As the crown jewel of the Music Center, Disney Hall opened in 2003 to rave reviews. The novelty hasn’t yet worn off: Both inside and out, this is a terrific venue. Designed by Frank Gehry, the hall is the home of the LA Philharmonic and the LA Master Chorale, but the schedule is surprisingly varied throughout the year. Take advantage of the free audio tour, or get lost among the many hidden nooks around the hall, including a hidden garden. It’s also suddenly become a bit of a dining destination, with Ray Garcia’s on-site restaurant Asterid as well as a bunch of José Andrés spots across the street at the Grand LA.
A few decades ago, DTLA never would’ve landed on any out-of-towner itineraries: There simply were’t enough things to do in Downtown Los Angeles, aside from witnessing a once-buzzing city center slump into a mix of stoic postmodern high-rises and vacant storefronts.
These days, it’s a mostly different story—though one that’s been unquestionably impacted by the uncertainties of the past few years. While Downtown still has some growing up to do, it’s in the midst of a (somewhat slowed down) retail, institutional and architectural resurgence that’s turning the area into a more walkable, Metro-friendly destination dotted with museums, superlative restaurants and beautiful buildings. Get to know Bunker Hill, the Historic Core and beyond with these things to do in Downtown Los Angeles.
Just a heads up: Though it’s home to L.A.’s biggest cluster of tall buildings, DTLA feels pretty different from most other cities’ downtown areas. For starters, L.A.’s cultural destinations are spread all over the city and not just in Downtown. And as for the neighborhood itself, it likely won’t have the sheen you’d expect from a major American downtown; most blocks aren’t really conducive to family-friendly touristy activities, and some simply don’t feel safe. But we think there are plenty of incredible finds for visitors who arrive with an open mind and a bit of street smarts.
Looking for things to do in the Arts District, Little Tokyo and Chinatown? We’ve included separate guides to those Downtown districts at the bottom of this story.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Downtown Los Angeles