Downtown Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA

With Hollywood operating as a top destination for travelers from all over the world, downtown has often been overlooked as a destination in and of itself. Take a peek around and behold Downtown Los Angeles in a major renaissance of revitalization. Little Tokyo as well as the financial, entertainment, warehouse and arts Districts are all nestled in the heart of this walkable area. For those days when you want to swim, play and walk in the sand, you only need to drive 10 miles away to get to popular beach-town neighborhoods, such as Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Pacific Palisades, to enjoy the year-round surf and sun. Good eats, hopping bars, entire districts dedicated to shopping and ample living spaces, including lofts, townhouses and condos, make this area a must-see for those looking to be near the action in an urban environment.

Schools in Downtown Los Angeles

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

Downtown Los Angeles restaurants include options for those craving Japanese, Chinese, Italian, American, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and American meals. There is no shortage of options for those wanting to get out on the town for a drink, watch a sports game or dance at a club. Order truffle fries and a blue cheese burger at Food Haus, a destination with easy street parking and consistently delicious American-style cuisine. Kid friendly with free wi-fi and a casual atmosphere, Food Haus serves as a repeat visit for many locals. For a sweet dessert, be sure to try the red velvet cake. Declared to be one of the best falafel joints in Los Angeles, Joe’s Falafel serves up steaming plates of seasoned falafel, shawarma bowls and laffa bread fresh from the oven for an average of $10 a meal. Don’t forget to enjoy the savory spices in the lemon chicken sandwich and the baba ghanoush spread. The Black Sheep is another local favorite. This gastropub excels in Asian fusion, with sake bombs, carne asade tots, swiss cheese mushroom burgers and Thai chicken. For an after-dinner cocktail, cash-only Tiki-Ti Cocktail Lounge specializes in tropical drinks, with names like Hot Buttered Rum and Blood and Sand. Insiders say any drink with coconut in it is a must.

History & Culture

Los Angeles was discovered in 1781 by a group of 44 settlers who dubbed it El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, or, "The Town of the Queen of Angels." It experienced a rapid boom in the late 1800’s as midwesterners flocked to the area to take advantage of great transportation, large tracts of cheap land and massive promotional campaigns. The buildings in the historic core of Downtown Los Angeles were established in the early 1900’s. In the 1950s, downtown lost some locals who had acquired new automobiles as they moved towards other areas, outgrowing the renowned railway system that had brought the area to new heights in the 1920’s. The area began booming again when the Los Angeles City Council passed an adaptive reuse ordinance, allowing developers to convert vacant office and commercial buildings into modern lofts, luxury apartments and condo complexes.


The Metro Rail travels most places within LA County. For $6, a day pass gives you access to ride any of the Metro’s rail or bus lines, and you can take a single trip for $1.50. The DASH buses travel around town for only 50 cents, running every five to twelve minutes until 6:30 or 7 p.m. Cabs certified by the City of LA taxicab seal are recommended, and four major cab companies bear this logo. Take The Dodger Stadium Express to the ballpark for free with purchase of a Dodgers ticket. Hop in your car within the neighborhood to hit the Santa Monica Freeway, The Golden State Freeway, The Harbor Freeway and The Santa Monica Freeway, all of which connect Downtown Los Angeles with the rest of California. Bicycling is encouraged throughout the area, and the city hosts a website for those interested in printing bike maps.


Living in Downtown Los Angeles is surprisingly affordable compared to neighboring areas such as Santa Monica, where rent is at least one-third more for a one-bedroom apartment than this area’s average of around $2,017. Gas prices are on par with the national average. Public transportation lends itself to easy travel, with more options than you need. The DASH bus travels all around the downtown area for a mere two quarters. Bars and nightclubs have popped up all over the area. For kicks, hit up The Library Bar, which houses real books, or Villians Tavern.


The jewelry, fashion, flower, and toy districts of Downtown Los Angeles are dedicated entirely to shopping. The Walt Disney Concert Hall, the STAPLES Center, and LA Live are destinations for many visitors. In addition, downtown contains many neighborhoods, including Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Historic Downtown, and Bunker Hill. Shop boutiques such as Brigade for shoes in modern styles, or the Hob Nob Shop located in the heart of Little Tokyo for flowing dresses, blouses, and rompers. Visit the Historic Core Farmers Market in the Historic District, or pick up some food for the authentic Asian cuisines you want to experiment with by visiting the Little Tokyo Certified Farmers Market on the City Hall South Plaza in Little Tokyo. For any other groceries you need, try the Ralphs location on West 9th Street, Om Nom Organics, Urban Radish, the Little Tokyo Galleria Market, or Smart & Final, which has two downtown locations on Compton Avenue and South Figueroa Street.


Though close to many beaches that contain their own outdoor playgrounds, downtown itself has been designed to include a 4-mile hiking trail that takes you through the center of the city, hitting 17 historic and cultural sites along the way. Parks such as the California Plaza, with an oasis of fountains and water, are tucked away throughout the city. The Grand Hope Park features a playground catering to toddlers. Immaculately tended James Irvine Japanese Garden showcases an elegance that's not to be missed. The LA Music Center, lined with flowering trees, also reveals views of the San Gabriel Valley and the famous Hollywood sign. Make sure to throw a coin in the coin pool before you go. Don't forget to participate in any one of the many events held here year-round, from Holiday Fairs to Art Walks and outdoor music performances.
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