Though Silver Lake is far from an in-the-know secret these days, the beyond-trendy neighborhood is still a surprisingly easygoing destination. You won't find any major museums or landmark attractions, but that doesn't mean there's a shortage of eclectic culture. There are plenty of things to do in the hip Eastside hood, whether you want to catch a show at the Satellite, go shopping along Sunset Junction, take a stair hike between hillside houses or roll out a blanket in front of the Silver Lake Reservoir.
RECOMMENDED: See more in our neighborhood guide to Silver Lake.
Things to do in Silver Lake
Though you can't get inside of this man-made, decomissioned reservoir, its public perimeter has two dog parks, a basketball court, playground and field for the kiddies, along with a 2.2-mile trail around its entirety. It's also home to Silver Lake Meadow, a soft, grassy knoll overlooking the water where visitors can lounge and picnic (though no pups are allowed here).
Every customer here gets the same treatment from an enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff who excel at helping you find the perfect wine. You'll always discover something new; the selection—smartly chosen and constantly changing—is mostly small-production domestic and French with a smattering of natural European wines. Swing by on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays for in-store tastings; the popular weekend tasting requires advance reservations.
This neighborhood market—hosted Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings at Sunset Triangle Plaza—is the Eastside place to see and be seen while you peruse produce. The shoppers here have style, as evidenced by the many (rather pricey) vintage clothing racks and jewelry stands dominating a corner of the market. There are also used books and records for sale, fresh flowers, a lot of crystals, dried sage and other hip hippie wares. Of course, there's a ton of good food, too.
This sprawling dive, formerly known as Spaceland, remains the leading LA shrine to all things indie. The sound isn't great and parking is a combat sport, but the venue hosts great lineups as well as an upstairs lounge with a less-crowded bar and a photo booth (that actually works, on good nights!). The Monday night program, which features free monthly residencies for buzzy local bands on their way up, is always worth a look.
As its name implies, this century-old sycamore has about 30 chandeliers suspended from its branches. Located on a residential stretch of Silver Lake Drive, the illuminated tree is lovely at night as food trucks and devoted followers often frolick to the neighborhood's favorite art project. Consider kicking in a donation at the parking meter out front; it costs $200 a month to light, according to creators Brion Topolski and Adam Tenenbaum.
Featured on the cover art for Elliott Smith's Figure 8, this swirling mural became an unofficial memorial to the singer-songwriter after his death. After some bouts with tagging, the wall is looking pretty good these days; you'll see remembrance messages pop up here and there, but its red, white and dark blue stripes have been spotless lately.
Sunset Junction, named for the intersection of Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards, is home to Silver Lake's walkable, trendy shopping district. The street is lined with some of the neighborhood's best boutiques and is anchored by Intelligentsia, where you're sure to spot beautiful people having very important discussions on its gorgeous tiled patio.
There are dozens of public, outdoor stairways scattered around Silver Lake's verdant hillsides. Though some homeowners have tried to prevent open access, make no mistake, these sets of stairs are for public use. There's an exhaustive guide in author Charles Fleming's Secret Stairs, but you can get a preview of the stairway network with this 2.5-mile hike, featuring the Music Box Steps of Laurel and Hardy fame.
Though architect Richard Neutra’s original live-work space burned down in the '60s, his son oversaw the careful reconstruction of an updated version. Today, this glass-walled paragon of modern design overlooking the Silver Lake Reservoir is an active part of LA’s design community and home to occasional art installations. Each Saturday, students in Cal Poly Pomona’s architecture program lead half-hour tours.