LA River Like You’ve Never Experienced It Before

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“Wait, Los Angeles has a river?”

If this is the first time you’ve heard of the Los Angeles River, don’t be embarrassed. It’s not like the Hudson in New York or Seattle’s Puget Sound, cities where their respective waterfronts are so central (while being simultaneously peripheral) it’s hard not to gravitate toward them. True, the LA River isn’t obvious, but if you do go see it, you’ll experience a part of the city few visitors—and, let’s face it, Angelenos—have seen.

You’ve actually seen part of the LA River if you’ve seen Grease. Remember the dry, concrete-bound riverbed under the bridges where the T-Birds road race against the Scorpions? That’s the LA River. Well, part of it. The segment worth visiting is lush and flowing, and there’s a path for walkers and bikers. Stick to the path for the best way to both see the river and visit these neighborhood spots.

wax-paper-co-la-river

Photo courtesy of @dylanjho via Instagram.

Wax Paper Co.

Are you more an Ira Glass type or Kai Ryssdal fan? Whether you recognize those names or not (though we hope you do), Wax Paper Co. makes it hard to choose between the avocado-cheddar-veggie sandwich (Ira) or the tuna-celery-aioli (Kai). This tiny, tiny sandwich shop made headlines by naming their sandos after NPR greats—and for making great sandos. Pick up a couple and eat them in the small park on the river bike path.

2902 Knox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039

the-left-bank-la-river

Photo courtesy of @theleftbankla via Instagram.

The Left Bank

The Left Bank is a vintage and resale shop that local (and loyal) shoppers probably want to keep secret. The outside might not win you over, but the delightful owners and great finds will. This is the place for good deals on great brands, vintage dresses, delicate jewelry, cheeky greeting cards, and unique homewares like art, textiles and even plants.

2479 Fletcher Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90039

spoke-bicycles-la-river

Photo courtesy of @nickbaga via Instagram.

Spoke Bicycle Cafe

The easiest way to get to Spoke is by foot or bicycle. Open Thursday through the weekend, it’s an eclectic place to stop for a break and a caffeine fix. If there’s one word to describe Spoke, it’s local. Local art, locally roasted beans, local crowd, and local owners who live in the river neighborhood. If you’re looking for something to sip that’s stronger than coffee, keep an eye out for Frogtown Brewery, which is formally opening any day now.

3050 N Coolidge Ave, Los Angeles, CA 

salazar-la-river

Photo courtesy of @spoon_usc via Instagram.

Salazar

Salazar is putting Frogtown on the map with its flamboyant drinks and unforgettable Mexican food. Though the restaurant is just a few months old, it has a both a loyal neighborhood following and a gravitational pull for LA foodies. Brunch is a day-long affair. You will be tempted to order one of the more Instagram-friendly cocktails (especially the ones with gummy sharks floating in the booze), but have a Paloma first. Grapefruit and mezcal will never taste the same.

2490 Fletcher Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Photo courtesy of Patrick Lakey via TakePart

Sara Fay

Sara Fay

Sara Fay is a journalist and editor in Los Angeles. Her feelings for LA can be summed up by the hearts-for-eyes emoji.

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