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Bradbury Building
Photograph: Courtesy Brayden Law

16 of the best things to do in Downtown Los Angeles

Get to know L.A.’s resurgent city center with these quintessential things to do in Downtown Los Angeles

By Michael Juliano
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A few decades ago, DTLA wasn’t on anybody’s radar: There simply were’t enough things to do in Downtown Los Angeles, aside from being a firsthand witness to the decline of what was once a buzzing city center. These days, it’s a different story. While Downtown still has some growing up to do, it’s in the midst of a cultural and architectural resurgence that’s turning the area into a walkable, Metro-friendly destination dotted with museums, destination-worthy 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: Some blocks are more family-friendly than others, and it likely won’t have the sheen you’d expect from a major American downtown, but we think there are plenty of incredible finds for visitors who arrive with an open mind.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Downtown Los Angeles

We’ve updated this guide to include include our favorite spots that are currently open right now. Some of the area’s most notable venues—including the Broad and MOCA—are still temporarily closed.

Things to do in Downtown Los Angeles

Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Anthony Fomin

1. See the twisted architecture of the Walt Disney Concert Hall

Music Music venues Downtown

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 (though, for now, you’ll be limited to gawking from the outside). Designed by Frank Gehry, the hall is the home of the LA Philharmonic and the LA Master Chorale.

See Disney Hall, the Hollywood Sign, the Walk of Fame, and more on this tour 

Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

2. Eat tacos and egg sandwiches at Grand Central Market

Restaurants Downtown Historic Core

Even if you’re not there for the food, this century-old spot is worth a trip; people from all corners of L.A. mix and mingle among rows of spices, produce and vintage neon signage. Of course, if you’re hungry it’s a great place to get cheap pupusas from Sarita’s Pupuseria, carnitas from Tacos Tumbras a Tomas and chow mein from China Cafe, as well as food from handsome, trendy eateries like Sticky Rice, BelcampoHorse Thief BBQEggslut and G&B Coffee.

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Robert Therrien
Robert Therrien
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

3. Play underneath the table at the Broad

Museums Art and design Downtown

Typically we’d lead off anything about the free, contemporary art museum with three little words: Infinity Mirror Rooms. But the persistently popular museum’s two immersive, mirror-laden Yayoi Kusama installations are temporarily closed. But not to worry, there’s still plenty to love here, including more than a dozen Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings as well as Robert Therrien’s visitor-favorite Under the Table.

Bradbury Building
Bradbury Building
Photograph: Michael Juliano

4. Channel ‘Blade Runner’ at the Bradbury Building

Things to do Downtown Historic Core

Walk through the archway entrance of this otherwise nondescript brick building and you're greeted with a stunning, light-flooded alley of wood, iron and brick. You’ll have to do all of your gawking from the ground floor (and half a flight of stairs) as the rest of the building is private office space. History buffs will appreciate its place as Downtown’s oldest commercial building (1893); movie buffs will recognize the zigzagging staircases from the climax of Blade Runner.

Wander the world's largest studio backdrop on this tour

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Union Station
Union Station
Photograph: Courtesy Union Station

5. Give in to your wanderlust at Union Station

Things to do Downtown

Train travel has gone in and out of fashion, but the last of the great American rail stations is just as handsome as the day it opened: Union Station’s Mission-style exterior opens up into a grand waiting area with marble tiles, faux-wood beamed ceilings and Art Deco touches. Wander through its halls and courtyards and you’ll find a building rich with history, locomotion and—with the eventual arrival of high-speed rail and a new concourse—progress.

The Music Center
The Music Center
Photograph: Courtesy Tim Street-Porter

6. Stroll between a trio of cultural venues at the Music Center Plaza

Things to do Downtown

We’re still waiting for shows to ramp up at DTLA’s original cultural complex: That means no Broadway musicals at the Ahmanson Theatre, no dramas at the Mark Taper Forum and no operas at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion quite yet. But you can get some fresh air and see some outdoor dance performances at the Music Center Plaza, the fountain-adorned courtyard that links them all together (and has some perfectly framed views of City Hall).

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Los Angeles Central Library
Los Angeles Central Library
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

7. Explore by foot with the Los Angeles Conservancy Walking Tours

Things to do Walks and tours Downtown Financial District

We could fill an entire list with nothing but Downtown’s stunning architecture (unsurprisingly, quite a few of our picks for the most beautiful buildings are in DTLA). Instead, we’ll point you in the direction of the Los Angeles Conservancy’s acclaimed walking tours. Choose between tours of modern skyscrapers or the Historic Core, Art Deco icons or Victorian mansions. Most tours meet at Pershing Square, near the mini-groves of orange trees.

Grand Park
Grand Park
Photograph: Michael Juliano

8. Pack a picnic at Grand Park

Things to do Downtown

The slow, lumbering mission to turn Downtown L.A. into a vibrant cultural hub got a lift when a portion of Grand Park’s 12 acres officially opened to the public in July 2012. Dotted with fountains, picnic lawns, bright pink benches and plenty of nooks from which to sit and people-watch, Grand Park is a bright urban oasis that proves the city has a sense of romance. The park plays host to performances, gatherings and other community events.

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The Last Bookstore
The Last Bookstore
Photograph: Jake Giles Netter

9. Get lost in a labyrinth of tomes at the Last Bookstore

Shopping Bookstores Downtown Historic Core

If the Last Bookstore Downtown were really our last bookstore, we’d be in good shape. Currently housed in what used to be an old bank building (complete with marble columns and giant doors), this store is as popular for its stellar book selection as it is for its labyrinth of literary photo ops.

Museum of Contemporary Art, MOCA
Museum of Contemporary Art, MOCA
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

10. See contemporary masterpieces at MOCA Grand Avenue

Museums Art and design Downtown

The main branch of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) houses thousands of artworks crafted from 1940 until now. Spend half an hour or an entire afternoon absorbing contemporary pieces from lesser-known artists, punctuated by sightings of Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock works. And maybe best of all: Since early 2020, admission is totally free.

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Looking for things to do in other parts of Downtown?

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