Things to do in Chinatown: Tours and attractions in the LA neighborhood
Fill your list of things to do in Chinatown with our picks for the LA neighborhood's best tours, attractions and plazas.
Tue Aug 13 2013
Photograph: Courtesy Sgerbic
Though small in terms of area, the list of things to do in Chinatown runs long enough to fill an afternoon. While the neighborhood has the assortment of mom-and-pop markets and dim sum restaurants that you would expect, it packs surpises with historic dive bars and some of LA's most stylish galleries. So, take a tour of the area's attractions and discover some of the best activities, both inside and outside of the Central Plaza, with our guide to Chinatown.
RECOMMENDED: Chinatown neighborhood guide
When Chinatown relocated to its current location in the 1930s, the Central Plaza was to be the neighborhood's vibrant hub of activity. And while the neighborhood isn't quite as bustling as it once was, the neon-drenched square still attracts tourists and locals alike with its shops, restaurants and events such as KCRW's Summer Nights. Local lore often traces the look of the area back to Cecil B. DeMille, but it was in fact designed by the local Chinese community Fun fact: There was, however, a Hollywood-backed (and highly orientalist) competitor named China City that burned down in the '40s.
- 943 N Broadway
- Price band: 1/4
Discover Chinatown's hidden spots from a temple and herbal shop to an art gallery, antique stores and bargain shops on this once a month, 2.5-hour guided, walking tour. Learn about the area's rich history while navigating through vibrant courtyards, alleyways and plazas.
- N Broadway and W Cesar E Chavez Ave
Across the street from the neon glow of Chinatown Central Plaza, the neglected Hollywood backlot-esque appearance of Chung King Road belies the cultural hipness of the pedestrian alleyway. Some of LA's best art gallery spaces have set up shop behind the worn facades, and the area transforms into a frenzy of activity during Saturday night gallery openings. Don't get too attached to any particular gallery, though; the area's tenants constantly change as cutting-edge artists come and go.
- Chung King Road
The hip-and-gable roof and meticulously crafted columns of the Thien Hau Temple stand out amidst the neighboring boxy condos and apartment complexes. You'll find the Taoist temple at the center of activity with dance performances and firecracker displays around Chinese New Year. And though you'd never know it from the architecture, the building reopened in 2005 after it had been used as a Christian church in LA's now-defunct Little Italy.
- 756 Yale St
- Price band: 1/4
Far East Plaza looks unassuming from the outside, but step into the corridor of this pioneering Chinese-American shopping mall to find a mart overflowing with local character. It doesn't have quite the same hodgepodge, lively marketplace atmosphere as some other neabry shopping destinations, but it does have two very notable tenants: Wing Hop Fung Ginseng & China Products Center, a two-story supermarket with a huge selection of herbs and teas, and the Eastside location of Chego, rockstar chef Roy Choi's rice bowl outpost.
- 727 N Broadway