Living in Los Angeles isn't cheap. Being a traveler at heart and being trapped at home on a tight budget can be one of the most infuriating experiences. Here's four places to explore in Los Angeles without breaking the bank.
The Echo Park Time Travel Mart
The Echo Park Time Travel Mart, one of two time travel marts located in Los Angeles County, is an extension of 826LA, a tutoring and writing organization founded by Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
The Echo Park Travel Mart, which takes up the front half of the building, is small but unique, stocked with strange fare such as Mammoth Chunks, Barbarian Repellent, Viking Odorant, dueling kits, and "fresh" donuts (fresh in 1985, that is). It has a 1970s and 1980s theme, while The Mar Vista Time Travel Mart has an 1870s and 1880s theme.
Through the doors in the back of both locations is another room full of desks and chairs that is devoted to the after-school tutoring and writing lab program, which serves ages 6-18. 826LA is supported by grants, fundraising, and the store in the front. Most astoundingly, it's operated by volunteers.
Stop by when you have the chance and acquire some knick knacks and support a good cause. The addresses, hours, and other information can be located on the site here, as well as other storefronts such as The Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute in Massachusetts and the Boring Store in Chicago at the national website.
Wacko’s Soap Plant
Wacko’s Soap Plant has had various iterations. It is currently a 10,000 square foot toy shop specializing in bizarre and whimsical pop culture, housing anything from knitted unicorn hats, squirrel coffee cups, art, and naughty literature. It’s ideal for finding a perfectly strange gift for a family member, buying an Elvis-shaped floor rug for your apartment decor, or simply perusing in rapt fascination.
Owned by a family called the Shires, it started out in 1971 as a small, family-owned soap, ceramics, and leatherwear store named “Soap Plant.” While this inventory worked for the plant, 1980 heralded a makeover and new location for the plant, now famous for creating well-known leather outfits for Elton John and other celebrities.
The new owner, son Billy shire, added books and unusual jewelry to the collection in an effort to enhance their product selection. Anxious to expand, Shire returned Los Feliz and opened WACKO in 1984. Several years after, Shire added the La Luz de Jesus Gallery, an art gallery that spawned the Lowbrow art movement, above the WACKO warehouse.
Both WACKO, Soap Plant, and the La Luz de Jesus gallery are excellent points to explore if you’re looking for a cheap adventure in the coming weeks. Details regarding hours, location, and further history can be found here.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology
Founded in 1988 by husband and wife David Hildebrand and Diana Drake Wilson, the Museum of Jurassic Technology is a museum dedicated to the pursuit and celebration of knowledge as much as to the knowledge itself.
Comprised of seemingly random displays of ant eggs, Coney Island air, flower x-rays, and other unusual fare, the museum seems to celebrate the tradition of museums while also being aware of their silliness. The term “Lower Jurassic” has seemingly very little relevance and is not explained, almost as if it was employed just to create an interesting title.
Smitsonian Magazine called it “[…]A witty, self-conscious homage to private museums of yore […] where objects from science, nature and art were displayed for the “rational amusement” of scholars [...] It evokes an era when natural history was only barely charted by science, and museums were closer to Renaissance cabinets of curiosity.”
If an $8.00 splurge is in the budget, try testing out the ironic and often poetic Museum of Jurassic Technology this weekend.