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When travelers visit Los Angeles, they often spend time in the surrounding areas of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood. However, there is a lot to see and do right in downtown Los Angeles. In the downtown area, you can check out museums, markets, parks, sports and entertainment complexes, and some really great restaurants. So, next time you’re in town for vacation or even just a long layover, don’t miss out on these best things to do in downtown Los Angeles.
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No matter your age or travel style, everyone enjoys taking a walk through Grand Central Market in Los Angeles’ downtown historic core. This is a large food hall that has been in operation since 1917. Foodies love coming here to sample delicious cuisines from all around the world. This indoor market has delis, bakers, butchers, and all sorts of vendors who specialize in artisan and gourmet goods. The market is open every day from 8am to 10pm. There’s a parking garage entrance at 308 South Hill Street. You can also attend fun events held at Grand Central Market, such as Wednesday night trivia, jazz music on the rooftop, bar happy hours, and the oyster festival.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall isn’t just a great place to see a live performance; it’s also a stunning piece of architecture worth seeing even if there is no event going on. Frank Gehry designed this concert hall, which is where the L.A. Philharmonic and the LA. Master Chorale perform. It spans a 3.6-acre complex, with stainless steel curves and some of the best acoustics you’ll find anywhere in the world. You can take an audio tour of the building and enjoy a meal in the roof garden restaurant here too. The concert hall is very close to the Broad Museum, so it’s easy to see both of these downtown attractions back-to-back.
On a budget? The famous Broad Museum is one of the top free attractions in Los Angeles and an impressive museum to visit for contemporary art lovers. Entrance includes access to the galleries on the third floor that display works by beloved artists, like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Takashi Murakami. You can also rent an audio guide to learn even more about the artists and collections at your own pace.
It’s also fun to take a walk through Chinatown around the Central Plaza. There aren’t as many shops and restaurant here as you’ll find in San Francisco or New York, but it’s still worth seeing the traditional architecture and grabbing a bite to eat. Chinatown spans the area between the Los Angeles River and the 110 and 101 freeways. While in the Chinatown area, get some tasty dim sum, visit the Chinese American Museum, and take a walking tour to discover unique herb shops and other stores.
For a break from the sightseeing attractions in downtown Los Angeles, head to Grand Park, which spans about 12 acres and is a great place to have a picnic. This is a lovely place to sit down and relax to people-watch as well. Enjoy the fountains, benches, and having an urban oasis in the middle of town. This park opened in 2012 to give the downtown area more green space, and it’s very romantic at night because of the photogenic light show. It also has a small performance lawn and a terrace with diverse plants.
Even if you aren’t taking a train anywhere, it’s fun to check out Union Station in downtown Los Angeles if you enjoy architecture. This is a beautiful station with marble, Art Deco finishes, and lots of fascinating history to learn about. You can catch MTA Metro trains, MetroLink, and Amtrak trains from Union Station.
While you’re in downtown Los Angeles, don’t miss out on the views from the Los Angeles City Hall because there’s an observation deck here that you can visit. You may recognize the building from TV shows and movies that you’ve seen. City Hall is a white tower that has been a local landmark since about 1928, and you can get some great views of the city from the 27th-floor observation deck.
To entice your senses, head over to the downtown fashion district area of Los Angeles to walk through the Original Los Angeles Flower Market. There are public hours at the market where you can see all the beautiful flowers and take photos. This market has been a local institution since around 1919 and has a big public parking area.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame and the production studios certainly aren’t the only places where you can learn about famous performers in this part of Southern California. In the downtown Los Angeles area, you can visit the Grammy Museum and browse four floors of exhibits and memorabilia that celebrate your favorite singers and recording artists. Here you can learn a lot about the history and significance of American music.