Nestled between hipster mecca Silver Lake and downtown L.A., Echo Park -- one of the city's oldest neighborhoods and a longtime enclave for artists, writers, and musicians -- has become a destination in its own right. Architecture aficionados can take walking tours of Victorian homes, sponsored by the Los Angeles Conservancy, and nature lovers can explore the trails in Elysian Park. But save plenty of time to check out the new shops and restaurants, which are bringing fresh life and style to Echo Park while preserving its bohemian spirit. Grab a croissant from local-food purveyor Cookbook and then spend a few hours bouncing between chic design shops, quirky boutiques, and epicurean hot spots.
Try the seasonal strawberry sorbetto or the dark-chocolate gelato -- just two of the many delicious rotating flavors at this sleek, modern new outpost of the beloved Silver Lake shop.
1910 West Sunset Boulevard, Suite 150, pazzogelato.net
Owners Marta Teegen and Robert Stelzner have created a neighborhood food mecca in this shop: local produce, cheeses from around the globe, grass-fed meats, and artisanal breads. Each week, they cook their prepared foods based on recipes from a different cookbook. Next door, they host a range of classes on topics such as organic edible gardening and watercolor painting.
1549 Echo Park Avenue, cookbookla.com
This neo-rustic wine and beer bar serves up microbrews, snacks, and old-school vinyl seven days a week.
1805 West Sunset Boulevard, elpradobar.com
Echo Park's finest dining is an understated affair. The Park, a family favorite, offers reasonably priced, tasty bistro fare in a casual setting.
1400 West Sunset Boulevard, thepark1400sunset.com
This diminutive vintage-eyewear shop, with a roll-up door that opens to the sidewalk, has sartorial style. Owner and optician Van de la Plante also stocks a well-edited selection of neckties, fountain pens, and cuff links.
1101 Mohawk Street, gentsbreakfast.blogspot.com
The intersection of Mohawk and Sunset has attracted decorators for years, thanks to old standbys such as Wells Antiques, Etcetera, Minnette's Antiques, and Rumer B. Antiques. Newcomer Dekor -- a petite emporium full of cherry-picked vintage and custom furniture and treasures by local artisans -- makes this mini designer row even more enticing.
2145 West Sunset Boulevard, dekorla.com
Indie musicophiles flock to this two-level emporium of sound, where the latest, greatest, and coolest bands and artists perform to adoring insider crowds (tattoos, piercings and black mascara recommended, but not required). If you're really lucky, you might even catch sight of a superstar or two.
1822 Sunset Boulevard, attheecho.com
Stories Books & Cafe
Stories Books & Cafe has it all: a terrific selection of new and used books, a cafe that features delicious and locally sourced baked goods and organic coffee, and a busy schedule of readings and events.
1716 West Sunset Boulevard, storiesla.com
This charming bakery serves up scrumptious cupcakes. Not inclined to fill up on sweets? A bite-size version accompanies their classic sandwich selections at lunch. Plus, there's brunch on the weekends.
1665 Echo Park Avenue, delilahbakery.com
If you want to burn off those cupcake calories, try the 230 steps of the Baxter Staircase, the tallest of the more than two dozen public staircases throughout Echo Park. Enter on Baxter Street, at the top of the stairs you can access Elysian Park and its many trails. And, of course, take in a breathtaking view of Los Angeles.
Sage and Kind Kreme
You don't have to sacrifice taste when it comes to eating healthy. Sage meets the mark on both counts, dishing out tasty vegan and organic fare. Be sure to try the delicious vegan ice cream from the cafe's roommate, Kind Kreme.
1700 West Sunset Boulevard, sageveganbistro.com, kindkreme.com