Great for art, ethnic restaurants, performing arts and chic hotels, downtown Los Angeles is booming. I like it since you can walk or drive to everything without heavy traffic or getting on an expressway. Here is what I recommend:
The Standard Hotel: This is my favorite hotel in downtown LA. It is a sleek contemporary property located in a former office building. The rooms are contemporary and there is a retro dining room on the first floor off the lobby and rear entrance. The highlight is the chic rooftop pool and bar with great views.
Empress Pavilion: Located in LA’s Chinatown, on the second floor at 988 Hill Street in Bamboo Plaza, this is a good spot for dim sum for lunch.
Museum of Contemporary Art/MOCA: At 250 S. Grand, this is home to a fine collection of American and European art created since 1940. The collection of over 5,000 objects includes examples of all visual media ranging from abstract expressionism to pop art. There is a second location downtown, The Geffen Contemporary, at 152 Central Ave. in Little Tokyo, which primarily features temporary exhibitions. Check out the website for the current schedule.
Little Tokyo: This is a colorful area of downtown with a number of bars, restaurants, museums and stores. Loved my lunch at the sushi bar at Oomasa Sushi at 100 Japanese Village Plaza near 1st St. and Central Ave. Full of locals, it was a great find.
Nearby is the Japanese American National Museum at 100 N. Central Ave. To me the highlight of the museum was the exhibitions on the history of the Japanese in the United States with its emphasis on the internment camps during WWII. I learned so much that I was unaware of. After visiting the museum I was ready for some great Japanese tea from the Chado Tea Room, adjacent to the museum, at the Terasaki Garden Cafe.
A friend recommends Bottega Louie Restaurant as one of his favorite places in LA.
Walt Disney Concert Hall: Make sure to walk around or take a tour of the Walt Disney Concert Hall at 111 South Grand Avenue. Designed by the world famous Frank Gehry, this attractive building, that reminds me somewhat of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain, is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. You might catch a concert in the Hall.
Just opened is the new Broad Museum which has a goal of exposing people to the best in contemporary art. Its collection contains over 2,000 items and admission is free. You can reserve your tickets online before you go. It is located at 221 S. Grand in downtown.
Fashion District: If you are into fashion you might check out the Fashion District downtown near 9th in Los Angeles. Here you can buy textiles, apparel and accessories. The Flower District is nearby.
Los Angeles Plaza Historic District / El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park: Located on the north side of downtown, close to Chinatown, this is in an area surrounding Olvera Street with Mexican shops, restaurants and churches that is the oldest part of downtown. It is worth the visit.
East Los Angeles: Worth the visit to see the murals in this neighborhood just east of downtown in Boyle Heights. The area around Mariachi Plaza is a great place to start at 1807 E. 1st.
The Original Farmers Market: At 6333 W. 3rd St., this is the original farmers market with restaurants, gourmet food items, groceries and stores selling other merchandise.