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Highland Park Bowl
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

A guide to Highland Park

Get to know Highland Park with the buzzworthy Northeast L.A. neighborhood's best restaurants, bars, shops and more

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

What’s the deal with Highland Park?

Of all the neighborhoods in Northeast L.A.—if not the entire city—none has changed as rapidly as Highland Park. Within the space of only a few years, entire stretches of the area flipped from working class businesses to chic, trendy hangouts. 

Highland Park started the 20th century as an artsy enclave filled with handsome Craftsman homes; by mid-century it had become a vibrant Latino district; but it wrapped up the decade as a community beleaguered with gang activity. Now, though, it’s an altogether pleasant place where lifelong citizens and, yes, gentrifiers both frequent old-school taquerias and hip new bistros.

Where exactly is Highland Park?

Highland Park sits a few miles up the 110 from Downtown L.A., just south of Eagle Rock and Pasadena. Its tree-lined residential streets mix with a walkable urban culture, particularly along the burgeoning York Boulevard, a street stocked with trendy gastropubs and art galleries. More recently, Figueroa Street has found itself as another source of increasing pedestrian activity, thanks to its Metro Gold Line stop and a burst of nightlife development.

What will you find in Highland Park?

Highland Park has just as many contemporary landmarks as it does ones that predate the neighborhood’s distinction as one of L.A.’s hippest. You’ll find a swanky, steampunk-esque bowling alley not too far from an off-the-beaten-path museum, and a sidewalk taco stand just down the block from a smashburger sensation. The area hasn’t gone full-blown high-end in the same way Silver Lake has, but, well, we’ll see where things stand in a few years.

If you only do one thing

We’ve allude it to it already, but Highland Park Bowl sure is stunning inside. The meticulously-detailed warehouse-style bowling alley serves pizza and cocktails along its lanes. The lane rates can get quite expensive, so stick to a Saturday afternoon for the most affordable rate.

Off the beaten track

Storied stained-glass workshop Judson Studios calls the area its home (well, technically the tiny adjacent town of Garvanza). The 1897 studio used to offer tours before 2020 derailed just about everything—so be on the lookout for the return of those at some point in the future.

What else is nearby?

Highland Park sits next to hilly neighborhoods Mt. Washington and Montecito Heights, as well as Eagle Rock, which carries similar vibes on Eagle Rock and Colorado Boulevards. To the northeast, Highland Park blends into both South Pasadena and Pasadena proper.