Living la Vida Local (Sponsored)

The following post is sponsored by CHASE, a strong supporter of the Global Cities Initiative.
"Nobody walks in LA", says the Missing Persons classic, and I didn't either, until I made a conscious decision to start walking. Archer was a baby and we were living in Larchmont Village at the time, a lovely neighborhood that feels more small town than big city - a place made up primarily of old barber shops, antique stores and small family owned business. We made friends with the shopkeepers who soon knew Archer and Fable by name, the vendors at Larchmont Blvd's Farmer's Market, held every Sunday in the parking lot.
We'd take car outings on weekends. To Pasadena to visit Kidspace or Santa Monica to ride the rollercoaster on the Pier, but some of our favorite "missions" consisted of walking store to store and mingling with the local shopkeepers and their goods. So much so that the owners occasionally gifted the floor models of their various toys to Archer and Fable. "Just because." Samples were thrown in bags with treats "for later" and all of the wonderful things I assumed were small town fantasies, became part of our city-dwelling lives. Here we were in one of the largest cities in the world and everyone knew our names, Cheers style. It was then that I stopped trying to compare LA to more metropolitan cities and saw it for what it truly is: a collection of small towns.

Our walking tours weren't just into "town" but around the residential parts of our neighborhood. Archer delighted in knowing which streets came after which, what crosswalks took the shortest amount of time to yield results, which yards had the coolest plants, the most suitable lawns for rolling down.
Two years ago, we left Larchmont which was heartbreaking for me because I loved our neighborhood so and it took me a minute to seek out the jewels of our current area, a not-quite-as-family-friendly 'hood. Or so I thought until we really started exploring the nooks and crannies, getting to know the local shopkeepers and vendors. (Even the meter maid who works our street and regularly tickets us has become our friend. Because she's cool. Firm and unfair sometimes but cool.)

If all goes to plan we'll be in our new house in three months. A house two blocks from where we live now in the same neighborhood with the same markets and cafes in walking distance. So we can continue to support our local vendors, restaurants and farmers' markets, show our kids the ropes so that they, in turn can climb them, make memories, realize the importance of community interaction, exploration and support. So that when people ask them where they grew up and they say, "Los Angeles," they'll be able to bust out some serious memories about walking here. Because walking in LA is an adventure in itself. How could we not take advantage of such a colorful front yard?


Here are some of our favorite local (family friendly) haunts and frequent walk-tos in both Larchmont, the neighborhood formerly known as home as well as our current area of West Hollywood. Recommended with five stars for great service, good people and family friendliness:


Bluebird Kids (Consignment): (This is where I buy the bulk of my kids' clothes.)

Flicka: They have the BEST seasonal sales for kids and babies and a great play area for little ones to hang while you shop.

Landis Labyrinth: Family owned and operated for ... Best toy store in LA. If there's something you want them to stock? We love them.

The Little Seed: We attended music classes here every Thursday when Fable was little (and we lived in the neighborhood.) They also have a wonderful little play area in the back and a baby changing room, which, yes.

Babycakes Cupcakes: I've written about them before. They rock.

Prado: Their Caribbean Cobb salad will change your life. Great spot for date night.

Chevaliers Books: One of LA's wonderful old book shops with an entire room devoted to children's books. Love.

Van Ness (Robert Burns) Park: Archer spent his first four years of life in this park so I have a soft spot for the place. Always will.

For more on Larchmont Village/Blvd go here.


V Cafe: Great coffee, smoothies and dinner sides (and everything else). Best part? The family who runs the place. They are always kind to my kids, even when they're busy and we're taking up half the restaurant with our posse.

Liquid: (also for smoothies. Apparently we're really into smoothies.) The Green Manna (+ avocado) is my fave. I drink way too many of these. They also make a killer Acai bowl.

Melrose Place Farmer's Market: Every Sunday. Rain or shine.

Melrose Trading Post: I write about this place all the time. Me gusta.

Cochran Produce: A one-stop shop for produce during the week.

Swingers Diner: An easy diner-style restaurant with vegan friendly alternatives.

Froma: Wine, cheese, coffee, sandwiches, Francine. Francine owns and operates Froma and has become a dear family friend. She also provided me with turkey sandwiches which I craved with wild abandon while I was pregnant. (I went back to being veggie as soon as I gave birth.)

Canters Deli: We go for the cookies. (I wrote about our cookie missions, here.)

West Hollywood Park/Library: Our new library is INSANE. It's also on the same grounds as WeHo park which is in the process of getting a face lift - one of our favorite parks for sure.

For more on West Hollywood go here.



What are some of your favorite local haunts? I love to hear about great (family friendly!) spots worldwide, you know, for future reference... when we become gypsy-caravan traveler people.



Arnebya | 2:13 PM

I'm in DC so the museums, just the halls of the museums, not even specific exhibits, are where we'll head just to get out of the house. Those are downtown, though. Closer to home, we are never far from neighborhood libraries. I love that the employees know my family, speak to my kids by name they're so used to seeing them. There is a flower shop we found over 12 years ago that we will still go across town to use just because of the family that owns it. We've been walking a lot more lately, too (mainly gas prices and the fact that our truck may need resuscitation soon), even considering going carless awhile (it hurts to say that, imagine it, but it may come to that). Luckily, our grocery store and CVS, the library and park are within walking distance and we're close to a bus line.

I'm glad you were able to find a house so close to where you've already felt welcome and at home. In three months' time, it will be home.

Unknown | 2:26 PM

We live in Alameda which really is a small town in the middle of big cities. Its an island between San Francisco and Berkeley/Oakland. We moved precisely because it is so family friendly and infinitely walkable (and a bus ride to work for me in SF). We live a block and a half from our downtown and we know the proprietors and staff of a lot of the shops and restaurants. We can walk to two amazing parks and the (albiet landfill) beach.

There are amazing city funded, family friendly activities from the weekly sing-a-long at our library (which I'm going to play hooky from work one day to go to) to the longest (because everyone can be in it) 4th of July parade in the country to a Christmas tree lighting complete with reindeer and tap dancing Christmas trees.

We LOVE our town. So much so that I actually write a mom blog for our town Patch (networked news site) and am quickly becoming not only well versed in our social scene but local government.

And of course the best part is that when we have gotten our fill of our open-for-8-hours-weekly museum we can always go to any of the nearby larger cities for enrichment.

We've also convinced friends with new families to move here and they love it to - especially since we can walk to each others houses or meet in the middle for brunch.

Katy | 2:31 PM

Pittsburgh, PA! We don't live in the most walkable neighborhood, but my husband walks our daughter to daycare every day. They know all the neighborhood dogs, the crossing guard at the school, Jim the Barber, John and Maggie who run Frick Park Market, and the auto repair guys. Occasionally I pick her up and we walk home together and I am amazed that absolutely everyone knows her by name. The best business in our neighborhood is probably John and Maggie's place, where you can actually run a tab! How cool is that?

Home Sweet Sarah | 2:37 PM

Oh, Canter's, brings back memories of my childhood, visiting LA on the weekends. Rugelach and bean & barley soup and pastrami on rye. I remember bringing a friend there in college and she ordered a Cesar salad. A Cesar salad! From Canter's! Just wrong. So, so wrong.

Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph | 3:01 PM

I have never had the desire to visit LA... until now.

We're in Northwest Indiana and honestly love Michigan- especially Grand Rapids. It's a fun weekend getaway for the fam- with the best restaurants (we love The Green Well, Sanchez, and Electric Cheetah) and the art there is sprawled across the whole city. I highly recommend you visit during Art Prize in the fall!


Aimee Desiree | 3:11 PM

So true! When I was at UCLA, I volunteered with Meals on Wheels. My favorite rides were with LA-raised lady in her 50's who would tell me stories about when Beverly Hills was a small town. Like when the cop who pulled her over to give her a speeding ticket when she was 16 kenw her dad when would you ever think of that happening in LA?. I loved seeing all the awesome little neighborhood nestled in between huge 4-lane streets.
Then I lived in Studio City. Charming is the best description of the tree-lined neighborhood with its corner coffee shop.
It's great to have such wonderful neighborhoos, because it can take hooouuurs to get anywhere else via the 5 or 101.

Erin Petty | 3:16 PM

This makes me want to move to your neighborhood!! I always say that I don't want to move back to CA because I love the small town feel here in MN but you make LA sound very small town and I love that.

Emily | 3:19 PM

We live in Brookline, which is the closest suburb of Boston. We moved here three months before I had our son (we're now expecting a daughter in May) and we absolutely love it. We live right off Washington Square, which has amazing restaurants - some of the best Thai, Indian, and Japanese I've ever had - a lovely little independently owned coffee shop, bakery, and awesomely curated wine shop. We also have four amazing playgrounds within easy walking distance (and at least a dozen if you want to take a longer walk). One of the things I love the most about LA is how GREEN it is! At least it seems that way when it's winter in Boston and I happen to be on the west coast. I love this neighborhood for the same reason. It's absolutely lush with flowers and trees in the spring and summer, a nice contrast to our former digs in South Boston (otherwise known as Southie). We also happen to be just up the street from the T (subway) and can be in Boston in minutes. You guys should definitely check it out the next time you're in Boston!

AUSAcara | 4:00 PM

I moved to Adelaide, Australia 2 1/2 years ago with my husband (who is from here).

The best thing about where we live is that we can walk to the beach (a dream come true!) The worst thing about that we can ONLY walk to the beach. No where else is close enough. Which was hard for me at first - and still is a little - because I dearly loved being able to walk everywhere back in Charlottesville, Virginia where I grew up.

But we have just opened a bakery nearby (in an in-need-of-work heritage building that was just BEGGING to become a bakery) so now we can walk there. We've only been open for 4 months, and I love all of our regular customers who are coming in every day already, because they can WALK there, and because (I hope) they feel welcome in this bakery/coffee shop that we have strived to make feel like home.

Katy | 4:37 PM

This neighborhoody feel is exactly why I was so sad to leave small-town Colorado a year ago, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find that big-city San Francisco is full of little nooks and crannies that become familiar and homey once you've invested the time into discovering and patronizing them. We live in a smaller part of town called Potrero Hill, and we can walk the whole area or bus into downtown or to SF's crazy list of things to do. I love our local coffee shops, restaurants, library, and consignment store! And there is a new preschool opening down the street from us, so we get to settle in for at least a few more years. It's awesome! I love it here, and I am small-town to the core.

I'm loving reading the above poster's description of Alameda as well...we have distant relatives there but haven't been to visit yet. Now I feel motivated to discover a new town across the bay!

The Hojo Family | 4:48 PM

I love The Cows End in Santa Monica! Right next to the beach, great atmosphere, big comfy couches and great coffee/ pastries! It was my favorite study place!

Anonymous | 5:19 PM

We live in Austin and when we moved from our too-small house a bit over a year ago the walk factor was huge in our decision to move less than a mile away. We left great neighborhood walking sights - goats in someone's yard, chickens all around, funky yard art, for the ability to walk to our favorite grocery store (Central Market), toy store (Whole Earth) and ice cream (Amy's). We now even have two restaurants and a movie theater within walking distance and nightly walks are now a tradition I hope my kids will remember.

Have you seen It rates the walkability of your neighborhood. We like to brag that our tiny little neighborhood in south Austin has a higher "walk score" than downtown.

Ellie D | 6:59 PM

I live in Glendale, AZ and our downtown area (which happens to be right where I live) is fantastic! We've got such eclectic stores like Mad Hatter Antiques, Matilda's Closet (which sells vintage clothing), Pink House, Happy Hippie, and a Shot of Java (a super tiny coffee shop located in such a way that only the people who know it's there are frequent visitors). Plus, every year we have Glendale Glitters, which is a huge event that happens every weekend from November til January.

Tiffany | 7:42 PM

Austin, TX downtown: Lady Bird Lake, Zilker Park, Barton Springs, Sno Beach, Whole Foods on 6th, and Peter Pan's putt putt.

Actually North where we live, Rattan Creek Park, Spicewood Springs Park, 10 other parks in a 3 mile radius, a library branch, the creek behind our house in the greenbelt, two grocery stores that we literally run to when we are out of stuff, fro yo fancy date (as my two-year-old refers to frozen yogurt) and my husband's work (hurray for a 10 minute bike commute and being able to run the girls down to Apple for lunch or daddy coming home for lunch most days).

Julia | 8:02 PM

Hey, just wanted to say that this is probably my favorite "sponsored post" anyone's ever done on a blog. Not a huge fan of Chase bank but well done, corporation!

Polly | 10:48 PM

It's so funny how we've had different experiences in the same places. When living in Larchmont and frequenting all the same haunts, the wee lass and I never made the same connects. It was always different people in the shops; they were usually (wo)manned by shop girls busy with the texts and tribulations of an early 20-something life.

That said, I can be an introvert, so that may have something to do with it. Joey, however, is not, and while she made friends in each of those places, we never really saw them more than twice on all our myriad outings over the 18+ months we lived there.

Now we're in a new hood, Culver City. The Valley of the Westside I've heard it called. Mind you, I don't agree, but we've only been here a month. There are tons of shops and galleries and restaurants and a fabulous farmer's market and and and...

And one day when I'm not feeling morning sickness I will go to them. And report back. And also, I will stop starting sentences with and. And it's late, and I'm tired, and you are fabulous!

Monika | 2:00 AM

I live on Oahu and this post inspired me to share some of my favorite eateries... which is huge because I usually like to keep them secret :) Thanks! I'll be sure to check out your spots next time I'm in LA. Love your blog.

Melysa | 6:48 AM

We live in the sleepy fisherman town of Bristol, Rhode Island, and I cannot say enough about it. It is one of those towns, where you can't pump gas or buy groceries without running into someone you know, and in town, it is completely walkable with great shops, and restaurants. We have so much to offer - the RI Audubon Society, at least a dozen parks (many on the water) with a parks department where their motto is: "All citizens have the right to opportunities to pursue their leisure interests" a bike path that meanders along the Narragansett Bay, as well as many little beaches (my daughter and I collect sea glass at a few of them) and we are so deep in history (Converse sneakers used to be manufactured here, as well as the mansion from The Great Gatsby movie is here too!) and tradition - the oldest 4th of July parade in the country takes place here - instead of a "double yellow" line in the road, we have a red, white and blue line.
You will never find more warm, inviting or welcoming town anywhere else in New England - Everyone should Google us!

Zoƫ | 7:08 AM

Ah, I'm so jealous! We live in a small town in Tennessee where nothing is within walking distance. Well, that's not entirely true. The library and adventure playground are less than one mile from our house, but we can not walk there because there are no sidewalks, and nowhere to safely cross the busy road that is firmly in the way. We walk every night in our neighborhood, but have to get off the street when a car comes - that whole no sidewalk thing. It sucks!! I grew up in London, and when anyone asks me what I miss most about home, I say "the ability to walk anywhere and everywhere". As much as I like our evening strolls (jumping into front yards aside), I also like to walk with a purpose, to get a smoothie or a cookie or ice cream, but it can't be done where I live.

Sorry for the rant, but as you can tell, it's something I feel strongly about, and when we move, walkable places will be a big factor in deciding where we want to live. Go walk somewhere for me today :-)

Leslie | 8:15 AM

So, loved this post. I am in Cambridge MA which is pretty walk-able as well. In fact, I just got a car this year (after living here for 7 years) because I needed it to commute to clinicals for school.

In other completely unrelated news, one of my friends told me to watch this movie about Caine's Arcade - not sure if you have seen it. This kid totally reminded me of Archer in terms of his creativity and general excitement for life. His arcade is in East Los Angeles and I would totally go and visit it if I lived in the area. I wanted to pass it on to you in case you are up for a weekend adventure.

Regardless, thank you for continuing to share your life with us strangers.

Anonymous | 9:35 AM

Nice Post!
Here is my neighborhood:
South Hampton, in South City area of Saint Louis, Missouri.
Saint Louis doesn't sound like a big city to begin with, but it is filled with different neighborhoods that could all potentially have a certain small town feel.
South Hampton is great!
Maclind Deli, Murdoch Perk, The Running Store, Onesto Pizza, The Mack (bar) are all on the same super walkable residential street. Not far is Pawsitively Fintastic (super cute new pet shop), Hampton Bakery, lots of doughnut shops, pizza places, and plenty of choices easily found on Yelp. Francis Park is the main park, but many others are almost as close. It is really wonderful walking around this area. And you are always treated like a regular.
Forest Park is less than 4 miles away. Easily reached on bicycle or car (if it's too long of a walk for you). There you will find the amazing FREE Admission St Louis Zoo!!!!
I know that our zoo and museums are the classic touristy places, but I cannot emphasize enough how amazing they are! The fact that these top quality places are free, gives them a small town feel because you can go as often as you like and become a regular!!! You don't have to wait until a day you can pend comepletely at one place that you pay a bundle of money to get into. Your regular walk to the park can be at the Zoo! You can go to a different area each time and don't have to go see the whole zoo or museum all at once! You can even bring in your own drinks and food!!! It would be the main thing I would miss if I moved to a different place.
Anyway, you don't have to wait until you become a gypsy family. If you want a great family vacation, this city really is extremely family friendly and fun!!! And living here is quite nice too!
I hope this has been a good ad for my city :-)


These are awesome, you guys. THANK YOU! Love to hear about everyone's little villages, city stops, stomping grounds. One of these days we'll be able to travel... I hope?

Anonymous | 10:49 AM

OMG - Can you please tell me the name of the shop with the amazing coat in the window? Need to own.


@anonymous It's Resurrection! A store full of vintage designer goods that I regularly browse but will never afford.

Kate | 11:02 AM

I live in the same area as you, and I love all of these places too! Didn't know about Cochran Produce; I'll have to check that out. Another favorite of mine around here is Mel N Rose's. They have awesome sandwiches, and one of the most extensive and amazing chocolate selections I have ever seen. And they're super friendly.


@Kate - YES! We love Mel & Rose! Hal and my first "date" was walking there from his house to get snacks. (He lived on Harper and Melrose when we met.) AMAZING place. We take the kids sometimes to pick out exotic treats. :)

Anonymous | 11:16 AM

Called Resurrection (I'm from NYC; who's obsessive?). Super mod Pierre Cardin sold. Of course. But...AMAZING, smart and sweet sales person will email me options! Love love love living in our virtual small town.


@anon - Whoa. Get it, girl. You GO. (And Resurrection peeps are AWESOME. Always super cool.)

Anonymous | 11:55 AM

Thank you. Thank you. I do what I can. Tell me you bought the Rag & Bone boots?

Lindsay | 4:53 PM

It's so cool to hear about walking in LA - not something I generally think of when I think of your city! We live in Toronto, and we are also a big city made up of a bunch of small towns - people here identify VERY strongly with their neighbourhood. We live in The Junction and we love love love and adore it. Sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Jamaican, Brunch, Cuban, Italian, Maltese (yes - we are home to the largest Maltese population outside Malta!), Chinese food places are all steps away, we have a fromagerie, independent DVD shop where you can rent actual DVD and the staff can recommend wonderful jems, an amazing local playground, a couple libraries, an organic grocery store and a regular grocery store, more coffee shops that are really necessary, galleries, home decor, an old fashioned ice-cream shop, so many wonderful businesses, and they are almost all independently owned. The only thing we don't have is an LCBO (liquor store - wine etc, tightly controlled up here in the great white north) but that's because the area was officially 'dry up until 1997 as it used to be pretty rough - it sits at the junction of a bunch of railway lines and mainly populated by railway workers until recently. The pace of gentrification has been slow enough that the mom & pop stores have been able to stay - there is a wonderfully ecclectic mix - the dusty shoe store that's been there since the 50's sits beside the newly opened vegan bakery. I always have to allocate more time for errands because we inevitably run into people we know and need to stop and chat. We live on a dead-end street and the kids can play in the street in front or in the alley in the back. We are a 5 minute bus ride from the subway and we walk everywhere. There are sooo many families, it's kind of crazy. The bonus of Toronto is when we leave our neighbourhood, we can access some really amazing museums, galleries and other big city type attractions.

Claire | 4:56 PM

I live in Mandeville Louisiana which is a short 23 miles across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. Mandeville is nestled in between Lake Pontchartrain and the Tchefuncte River. I am a born, raised and raising Louisianian. It's in my blood. Some of my favorite spots: PJ's Coffee and Tea Company (which has become a chain). They have the best iced Mocha's and the freshest pastries! Mandeville Bake Shop makes the best cakes around. People come for miles just go have a taste of their cakes and since I am on a "sweet roll", I must add Butter Krisp Diner. They are open 24/7 365 days a year. Hot Donuts all the time and they are AMAZING! I am also in love with Fleurty Girl which is a new little shop, all New Orleans stuff. They are also online ( and if I had the money, I would buy everything in their store! So far, I am the proud owner of their "Neutral Ground" Mardi Gras shirt and a "Free Payton" (Sean Payton, Head coach of the New Orleans Saints) shirt and a pair of killer rain boots. There's Mike's Den which sells everything Football imaginable (we love our football here in the South). The Mandeville Trailhead is a great place to bike, walk, enjoy nature and bring your kids to play in the water fountains. They have free concerts in the summer and have a Farmers Market every Saturday, rain or shine. Lakeshore drive is a great place to walk. Plenty of gorgeous homes, little shops, great local restaurants and of course, Lake Pontchartrain. Sunset Point off of Monroe Street in Old Mandeville is another great place, off of the Lake, that has fishing piers and places to picnic on the lake. I love this town and I am glad that my husband and I have settled here.

Sallie | 6:42 PM

I second Grand Rapids, MI! We moved here 2.5 years ago and love it. The local food scene is great here. Lots of farmer's markets, local farmers to know, local meat, creameries, clandestine urban chickens...The Frederick Meijer Gardens is one of our favorite places to spend the morning with friends. Lots of like-minded mamas for me to be friends with. I can walk to a library, grocery store, three playgrounds, yarn shop, my mechanic, hardware store, and some other stuff.

Kel | 7:06 PM

I live in Franklin, MA. We have the first and oldest public library in the United States. Ben Franklin's books are in there and everything. It's gorgeous and wonderful. Our house is about a mile and a half from everything so we can (and do) walk everywhere. Our favorite in-town eatery is called "RICK'S". They make the best veggie omelet I've ever had in my life and always recognize me and greet me when I stop by.

SevenWhiteRabbits | 11:25 PM

I'm in playa del Rey, CA and I love it here, it's Los Angeles' hidden sleepy beach town ;) We're on the beach, there's plenty of (free!) parking, and the beaches are cleaner than Venice. There's several delicious restaurants within walking distance, Playa Cantina has crazy awesome painted walls inside and good Mexican, The Shack has amazing burgers and has been there for 40 years, and Cafe Milan has yummy healthy sandwiches, all family friendly.
Also, a pirate-y playground that I take my boy to.
We do need a boutique out here... I have a dream of making that happen, hopefully!

Lizzy | 6:54 AM

I like in a suburb of Manchester (UK) called Chorlton-cum-Hardy - yes, really. The UK's a bit different to the US, in that unless you want to walk down the motorway EVERYWHERE is walkable.

However, Chorlton is a lovely place to live. Very near to the city centre, you can hop on a tram and be there in 10 mins. But it also has a completely small town feel, with independent butchers, bakers, grocery stores, delis - and best of all it has no 'chain' pubs or cafes at all (no Starbucks etc). Instead it has lots of independently owned pubs and cafes, each with their own personality and specialities. Plus it's right next to a gorgeous wildlife area with ponds and rivers.

I love living here, and never thought I would when I moved from London.

Brandy | 8:06 AM

I lived in LA for three years, with no car for the first half of my stay. So I walked (and bussed and subwayed) and walked and learned the city. There is no better way to learn the city and it was empowering to know my way around such a large place, but also, to get to know the mom and pop places in Little Salvador (where I lived the longest). I still long for the corn tamales on the little shop around the corner. But I also miss Crenshaw and walking through the USC campus and knowing the most affordable place to catch a movie and buy shampoo.

Angie | 8:46 AM

Serenity Now | 3:33 PM

We live near Pismo Beach - loaded with plenty of places to walk, lots of quaint shops and local favorite restaurants. Lots of parks or benches by the sea. Old town Arroyo Grande Village is one of our favorite places to just walk around. And there is a farmers market every day somewhere in this area - it's a fresh produce mecca!

Kristen Howerton | 9:55 AM

I love Larchmont! There is a fantastic vegan restaurant there called the Gratitude Cafe. It's our favorite date spot in LA.