This week, I feel inspired to write about two neighborhoods in Los Angeles that I’d like to explore more. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Highland Park

For a while now, Highland Park has been deemed the new Echo Park. That is to say, the neighborhood where hipsters and seekers of trendy restaurants flock to live and hang out on the weekends. My understanding is that York Boulevard is where the action is located. Take this unique soda shop for instance: Galco’s Soda Pop Stop. Galco’s boasts of an eclectic selection of soda and vintage candy. Have you ever tried cucumber-flavored soda? Me either, but I feel compelled to try it now. Don’t worry, they stock classic flavors too, sweetened with cane sugar instead of corn syrup.

Since we’re on the subject of sugar, let’s talk about Donut Friend, a vegan donut shop in the neighborhood. Their most expensive donut is the Srirachosin, which contains peanut butter, strawberry jam, coconut bacon, and -- you guessed it -- a touch of sriracha sauce. Personally, I prefer simplicity in a dessert, which is why I am curious about the Joyce Lavender cake donut adorned with orange blossom glaze.

For the savory inclined, there are plenty of restaurants down York Boulevard and North Figueroa Street. According to Yelp, there is a cute vegan restaurant called Kitchen Mouse, but if food trucks are more your style, you can catch Cena Vegan twice a week on York Boulevard. If you’re the type who still feels hungry after a vegan meal, you can pop into the York gastropub for a burger or simply let your nose lead you to the nearest taco stand.

In a different part of town with a different vibe, visitors can enjoy another walkable street in Los Angeles. Welcome to Larchmont Boulevard!

I realize that I have only been talking about food (this foodie really can’t help herself!), so allow me to speak of sites worth visiting. Open only during the weekends, the Lummis House and Gardens is a historical stone house built in 1896. Another point of interest is the Los Angeles Police Department Museum, whose mission is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret the history of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Looking for a unique bowling experience? Highland Park Bowl was recently restored to illuminate its late-1920s aesthetic. I visited the bowling alley shortly after its grand reopening ceremony, and though I did not bowl, I enjoyed a specialty cocktail at the bar next to the lanes. I regret not ordering a pizza, however, because I just discovered that they are handcrafted by Italian chef Marco Aromatario. This pizza master sold his pizzeria in Italy to move to Los Angeles, all for love! Luckily for us, Aromatario continues to bless his clients with the Neapolitan technique that he learned from his parents at a young age. Read the entire story here. Oops, I started talking about food again...

Larchmont Village

In a different part of town with a different vibe, visitors can enjoy another walkable street in Los Angeles. Welcome to Larchmont Boulevard! This area is known for its coffee shops and neat boutiques. One coffee shop that has caused a buzz is Go Get Em Tiger. They make their macadamia and almond milk in house, and proudly serve the G&B Shake, which is made up of vanilla bean ice cream, shots of espresso, and whole milk. Words of advice: come early because pastries and shakes tend to sell out. A coffee shop that I appreciate for its cozy ambience is Brick & Scones. It is a good study spot or meeting place for two if you can secure a table. The “study” is a no-talking room upstairs for those determined to get work done. Do you like cute designs on your lattes and cappuccinos? Head to Coffee + Food to sip on an aesthetically pleasing cup of coffee while you scout out the Aussie decorations.

Once you are fueled with caffeine, walk down the boulevard for some light shopping. Chevalier’s Books is a community-owned bookstore since 1940 that thrives thanks to its mission of outreach and bringing the right books to readers’ hands. Landis Gifts & Stationery has all sorts of stationery and cute finds to send a loved one. For fresh food and other products, visit the farmer’s market at 542 ½ North Larchmont Boulevard from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays. Whereas Highland Park has an artistic, trendy feel to it, Larchmont Village captures the quaint old-town feel.

Los Angeles is known for being massive, so the key is to approach it one neighborhood at a time. Whether you find yourself in these parts of town or not, I encourage you to find your favorite pocket of L.A. There really is something for everyone in this city!

Kelly Zuniga is J-1 exchange visitor counselor at the University of California-Los Angeles and the Local Arrangements Team (LAT) communications chair for the NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference & Expo.