This tree-lined, two-block area is an urban oasis for all of the senses. Grab a djembe (West African drum) and join in the weekly drum circle on Sunday afternoons in Leimert Park (at Degnan and W. 43rd Place).
Sample mouthwatering jerk chicken stew and guava-pineapple nectar at the Jamaican eatery Ackee Bamboo. Browse the aisles of Eso Won Books, the largest African-American themed bookseller west of the Mississippi, and take in a live jazz performance at the World Stage.
Whether you’re looking to develop your creative side, learn about African-American history or explore one of our city’s hidden treasures, Leimert Park Village is well worth a visit.
KAOS Network and Project Blowed
4343 Leimert Blvd.
Started in 1991 by media artist Ben Caldwell, KAOS Network functions as a community art center where on any given day one might find children playing the violin, adults practicing Kundalini yoga or storytellers coaching each other in their craft.
One of KAOS’ most famous programs is Project Blowed, where hip-hop artists of every stripe come on Thursday evenings at 9:30 p.m. to express themselves (open to the public). Famous Project Blowed alums include Freestyle Fellowship, Jurassic Five, Pigeon John, Medusa and Aceyalone.
Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn
4339 Leimert Blvd.
A Central Avenue legend for 32 years, Babe’s and Ricky’s moved to Leimert Park in 1996. Started by Laura Mae Gross, now 87-years young, the club has been host to bluesmen known and unknown.
Music can be heard Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but a highlight of the week is Monday when $8 buys blues and a soul food dinner (arrive around 9 p.m.).
5th Street Dick’s Coffeehouse
4305 Degnan Blvd.
A local hangout originally owned by former Skid Row resident and Leimert Park supporter, Richard Fulton, 5th Street Dick’s is a place for a great cup of coffee. Free Wi-Fi.
Eso Won Books
4331 Degnan Blvd.
Eso Won is an Ethiopian phrase meaning “water over rocks,” and true to its name, the store stocks hard-to-find titles by and about African Americans. The store regularly holds author readings and book signings with recent appearances including Michael Eric Dyson, Angela Bassett, Bill Cosby and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
On Feb. 14, James McBride, author of the bestseller Color of Water, signs his new book, Song Yet Sung.
World Stage Performance Gallery
4344 Degnan Blvd.
Founded by drummer Billy Higgins and poet Kamau Daood, the World Stage is one of the most important L.A. venues for jazz and spoken word. Over the years, the training programs and jam sessions in poetry and music have nurtured many talented artists and launched professional careers. Performances nightly.
4395 Leimert Blvd.
A historic landmark, the park at the south end of Degnan serves as a gathering space for rallies and festivals, but most important, it is home to the Sunday afternoon drum circle.
4305 Degnan Blvd.
(323) 295-7275; www.ackeebamboo.com
Named for the Jamaican fruit ackee, this Jamaican restaurant has received rave reviews from locals and critics.
Lucy Florence Cultural Center
3351 W. 43rd Street
This unique community space is owned by twin brothers and local residents Ron and Richard Harris. (You may have seen them on season six of “America’s Next Top Model” as the “Swirl Twins.”)
The space houses a theater, art gallery, coffee shop and even an African-American owned chocolate confectionary company, O’Gilvie Chocolatier. On Feb. 20 and Feb. 24 you can catch a screening and Q&A of the documentary No Loans Today ($10 admission).
Resource: LA Commons (www.lacommons.org) is a non-profit that facilitates public art projects and promotes Leimert Park as a hot spot for cultural tourists.