Highland Park has a lot going for it. There’s its walkability—most shops and restaurants are along two main thoroughfares, York Boulevard and Figueroa Street. It’s got indie cred—the little mom-and-pop food stores and vintage clothing spots survive next to award-winning chefs’ joints. And there’s still a local feel to the place, so you can enjoy an unhurried afternoon in spots uncrowded with tourists. Go soon, before the national chain stores inevitably move in.
Your Perfect Day in Highland Park
1. Shop For Gifts At Dotter
The mother-daughter duo behind Dotter have basically opened every Pinterest follower’s idea of a perfect boutique: Delightfully wrinkled smock dresses and European flats share space with wooden toys and lemongrass soap made from goat’s milk. In other words, there’s something here for every hard-to-please giftee.
2. Eat All The Taiwanese Food At Joy
This neighborhood restaurant seems humble with its bare wood and exposed brick, but it’s actually the next iteration of hipster eatery thanks to proprietor Vivian Ku of Silverlake’s Pine & Crane. Start lunch with hot-and-sour soup, then follow it with minced pork over rice and a passion fruit tea.
5100 York Blvd.; 323-999-7642 or joyonyork.com
3. See Historic Western Artistry At Judson Studios
In 1897, a painter/professor and his three sons opened an art studio that became the center of an Arts and Crafts flowering of creativity for the entire West. Today that studio still functions as the oldest family-run stained-glass studio in the West, and you can tour it in all its multicolored glory.
200 S. Ave 66; 323-255-0131 or judsonstudios.com
4. Dine On Cal-med Cuisine At Hippo
Nothing is over $28 at buzzy Hippo, a rare bargain for such a high-profile chef (Matt Molina won a James Beard Award, basically the Oscars of chefdom). Oysters, grilled pork ribs and so many delish pastas—along with creative cocktails and a solid wine list—would be more than enough reason to come…but there’s also an eye-candy mural by local street artist/activist Eric Junker.
5916½ N. Figueroa St.; 323-545-3536 or hipporestaurant.com
5. Browse Curated Vintage Decor At Sunbeam Vintage
Sunbeam Vintage is like stepping through the looking glass into a used-furniture wonderland. The huge loft space and showroom is devoted to mid-century decor (both fabricated and actually, you know, old), and between the large stock and friendly staff, you will definitely find something you love. Chairs, bookshelves, lighting—it’s great for browsing even if you don’t have redecorating plans.
106 S. Ave. 58; 323-908-9743 or sunbeamvintage.com
6. Enjoy Prohibition-era Bowling At Highland Park Bowl
Highland Park Bowl opened in 1927. During that Prohibition time, doctors’ offices upstairs would give patrons a “medicinal prescription” for alcohol that they could get filled at a pharmacy downstairs. And then go bowling. That kind of interdisciplinary fun is still going on here today, with drag queens, burlesque performers and rock bands letting loose next to the lanes in this soaring space (that also serves dinner and drinks) fresh off a $2 million renovation.
5621 N. Figueroa St.; 323-257-2695 or highlandp
7. People Watch At Cafe Birdie
Marble-topped tables and palms under a soaring ceiling in this 1920s-era building set the mood for brunch at this charming spot where you can order everything from biscuits and gravy to burrata served with persimmons, figs and arugula. If you can’t make it for weekend brunch, at least make time to have a drink here, where you can order a Campari cocktail named after a Prince song and trend-spot accessories on the cool-cat patrons.
5631 Figueroa St.; 323-739-6928 or cafebirdiela.com