Ragin Cajun Café – South Bay (Redondo Beach)

Ragin Cajun Café – South Bay (Redondo Beach)

Ragin Cajun Cafe and Moonshine Bar

What: Ragin Cajun Café

Where: South Bay (Redondo Beach)

For: All Ages

We first went to this restaurant for Dine LA, and we not only fell in love with the food but the atmosphere is very fun and inviting as well.  Although there was another location shortly open in Hermosa Beach, the Redondo Beach location makes you feel like you’re being transported back to New Orleans for some authentic Cajun food.

Cajun Dining Options

The Restaurant

Ragin Cajun Café gives the South Bay authentic Cajun food from Lafayette Louisiana.  There is a parking lot outside for patrons with a short wait time if you don’t have a reservation.  The restaurant is decorated with a Mardi Gras theme mixed with Bourbon Street and New Orleans.  The mascot is an alligator, and it is present along the walls and in the menus.  License plates, beads and décor surround guests while they’re eating.  A kids’ menu is available for the younger patrons, and there is a mix of locally made and Louisiana craft beer selection for the adults.

Seafood Boil

At various times throughout the year, Ragin Cajun Café has seafood boils for the community to attend at a ticketed price.  Generally, the restaurant books an area at the Seaside Lagoon for these Seafood parties.  Brunch is also offered on Sunday from 11:00am to 2:00pm.  Happy hour is from Monday through Friday from 3:00pm to 6:00pm.

Dining Options

The Food

Every time I go to a Cajun restaurant, I have to try a few things including the gumbo, jambalaya and the beignets.  After trying all three, I have to say that the jambalaya is my favorite.  Although I do love a good beignet, the ones offered here were not as fluffy and soft as the ones I’m used to in New Orleans.  Ethan ordered the shrimp po’boy (a shrimp Cajun sandwich) that was spiced to perfection.  There are also a variety of hot sauces to try on each table.  So far, we have eaten at this restaurant four times, and we always love to come back when we’re in the mood for some Cajun comfort food.

Shrimp Po’Boy

The Crowd

There is a very homey feel to the restaurant, and the owner is often there greeting guests like family.  Many of the patrons are regulars and locals of the South Bay area.  The restaurant is very family-friendly.

Bloody Mary

Cost

$2 Margarita Tuesdays and Happy Hour is offered for those who want to save some money.  You can expect to spend from $20 to $30 per person when dining at Ragin Cajun Café.  I think that it’s worth every penny spent.  Drinks are also heavily poured and very tasty.

Seafood Boil

Ragin Cajun Café Information

525 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, CA 92626

(310) 540 – 7403

www.ragincajuncafe.com

Dining Options

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Pelican Hill – Newport Coast

Pelican Hill-Newport Coast

Pelican Hill

What: Pelican Hill

Where: Newport Coast

For: All Ages

My little brother used to work at Pelican Hill, and we would visit him there and lounge by the pool while eating at the pool restaurant.  It’s quite the experience, with all amenities you could ever think of.  You never even have to leave the resort!  This is definitely a luxury five-star hotel that highlights Newport at its finest.

The Rooms

The Resort

The resort sits on over 500 acres of beautiful land and boasts six restaurants, a golf course, spa and pool.  Luxury bungalows and guest rooms provide an expansive view with the extravagant feel of a five star hotel.  Camp Pelican is a kid’s day-camp provided for children ages 4-12.  Kids can partake in activities with the camp leaders while their parents enjoy the amenities of Pelican Hill.  Additional camps and excursions are provided for the older children at an extra cost.  A gift shop located inside the main building of Pelican Hill allows for patrons to pick up beach-themed clothes and trinkets from their stay.  A spa boasts over 20 treatment rooms with a diverse menu of treatments to choose from.  The 36 hole golf course is a world-class course with breathtaking views of the ocean at every hole.

Coliseum Bar and Grill

The Restaurants

The Coliseum Bar and Grill is the restaurant that my brother worked at.  All the food was not only delicious but very filling.  We always enjoyed the ability to either eat seated at the restaurant or dine at cabanas by the pool.  Andrea at Pelican Hill is a sit-down fine dining Italian restaurant located in the center of the main building.  Pelican Grill provides a dining experience that overlooks the gorgeous views of the golf course and ocean.  Vacationers can go to the Villa Clubhouse and experience Piccolo to eat small bites and appetizers to share.  The Great Room Social Lounge provides dining with drinks and music.  One of our favorite places to stop by was the Caffe and Market, which serves gelato.  We always ordered gelato and enjoyed it while taking in the breathtaking views. The golf course boasts its own Pelican Hill Golf Club Caffe for hungry golfers looking to take a break from the game.  And if you don’t want to leave your room, there’s always the diverse room service menu to take advantage of! 

Sky and I at the Pool

The Pool

The Coliseum Pool is the largest circular infinity pool in the world.  It’s surrounded by cabanas and lounge chairs, and floating lounges are provided by the resort.  A small kids pool sits on the second level, and it is secluded enough that patrons can enjoy the water without the hustle of the main Coliseum pool.  Guests can take in the beautiful ocean views and surrounding golf course from the comfort of their private cabanas.

Bird’s Eye View

The Crowd

There is a diverse crowd at Pelican Hill.  My brother used to always tell me of the famous actors, musicians and athletes that he would serve.  Although it is a family friendly resort, it still keeps the elegance of an Italian resort.  All of the workers attend to every need of the patrons, which makes anyone feel like they are on an expensive vacation.

The Grounds

Cost

Daily guest fees for golfing is $295.  Room prices range from $400 into the thousands depending on which room is chosen.  Dining ranges from $20 to $60 per person dependant on the restaurant that is chosen.  Please keep in mind that there are additional charges for Camp Pelican and Spa Treatments.

Sunset on the Course

Pelican Hill Information

22701 S Pelican Hill Rd, Newport Coast, CA 92657

(855) 315 – 8214

https://www.pelicanhill.com/

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Little Damage – DTLA

Little Damage – DTLA

Ethan enjoying his ice cream

What: Little Damage

Where: Downtown LA

For: All Ages

Little Damage is a family-owned ice cream shop right in the heart of Los Angeles.  Known for it’s black ice cram and black cones, its creations are an Instagram Lover’s dream.  After following the shop for a while on social media, Ethan and I decided to try it out for ourselves and were pleasantly surprised.

Black Ice Cream with Activated Black Charcoal Cone

The Ice Cream

When we came to Little Damage, it was around Halloween, so they had ice cream options/colors/toppings that fit with the holiday.  It wasn’t very busy when we walked in around 2:00pm on a Sunday, so we were able to chat with the staff while sampling different flavors of ice cream.  What I really enjoyed about our experience was that all of the ice cream is hand-made every day with organic ingredients.  There is always a vegan option available for patrons who are dairy free.  Also, those awesome-looking black cones are made with activated charcoal and created fresh in-store. 

My Ice Cream!

Ethan and I chose two different Halloween-themed ice creams and went into the photo booth (free!) to take pictures.  We loved how our ice cream looked so much that we had to take pictures of it around the store.  The only problem that we had was that the ice cream and cones were so rich and large that we were only able to eat about half of both before we were completely full.

Flavors Vary Seasonally

The Crowd

The crowd varies in Los Angeles.  During the work week, there are more adults and during the weekend there are more families and younger adults.  The great thing was that whenever I saw someone walking around with a black ice cream cone, I knew exactly where they came from!

Beautiful Cups of Ice Cream

Cost

Each ice cream with waffle cone cost us $7, so you can expect to spend less than $10 per person when you come here.  I definitely suggest everyone check out Little Damage if they are in Downtown Los Angeles…if not for the amazing tasting ice cream than for the photo opportunities!

Ice Cream Taco

Little Damage Information

700 S Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014

(213) 628 – 3443

www.littledamage.com

La Descarga-Los Angeles

La Descarga-Los Angeles

What: La Descarga

Where: Los Angeles

For: Ages 21+

La Descarga is an exclusive speakeasy in Los Angeles.  Ethan took me here last month, and I’ve heard so many great things about the club that I was super excited to go and check it out.  The club itself exceeded expectations, and it renewed my love for hidden bars and speakeasies in Los Angeles.

Getting In

Guests need reservations to enter the club, and they can be made either on the website or by calling directly.  I suggest that you call at least a week prior to ensure that the club is not at capacity.  There is a small neon sign advertising the lounge.  The entry door sits behind a taco stand and has a single security guard checking for ID and reservations.  After your reservation is confirmed, patrons are led up a stairway to a hostess.  She sits at a simple desk and will welcome you to the lounge.

After your welcome, the hostess opens a closet on the side of the room and pushes aside the coats and dresses on hangars.  This reveals a red velvet curtain.  When the curtain is pushed aside, it leads into the top part of the lounge.  A short hallway and staircase leads guests to the main floor of the bar.  The entire presentation of the entry into La Descarga was exciting and like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

The Club

The main bar has reserved seating areas and standing room only.  They are known for their specialty cocktails.  There is a smoking room in the back that has a bar that serves standard cocktails.  Bar seating in the back room is on a first-come first-served basis.  Tables are by reservation only, but guests can sit at the table until the party that reserved comes to claim them.  Cigars and cigarettes are allowed in the room since there is ventilation to the outdoors via the roof.

The shows are scheduled hourly and last about fifteen minutes.  When we were there, there was a burlesque show and live band.  The saxophone player came down the steps and played in the crowd, which was unique.  He also coordinated the show with the dancer.  This was one of the best burlesque shows that I’ve seen at a speakeasy.  We ended up spending about 3.5 hours here, and we could’ve spent the entire night here if we didn’t get hungry and decide to leave!  If you have a bigger party, I strongly suggest that you call as early as possible to reserve a table and ensure your party can stay together in the main bar area.

The Crowd

La Descarga is an upscale club with a dress code.  The entire dress code can be viewed online, and security reserves the right to turn guests away at the door if they do not comply with the rules.  Men wore jackets, and all women were in cocktail dresses and heels.  Around showtime, the main floor became shoulder-to-shoulder crowded.  I suggest that you make your way to the main room at least twenty minutes to half-an-hour in advance of showtimes to ensure you have standing room to enjoy the show.

Cost

We ended up spending about $15 per drink, which seemed very reasonable for Los Angeles.  I tried two different specialty cocktails, and both of them tasted amazing.

La Descarga Information

1159 North Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029

(323) 466-1324

ladescargala.com

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Mel’s Drive-In-Various Locations

Mel’s Drive-In-Various Locations

What: Mel’s Drive-In

Where: Various Locations

For: All Ages

Mel’s Drive-In is a 50’s-themed diner on the Sunset Strip that we found while searching for somewhere to eat in the West Hollywood area.  Mel’s Diner was the restaurant what was featured in the film American Graffitti, and since then, the diner has expanded to include multiple locations in the Southern California area.

The Diner

When you arrive at the West Hollywood location, you pull up to park around one of the last googie buildings in Los Angeles.  This is the only location that is open 24-hours-a-day 7-days-a-week.  Mel’s is continuously shows in TV spots, commercials and movies.  The iconic drive-in, although not in use, can be seen in the parking stalls and outer set-up of the diner.

The vibe of Mel’s can be seen by the structure of the building.  Guests are greeted with a neon jukebox upon walking in.  There are souvenirs available for sale at the cashier’s.  We decided to sit at the bar of the diner.  The wait staff were all uniformed in 50’s-themed attire.  The menu was so long that we had a hard time deciding what to order, but the food came out quickly.  At each of the seating areas was a small table jukebox that allows patrons to pick which song they would like to hear in the restaurant.

The Food

The food was ended up being better than expected.  Ethan ordered a burger, and I ordered eggs benedict.  Both entrees tasted great, and we couldn’t help but order a chocolate malt at the end of our meal.  The malt came in a classic shake-glass with the left overs offered to us in a metal cup.  We inhaled everything that was put in front of us, and we left with our stomachs full.

The Crowd

The crowd at Mel’s consisted of a large mix of people.  There were a lot of guests taking pictures of the diner both inside and outside.  Keep in mind that guests can pay by walking up to the cashier after the meal.  There was also no line when we arrived, but I can imagine that the diner would be busier particularly on weekends in the evening.

Cost

Mel’s was very affordable.  For two entrees, two drinks and dessert we ended up paying $50.  The cost was definitely worth the experience of visiting this iconic Hollywood landmark.

Mel’s Drive-In Information

8585 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

(310) 854-7201

melsdrive-in.com

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Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (TCL Chinese Theatre)-Hollywood

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (TCL Chinese Theatre)-Hollywood

What: Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (TCL Chinese Theatre)

Where: Hollywood

For: All Ages

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (recently renamed as TCL Chinese Theatre) is best known for being the historic Hollywood location where past and present celebrities put their hand and footprints into a square of cement in front of the venue.  The Theatre not only hosts promotional events and tapings, but it shows movies with the only Imax theater in Hollywood.

The Theatre

Garuman’s is a Los Angeles Historic Landmark located right on the corner of Hollywood and Highland.  There is an enormous seating arrangement that can seat almost one thousand guests.  There is a list of movies and showtimes on the website.  VIP Tours are also offered, and it allows patrons to learn about the history of Grauman’s from its opening in 1928.

I came to Grauman’s to watch a horror film (although I can’t remember the name of the film for the life of me).  What was very interesting was that when I walked in, I was astonished about the beautiful architecture of the theatre.  The ceiling is a piece of art in itself.  It’s ornate décor and colors makes it a statement piece that is impossible to miss.  A huge red velvet curtain covers the screen before opening dramatically for the main showing.  What was interesting to me was that since I was watching a horror film, the ceiling and walls created somewhat terrifying shadows that freaked me out during the film.

Sophia Lauren

Hand and footprints of past and present celebrities is at the entrance to Grauman’s.  Sid is the name of the former owner of the Theatre, and his name is commonly seen in the writings around the prints.   The Hollywood Walk of Fame (celebrity namesake stars lining the sidewalk) passes in front of the venue.

The Crowd

The crowd is filled mostly with tourists looking to experience Hollywood landmarks.  There are always large amounts of people outside Grauman’s looking at the celebrity hand and footprints.  I would suggest coming 15 to 20 minutes prior to movie showtime to ensure guests’ ability to find their seats and use the facilities before the start of the film.

Historic Photograph of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre 

Cost

Tickets cost $25 to $30 per guest.  Parking is in the Hollywood and Highland structure, and it is validated at the Theatre (make sure to bring your ticket with you).

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Information

6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

(323) 461-3331

tclchinesetheatres.com

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Little Sister-DTLA/Manhattan Beach/Redondo Beach

Little Sister-DTLA/Manhattan Beach/Redondo Beach

What: Little Sister

Where: DTLA/Manhattan Beach/Redondo Beach

For: All Ages

One of my favorite restaurants to go for Southeast Asian cuisine (more Vietnamese centric, but still Asian-Fusion).  I had a restaurant a few blocks away from my office in DTLA, and I loved it so much that I had to take Ethan to the one in Manhattan Beach.

The Restaurant

The vibe of Little Sister is intimate and modern.  The lights are always down low, and there is a small dining area with tables and chairs.  A communal table that sits about twelve people is offered in the restaurant for guests that don’t mind sharing their seating area.  A bar area is available for guests to dine and drink on bar stools.  A full range of drinks are offered.

All of the dishes are made to be shared family-style.  There is a large amount of food that comes out on the plates, so I had to take food home almost every time.  The shaky shaky beef is a must have.  It’s perfectly cooked, has almost zero fat and the sauce is melt-in-your mouth delicious.  I personally love any type of the noodles.  You can check online for the menu that changes seasonally.

The Crowd

Little sister is a very popular restaurant, so it’s always smart to make a reservation.  The wait time can be up to an hour.  Patrons need to make sure that their entire party is present prior to being seated.  Reservations can be made online or by calling the restaurant.  Seating is very close together, so it’s harder to get around if you need to get up and go to the restroom.

Cost

The food is a little more expensive for dishes.  Expect to spend a minimum of $20-$25 per person here for lunch and $30 for dinner, not including drinks.  Keep in mind that there’s a 3% surcharge added onto the final bill.

Little Sister Information

Manhattan Beach: 1131 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

(310) 545-2096

DTLA: 523 W 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014

(213) 628-3146

Redondo Beach: 247 Avenida del Norte, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

(424) 398-0237

dinelittlesister.com

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to Little Sister, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com

Stax Bakery & Creamery-Irvine

Stax Bakery & Creamery-Irvine

What: Stax Bakery & Creamery

Where: Irvine

For: All Ages

Stax Bakery & Creamery is located in the University Center across the bridge from the University of California, Irvine.  I attended UCI as an undergrad, and I used to go to University Center almost daily between classes.  There are so many stores and restaurants to explore, and my absolute favorite dessert place is Stax.  I took Skylar there a few years ago, and recently I took Ethan there for dessert after our Orange County Staycation.

The Bakery & Creamery

When you walk into Stax, you’re greeted with a clean and modern restaurant.  There are cookies displayed next to the cashier, and tubs of different flavors of ice cream line the wall.  The menu is straightforward, but there are also so many options to choose from!  I wasn’t sure what to get, so the cashier was kind enough to tell me about all the different types of desserts.

There are Thai-Style rolls, which is ice cream that is spread on a cold stone and rolled up and placed in a cup with individual toppings.  My favorite dessert is the cookie sandwich where you can choose any two of your favorite freshly baked cookies and whatever ice cream you want (you can also opt for the fixed cookie sandwich menu).  All the bread and cookies are made fresh and in-house daily.  There are fifteen unique flavors of ice cream, and the employees help you choose which flavor you want by offering you samples.   You can choose to have ice cream in a single/double scoop, ice cream float, milk shake, or sundae.  There are also ten different types of cookies (including vegan options!).

The Food and Drinks

Stax offers sandwiches, paninis, personal pizzas, salads and empanadas.  There is also a variety of coffee available for guests.  Most of the food is available in the refrigerated section to the right of the cashier.  When we went, it was lunch time on a Sunday and the selection wasn’t very big.  They told us that if we picked out a sandwich or panini that they could heat it up in the back.  It reminded me of the grab-and-go food options that Starbucks offers.

The Crowd

Since this is right across the street from UCI, there are many college students here.  You will also see a lot of families with young children at the University Center.  During the week, employees of nearby businesses come here for their lunch breaks.

Cost

The food cost from $4 to $9 with coffee costing from $1.95 to $3.50.  Thai Rolls are about $7, ice cream is from $2.95 to $5.95.  This is a very good price for novelty ice cream, and the serving portions are very big…each time I went I couldn’t finish what I ordered!

Stax Bakery & Creamery Information

4187 Campus Drive M174, Irvine, CA 92612

(949) 861-2055

staxbakery.com

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to Stax Bakery & Creamery, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com

Fire + Ice – Anaheim

Fire + Ice – Anaheim

What: Fire + Ice

Where: Anaheim

For: All Ages

My family took me to Fire + Ice for my birthday three years ago, and it was a very interesting experience.  It’s right across the street from Disneyland, and it’s the perfect place to go as a group for some good food and company.  We’ll probably go again to eat after stopping in at Disneyland since they’re in such close proximity.

The Restaurant

Fire + Ice is a create-your-own-meal experience that serves Brunch, Dinner and Lunch at fixed prices.  Guests grab a bowl and fill it with their favorite ingredients before heading over to the sauce bar to add some extra flavor.  There is an assortment of toppings, sauces, spices and herbs for plates.  After patrons have mixed their perfect concoction, they bring it on over to the grill to watch the chefs cook their food.  It takes from five to ten minutes to gather your food and for the chefs to complete your plate, and you can come back as often as you want.  The chef was very personable, and it was nice to chat with him while he was preparing our meal on a huge grill in front of us.

There is both indoor and outdoor seating on the patio.  The patio includes a fire pit and live entertainment on the weekend.  Happy Hour is available all week from 3:00pm-6:00pm.  There is also a full bar available for adults.

The Food

The restaurant offers a variety of Asian, American, Latin and Italian flavors.  I made a few smaller dishes so I could try everything.  This is probably why we ended up staying in the restaurant so long (since it takes 10 minutes to make one dish).  The Asian food includes noodles, eggs, siriracha sauce, bok choy, soy and ginger (just to name a few!).  The American culinary experience includes wings, ribs and burgers.  Latin flavors give choices such as beans, rice and tacos.  The Italian experience focuses on pastas, sausage, meatballs and various herbs and spices.  Each dish that I threw together was cooked to perfection and tasted amazing.

The Crowd

The first time I came here was in the middle of the week during lunch time, so there was no wait.  The second time we attempted to come, there was a 90-minute wait.  I would suggest calling the restaurant to make a reservation or putting your information in online.  If you are able to get in, the experience lasts about an hour to 90 minutes.  Another thing to keep in mind is parking.  When we tried to get in at 5:00pm on a Saturday, we were circling the parking structure for 20 minutes trying to find a spot after finding out about the hour-and-a-half late before ultimately leaving and going somewhere else.

Cost

Brunch costs $14.99 per person for adults and $9.99 for kids ages 4-11.  Lunch costs $11.00 for adults and $7.99 for kids, with dinner coming in at $18.99 for adults and $10.99 for kids.

Fire + Ice Information

1104 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

(714) 808-9757

fire-ice.com

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to Fire + Ice, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com

Mystery Pier Books-West Hollywood

Mystery Pier Books-West Hollywood

What: Mystery Pier Books

All First Edition and Autographed Novels for Private Collections.

Where: West Hollywood

For: All Ages

While exploring West Hollywood on foot, we passed a small entryway that led to a long corridor behind the storefronts.  At the end of the pathway was a small house that was converted into a store.  The sign said ‘Mystery Pier Books’, and we soon found out that it’s one of the most famous independently-owned bookstores in the world.

Literally thousands of books in the store.

The Bookstore

Mystery Pier Books is owned by a father and son team, and it prides itself in selling first-edition and limited-edition books.  Almost all the books are signed by the authors.  One of my favorite was a copy of Jurassic Park that was signed by all the actors in the film, Stephen Spielberg and Stephen King.  Mystery Pier Books has a partnership with many of the higher-ups in the entertainment industry.  With these connections, they can make specially-bound copies of movie scripts with the actors autographs inside.

The corridor that you walk down to get to the store.

There are literally thousands of books crammed into this cramped-but-cozy store.  All of them are kept in near mint condition.  One of my favorite scripts were La La Land, Shape of Water and The Green Mile.  Keep in mind that you can see everything in the store, but you do have to ask the owners to take it down and show it to you.

Some of the celebrities that buy from Mystery Pier.

The Crowd

There were only two other people who walked in briefly when we were in the store.  We spent about half an hour in the store looking at all types of books, scripts and pictures.  We thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the owner, Harvey Jason.  He prided himself by name dropping a list of all the celebrities that have been in the book store to buy from him (apparently Johnny Depp enjoys the store so much that he has a shirt that he often wears during his concerts).  If you are of a particular ‘A-List’ status, the store does close down for private appointments.  Please refer to the website for days and hours of operation.

La La Land Script Signed by Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling.

Cost

I couldn’t leave the shop emptyhanded.  Since everything was so expensive (it is a store for private collectors, after all), I opted for a black tote bag with the store’s logo on the front.  That ended up costing $25!  I was very happy that I left with a souvenir from the shop.  Harvey told me that books can cost from as little as $50 to as much as $100,000 (although you won’t see the expensive ones on the shelves…those are reserved for the special vault in the back).

My favorite movie, The Green Mile script signed by writer/director Frank Darabont.

Mystery Pier Books Information

8826 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069

(310) 657-5557

mysterypierbooks.com

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to Mystery Pier Books, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com