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14 Fun Things To Do in Downtown Los Angeles

fun things to do in downtown los angeles
Written by Edith & Juan

There’s so much to do in the city of Los Angeles that it has been impossible to see all of it in the couple of years we’ve lived here.  I’m not even sure that’s possible in a city so big.  Recently though, we set out to do more activities located in the heart of the city in Downtown L.A.

Exploring the area is fun because there is so much to see and do. Just walking downtown is an adventure of its own.  If you’re looking to explore the area or you’re a resident who still has more things you want to try out, check out our list of fun things to do in downtown Los Angeles.

Fun Things to do in Downtown Los Angeles

 

Walt Disney’s Concert Hall

With its unique architecture, Disney’s Concert Hall is a venue that holds orchestral performances.  This stainless steel building has such a striking exterior that it easily catches the attention of those passing by.

The Broad Museum

LA’s newest contemporary art museum has grown quickly in popularity probably due to its mirror room, its unique external architectural design, and its free general admission to its permanent gallery. It includes collections from Cindy Sherman, Jeff Loons, Andy Warhol, and Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room.

 

Pershing Square Park

Pershing Square is a park downtown that holds occasional concerts and has a seasonal ice rink.  Located on Hill and 5th Street, Pershing Square is a great stop for those exploring downtown.

The Last Bookstore

Located on the corner of 5th & Spring in the Spring Arts Tower, The Last Bookstore has the feel of an antique bookstore, and it seems right to mention that its name was chosen with irony. With a collection of over 250,000 new and used books on two floors, The Last Bookstore also has an amazing design.  The second floor holds the Labyrinth and some great gallery shops that visitors tend to enjoy. For all you book lovers out there, this is the perfect place for you!

Grand Central Market

We recently discovered Grand Central Market and we were left hooked with the food.  This place has various kinds of food such as Thai, Mexican, American, and South American. If pupusas, tacos, aguas frescas, and ice-cream are your thing, than you will love all the choices this place offers.   Can you believe this place has been operating since 1917!? Our favorite is Tacos Tumbras a Tomas where we ate some delicious Mexican tacos.  The tacos are so huge that eating two is like eating 5!

Fashion Districit

Head on over to the alleys in the heart of downtown L.A. if you enjoy retail and wholesale shopping from independent stores.   For those who love a good bargain, this will be your paradise.  Retail prices on apparel and accessories are low and shoppers can find almost anything they are looking for.  You can find anything from little trinkets, to clothing and accessories, and to electronics and street food.  The alleys are open everyday from 10AM-5PM and the most popular alley is Santee Alley.

DTLA Arts District

A place where many hipsters hang out,  the downtown LA’s Arts District caters to the creative and the young. Here you will find some seriously cool artwork that gives the community character. An art walk includes the sight of fashion bloggers and photographers roaming the streets posing in front of the art.  Some of our favorites pieces include the Angel Wings by Colette, the Piece by Piece Mural by Tristan Eaton, the Elephants by Damon Martin, and the Love mural. Aside from art, the Arts District has many coffee shops, bars, boutiques, and restaurants.

fun things to do in downtown los angeles

LA River Bridge

Ever since moving to Los Angeles, we had wanted to visit the iconic LA 6th bridge famous for movie scenes.  Though 6th bridge went through demolition in early 2016, the LA River Bridge remains.  This viaduct was was featured in movies such as Grease, Gone in 60 Seconds, Furious 7 and many more. You will find that people visit the L.A. River Bridge for photography, car racing, and pot smoking.

Little Tokyo

Just a short distance from the Downtown L.A. Arts District, Little Tokyo is where you can find unique shops and some delicious Japanese restaurants and dessert places eat at.  This place is rich in history, culture, and fun.  In Little Tokyo you will find Japanese Gardens, Buddhist temples, the Japanese American National Museum, and an arcade room.

fun things to do in downtown los angeles

Los Angeles City Hall

A city icon since 1928, the Los Angeles City Hall tower is famous for its amazing views of Los Angeles.  This 27th floor observation deck is open from 9AM-5PM during the weekdays.

Chinatown

Though this Chinatown is not as big as the New York City or San Francisco ones, it still has enough things to do to make a visit fun.  Tourists who visit Chinatown L.A., have an opportunity to enjoy the history, culture, Chinese food, events, and the fun found in this place.  Aside from a beautiful and colorful atmosphere, you can find delicious egg rolls and shop around at some the unique stores.  Chinatown also holds special events and festivals throughout the year, making it a perfect place to visit by yourself, with your loved one, or even the whole family!

fun things to do in downtown los angeles

U.S Bank Tower

In June 2016, the tallest building in Downtown Los Angeles, the U.S. Bank Tower opened up Skyspace LA. This is an outdoor observation deck where people enjoy the 360 degree city views as high as the 60th floor.  More exciting than the observation deck is the new Skyslide.  It is a slide made out of glass on the side of the building that visitors who dare, can slide down this 3 second attraction from the 70th to the 69th floor.  How fun is that!? Located on 5th Street and open daily from 9Am-11PM, the observation deck admission is $25 for adults and $8 for the slide.  This is the one place downtown that we have yet to try!

Placita Olvera

El Pueblo de los Angeles Historical Monument is simply known as Olvera Street, or Placita Olvera.  It is known as the oldest section of Los Angeles and it has an authentic Spanish-style feel.  A walk around Olvera Street will give you access to a Mexican Marketetplace that has a variety of vendors selling food and different goods.  You will also find La Plaza de Cultural y Artes Museum and The Chinese American Musuem.

fun things to do in downtown los angeles

Staples Center

Also located downtown, this multi-purpose sports arena is home to the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Kings and many more L.A. teams. Aside from being home to L.A teams, the Staples Center hosts many other sporting and entertainment events.  We have yet to come see an L.A. basketball team, but we did have the privilege of seeing our favorite college team play inside the arena for March Madness.

fun things to do in downtown los angeles

There are so much more fun things to do in downtown Los Angeles than the things we mentioned.  Tell us in the comments section what we missed! Also, let us know your favorite place or the one you want to see most from this list!

About the author

Edith & Juan

From Arizona but temporarily based near California, Edith and her husband Juan created Life Beyond 520 to share inspiration from their local travels and adventures in California and beyond. Edith is the blogger behind these posts, but together they hope to inspire couples and others to get out there and explore new places, including their own city.

39 Comments

  • Amazing list of attractions to visit in Los Angeles. I thought i read somewhere recently they were pulling down the famous bridge that features in so many movies. Grease for me comes to mind straight away for the car race and Terminator 2 when they drive the truck off the bridge

    • 6th bridge was torn down earlier this year but the LA River Bridge remains. When you go into the canals it’s like you dive into the movie scenes of the ones you mentioned. People even go down to race there.

  • The Broad museum is on my wishlist to visit next time we go to LA, will have to checkout some of the other cool places you have listed too! Thanks for sharing!!

  • So much interesting architecture throughout downtown LA! I would love to visit! And OMG the The Last Bookstore – I have this obsession with finding unique bookstores around the world, and this looks right up my alley!

  • I’ve never been to a mirror room, but they sound great fun! I didn’t know there was one at The Broad Museum, when I am there I will definitely check it out. Some really interesting suggestions, and I can’t wait to visit the LA River Bridge, I am such a fan of Gone in 60 seconds!

  • Downtown LA seems like a really happening place. There is so much to see and do and I am sure there will never be a dull moment. My favourites are the Last Bookshop, that appeals to the bookworm in me as well as the Art district. The street are seems so fascinating.

  • Thanks for sharing and a great post for those who wonder what they need to do in LA! Personally, I love Little Tokyo and Grand Central Market just because of their shops πŸ™‚ @ knycx journeying

  • I’ve always wanted to visit LA, but didn’t know what to do with myself there. I love bookstores and The Last Bookstore is definitely worth a visit. I wouldn’t miss the arts district either!

  • What a diverse list of things to see! I’d have to go to the bookstore – I love the display there! And the LA River Bridge is so iconic – I’ve seen it in so many films. I’d have to do everything on this list.

  • I saved your article as I will do a trip to LA soon. I visited only the beaches during my last visit, but this looks really cool. Especially the River Bridge, it is also used for the movie Grease, right? I loved that movie!

  • I didn’t know there was so much to do in LA, aside from stalking celebrities. Though I have heard it’s difficult to get between each attraction. Is there any good public transport in LA?

    • So many things to do, but no, there isn’t good transport in LA. The best way to get around is by car and the Metro doesn’t seem all that convenient since it doesn’t take you to main attractions directly. Hope you get to visit soon so you can enjoy some of these places. πŸ™‚

  • This all looks like so much fun!! Placita Olvera looks like such a cute & colorful area! I’ve been to LA a few times, and out of all of these I’ve only been to Chinatown. Amazing how much LA has to offer!

  • I love that LA never gets old and you never run out of things to see and do! I could actually spend my whole vacation exploring the awesome murals and street art. I have never been to the Last Bookstore, so I’m putting that on my list. I’m thinking I have to do a solo trip to LA without my kiddos to enjoy some of these sites.

  • There is never a shortage of things to do in LA! I lived there years back when I was getting my Bachelor’s degree and was never bored! I love all the art in DTLA, as well as Placita Olvera, Little Tokyo (they have the best vegan sushi!), and Chinatown. I can’t believe I haven’t been to The Last Bookstore! I just spent a few months in LA and I would’ve loved it! Love this article!

  • […] Downtown Los Angeles offers so much to do. Β We’ve always enjoyed our time in this area and we always head to the Grand Central Market for a variety of great and delicious choices of food. Next door you will find the Walt Disney Concert Hall building and nearby you can check out some bars or head to The Last Bookstore. Β Not too far you also have the Downtown Los Angeles Art scene which we highly recommend. Β The whole downtown area is quite fun, so go check it out while you’re there! […]

  • LA is my dream destination and I would really love to get to do all of these things. I would especially love to visit the iconic LA 6th bridge! How many days would you recommend spending there, Edith and Juan?

    • You’ll enjoy LA so much. Lots to do. Days recommended depends on how much you want to do and see. If you’ll be visiting the theme parks you need a whole day for each one. If you’ll be exploring the city, I recommend a minimum of 4 days, but an entire week would be better if you plan to see more. Traffic eats up a lot of your time and isn’t to easy to get around but there are many fun things worth going to.

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