Zooey Deschanel and I have a lot in common. We are both spunky cute, full of creativity, have glorious singing voices, adorable glasses and we both live with three boys on our famous comedy show. That last bit is only a small lie. Her boys are on television. Mine are in real life.
On any typical day I will say to one of the boys, “Have you been to [insert fun place in LA here]?” Without fail the answer is always a resounding, “No.” Finally, fed up with their lack of LA knowledge I exclaimed, “Have you ever been anywhere cool in LA?” Of course they hadn’t. They had lived in LA roughly a year and had spent most of that becoming acclimated to their immediate surroundings in the South Bay. With a brand spanking new apartment in the bustling, conveniently located Palms and a new girl roommate who has lived her whole life in LA, their lives were suddenly looking up. I took these three amazingly fun guys and made it my duty to pop their LA cherries. And pop I will. I pop.
Recently I was ensconced in the online dating scene. On any given evening I was likely to be awkwardly meeting some brand new person, chatting with them over grub and then making out in a back alley (or backseat of a car) until the sun came up. Luckily, my glorious new boyfriend saved me from this dreaded life. But before I could quit my back alley making out I established a go-to first date place. Now, this is a cool place. A cool, common, well-known place. But I thought we should start out easy. Popping peoples’ cherries can be a painful process. I like to take it slow. This go-to first date place is also a fun place to relax and just enjoy a nice day. And so I take the new Angelinos there for a little taste of LA without creating any fear or dread. So where are we then? Why,
The Grove and Farmers Market of course!
Third Street in LA is full of possibility. From Doughboy’s Café to Joan’s to Magnolia Bakery to Travel Bookstore, there is a bevy of fun places to eat and explore. But if you want to take baby steps, then The Grove and Farmers Market are really a treat. You can’t get much more diversity than at this place. If you want to have an upscale, expensive dinner then Morel’s is a steakhouse with which to be reckoned. If you want some cheap, quality, ethnic cuisine there are countless options in the Farmers Market: Brazilian BBQ, American BBQ, Spanish, Chinese, Creole, French, Mexican, Korean, Japanese, Italian or doughnuts and ice cream for your sweet tooth.
Though the movie theater at The Grove is expensive it’s nice to occasionally splurge on a viewing experience where your feet don’t stick to the ground. With choose-your-own-seat-technology and parking validation you feel like your money goes a little bit farther. Plus, your date will think you are such a baller. If you can’t be convinced to toss your money into the movies there is a sticker store in the Farmers Market that is much cheaper and equally as fun.
And, like any Farmers Market, there is an abundance of fresh, reasonably priced produce and nuts (and candy). The handful of stands on the perimeter offer most of your expected produce (berries, melons, broccoli) and some unique and exciting varieties (ugli fruit, bok choy). For a little cooking inspiration, it can’t be beat. Or, if you just want to get your candy on, Littlejohn’s English Toffee is an unforgettable toffee experience (or it makes a great present).
On holidays there is usually something fun to look forward to at the Farmers Market. Christmas is celebrated with a tree, carolers and a toy soldier band. Hanukkah has a traditional menorah lighting. If you can’t make it to New Orleans then you should party with the rest of us at the Gumbo Pot. Mask making, bead tossing, live Cajun bands, beer drinking and a high potential for nudity are some notable highlights. But don’t take my word for it; definitely give this one a shot. During the summer you can bring the whole family. Nothing is more fun for the kids than arts and crafts. We’re talking bubbles, face painting, music and unlimited smiles.
Don’t think that The Grove doesn’t know how to party too. Even if you disregard the dancing water fountain (the water dances, not the whole fountain), there are still many live entertainments going on. In the summer there are typically live bands on the weekend
and occasionally a whole family night complete with an outdoor movie and ample grass for your happy tukis. Or, for a late night out with your sweetie (or secret lover) you can snuggle up at the Whisper Lounge.
If none of this convinces you that The Grove and Farmers Market are really gems in front of our eyes then the least you can do is go there and get a little shopping done. Anthropologie, Sur la Table, Lucky Brand Jeans, Pottery Barn, Fresh, Barnes and Noble and a bunch of other places that are too cool to remember grace that beautiful cobblestone sidewalk. It’s a pantheon of shopping behemoths. You can’t go wrong.
Really, you’re still not on board? Last and least… celebrities love The Grove and Farmers Market. One time Sean from “Boy Meets World” signed my napkin in the Apple Store. Ah yes, now you are going!
When you want to give someone, whether it be your new to LA roommates or your visiting mom, a small, easy-to-swallow taste of the LA vibe, then The Grove and Farmers Market are great places to relax, explore, eat, shop and have an awesome time. And then, they will have been somewhere cool in the city.