Many Angelenos are rightfully proud of our historical waterway, the Los Angeles River. But not many people know about the hidden gem that currently houses the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens. Located in the Cypress Park neighborhood of Los Angeles (immediately east of the river, where the 110 and the 5 meet), this compound of stunning buildings in the Midcentury version of “Spanish” or “Colonial” style (both euphemisms that try to conceal the obvious Mexican influences) was built by the Lawry’s spice company in the 1950s. They expanded it in the 1960s) and Lawry’s became a famous collection of restaurants that highlighted the brand’s seasonings. The complex, known as Lawry’s California Center, operated until the early 1990s, when the City prevented its demolition and redevelopment by turning it into the Los Angeles River Center, with a stated mission of serving as "a focal point for the renewal of the Los Angeles River, and a prime location for community gatherings, educational conferences, and special events.” The buildings also serve as a home to several conservancy groups, including the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, which manages it.
The combination of open and closed environments that look like a Technicolor, movie-set version of a Spanish-style villa—complete with ivy-covered walls, courtyards, soothing fountains, lawns, and even a working fireplace!—has made the Los Angeles River Center a word-of-mouth success with people planning all manner of events, especially weddings. (The location is reportedly recouping its entire operational costs out of wedding rentals.) Located in an inconspicuous nook of the city, guests are surprised and then thrilled when they arrive to this ideal (and idealized) version of a California-style fantasy only a few minutes away from DTLA and northeastern neighborhoods like Los Feliz and Silver Lake. The complex also features an educational exhibit about the L.A. River, and it’s right next to the River Garden Park.
570 W Ave 26, Los Angeles 90065