We’re at it again with another of Jen’s Nearly Famous Walking Tours! This free walking tour of Los Angeles is a 2.6 mile self-guided walk focused on the fun and funky. It includes an art gallery, a quirky book store, some hipster snacks, and a high-tech circus. Get ready to get weird, ya’ll!
Jen’s Funky and Free Walking Tour: Los Angeles
- Walt Disney Concert Hall
- The Broad
- Angels Flight Railway
- Grand Central Market
- The Last Bookstore
- Little Tokyo Galleria Market
- Angel City Brewery
- The Pie Hole
- Two Bit Circus
This Funky & Free Walking Tour | Los Angeles came about because we were warned by nearly everyone not to drive downtown. Josh is an excellent city driver, but there was no reason to deal with the frustration of it all with the number of public transit options available. Also, Los Angeles parking fees are off the charts! However, if you are going to drive in, my travel blogging buddies all suggest parking at The Music Center Parking Lot. It is secure, accepts credit cards, and the advertised daily maximum is $20 (2022).
We started off by taking the metro downtown from our house sit in Glendora. It cost $2 each for a TAP Card, then another $1.75 each for a one-way ticket. Our metro experience wasn’t particularly exciting, but the trains were clean and comfortable. The trip from Glendora to the Civic Center / Grand Park Station took about an hour and cost $3.75 each. We returned home using the Little Tokyo / Arts District Station.
*cue the opening theme music* Our first stop for Jen’s Nearly Famous Los Angeles Walking Tour is The Broad, a contemporary art museum that offers free general admission! Although it is possible to reserve a free ticket online, we opted to simply wait in line. After about fifteen minutes, we were in and had access to the entire third floor gallery. We spent over an hour walking around and enjoying all the eclectic art on display. Even the architecture of the building itself was enjoyable, adding to the overall experience. And did I mention it’s FREE?!
For anyone wanting to pump it up a notch, there is a free audio tour available for download. It is also possible to get “on the list” for the Infinity Mirror Room, which seems to be littering my Instagram feed lately.
Grand Central Market
From The Broad, we walked over to the Angels Flight Railway and paid the $1 ticket price ($0.50 when we showed them our TAP card) to ride this cute, 117-year-old funicular train. It was a short ride down the hill and was the perfect mini-adventure, dropping us off right across from the Grand Central Market.
I wanted to eat EVERYTHING at the Grand Central Market. There was a great selection of foods from all over the world, most of them at decent prices. We ended up snacking on some Japanese food along with a pint of beer from Gold Road Brewery.
The Last Bookstore
When The Last Bookstore opened in 2005, Amazon was busy crushing nationwide bookstore chains, and it looked like small bookstores would be subsumed by the internet giant, as well. Fourteen years on, the ironically named store is thriving, having become a cultural icon and Instagram hotspot. There are two floors of books and book-related goodies. In addition to the usual stacks of new releases and bestsellers, the first floor hosts an excellent collection of graphic novels, an Arts and Rare Books Annex, and a book vault. Josh could have easily spent most of the day just on this floor, but thankfully I knew better and stole him away to go upstairs.
The second floor consists of a large mezzanine that overlooks the first floor, hosting numerous pieces of art for sale, art galleries, and a book labyrinth. You heard me right; a book labyrinth. Shelves and shelves, stack after stack of books to get lost in. The picture opportunities are endless. As an avid reader I was in heaven, making this the perfect free and funky stop for my Funky & Free Walking Tour of Los Angeles.
Angel City Brewery
After trying several LA brews, we were most impressed by Angel City Brewery‘s beers. Once we actually arrived at the brewery, we were blown away. The brewery is located inside of a renovated steel cable factory. If I were to open a brewery, the historic John A. Roebling Building is exactly the kind of place I would choose to host it. The place is huge, with two levels, multiple bars, and a loading dock for food trucks.
As if the venue wasn’t amazing enough, the beer was top notch. We ordered a taster flight with the Sunbather Citra, Angel City Pilsner, Saazberry, Angel City IPA, and Double IPA. I loved them all, rating most at a 4 out of 5 or higher (which is well above my average) on UnTappd. Angel City Brewery is doing it right. We’ve been to a ton of breweries around the world now, but this place really stuck out, and I can’t wait to go back!
The Pie Hole
I usually get hungry after some beers, so it seemed only right to make this quirky café the next stop on our Funky & Free Walking Tour of Los Angeles. The Pie Hole has 11 locations (mostly in the LA metro area) providing locally sourced and handmade pies to compliment their organic coffees. Although the menu changes seasonally, they always have a selection of both sweet and savory pies. Although I coveted the Salted Honey Custard Pie, we ended up with their famous Mac ‘n Cheese Pot Pie. It was amazing and inspired us to try making our own at home (which still needs some work, tbh).
Two Bit Circus
WTF is this place?! As we were walking over, I warned Josh that this stop would likely be a bust. It looked really interesting online, but the promise of an adult themed, Silicon Valley-inspired arcade was probably too good to be true. Luckily for us, I was totally wrong, and we had an amazing time.
YOU WERE BORN KNOWING HOW TO HAVE FUN. YOU GOT BUSY AND MIGHT HAVE FORGOTTEN. WE’RE HERE TO HELP YOU REMEMBER.
IT’S HARD TO TOP THE SIMPLE JOY OF THROWING A DART AT A BALLOON. BUT THAT WON’T STOP US FROM EQUIPPING THE DART WITH SENSORS, SPLASHING THE BALLOON WITH PIXELS, AND ADDING PEW-PEW-PEW SOUND EFFECTS.
WHEN IN DOUBT – STEP RIGHT UP.
– Two Bit Circus Manifesto
So we get inside and the Two Bit Circus is everything they promised and more. There are story rooms, escape rooms, and VR games. My first thought at seeing it all was “sh*t this place is going to be way too expensive for our budget”. Thankfully, I was pleasantly mistaken once again. In addition to the big stuff, there were free interactive art installations and inexpensive, re-imagined carnival games, tricked out arcade games, and a futuristic bar with a robot bartender. The Two Bit Circus is truly nerd’s paradise!
So ends our Funky & Free Walking Tour of Los Angeles. We saw stuff, we ate stuff, and we played with stuff. It was a freaking blast! I love my “nearly famous walking tours,” but I think this one really takes the cake. I don’t think I could have planned a more fun afternoon for us. It was the perfect way to see the city while still being our quirky, nerdy, and playful selves.