Help me find the gold-level things to do in Silver Lake
August 26, 2012 4:26 PM   Subscribe

(L.A. Filter) Introduce me to Silver Lake, CA and environs, please.

Two days a week I'm going to have 2.5 hours to kill between the time I pick up my (4th grade) child from school in the Atwater/Glassell Park area, and the start of an activity in Silver Lake. This is a part of town I'm not very familiar with. And to make it even more fun, I'm on a budget!

I need places to go and things to do. I'm thinking of libraries, parks, cafes, coffee houses, etc. I know it's hipster central + a slightly-sketchy-but-up-and-coming-area, but I need child-friendly spots.

We popped into the Atwater Village public library once and was dismayed at the tiny size of its children's section. Is there a better choice in the area?

For food we're pretty adventurous -- we'll take pretty much any ethnic cuisine over fast food. But since I'm with my kid I especially want a place where we can comfortably sit down for a while.

How about a park that's full of kids in those hours -- as opposed to any park filled with, say, sketchy non-sober adults.

Fill me up with your Eastside advice! (I did see this, but it's 5+ years old.)

Also, if there are highlights not to be missed in Los Feliz, Atwater, Glassell, etc, those might work, too.
posted by BlahLaLa to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I just looked at a map and realized our Silver Lake destination is right on the Los Feliz border, so any Los Feliz ideas would be appreciated, too.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:31 PM on August 26, 2012

Barnsdall Art Park just north of Vermont and Sunset is so, so pretty. It's at the top of a hill and gives you a 360-degree view of the hills, downtown, etc. There's a museum up there. I've heard they have art classes there for kids but that might be just on the weekends. There's also a farmer's market on Wednesday afternoons.

There have always been lots of kids at the Cahuenga Branch library on Santa Monica near Vermont when I've been there, but it's not a large library and I don't know how good the children's section is.

Alcove is a lovely cafe with good food and lots of outdoor seating. I think it's pretty child-friendly, unless your child is scared of dogs (it's definitely very dog-friendly). It's on Hillhurst, about at Franklin I think.

Also, it sounds like you might be pretty close to the Los Feliz entrance to Griffith Park (at Los Feliz Blvd and Riverside Dr). Griffith Park is just huge and worth checking out. There's a zoo and a museum in there, too, but I haven't been to either. Across from the entrance to Griffith Park is an outdoor public pool that might be a fun kid spot also.
posted by heisenberg at 5:21 PM on August 26, 2012

The Silver Lake library is wonderful. It's near the reservoir. Prepare to be awed.
posted by roger ackroyd at 5:23 PM on August 26, 2012

Cafes/Coffeehouses: Casbah Cafe, Intelligentsia (and there are quite a few interesting eating and shopping/browsing places along that stretch of Sunset).

Library suggestion: Try the Glendale Central Library.

Activities: You'll have time to hit the Griffith Observatory (lots of very kid-friendly activities there!) in Griffith Park, and the LA Zoo.
posted by erst at 6:06 PM on August 26, 2012

Oh, and keep an eye on The Eastsider LA blog for random activities and local eastside highlights.
posted by erst at 6:07 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Casbah Cafe on Sunset and Hyperion is a great little cafe and gets less of the overwhelming traffic that Intelligentsia gets less than a block away.

Bellevue Park, just up the hill from Casbah at Lucille and Marathon, has day care and afterschool programs. There are two playgrounds, a basketball court, and two baseball diamonds, and there are frequently children playing. The only other people there during daylight hours are people walking dogs or working out. On weekends there are families barbecuing and partying, and sports on the fields, and can get pretty chaotic, but during the week it's usually a lot more chill, especially in the evenings.

The Vista Theatre is a nice little movie theater that's near Barnsdall Art Park.
posted by smoq at 6:19 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Cafe Tropical was a favorite of mine. The coffee at Intelligentsia might be the best. If you go further into Los Feliz and up Vermont, there's a bunch of cafes and Skylight Books.
posted by cazoo at 6:57 PM on August 26, 2012

Intelligentsia is a hellmouth. You'll never find ruder "service" anywhere.

If you want a good cup of coffee *and* amazing gelato and a place where you actually feel welcome to sit down and enjoy yourself, head across the street to Pazzo Gelato.

Right next door to Pazzo is Berlin Currywurst, an amazing German curried sausage restaurant (with veggie/vegan options).

Seriously, this neighborhood is full of awesome indie businesses that will welcome you and your business. Intelligentsia is Urban Outfitters coffee. Fuck 'em.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:22 PM on August 26, 2012

How about a park that's full of kids in those hours

For this, head up to the Reservoir. There's a family friendly park and meadow as well as a dog park!
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:23 PM on August 26, 2012


You may be thinking of Echo Park, btw. Silver Lake is not really sketchy at all at this point, especially north of Sunset.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:25 PM on August 26, 2012

Be sure to hit Skylight books in Los.Feliz.
posted by brujita at 8:04 PM on August 26, 2012

Secret Headquarters
posted by phaedon at 8:14 PM on August 26, 2012

Nthing every suggestion here, except for the Casbah Cafe, which I don't recall is very kid-friendly, but I could be wrong.

If he's still there, I believe the manager(?) of the Vista Theater dresses up for movies with iconic characters, like Harry Potter. Their matinees are cheap! This is BY FAR my favorite theater in LA.

I wanted to add that I have business in Silver Lake and often shoot up to the Griffith Observatory with my very young son on a fairly regular basis. It is easy to park at the top next to the Observatory in the afternoons, more difficult near Sunset. Their cafe is inexpensive and very good. On the 20 minute mark on every hour they demo the Tesla Coil! I pretty much never get tired of the Observatory because the lawn is fantastic, the views are spectacular. Even though the exhibits don't change much, the staff are always giving awesome impromtu lectures about various things, so it is always a fresh experience. Plus, the staff (I call them "Science Heros") loves to gab, and they are there to answer any nerdy astronomy question you can come up with. Basically, they are there for you AND your fourth grader!

The planetarium is inexpensive and the shows are excellent.

When the moon is near (like last week) they set up the telescopes in the late afternoon, so you do not have to be there at dark to get a look.

Also, astronomy buffs are sometimes set up during the day with specially filtered telescopes for viewing the Sun. They do it for free to share their hobby with the public - so neat!!!


There is a Farmer's Market with pretty good seating and an inflatable jumper thingy for kids on Tuesdays between 3pm and 7:30pm on Sunset BLVD, just past Sunset Junction towards Downtown.


House of Pies. In Los Feliz on the corner of Vermont and Franklin. Lots of history there.

House of Pies!
posted by jbenben at 8:26 PM on August 26, 2012

Upon preview, I was going to pop back in to mention the comic book store Secret Headquarters. Ha!
posted by jbenben at 8:27 PM on August 26, 2012

LA Mill is an excellent sit-down coffee shop with superb pastries, sandwiches, and coffee.
posted by shivohum at 12:44 AM on August 27, 2012

Oh hey! This is my hood, and I've got a kid, so ...

The Silver Lake library is wonderful, with a good kids section and reading times. The Glendale Central Library has an entire upstairs for kids with a large large selection and even a play area. It has less 'ambiance' than the Silver Lake library, but a better collection of stuff, which, uh, sort of describes the difference between Silver Lake and Glendale.

The rec center playground at the Silver Lake Reservoir is great. It's not large, but after school there are lots of school-age kids hanging out and playing and the parents are all friendly. There's an indoor basketball court and a soccer field too. Just up the hill is the meadow, which is a large expanse of grass overlooking the Silver Lake Reservoir, perfect for a picnic or kite flying or just lying in the sun reading a book. No dogs are allowed at the meadow, which makes for a dog-poop-free experience.

The zoo is five minutes away from Atwater -- that might be too much of an outing, but if you got a membership, you could just drop in, see a few things, and then drop out. The reptile house is new and spectacular and part-funded by Slash. The carousel is also new and also rad but not funded by Slash, so take that for what it's worth.

Also near the zoo in Griffith is a park called Shane's Inspiration -- wheelchair accessible! It's got lots of play structures and is a much larger playground than the one at the rec center in Silver Lake. Walk five minutes up the hill from there and you can find the old zoo -- tiny stone caves where they used to house the animals. It's a total time warp, and worth some exploration.

The Observatory is grand, of course. There are all sorts of wonderful hikes throughout the park -- starting at the Observatory, you can head up the mountain, or you can start down at Trails Cafe (a charming spot with great snacks) in the Fern Dell section of Griffith Park and head up the mountain to the Observatory. It's an easy stroll. There's a small play structure across from Trails, though it isn't much to sniff at. Griffith Park provides a wealth of exploration possibilities.

Then there's Travel Town, which is totally cool and a ton of fun to explore and free! It's all decommissioned trains, and many of them you're able to climb on to. There's a small train you can ride for $2.50, although the train at the Crystal Springs entrance (near the pony rides) is slightly better, if only because it's faster and there's a little more to see. Splitting hairs, though.

The Village Bakery has great baked goods and mediocre coffee. It's on Los Feliz Blvd in Atwater and worth a visit and very lounge-able. Proof Bakery is on Glendale Blvd, also in Atwater, and is equally worth a visit -- better coffee, great baked goods but a bit more adult in tone. Try the sandwiches after 12pm. Hugos, also on Glendale, just east a few blocks, makes great tacos and burritos.

In Silver Lake/Los Feliz, The Best Fish Taco In Ensenada (yes, that's the place's name) is wacky and kind of a kick. It's a guy who absolutely *loves* fish tacos in Ensenada, and decided that he had to bring that exact experience to Los Feliz. There's Wacko, a store of ephemera and oddness on Hollywood Blvd, just down from the Goodwill. For four or five years of my 20's, if I gave you a birthday present, it came from there. Lots of stuff to explore on that stretch of Vermont by Skylight Books (don't miss the Skylight Annex, two doors down).

There's always the Americana, up in Glendale -- for a Disneyfied mall, it's not half bad. The spectacle is worth a pop in.

And if you *do* go to Intelligentsia, even against Dr Jimmy's better judgment, and you see a guy with a beard writing screenplays at his computer, tap me on the shoulder and say hi. Actually there will probably be like five or six who fit that exact same description -- look for the *really really cool one*. I'm the guy to his left.
posted by incessant at 12:48 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I haven't lived in LA for several years, but lived on the border of Los Feliz and Silverlake while I was there. Nthing the recommendations for Griffith Park, which is a wonderful place. You could go on the carousel or ride ponies, among many other things.
posted by three_red_balloons at 4:50 AM on August 27, 2012

Echo Park is not quite Silver Lake, but for an amusing and semi-educational side trip, I'd recommend the Echo Park Time Travel Mart

Stock up on Time Travel sickness pills, Mammoth repellant, Viking oderant, and various & sundry time travel needs.

All profits go toward "826LA, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write."
posted by ShutterBun at 5:18 AM on August 27, 2012

Seconding Cafe Tropical on the corner of Parkman and Sunset. El Cochinito just west of there at 3508 W Sunset serves slaveringly good Cuban food. Alegria in the same mini mall is excellent. The shopping west of Alegria from Lucille and down to Sunset Junction is interesting. There's a hole-in-the-wall burrito store with outdoor seating near Lucille which is great. That Silverlake park near the reservoir is fun. Walk in the dog park at your own risk; I nearly had my knee demolished by a flying Doberman there. 

You're exploring the best neighborhood in LA. Have fun. 
posted by firstdrop at 5:37 AM on August 27, 2012

Lots of good suggestions here. My favorite coffee shop in the area is Kaldi Coffee on Glendale in Atwater. They have a fantastic cold-press. Grab a potato burrito at Tacos Villa Corona up the street, and you're set.
posted by hwyengr at 8:37 AM on August 27, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, you guys, for the great suggestions. We will start to implement 'em next week!
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:10 PM on August 31, 2012

« Older Identify this classical music.   |   How do I change careers into the UX field without... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.