My sister Amanda and I have been working in the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles for the past 3 years with our clothing labels Kain Label (women’s) and our new line children’s line, Roux, where we are really at the center of it all; neighboring our office you’ll find amazing lofts, markets, coffee spots, bars, shops and restaurants. The outside of our building is used as Paddy’s Bar on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” a neighborhood landmark, where no blogger, skateboarder, musician, model, or tourist can resist a photo. Amid the constant renovation and construction in the area, there has been a shift towards family-based fun, which you can find at the 6th Street Bridge and Park project. Inspired by the upcoming summer season, here’s a list of our favorite local spots, with a kiddie edge, that keeps it as fun for mama (Amanda) and auntie (Melanie) as our namesake Isla Roux.
1. HEDLEY & BENNETT
Hedley & Bennett’s headquarters, just south of the Arts District, houses their offices, production, warehousing and shipping departments, and a really fun multi-purpose retail space. You can buy and custom order their signature aprons and also grab a quick La Colombe coffee from the on-site barista (just be sure to check ahead to see if a barista is there, they will be starting full-time shortly). Already caffeinated? Get comfy in their “living room” or picnic table area, all while your little one is happily playing on the jungle gym. Note, Hedley & Bennett also rents out the space for private events like cooking classes, baby showers and birthday parties.
2. CLIFTON’S CAFETERIA
We don’t want to give too much away about the weird and wonderful world of Clifton’s for those who haven’t been, so here’s a quick breakdown. First off, to answer your question, yes, it is actually a cafeteria, which originally opened in 1932, and re-opened a few months ago after a massive renovation. It may be the last of its kind in Los Angeles, and almost certainly the only of its kind. Clifton’s is really a mythical land called Brookdale, full of discoveries big and small. Eat first, then make your way up to all of the levels to experience the magic.
The Poketo flagship is technically a lifestyle store, but bursting with an extra high dose of happiness and whimsy for all ages. It’s located in the main hub of the Arts District around 3rd & Traction, on the perfect stretch for an amble, some shopping, a re-fuel at Blacktop Coffee, and a visit to the new Hauser Wirth & Schimmel gallery that has everyone in the neighborhood talking.
4. ARTHUR J. WILL MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN at GRAND PARK
Grand Park is a multi-level park stretching from The Music Center to City Hall, so we suggest making a loop, starting with a museum visit to The Broad, followed by lunch at Grand Central Market food hall, and ending at the Park. The Park plays host to a ton of different activities and events (like the Renegade Craft Fair in July & December), but the draw for the littles is the interactive fountain jets; let your little ones splash to their hearts’ content, while you bask in a feeling of being the perfect parent who knows how to effortlessly balance culture and fun, all while enjoying pastrami from Wexler’s Deli.
5. PHOTO BOOTH at ACE HOTEL
The Ace Hotel is the center of a little shopping and dining nexus around 9th & Broadway. The photo booth in their lobby/retail shop is the perfect excuse to pick their lobby restaurant, L.A. Chapter, for brunch while knowing you can come away with a souvenir. Have fun playing grown-up “I Spy” with the pencil drawings of L.A. landmarks and celebrities covering the walls, and don’t miss the front booth by the coffee counter for lots of cartoon character drawings.
6. THE LAST BOOKSTORE
Located in an old bank, The Last Bookstore, as its name implies, feels very nostalgic, and as if it could disappear any minute. Until it’s another part of a bygone era, it’s the largest new and used bookstore in California. Browsing the main floor, the Rare Book Annex and the used book Labyrinth is top-notch, and the kids will love the quirky displays and exploring the different nooks and crannies throughout the bookstore. When inside, keep your eyes peeled for actual bank vaults and pay attention to the “Tunnel of Books” that’s lit up.
7. AQUARIUM at UNION STATION
Union Station, the main train station which opened in 1939, is a gorgeous reminder of Old Los Angeles from the second you see the palm trees framing the building. Here at Union Station it will be easy to get your kids excited about a bit of history and architecture, since walking through the vaulted main terminal, and around the gardens and fountains outside is beautiful. If you walk all the way east through the tunnel leading up to the train tracks, you’ll find the huge aquarium, which has just undergone a major renovation. Combine the aquarium with a walk through Olvera Street, a lively outdoor Mexican market with street vendors, cafes, music and dancers just across Alameda Street, for a full day of adventure!
8. ECHO PARK CRAFT FAIR (May 7 & 8)
We’ll be participating in our first Echo Park Craft Fair, located just west of Downtown, featuring L.A.-based designers and artists. For the first time, the fair is creating an outdoor Kids Area, where we’ll be setting up shop along with our friends from Ultra Violet Kids and Boy + Girl, among others. Please come by, say hi, and let us know where you and your kiddos love to go. We’re always looking for cool new places to hang.
Smorgasburg is coming to L.A.’s Arts District in June! The original Brooklyn-based food, shopping, and event market is confirming what we’ve known for a while: L.A. is the new New York. We can’t wait!
Check out Roux’s super adorable kid’s line here! (the rompers are the bomb!)