Today Andrea Howe from For The Love Of, is sharing one of her favorite spots in Los Angeles - Olvera Street. Be sure to follow along Andrea’s SoCal adventures on Facebook and Twitter! Thank you Andrea for spending the day with Studio T!
I was lucky enough to be born and raised in Southern California, and feel fortunate to be able to raise my own kids in such a beautiful, interesting and culturally diverse part of the country. While Southern California may be known for its palm trees, lovely weather and laid back lifestyle, I’m happy to say that we also are rich with history and amazing cultural experiences. Growing up, one of my favorite places to go was Olvera Street, a Mexican marketplace located in the birthplace of Los Angeles.
Set on a small street in the oldest part of Downtown Los Angeles, Olvera Street is surrounded by historical buildings, beautiful adobes and Grand Central Station. The last time we visited, we took the Metro from our home about 15 miles outside of the city, into Grand Central Station. While we weren’t as adventurous this time around, being that we had an extra travel companion by way of a young baby, we can’t wait to take the train in again. Public transportation is a way of life for many different cities around the country, but for us Southern Californians, we rarely travel outside of our car. It’s a worthwhile experience to offer the kids though, even if it’s only intermittently.
Olvera Street offers visitors shopping, dining and entertainment experiences rich with Latino and Mexican culture and traditions, and I grew up going there on school field trips and occasional shopping excursions with my mom. We took our kids there a couple of weeks ago and I had the best time showing them around, talking to them about my experiences going there as a child, and giving them a bit of a history lesson.We shopped a little, listened to mariachis, and practiced a bit of our Spanish with the vendors. As native Southern Californians, it’s essential to at least know some basics in Spanish, including gracias, de nada, and come estas. The kids can also count to twenty, and eventually we’ll get them to 100.
While we live just outside of LA, our central location to both Los Angeles and Orange County, make short trips into the city easy and always a good experience. Our trip was only about 3 hours long from door to door, but we were able to introduce the kids to a plethora of sensory experiences they wouldn’t normally get if we just stayed in our neighborhood. On the way to Olvera Street we pass the tall skyscrapers of Downtown LA and the architectural marvel that is the Walt Disney Concert Hall. We can point out the transportation hub of the city; Grand Central Station, and the original Postal Headquarters, just across the street.
Once we’re at our destination, they smelled the warm scents of fresh homemade tortillas cooking, heard a different language, listened to music they don’t normally hear, and saw the representation of a culture in its purest form. I am truly grateful that we can offer these experiences to our children such a short stop from home.
We finished off our trip by introducing them to horchata, a sweet beverage made of water, sugar and ground almonds, and taquitos from Olvera Street’s oldest taquito street vendor. The thing I love most about coming to Olvera Street, and now taking my kids there, is that things don’t really ever change and the same restaurants, vendors and trinkets and toys they sold when I was a kid, are still around and for sale now. There’s something so comforting and nostalgic about that. On one particular trip to Olvera Street when I was about 13, my mom and I visited a candle shop, the only one at the time, to carry sheets of beeswax. We were making our own homemade candles to give as Christmas gifts. That shop is still there, over 20 years later.
If you’re visiting Los Angeles, or are a local but have never been, I can’t recommend taking a trip to Olvera Street enough. It’s fun for the kids and the grown ups, and gives you a rich experience in history, tradition, and culture.
Our top 3 places to visit in Los Angeles for a rich cultural and historical experience include:
Los Angeles County Museum Of Art (LACMA) – LACMA is devoted to collecting art from around the globe and focuses on pieces that will represent LA’s unique cultural diversity. There are so many great kid friendly exhibits that you can stay and visit all day without the kids ever feeling like they’re in a stuffy museum. It’s a favorite of ours.
La Brea Tarpits – located right next to LACMA, the La Brea tarpits is a museum that displays ancient treasures right where they were discovered and is a fascinating place for kids to explore the results of years of excavations.
Natural History Museum Of LA – From the brand new dinosaur exhibit to the dark halls displaying animals from around the world, the Natural History Museum is a vast museum offering many exhibits to explore but in a very achievable and manageable way to do as a family.