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Best Spots to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Echo Park

Valentine’s Day is a day of love and laughter, and there’s plenty to go around. With a romantic lake at your doorstep, Echo Park is the perfect backdrop for a romantic Valentine’s Day date.

Every year, there are some amazing, eclectic experiences to be had in Echo Park and the surrounding area.

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If you’re looking for date ideas for the perfect February 14th, look no further. We’ve summed up the perfect events and dinner spots to help you and your loved one have an ideal Cupid’s date.

Start With Drinks

Right before you head over to your evening dinner plans, consider stopping at Bar Bandini. It’s dark, sultry, relaxed, and makes for the perfect introduction to a nice glass of wine. The grapes are processed organically with little intervention, and made using native yeast. There are some small fare plates and wine friendly appetizers to hold you over until dinner. A highly knowledgeable staff that will help you choose the perfect taste if you’re overwhelmed by the large list of wine choices. .

Alternatively, El Prado is an Echo Park wine bar that’s fairly mellow during the week. This is a no-gimmick spot with plenty of wine and beer offerings and appetizing bar bites (think: pita and hummus). It has a cozy bohemian feel, impressive vinyl collection, and outdoor patio.

If beer is more your style, there’s no better place than the Sunset Beer Company. There are 500 varieties of beers here, and several selections of wines. There’s everything from California microbrews to rare Belgian ales. The atmosphere is cozy and comfortable for couples who want a relaxing start to the rest of their evening.

Lastly, at restaurant Mohawk Bend (considered a “beer wonderland” by LA Weekly) there’s no shortage of options. California craft beers are paired with American fare at this highly-rated, brick-walled eatery. Almost the entire menu is vegan, but you wouldn’t recognize it from its offerings: expect vegan-friendly pastas, pizzas, and salads.

Take A Cooking Class

Take your date to a cooking class, where you can both learn something new and feast on your own cuisine. There are plenty of amazing cooking classes in Echo Park and the greater Los Angeles area. For example, the Donable cooking class teaches guests how to make traditional Japanese fare while in a small, intimate setting. At the end of the class, you can purchase any of the Donabe ingredients and products to take home with you and try your hand at home.

Over at Eataly’s La Scuola, you can learn to master Italian dishes with renowned Chef Lidia Bastianich, where handmade pastas are the specialty. La Scuola also offers experimental walking tours and paired wine dinners.

For dessert, why not try decorating a cake together? Duff’s Cakemix is hosting a Valentine’s Day cake decorating class where couples can learn the art of professional dessert decorating while having fun. You’ll be able to pipe, airbrush, roll, and execute other techniques alongside pastry chefs. There will be snacks and drinks available, as well as raffles to win some of the bakery’s delicious baked goods. The price is just $60 per couple.

Take A Dance Class

If you enjoy a unique cultural experience and dancing, why not swing to the beat with your partner at a dance class in a train station? That’s exactly what will be happening this Valentine’s day at Union Station. Afro-Cuban dancer Chris Kizomba will be teaching visitors how to dance in the style of kizomba. Expect this to be a high-energy event, followed by a full-on dance party with live music from Ricardo Lemvo y Makina Loca.

Go See A Movie

There’s nothing like cozying up to a romantic film. This year, there will be a Cinespia screening of Roman Holiday (Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck). Tickets for this event are just $33 for General Admission and come with complimentary sparkling wine from Freixenet Cava.

If that’s not your style, head over to the El Capitan Theatre to catch an animated viewing of the classic tale, The Lady and the Tramp. This film will be showing between Feb. 9th – 14th. Before each screening, there will be a live accordion performance by Ed Vodika. If you don’t get a chance to see it, keep El Capitan in mind for next year — they usually show Valentine’s themed movies during this time of the year.

Make It An Experience

Lucha Vavoom is great for couples who want to combine fun and adventurous with your classic V-day date night. Here, you’ll find fun masked Mexican wrestling matches with and knee-slapping comedy, and it’s sure to deliver a great time. The entire event will be Valentine’s Day themed, and there will be plenty of V-day gifts and surprises.

And if you love high-tech and gear, there’s no better (or more unique) way to spend your Valentine’s Day than the Virtual Room. The Virtual Room is where you and your partner work together to solve a mystery via a full-fledged virtual reality experience. The agency’s current “adventure” scheme is as follows:

“The year is 2217.These are dangerous times. Your mission… Choose your Omega team (two to four people) from your most loyal companions and set off through the corridors of time to find the Alpha team and repair the damage caused by the temporal rift – and save the future of the world!”

Each member of your team will have a dedicated room that’s equipped with the latest virtual reality gear. As you maneuver the game, you’ll be able to be to move around the room and collaborate with your other team members virtually.

Classic Dinner Dates

You can’t go wrong with your classic dinner date, and Echo Park has some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Among them are Ostrich Farm, Elf Cafe, and Winsome. At Ostrich Farm, the food is made fresh daily and brunch is especially popular. Recommended dishes include the varied and delicious cheese plate, Pork “ossobuco”, and spicy chickpeas.

The Elf Cafe serves Mediterranean food and the menu boasts an all-natural wine list. Many good things have been said about its cuisine and interior. LA Eater considers it one of the most underrated restaurants in Los Angeles, while LA Weekly stated, “Every dinner here feels like a special occasion.” Try the Moroccan vegetable tagine, California risotto, and buffalo oyster mushrooms.

Lastly, Winsome offers a little bit of everything with classic American food with a twist, served in a laidback, lush California setting. Some of its more popular menu items include the Lamb ribs, bone-in pork chop, and potato rosti with eggs.

Free Things To Do In Echo Park

Whether you’re an Echo Park resident or a visitor, it’s good to have a solid arsenal of free things to do when your budget is tight. Fortunately, Echo Park has quite a bit up its sleeve. In addition to the items listed here, take note of the surrounding establishments and check out their websites. You never know what events a local music store or restaurant (near your home or hotel) has to offer, and many Echo Park businesses transform their spaces during the evenings. With that in mind, here’s our selection of free things to do in Echo Park:

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Echo Park Lake

The historic Echo Park lake underwent a two-year renovation before it once again became the ultimate family-friendly destination. Walking along the path or enjoying a picnic on the grass costs nothing. Echo Park Lake is the perfect meeting place for a leisurely stroll, some fishing, or relaxation.

Head over from April to August, and you’ll see dozens of lotus pads, frogs, and turtles. With beautiful views, spraying fountains, free WiFi, and well-maintained grounds, this is the ideal place to take a breather. Additionally, many events are hosted here (including Machine Project events, mentioned later in this article). Check out the park website to learn more about current events in advance.

Go On A Gallery Crawl

Echo Park is a diverse neighborhood with art as an integral part of its foundation. In fact, from the minute you get to Echo Park, you’re greeted by a giant wall mural on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Echo Park. With that being said, there are plenty of art galleries to suit your desire. Go on a gallery crawl to get a curated look into the multicultural minds of local artists and designers.

Subliminal Projects and iam8bit are two Echo Park galleries worth checking out. Subliminal Projects is owned and operated by Shepard Fairey, the artist and founder of popular clothing line OBEY, as well as the creative mind behind Obama’s renowned “HOPE” campaign photo. The gallery displays work from local artists, including street art. Iam8bit, on the other hand, hosts pop culture-inspired installations and their receptions are grand affairs with free drinks.

Attend A Literary Event

For book enthusiasts, attending a literary event (for free) is the perfect activity. The Stories Books & Cafe is an Echo Park staple with an outdoor patio and rows of new and used books. Fortunately, many Echo Park bookstores, including Stories, hosts literary events at no cost for attendees. In addition to literary events, the book shop also hosts comedy shows and movie nights for free, with drinks and food available for purchase. In fact, if you bring in your old books, you may even make money from your visit. Use it to buy a nice cup of fair trade coffee from the cafe.

Visit Angelino Heights

Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or simply appreciate a good home, there’s nothing like a stroll through Angelino Heights — especially on a nice day. The neighborhood, particularly Carroll Avenue (in 1976, the street was added to the National Register of Historic Places), is lined with historic Victorian homes.

Nearly all of these grandiose homes have been remodeled, and they make up Los Angeles’ first ever suburban neighborhood. Several of these homes are a part of the Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments.

If you’ve never been here before, but feel like you have, there’s probably a reason for that. This area also served as a backdrop for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the Charmed television series, and the Fast and the Furious films. While you can take a walk through the area on your own, there’s a walking tour available for a small fee.

Get A Workout – AND A View

There are 33 different stairways in Echo Park (some that were built before the commercialization of vehicles), each set winding its way through various neighborhoods and points of interest. But none offers a better view or more thorough exercise than the Baxter Street Stairs. With 231 steps and 180-foot vertical incline, you’re greeted with a phenomenal panorama of Echo Park’s northern hills, Downtown LA, the Hollywood sign, and the Griffith Park observatory.

Chavez Ravine Arboretum

Nature lover’s will rejoice at all the green here at Southern California’s first and first and oldest arboretum. The Chavez Ravine Arboretum in Elysian Park is home to more than 100 different varieties of trees from around the world. From the late 1800s to the early 1940s, horticulturists everywhere donated species to this space. A few of the trees here are the oldest or largest of their kind in the entire country. In addition to free admission (it’s a part of the park) and a variety of trees, you’ll also see a variety of birds, ranging from woodpeckers to ravens and hummingbirds.

Attend An Event Hosted By Machine Project

According to their website, “Machine Project is a place for artists to do fun experiments, together with the public, in ways that influence culture.” It achieves this through a series of events, installations, and workshops. Many of Machine Project’s events are free to attend, with suggested donations advertised. Check out their website for current event listings, or browse previous events to get a feel for what Machine Project does.

Hot Spots Near Dodger Stadium

Whether you’re a die-hard Dodgers fan or just enjoying the baseball game experience, more often than not you want a balanced meal or itinerary of activities on game day. Chances are, you don’t live across the street from the Dodger Stadium, like many of the locations listed here. And furthermore, several hours of hot dogs and overpriced, average beers can be overkill for the most seasoned baseball fans. We’ve put together a list of eight hot spots near the Dodger Stadium to give you a range of game day options to choose from:

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Button Mash

If you’re going to the Dodgers game as a family, Button Mash is the place to go before or after the game––maybe even twice in one day. With a full arsenal of amazing arcade games and an equally appealing Pan-Asian menu, there’s something for everyone at this restaurant. According to Los Angeles food critic Jonathan Gold, the small wine lines is “shockingly good” and the food is “light years ahead” of other food-serving arcades in the country.

Sunset Beer Company

After the game (or before), head over to Sunset Beers for a drink. The tasting bar has 12 rotating taps and 800 types of bottled beers. The bar also frequently hosts Dodgers specials during game days, where there are steep deals on beers and specialty drinks.

The walls are decked in beer decor and there are even plenty of board games to keep your crowd busy until it’s time to go. According to Yelp reviews, this is the perfect pregame spot, and while no food is served, the bar does permit patrons to bring food of their own.

Ostrich Farm

This beautiful sit-down eatery has been touted as one of the best in Los Angeles by publications  like the Infatuation and the Los Angeles Times. It’s a little fancier than your casual pre or post-game stop, but not in a pretentious way. The staff is welcoming, the food delicious and well-thought, and the plates and interior just as beautiful as the cuisine is tasty. The kitchen––which is too small to hold an exuberant amount of food––keeps only enough product stocked for the day, ensuring you get the freshest food possible.

Subliminal Projects

If you’re creatively minded, consider visiting Subliminal Projects, a local art gallery that features contemporary and street art. Artist Shephard Fairey is the owner of the gallery (where many of his own works are features) and is the founder of the popular OBEY clothing line (the space also doubles as OBEY headquarters).

The gallery is spacious, and different exhibitions mean there’s a little something for everyone among the gallery’s revolving themes. The space also hosts lecture series and workshops. If you’ve got tickets to a game, try and coordinate attendance to an event, or just to check out the exhibition space.

Sage Vegan Bistro & Brewery

The Sage Vegan Bistro is a vegan, farm-to-table restaurant with a solid reputation. Locally sustained and produced food is the passion behind the menu, ensuring you get something healthy in your stomach before a long day of eating baseball stadium goodies.

Last year, the vegan restaurant was complemented with an all-vegan brewery, too. A reformed cement taproom gives the space an industrial feel, but it’s the drinks that keep the guests coming. Currently, the brewery is stocked with over 40 taps.

Guisados

Angelenos love their tacos, and Guisados is one of the best Mexican eateries in not just Echo Park, but the entire city of Los Angeles. Tortillas are handmade and the menu is both equally simple and powerful. There are over a dozen types of tacos, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal than the $2.95 tacos or the $8 sampler of six mini tacos. This place is an Echo Park staple, and you’ll quickly discover why.

Tierra Mia Coffee

Sometimes, all you need prior to the game is a nice cup of coffee and a simple breakfast sandwich. And Tierra Mia Coffee certainly delivers. This spot serves Latin-inspired coffee drinks made with house-roasted beans, and an assortment of hot pastries worth trying. Try the horchata latte or the cubano con leche.

Winsome

This high-rated restaurant has great Downtown views and is just around the corner from the Dodgers stadium. The interior embodies the carefree California lifestyle and the food, like other restaurants on this list, comes highly rated by Los Angeles food critics and locals alike. Lush greenery and comfortable banquettes make for the perfect atmosphere for dining. Winsome also serves great cocktails and wines. Try the whole roasted branzino, pork short ribs, or the Buckwheat and semolina pancake.