Downey brings together a large population in a small-town environment. The home of the famous band The Carpenters and the birthplace of the Apollo Space Program, this city takes pride in its history. Its status as a top city in California for business makes it an excellent choice for established families and single professionals.
Sitting about 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the area boasts access to plenty of major attractions. Nestled between several freeways and sitting just 10 miles from the beach, Downey gives residents the opportunity to work or play whenever they want.
Restaurants & Nightlife
The city has a mix of food options, ranging from classic American burgers to upscale Mediterranean grills.
The oldest McDonald's in the world calls Downey home, but locals more often head to LA Buns. The joint improves the burger tradition with handmade patties, fresh produce and brioche buns. A laid-back atmosphere with the radio playing in the background makes this a fun place to take the family on a Sunday afternoon. Choose whatever burger has your favorite ingredients, but don't leave without trying the buffalo chicken fries.
Seafood enthusiasts pick Pacific Fish Grill for their generous portions of food in a lively, energetic environment. For a good time, stop by on taco Tuesdays, when the grill has tacos starting at 99 cents and drinks are half off. Bring the kids on Thursday to get a free kid's meal with each adult entree.
The Marketplace Grill Cafe keeps a classy but casual atmosphere, with Mediterranean cuisine bathed in high-quality olive oil. The outdoor seating area has heaters, making it perfect for early evenings and days with a cool breeze. An extensive menu gives you plenty to choose from, but leave room for dessert, because everyone should try the baklava. Served with a scoop of ice cream, it'll help satisfy any sweet tooth.
Nightlife in the area can be as wild as you want it to be, with a collection of local bars mixed with dance clubs. For a trendy spot with a packed dance floor, check out Club db Lounge. A rotating mix of DJs keeps the music fresh every night, and the accommodating staff make this an ideal place to get a table for special events.
History & Culture
Downey possesses a rich history that features the beginning of the Apollo Space Program and the birth of major brands, including McDonald's and Taco Bell. The city was named after John Gately Downey, an Irish settler who divided the large ranches in the area into farms. Downey transitioned from farms to homes and commercial buildings in the 1950s, and it incorporated into Los Angeles county in 1956.
The Columbia Memorial Space Center showcases Downey's history in the aerospace industry, even including a full-size mock space shuttle. Kids will love the robotics room, which allows them to interact with a robot by programming where it moves. Art lovers check out Stay Gallery, a nonprofit art gallery. The gallery partners with local artists and students, showing its commitment to developing the city's art scene.
Traveling around Downey is most convenient with a car, but the city provides other travel methods for residents without automobiles.
With the city center located between four freeways, motorists have their pick of freeways that can be accessed quickly. Interstates 5 and 710, each running north and south, lie on the east and west ends of the city, respectively. Interstate 605, also running north and south, intersects with I-5. Interstate 105 lies on the south end of Downey and runs east or west. Traffic can be an issue depending on the time of day. Most streets have parking, just make sure to check the signs for time restrictions.
Los Angeles Metro buses service the area, and a Metro Green Line Station sits on Lakewood Boulevard. Hop on the Green Line for a ride over to Los Angeles International Airport. You can also take Metro route 117, 265 or 266 from this station. Taxis and ride-share companies like Uber service the area. Pickup times vary, though, so plan ahead.
Certain areas of Downey can be traveled by bike or on foot. Longer trips and commutes usually require another form of transportation, though. Most streets don't have bike lanes, although bikers can ride in the street.
Life in Downey carries a slightly lower cost of living than the Los Angeles county average. The cost of leasing apartments or houses can be affordable. A one-bedroom apartment typically costs about $1,100, though find cheaper arrangements can be found.
A Metro ride to the city center costs about $1.75, and gas prices come in around 14 percent higher than the national average. A pint at the local pub runs about $4.
Whether your tastes skew toward large brands or small boutiques, you'll have plenty of stores to check out in this city.
Downey houses two major shopping centers, the Stonewood Center and the Downey Landing Center. Located at Firestone and Lakewood, the Stonewood Center includes more than 170 stores. Major retailers include Macy's, JCPenney, Sears and Kohls. The Downey Landing Center has a food court and large retailers, such as Old Navy and Best Buy.
Boutique fans flock to Diana Boutique, a reasonably priced women's clothing store. The sales staff loves to help out, and if you don't find anything, you can check out this boutique's catalog. Be confident that you'll get the perfect fit too, as this shop does alterations.
Those with children will enjoy Cadiz Boutique. Look for the cute exterior with the bright pink sign. When you step inside, you'll be greeted by a vibrant shop that provides a kid-friendly environment. One-of-a-kind clothes mean your child will stand out from the crowd while still looking stylish.
A grocery store selection that includes Ralphs, Albertsons and Walmart gives you several large chains a short trip away. If you're looking for a farmers market, look no further than the Downey Farmers Market, located on Second Street and La Reina. Taking place on Saturday mornings, the market has foods from local farms — and several booths provide free samples. A small, intimate environment makes it easy to browse the food stands.
Several well-maintained parks give this city's residents options for spending time outdoors and leading an active lifestyle.
Whether you want to have a family barbecue or play a few sets of tennis, you'll be able to — free of charge — at Furman Park. A large playground gives the kids something to do while their parents burn off energy with a run or a game of basketball. Come by during the summer months for free concerts every Wednesday.
Rio San Gabriel Park provides another convenient, free location for sports or family gatherings. With a dog park, you really can bring the whole family here. For a relaxing walk, take your pup over to the riverbed right behind the park.