If you are searching for the best things to do in downtown LA, then you are in the right place.
Los Angeles has many beautiful spots, and we really enjoyed wandering around downtown. And the best thing is that it won’t break your wallet neither. After our incredible Hollywood sunset hike and spending a couple of days in Venice Beach, we were excited to head to downtown Los Angeles.
You can easily spend the whole day here, and we will show you the biggest highlights which you cannot miss and are absolutely free.
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN DOWNTOWN LA
If you are about to visit downtown Los Angeles, then you should be really looking forward. Here are all the 20 free things you can see in Downtown LA.
We also created a map of downtown LA for you, and if you follow our list with the best things to do, you will manage to see them all.
WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
Let’s start your day at the Walt Disney concert hall. I am sure that you have seen some great pictures of this architectural gem on the “gram”.
Seeing this steel facade building is one of the unique things to do in downtown LA.
The Walt Disney concert hall was designed by Frank Gehry. If you wonder why the building has such a unique curvy shape, then the answer is acoustics. Frank wanted to design a building that makes the most incredible sound inside the building. And he surely succeeded.
Sadly we didn’t go in and also didn’t book tickets to one of the concerts, but this is something we would like to do on our next trip to Los Angeles. Check their official website for upcoming performances.
SEE MORE: EASY HIKE TO THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN WITH SUNSET.
ADMIRE ARTWORK AT THE BROAD
Broad has one of the most impressive collections of contemporary art. And that is why, it belongs to our list of the best things to do in downtown Los Angeles. The Broad is located just on the right side of the Walt Disney concert hall.
And even though you might not be a big museum lover, you will not regret stopping by here.
EXTRA TIP: If you would like to save time and avoid queuing, make sure to book a ticket online (free). You will be given a specific time slot when you can come. And the best thing is that you can skip the queue and come right to the entrance. Check the official website here.
ENTRANCE FEE: FREE
The best thing about the Broad museum is that it is absolutely free and featuring some of the most famous artworks from various artists.
Once you arrive, you need to check in your backpack, and then we recommend you take the escalator to the upper floor.
Here you can see Balloon Dog by Jeff Koons and many paintings from Andy Warhol and other artists.
I really liked the artwork from Roy Lichtenstein. He has many pieces in the museum, but this one really struck my eye.
If you still have energy, you need to check out the Infinity Mirrored Room created by Yayoi Kusama. It is a great exhibition with a mirror-lined room and with various twinkling LED lights.
Another fun thing to do in downtown LA is to check the Bradbury building. If you ever watched the science-fiction movie “Blade Runner,” you will feel like in a movie scene here.
You do not need any ticket here; access to this building is absolutely free and open to the public. However, you are not allowed to take the elevator, and you can’t go upstairs. The whole five-story building is an office building.
EXTRA TIP: You are not allowed to take any photos here with a professional camera, as it is forbidden. But the phone camera will do just fine.
Next to the building, you will find a Blue Bottle Coffee. They have great coffee, so make sure to have a break here.
SLIDE AT OUE SKYSPACE LA
Another awesome thing to do in LA is visiting the OUE Skyspace center. Alright, this is the only attraction that requires paying an entrance fee, but since it’s close to the Broad, we had to include it in our downtown LA guide.
Similar to the buildings with glass floors in Chicago and New York, Los Angeles has its very own. The observation deck is located on the 70th floor in the US Bank Tower.
From the 70th floor, you can slide through a transparent tunnel to the 69th floor. If you are visiting this place in the late afternoon, we would definitely suggest you stay for sunset. We skipped skyspace as I am still battling a lot with my fear of heights (but next time we are in LA, I will go for it).
ENTRANCE: $25 – $35
LOCATION: 633 West Fifth Street Suite 840 Los Angeles, CA 90071
THE LAST BOOKSTORE
Another excellent place on your to-do list for downtown LA is checking out one of the biggest book stores in California. I am sure you have seen some photos of the famous book tunnel on Instagram.
Here you can find every type of genre you like. From fantasy, romantic, crime, travel to novels, the options are endless here. Also, if you would like to get rid of some of the books you do not need, then you can come here and sell them.
Make sure to go upstairs for an awesome view of the whole library and the book store.
EXTRA TIP: Do not be surprised if you need to queue for certain photo spots as this is a very popular Instagram hotspot.
GRAND CENTRAL MARKET
Grand Central Market is a perfect stopover when you are hungry. And by now you already explored some interesting places, so have some treat, or stay for lunch.
Here you can find many stalls selling food from different countries. We noticed a lot of Mexican food, but you can also get Asian, Italian, and of course, delicious burgers. If you would like to try something cool and popular in LA, then head to Egg-slut and order their eggy burgers.
And if you wonder, what are you suppose to do there as vegetarian or vegan, you do not need to worry. There is something for everyone. I had a delicious vegetarian burrito, which I couldn’t even finish (Luckily, I have Nico, who helped me).
There is also a very cool wall with many flashing LED lights, which is great for taking photos.
If you are interested in taking a great culinary tour, then check this Downtown taco tour, which will last around 2.5 hours and let you discover the Grand Central Market and Olvera street in El Pueblo.
ANGELS FLIGHT RAILWAY
The Grand Central Market is located near the Bradbury Building, and when you stand in front of the market at S Hill St, you will be looking at the Angels Flight railway.
Angels Flight Railway is a little train that was currently featured in LA LA Land movie.
LITTLE TOKYO DISTRICT
Many large cities have several international districts. And Los Angeles is no exception. Besides large Chinese or Mexican districts, you can find the so-called Tokyo district.
So, if you would like to transfer yourselves to Tokyo just for a few minutes, then you will love it here. Tokyo district in downtown LA is home to the largest Japanese-American population in North America.
Here you can find tasty Japanese restaurants and have authentic Japanese meals. There is also a Japanese-American National Museum if you are interested. Those two nations surely have an eventful past.
DOWNTOWN LA STREET ART
Los Angles is, in general, known for many beautiful street art walls and paintings. Similar to the Wynwood district in Miami, there are many paintings made by several artists and absolutely perfect for taking pictures. So if you are planning to brighten your Instagram feed, you will have plenty of possibilities to take a beautiful picture with street art in downtown LA.
If you are wondering where can you find the most beautiful street art in downtown LA, then head to the Art district which is located on the east side of downtown LA.
JESUS SAVES SIGN
If you are wondering around E 9th St, somewhere in the parking garage, you will likely see this iconic sign, which is still off the radar for many people. Jesus Saves sign sits on top of the Ace Hotel, which makes the hotel nowadays very popular.
EL PUEBLO DISTRICT
After your time walking around Tokyo and the Art District, you can walk to the El Pueblo District. Pueblo District is also called Little Mexico. And here you can find several churches and several cute streets with a Mexican vibe.
Make sure to go to Olvera Street, which is right across the street from Union Station. Olvera Street is the oldest street in Los Angeles, and here you will also find the oldest house in Los Angeles (Avila Adobe). The whole street is full of lovely souvenir stalls, tasty Mexican food, and a great atmosphere.
If you happen to be visiting Los Angeles at the beginning of November (during Halloween), then you can come here and join the celebration El Dia De Los Muertos. It must be a lovely and fun atmosphere.
THE GRAND PARK
If you need a little break, sit down at the Grand Park and do some people watching. But do not get so comfortable, as we have more awesome things to do in downtown LA.
SEE MORE: THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN MIAMI
CATHEDRAL OF OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS
If you are coming from El Pueblo, there is no way you can’t miss the impressive Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. You can go in and walk around.
Make sure to check out the mausoleum, which is located on the underground level.
ENTRANCE FEE: FREE
Another free and fun thing to do in downtown LA is to visit Union Station. If you watched Blade Runner (or several other movies), you would probably recognize this train station, which is featured in many films. You do not need to spend a lot of time here. We just walked around and admired the unique architecture.
If you are interested in movies, then check this Hollywood Movie Experience tour, which will take you to locations featured in films such as La La Land, The Dark Knight Rises, Transformers, Blade Runner, and Independence Day. And the guide will tell you more in detail about each movie and scenes.
HAVE A DRINK AT SPIRE 73 BAR
To make your day complete head to Spire 73, which is a bar located on the roof of the InterContinental Hotel. From here, you can view the whole downtown of LA, sipping tasty cocktails and enjoying the breathtaking sunset.
EXTRA TIP: Spire 73 is a little bit further away from El Pueblo district, and if you are exhausted from walking all day, you should get an Uber.
My friend Andrea enjoyed a lovely evening at the Perch bar, which is located quite close to the Last bookstore, near the Pershing metro station.
There are many bars around downtown LA, where you can up for the view, but most of them charge the entrance fee. At Perch, there is no entrance fee. The atmosphere is very lovely, with a fantastic view of downtown LA.
LOCATION: Perch, 448 S Hill St, downtown Los Angeles, CA 90013
MORE THINGS TO DO IN DOWNTOWN LA
If you have more than one day to explore downtown Los Angeles, then here are more places you can consider visiting:
- LA Live and the Grammy Museum
- Smorgasbord LA: (open only on Sundays) with around 30 pop-ups with tasty food and drinks.
- LA Library
- LA City Hall (9 AM to 5 PM): You can visit the observation deck for free.
- Pershing Square: Another nice park to hang around.
- Dodger’s Stadium
HOW TO GET TO DOWNTOWN LA?
I think that the best way how to get to downtown Los Angeles is to take an Uber. Uber is affordable and the fastest option. We always had a great experience and felt very safe (although LA drivers are sometimes driving like crazy).
You can also get to downtown LA using public transport, which is infamously known to be unreliable. And if you happen to be taking a bus at the wrong time of the day, you might be stuck for hours. That is why we are suggesting you avoid rush hours, which occurs in the morning between 6 and 9 AM and the afternoon between 4 and 7 PM. But again, check the traffic on Google maps before you leave.
You can take a train and get off at Pershing Square metro station, and from there, it’s just a short walk to Grand Central Market.
HOW TO GET AROUND DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES?
The best way to get around downtown LA is on foot. And if you are comfortable with driving E-scooters, then you can definitely do that as well.
IS DOWNTOWN LA SAFE?
We started our day in the morning and wandered around downtown LA, till the evening, and we felt very safe. However, like in every country, be careful with your belongings and behave respectfully.
Unfortunately, LA has a big problem with homelessness (some estimates say that there are over 60.000 homeless people), and sadly, you will see many small tents on the streets. Please know that those people have a rough time and are by no means criminals and usually harm no one. The best advice is to mind your own business, and so, will everyone else.
WHAT TO PACK?
If you are visiting Los Angeles during the summer, make sure to bring several things with you.
SUN LOTION: No matter what month you arrive in LA, you need to protect your skin. It can get boiling. And if you are visiting in winter, the sun is still out there. We love to use Raw Elements, which is a brand established in Los Angeles, and we are happy to receive their products. All of their creams are chemical-free, using only natural ingredients that do not harm the ocean and marine life. If you would like to protect our planet and your skin, you can use Gigi10 for 10% off on your entire order.
WATER: Make sure to bring your water filter bottle to avoid dehydration.
HAT & SUNGLASSES
COMFY SHOES: You will be on your feet the whole day, so comfortable shoes are definitely a must. I love to wear comfortable sandals.
SCARF OR LIGHT CARDIGAN: Maybe you wonder why do I want you to carry with you light cardigan when it’s 30+ degrees Celsius outside? Well, air condition is used almost everywhere, and sometimes it feels like freezing, especially in restaurants or museums. Also, Uber drivers love to use aircon, too, and it’s really nice to have something over the shoulder, so you don’t get sick.
CAMERA: Do not forget to bring a camera with you to capture all of the cool places in downtown LA. If you wonder what kind of photography gear do we use, then check our article on our 16 photography must-haves.
TIP: Drones are not permitted in Los Angeles.
WHEN TO VISIT LOS ANGELES?
I would say that there is no such thing as the best time to visit Los Angeles. And you can visit LA all year round. If you would like to beat the heat, then definitely come in the winter months, which last from October till March. If you want to spend time on the beach, then the summer months are for you, roughly from May till September.
WHERE TO STAY IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Unfortunately, the hotels in LA are pretty expensive, but there are few places you can go to. If you are looking for the most affordable option, check The California Boutique or Beverly Boulevard Cozy Studio Sleeps.
There are also plenty of options for AIRBNB, and if it’s your first time, then click here to get $37 off on your first stay.
CHECK ALL THE HOTELS IN DOWNTOWN LA
Have a great time exploring downtown Los Angeles, and we hope that you will enjoy it as much as we did. Hope you enjoyed all the 20 free things which you can do in downtown LA.
* Thank you, Andrea, for your lovely tips and gorgeous photos. Make sure to follow her on Instagram @blesazlesa .
If you are heading to downtown Los Angeles, make sure to PIN FUN THINGS TO DO IN DOWNTOWN LA to read it later.
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