Los Angeles

museum, history, gardens

project Exposition Park

EXPOSITION PARK, home to the Science Center and Natural History Museum which, together, celebrate the weird and incredible universe we live in.


The history of man is hung on a timeline of exploration - we came out of the cave, and we looked over the hill and we saw fire; and we crossed the ocean and we pioneered the west, and we took to the sky; we sent 12 men to walk the moon and we discovered water, the essential ingredient of life, on the martian planet.

[Note: the above is a shameless bastardization of a West Wing quote]

Both museums are love letters to science. Now the Monday Project girls fall more cozied under the umbrella of “artist” than they do scientist. But damn, if science isn’t sexy and poetic in its own right. And, judging by the space suits on display at the Science Center, astronauts are too. The suits suggest they all have very taut little butts. In actuality, these guys (guys colloquially, as in guys and gals) are PhD’s with the bodies of world-class athletes.

The Science Center has all sorts of cool science-y stuff. There’s an entire exhibit on kelp that actually makes kelp interesting. There’s a starfish petting zoo. For $2 you can put yourself and your best friend inside a glass encasement and feel what it’s like to be in a hurricane.

The golden exhibit at the Science Center is, hands down, the stuff about space. Included in that is the space shuttle Endeavour. Inside an airplane hanger you can stand under the space shuttle Endeavour. Like it’s the actual shuttle that’s been to actual space. It’s been to space 25 times, in fact, and it was the second to last shuttle to ever exit Earth’s atmosphere under NASA’s space shuttle program as of 2016.


Fun Fact: If you’re wondering why Endeavour is spelled the British way, it’s because the shuttle is named in honor of the HMS Endeavour, the ship that took explorer James Cook on his first expedition.

The Science Center also has an IMAX theater.

When you’re done exploring the Science Center, head to the gift shop and get yourself some astronaut ice cream (Neapolitan flavor, recommended). Enjoy it while you walk through the Exposition Park Rose Garden. Afterward, make your way to the Natural History Museum.

Now, the NHM is cool for several reasons. Among them is that it’s constantly hosting special events. The first Friday of every month from February - June the NHM presents a KCRW-hosted music event, which means visitors get to stay late at the museum and listen to DJ’s, special music guest and scientist-led talks.

On just regular old days, the museum has halls worth of taxidermy animals - some still roaming the earth, some long since extinct - that look outrageously real. In the recently redone dino exhibit, Triceratops and T-Rex skeletons tower over you. There’s an area, called the Dino Lab, where you can watch real scientists work on excavated bones.

Parts of the museum look they haven’t been updated since the 70’s. The Bird Hall is conservatively colored, lots of taupe and deep burgundy. The birds are all cluttered behind glass encasements. But, hey, it’s still cool.

There is always as special exhibit going on. At the time of this post, it’s Mummies.

Take Note

The Science Center is free to visit, excluding special exhibitions and IMAX.

Click here for a link the ticketing for The Natural History Museum:


An awesome perk, you can very conveniently take the metro to get here! The Expo/USC station off the Expo line is right across the way. If you must drive, It costs $10 to park in the lot at Exposition Park. Free street parking is also available. But don't forget to look at the signs for parking restrictions. 

Exposition Park is also home to the California African American Museum, which we’ll going to on another visit.

neighborhood, history

project El Pueblo

EL PUEBLO, the birthplace of Los Angeles. 

View down Olvera St

In 1781, 44 settlers established a farming community in a southwest bit of what was then known as Alta California. They christened their newly formed community El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, The Town of the Queen of Angels. In 1953, that 44-acre area was designated the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.  

Beginning in the 1990's, Los Angeles commenced a series of projects designed to preserve, restore and revitalize the area the started Los Angeles. Today, El Pueblo is a vibrant and lively two-blocks, speckled with FREE museums, live music, restaurants, an eclectic marketplace and historic churches. Find a bench on Olvera Street, enjoy the shade of the trees, and soak in the quiet giddiness of the surrounds. 

Among the treasures of El Pueblo are: 

  • Avila Adobe - the oldest surviving residence in Los Angeles, built in 1818. It's a museum today, so go inside and wander around the rooms of the original house. FREE to the public.  
  • The Old Plaza Firehouse - the oldest fire station in Los Angeles, built in 1884.  FREE to the public. 
  • America Tropical Interpretive Center - provides information about David Alfaro Siqueiro’s controversial mural ‘America Tropical.’ FREE to the public. 
  • Olvera Street (the oldest street in Los Angeles) - a block-long Mexican marketplace with restaurants and stalls painted in a wash of primary colors. In 1930, the street was closed to vehicular traffic and hasn't changed much since. 
  • La Plaza de Cultura y Artes - museum for Mexican-American culture. On the top floor there is a life-sized, interactive replica of El Pueblo from the 1930's. It's complete with a spice shop, record store, vegetable mart and more. FREE to public. 
  • Chinese American Museum - The museum is housed in the Garner building (1890), the oldest and last surviving structure of the original Chinatown. Learn about the history of the Chinese in El Pueblo and more. FREE to public. 

  • Jorge the Donkey - Not technically a museum, but an institution of sorts. Put on a Sombrero, and put your ass on this ass. $10. Check out the story of Jorge here.

Take Note:

  • El Pueblo is right across the street from Union Station, more reason to take the train!
  • Nightlife with few exceptions is virtually non-existent in El Pueblo. The stalls and most restaurants close around sunset.
  • There is nearly always entertaining live music going on in La Plaza. From 3-6 on weekdays and all day on weekends. Don’t forget to support the local artists and tip!
  • Recommended food: Juanita’s cafe! It’s one of the little stalls along Olvera St. Eat here.


project Echo Park

ECHO PARK, one of 26 neighborhoods in Central L.A., snuggled between Silver Lake, Westlake and Downtown.

Echo Park is on its way to being gentrified, but hasn’t gotten there quite yet. The population is still primarily lower-income Latino and Asian, but growing pockets of artisticly-inclined middle-classers are seeking out spaces for coffee shops, bars, record stores, art galleries… The area is maybe inching its way to a more Silver Lake feel, but, for the moment, it’s more like Silver Lake’s unkempt, grungier sister, who is cool without really meaning to be.




Masa: A destination restaurant for deep dish pizza. The small is enough for two!

Masa: A destination restaurant for deep dish pizza. The small is enough for two!


El Prado: Hip place that has wine, craft beer and snacks. Every Tuesday, bring a record with you and they’ll almost always play it in exchange for a free beer. (Sign-ups are a week in advance).

Taix: Older crowd here. A little dark. Cocktails are just okay, but the service is friendly and the atmosphere is great for a night on the quieter side.

Sunset Beer Company: 800+ beers to take home, 12 rotating beers on tap. It’s a mix between a living room, a bar and a beer shop.

1642: Wine, craft beer, low-key, live music.

Take Note: Echo Park is a very walkable neighborhood, though it is hilly. Most of the restaurants, bars, shops, etc are located on Sunset. There is no metro line, sadly, but you can get there by bus. If you drive, there is plenty of free street parking and meters are on the cheap-side.


project Huntington Gardens

The Huntington is 207-acres of Botanical Gardens, Art Collections and a Library

Abby on approach to the gardens

The best railroad tycoons are the ones with philanthropic hearts and a penchant for collecting art, and books and pretty flowers. Happy for Los Angeles, Henry E. Huntington was just that sort of tycoon. In 1919, he and his wife, Arabella, transferred their vast property holdings and collections to a non-profit educational trust. That trust became The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

The Botanical Gardens are gobsmack gorgeous. All 12 are. Just past the entrance, take the path on the left and it will wind you into the Desert Garden, which is beautiful, and colorful and filled with cactuses that look like a bunch of penises.

Our suggestion would be to get here early, when it opens, and devote as much time as you can. There's lots to squeeze in to you visit.  Lay on the grass by the Lily Ponds and watch the sky, run through the trellis in the Rose Garden. Use the air-conditioned galleries to look at art and break up the sun-drenched garden viewing.

There is a tea room on the grounds that you can make reservations for in advance; It’s $30/person and looks charming. We brought a picnic and threw our blanket down in the Shakespeare Garden. Two groups of people who passed us mumbled, “we should have brought a picnic.” Muahahaha. Also, a little red wine. Not sure if it’s technically allowed, but nobody seemed to take notice.

The gardens close at 4pm. Which is frustrating because the temperature and light is pretty much ideal at right that time. You won’t notice many security people on the grounds while you’re wondering. But 4pm hits and they start materializing from the bushes to beckon you toward the exit.

Take Note:

  • You're gonna want to bring your sun hat or parasol to shade you, if you going in the summer.
  • Bring sunscreen
  • Look cute and take a camera! This is such a great photo op location!
  • We really do recommend a membership if you're in the area.. Its so beautiful and reasonably priced. The lowest level membership is $120/ yr for two named adults! Here’s a link for the full membership breakdown on the Huntington’s website.