Things To Do Near Downtown in Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles has the distinction of being the center of a centerless city. All told, the downtown area has adapted to this funny position somewhat gracefully and over the years downtown has maintained at least some sort of economic and cultural importance for greater Los Angeles. Nowadays this downtown area is experiencing something of a resurgence, especially in terms of expanded housing and nightlife options. In this list, we have collected a range of sites and destinations, with a bent towards the historically significant.

The list starts with two locations of MOCA, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. After a brush with bankruptcy in 2010, this institution has lived to see another day and continues to make a great cross-section of the contemporary art available to the public. (Near the Grand Avenue branch you can also find other cultural institutions like the Disney Concert Hall and the Performing Arts Center).

The Angels Flight Railway is a piece of Los Angeles history and also a fun (and very affordable) way to ascend the hillside up to Grand Avenue. At the bottom of the Angels Flight is the very lively and diverse Grand Central Market, where you can buy a wide range of both groceries and prepared food.

Another important historical destination is the Avila Adobe, which is the oldest standing building in the downtown area. Nearby is a metal plaque commemorating the 11 families who founded el pueblo de la Reina de los Angeles in 1781 (notably the majority of these founders were of Indian, black, or mixed race, they all spoke Spanish). The Avila Adobe is in the middle of the popular Olvera Street market.

In terms of architecture, there are a wealth of significant buildings to see in downtown Los Angeles. Buildings from the Art Deco period are especially notable; the Eastern-Columbia building is a prime example and the Los Angeles Central Library is created in a variation of this style. For more Moderne buildings please see my Art Deco guide.

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

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250 South Grand Avenue

Must-see Los Angeles museum... read more

The Geffen Contemporary (MOCA)

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152 North Central Avenue
Little Tokyo

Big art museum in Little Tokyo... read more

Angels Flight Railway

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351 South Hill Street

A historic ride up the the hill costs a quarter...
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Avila Adobe

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10 East Olvera Street

Oldest home in L.A... read more

Little Tokyo

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E 1st Street & S San Pedro Street
Downtown, southeast of the Civic Center; bounded by 1st, 2nd, San Pedro, and Los Angeles Sts

Japanese Haunt... read more

L.A. Central Library

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630 W. 5th St
Between Flower St. and Grand Ave

A Literary Treasure... read more

The Bradbury Building

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304 S. Broadway
At 3rd St

Futuristic Victorian Interiors... read more

Chinatown

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College Street & Hill Street
Downtown; bounded by N. Broadway, N. Hill St., Bernard St., and Sunset Blvd

Exotic East in LA... read more

Eastern Columbia Building

849 S. Broadway

Grand Art Deco building in turquoise... read more
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