in Highland Park is palpable and everywhere – the area is home to over 50 “Historical Cultural Monuments.”

Up-and-coming popularity and rich cultural history aren’t the only things Highland Park has going for it. It might be one of the last neighborhoods in LA that actually feels like, well, a neighborhood. A passenger train runs through the center of the city, shop owners know their customers by name, and some stores still close for lunch. York Boulevard plays host to art walks every month and besides the two main strips, parking is free and somewhat abundant (a treasured rarity in LA). And if you have tacos and margaritas on the brain, Highland Park is the dominant LA leader in all-things Mexican food. Another perk not to be overlooked: the town has yet to be taken over by brand name stores. Highland Park really is the truest of neighborhoods in LA. Below we have wrestled up a few of our favorite spots around town – have a look!

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Best place to get coffee: The coffee bar at La Tropicana. This no-fuss, no-frills, super cool market has a sneaky coffee bar and sandwich shop around the back. The coffee is strong, delicious, and isn’t $6 a pop. Pick up some authentic foods and natural produce as you peruse the aisles.

Best place to get your movement on: Kinship Yoga. I love this place. They offer classes throughout the day, have excellently trained teachers, and a large beautiful room to practice in. The yoga offered here is hot yoga, so you will always leave feeling revitalized.

Best record store: Permanent Records. This shop on York Blvd is the place if you are looking for rare vinyl. Other perks: a listening station, knowledgeable staff, and reasonable prices.

Where to people watch: York Boulevard. Either eat pizza at a table outside of Town or chow down at The Highland Cafe – both places put you front and center for sidewalk traffic and stellar people watching.

Best vintage: Avalon Vintage and Weepah Way. Avalon Vintage is curated by the legendary Carmen Hawk and is one of the most favored vintage stores in LA. Weepah Way, on York, is run by the talented and fashionable eye of Constance Baker.

Best new kid in town: Highland Park Bowl. Recently refinished, Highland Park Bowl is LA’s oldest bowling alley, dating back to 1927. The fully restored building houses eight lanes, a full bar, live music, and absurdly beautiful and rustic interiors.

Best healthy eats: Kitchen Mouse Cafe. I wrote a feature on Kitchen Mouse a few months ago and they are still one of my favorite vegetarian and health-focused eateries. Find them on Figueroa!

Best food truck: La Estrella Taco Truck. Hands down. It’s legendary. Just go there.

Where to find the best cocktail: Sonny’s Hideaway on Tiki Tuesday. The tiki drinks are delicious, the crowd is ever-changing, the staff wears Hawaiian shirts, and the atmosphere is laid back as ever. It’s your best bet for a Tuesday night.

Best place to chill outside: Your friend’s backyard. The beautiful thing (among many) about Highland Park is the spaaaaace. Houses actually have backyards for grilling and hanging, unlike other neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The other beautiful thing? People here actually use their yard! Take a walk around any block in Highland Park – people are outside enjoying the fresh air, warm summer nights, and each other. Don’t have a friend’s backyard to use? Come over to mine!

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+Which neighborhood should we go to next? Leave your ideas in the comments. 

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Comments

  1. This place sounds amazing! If I ever get the chance to go to California, this will most definitely be a place I visit. And I’ll definitely take up your offer on chilling in your backyard. Haha

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