Has there ever been a city name more befitting than Los Angeles (“The Angels”)? Legend has it the city’s high-rises tickled the skies so the stars fell down from heaven and landed in Hollywood. In a big car. In front of their villas. Ready to party. As far as we are concerned, the trend-setting metropolis could very well be the flashiest places in the milky way.
L.A. is mainly known for its sand beaches, tanned movie stars, nonstop nightlife and more celebrities than anyone cares to count. But when you look beyond all the eye-candy, you’ll find vibrant multicultural neighbourhoods with very distinctive personalities. A mixture of the most fascinating areas can be found in Downtown L.A., where each neighbourhood has a unique style and the district’s soul is determined by a mix of cutting-edge and classic influences.
Known as one of Downtown’s most energetic districts, the Historic Core is what brought L.A. on the world’s map in the first place. From the Broadway Theatres to galleries and contemporary food destinations, the Historic Core offers an exciting insight into the city’s turbulent past.
Downtown wasn’t on an insider’s coolness radar for a long time. It has undergone a revivification over the last two decades, growing well beyond the borders of the business center. It’s still a little rough around the edges, but the ongoing cultural renaissance is slowly turning it into a stronghold for culture, architecture, amazing sights and of course – parties. We’ve compiled a list of attractions that you wouldn’t want to miss.
1. Walt Disney Concert Hall – 274$ jewel with an open platform stage, gallery and roof garden
2. Music Center – Consists of the Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper forum, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and Walt Disney Concert Hall
3. Bradbury Building – Downtown’s oldest commercial building (Blade Runner’s final scene was shot here)
4. Grand Central Market – European-style food hall with great eateries
5. The Broad – LA’s newest contemporary art museum
6. Grand Park – 50k sqm park – great for people-watching
7. LA City Hall – A huge conrete tower ideal for enjoying the view over Downtown
8. Union Station - Beautiful rail station with marble tiles, wood beamed ceilings and Art Deco influences
9. El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument – The oldest section of LA, where it was first established in 1781
10. Broadway Theaters – Movie screenings, musical performances and live theaters
While L.A. in general offers some of the best restaurants in the USA, it’s Downtown’s culinary scene that has seen a real boom over the last years. Finding more than a few great restaurants was quite a mission not too long ago, but now you’ll have a hard time ignoring the tasty odors filling the air on almost every corner. Acclaimed chefs have conquered Downtown to leave their mark in the history of one of America’s hippest culinary bastions. With so many great restaurants around, it can be hard to keep track. Read on for our personally compiled list of amazing treats.
Otium (top pick!) – contemporary restaurant that draws from the rich culinary heritage of Chef Timothy Hollingsworth. Otium boasts a vertical garden, wood-burning oves and the best food in Downtown!
Spring – French cuisine with stunning open kitchen and relaxed&sophisticated atmosphere
Cicada – Extraordinary fusion of Art Deco and contemporary design
71 above – Breathtaking oceans views and elevated American cuisine at 290m
Shibumid – Kappo-style service and cuisine like in Tokyo
eatwinsome – Great neighbourhood restaurant with typical LA cuisine and warm interior
Baldoria – Hybrid bar-restaurant with easily sharable plates and hearty cocktails
Baco Mercat – Low-key eatery where every snack is a revelation
Redbird – Modern American cuisine in a vast open space
The Palm – Renowned for prime beef, lobsters and its authentic Italian cuisine
Some like to call the Art’s District “Coffee District”, and rightfully so. The surge of ambitious coffee-nerds-turned-business-men has caused a real boom for trendy&tasty coffee roasteries over the last years and rumour has it that without the coffee, Downtown’s renaissance would be a long time coming. Here are the 8 best coffee stops in town.
Verve coffee roasters (top pick) – Lovely espresso bar with automated pourover brewers, cold presses juices, seasonal specials and slick furniture
Coffee Colab – Serving Suits & Knifes roasted coffee
Urth Caffé – pioneers in health conscious coffee making
Poppy + Rose – classic American diner fare prepared with honest ingredients
Mendocino Farms – Passionate eatery with great comfort & friendly staff
Demitasse - Coffee geeks shop where every barista has his speciality
G&B Coffee - Award-winning, warm, unfussy location in Grand Central Market
Cliftons – The biggest public cafeteria in the world
All the roasteries and restaurants in the world are no use if you want to have a REALLY good time. Where life pulses, drinks aren’t far behind – and in Downtown, the life beat is constantly speeding up. In a town full of plastic surgery and sunshine, Downtown’s bars offer a refreshing mix of gourmet and edgy. From a beer with friends to cocktails with the stars – a Downtown night has lots to offer.
Perch (top pick) – Art Deco roof top bar with upscale casual vibe and French-inspired menu
Ace hotel roof top – Sophisticated decor, strong cocktails and great DJs
The Standard roof top – Waterbeds, Bikinis, beers and an amazing view over Downtown
The Varnish – Located in an old storage room with drinks that are spot on
Seven Grand – Premiere destination for whiskey enthusiasts
La Cita - Theme-based bar nights in an old-school Mexican bar
Barrel Down – American craft beers from over 40 taps
Far Bar – Dynamic setting and amazing bartenders – more than 400 whiskeys
Villain’s Tavern – Unpretentious and off the beaten path
Redwood Bar & Grill – The pirate decor will make you feel like you’re in Pirates of the Carribbean
The Downtown clubbing scene has come a long way. Its variety and uniqueness easily puts it at eye level with the legendary Hollywood parties, creating even more hype for the up and coming Downtown scene. From hipsters to hip hoppers, from subtle to all-out, from easy-going to full-blown sound systems, you can find it all in Downtown. Dance your feet off!
The Edison (top pick!) – Multidimensional club in a former power plant with old brick walls & generators
Exchange LA – Art Deco building turned into a modern club experience with House, Techno and Trance DJs
Club Mayan - Two-level main room with the look of a Mayan temple
The Crocker Club – Part of the club is inside a former safe deposit box in an old bank building
Elevate Lounge – Upscale nightclub located 21 floors above ground level
Downtown’s hotel scene is spoiling travellers from around the world. Luxury and glamour are just around the corner, but you can also find more affordable hotels for budget-conscious travellers. The current generation of hotels boasts anything from intimate one-of-a-kind boutique hotels to timeless classics and luxurious digs with panoramic views over the city. Whatever kind of accommodation you’re looking for, Downtown won’t let you down.
Ace Hotel (top pick!) – Upscale boutique hotel with amazing roof top and unique personality
The Standard - Stellar 24-hour restaurant that boasts a rooftop beer garden serving traditional German food and beer
Millennium Biltmore - The choice of celebrities, presidents, and dignitaries. Absolute luxury!
Ritz Carlton - Luxury hotel with world-class service, exceptional dining and dramatic views over the city
Omni Los Angeles Hotel At California Plaza – Low fuss, high-class hotel experience with an amazing staff
The Line Hotel - Modern interiors, lounge styled by Koreatown natives and a lifestyle boutique shop
SoHo Warehouse - Coming soon to Art’s District!
Hotspot – The Art’s District
While Downtown enjoys a lot of attention, the Art’s district is the area’s real jewel. For everyone creative, cool and aspiring this is the place to be. Creators from all over the world have found a home in the ultra cool hood consisting of warehouse wasteland and stylish galleries, trendy coffee shops and some of the best bars & restaurants in town. Don’t miss these hotspots and enjoy your trip to LA:
Bestia (top pick!) – A multi-regional rustic Italian restaurant focusing on a “from scratch” approach, offering house-made charcuterie, handmade pasta and pizza
Zinc Cafe – open kitchen and peaceful courtyard dining area provide a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Downtown
The Spring – Health space with fresh food, yoga, wellness & workshops
Stump Town Coffee – 99 problems, but a cup of coffee ain’t one
Little Bear – A cafe pouring Belgian and domestic beer on draught with a kitchen showcasing Belgian food favorites
Blue Bottle Coffee – U-shaped bar, where you can see both the mess and the magic of coffee-making unfold
Bread Lounge – Contemporary artisanal bakery and café
American Tea Room – Retail shop, tea lounge, restaurant, cafe, and bar with 7.5m living wallscape and fire pits
Art’s District Brewing – Craft brewpub with onside brewhouse, 9 original beers and space for 300 guests
Eighty-Two – Innovative bar with more than 50 classic arcade & pinball machines, DJs, food trucks and game tournaments
The Wheel House – Community-centered bicycle and coffee shop
The Factory Kitchen – Traditional Italian fare in a comfortable yet interactive environment
Useful web pages
The Downtown LA web page
Historic core web page
Explore artsy Downtown