Hidden Gems in Echo Park

The secrets of one of LA's most historic and diverse neighborhoods

Bridge at Echo Park Lake
Bridge at Echo Park Lake | Photo: Christine H, Yelp

Flanked by Elysian Park, Elysian Valley, Silver Lake, and Chinatown, Echo Park is a
historic and diverse neighborhood where you’ll find everything from Dodger Stadium,
home of the beloved Los Angeles Dodgers, to Echo Park Lake, which reopened recently
after a $45-million renovation. Locals and visitors alike enjoy paddle-boating on the lake, while the surrounding area continues to experience a retail, recreation , and restaurant renaissance.
Yet there’s so much more to discover in Echo Park, too. Read on to find out about this colorful community’s unsung sights and hidden gems.

Baxter Street Stairs
Baxter Street Stairs  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Baxter Street Stairs

There are over two dozen flights of stairs of varying lengths all over Echo Park’s hilly topography, some of which predate automobiles or even paved streets. One of the best known, the 231-step Baxter Street Stairs, offers both a robust cardio workout and among the best views in Los Angeles. Beginning at 1501 Baxter St., three blocks east of Echo Park Avenue, and ending at 2101 Park Dr., the 231-step ascent delivers vistas of Downtown L.A., the Griffith Observatory, and the Hollywood Sign that will leave you almost as breathless as the stairs themselves. Continue your urban hike on the walking trails that crisscross Elysian Park, just across Park Drive.

Bloom & Plume

Bloom & Plume

Bloom & Plume founder Maurice Harris is nurturing not just a thriving business, but also a community-oriented brand inspired by the South African term “ubuntu” (which roughly translates as, “I am because we are”). This Black-owned Echo Park hub comprises a sleek, delicious, airy and energized coffee shop plus an adjacent bespoke floral design studio (of which you’ll see sample works in the café). But don’t come expecting traditional bouquets and tired arrangements from Harris – one of the most sought-after floral designers in L.A., who’s been featured in the likes of Vogue and W Magazine, at MOCA, and as host of HBO Max’s Full Bloom.

Picture of the Thriller House

Carroll Avenue

Step back in time on Carroll Avenue, located in one of LA's oldest neighborhoods, Angelino Heights. This historic street is lined with Victorian-style houses that date to the late 1800s, interspersed with Italiante and Craftsman homes. Many of these private properties have featured in movies, TV shows, and music videos such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller.” Note the Victorian architectural features as you stroll down Carroll, including distinctive hitching posts, used to secure horses back in the day, some with quaint decorative details. The entire 1300 block of Carroll Avenue was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and several homes have been named Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments. (Please Note: These homes are privately owned. Please respect the properties as if they were your own.) Like Victorian Homes? Check out LA's Heritage Square Museum.

Chavez Ravine Arboretum Sign
Chavez Ravine Arboretum | Photo: LA Parks

Chavez Ravine Arboretum

Located in Elysian Park just north of Dodger Stadium, the Chavez Ravine Arboretum is the first and oldest arboretum in Southern California. Founded in 1893 by the Los Angeles Horticultural Society, it features over 130 varieties of trees from all over the world, many of which survive from the original plantings over a century ago . These include what are believed to be the oldest and largest Cape Chestnut, Kauri, and Tipu trees in the U.S. Birds thrive in these leafy surrounds, including woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and ravens. Perfect for a family picnic, the free-admission Chavez Ravine Arboretum also features barbecue pits, a kids play area, picnic tables, restrooms, and benches.

Picture of a party at the THE ECHO + ECHOPLEX

The Echo + Echoplex

The Echo + Echoplex deliver a one-two punch of live music that ranges from rising local stars to world-famous touring acts, not to mention hosting popular dance nights. Both venues are known for secret shows and adventurous booking policies, including the free Monday Night Residency that has helped launch the careers of The Airborne Toxic Event, War Paint, Foster the People, and more. Opened in 2001, the 350-capacity Echo has since hosted Beck, Billie Eilish, and St. Vincent; downstairs, the much larger Echoplex (780 capacity)has welcomed the Rolling Stones, Nine Inch Nails, and Green Day.

Time Travel Mart
Echo Park Time Travel Mart  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Echo Park Time Travel Mart

Serving as a storefront for the non-profit writing education organization, 826LA, Time Travel Mart is a shop full of treasures and oddities from the past and the future. Works by 826LA students are for sale, as are time travel-themed novelty trinkets like “dinosaur eggs” and “pastports,” as well as conversation-piece apparel, posters, stationery and greetings cards, children’s and travel books, and so much more. Time Travel Mart is as enthralling and entertaining as any museum, only with an opportunity to purchase the “artifacts” and with proceeds supporting students’ creative and expository writing skills.

Entrance to El Prado in Echo Park
Entrance to El Prado | Photo: @sven_fleming, Instagram

El Prado

“Records and friends and friends with records” is a mantra of El Prado, an unassuming little Echo Park wine and beer bar that’s long been a neighborhood favorite. A popular pre/post-show stop for Echoplex concertgoers, it serves a dozen wines plus constantly rotating beer taps highlighting many local vintners and brewers, plus surprisingly scrumptious hot dogs. Amidst dimly lit exposed brick and beams, bartenders provide the soundtrack with vinyl pulled from the shelves, along with sets by guest DJs.

Lady of the Lake Echo Park
The Lady of the Lake, Echo Park | Photo: @clarambar_, Instagram

"Lady of the Lake" - Echo Park Lake

"Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles" ("Queen of the Angels") was sculpted in the Art Deco style by Ada Mae Sharpless and gifted to the City of Los Angeles in 1935. Known colloquially as the “Lady of the Lake,” the statue suffered damage and neglect over its first half century at the eastern edge of Echo Park Lake and was put in storage for over a decade before being restored and rededicated in 1999, this time on the lake’s southeastern shore. Upon completion of Echo Park Lake’s multi-million-dollar renovation in 2013, the statue was returned to its original location, surrounded by rose bushes and standing on a base depicting L.A. landmarks and locales.


Guisados Echo Park

With eight local locations, Guisados is a decidedly unpretentious taco spot that has nonetheless made high-profile “Best Taco” and “Best Mexican Restaurant” lists, not to mention being included on Conde Naste Traveler’s “Best Restaurants in the World.” Its secret is simply yet oddly elusive, even in a city saturated with Mexican eateries: a relatively small selection (but including vegetarian choices) of superlative handmade braised tacos. Founded in nearby Boyle Heights in 2010, all Guisados locations achieve a rare combo of humble, hip, and homey, where hungry diners of any budget can sample what some of the most cultured afficionados, including late Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold, have enthusiastically endorsed.

Lemon Frog Shop
Lemon Frog Shop | Photo: Lemon Frog Shop

Lemon Frog Shop

You'll find vintage pieces stacked from floor to ceiling at Lemon Frog Shop, a unique bazaar tucked away in Echo Park that carries one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories from the 1950s to the ‘90s. They receive new inventory every day and carry something for every budget, including hundreds of $10 items, so it's easy to stay dapper even on rent day. Whether you're into prints, solids, or calico; high heels, platforms or boots, Lemon Frog has it all, with footwear frequently arriving from as far afield as Brazil, Italy, and Spain. They also boast an impressive collection of Gucci handbags and accessories. All great reasons to return repeatedly.

Primary image for Monty's Good Burger

Monty's Good Burger

Vegan baseball fans, don't despair, the Echo Park outpost of Monty’s Good Burger is just a half-mile from Dodger Stadium. Monty’s timely M.O. is a 100% plant-based menu of guilt-free comfort food comprising artisanal Impossible burgers, “chicken” sandwiches and tenders, fries, tots, beverages (including signature Organic Oatly Oatmilk Shakes), and Rocco’s Sweet Shoppe cookies. Sauces and lemonade are house-made here, and there’s a focus on ethical and sustainable practices all the way along the restaurant’s supply chain. Enhancing the feel-good vibes are Monty’s monthly dog and cat adoption drives, plus an emphasis on providing a fair living wage and genuine career opportunities to its staff.

Outside photo of OTOTO SAKE BAR

Ototo Sake Bar

The tiny sister pub of the neighboring Tsubaki izakaya, Ototo is a sake-oriented eatery serving Japanese-inspired bar food (plus fish and chips, and a steak dinner). With counter ordering and no reservations, this primo pre-game hang – somewhere to take the edge off your appetite and stress before heading to the evening’s main event. It’s the downright educational sake menu, broken into evocatively-titled categories based on flavor profiles (“earth and umami,” “fruits and flowers” etc.,) that both defines Ototo and could refine your opinion of sake, and particularly of hot sake, forever.

Tom of Finland Foundation House

Tom of Finland Foundation House

Positioned on a hilly residential street just a stone’s throw from Dodger Stadium, sits “TOM House”, a two-story shrine to hyper masculine, NSFW art. A casual visitor may be forgiven for missing it; a stately California Craftsman home on palm tree-lined Laveta Terrace, built in 1911 when the newly subdivided land was still known as Sunset Boulevard Heights. Curl behind a verdant wall of hedges and open the black wooden gate into the private-public museum for the Tom of Finland Foundation, an arts organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, and documenting the works of Tom of Finland, perhaps pop culture’s most influential creator of explicit gay images. The foundation bills itself as the world’s largest repository of erotic art, with more than 100,000 images, materials - 3,500 of which belong to the iconic artist himself. Read more about the LA Icon here.

Photo courtesy of Valerie Confections  |  Photo: Valerie Confection

Valerie Echo Park

Open Wednesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. ‘til 3 p.m., Valerie Tea House & Bakery on Echo Park Avenue is a primo place for a revitalizing brew, small bite, and something exquisitely sweet from one of the top artisan confectioners in the country . (It says a lot that co-founder Valerie Gordon’s very first cookbook, Sweet, was a finalist at the James Beard Awards.) Opt for a seat inside the cozy cafe, out on the sidewalk, or on the covered patio. Breakfast specials, petit fours, pastries, fresh salads, and sandwiches are made with the absolute best seasonal ingredients. This stop is a must for chocolate lovers, Valerie's specialty.

Elysian Park Bicycle
Elysian Park  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Wildflower Trail - Elysian Park

Hugging the western side of Elysian Park, near Dodger Stadium, Wildflower
Trail clocks in at 2.8 miles and less than 200 feet in elevation, making it one of the easiest ways to view a variety of beautiful blooms during springtime. Popular with runners and walkers alike, this convenient, well-shaded loop through sycamore and pine forests offers the escapist, bucolic charms of a true community garden right in the midst of the city. The foliage along Wildflower Trail opens up here and there to deliver panoramic views of Downtown Los Angeles., the L.A. River, and the back of Mount Washington, as well as the looming San Gabriels beyond.