Most people who visit California head north to check out the glitz and glam of Beverly Hills or Hollywood but drive south to El Segundo (a small city on the coast, just 20 minutes from Los Angeles International Airport) and you can enjoy the laid-back Eurocana lifestyle it has to offer. Here’s how two people can enjoy an El Segundo Eurocana day for $50 or less in four easy steps.
Step 1: Go on a Sunday
American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book “The Great Gatsby” brings to mind classic cars and leisurely drives to the city (one jaunt gone awry). Still, Fitzgerald’s book perfectly captures a time when people slowed down to enjoy something as simple as a “drive.” Perhaps, Fitzgerald (who made many excursions to Europe and lived in Paris as an expatriate) knew how to be a Eurocana without even knowing it.
While Sunday drives are historically an all-American tradition, the concept of relishing in a simple pastime is so European.
Most museums have a “look but don’t touch” policy, but the docents at the Automobile Driving Museum say, “hop in!”
“We are the only museum in the country crazy enough to take citizens for rides in our vintage cars,” says Tom Fehn, the museum’s director of preservation.
The museum has 70 cars that docents rotate on Sundays for the drive program. Three cars at a time – anything from a Model T to a DeLorean – are on the schedule.
Take a ride in all three and then head into the museum to look at the collection (the museum also has a few British cars on display such as a 1952 MG TD and a 1958 MGA Roadster) – all for just a suggested donation of $10 a person (which I do suggest paying to support this non-profit and its nearly-all-volunteer staff).
Sunday drives are, of course, on Sundays from 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. for guests 10 years of age or older |
Automobile Driving Museum 610 Lairport St., El Segundo, CA | 310.909.0950
Step 2: You can’t take a Sunday drive without having a picnic.
If you plan ahead and pack a picnic lunch, you can enjoy it at the museum. There are a few picnic tables out front. Eat your baguette sandwiches as you watch other patrons go on their vintage car rides.
Take your picnic to the “sea” a.k.a. the beach.
At El Segundo Beach you can watch airplanes headed to or from LAX fly over the ocean. The beach is secluded and doesn’t draw a huge crowd and there is an area of rocks near the bike path to explore. You’ll have to pay for parking – about $4 for a few hours to about $13 for the day. El Segundo Beach is at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Vista Del Mar.
If you don’t want to picnic, check out the Blue Butterfly Coffee Co. for panini, crepes, and scones along with coffee drinks and teas. Two people can easily lunch for under $30.
Sit at one of their outdoor tables and people watch on Main Street or opt for the back patio and daydream of Paris.
Blue Butterfly Coffee Co. Monday – Friday, 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. | 351 Main St., El Segundo, CA | 310.640.7687
Step 3: Visit Studio Antiques
It’s been said that France has more than 15,000 flea markets and garage sales across the country. Visiting these markets is just as much a part of the French culture as passing le plateau de fromage (the cheese plate) after dinner.
Reminiscent of a brocante or vide-greniers (the French words for flea and antique markets), Studio Antiques offers unique vintage items from all over the world procured by celebrity couple Sally and Laurence Martin. You may recognize the Martins from Storage Wars on A&E and Baggage Battles on the Travel Channel.
Wander through their shop’s Tiki-Room, Ghost Town, and Record Room where you just might find a bargain to “splurge” on. Sally and Laurence buy new inventory every day so there’s something new to see each visit. And be sure to chat with the Martins about their store.
They’re not shy about sharing their knowledge and you’ll love hearing Laurence’s British accent.
Studio Antiques | Thursday – Monday, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. | 337 Richmond St., El Segundo, CA | 310.322.3895
Step 4: End your day with tunes from a Mighty Wurlitzer organ.
Many historical churches in Paris are also home to grand pipe organs. For example, L’Église Saint-Eustache has an organ with 8000 pipes and L’Église de la Madeleine has an organ built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, a renowned French organ builder in the 19th century.
Many Parisians frequent the free organ concerts held at these churches. El Segundo doesn’t have an organ built by Cavaillé-Coll but it does have one constructed by the Rudolf Wurlitzer Company, an American business known for manufacturing pianos, theater organs, and other instruments.
The Old Time Music Hall features classic movies. The bonus is a pre-show of music played on the theater’s Mighty Wurlitzer. The organ has 2,600 pipes and four keyboards.
There is also an audience sing along and comedy short before each movie. At just $10 a ticket, you might want to opt for that picnic lunch and instead use the money for a show at the Old Town Music Hall. Cash or check only. No credit cards. No advance reservations.
Tickets go on sale 30 minutes before each show. Sunday shows are at 2:30 p.m.
Old Time Music Hall | 140 Richmond St., El Segundo, CA | 310.322.2592
Do you have a Eurocana escape for $50 or less in your area? Let me know!