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Postcards from Outer California

Brought to you by Lexus Hybrid Drive

Postcards from Outer California

Brought to you by Lexus Hybrid Drive

When dreaming up the perfect Sunday, driving all around Los Angeles may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But in our new Lexus CT 200, we knew we’d be traveling in comfort and arriving in style. With the sun shining down on a city so full of possibility, we could hardly pass up the chance to get out and explore.

First things first—gathering with good friends over great food at the Good Girl Dinette. After a leisurely hour sharing classic breakfast staples with a Vietnamese twist (the Red Boat bacon and eggs nails it every time), we could barely remember what goals we’d set for the rest of the day. But that’s the beauty of Sundays: letting the day unfold at its own pace and with its own set of adventures.

With that in mind, we let the Lexus carry us from Highland Park to Downtown’s bustling Arts District, where Poketo and Alchemy Works inspired with their light-filled spaces and treasure-filled shelves. Later, we zipped over to our favorite vintage shop, Collection, in Echo Park, where racks of bright textiles reminded us of the sunset soon to come. Windows down and radio up, we hugged the winding drive to Griffith Observatory just in time for the golden hour. With the city sparkling below us and the iconic Hollywood sign perched on a neighboring hill, we knew we were in the thick of it, yet we felt nothing but relaxed and ready to start the new week. Who would have thought driving in Los Angeles could be so much fun?

The Highland Park favorite Good Girl Dinette can hardly be called a classic diner, but Diep Tran’s Vietnamese take on weekend-morning comfort food leaves little room for complaining. There may be a lack of chipped Formica and greasy spoons, but Tran’s version of brunch staples like roasted pork hash with cilantro sour cream and two eggs with Red Boat salt, anise, and brown-sugar-cured bacon more than do the trick. The addition of a veggie patty over rice with ginger-scallion relish (we like to add extra greens) and the not-too-sweet but definitely atypical steel-cut oatmeal with sesame seeds, coconut, and ginger-maple syrup inspired us to swap bites as well as stories. When the time came to leave, strong Vietnamese coffee helped kick us out the door and into high gear.

With so much time spent going from place to place, why wouldn’t you want that ride to be as smooth as possible? Rather than getting us caught up in a tangle of freeways, the Lexus CT 200h’s navigation system guided us effortlessly from point A to point B, allowing us to actually enjoy our time on the road. With the sun shining through the palms and the Pacific never very far off, it was almost a quintessential Sunday drive. After all, we may be in a big city, but this is still California.

Destination: DTLA’s vibrant Arts District. Well-stocked shops, art spaces, and good eats are all flocking to this upcoming industrial area, making it one of the best go-to neighborhoods when inspiration-hunting. Alchemy Works fits the bill with its mixed use of retail, event space, and art gallery, all housed inside a beautifully revamped warehouse. The highly curated selection is pure coastal California, both in feel and locality of the designers and makers. Most of it comes straight out of L.A., a perfect example being the gorgeous wall-to-wall shelving designed by friends District Millworks, who reside across the street.

Just a few doors down, the fun continues at Poketo with brightly colored leather wallets, card cases, and notebooks, along with hip camping gear and hand-painted ceramic bowls. Make sure to check out their exclusive artist collaborations for one-of-a-kind and small-run goods.

No trip to Echo Park would be complete without stopping at Collection. Inside the wonderfully minimalist storefront, the work of sifting through decades of cast-offs has been expertly taken care of by Elizabeth Parks, and what remains is a finely curated selection of vintage clothing and accessories. High-end labels nestle between 1940s day dresses, and beautiful ethnic textiles mix with muted silk tops, all in impeccable condition. Specializing in timeless pieces, there’s nothing at Collection that couldn’t be worn straight out the door. Insider’s tip: The rack of worn-in Levi’s and 1970s denim is worth the visit alone.

California is home to many roads, but perhaps none so satisfying as the Pacific Coast Highway. Who can resist the urge to smile when the sand is almost within reach and the air smells like summer? Roll down the windows and you’ll catch the sounds of radios along the boardwalk, waves crashing on the pier. It’s a drive meant to be savored, a lucky break we get driving here on the West Coast.

L.A. is never more mesmerizing than after dark, when thousands of lights illuminate the city like a mirror of the night sky. With the sun beginning to dip, we curved our way up Mount Hollywood to Griffith Observatory, and there, over a thousand feet above the ocean, we watched the sky turn from pale blue to golden orange to deep purple, all in a matter of moments. With the Lexus CT 200h’s hybrid engine all but inaudible, there was nothing to break the spell. Our Sunday coming to a close, we felt relaxed and inspired, ready to start the week but also looking forward to our next exploration.