Take a trip up into the hills and hang at “the store where the creatures meet,” as Jim Morrison put it.
Heading up into Laurel Canyon is a nice reminder of one of the reasons LA is so unique; it’s geography is such that there are central pockets that don’t feel like they are in the middle of a big city at all (this is also why LA offers so much amazing hiking). Laurel Canyon is a historic enclave in the Hollywood Hills that originated as a tract of sparse hunting lodges in the early 20th century that evolved, over the course of decades, into a funky, secluded neighborhood that most famously was the epicenter of rock and roll in the 1960’s and 70’s. Books like this one and this one have been written about the musical lore of the canyon, and it’s some really interesting stuff – the likes of Mama Cass, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash, The Eagles, etc. etc. all called Lauren Canyon home at one point or another. Although the canyon has changed much over the last few decades, with more wealthy folks moving into the Hollywood Hills, the hippie vibe and unique architecture of the neighborhood certainly persists to a certain extent today.
The Canyon Country Store, built around 1930, has been the epicenter of this curious community since it was the store was built. It’s rumored that Mama Cass lived in the basement when she was broke and struggling. The building has undergone some changes over the years, but as it stands now it is a quaint little general store style market, with a coffee cart out front during the day, and a really nice Italian restaurant, Pace, below it. Every day of the week, locals from the surrounding hill streets stop by the sunny patio for a cup of coffee (lovingly served up by Lily, a neighborhood friend). As a traveler seeking to experience rather than site-see, the Canyon Country Store is an awesome place to spend a morning reading the newspaper or having a cappuccino with a friend.
If you’re up for a nice (but uphill) walk, head straight up Kirkwood Drive and follow it all the way to the top, where it will loop around to the left onto Grandview and eventually loop back down to Kirkwood. The natural and built environment of this neighborhood is really unique and stunning, not to mention the crazy view of the city from the top. The walk will take you just under an hour to do the whole loop.