Here’s a short walking tour guide I put together for Downtown Los Angeles. If you walk fast you could do it in an hour or so, but I’d recomend taking your time and soaking it all in over two hours or so. Best of all, pretty much everything is free.
1. Fernando’s Taco Inn – After checking out LA Live head to “The Carwash” on West Olympic. It’s a little Mexican food place where you can get a huge Horchata drink in a Styrofoam cup. The food is great, and the drink is even better, especially on a nice warm day. Since every day is nice and warm in LA, I’ve had many. From here take a left on S Figueroa St and head up towards the skyscrapers. You’ll be taking it all the way up to the Bonaventure (5 or 6 blocks).
2. Metro Station – Wait, LA has a metro rail? That is right, it does. It’s pretty cheap and easy to use, and when traveling solo it’s a great way to check out Hollywood (Mann’s Chinese Theater, Walk of Fame, Amoeba records, Little Thailand). If you are interested in a little side adventure the Station on South Flower and 7th is a good stop to use, otherwise continue up Fig…it’s uphill, but it’s worth it.
3. The Westin Bonaventure – A massive, stylish and modern hotel with a nice pool. More importantly, it’s where this awesome scene from True Lies was filmed. It’s worth a peak, take an elevator ride up to check out the view, or wonder around the dozens of shops and restaurants that occupy the first couple floors. When done take the Flower Street exit and make a right towards the LA Public Library.
4. Downtown Library – To be honest, I don’t know much about the library, other than it looks nice, has a nice big garden, and probably holds books. Stop inside and check it out, or just wonder through the garden or along West 5th street until you hit South Grand Ave and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.
5. Millennium Biltmore Hotel – This is one of my favorite hotels. It just slaps you in the face with old world class. It’s got great open spaces, detailed architecture and some really unique art. Wonder around the lobby, but more important past it to the long hallway lined with ballrooms, bars and places to hang out. Find the Rendezvous Court and order a cup of tea or just relax. This is the finest room I’ve been to in LA. Once you’ve had your fill back on the sidewalk continue to the right on South Grand a few more blocks (the roadway is elevated) and turn right and enter California Plaza among all the skyscrapers and banks.
6. Angels Flight – On the east side of the California Plaza, behind the corporate utopia and little pool area, Angels Flight is a single-car rail line that takes you down the hill for something like 50 cents. There are signs about it’s history and usage if you’re really interested. It’s a little cheesy, but very unique and fun, and it helps you get to your next destination, Grand Central Market.
7. Grand Central Market – LA has a food market? Yep. Across from the Angel Line on Hill and 3rd is a really big, dynamic and interesting food market. Here you could get lunch, people watch, or do a little shopping. After your done you’ll want to find your way out the opposite side that you entered, which will be South Broadway, and across the street you’ll see the Bradbury Building on the corner of South Broadway and West 3rd.
8. The Bradbury Building – Well we’ve all seen it in the movies, most recently The Artist, this building is an LA staple and the interior will show you why. Check it out, but be aware that it closes to the public in the evenings, maybe even on weekends, as it is a functioning office space. Afterwards head left on Broadway towards 4th street and beyond.
9. Broadway – LA has a…. you get it. Broadway in downtown LA is how I would expect Broadway to be in New York 20 years ago. It’s a bit grimey, there are dozens of old thearters and concert ventues along the street, most of which look like they are in terrible need of restoration. There are interesting crowds and cheep jewelry stores and its just an interesting place to see. It’s not Rodeo, but it’s LA. Follow Broadway all the way down to 8th or 9th, then cut right back towards LA Live.
10. Grand Hope Park – This isn’t a particularly interesting or fancy park, but it is a nice place to sit and rest your feet, enjoy a burrito or another Horchata. If cut across it diagonally you can hop back onto West Olympic and you’ll be back at LA Live.