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, the home of our beloved Los Angeles Dodgers; to Echo Park Lake, which reopened recently after a $45-million renovation. Locals and visitors alike enjoy paddle-boating around the lake, while the surrounding area continues to experience a retail, recreation and restaurant renaissance. Read on to find out more about Echo Park hidden gems, and discover an entirely different side of the neighborhood.

Baxter Street Stairs
Baxter Street Stairs  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Baxter Street Stairs

There are over two dozen sets of stairs all over Echo Park, with some dating back to before automobiles and even paved streets. Thanks to their ultra-high vantage point, the Baxter Street Stairs provide some of the most breathtaking views in Los Angeles. Beginning at 1501 Baxter St. and ending at 2101 Park Dr., the 231-step ascent will treat you to views of Downtown L.A., the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign. If you want to continue your urban hike, there are numerous walking trails at Elysian Park, located across the street.

Innes House (aka the "Charmed" House) on Carroll Avenue
Innes House (aka the "Charmed" House) | Photo: @_m_u_r_p_h_y901, Instagram

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 manors that date to the 19th century. Many of these private homes can be seen in films, TV shows and music videos such as Michael Jackson's Thriller. Note the Victorian architectural features as you stroll down Carroll Avenue, including the distinctive lamp posts as well as hitching posts that secured horses back in the day. 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.

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, the arboretum features over 100 varieties of trees from all over the world. Many trees are the oldest and largest of their kind in the state, and in some cases in the United States. Admission to the unfenced arboretum is free, and during your visit you'll be treated to sightings of birds, including woodpeckers, hummingbirds and ravens.

The Rolling Stones Echoplex
The Rolling Stones, live at the Echoplex, 2013 | Photo: The Rolling Stones, YouTube

The Echo + Echoplex

The Echo + Echoplex is a one-two punch of live music that ranges from rising local stars to world-famous touring acts. The free Monday Night Music residency has helped launch the careers of The Airborne Toxic Event, War Paint, Foster the People and more. The Echo has hosted Beck, Green Day, and LCD Soundsystem; downstairs, the Echoplex has welcomed the Rolling Stones, Nine Inch Nails and Thom Yorke.

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, the Echo Park 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 trinkets and robot parts and food for your pet robot at home. A stroll through the store will keep you entertained for ages.

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

El Prado

El Prado is a humble little wine and beer bar, and a longtime neighborhood favorite. You'll find wood panels and brick along the interior of the dimly-lit bar, which offers a dozen wines and constantly rotating beer taps, showcasing many local vintners and brewers. 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 familiarly as the "Lady of the Lake," the statue was in storage for over a decade before it was restored in 1999 and placed on the southeastern edge of Echo Park Lake. After the lake received a multi-million dollar renovation, the statue was returned to its original location on the north end. Relief images of City Hall, ships, a mission and other land features are depicted at her base.

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

Lemon Frog Shop

You'll find vintage items stacked to the ceiling at Lemon Frog Shop, which carries a variety of pieces from the 1950s to the 80s. They receive new inventory every day, so it's easy for you to stay dressed to the nines. Whether you're into prints, solids, high heels, platforms or boots, Lemon Frog Shop has it all, with footwear often arriving from Italy, Brazil and Spain. They also have an impressive collection of Gucci handbags and accessories. The best part is there's something for everyone at all price ranges, so you don’t have to break the bank to take something home - a great reason to return again and again.

Mulita de Asada at Taco Zone in Echo Park
Mulita de Asada at Taco Zone | Photo: @tortillacrusader, Instagram

Taco Zone

There are many taco trucks roaming and parking all over Los Angeles, but you won't find another one that’s parked in the Vons parking lot at Alvarado and Montana until the wee hours of the morning. Order their tacos, or go for their mulitas, featuring meat and cheese sandwiched between two tasty, toasted tortillas. Suadero (rib meat) is their specialty - be sure to top off your order with their outstanding salsas.

Photo courtesy of Valerie Confections  |  Photo: Valerie Confection

Valerie Echo Park

Open Wednesday through Sunday, Valerie Confections on Echo Park Avenue is a perfect place to enjoy afternoon tea. 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 tea sandwiches are made with the best seasonal ingredients, so whether you're in the mood for savory or sweet, Valerie Confections has you covered.

Elysian Park Bicycle
Elysian Park  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Wildflower Trail - Elysian Park

Located on the western side of Elysian Park near Dodger Stadium, Wildflower Trail clocks in at just under three miles and less than 200 feet in elevation, making it one of the easiest ways to get a glimpse of a variety of beautiful wildflowers. Wildflower Trail offers views of Downtown L.A., the L.A. River and the back of Mount Washington, as well the pleasant setting of a community garden.