Hidden Gems of Atwater Village

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Red Car River Park | Photo by Liz Ohanesian

Atwater Village is small, but it's packed with hidden gems. The neighborhood is located right by the L.A. River and that alone will give outdoorsy types lots to explore. It's a neighborhood with a music history memorialized in the mural portrait of late Beastie Boy MCA and a future that's being forged inside nearby Swing House Studios. For being such a small neighborhood, Atwater Village's bar game is strong and includes spots where you can check out up-and-coming local talent too. Whether you're looking for an afternoon adventure or a dose of L.A. nightlife, Atwater Village has you covered.

Bigfoot Lodge



Since 1999, Bigfoot Lodge has been showing folks how to do a theme bar right. Decked out to look like a cabin, the Los Feliz Boulevard watering hole is filled with all sorts of kitschy wilderness decor, including animatronic animals. It's the kind of place where you could stare at the walls endlessly because there's always something cool to see. But, the action goes beyond visuals. Bigfoot Lodge is home to (vinyl) DJ nights, trivia nights and more. Follow the bar on Instagram to keep up on events.

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Club Tee Gee | Instagram by @groove_tape

Club Tee Gee

There's no shortage of bars in Atwater Village, but if you're looking for something that feels hyperlocal, go to Club Tee Gee. Opened in 1946, the bar was acquired by the Short Stop team in August 2017 after the passing of longtime owner, Betty Bartlotta. A plaque on the front of the building boasts that it's the "Cheers" of the neighborhood, and that's absolutely what this place feels like inside. It's the sort of bar where you'll see the Dodger game playing on the television while a mix of '80s jams and newer alternative radio songs play on the jukebox. Bring cash.

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Live music at The Griffin | Instagram by @kandy_gram

The Griffin

If you're looking for a taste of local music, head over to The Griffin. This Los Feliz Boulevard spot is better known as a bar and restaurant than as a music venue, but they do host free shows on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. The best way to keep up with The Griffin is to follow the bar on Instagram, where they post upcoming show flyers.

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Happier Camper in Atwater Village | Instagram by @happiercamper

Happier Camper

Happier Camper makes a small, lightweight camping trailer with a fun retro design and modern, modular interior. They also rent out new and vintage trailers at their Atwater Village headquarters. If your L.A. trip includes a camping excursion in the mountains or at the beach, you might just be able to find your temporary digs here. Check the Happier Camper website to make arrangements online or by phone.

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Kaldi Coffee in Atwater Village | Instagram by @paulslee

Kaldi Coffee

Kaldi Coffee is a small, busy coffee house on Glendale Boulevard that serves up more than a cup of joe. Amidst the tables of caffeine-fueled people working on laptops, you'll find shelves lined with a small and intriguing selection of books, records and zines. Pick up something to read while you take a coffee break.

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Photo courtesy of Los Feliz Municipal Golf Course

Los Feliz Municipal Golf Course

Los Feliz Municipal Golf Course is a 3-par, 9-hole spot best known for its appearance in the movie Swingers. The course, which was originally a driving range and dates back to 1947, is for more than just golf. It's also the home of the summertime screening series, Atwater Movie Night Under the Stars.

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MCA mural by David Flores | Photo by Liz Ohanesian

MCA Mural

Beastie Boys fans know Atwater Village as the neighborhood where the hip-hop trio recorded their 1992 album Check Your Head. After the death of Adam "MCA" Yauch, artist David P. Flores memorialized the late Beastie Boy with a mural on the Larga Avenue side of the building that once housed G-Son Studios, where Check Your Head was recorded from 1991-92.

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Los Angeles River at North Atwater Park | Instagram by @thekennybarnwell

North Atwater Park

Located near the L.A. River, North Atwater Park is nearly hidden at the end of Chevy Chase Drive. If you're in the neighborhood, don't overlook the park. Back in 2012, the space was renovated as part of the greater L.A. River Revitalization project. Today, it's a lush and shaded park that's also home to a baseball diamond, basketball and volleyball courts and a small playground.

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Red Car River Park | Photo by Liz Ohanesian

Red Car River Park

As the name implies, Atwater Village is situated by water. Specifically, this small neighborhood is located near the banks of the L.A. River. In recent years, the river has undergone a revitalization campaign and you can gain access to parts of the waterway here. If you just want to take a glimpse of the L.A. River, you can see the view at Red Car River Park, located off Ferncroft Road and Glendale Boulevard. For those wanting to bike or stroll, there are a couple ways to access the paths scattered in the area. Look for the signs pointing to access gates, or check out lariver.org and plot out your route beforehand.

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Poptone | Photo courtesy of Swing House Studios, Facebook

Swing House Studios

In 2016, Swing House Studios moved from its longtime home in Hollywood to Atwater Village. Now, the venerable rehearsal and recording studio fills a large space that includes stages for showcases. Shows here aren't all that common, but they have happened, as when post-punk icons Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins launched their Poptone tour here in the spring of 2017. If you have the opportunity to catch a show like this, do it because you'll have the rare chance to see a band in a space as intimate as a bar, but with killer sound.