Atwater Village is one of those LA areas that has managed, despite its increasing “it” status, to keep a mellow and individualistic “main street” charm. That makes it perfect for discovery and adventure for Angelenos of all ages. With everything from fine dining where kids are welcome, a crystal emporium, river explorations, amazing cookies and a great escape (for parents and kids alike), it’s time you explore the Eastside’s favorite village.
Red Car River Park
Check out the industrial aqueduct vibe and cool Red Car River Park mural, and get easy access to the river trail for bicycling along the water. It’s a historic place named after the Pacific Electric Railway’s Red Cars who crossed the river here until 1959.
Glendale Blvd. (corner of Ferncroft Rd.)
photo: Roderick U. via yelp
North Atwater Park
Down by the river… Nope, Neil Young didn’t write his famous song here (it was in Topanga Canyon), but we do feel creatively inspired at this hidden and quiet gem right by the Los Angeles River. It’s a unique urban setting where freeway, river and gorgeous indigenous fauna all converge. Go on a little nature trek along dirt paths and check out the native plants, or bring bikes! The river path is perfect for cycling.
3900 Chevy Chase Dr.
South Atwater Village
Take your little river rats on a stroll, encountering native foliage, historic bridges, little parks and the city’s famed Water with Rocks Gate.
Rocks Gate, northwest corner of Fletcher Drive and the LA River
photo: Anne W. via yelp
Our favorite of the pocket parks along the Glendale Narrows (a ten mile stretch of river between Griffith Park and the Elysian Valley) is Marsh Park, which features a wild-life themed play area, expansive green lawn and –get ready all you parents with teens and tweeners–a way-cool skate park just adjacent on Marsh St (kids too small to skate love to watch the big kids, too).
2960 Marsh St.
photo: Cindy G. via yelp
The Great Escape Club
Plan your own great escape to indulge in some decadent shopping and “me” time. It’s the place to be for the five-and-under crowd! You can stay and play with the wee ones, or drop them off and saunter up and down Glendale Boulevard solo, knowing they’re having a grand ole time in this colorful and comfy indoor playground. Get our inside scoop on visiting this haven for kids and parents alike.
3197 Glendale Blvd.
Explore & Shop
Treehaus is the vision of two locals moms, Saralynne Lowrey Precht and Michelle Pedersen, who met through their sons. You’ll get stuck here admiring and coveting all of their beautiful objects, 99 percent crafted by local artists, from handmade jewelry and dolls (made by moms) to clothes, gifts and accessories. They have lovely objects for both adults and kids.
3153 Glendale Blvd.
photo: Dennise S. via yelp
The Crystal Matrix
We’re pickin’ up good vibrations…and so are the kids. Kids love rocks (check the bottom of your purse for confirmation!). Just wait until they see the giant amethysts, quartz and geodes at the Crystal Matrix. It’s a treasure trove for collectors of semi-precious stones, a virtual mini rock museum. Besides being a store, this place is a healing center offering classes and workshops from Reiki to Tonal Therapy to Regression Therapy and Past Life Integration. We know; it sounds very LA, but that’s what we love about it.
3215 Glendale Blvd.
India Sweets and Spices
This cool grocery store is wildly colorful and fragrant, offering authentic Indian goods (spices, sauces, ghee, vegetables and more) but also unique and beautifully kitschy objects like Ganesha statues and over-the-top art, jewelry, incense, and other unique things. It’s worth just taking a peek to check out the vibrant scene. Then grab a delicious hot chai and samosas next door at the small, adjacent restaurant.
3126 Los Feliz Blvd.
photo: Potted Instagram
We think of Potted like a mini botanical museum where you will want to buy everything. Kids love checking out all the cool garden and plant stuff in this colorful and magical gardening and design shop, since everything is beautifully hand-picked and curated: fountains, fire pits, planters, gifts, succulents and more.
3158 Los Feliz Blvd.
photo: Sylvie Greil
Alias Books East
Art books, photography, literature, rare books (e.g. Ghanan film posters) or first editions: this bookstore is a dream for the collector; immaculately curated, well-priced and offering top quality tomes. They have a small nook for cool children’s books, so the littlest of the bunch is entertained while parents decide what not to spend college funds on.
3163 Glendale Blvd.
The Little Free Library
Just off the main strip, Glendale Boulevard, there are two sweet Little Free Libraries facing each other on the same corner of the same street. This national and international movement has bird- and dollhouse-sized free local libraries scattered all over LA. Bring your little bookworms and a book or two, and take one home from these adorable, kid-friendly little setups.
3265 & 3682 Ingledale Ter.
Atwater Village Farmers Market
Bring a basket or two and get ready for a bountiful scene on Sundays in the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot. This market is small and tightly packed with hipster families and small kids, but also great booths peddling organic fruits and veggies, pasture-raised meats, eggs and other delectable treats. The only downside? Scarce parking. Luckily, the Village is a great place to walk.
3250 Glendale Blvd.
This minuscule vintage lover’s dream is full of treasures, from designer purses to delicate retro gloves to sweet jewelry and second hand garments, furniture, home decor and more. There’s an adorable section of pre-worn kids’ clothes and also kids’ books and toys. This shop shares an entryway with Restore Cafe.
3405 Glendale Blvd.
Classes For Kids
photo: A Place to Create via Instagram
A Place to Create
Take your little Picasso to a no-pressure but top-quality art class, or your fairy hunter to a Fairy Tale Lunch. Founded by a Waldorf pedagogue, this nurturing artistic studio offers classes, workshops, camps and birthday parties for kids ages 20 months and up (as well as adults) with themes like “Creating Together” and drop-in Sunday Family Workshops.
3137 Glendale Blvd.
Little ballerinas and Capaoeira kids kick up their legs in this cute and cozy space. The studio offers a vast amount of classes, including loads for children. Depending on the season, little ones can do ballet (3-4 or 6-8years), hip hop, music classes, Capoeira, kids chorus and musical theater. The instructors are warm and welcoming to all ages and abilities.
3141 Glendale Blvd.
Sip on craft cocktails while the kids gobble down wood-fired Italian pizza at the Village’s chicest, trendiest and most delicious new, pan-Italian restaurant. All’Acqua means Atwater in Italian. Is this hip place OK for kids? That’s a resounding yes. You must try the meatballs. Promise!
3280 Glendale Blvd.
photo: Momed Instagram
Stop in for happy hour on weekdays or Mediterranean Sunday brunch post-farmers market. Kids can munch on flat bread or chicken skewers while more sophisticated palates might prefer red-wine-braised short rib tagine or lamb kabob. We like the vast open space; a big room often feels more comfortable with loud littles in tow.
3245 Casitas Ave.
Tacos Villa Corona
This chill local favorite is makes fab breakfast burritos and chilaquiles to go–bad boy chef/author Anthony Bourdain-approved ones at that! But that’s all you want from a walk-up taco stand: easy, good Mexican food. Check their hours before you go. They tend to close at 1 p.m. or even earlier.
3185 Glendale Blvd.
Yes, it’s “just” a small coffee shop, but you must eat here, specifically a sandwich and the to-die-for lemon cake. Try the ginger agave lemonade. We also like that they have Old School Italian Lavazza espresso. Tastes like Italy.
Coffee & Dessert
The Village Bakery and Café
People rave about this place and for good reason. Everything is delicious, from breakfast like the Atwater Special with grilled polenta cakes to brioche French toast and all of their baked goods: tart cherry scones, the Lemon Rosemary Almond Olive Oil Cake, the pies, you name it. Near holidays, their specially shaped cookies are a favorite among the small set.
3119 Los Feliz Blvd.
photo: Kaldi Coffee Facebook
Tots tired you out? Get your caffeine fix at this local coffee roaster hangout. It’s pretty basic; just a great spot to grab an iced latte, coffee or Pirate Chai on the run.
3147 Glendale Blvd.
photo: The Juice
Mainline vitamins via groovy green juices featuring anything from kale, romaine, cucumber, parsley or ginger. Kids like them, too, along with the almond milk with dates and vanilla or chocolate. Note that the juices they are pre-made and bottled, not freshly juiced on the spot.
3145 Glendale Blvd.
Have we somehow skipped your fave Atwater spots? Let us know in the comments.