LA Neighborhood Guide: Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles, aka DTLA, is the central business district of LA as well as a diverse residential area. Wedged between 10, 110 and the Los Angeles River, this urban center is a bustling business center by day and a bustling metropolis by night. Downtown areas, including the arts, banking, civic center, fashion, jewelry, theater and toys, are named after what is happening now or historically.
Formerly considered a commercial and manufacturing center, this historic district has undergone a transformation over the past two decades into a trendy, lively and creative district. With it, the renaissance brought cultural attractions, trendy restaurants, budget boutiques, and big league sports.
LA Neighborhood Guide: Downtown Los Angeles
In addition to the convention center, an entertainment complex called L.A. Live and the Staples Center, high-end residential developments and new hotels have greatly contributed to the resurgence of DTLA. Sparkling skyscrapers can be found next to architectural landmarks, such as the Bradbury Building and the city’s birthplace in 1781, El Pueblo of Los Angeles. The missing industrial buildings have resurfaced as luxury condos, lofts and studios, as well as co-working spaces and stores, attracting thousands of new residents.
DTLA is the city’s public transportation hub, easily accessible by highway, Metrolink commuter train, subway / light rail, and Los Angeles Metro Rail bus. Major metro stations in the area include Civic Center / Grand Park station, Pershing Square station, 7th Street / Metro Center station, Pico station and Little Tokyo / Arts District station. Located on the outskirts of downtown, historic Union Station is Los Angeles’ main station, with transfers available for subways, subways, or DASH buses on the red / purple line. Four Amtrak lines serve Union Station to Seattle, New Orleans and Chicago.
Greyhound has a large bus terminal on Seventh and Alameda at the edge of Skid Row, an area mainly inhabited by the homeless community. All the main streets have at least one (and sometimes several) metro bus lines running daily. Metro also operates a bicycle sharing system. The DASH shuttle service also offers several convenient routes through the city center. Fortunately, DTLA is one of the most pedestrian-friendly urban areas in the city, with plenty of parking.
Where locals eat Sunday brunch
114 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Bring lots of people to taste the plethora of Redbird’s New American shared plates, like the Carrot Cake Babka with Walnut Cream Cheese Frosting or Lemon and Blueberry Empanada. The patio of this restaurant on 2nd Avenue is designed for brunch. Next, explore the Ahmanson Theater, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Broad Art Museum, all located nearby.
The best coffee for working remotely
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
120 E 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Portland’s downtown Stumptown Coffee Roasters arts district outpost resides in a 7,000 square foot warehouse. Enjoy the aroma of beans roasted on site while you work. Choose from the full espresso bar, filter coffee or a selection of cup brews combined with a pastry. They also have a cold brew on the draft, and you can even fill a crouch to go.
The best place to take away when you don’t feel like cooking
639 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Whether you’re in the mood for breakfast, macaroni with cheese and lobster, or a surprisingly good vegan burger, the massive menu at LA Café is with you, with 24-hour delivery to get you started!
In the evening, you eat when you have eaten too much
Cole’s French Dip
118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
You didn’t have a French dip until you got one from Cole’s French Dip, the self-proclaimed inventor of the sandwich. The public offers versions of braised pork, roast beef, turkey, braised lamb and pastrami, but only roast beef and pork are available from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Top it off with a slice of homemade bourbon pecan or a banana cream pie.
The dive bar where everyone knows your name
840 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90017
The Hanks Bar is the definition of a dive bar, with friendly bartenders, large round leather cabins, gin bottle lights and a checkerboard floor.
Where to drink outside
416 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
The Freehand Hotel Broker Shaker gives Rooftop at The Standard Downtown LA a boost in downtown pool deck bars. We featured tiki bar on our guide to the best bars in LA. Enjoy a tropical drink and a spectacular view of the city from the top of the Commercial Exchange building.
Where to have cocktails on a first date
108 W 2nd St # 101, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Your date might suggest that you are going to murder them when you bring them to the basement of Los Angeles’ oldest power plant for handcrafted cocktails and a burlesque show. Now an industrial style speakeasy, The Edison invites you to travel back in time. Keep in mind that “innovative, sophisticated and cultured clothing is strongly encouraged” after 9 p.m. – which means no flip-flops or sandals, sportswear, over-ripped or loose jeans, or even t-shirts short-sleeved!
Downtown LA Travel Forum
THE BLOC is an LA-style “outdoor living center” located near Pershing Square in the financial district. Here you can buy casual clothes at Uniqlo, browse for luxury gifts at Please Do Not Enter, or see a movie at Alamo Drafthouse. Visit The Small Shop for vintage accessories. Explore the maze of new and used titles at The Last Bookstore. The multi-level space is California’s largest used / new book and record store and is decorated with local art. When you need a snack, head to the FIGat7th food court, which includes outposts from downtown Sprinkles, Mendocino Farms, and Pazzo Gelato. The outdoor mall also has retail chains like Zara, Target, Starbucks and Morton’s Steakhouse.
The fashion district supplies much of the West Coast clothing industry. The area just south of Skid Row is largely made up of manufacturers and wholesalers, but some brands, such as Acne, Oak and Aesop are emerging around 9th and Broadway. If you can sew, knock yourself out in one of the many giant fabric stores, like Michael Levine. Bargain hunters can find amazing deals on costume jewelry, hats, jeans, knock-offs, shorts, socks, suits, sweatshirts, t-shirts and ties in the anime Santee Alley. The open air flea market is crowded between Santee St and Maple Ave, starting on Olympic Blvd.
A relatively new addition to the fashion district, ROW DTLA offers retail outlets, pop-up stores, offices and restaurants. Shop swimwear at COAST by COAST, global interiors at A + R, hard-to-find brands and sneakers in the incredibly cool Bodega, and emerging eco-friendly brands at Galerie.LA.
Stock up on beautiful flowers for cheap on Wall Street in the flower district. In the jewelry district, a huge emporium of more than 500 merchants, designers and manufacturers of quality jewelry awaits you at the St. Vincent Jewelry Center. Buy designer watches, diamonds, precious stones, pearls, platinum and gold and silver balls with wholesale price tags.
Once lined with sad capitals, the theater district along Broadway is finally experiencing a revival. Watch a film, musical or theatrical production at the Los Angeles Theater, the Orpheum Theater, the Globe Theater and the Theater at Ace Hotel, located in the historic United Artists building from 1927.
Hosting four of Los Angeles professional sports franchises: Lakers (NBA), Kings (NHL), Clippers (NBA) and Sparks (WNBA), the Staples Center anchors a convergence of cultural attractions on the south end of downtown and hosts also many headliners. Adjacent, the L.A. Live complex includes the Microsoft Theater and the Grammy Museum. Formerly known as the Nokia Theater, the Microsoft Theater hosts live shows, concerts, and other performances, while the Grammy Museum houses musical artifacts such as Michael Jackson’s glove and Elvis scores.
Another avenue of performance halls is the Grand Avenue at Bunker Hill. The Los Angeles Music Center is made up of the magnificent Walt Disney Concert Hall, where the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Choir perform, as well as the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theater and the Mark Taper Forum.
Finally, the vintage Regent Theater is both an independent rock club, a pizzeria and a cocktail lounge, making it an ideal place to attend a show.
DTLA has a farmer’s market every day of the week. Formerly known as the historic LA Terminal Market, the 7-acre outdoor market on 7th Street sells fresh fruits and vegetables Monday through Saturday. Hundreds of local vendors participate in ROW DTLA’s Smorgasburg, the country’s largest weekly outdoor food market. On Sundays, shop for fresh produce, flowers and handcrafted food at the historic downtown farmers’ market. Pershing Square hosts its farmers market on Wednesdays. FIGat7th has one on Thursday, while the Bank of America Farmers Market takes place on Friday, as does the Eagle Rock Farmers Market.
Located in the flower district on Wall Street, between 7th and 8th streets, the WALL Farmers Market is fun for the whole family with live music, fresh farm produce and artisan food, as well as pickleball, face painters, aerials!
Although it is more of a market than a farmers market, the historic Grand Central Market is a landmark of the city center. This European-style dining hall is located on the ground floor of the iconic Homer Laughlin building. Sample Los Angeles carnitas and agua fresca cuisine alongside trendy restaurants like sticky rice and SoCal standarts like Wexler’s Deli. Stock up on seafood, spices, products and more at this charming and lively market.
Grand Park offers an urban oasis and a view of the Music Center to the town hall. Rest your toots or take a walk to explore the fountain, the event lawn and more. Not to be confused with Grand Park, Grand Hope Park is opposite the campus of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM). With a mosaic clock tower, trees, fountains, sculptures and walkways, Grand Hope is one of the only downtown parks with a playground. Visit this green refuge after a visit to the Fashion Institute museum.
Surrounded by restaurants, cafes, bakeries, hotels and other local businesses, Pershing Square Park serves as a central public space in the city center. Adorned with monuments and statues, this Spanish-inspired square hosts concerts, rallies, political rallies and public celebrations throughout the year. The square includes two playgrounds, a place to play chess, an amphitheater and a zone reserved for pets.
Top-rated Places in Downtown LA
Inaugurated in 2015, the honeycomb facade of The Broad houses 2,000 works of contemporary art by artists such as Jean – Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. Entrance to the Grand Avenue Museum is free, but you must purchase tickets to view special exhibits, such as Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.
Formerly located in Santa Monica, the Institute of Contemporary Art is now located on the outskirts of the DTLA arts district. The ICA exhibits the work of contemporary local, national and international artists, but does not have its own collection.
Nestled near the Walt Disney concert hall, the Museum of Contemporary Sandstone Cladding (MOCA) exhibits and collects modern art. Worth a visit just to explore the gift shop. In addition, entry is free.
Climb nearly 1,000 feet above the city center on the Skyslide OUE Skyslide. The 45-foot glass slide runs from the 70th to the 69th floor outside the American Bank Tower. Admire the city from the outdoor observation deck.
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