LA Guide: What to do and see in Downtown Los Angeles
If you are thinking or planning your next trip to Los Angeles, then you need to read this post. Discover what to do and see in Downtown LA.
I will tell you why Downtown is one of the areas in Los Angeles that you can not miss. In my case, before going to LA, people told me not to go to Downtown. They told me that it is ugly, dangerous, and it has nothing to see among other things.
What was my surprise when I saw that none of these things were true. A few years ago, Downtown LA was worse but the LA City Council is making a lot of changes to help Downtown looking better and new hotels, restaurants and some of the most fashionable rooftops in LA are now opening here.
The first three nights in Los Angeles we stayed in a hotel that was in Downtown. This way we could move easily through all the places of interest that are located here.
In Los Angeles, the car is completely necessary if you want to move from one place to another, but one day we decided not to use the car at all and we visited all the places we wanted to visit in Downtown just walking around.
Let’s see what are those places that you should visit and what you can do in Downtown LA:
- Breakfast at The Exchange or Poppy + Rose. Two of the trendiest places in Downtown.
- Visit the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Famous for its architecture -Frank Gehry was the architect- and for being the headquarters where the great Gustavo Dudamel directs the Philharmonic of the city of Los Angeles. Some scenes of movies and series have been filmed here as: Fracture, Iron Man, Get Smart, Shark, Life of Mars, Brothers and Sisters, etc. There is the possibility of visiting inside. We made it and discovered that it has a very nice terrace above.
- Go to the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Los Angeles, newly built, since the previous one was damaged in an earthquake in 1994 and it was decided to build a new one.
- Admire the architecture of the LA City Hall.
- Visit the contemporary art collections at The Broad Museum. This museum hosts around 2000 pieces, including pieces by Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. It is free entry and it has a great architecture. Located just in front of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
- It is essential to visit the MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Art that houses American and European art after the 40s.This museum has three buildings in the city and one of them is in front of The Broad museum. 90% of the museum’s pieces are gifts offered by important private collectors as well as gifts from artists. It houses about 6000 pieces.
- Ride the funicular Angel´s Flight that originally opened in 1901 but has been restored. It consists of two cars that go up and down in opposite directions and are called Sinai and Olivet. Angel´s Flight is the title of a famous 1931 oil painting by Millard Sheets that hangs as part of the permanent collection at the Los Angeles Museum of Art. It shows two young women in a funicular. Here have been shot several scenes of movies and television series such as Lalaland, the Muppets, The Saint, the 2017 movie, and also some video games.
- Grab a bite at Grand Central Market. This place was totally unexpected. It has lots of food stalls and it is full of neons. Here, you will find one of the best Mexican food stalls. You know that California is full of Mexicans so once here, in LA you will eat the best Mexican food outside of Mexico. I recommend you to try the tacos, they were delicious. We paid less than 10 dollars for two full plates of tacos and two beers. You can also find here some Chinese food, Filipino food, hamburgers, Italian food among many others while other stalls sell spices, fruits, etc. as in any other market. Click here for more info. It opens from 8 am to 10 pm eleven days a week. (for American standards it is so late!).
- Try one egg sandwich at Eggslut, one of the stalls inside the Grand Central Market. I recommend you go to breakfast or mid-morning. The buns are great.
- Visit the Bradbury Building, the oldest building in Los Angeles. It opened in 1893 and it really is a unique treasure. Its Victorian atrium, open grating elevators, marble staircases and iron railings make this place one of the most photographed ones in Downtown LA. It is currently an office building commanded at that time by Lewis Bradbury, a millionaire of the mining industry, to George Wyman. It is really an architectural landmark. This building has appeared in several movies and television series and in several music videos too: Cher, Justin Timerlake, Janet Jackson, etc. Some of the famous films that were filmed here were Blade Runner, 1982 and Mission Impossible among others. This building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. I totally recommend it, the architecture is simply spectacular. Location: 304 South Broadway with West 3rd Street.
- Buy a book at The Last Bookstore. This huge bookstore in downtown Los Angeles will amaze you. Here, you can find the book you are looking for as it is the largest new and used book store in California. You can click in the Website. One of the most photographed place here, it is the tunnel of books on the second floor. The books here have a very good price and usually they have many offers. It is a mandatory stop in LA for all book lovers.
- Have an ice cream in Little Damage. Simply delicious.
- Enjoy the Downtown Art Walk. Enjoy the self-guided tour “Art Walk” that takes place every second Thursday of the month from 6-9 pm, as well as guided visits to the galleries, local murals and street art. It is about creating economic opportunities for artists, galleries, micro businesses and young people. This “Art Walk” on Thursday brings together thousands of art lovers. It is organized by Spring Arts Collective that is inside The Last Bookstore so you can ask for information here or by clicking on this link.
- Have lunch or coffee and try one of the delicious sweets at Bottega Louie, located in the Brockman building. Once inside, you would feel like in Paris or Rome. The restaurant is beautiful with white and grey marble floors, high ceilings, white and shiny walls and golden details. In the bakery. you find all kinds of sweets and macaroons. After the bakery, there is the bar, and although everything has a lot of French air, this restaurant is really Italian and it has delicious pizzas. You should try the brunch here. I loved this place and it is not surprising that it has become one of Downtown’s most touristic sites. This area has experienced a rapid expansion of bars, restaurants and apartments since 2012. It is part of the LA project to rehabilitate and reform the entire Downtown.
- Watch a game at Staples Center. It is one of the most modern and luxurious venues in the world, famous for hosting two NBA teams: Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers and hosting the annual Grammy Awards ceremony. Some concerts have been held here: Mariah Carey, Shakira, Adele, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. Here, it took place Michael Jackson’s funeral in 2009.
- Go to Rialto Theater dating from 1917. It was declared a Cultural Historical Monument by the City of Los Angeles in 1989. It comes out in one of the scenes of the movie Lalaland that if you have not seen before going to LA, you should watch it. In 1930, an Art Deco-style neon sign was installed here and, at that time, it was one of the largest Theaters in Broadway. It was closed in 2010 to the public. Now, it is going to be restored and it will be reopened in the near future.
- Some of the murals you can not miss while in LA are in The Bloc: Abstract Wall and Sumi Ink Muralen West 8th St with South Flower St.
- Before sunset, go up to OUE Skyspace to see Los Angeles from above. It is the highest observation deck in California and offers a 360 degree panoramic view of the city of LA. As a curiosity, I must say that it has a 14-meter-long outdoor slide and goes down from the 70th to 69th floor. From here you can enjoy a beautiful sunset and then you can try one of the Californian wines or sip a cocktails in The Skyspace bar. Or if you prefer, read the next point.
- Finish the day by having a cocktail in one of these two rooftops bars: You have several to choose from. I recommend: Perch, the terrace of the ACE Hotel Downtown, the rooftop of the Standard hotel – one of the most trendy ones – or the Broken Shaker – one of the most beautiful ones.
- You can choose to do a Tour during your stay in LA. There are several: Art Deco, Historic Downtown and several more. They usually runs on Saturdays at 10am but there are some tours that runs two days. For more info click here.
I invite you to read my future posts about this trip where I will tell you all we did and visited. I will also give you recommendations and I will discover you some hidden places.
If you have any questions or questions, you can send me an email or write it in comments.
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