Los Angeles: Travel Tips from Cindy Hsu Zell of WKNDLA
We're super excited to share our latest travel tips covering the city of Los Angeles. We've moved around a lot, but our next guide is special as it's the place where I grew up and will always call home. With a name referring to her favorite time and place, it's only fitting that our travel guide comes from WKNDLA designer, Cindy Hsu Zell. Whether you're coming from far or opting for staycation, our home city is a wonderful place to discover and explore.
You are currently based in Los Angeles, CA. What is your favorite thing about living in LA? How has the city influenced your designs?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and there’s just so much to love about it. I love that you can find anything within an hour’s drive, from mountains to beaches, to literally any kind of food you’re craving. I love that it’s so diverse and yet there’s a very universally relaxed atmosphere. There’s something for everyone here, and you really can’t beat the sunshine!
My first collection of wall hangings, The Small Hours, was inspired by the relationship between nature and cityscape in LA. The shapes and materials I used were influenced by both the landscapes and man-made architecture of the city which really compliments and contrasts one another.
What are "must see" things or "must do" for those visiting your hometown?
My favorite place in Los Angeles is Griffith Observatory, hands down. The art deco exterior inspires me every time I see it. I may be a bit biased though, my husband and I had our first date there seven years ago, where we watched a show at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium and then looked at Saturn through a telescope. We lived just a couple of miles away for three years after graduating from college, and we got engaged there! We’ve since moved further away to North Hollywood but still hike there often. Besides the main dirt hiking trail, there’s also several historic sets of stairs you can take to the top with great views of the city as well as some stunning homes, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House. At the top of one of them is a large mosaic tile mural of the Observatory, which took my breath away the first time I saw it!
What are off the beaten path local hangouts? Favorite neighborhoods, parks,etc.?
Los Angeles is very expansive so neighborhoods can feel really far from one another. With traffic, they can almost feel like entirely different cities, which is also what makes them so great. There’s room for tons of shops, restaurants, and museums that are shaped by and influencing the individuality of each area.
For visitors, I like to suggest a lot of things within close vicinity so there’s less driving involved! Here are two of my favorite neighborhoods to explore:Abbot Kinney/Venice - My favorite shops are Huset, General Store, Tortoise General Store, Burro, and the Piece Collective. Parachute Home just opened a showroom/retail space designed by Scott Horne that I want to visit! Afterwards you can stop by the beach or take a look at the beautiful homes on the Venice Canals.
Downtown/Arts District - Poketo, Alchemy Works, and Hammer and Spear are super close together and have amazing, curated collections of product. I will often eat at Wurstküche afterwards (try the rattlesnake and rabbit sausage with fries plus white truffle oil glaze and a Belgian beer on draft!). The newly opened Hauser Wirth & Schimmel is also there, with stunning works by Ruth Asawa and Sheila Hicks on display! The Broad Museum is close by and also worth checking out. If you’re there earlier in the day, I would recommend going to the Flower Market since they open early and close early (buy one ticket and explore both warehouses across the street from each another) and the fabric district (start at Michael Levine and work your way out into the smaller stores).
Favorite places to eat or type of food:
There are way too many amazing restaurants in Los Angeles to list, and I am only slowly exploring more and more of them! Here are some that have stood out to me:
KazuNori Sushi is a handroll bar in downtown LA from Chef Kazunori Nozawa who created Sugarfish.
Little Dom’s: I love the rice balls with tomato sauce to start and the fried oyster sandwich. I would also recommend the spaghetti and meatballs! The last time we ate there we saw Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen so, enough said.
Mexico City in Los Feliz has the best cheese enchiladas I’ve ever had! The sauce they make is incredible.
Union in Pasadena is a super fancy and amazing Italian restaurant with a lovely lobster squid ink gargamelli!
Easy day trips from LA-cool places to see right outside the city:
Los Angeles is just a 2-hour drive from Santa Ynez/Solvang/Santa Barbara (filled with wineries, great restaurants, shops, and an ostrich farm, depending on where you go!), San Diego, Ojai, and Palm Springs.
Favorite local designers or makers:
I’ve had the privilege of meeting and becoming friends with so many amazing makers and artists that I’ve admired through in-person craft shows and events. The items that I buy from them or trade for are some of my most treasured because I’ve interacted with them face to face. Some of my favorites based in Los Angeles are Katrina of LUPA Bags, Melissa of A Question of Eagles, Carol of Rebel and Quill Objects, Danae of Folia Collective, and Ilana of the Small + Savage Wild.
For the wanderlust in all of us, what are some of your favorite places to visit?
My family traveled a lot growing up and I especially loved our trip to Japan and Thailand.
Where would you like to travel next?
I really want to go to Europe! Italy especially, as well as Denmark. I’d also love to go to Iceland!
Little Dom's Images via
Photo from A Question of Eagles
Photo from The Small + Savage Wild