The Boyle Heights neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles is rich with culture and history with a population of around 100,000 people. Take a walk around the neighborhood, marvel at the many murals, and learn about the neighborhood’s diverse history.
Libros Schmibros Lending Library
1711 Mariachi Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90033
It’s all about books and the power of the written word at Libros Schmibros. Libros Schmibros is a lending library and bookshop. Since 2010, they’ve “welcomed 17,600 patrons and put 20,000 books into circulation.” They are open Thursday to Sunday, 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm. You’ll find English and Spanish-language books here.
130 W. Bruno St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Homegirl Café, part of Homeboy Industries, serves delicious breakfast, lunch, take-out, pastries, coffee and catering. Homegirl Café provides employment and work training to young women and men who are high-risk or formerly gang-involved. The best part of going to Homegirl right after the food is that “100% of proceeds benefit comprehensive intervention and wraparound services for thousands of former gang members whose lives are being transformed. Your purchase helps increase public safety and decreases levels of violence, incarceration, and abuse for our great city.” You can also buy Homeboy products at farmers markets and grocery stores around Los Angeles.
(inside Smart Parts Aftermarket)
538 N. Mission Rd., Boyle Heights, CA 90033
If you haven’t heard of Caine’s Arcade, you’ll want to make sure to stop by and learn about this amazing boy and his creation. While the arcade was retired in 2014, you can still stop by and visit Caine’s dad’s auto parts store (where all the action took place). Caine’s Arcade is actually the title of an 11-minute documentary film telling the story of 9-year old Caine and the cardboard arcade he created. Visiting Caine’s Arcade is an inspiring story, reminding our children that no dream is ever too big or impossible. to achieve Caine wanted customers to play his arcade — he got much more than that! (Check the website for the full story).
415 S. Saint Louis St., Los Angeles, CA 90033
Families will find lots to do at this pretty park. Pack a picnic, cook up some barbecue, and make a day of it. Children will have fun in the play area as well as be enchanted by the lake and its many ducks.
2100 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90033
Guisados opened in 2010 in Boyle Heights and since then has expanded into other neighborhoods as well (including Echo Park and Burbank). The menu is gluten free and features homestyle braises on handmade tortillas, and at $2.75 for each taco ($3 for the seafood varieties) you can try several different kinds when you visit.
2724 E. Cesar Chavez Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90033
If your family consists of music-lovers, you’ll need to stop by and visit the famous Candelas Guitars in Boyle Heights. They have been handcrafting guitars for over 80 years. This family-run business has a loyal following including famous musicians (including Los Lobos and many others). They create Flamenco Guitars, Mariachi Guitars, Classical Guitars, and more.
1817 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90033
Mariachi Plaza is named for the Mariachi musicians who gather at this spot waiting to be hired to play at community events, private parties, or in restaurants. The central gazebo you’ll find at Mariachi Plaza was donated by Jalisco, Mexico, considered to be the birthplace of Mariachi music. Friday and Saturday nights the Plaza comes alive with food, music, and dancing. You’ll also find the Boyle Hotel here (also referred to as the Mariachi Hotel), home to many of these Mariachi musicians.
La Monarca Bakery
101 N. Boyle Ave., Boyle Heights, CA 90033
There are many sweet temptations at this popular bakery, located adjacent to Mariachi Plaza. You’ll find traditional Mexican desserts here, all made without lard, artificial flavors, or frying. Stop in and you won’t be able to decide what to try first — a bread, pastry, or cake.
Breed Street Shul
247 N. Breed St., Los Angeles, CA 90033
Breed Street Shul is also known as Congregation Talmud Torah and is designed in the style of many Eastern European Synagogues. The Breed Street Shul served as the heart of the Jewish community, with final services being held here in 1996. For families interested in architecture, this is a definite must see with its “round arches bas-relief ornamentation, and dichromatic brickwork.” It is listed on National Register of Historic Places.
204 N. Evergreen Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90033
Evergreen Cemetery was established in 1877, making it one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles. The cemetery speaks of the segregated history of our city with separate sections for African-Americans, Japanese, Armenian, Mexicans, and Whites. Many notable individuals have been buried at Evergreen, including Biddy Mason and there is a special memorial for the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Unit of Japanese soldiers. (Of course, a visit to a cemetery is more appropriate for older children). There is also a jogging path around the perimeter of the cemetery.
Ross Valencia Community Park
1st and Chicago St., Los Angeles, CA 90033
This small neighborhood park is named in honor of Ross Valencia who was also known as “Mr. Boyle Heights.” Mr. Valencia was a World War II veteran who worked to serve the neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Take a stroll, sit down and read a book, and count wildlife — squirrels, birds, ants, bees, and butterflies.
Casa 0101 Theater
2102 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90033
Casa 0101 was founded in 2000 by Josefina Lopez, the author of Real Women Have Curves. You’ll find an art gallery, classroom space, and 99-seat theater here. They also host special events throughout the year as well as “free arts education classes for youth and low-cost classes for adults.” Check the website for upcoming dance and acting classes as well as upcoming performances.
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