Road to CicLAvia - Mar Vista with Barrio LA

by Dana Variano, Digital Manager

I spend most of the week staring at my computer. Sometimes, I see fun colors and my eyes sometimes start crossing with website code. When I reach this point, my sensitive and amazing coworkers plea with me: "Dana! Get out of the office once in a while! Please!" So I finally listened to my coworkers this week, dusted off my walking shoes, and hit the CicLAvia - Culver City Meets Venice route to explore Mar Vista. My travel buddy for the day was Jen, a resident of Mar Vista who owns a website called barrio LA that finds and markets unique made-in-LA goods. I found about Jen and her brother Rick's amazing project on Instagram, and the synchronicity of their passion with CicLAvia's was too great to be ignored!

"barrio.la is all about looking up, down & around, making sure we take in everything this city gives to us – like it’s amazing parks, community gardens, outdoor markets & street art."

Jen said she loves going to CicLAvia with her daughter, and that it shows her that "if streets and neighborhoods rally together, they can support each other." I hit the streets of the Mar Vista with Jen to talk about her neighborhood, and what she loves about it.

We started our walk at Venice Grind, a coffee shop serving up delicious brew "one cup at a time." Their backyard is not to be missed, with plenty of space to sit and enjoy your friends on CicLAvia day. The sun was out and the conversation was flowing, and if I'm being honest I had a hard time agreeing to move on to our next stop. But Mar Vista was calling...

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Next, we stopped by Soaptopia, a Venice-born soap shop that makes many of its products right on the premises - you can even watch the process while you shop. An amazing spot to pick up local, handmade gifts for a loved one (or yourself)!

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Our sense of taste and smell fully sated, we zigged and zagged on Venice Blvd. to take a look at some of the amazing street art in the neighborhood. There's so much of it, Jen's working on a separate #RoadtoCicLAvia post on street art alone! Stay tuned! This chameleon was one of my favorite murals we came across:

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Finally, we went to the Mar Vista Time Travel Mart, by 826LA. This branch of the national non-profit tutoring organization has a Time Travel Mart in front, with all proceeds going to support the creative writing programs held by 826. CicLAvia collaborated with 826 the last time we traveled to Mar Vista, where a group of young authors helped to write the neighborhood guide! It's a great spot for exploring, and an awesome place to volunteer.

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Mar Vista, right in the middle of the March 26 CicLAvia route, is a great neighborhood with a fantastic array of places to visit and explore. Thanks to Jen (below) and barrio LA for showing me around - check out their neighborhood library for more cool finds!

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Stay tuned for more on the next #RoadtoCicLAvia!

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