Tag Archives: Top5ThingstoDo

LA LA Land Highlights

People that don’t like L.A. haven’t lived here. Being a student at Fuller allows you the opportunity to become BFFs with this bizarre, unique and truly epic city. It’s not entirely visitor-friendly but by the time you’ve finished your degree, you’ll know this place inside-out. Here are my five favorite things to do here, in no particular order.

Norton Simon Museum
Let’s start close to home. Pasadena has a lot of must-see places: the Huntington, the Rose Bowl, Gamble House, Caltech etc. But my personal favorite is the Norton Simon Museum. Continue reading

The little old (ahem…young) lady from Pasadena likes to…


When I told my Southern friends I was moving to Pasadena way back in 2008, they started singing that song to me to which I smiled and corrected the word old to young.  Although I’ve spent the majority of the past five years staring at my computer screen and feverishly reading books, I have, indeed, fallen in love with Pasadena.  So without further ado, my top five favorite things to do in the Pasadena/LA area:

  1. Break out my dancin’ shoes- This is by far my favorite perk of living in this area.  When I lived in Birmingham, I struggled to find adult classes amidst the tiny pink tights and tutus.  Over the past few years, I’ve taken hip hop, tap, ballet, swing, and salsa.  To work off my stress, I love breaking a sweat in a salsa club, especially at The Granada in Alhambra (www.thegranadala.com) or Ixtapa in Old Town Pasadena (www.cantinaixtapa.com).
  2.   Soak in some sun- We are spoiled here in SoCal with such beautiful weather, and I try soak it all in to counteract the overwhelming amount of time I spend in class, at work, or my practicum site.  I especially love Lacy Park, the Cal-Tech campus grounds, and the Arlington Gardens.  If I want to treat myself to a pricier experience of the sun, I go to The Huntington Gardens (www.huntington.org), the LA Arboretum (hwww.arboretum.org), or The Descanso Gardens (www.descansogardens.org)
  3.  Go for a fro-yo run- I have always loved frozen yogurt, but Pasadena has so many do it yourself fro yo options that trying out new fro yo spots with friends quickly became my favorite past-time.  Right now my favorites are Menchie’s in South Pasadena and Cherry on Top by Pasadena City College.
  4. Stock up on fresh food- I tend to eat mostly vegetables and fruits, which means I spend a significant amount of time in the produce aisle at the grocery store.  I would much rather spend that time at Farmer’s Markets, picking out locally grown, fresh fruits and veggies.  Every so often I try to catch the Thursday night South Pasadena Farmer’s Market, the Friday night Monrovia Farmer’s Market, or the new Wednesday evening Pasadena’s Farmer’s Market, which is actually right behind Fuller
  5. Scout out the cheap/free stuff- As a long-term graduate student (yes, this is my second Master’s at Fuller- call me smart or call me crazy), I have learned to live on a tight budget.  I’ve also learned how to have fun on this tight, or really non-existent, budget.  So I frequent the Old Town Pasadena calendar of events (www.oldpasadena.org/gc_calendar.asp) and make note of the free concerts in Old Town and free movie nights at One Colorado.  I also look forward to the amazing free concerts in the summer at the Levitt Pavilion (www.levittpavilionpasadena.org).

And, that, is how I stay sane in the crazy/amazing world of grad school life.

what to do, what to do…

I love Southern California. I moved out here from Pennsylvania over 7 years ago to attend Fuller, and I fell in love with this region of the US (please don’t tell my mom. She is not happy about this).

I’m an active person, and I love city life, so as you can imagine, Los Angeles is like a big playground for someone like me. There is an endless list of places to go, people to see, food to eat, shows to watch, beaches to visit, mountains to climb, and on and on. Here are 5 of my favorites:

1. Diddy Reise

Two fresh baked cookies and ice cream of your choice made into an ice cream sandwich for $1.75. What more do I need to say? Located just south of UCLA‘s campus, and a few miles from the Getty, Diddy Reise is a must if you’re on the West Side. My last creation was two fresh baked peanut butter cookies with chocolate ice cream. Fairly pedestrian compared to some of my past orders but still oh so good!

2. Sturtevant Falls

The San Gabriel Mountains run east to west and form the north border of the LA basin. There are literally hundreds of hiking trails all through those mountains. Some are short and easy. Some are long and challenging. All of them are incredible. One of my favorite hikes is to Sturtevant Falls. I won’t bore you with my synopsis of the hike. I’ll let this guy do that. For my part, I’ll just ask you to imagine hiking back a tree covered valley dotted with little privately owned cabins until you reach a 50 foot waterfall. It’s like something out of Lord of the Rings.

3. Go to a show taping. Any show taping.

LA is where a lot of live TV is broadcast and taped, and the producers of these shows fill the studio seats with everyday bums like me and you! It’s easy to get free tickets to most shows, and if you’re in LA, you need to take advantage of this. You can go see Leno, Conan, Ellen, Kimmel, The Voice, American Idol, The Price is Right, and on and on. Although I’ve never done this, I hear that you can also go see a taping of a sitcom like The Big Bang Theory (which, incidentally, it set in Pasadena. The characters in that show went to CalTech, work at JPL, and Penny works at the Pasadena Cheesecake Factory).

4. Hermosa Beach

Southern California has a bunch of beaches. Big shocker, I know. There are the scenic beaches like Point Dume, the trendy beaches like Laguna Beach, and the just plain weird beaches like Venice Beach. But everyone seems to have their favorite beaches – their go-to beaches if you will. Mine is Hermosa Beach. Hermosa has a little bit of everything. It’s scenic and relatively clean. It has the closest thing on the west coast to an east coast board walk. Parking isn’t horrendous. There are just enough people to make it fun, but not too many people to make it annoying. It’s kind of a multi-purpose beach. My standard summer Saturday includes a ride on my motorcycle down to Hermosa, a job from the Hermosa pier to the Manhattan Beach pier and back, a dip in the ocean, and then reading on the beach. Wow. I’m suddenly ready for summer!

5. Supersoul Monday

I saved my favorite for last. Supersoul Monday is very hard to describe. It can only be experienced. Every Monday night, several of the top musicians in LA get together at the Hotel Cafe to make music. It’s organic and fluid. It’s soul, pop, and funk. Original music by Jason Joseph and covers by anyone and everyone from Nine Inch Nails to the Jackson 5. Musicians include Justin Timberlake’s current touring bass player and horn section and the Tonight Show drummer with special guests ranging from Natasha Bedingfield’s band to Prince’s band. It’s really something to behold. If you’re ever in LA on a Monday night, I beg you to come out to Supersoul Monday. You will not be disappointed. Oh, and it’s free! No cover! How they managed that in LA, I will never know.

Want more options on what to do in LA? Email me at jon-adm@fuller.edu

not four and not six.

I grew up in the suburbs of LA (like super super suburban…the tallest building in my hometown was the hospital), and I have now been living in Pasadena for three years, so I consider myself to be sort of an expert on what to do and what to eat in LA. Narrowing it down to five things is tough, but I’ll do my best.

1. Going to a Dodgers game.
I LOVE the Dodgers. So much. Granted, I grew up as a baseball fan, and as a child I would read off stats to my dad from Baseball Weekly as he crunched the numbers for his fantasy baseball team. And when my family moved to Southern California in 1997, one of the first things we did was go to a Dodgers game. Now that I am at Fuller, I have found that it is easy to go on a regular basis – you can get REALLY cheap tickets on StubHub (as low as $3 or $4), and then for $3 round trip, you can ride the Metro Gold Line to Union Station and then ride the Dodger Stadium Express bus up to the stadium. At Dodger Stadium, you are surrounded by a magical sea of blue, as Dodger fans tend to go all out when they dress up for games. You can eat an all-beef Super Dodger Dog for $5 or $6 (in my opinion, it’s the best hot dog in the whole world. And I LOVE hot dogs). Then, you can sit back and watch Matt Kemp hit home runs, Clayton Kershaw throw strikeouts, and AJ Ellis cement his reputation as one of the more consistent catchers in Major League Baseball.
NOTE: There is another MLB team in the LA area – the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In my opinion, though, National League baseball > American League baseball, and I’d pick my beloved boys in blue over the Angels any day.
NOTE 2: Sometimes, during inter-league games, the Dodgers play the Angels in what is known as the Freeway Series. These are pretty much the most fun baseball games to watch ever.
2. Huntington Beach
Technically, this beach is in Orange County. But it’s worth mentioning because it has clean bathrooms, volleyball nets, food within walking distance, and, best of all, bonfire pits. My friends here at Fuller tend to use the fire pits on the city side of the beach; however, I prefer the fire pits on the stateside (they are round, and larger). It’s also super fun to park up in the residential area of Huntington Beach and then ride bikes down to the beach (this can get complicated if you are also planning to have a bonfire…but it is still doable).
3. Breakfast in Glendora at the Donut Man and Classic Coffee.
Glendora is the little town where I grew up. When I was in high school, we referred to it as Glen-bore-a, because there wasn’t a whole lot to do. What Glendora does have, though, is great breakfast. There is a great pancake place called Flappy Jack’s, but I have to say that my absolute favorite thing to eat for breakfast is a strawberry donut from Donut Man, followed by coffee from Classic Coffee. A strawberry donut is essentially a giant plain donut, cut open and filled with ripe strawberries and just the right amount of glaze. And Classic Coffee has been my favorite coffee shop ever since it opened in 2004.
4. Try lots of different churches.
I do recommend plugging into one church and serving there while you are at Fuller — it’s good to be connected to a body outside the seminary. However, it’s also great to check out all different kinds of churches, to get a sense that the body of Christ does not always have to look a particular way. I have a group of friends who I often go with to other churches on Sunday nights. We have been to Bel Air Presbyterian Church, La Canada Presbyterian Church, Mosaic Church, Christian Assembly, Pasadena Presbyterian Church, and more. Churches I have checked out on my own on Sunday mornings include Lake Avenue Church, Fellowship Monrovia, Rose City Church, New City Church LA, Occidental Presbyterian Church, and Calvary Presbyterian South Pasadena (and no, not every church in Southern California is Presbyterian…although it may seem that way).
5. Eat at Umami Burger
The two locations that I have been to are at The Grove and in Pasadena. Umami Burger is one of those things that is kind of hard to explain. They do hamburgers, but they are gourmet, pretty inexpensive, and delicious. They also have incredible shoestring fries.

A bit on….Top 5 Things to do in LA

LA has an unbelievable amount of entertaining (often free) activities to do.  Seriously, the list is endless.  Events, parades, food fairs, concerts, sports, you name it, it’s happening all over LA every weekend.  So come with a sense of adventure and excitement (and a little bit of patience with the traffic).

In no particular order:

The Getty Museum
The J. Paul Getty Museum is an iconic building in Los Angeles that sits above the city with a perfect view to the ocean and to most all of the city.  The art is exquisite, the galleries are unique, the views are unbeatable, and even the train ride up the hill is fun.  The best part is:  it’s free.  You have to pay for parking ($15), but take a bunch of friends and stay the day.  There’s food and all, so it’s worth a long afternoon.  There are two locations:  LA and Malibu.  Both are unique, but the LA one is the main museum and worth the view alone.

Hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains
Coming from Denver, I was sad to leave some of the greatest hiking in the world.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, by the hiking found just 10 minutes from the Fuller campus.  Head north from the campus on any main street and you will hit any number of trails.  One of my favorites in that area is a hike up Echo Mountain which leads to an area that used to house a hotel called “White City” that was only accessible by train.  You can still see some of the hotel and its foundation, a well as some of the train tracks.  It’s beyond me how they built up there, so it makes for an interesting hike.

Mary’s Market
Mary’s Market is the best kept secret in LA so don’t tell anyone (wait, how many people read this blog?).  It is a small locally owned cafe up in the hills of Sierra Madre.  It is right next to a creek in the midst of small little mountain homes – it makes you feel far away from crowded LA.  When you walk in the door (a screen door, by the way.  Who still has those at restaurants?), they ask if you want coffee and will pour you a cup in a random mug they can find.  They make some of the best home made quiche in town, and everything is freshly made that day:  cinnamon rolls, pop-overs, scones, you name it.  On Sundays, they have live music in the morning, which is most often two older gentlemen playing classic rock songs on the acoustic guitar and mandolin.  But seriously, don’t tell anyone.

Pasadena Art Night
Twice a year, all of the museums in Pasadena (there’s more than you think) open up their doors for free for the Pasadena Art Night.  All night you can go from museum to museum for free – and they even have free shuttles to take you around to each one.  This is a great way to explore different museums you may not have otherwise ventured into, or even see that favorite piece of yours you can’t always see.  The link above is from the one this past March, but it’s every October and March, and it’s a must do when in Pasadena.

Finding Filmings in Pasadena
Pasadena is a classic town in Los Angeles with lots of history and great architecture, so that means we get a lot of attention from Hollywood.  It seems like every day there is something filming in this town, and a great place to find out about them is the link above through the city of Pasadena.  My wife and I check up on that page often so that we can drop in on a filming when they are close.  The other day we saw a TV filming that actually blew up a truck in front of city hall.  No joke.  So you never know what (or who) you’ll bump into.  

Have fun!

For a bonus entry, you should go to The Dresden, a legendary restaurant and lounge in Hollywood that features Marty and Elayne, jazz singers extraordinaire, that have been kicking it for generations.  It was where the movie “Swingers” was filmed, so it has some old school character to it.


Well, this week, I’m telling you about my top 5 things to do in the Southern California area. It’s so hard to choose! There are so many fun and exciting things to see and do and eat here. In no particular order (and with the caveat that this might change the second I discover something new):

1. The LA Arboretum – a great place to make yourself forget you’re in busy Southern California. There are peacocks galore, trees and plants from all over, great jogging trails, and sprawling grass. It makes for the best place to study or avoid studying. An annual pass is really cost effective, and gets you into a ton of other botanical gardens in the area.

2. The Hotel Cafe – an awesome music venue that gives you the chance to discover the next hot new artist. Let’s be honest – most of the best music comes from undiscovered artists. This is the place to get in touch with your inner musician.

3. TV Show recordings – I have had the chance to be in the audience of Conan, the Bachelorette, The Price is Right, and Whose Line is it Anyway (it’s coming back starting in July! get stoked). Continue reading