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Exploring LA’s Historic Downtown District

By Sara Branson, Posted on 03 Jan, 2023 at 08:25 am

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Los Angeles downtown

Los Angeles is a city of many faces, and no place embodies that more than the downtown district. From its historical roots to its modern high-rises, downtown Los Angeles has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for culture, food, or entertainment, this vibrant area is guaranteed to add something special to your trip.

Let’s take a closer look at what downtown LA offers!


Union Station

Union Station Los Angeles is a beautiful and historic place. Located in the heart of downtown, it serves as the connecting point for Metrolink, Amtrak trains, buses, and shuttles to the regional airports. It is a grand Terminal built in 1939 that stands majestically along the Arroyo Seco and exudes Old Hollywood charm.

The building inside is full of intricate details from leaded glass windows to ornate coffee shop booths and gleaming floor tiles. Walking through Union Station's corridors evokes a sense of awe - every turn brings something new and exciting to discover.

From film screenings at The Alameda Annex to performances in El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument Square, Union Station Los Angeles offers something for everyone - a glimpse into 5-star travel from days gone by.


Olvera Street

A walk down Olvera Street in Los Angeles, commonly known as the birthplace of Los Angeles, is a unique experience. Rich with Mexican heritage and culture, Olvera Street transports visitors to Old Mexico with its distinctive atmosphere. As you wander through this beautiful outdoor market lined with brightly colored buildings, you will encounter traditional piñatas, handmade candles, and vibrant mural art that truly embrace the spirit of Mexican culture.

Have your camera ready as there are countless spots perfect to capture a picture of the street's romantic vibe. If hungry, there are plenty of cafes featuring authentic Mexican cuisine offering tasty dishes to sample.

Enjoy every step along Olvera Street and take in all it has to offer - you don't want to miss this unforgettable excursion!


Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market in Los Angeles is a landmark that has been known for its diverse selection of food since 1917. Everyone from students and tourists to experienced food connoisseurs come to this massive market each day to get lost in the array of ethnic cuisines, high-end restaurants and artisanal stalls at prices that fit any pocketbook.

The range of flavors available at Grand Central Market rivals those found around the world, including prepared foods like churros con chocolate and handmade aguas frescas, plus enough fresh produce to satisfy everyone from vegans to carnivores.

While many establishments go in and out with the city’s ever-changing landscape, Grand Central Market continues to prevail as an iconic fixture for generations of Angelenos.


Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building in Los Angeles is truly a work of art. Built in 1893, this Victorian-style building stands tall among the hustle and bustle of the city. The quintessential example of American architecture, it features open-cage elevators and extensive use of Italian mosaic tile and colored glass skylights on its interior.

Not only is the exterior intricate and detailed, but the interior has a classic charm with its marble staircases, decorative wrought iron railings, bronze trim and intricately patterned walls. The building itself has been featured in various Hollywood films due to its beauty and timelessness - making it one of LA's most photographed landmarks.

Whether it's frozen in time as part of movie scenery or admired by generations of visitors, the Bradbury Building Los Angeles will remain as a testament to architectural prowess for years to come.


Angels Flight Railway

The Angels Flight Railway is an incredible feat of engineering, located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Built in 1901, it is one of the city's oldest and most iconic landmarks. Angels Flight Railway is a funicular railway, where two counterbalanced cars, which ascend and descend separately, move up and down a steep incline that spans just 298 feet.

The historic impact of this railway stands out as it has been featured in many movies and books, including Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and even Murder She Wrote. After being closed for more than a decade due to safety issues, Angels Flight resumed service in its original location in 2017 to the delight of thousands of Angelenos.

It continues to operate today with fans lining up eagerly to experience a piece of history by taking the short ride between Hill Street and Grand Avenue.


Walt Disney Concert Hall

The Walt Disney Concert Hall is a source of pride for Los Angeles, having first opened its doors in 2003. Designed by the renowned architect, Frank Gehry, this stunning building has become an iconic symbol of music and arts in the city.

Constructed solely with steel, it’s also considered to be a masterpiece of modern architecture. The various reflective surfaces create images of intriguing optical magic that always draws the viewer’s eye. The interior hosts two concert spaces -- the main auditorium which seats 2,265 people and Royce Hall and Recital Hall, home to chamber music performances.

Each year these halls bring beauty, joy and culture to hundreds of thousands of lovers of the fine arts from all over the world. Visitors come away with an appreciation for why many consider the Walt Disney Concert Hall one of LA’s most beloved attractions.


The Broad

The Broad Los Angeles is an amazing experience that allows visitors to really appreciate the arts and culture of the city. Located in the downtown area, this contemporary art museum showcases some of the very best artwork around. Visitors can marvel at the creative installations and sculptures while gaining a deeper understanding of how art contributes to our world. There are many interactive multimedia experiences, such as demonstrations by local artists, to help educate about topics like urban development and environmental sustainability. Through these various experiences, The Broad invites people to use their imaginations, become inspired, and discover new ways of connecting with local ideas and communities.


Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is a must-visit destination for any art lover. Its permanent exhibitions showcase a variety of modern masterpieces, while also offering mobile exhibitions that provide further insight into the history and cultural relevancy of each individual artwork.

MOCA is located in the bustling downtown district, and features a unique atmosphere welcoming both locals and tourists alike. Visitors will find spacious galleries with well-lit exhibits, knowledgeable docents, interactive activities for kids and adults, as well as educational programs and workshops. In addition to its fabulous collections and impressive exhibits, MOCA also has a cafe and gift shop offering locally sourced goods from talented artists from around the globe.


Los Angeles Downtown Hotels

Luxury Downtown Hotels:

Prepare for the ultimate indulgence when vacationing in Downtown Los Angeles! Following Luxury Hotels is bound to provide you with a luxurious and unforgettable stay. Need more? We even have an exhaustive list- just click here!

Millennium Biltmore Los Angeles
7.4 Good 4314 reviews
0.20 km
Hilton Checkers Los Angeles
7.8 Good 284 reviews
0.26 km
citizenM Los Angeles Downtown
8.8 Very good 107 reviews
0.42 km


Budget Downtown Hotels: 

Here are our handpicked top 4 hotels in the closest vicinity of Downtown Los Angeles. For more options on affordable accommodations in LA, click this link!

Kawada Hotel
7.6 Good 1358 reviews
0.47 km
O Hotel
7.9 Good 793 reviews
0.90 km
Little Tokyo Hotel
7.3 Good 388 reviews
1.09 km
Miyako Hotel Los Angeles
8.7 Very good 1122 reviews
1.10 km



Whether you want to explore history or indulge in culture, downtown Los Angeles has something for everybody. From historic landmarks such as El Pueblo de Los Angeles to modern attractions like Grand Central Market and The Broad museum, there are plenty of things to experience during your stay in this vibrant part of town!

To make your next trip to Los Angeles unforgettable, choose from our highlighted properties listed in this post or among the 592+ hotels available in LA!

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