The end of the line on Metro’s A Line deposits you on 1st Street in Long Beach’s East Village Arts District, a compact neighborhood dynamic and rich with visual stimulation, history and a genuine lived-in neighborhood ambience. Ornate historic buildings and more recent structures are juxtaposed among murals tucked into alleys. One-of-a-kind boutiques, galleries, restaurants and watering holes share space with condos, apartment buildings and boutique hotels. Get ready for an art-enriched afternoon walking experience.
Along 1st Street near Linden Avenue you will find a “sustainability row” with several environmentally conscious boutiques. At BYO Long Beach, 431 E. 1st St., owner Julie Darrell wants to make a little headway in saving the planet from single-use packaging by offering a refill station for household cleaners and body products and selling eco-friendly compostable wares like toothbrushes and straws. The credo here is “BYO,” so pack your own clean empty containers for the by-the-ounce liquid and powder products refills.
11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
431 E. 1st St., Long Beach
Do you have an inclination to admire grandma’s vintage, hand-embroidered table runners and retro dresses? So does Crystal Early, the owner of 3 Women clothing boutique at 433 E 1st St. She took some of her great-granddad’s flour feed sacks from his Dragon Foods produce business and refashioned them into men’s and women’s clothing. Early’s designs from natural vintage textiles such as cotton, silk and linen as well as feed-sack fabrics gave rise to this store. Items can be custom-fitted.
Glance up as you make your way north from 1st Street along Linden Avenue. Considered a jewel of Art Deco architecture in Long Beach, the Lafayette at 140 Linden Ave. boast an ornate Italianesque Art Deco facade with human figures, wrought iron and garlands and dates to 1929. The historic landmark with the look of a frilly, frosted wedding cake was originally a hotel and is now a 173-unit residential condominium complex.
Shops on the street level include District Wine, where you can stop for wine tasting and a bite and where you might happen upon a drop-in painting class with Brushstrokes and Beverages painting instructor Delissa Chase, who also hosts special-occasion painting parties at the studio at 501 E. Broadway, Unit C.
Cross the street to 149 Linden, Suite E, in the Broadlind Hotel for an early dinner at Thai District, featuring recipes from the Chiang Mai region of northern Thailand where chef Ty Theara grew up on a farm. French pastry chef Andre Angles adds his panache to the dessert menu.
Friday: 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
Saturday: Noon–10:30 p.m.
Sunday: Noon–10 p.m.
Stroll north along Linden and take in Long Beach’s strong commitment to its public art mural program: Look for Instagram-worthy murals around corners too. Turn left on 3rd Street.
If you are in the market for real human skulls and animal specimens, look no further. Dropping in at Dark Art Emporium, 256 Elm Ave., is like walking into a creepy amusement park decorated with unorthodox artwork: human headhunter skulls, Lucifer-themed paintings, freakish doll-head sculptures, a piece painted with human blood — and the odd animal taxidermy. The must-see gallery was created by Jeremy Schott, who has a lifelong fascination with oddity shops and roadside attractions stemming from his travels as a videographer for heavy metal bands and pro wrestlers.
Stroll north along Linden to 4th Street, hang a left and head to Fingerprints Music at 420 E. 4th St. Steep your senses in musical nostalgia as the Byrds’ “Chestnut Mare” and the Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” play overhead, interspersed with alluring new tunes awaiting your discovery.
Retrace your steps toward Linden and Broadway. At the Broadlind building, descend the dark steps and head into the Blind Donkey at 149 Linden Ave. Does this dimly lit whiskey tavern look familiar?
You might recognize this timeless old bar from the last scene in “La La Land,” where Emma Stone watches Ryan Gosling take the stage with his piano. This atmospheric watering hole has also made appearances in the “Dirty John” TV series and “CSI.” Take another sip and wonder if the rumor of a secret tunnel connecting the Lafayette building and the Blind Donkey can be true. After all, it has ranged from a Prohibition-era speakeasy to various grades of bars over the years. Settle up your tab. It’s time to catch your A Line light-rail home.