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24 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

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Bradbury Building
Photograph: Courtesy Brayden Law

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 a once great 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 cleaner and 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

24 essential things to do in Downtown Los Angeles

12
L.A. Central Library
Photograph: Michael Juliano
Things to do, Literary events

Step into the stunning rotunda of the Los Angeles Central Library

icon-location-pin Downtown Financial District

The city’s main library is worth a look even if you have no interest in borrowing books. The exterior is an Egyptian and Mediterranean beauty, topped with a dramatic, tiled pyramid tower and decorated with bas-reliefs. The most stunning features, though, reside in the second floor rotunda, with its deco-meets-arabesque dome, California history mural and globe chandelier. There’s also a fine program of lectures and discussions in the Mark Taper Auditorium.

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13
LA Live.
Photo courtesy AEG
Things to do, Event spaces

Cheer on the home team at L.A. Live

icon-location-pin South Park

L.A. Live is an entertainment venue located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. Adjacent to Staples Center, it is the home of the Microsoft Theater, Regal Cinemas and various bars, hotels and restaurants, like the towering JW Marriott, WP24 and SBE’s swanky Katsuya. The area is jam-packed almost every night of the week (especially pre-Lakers, Clippers and Kings games) with tourists and locals alike.

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15
BierBeisl Imbiss
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Savor coffee and gelato inside the Spring Arcade Building

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

Enter the terra cotta archway of this 1924 arcade and you’ll find a glass-roofed alleyway dotted with restaurants and shops. The crowds are still light—it’s no Grand Central Market competitor, at least not yet—but the food offerings are already strong. Stop by Guisados for a chorizo taco and some horchata, or Rice Box for some bao. Don Francisco’s pours cups of Cuban coffee, while Gelateria Uli has some of the city’s best gelato. If you’re in the mood for a glass of wine, step into Garçons de Cafe, a wine bar and boutique that instantly transports you to Paris.

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FIGat7th
Photograph: Courtesy FIGat7th
Shopping, Shopping centers

Shop a little at FIGat7th

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One of Downtown’s busiest shopping and dining destinations, FIGat7th hosts movies, music and seasonal fests in its recessed plaza. The shopping center includes retailers like Target and Zara, a food court and Downtown outposts of Sprinkles, Mendocino Farms and Pazzo Gelato.

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17
Grammy Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Tony J/Yelp
Museums, Music

Brush up on music history at the Grammy Museum

icon-location-pin South Park

Wind your way through four floors of rock star memorabilia, film clips and interactive exhibits (belt your heart out in a fake recording studio!) at this 30,000-square-foot museum on the L.A. Live campus, which attempts to cover all the major music genres. A state-of-the-art, 200-seat Clive Davis theater is also the site of exclusive performances and events.

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Photograph: Courtesy Original LA Flower Market
Things to do

Pick up fresh floral finds at the Original Los Angeles Flower Market

icon-location-pin Downtown Fashion District

Visit the Original L.A. Flower Market in—where else?—the Flower District. Restaurateurs, wedding planners, florists and botany geeks (and okay, some tourists) make up the early morning hustle and bustle among rows of flowers, plants and “floral accessories” from around the world. Come out later during public hours to grab a bouquet for a friend, take some great pictures or just indulge your senses. Insider tip: Avoid Wednesdays and Fridays if possible—they’re the busiest days. And just a heads up: The surrounding area isn’t the greatest, so make use of the market’s secured parking garage.

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19
SkySpace US Bank Tower
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Attractions, Towers and viewpoints

Scoot down the Skyslide at OUE Skyspace LA

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Though the U.S. Bank Tower may no longer be the tallest building in the West thanks to the Wilshire Grand, it’s made some sky-high additions: restaurant 71Above, an open-air observation deck and a glass slide. Those last two are both part of the OUE Skyspace LA. Skyslide, accessible with an additional ticket, is an outdoor glass slide suspended 1,000 feet above Downtown Los Angeles. Tip: Skip the morning hours and wait for the typical marine layer to burn off for the best visibility.

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Angels Flight.
Photograph: Michael Juliano
Things to do

Have a ‘La La Land’ moment on Angels Flight

icon-location-pin Downtown

Angels Flight—which you may recognize from La La Land—is literally the little funicular that could: The block-long railway has weathered mechanical problems, extended closures and relocation to keep pulling passengers up Bunker Hill over a century after its initial opening. The two, tiered cars that traverse its rails offer a view of the Historic Core below, as well as an amusingly bumpy ride. You can board Angels Flight from either Hill Street or Olive Street, but we suggest the former lest you end up hoofing it back up Fourth Street. Tip: Use your TAP card for a half-price fare.

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