The Arts District: Downtown LA’s Neighborhood-on-the-Rise

Upon first glance, it may not look like much, but take a closer look and you’ll see Downtown LA’s Arts District is more than just early 20th century warehouses and abandoned factories. Must-see galleries, socially-conscious eateries, stylish coffee shops, and trendy blocks are popping up more and more, and Angelinos seeking novel streets to meander and new backdrops for their photos are starting to flock as they catch wind of this hip neighborhood.

Having lived in LA for more than half a decade, I revel in any opportunity to explore places I don’t usually frequent. So, with a fairly open weekend on my hands, I made the drive downtown. With the sun deciding to greet me after a week of Southern California’s infamous “June Gloom”, it was hard to leave my beach town. But, I’m so glad I did.

Zinc Café
Fourth-generation vegetarian, John Secretan attended school in Berkeley, California and dreamed of bringing the vibe of the area down to LA. Opening his first Zinc Café in Laguna Beach almost 30 years ago, Secretan lived behind his first ever food industry venture in a small wooden shack to ensure he’d always have a close hand in the business. 

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Choose to eat indoors or out; either way, the dining areas are a welcome respite from the busy city

After years of renovating and expanding, a new branch of Zinc opened in Downtown Los Angeles, boasting the franchise’s first full service restaurant and bar. With three years under its belt now, my brunch experience was a success and filled with creamy lattes, fresh dishes, and creative cocktails. www.zinccafe.com

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Zinc’s Asparagus Sandwich with a poached egg on top

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Zinc offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, and desserts

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Bar Mateo is the newest addition to Zinc, with a craft cocktail bar set in a 1914-built barn

Street Art at Every Corner
Cities around the world are seeing a sprouting cultural wave involving Street Art, and the artists behind the paint are turning into household names. The Downtown Arts District is no stranger to this popular movement. In wandering the streets, you can find hand-painted murals, airbrushed stencils, or thought-provoking proverbs to fit your day’s mood.

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I was so excited to see work by Wrdsmth, currently my favorite street artist!

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Art everywhere!

Pit Stop at Resident
Perhaps one of the coolest places I’ve discovered in a while is Resident, tucked away only blocks from the popular Arts District Co-op and other chic shops. What began as a studio for the artist-owners, this is “not-your-grandmother’s” backyard, as it has been transformed into a hybrid of a bar, beer garden, and music venue. With beer, wine, and cocktails on tap, drinks are served out of an Airstream, and semi-permanent food trucks are carted in to help you beat those mid-day cravings. At night, the inside opens up as a hip bar, as well. Bonus: The owners, Tim and Bridget Vagedes, still live there, as they’ve secured an RV on the roof of the three-story former metal shop and warehouse, decked out with string lights, yard decorations, and plenty of greenery. www.residentdtla.com

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Resident’s Airstream: an innovative bar

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A peek at Resident’s eclectic outdoor seating

The Arts District Co-op is a landmark not to be missed. Picture a 15,000-square foot indoor flea market, but with nothing but the most up-to-date fashions and desirable trinkets. Over two dozen vendors offer jewelry, apparel, home goods, and, if you’re in the market, art of all mediums. Plus, there’s a permanent stage set up in the back for live music featured on the third Saturday of every month!

As the sun set, I didn’t want to admit that the day was coming to a close. I had only scratched the surface of this neighborhood-on-the-rise and hungered for more. For example, the Arts District Brewing Company has finishing tanks stationed behind each bar to serve tap beer straight from the source; and, while sipping your suds, you can play Skee-Ball or try your hand at table hockey. Westbound, unobtrusively set along the perimeter of a mixed-use walk street (both residences and storefronts share this stretch), features craft cocktails, seasonal small bites, and even boozy milkshakes.

It’s not hard to see why this area is becoming so popular, as the Arts District has a little bit of something for everyone. With so many more to streets explore, shops to peruse, and bites to nibble, I’ll certainly be making my way downtown more often.

Love,

Shae

*Shae is our guest blogger from Los Angeles. An educator whose lust for experience influences her teaching, she travels with the desire to immerse herself in diverse cultures, seeking new adventure and inspiring others to engage with compassion and expand their world view. Follow Shae on Instagram! @seekvantage

The BEST Breakfast Sandwich You’ll Ever Have in LA

Los Angeles is a city of transplants, as many of us have uprooted ourselves from where we were born and bred to create lives in the Southern California sun. We come together to share traditions from our pasts, form new ones of our own, and are lucky enough to sincerely call this City of Angels home.

With the influx of people from all over bringing with them their unique backgrounds and cultural flavors, it’s no wonder the restaurant and bar scene has such an improvisational air to it. New hot-spots pop up almost daily; and, if you ask anyone for their advice on the U.S. cities with the most dynamic food, it’s no doubt that Los Angeles ranks high. But, what better to help a new place begin to feel like home than a dependable and familiar neighborhood go-to? I recently sung the praises of one of my top-choice beachy eateries, Playa Provisions (see the post here!) Still, with so many options right outside my doorstep, my list inevitably continues. Another contender for my favorite menu is nestled comfortably on Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice, and it’s a perfect reminder of the melting-pot that L.A. truly is.

Gjelina Take Away
Together forming a foodie trifecta in Venice are three restaurants, Gjelina, Gjelina Take Away, and Gjusta (the latter is the youngest addition to the family – a bakery inspired by an east-coast Jewish/Italian deli). Co-owned by Shelley Kleyn, Travis Lett, and Fran Camaj (Gjelina is named after Camaj’s mother, and Gjusta, after his aunt!), this trio of restaurants seamlessly combines traditional Italian cuisine with the contemporary farm-to-table California taste. The little sister to its neighboring restaurant, Gjelina, Gjelina Take Away (affectionately known as GTA) serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. Offering a quicker experience than dining-in next door, GTA has all the perks of this popular establishment without the wait.

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GTA’s interior

Walking into GTA in the morning never fails to intrigue me, as the eclectic mix of patrons is rarely repeated. And, those who stumble upon this hidden spot find themselves faced with a gorgeous spread of daily items displayed to entice each passerby, and all made from seasonal, local ingredients.

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Behind the counter

In my quest to find the best breakfast sandwich in LA, GTA caught – and kept – my attention. Braised kale, melted gruyere, a crisp, yet runny, fried egg, thick-cut bacon, and hot sauce (if you want it!) on a grilled English muffin…this sandwich may look small, but it’s packed with mighty flavor. And, when I decide to give-in to my need for a treat, GTA’s version of the popular granola and yogurt option beats out its competition. Served with honey and seasonal fresh fruit, the granola is made in-house and is perfectly chewy, sweet, and salty.

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THE Breakfast Sandwich — so good.

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Satisfying house made granola, fresh fruit, and creamy yogurt.

So, if you’re planning a trip to L.A., you’ll be able to find authentic food from all over the world, no matter your taste. But, if a reliably-delicious breakfast is what you’re after, with market-driven ingredients and beautifully delivered dishes, this eatery has everything you’d hope to experience during a treat-yourself morning out.

Travelers’ Bonus: Gjelina Take Away puts you smack in the middle of one of the hippest shopping streets in Los Angeles, Abbot Kinney Boulevard. After you clean the butter and egg yolk off your face and fingers, pop into the boutiques and art galleries for trendsetting fashion, clever gifts, and musings of all sorts. You could easily spend a couple hours taking it all in as you digest your mouthwatering morning meal.

Gjelina Take Away (GTA)
1427 Abbot Kinney Blvd. (two blocks north of Venice Blvd.)
Website

Love,

Shae

*Shae is our guest blogger from Los Angeles. An educator whose lust for experience influences her teaching, she travels with the desire to immerse herself in diverse cultures, seeking new adventure and inspiring others to engage with compassion and expand their world view. Follow Shae on Instagram! @seekvantage

NYC Hot Spot »The Standard Biergarten, High Line

Once the long winter comes to an end and we get into the early days of Spring, New Yorkers have one mission: to drink outside! The Standard Biergarten – located on the street level of the trendy Standard Hotel and directly under The High Line, is an unexpected outdoor oasis in the midst of the Meatpacking District. This area (typically known for its boujee nightlife scene) plays host to a relatable clientele of young business professionals, college students, and tourists. If you’re looking for a relaxed place to grab a beer, chat with old friends, and hopefully meet new ones – this is a great place to do it!

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Busy and buzzing!

The Standard Hotel has really added a touch of Europe with their Biergarten

After lining up at the door to buy food and drink tickets, $9 each, and settle in for a German brew and tasty snacks (bratwurst, currywurst or pretzels!), bar-goers enter an open brick-walled space filled with picnic tables and benches. Groups gather for fun-spirited conversation as a festive staff, dressed in festive T-shirts and Oktoberfest-inspired dirndls, serves rounds of beer. The communal tables add to the room’s chipper vibe and make mingling and flirting that much easier, while two free games provide a great ice breaker for meeting other trendy but laid-back neighborhood regulars.

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Although the place gets packed wall to wall and can be extremely noisy, the ambiance remains more playful and carefree rather than rowdy. Combined with the sociable crowd, open-air space, and casual atmosphere – makes The Standard Biergarten a solid, upbeat hangout for those looking to waste away the hours over a favorite brew.

High Line Walk
If the weather is particularly nice, make sure to take a walk along the High Line while you’re there! This 1.5 mile long, elevated park was built on an old NYC railroad line and is the perfect portrayal of urbanization. Since opening in 2009, the High Line has become one of Manhattan’s most talked about attractions and possibly the best location for sunset viewing since it’s located on the West side and overlooking the Hudson River!

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From The Standard Biergarten to the Highline

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The View from the High Line

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Enjoy a bit of European fun in the middle of New York!

The Standard Biergarten
848 Washington St, New York, NY 10014, USA
Website

Love,

Casey

*Casey is one of our guest bloggers from New York. She’s a 25 year old that grew up in Long Island NY. After graduating college, she moved into NYC and took a job in marketing. She and her large friend group of about 9 girls are all about trying out trendy restaurants and keeping busy with all this amazing city has to offer. She also has her own personal blog, Adolescent Adulthood. She will publish an article in the beginning of each month.

Playa Provisions » The Must Try Breakfast Spot in LA

As Los Angeles continues to grow and evolve, it seems that around every corner, a new restaurateur is aiming to fulfill his or her dream of owning a successful haven for the SoCal foodie. And sometimes, whether you’re a settled local or an eager traveler, it’s a challenge to keep up with each innovative establishment. Some things, though, are unwavering…like the occasional need for an amazing breakfast experience!

I’ve had my share of Los Angeles breakfasts out (it’s hard to pass up the opportunity with almost 300 sunny days a year; who can blame you for not wanting to stay inside to cook?) And, while I may be biased toward the leisure of the beachy west-side life, I have solidified my choices for the TOP BREAKFAST SPOTS, and here’s my first!

Playa Provisions
With the picture-perfect Playa del Rey Beach as its backdrop, Playa Provisions is one of my favorite places to enjoy a sunshine-filled breakfast or brunch. Executive Chef, Brooke Williamson, of Top Chef, alongside her equally-as-talented Chef husband, Nick Roberts, opened this multi-concept space a couple years back, after seeing huge success with their other two gastro pubs, The Tripel and Hudson House. A restaurant, bar, café, and even creamery, Playa Provisions never fails to have just what you’re looking for, whatever the occasion.

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This modern, yet beachy interior makes Playa Provisions a fun place. (Photo by playaprovisions.com)

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“Dockside”, Playa Provisions’s restaurant, allows a panoramic view of the beach.
(Photo by playaprovisions.com)

While Dockside, Playa Provisions’s seafood-based restaurant, is an ideal dinner spot, Grain, the back bar, offers a variety of whiskeys and other signature cocktails, and Small Batch, a creamery with myriad homemade dessert options, reminds you what it’s like to be a kid in a candy store. But, it’s King Beach, Williamson’s and Roberts’s café, that puts this eatery at the top of my LA Breakfasts list. 

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Impressive latte art!

The King Beach’s Breakfast Sandwich at Playa Provisions is mouthwatering..

When I find myself frequenting the same local spots to get my fill, I like to make my way around the menu to discover my favorites. At Playa Provisions, my top picks have never let me down; first up is the Breakfast Sandwich… King Beach’s Breakfast Sandwich is mouthwatering. A masterfully-cooked egg, turkey and bacon sausages, melted Gruyere, vinegar-cooked collards, avocado, and house-pickled habanero hot sauce on a precisely-toasted ciabatta roll; this is surely the sandwich from which cravings are made.

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Coconut Chia Seed Pudding and coffee for two? Yes, please!

Looking for something a bit lighter? The Coconut Chia Seed Pudding, topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, in-season kiwi, a bit of ripe mango, and sprinkled with Hemp Seeds, is surprisingly filling, totally satisfying, and just sweet enough to feel indulgent.
And, for those moments when that sugar-yearning really takes over, the homemade Cinnamon Rolls and the Dulce de Leche Biscuits are made fresh and are undeniably delicious. 

Okay, so Playa Provisions sure knows how to deliver. Still, there are top contenders for the best breakfast place, and a few are nestled comfortably on Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice… More on this soon!

Playa Provisions
119 Culver Blvd, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293, USA
Website

Love,

Shae

*Shae is our guest blogger from Los Angeles. An educator whose lust for experience influences her teaching, she travels with the desire to immerse herself in diverse cultures, seeking new adventure and inspiring others to engage with compassion and expand their world view. Follow Shae on Instagram! @seekvantage

Malibu: The California Dreamer’s Paradise

There’s a 27-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway that dips and rises, drops then peaks, allowing its riders both the feeling of being enveloped in the coastal cliffs and the exhilaration of cruising above the endlessly blue and shimmering Pacific. Malibu, California is only 30 miles from the bustling downtown LA, and myriad movie stars, Hollywood elites, and affluent Angelinos are lucky enough to call its beaches and bluffs home. With a Mediterranean climate and breathtaking estates sprinkled across its hills, Malibu manages to make an average day feel like a holiday.

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So, when you wake up early on a day off in Los Angeles and are wondering over your morning coffee how to best soak up your daily dose of Vitamin D, why not head to “The ‘Bu”?

Kickstart your morning with a healthy sweat
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or more of a nature-walker, the hills of Malibu provide a medley of trails to suit your style. Each hike has its draws, but when I want a moderate challenge and impressive panoramas, the Los Leones Trail is my top pick. This 7.2-mile hike starts in the Pacific Palisades and winds through Topanga State Park. Relatively graded, judiciously shaded, and beautifully lush, the coastal-canyon trek summits at 1,525 feet, and the ultimate view of the sprawling coast makes it so worth the sweat. You’ll know you’ve reached the top when you find a lone bench; sit, stretch, meditate, or just absorb the awe-inspiring vista. You’ve earned it!

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Stunning views on top of the Los Leones Trail

Reward yourself
Malibu Farm is a full-service restaurant and bar at the start of the iconic Malibu Pier. To best appreciate its prime real-estate, I opt to sit outside on the patio, stilted above the waves as they crash on the sandy shore. With something for everyone’s taste, the menu takes advantage of local, fresh produce, and each item comes out of the kitchen impeccably presented and reliably delicious.

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Contently taking in the view chardonnay in hand

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One of my favorites on the menu is the Cauliflower-Crust “Pizza” – it has just the right amount of pesto and mozzarella spread atop a perfectly crispy crust. The Chicken-Broccoli Quesadilla and Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad are two other must-orders if you’re looking for shareable starters. Or, if you want something a bit more substantial after burning calories on your morning hike, the Breaded Mustard Chicken Sandwich offers juicy chicken breast breaded ever-so-lightly in a hint-of-mustard breadcrumb mix, topped with tomato, arugula, red onion, and tomato aioli.

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Care to imbibe? The General Manager, David Shoham, is also the Bar Manager and has crafted some signature cocktails just for this ocean-side eatery. Leading my list are the “Watermelon” – mixing cucumber-infused vodka, watermelon and lime juices, and organic agave; the “Coconut” – featuring toasted coconut-infused rum, coconut agave, and fresh pineapple juice; the “Smoke” – blending mescal, shishito peppers, chipotle agave, and freshly squeezed lime juice; and the “Jalapeno” – balancing Uno Dos Tres organic tequila blanco, jalapeño agave, and lime juice. Special shout-out to the Jalapeno cocktail, as it allows for the awesome flavor of this popular pepper without too much of the heat. And the best part? The agave syrup used in these masterpieces is made in-house! Or, maybe you’re feeling like a chilled glass of wine, instead; I recommend the crisp and dry Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Yum! www.malibu-farm.com

Inside-restaurant Malibu Farm
Pop inside for a Malibu Farm Cookbook or gourmet gifts to bring home.

Taster’s Tip: The Malibu Farm Café, a sister site to the restaurant and bar, is located at the opposite end of the same pier!

Catch the sunset
If you’re looking for a change of scenery after your meal (although, you’ll probably never want to leave your cozy, ocean-front seat!) and a taste of the grapes of the coast, Malibu Wines is an ideal final destination from which to watch the sun go down over the Pacific.

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Wine with this view: What more could you ask for?

The Malibu Wines Tasting Room is nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains and offers two labels of wines: Semler and Saddlerock. Choose whether to take part in a tasting flight or indulge in a full bottle; either way, sip your wine on this estate’s vast lawn or at one of the rustic tables provided. Outside food is allowed, so if you’re still peckish after your bite at the Farm, stop by the Malibu Country Mart on your way for some snacks to graze on while you drink.

As you soak up the last moments of daylight, drinking your fermented grape of choice and listening to the rocking live music (it never disappoints!), you’ll wonder why you didn’t find a way to make all those other ordinary days before into extraordinary ones; and, you’ll already be planning your next unforgettable day spent in Malibu.

Love,

Shae

*Shae is our guest blogger from Los Angeles. An educator whose lust for experience influences her teaching, she travels with the desire to immerse herself in diverse cultures, seeking new adventure and inspiring others to engage with compassion and expand their world view. Follow Shae on Instagram! @seekvantage

More about California? Read Shea’s tips about hidden gem Marina Del Rey:

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5 x The Best Breakfast Spots in West Village, New York

In a completely food-obsessed city, the West Village seems to be a breakfast focal point. Not only is the food incredible, but the environment of that particular neighborhood gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling to kick off the start of your day. Instead of skyscrapers, you’ll find brownstone, pre-war buildings complete with classic New York fire escapes and every tree-lined, cobblestone street seems to be the home of some cozy, quaint restaurant packed with people looking for a delicious meal and good coffee. Although I’m sure there are dozens of fabulous options to choose from, here are five of my favorite Breakfast Spots In West Village.

Hundred Acres – 38 Macdougal St
Located right on the borderline of the West Village, SoHo and Greenwich Village, Hundred Acres is a Mediterranean style restaurant that never disappoints at breakfast time. Unlike a lot of other typical NYC breakfast spots, Hundred Acres is spacious so a good choice is you have a large party – and they have a backyard garden area! They also take reservations on OpenTable which is super convenient when looking for the right place to eat. The lemon ricotta pancakes and the cinnamon rolls are both superb! www.hundredacresnyc.com

Hundred Acres, best breakfast spots in West Village

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Monument Lane – 103 Greenwich Ave
Any place with chicken & waffles on the menu gets an automatic thumbs up in my book. With outside seating during the warmer seasons, Monument Lane is a great place to people watch. Good food, friendly staff and a varying menu with plenty of different options to choose from – what more could you ask for?! They also give you an adorable little notebook to sign when you get the bill – it’s all about the little details and one of the reasons why it’s one of my favorite breakfast spots in West Village. www.monumentlane.com

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Waffles & Chicken at Monument Lane

Bluestone Lane – 30 Carmine St (*multiple locations)
A casual, Australian cafe that serves great coffee and simple brunch items. One of my favorite things about it – the staff are all Aussies! I like that this cafe gives me a taste of a different part of the world, all the way down to the carefully chosen decor. The avocado smash and the berry bowl are both delicious! www.bluestonelaneny.com

Bluestone Lane, Breakfast Spots in West Village
Love the interior!

Bluestone Lane breakfast NY

The Wild Son – 53 Little W 12th St
This restaurant is located on the border of the West Village and The Meatpacking District right next to the Hudson River. It’s small, so not ideal for large parties, but if you’re looking for a place to grab a coffee and some breakfast with a friend, this adorable restaurant is a great choice. They don’t take reservations, but stop in to put your name down and take a stroll along The High Line while you wait. You can’t go wrong with the blueberry corn waffles! www.thewildsonnyc.com


The Wild Son, Breakfast Spots in West Village
Always busy and cozy!

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Their signature dark lemon soda. Source

Cafe Cluny – 284 W 12th St
A trendy, upscale West Village brunch spot that you go to when you want to be seen. Covered in charming and tasteful decor, this modern French restaurant is a complete embodiment of the vibes of the village and could be a good location for a celebrity sighting. www.cafecluny.com

Cafe Clunsy, best breakfast spots in West Village

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Delicious and healthy! Source

Love,

Casey

*Casey is one of our guest bloggers from New York. She’s a 25 year old that grew up in Long Island NY. After graduating college, she moved into NYC and took a job in marketing. She and her large friend group of about 9 girls are all about trying out trendy restaurants and keeping busy with all this amazing city has to offer. She also has her own personal blog, Adolescent Adulthood. She will publish an article in the beginning of each month.

The First Ever Vegan Food Court Will Open in New York

We love New York because it’s constantly evolving and discovering new trends. Food is a big thing over there and even though New York is a big city with lot’s of pollution, it’s also becoming more conscious about sustainability, health and animal welfare. We were happy to hear that the big apple will open the world’s first vegan food court!

vegan food court. Photo: danielle-macinnes

Unfortunately we need to wait a while before we can all enjoy this vegan walhalla because they are planning to open in early 2019. The food court will be named Home Food Hall and will be the first permanent food hall serving totally plant-based foods. They are now looking for 15+ vendors from all over the world to take part in the first vegan food court. Some of the vendors are already signed up and among these are the popular Beyond Sushi and Cinnamon Snail, both based in New York.

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Beyond sushi will be one of the vendors in the first ever Vegan Food court.

Besides the food they will also open a boutique fitness space hosting yoga, pilates, dance, meditation, kickboxing classes and more. They will also rent spaces where you can host get-togethers, events or private screenings. Home Food Hall will be established in Midtown East.

Follow The Home Food Hall on Instagram or Facebook to follow the updates.

Love,

Wander-Lust

How To Spend An Entire Day In Central Park Without Getting Bored

Central Park is the heart of New York City and the very first public park built in the United States. The thing I love most about it is that even though it is one of the biggest attractions in the city, it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly touristy like some other places. It is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit where you are able to quietly relax and enjoy being outside while taking in the melting pot of diversity that is New York City. Everywhere you turn you see people from all over the world speaking different languages and exploring everything the park has to offer.

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I recently realized that there are so many places throughout Central Park that I’ve never ventured into. Stretching over more than 840 acres, it’s decorated with sculptures, monuments, and fountains that pay tribute to literary characters, famous explorers, and artists. Knowing that I have the park to visit whenever I want, I’ve gotten into the bad habit of entering through the same entrance and walking around the same areas over and over again. So I decided to spend the day walking the park from top to bottom to take note of my favorite locations. It can be an unexpectedly overwhelming place if you are unsure how to navigate your way around or what exactly it is you’re looking for.

Central Park New York

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Central Park never get’s boring

Here’s a list of a few of the best attractions to visit when taking a stroll through the heart of New York City:

The Loch
A series of cute waterfalls and bridges that make you forget that you’re in Manhattan and give you a feeling as if you’ve transported to an enchanted forest. Location: North West corner of the park, just above the W 103rd St. entrance.

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Belvedere Castle
A small, beautiful castle that makes you quickly notice the contrast between the park and the modern city surrounding it. A great spot for photos!
Location: 79th Street in the middle of the park – Between the Museum of Natural History (west side) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (east side).

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Shakespeare Garden
One of the top spots for NYC weddings and a great place for photos. It’s best in the spring or summertime when the flowers are in bloom and contains interesting monuments from some of Shakespeare’s plays. Location: Right next to the Belvedere Castle. For more info check the official website.

The Boathouse
A great restaurant overlooking the lake. Spring for a lunch here if you’re feeling ~lavi$h~.Location: East side of the park, north of the 72nd st entrance.

The Boathouse Central Park

Alice in Wonderland Statue
Every kid’s favorite part of the park as it’s a large statue that’s easy to climb. This is also a good midway point in the park with a large seating area for you to rest your feet for awhile. Location: slightly West of the boathouse.

Alice in Wonderland statue Central Park

Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
A familiar spot as it is the filming location for many movies. It’s a great place to sit and people watch with many tourists and street performers visiting. The architecture is also great for photos! Location: Center of the park, 72nd street.

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The impressive Bethesda Terrace

The Mall & Literary Walk
A row of American elm trees that line the parks wide pedestrian path. Perhaps one of the most photographed features of the park. There is also a statue of Christopher Columbus along with 4 other prominent writers. Location: A long path that leads from Bethesda Terrace down to the south end of the park, leading down toward the 59th street exit.

Central Park New York

Central Park’s designers had a simple goal: to create a place where city dwellers could go to forget the city. A combination escape hatch and exercise yard, Central Park is an urbanized Eden that gives both locals and tourists a different taste of one of the world’s greatest cities. Even though New York eventually grew much taller than the trees planted to hide it, the park is still a place to find peace and solace in an otherwise high-strung and, at times, overwhelming city. Without Central Park’s winding paths, tranquil lakes, ponds, and open meadows, New Yorkers (especially Manhattanites) might be a lot less sane.

Love,

Casey

*Casey is one of our guest bloggers from New York. She’s a 25 year old that grew up in Long Island NY. After graduating college, she moved into NYC and took a job in marketing. She and her large friend group of about 9 girls are all about trying out trendy restaurants and keeping busy with all this amazing city has to offer. She also has her own personal blog, Adolescent Adulthood. She will publish an article every start of the month.

Marina del Rey » The Hidden Gem of Los Angeles

When most people plan a visit to Los Angeles, they think of Hollywood and expect the fast pace of a big city: crowded sidewalks, bright lights, and busy restaurants and shops. And, it’s easy to see why so many are drawn to that exciting lifestyle, whether to live or just pass through. But, first timers to this vacation hot-spot without the guidance of a local resident might find that they come all the way to California and miss out on the most beautiful part of LA. Marina del Rey is nestled just south of Venice, California and is arguably Los Angeles’s best kept secret. A working marina and home to over 6,000 boats, it was finished in 1965 is the largest man-made marina in the United States. And, if you’re looking for a spot to sunbathe with half the crowd, the Marina del Rey Beach on the south side of the Venice Pier offers more untouched sands than you’ll find in Venice and Santa Monica.

If you’re lucky enough to spend some time exploring this area, here’s what you should plan to do:

1. Take a stroll around the beautiful, clean marina
Whether just stopping by or docked more permanently, the sailboats, powerboats, and yachts anchored in Marina del Rey are some of the most impressive on the west coast. If you have a free afternoon, head over to Fisherman’s Village and rent a small boat of your own to take out on the water and into the sunshine!

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2. Walk down Washington Boulevard toward the beach
Along this beachy street, you’ll find a mix of restaurants, bars, and boutique shops. Interested in some new swimwear? Want to pop into a yoga class? Or maybe you just want authentic Mexican tacos with a view. Either way, Washington Boulevard has it all (including some awesome opportunities for people-watching!)

3. Get a coffee from Cow’s End
A Marina del Rey/Venice must-visit, Cow’s End is a cool, beachy, privately-owned stop for coffee, juices, smoothies, and small breakfast or lunch bites. The cashiers and baristas are super-friendly locals, and if you look closely enough at the walls, you’ll see photos of what the area looked like more than 50 years ago (and the stashed “customer punch cards” belonging to the restaurant’s regulars so they can tally up points toward free drinks!) www.thecowsendcafe.com

‘Marina del Rey is a strong competitor for the area’s best hidden gem’

Cow's End Marina Del Rey

4. Wander north to Venice
One of the best parts about Marina del Rey is how close it is to so much of Los Angeles! Take a walk up the beach for a stroll along the famous Venice Boardwalk. It’s no surprise Venice Beach is the most visited beach in the United States; there you can find street performers, Muscle Beach, an always-busy skate park, and more restaurants serving fresh ceviche, fish tacos, and local beers and wines than you can count.

5. Relax with food and drinks at some of the best Happy Hours in town
While LA restaurants, particularly on the west side, offer too many Happy Hour specials to count, those in the marina come out on top. A local favorite is Killer Shrimp, with their signature cocktails (like “Pieces of Eight” and the “Westside”), spicy shrimp bowls, and a lobster mac and cheese that will keep you coming back for more. Then there are restaurant/bars like SALT (in Hotel Marina del Rey) and Beachside (in the Jamaica Bay Inn); these chic yet casual spots offer deals on food and drinks seven days a week! www.killershrimp.com

killer-shrimp-me-and-drink


killer-shrimp-mac-and-drink Marina Del Rey
Cocktails and Mac & Cheese at Killer Shrimp

View-Seeker Pro-Tips:
» When you’re ready for a bite to eat or something to quench your vacationer’s thirst, The Whaler on Washington Boulevard by the beach will provide both, along with a view of surfers and the pier!
» Headed a bit farther north? High rooftop restaurant, atop Hotel Erwin, gives you a bird’s-eye view of Venice’s local life.
» If you happen to make a new local friend who lives in one of the many Marina del Rey apartment buildings, like The Shores or Marina 41, be sure to head up to their roof for a view unlike any other in Los Angeles. From a high enough point in Marina del Rey, you can see the whole coastline (all the way up to Malibu!), as far east as Downtown LA, and even the famous Hollywood Sign!

One of the reasons Los Angeles is such a great vacation destination is because it has such a variety of neighborhoods for anyone’s personal taste. But, from Beverly Hills to Santa Monica, or Silverlake to Venice, Marina del Rey is a strong competitor for the area’s best hidden gem.

Love,

Shae

*Shae is our guest blogger from Los Angeles. An educator whose lust for experience influences her teaching, she travels with the desire to immerse herself in diverse cultures, seeking new adventure and inspiring others to engage with compassion and expand their world view. Follow Shae on Instagram! @seekvantage

USA Roadtrip, part 2 » Los Angeles

Walk along the beautiful Venice Beach boardwalk, spot a movie star on Rodeo drive, go for luxury shopping in Beverly Hills, take a hike to see the famous Hollywood sign, have drinks & lunch in this cozy area Abbot Kinney or dance the night away in Hollywood Teddy’s; talking about Los Angeles!

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