Wednesday, September 30, 2009

LA dining is truly an experience

You can always count on LA to offer unique and memorable experiences, and that includes dining. Granted, I haven't been to many cities by comparison to some, but I've visited enough to believe that statement. This city, with all its diverse communities, offers a rich blend of exciting flavors. That's not all. Maybe it's because we're in the land where movies are made, but it seems there are many restaurants where the overall production, hi/story and experience, and not so much the menu, are the selling points.

Take for example, Royal/T in Culver City. It's a cafe that also happens to be a gallery. Or, is it a gallery that also happens to be a cafe? It is, actually, LA's first Japanese-style cosplay cafe. When I was first introduced to it, my friends sold me on the fact that it was a gallery with really fun art and where the servers dress up in maid outfits...Oh, and they have good food too (their milk tea is a must!). It's true. Dining in that space and in that environment was such a good time, I found myself telling others about the experience before mentioning the food.

Now that I'm working Downtown, I've had the pleasure of eating at some of the establishments here. My latest and absolute favorite so far has got to be the Edison Room. It's a trip through time to the roaring 20's, where the servers don custom-designed flapper dresses and jazz musicians and burlesque dancers perform on stage. Old silent films play on the wall throughout, and patrons are surrounded by architectural and mechanical artifacts from LA's first private power plant. Don't look for this joint along the main streets, though. Its entrance is hidden in an alley!

There are so many more (I'm sure many of you can tell us about them too!). With next week's DineLA Restaurant Week, you can bet this foodie is planning her next culinary experience. Do I love eating in LA? Absolutely!


For a list of restaurants participating in Restaurant Week, visit
For information on downtown restaurants, visit

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Festival fun

Abbot Kinney Blvd. is one of my favorite spots in LA to simply hang out and soak it all in. Here, the sense of community is strong, and mom & pop shops seem to still thrive along with an eclectic mix of restaurants and galleries.

In such a large and expansive city, the words "community" and "neighborhood" can sound like an oxymoron. Along Abbot Kinney Blvd., however, the energy of a community exists and is real thanks in part to the Abbot Kinney Festival Association. Tomorrow, Sunday, September 27, the Abbot Kinney Festival celebrates its 25th year, and visitors will have the opportunity to see what it is that makes this boulevard special.

After 25 years, the festival has grown to be one of the largest of its kind in the region. Tomorrow's celebration is free, and will feature local artisans, live music, food vendors and family entertainment. The festivities kick off with a Family parade, and all are invited to participate by bringing an instrument or dressing up in costumes. The parade starts at the corner of 6th and California, and will end at the Inside Out Community Art Youth & Family Courtyard.

Complete festival information, including stage line-ups and food truck alley are available at the Abbot Kinney website. If you have the opportunity to make it out, be sure to stop by the information booth, where ExperienceLA will be located. We'd love to say hi!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Free Museum Day in Los Angeles

Plan a date with that special someone to a museum tomorrow, Saturday, September 26. The Smithsonian's Free Museum Day takes place across the country, but you can find local participating museums right here in Los Angeles. To take advantage of this offer, visit the Smithsonian website to download your Free Museum Day card. The card is good only at participating museums, and is only valid for Saturday. Be sure to read their restrictions. There is a one card limit per household.

If you can't make it out on Saturday, check out the museums that offer free admission all year round at

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Eclectic Order Gallery: Grassroots Grand Opening

In 2009, millennium renaissance artist David Redic opened his creativity to the world by launching the first Eclectic Order Gallery, located in the heart of the historic Manchester Corridor in Los Angeles. Initially, it was conceived as a base operation for the artist to live, create, and work while submitting for other exhibits. The idea quickly became more inclusive as Redic recognized the disparity of arts in many inner-city communities and the need to nurture other emerging artists. The vision has now evolved into Eclectic Order Performing Arts Gallery.

Speaking with David Redic is electrifying as his spirit, wisdom and wherewithal is usually attributed to folks twice his age.

David Redic: "Eclectic Order restores artistic culture to untapped and under served areas. For some this is a time of despair. At Eclectic Order we are seizing the day. We see this as a time of great opportunity to develop emerging artist and offer the community a cultural sanctuary."

Whether musicians, singers, fine artists or fashion designers, they all welcomed David's vision with anticipation of the grand opening as he went into greater detail in describing its significance to the community.

"Eclectic Order is having their 'Grassroots Grand Opening', to honor the space and to return a diverse range of art, music and poetry once home to the Manchester Corridor. In the 1940's South Central was known as "Harlem West" and was the West Coast hub for art, jazz, fashion and all that was hip.

A must-see for the Los Angeles community featuring the debut of the visually mind blowing series "Redic Unveiled", as well as thought provoking performances by some of L.A.'s finest musicians, spoken word artists and entertainers.

Grassroots Grand Opening is September 24th-25th, 2009 from 7:00pm-11:00pm. for more information visit


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Guest story: I won tickets from ExperienceLA (OC County Fair)

If you've won a prize from one of ExperienceLA's past promotions, write in and tell us about it. You might have the opportunity to be featured on our blog just like Jennifer from San Pedro.

I don't enter many contests but decided to enter to win tickets advertised on Experience LA for the Orange County Fair. Since I have never been to the OC Fair, I was excited thinking about bringing my family. To my surprise, I won four admission tickets and tickets for rides.

We had the best time at the fair and visited Wierd Al's Brain, the pig races, the circus, and the great farm. We loved all the food and even sampled a fried twinkie. We have great memories and photos of our day at the fair and can't wait to go next year.

Thank you so much to Experience LA!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

The fair brings out the "kid" in me

There are so many things about the fall season that make me happy and bring feelings of nostalgia: back to school, football season, and especially the County Fair. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of the fair. As I've grown, that feeling of anticipation for the fair has not left me.

With all of our planning for our County Fair Photo Contest (read about it here), I was getting antsy to go. Admittedly, last Saturday was my first time to the LA County Fair since I moved out here 5 1/2 years ago. I woke up that morning with a wide grin on my face, and the same thoughts I have when I go to any fair. I want to ride my favorite rides. I want to play all of the games. I want to eat everything.

My husband asked me what it was about the LA County Fair that had me so excited. Why was this fair so different from any other fair? If you've been to one, haven't you been to them all? It's true to a certain extent. All the rides, attractions and food offerings are practically the same. But each fair has something different to offer as well. For instance, I couldn't wait to go to Bark Park, a designated space with dog competitions showcased at the LA County Fair. That was something I've never seen before. Similarly, the Jurassic exhibit, while I've seen other similar exhibits at museums and zoos, I'd never seen one at a fair.

Quite honestly, though, it's not what makes the LA County Fair different that gets me excited. It's the feeling I get when I go to a fair. It brings out the "kid" in me. I still get wide-eyed walking through some of those animal exhibits, and look forward to seeing the baby animals. I love riding those old, rickety rides. I have so much fun playing those silly games thinking I'll win a prize (even though I know some of those are rigged). Sometimes I actually do win something. And of course, there's the food (thanks to some of our Facebook Fans for the food recommendations). It all makes for a good ol' fun time.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gooooooo Sparks!

After defeating my beloved Minnesota Lynx (yep, a transplant from the tundra, here) in last Friday's game against the LA Sparks, the Los Angeles WNBA team is looking to bring home another championship trophy as they head into the playoffs.

The first round of the 2009 WNBA Playoffs starts Wednesday at 7:00 PM at the STAPLES Center with Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker set to face Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm. We've got a discount offer for our readers to be there live and in person to cheer on our ladies. To receive 50% off your tickets, enter "1PLAYOFFS" in the Promotions and Special Offers box when you purchase your tickets.

Provided I can figure out my dog situation, and I recover from the beating suffered in Friday's game, I may just have to purchase my tickets and root for the Sparks. After all, it is Los Angeles, and what an exciting city for basketball action!

Conference semi-finals: Seattle vs. Los Angeles

Game 1 - Wednesday, September 16 - Seattle at Los Angeles 7:00PM (ESPN2)
Game 2 - Friday, September 18 - Los Angeles at Seattle 7:00PM (NBATV)
Game 3* - Sunday, September 20 - Los Angeles at Seattle 2:00PM (ESPN2)


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Football in 3-D: USC v. OSU

USC v. Ohio StateSometimes I think I bleed cardinal and gold. This is probably mostly true during the college football season, but no worries to non-USC fans, this isn't a gushing post of our awesomely crazy victory finish against OSU on Saturday. (Though - GAHHHHHH!!! - okay, I'm done.) I'm writing mostly to relay about the great experience I had watching the game in 3-D at the USC Galen Center.

I've seen a number of movies lately in 3-D, animated features of Coraline, Up, and the opening of Harry Potter respectively, so I didn't know what to expect when my friend Andy told me about them showing a football game in 3-D. All I know is that when I saw his post on Facebook, I immediately wrote, "I wanna go! Get me a ticket!" Tickets were free for the event, it just took a little time effort to get them at the various outlets at USC.

ESPN 3-D ScreenTicket acquired, I met up with Andy and his friends at the Galen Center Saturday and when we got to our seats the first thing we marveled at was the size of the screen (see right). Placed beneath the standard screens of the Galen Center, it was hard not to look and compare the two and err on the side of "size really does matter", and it particularly matters when you're watching football in 3-D.

The following are my pro's and con's of the experience.


  • View at the end zone when you feel like you are ON the field. As I told my friend Scott later, it's like "football fan to die for" view. There's just nothing like it and, as a bonus, you don't have to worry about getting hit by a football or a football player.

  • 3-D is just cool.

  • Because the screen size is so large, it presents this feeling like you're really at the game with great seats.

  • If you're watching this at a sports arena like the Galen Center, this contributes to this feeling of being at the game. Couple this by the fact that you're there with your friends cheering/hugging for your team in last-minute triumphs or (as it was for so much of the 3rd quarter) holding on for dear, moral support through intense, nerve-wracking agony, it's the next best thing to being THERE. And seeing your handful of fans at an away game, it's like your supporting them (sans the plane and football ticket).

  • As great as it is to see fans as if you're there with your team, it's a little obnoxious seeing the same fans over and over again, particularly on the other team. This is mostly true when considering that it really takes away from the feeling of being AT the game. Usually, when you're sitting in the stands, you don't get cut-to's over to other fans.

  • Showing movie trailers. The viewing started movie-like with previews and during the initial commercial breaks we got them again. Here's the thing, I understand completely that there needs to be sponsored ads, but again, it's like sitting in the middle of a game and having it disappear to a Disney trailer. I want to see all of the movies they showed (Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Toy Story's various renditions), but I don't need to see the trailers 4 times. My solution? At least show the game going on in the side, so it's less intrusive and feels like a commercial break.

  • The filming had, at rare times, odd focuses on items making it a bit jarring, but this only happened occasionally. But with live filming it can't be helped, I think. Well, maybe the random guy who didn't want the camera there and was flashing a blue light over and over again could have been helped. Trial and error, right?

  • Okay and I was not cool with the lame "Superbowl Ring showing"/"Try and reach out like you're getting that woman's soda cup" shenanigans.

All in all I would totally recommend a 3-D Football Experience if you can have one. I think the kinks of the event are just finding that divide between a 3-D telecast and a regular TV one. There's just some things that don't translate. But it doesn't matter, it's definitely an experience worth having, pretty much the closest thing to being there in awesome seats and in some ways (like that view of the end zone!!) even better.

-Charity Tran

Thursday, September 10, 2009

If you think you know LA...

Here's a chance to test your knowledge. Race/LA is inspired by TV's Amazing Race, and will send you on an exhilarating, day-long, clue-solving journey around greater Los Angeles. The challenge pits teams against one another, traveling to locations both famous and little-known, performing tasks and solving clues that lead to the next destination and ultimately across the finish line. Prizes are rewarded to the winning team. Registration is open now, and there is a discount for those who register by this Saturday, September 12.

If you want to warm up for this day-long event, or if you can't commit to a full day but want to test your skills, try your hand at the upcoming CityRace, which will take you through Downtown's Historic Core to the "village" of Little Tokyo. Register now to receive half-price tickets. This offer is valid until Friday, September 18.

On your mark, get set...GO!


Take a walking tour of Downtown LA

The next time you're in Downtown LA, take a moment to appreciate all the public art that's around you. The Art Program of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles recently launched a series of podcasts to help you do just that. The podcasts, available for free to download to your MP3 player, take you on a historic and artistic journey through the Financial District, Historic Core, Bunker Hill and Little Tokyo areas of Downtown. Each walking tour runs around 2 hours long self-paced, and can be downloaded piecemeal according to stops within the tour, or as a full package.

Enjoy a nice leisurely stroll, take in some art, and get a little exercise. Be sure to check out my personal favorite piece, and one I think we can all relate to: "Corporate Head" (pictured above) in the Financial Core at the Ernst & Young Plaza. Download more information on the Public Art Walking Tour Podcasts, or visit


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Living in Los Angeles

Living in Los Angeles, it's easy to forget that it's more than just a city. It's also a county. The nation's largest county in fact, with more than 10 million people residing in 88 cities and many unincorporated areas, and accounting for roughly 27% of California's population.

With such diversity in people and geography, it's a wonder that anyone could ever be bored here. There's so much to see and do in L.A. County and many of the activities are inexpensive or free! That's why at ExperienceLA, we hope to enhance the Los Angeles experience by launching a brand new L.A. County directory of events and destinations. Our goal is to provide information and raise awareness for all of the cultural, recreational and life-long learning opportunities offered by L.A. County government.

In the moment that you find yourself thinking or complaining about LA's traffic or concrete jungle, consider that L.A. County has over 65,000 acres of parks, gardens, lakes, and natural areas, not to mention the beaches. Not much of an outdoors person? Then explore the museums, theatres, concert halls and public libraries.

88 cities and unincorporated areas accessible by public transportation. The opportunities to be entertained by L.A. County are truly endless.


LA County Fair Photo Contest

Need some good food mixed with fun activities? Here's a suggestion, how about screaming at the top of your lungs, checking out some cute baby farm animals, and indulging in County Fair cuisines.

The L.A County Fair opens from Sept. 5 thru Mon., Sept. 7 and continues from Sept,. 9 to Oct. 4.

Whether you enjoy shopping, eating, or adventuring, LA County Fair definitely offers something for everyone in the family. There are lots of fun, food and competitions to join. Speaking of competitions, ExperienceLA will hold a contest for all the Fair goers out there. We challenge you to submit your best moment of the L.A. County Fair in pictures and win a Flip Ultra Video Camera. So these are what you need to do:


Between September 5 and October 4, email us the photo directly at One entry per person.

In the Subject Line write:“ExperienceLA Fair Photo Contest” as the Subject Header

Photo Information:
Answer the following in the body of your email for each submitted photo:
1. Your Name & City
2. Photo Title (5 words max)
3. Brief Description (100 characters max)

File size cannot be more than 6mb
Tip: Try to capture funny moments or pictures with story behind it

Restrictions & Licensing:
No inappropriate content (i.e. nudity, sexual content, slander, etc.)
By submitting your photos to this contest, you agree to the following:
You are certifying that the photo is rightfully yours
You are agreeing to share your rights with ExperienceLA for possible promotional use

We will select the top 10 photos and invite you back to vote for the top 3. The 3 contestants who get the most votes on our blog will each receive a Flip Video recorder from Pure Digital Technologies.

Don’t forget to eat some corn dog. Last year, they sold 100,000+ and they are trying to top it again this year. Maybe you can be the one who eats that record breaking corn dog. A picture of that might help you win the contest.

Good luck, happy posing, and enjoy the fair!