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CONTENT

Finding the Happy || Our Guide to LA's Los Feliz

Ben Ashby

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Finding the Happy

Our Guide to LA's Los Feliz

 

Heath Stiltner takes us on a colorful walk through his favorite Los Angeles neighborhood—Los Feliz—to share a few of his top places to visit and things to see. With a rich Spanish-Mexican heritage and artistic influence Los Feliz is his favorite place to visit in LA when he wants that cool California vibe with a sense of history.

 


As I pulled on my olive green overalls, the strong smell of my first coffee of the day filled the small studio cottage my friend had offered to let me stay in for the week. I’d been to the City of Angels before, but had never stayed so long in this neighborhood—Los Feliz. With its lively and diverse small-town atmosphere it was hard not to feel right at home here. 

 

Bright and modern Spanish bungalows lined the street gently rolling through the neighborhood like old dirt roads recently paved, everywhere there was a feeling of the cool LA vibe version of a frontier town. You just can’t help but smile in Los Feliz, so a name which translates to “the happy” seems fitting—though it gets its name from its Spanish-Mexican colonial land grantee, Jose Vicente Feliz. Los Feliz is home to one of my favorite LA breakfast haunts, Sunset Junction Cafe. While I love the bright diner atmosphere of Sunset Junction, the thing that always brings me back is the amazing staff. (I live in Kentucky, and when I revisited the spot almost two months later they remembered me.) If you’re looking for that cinematic place where you can go work on your script and have amazing Eggs Benedict, this is your place. Sorry, I can’t guarantee James Franco will be sitting across from you, as well.

 

Full of coffee and eggs I go back out to explore the neighborhood, finding myself a comic nerd haven in Secret Headquarters, stopping for an American-made clothing fix with Buck Mason, and visiting several sets of hidden staircases for which Los Angeles is famous. Micheltorena & Prospect stairs are two such staircases in the Los Feliz neighborhood, Micheltorena is the more colorful of the two having been painted with hearts and rainbow colored risers. Los Feliz is a neighborhoods ideal for long strolls to discover hidden gems like these, and can be an amazing place for photographers looking to catch that authentic ‘sunny California’ vibe. 

 

With Griffith Park to its north, the Los Angeles River to the east, and Hollywood and the Hills to its south and west, Los Feliz is the neighborhood to visit when you want to see all that LA has to offer. In only one day you can walk from Alfred Coffee on the edge of Silver Lake, have breakfast at Sunset Junction, shop and browse your way down Sunset Boulevard, hit the vintage shops of Hollywood Boulevard, get the best view the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park from the stunt Barnsdall Art Park property, and hike all the way over to Griffith Park itself. Los Feliz houses some of Los Angeles’ most famous architecture, and Barnsdall Art Park is no exception. Located at the crest of Olive Hill, Barnsdall Art Park is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument that houses Hollyhock House designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and commissioned by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall as an arts & theater complex. If you want to touch a part of LA’s architectural history and get one of the city’s best view, I suggest visiting Barnsdall.

 

After spending much of my trip hiking the urban landscape, an escape to Griffith Park with my friend Keegan was a necessity. When you want a peaceful hike and an escape from the busy streets, Griffith Park is your haven. Donated to the City of Los Angeles by Griffith J. Griffith in 1896, the Park has some of the best sweeping views of downtown LA, the Pacific Ocean, and the Hollywood sign—as well as free tours of the observatory.

 

After a long day packed with adventure, one needs to reflect with good friends and food. Making my way back down to the valley below, I stop for dinner in my favorite little Italian restaurant, La Pergoletta. Tucked away just off Hillhurst Ave., this gem makes some of the best pasta I’ve ever had in LA—and I love carbs. Taking a seat at one of the red and white gingham covered cafe tables outside I begin to unravel my day. The many faces and places I’d met in just just a day, and how many more lie in waiting just down the street. After devouring a large bowl of lobster ravioli and more bread than I care to admit, I start my walk back to the small artist’s studio At my friend’s home that I have grown to call home in LA. The giant cacti on seem to grow in the moonlight as I walk down Hillhurst Ave. It’s hard to believe that one small neighborhood can hold so much magic and history, but it’s not hard to believe the neighborhood where, sitting in his uncle’s garage, Walt Disney drew his first sketch of the world-beloved Mickey Mouse. Los Feliz feels like the hometown of Los Angeles, and it’s a hometown where everyone is welcome.

 

 

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Dinosaur Coffee, Los Angeles.

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Dinosaur Coffee, Los Angeles

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Hache LA, Los Angeles.

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Alfred Coffee, Los Angeles.

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Secret Headquarters, Los Angeles.

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Secret Headquarters, Los Angeles.

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Sunset Junction, Los Angeles.

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Sunset Junction, Los Angeles.

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Hollyhock House, Barnsdall Art Park, Los Angeles.

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Buck Mason mobile, Los Angeles.

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Los Feliz, Los Angeles.

 

— @heathstiltner