Top 5 ways you are guaranteed to have fun in Downtown LA


There are lots of “must see” spots in Los Angeles, and fitting everything into one trip can be a big task. Is there enough time to have lunch to go to the beach, see that exhibition at The Getty, spend a day at Universal Studios, and still have time to walk around Hollywood for that photo of the “Hollywood” sign?

We are adding another destination to that list: Downtown LA, or DTLA if you’re a local, includes neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little Tokyo, the Arts District, and the city’s big venues like Staples Center and LA Live. There is a buzz in the air in DTLA, where the streets are filled with people walking in and out of shops, restaurants, and nightclubs that have made this neighborhood a top destination.

Although there are subway stops in DTLA (photo above, and did you know LA has a subway?), we have planned a super-fun walking tour of the neighborhood, which will hit some of the “must see” spots in the city center: 

1. Start with a really good lunch

Grand Central Market (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)

Grand Central Market is a historic farmer’s market, which over the years has morphed into the city’s premier food hall, with rival taco stands and fresh oysters and delicious roast beef sandwiches and hipsters mingling with executive-types on their lunch breaks.

Insider’s tip: A favorite spot is Ramen Hood—try the vegan ramen, with sunflower seed broth. You won’t believe how tasty it is.

2. Take a ride, then a slide


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From Grand Central, walk across the street to the city’s shortest railroad: Angels Flight Railway. This cute little streetcar travels an exciting journey that is only 298 feet long, but it climbs the formidable hill that leads to the Grand Street central business corridor.

On the subject of short rides—although this next one is much scarier—walk south (at Angels Flight, facing the street, turn left) and go to OUE Skyspace at U.S. Bank Tower, California’s tallest observation deck.

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The view from up there is lovely, and on clear days you can see all the way to the ocean, but Skyspace’s main attraction is the glass slide that wraps around the exterior of the building. That slide is only 45 feet long, but the glass bottom gives a clear view to the ground far, far below.

Insider’s tip: Skyspace also has a full bar, where you can knock back some cocktails to temporarily squelch your fear of heights.

3. Art Smart

Just a few blocks north from the U.S. Bank Tower, The Broad (rhymes with “road”) houses an fun collection of contemporary art, with lots of the usual names like Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Koons, as well as traveling exibitions that are world-class. Even for art non-enthusiasts, the building itself is worth a look. And it’s all free! 

Insider’s tip: You should reserve an entry ticket online in advance, because there is usually (always?) a line at the front door. Check the web site in the morning to see how far in advance they are assigning entry tickets. Then once you’re inside, again sign up to enter the Infinity Room, which has become the Home of A Million Selfies.

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4. The Last Stop

On the subject of selfies, walk back down to Broadway, turn right, and head south to The Last Bookstore, a cavernous collection of warehouses that are filled with books used and new. The second floor has a tunnel that is constructed out of books, where there is usually people standing around and posing for selfies.

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Insider’s tip: there is a sign at the front door that says The Last Bookstore does not have public bathrooms, but they do. 

5. …later that night…

After all of this adventure, you will need to go back to your hotel for some rest before going out again. The bars in DTLA are fun—Precinct DTLA has some of the best parties in the city, where the queens hold court and bears run wild. Things get wild at Precinct, in a good way.

Insider’s tip: The Sunday Bear Bust is popular.

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