The ongoing revitalization of downtown Los Angeles is piquing interest in things to do in a downtown once considered a no man’s land. While the splashy entertainment complex L.A. Live, the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the new mega star in town, the Space Shuttle Endeavour, garner the most attention, downtown has a vibrant mix of history, architecture and ethnic neighborhoods waiting to be discovered.
800 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
The mega entertainment complex is one-stop shopping in downtown with two upscale hotels, the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles which has arguably the best rooftop pool in downtown. Casual and upscale restaurants feed visitors coming and going from the movie theater, the Grammy Museum, bowling alley, the Nokia Theatre, Conga Room and games and events at Staples Center. If you haven’t been to downtown in awhile this is an easy introduction.
Space Shuttle Endeavour
California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90037
The arrival of the Space Shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center in 2012 was a media event worthy of an A-list star and at five stories tall the Endeavour is one of downtown L.A.’s biggest celebrities. Located in Exposition Park, surrounded by The Natural History Museum, the Rose Garden and the USC campus, the California Science Center has free admission. The Endeavour exhibit is available Monday through Friday, although entry requires a timed ticket. On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays there is a $2 admission charge or free admission with an IMAX ticket. Plan to spend time in “Endeavour: The California Story” exhibit and then see the Endeavour in the Samuel Oschin Pavilion. Avoid the exhibit on USC game days when the area and museum are especially crowded.
Southeast of the Civic Center; bounded by 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Little Tokyo is the largest of only three Japantowns in the country; the other two are in San Francisco and San Jose. For most daytrip visitors, everything you need is in a compact four to five square-block-area filled with Japanese restaurants, tea houses, bakeries and shops. The Japanese American National Museum and the Geffen Contemporary are also located here. Two don’t-miss stops are Fugetsu-Do Confectioners for everything mochi and Mikawaya, the creator of Mochi Ice Cream – the same kind you see at Trader Joe’s.
California Plaza Attractions and The Walt Disney Concert Hall
251 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA
Begin your visit to the California Plaza area with a stop at the Walt Disney Concert Hall to admire the Frank Gehry architecture or take an indoor audio tour. Make your way to California Plaza and stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art for a visit or admire numerous outdoor sculptures scattered around the museum courtyard. California Plaza is a relaxing outdoor space with large fountains and a popular summer concert series. At the bottom of Bunker Hill you’ll find L.A.’s oldest open air market, Grand Central Market.
800 North Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Union Station is one of the most beautiful and most recognizable landmarks in downtown Los Angeles and it’s conveniently located across the street from the touristy-but-worth-a-stop Olvera Street. In operation since 1939, Union Station still functions as the main passenger train hub in Los Angeles. Take in the high ceilings and plush leather seats in the waiting room and the old ticket booths which are now only used in the movies.