Sunday, September 17, 2006

More Free Wi-Fi'ing from My Laptop-Lovin' L.A. Travels

My current obsession--surpassing even my love for chocolate souffles and my many repeated listenings Carli Bruni's "Quelqu'un M'a Dit" album from 3yrs ago (check it, it's good)--is finding free internet access around town for me and my traveling laptop. As a freelance writer, I like to think of my home office as HQ and these various coffee shops as my multiple satellite offices. Besides, who wants to drive home just to check email?

Although I am still a regular at several of these free wi-fi offering coffee shops which I highlighted in an earlier blog (esp. Venice Grind, which has fixed their Mac connection problems and Coral Tree Cafe--more for their food--although, be warned, they turn off their web access during peak lunch hours between 11am-3pm), I've slowly added several more to my rotation in my laptop travels around L.A.

My most recent discovery (and where I am writing this free wi-fi roundup right now, pic. above) is the snazzed up Santa Monica Library's BOOKMARK CAFE. I actually was there to check out some books when I noticed a smattering of laptop-users typing in the sun at the outdoor courtyard cafe. (The library's cafe also has a couple of indoor tables for those who need access to a power outlet.) In addition to fancy sandwiches, salads and wraps (eg. I ordered a tasty grilled turkey wrap with sundried tomato, artichokes and provolone) which hover around $7.50, the cafe also has ice-cream and smoothies. Underground parking is $1/hr. The revamped library also has one hour free internet computers upstairs, one of the best selections of new and random books in the L.A. public library system and a high-tech key-card for borrowers to self check out books with one easy swipe.

Another on the Westside is ROSE CAFE on Rose and Main, the actual cafe doesn't have internet access but if you sit in the coffee shop portion of the bakery and cafe by the in-store boutique, you can risk docking off a few good karma points and pick up the free wi-fi from Radha Govinda Hare Krishna temple across the road. Since Rose Cafe is technically a restaurant, they have good (poached salmon florentine, thai noodle salad, pesto chicken sandwiches, cakes!), but slightly pricier brunch and lunch options (salads/sandwiches/hot meals around $8+). The cafe closes at 5pm so you'll have to move on elsewhere if you're working overtime hours.

When I'm in the Hollywood area, my hands-down favorite is GROUNDWORK COFFEE on Cahuenga and Sunset. The spot is home home to plentiful table and bench seating, corner windows facing Amoeba and the Arclight for quality people-watching work breaks, strong tea and coffee drink selection, friendly and honest servers that'll tell you they personally think the chocolate chip tofu muffin is gross and exchangeable if I also find it gross (I actually didn't mind it) and at least 5 other mac users furiously typing at any given time so you don't feel like you're the only one milking an ice blended mocha for 3hrs for their free wi-fi. Parking is the only drawback, but if you're doing 2hr stints, Sunset metered parking is doable, otherwise some random spots on DeLongpre and Wilcox before you enter permit parking land.

KUNG PAO KITTY a couple blocks up on Hollywood & Wilcox also has free wi-fi but the one time I brought my laptop in for an emailing session over seasame chicken, it felt odd to be working away in a chinese takeout spot.

If you're on the Eastside and need a quick email check on-the-go, the parking lot of the Gower Gulch strip mall (Sunset & Gower) is also good for a quick log-on in your car. I haven't figured out where the free intenet comes from since I parked right in front of the Starbucks and they make their patron's pay through AT&T wireless.

Here are a few others that offer free wi-fi. Personally, for some reason, I haven't been able to get into the productive mindset at these spots (I've had to leave most of these spots after logging in a couple hours of surfing the web and zero hours of productive work ) but they might work for others so here they are: VELOCITY CAFE (Venice), TANNER'S COFFEE (Playa del Rey), STROH'S GOURMET DELI (Venice), RUMOR MILL CAFE (Culver City), Ciao Coffee & Tea Company (Sherman Oaks).

BOOKMARK CAFE @ Santa Monica Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, 310/587-2665

220 Rose Ave, Venice, 310/399.0711

1501 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, 323/871-0107

6445 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. 323/465-0110


Anonymous said...

wow. that's quite the list. i swear your blog is like the best way for me to find new spots to try! wi-fi or not... the santa monica library is really great, something like 98% of the materials from the old library were used to help make it!

kiwichicky said...

i love your random facts...what did they do with the other 2%?

Anonymous said...

The other 2%? Dust maybe? :-p

yeah, Santa Monica has a green building initiative so that all government/public buildings have to be up to at least the silver level or something like that. they did a series of talks at the library when it opened on sustainable development and architecture... really interesting. the water is recycled, they use solar power, recycled materials for most of the structure... really cool stuff.