15 things to do in Echo Park
After a massive makeover, the Eastside's historic Echo Park Lake has finally become a family-friendly destination worthy of its bold backdrop: the Downtown skyline amid the lotus flower blooms and fountains. The lake has been around since 1860—it was once used as a drinking water reservoir, and later as a recreational park with canoes and fishing. Today, you can push your way through the lake in a pedal boat or stroll around the path that hugs its borders. Either way, make sure to stop at the revived boathouse (and its breakfast pit stop Square One at the Boathouse) and the Lady of the Lake statue.
This art gallery epitomizes the nerd-gone-cool phenomenon with video game and pop culture-inspired art shows. Exhibitions here are smart, interesting and always have a sense of humor. Their opening reception parties are actually parties—we're talking hundred-plus attendees and free booze—and always draw a fascinating cross-section of locals.
Dodger Stadium (otherwise known as Chavez Ravine) has been home to the Dodgers since 1962, making it the third-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. Even so, it's one of the nicest ballparks in the country. While there, make sure to try a local favorite—the Doyer Dog, loaded with chili, nacho cheese, tomatoes, onions and jalapeños.
Music-lovers flock to this often-jammed duo of clubs for all flavors of indie, dub reggae and electronica. The temperature can rise to uncomfortable levels when it's crowded, although the back patio offers sweet relief. The big, low-slung Echoplex sits underneath the Echo, where you'll find the bi-monthly dance party Bootie LA as well as touring artists who draw bigger crowds.
How can you possibly categorize Machine Project? Installations at this ecectic space have included a magical woodland and a picturesque shipwreck; activities range from a group weeping-and-laughter ceremony to a clothing-optional film screening to a gourmet ham bar.
Primarly a music rehearsal and recording space, Bedrock has become one of Echo Park's main creative hubs. The space boasts some pretty spectacular murals, and hosts hip events such as Bitchcraft Trading Post and BEDROCKtoberfest. It's also home to the vintage pinball hangout Pins and Needles, which oversees the machines at EightyTwo.
The dozen or so towering Victorian homes that line Carroll Avenue collectively form one of the most picturesque spots in the city. The wooden turrets and shaded portraits feel frozen in time, calling back to a post-Spanish, pre-Hollywood way of life that feels like a secret part of LA history. That is, until you realize it's the backdrop of some of the silver screen's most iconic franchises, including Chinatown, The Fast and the Furious films and Michael Jackson's Thriller.
LA's oldest park, founded in 1886, is big and beautiful but tends to get a bad rap. Admittedly, some things here have fallen by the wayside, but among the palm tree groves and hilly hikes, you'll find great views of the Valley, Downtown, Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood Hills. On weekends, expect a buzz of activities around bouncy castles and “dog hill,” a spot where locals convene to throw balls and sticks to each other’s canine companions.
This 1930s warehouse-turned-theater hosts music, theater, dance and film. Small indie rock bands and local talent are often on tap here—it's one of the best small music venues on the Eastside—courtesy of The Fold. The theater's owners are steeped in the arts as well, from actors to set designers to welders—it's no wonder they fill Bootleg's calendar with such varied and quality shows.
At first glance, the inside of this storefront resembles any other market in the area—but look closer and you’ll find a collection of funny time travel curiosities that one needs in order to visit the past and future, from Barbarian Repellent to Primordial Soup In a Can and a whole bunch of books. What’s going on? The market is a ruse: everything in it is indeed for sale, but the store is actually a front for 826LA, a nonprofit organization which tutors kids ages 6 to 18.