FEATURES / HIGHLIGHTS

Our Guide to Downtown L.A.
Michael Anthony, Mike Ciriaco & Stephan Horbelt
2/16/2012

For many gay Angelenos, life does not exist outside of the West Hollywood and Silver Lake bubbles, and that’s a shame. For more than a few years, Downtown L.A. has been on the rise as a prime destination for those of the LGBT persuasion, whether to dine and drink, to sightsee or to box up belongings and start a new life inside our city’s original hotspot. L.A. gays are currently moving Downtown like it’s going out of style, and you know what that means—stylish restaurants, chic bars, off-the-wall retail establishments and an all-around joie de vivre. Where the gays go, fabulousness is sure to follow. Here we present our guide to Downtown L.A., organized into 14 of the enduring area’s distinct neighborhoods. If you’re an L.A. resident who has yet to experience the decidedly metropolitan lifestyle of Downtown, what are you waiting for? Steel, concrete, lush greenery, amazing art, fine dining and quirky fun await you.

  
INDUSTRIAL ARTS DISTRICT

Villain’s Tavern
    The sinister name may allude to this establishment’s sketchy location, but once inside you’ll discover that Villain’s Tavern is as much an alchemy lab as it is a bar. Combining faux antiques with a heavy Tim Burton-esque aesthetic, the tavern offers a solid rock venue for local bands. Extra touches, such as serving signature cocktails in mason jars and allowing smoking on the premises, make the trek to get here worth it. 1356 Palmetto St., villainstavern.com

One-Eyed Gypsy
    This funky Downtown bar is notable for its weekly gay party The Mess Around, promising “adventures in soul music” every Wednesday, with “no strippers, no glitter, no unicorns.” Guzzle $2 Tecates and $3 margaritas while you take in the music among an East Side and Downtown hipster crowd. 901 E. 1st St., one-eyedgypsy.com

The Pie Hole  
    Focused on providing a classically American café experience, The Pie Hole specializes in its namesake and coffee. All baked good are made from scratch, and this family-run establishment works closely with L.A.’s Groundworks coffee roasters to provide “custom roasted organic and ethically sourced beans.” With the addition of meat-free and vegan options to a classic menu, you’ll always find something to cram into your piehole. 714 Traction Ave., thepieholela.com

Urth Caffé  
    Denizens of WeHo are familiar with this restaurant/coffee roaster chain, but may be unaware that locations also exist in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Downtown. Founded in 1989, Urth Caffé proudly holds the honor of being America’s first exclusively organic coffee company. The vertically integrated company controls its own purchasing, roasting and distribution, working directly with sustainable coffee growers who produce the finest coffee. 451 S. Hewitt St., urthcaffe.com

Little Bear  
    This fledgling gastropub is proud to pour Belgian-style beer, both on draught and from an extensive bottle list. The kitchen also showcases Belgian food favorites, with authentic dishes that include Liegeoise salad, smoked wild boar sausage and a Nutella pot de crème with hazelnut shortbreads. If you really want to go native, feel free to slather everything with mayonnaise.
1855 Industrial St., littlebearla.com

BUNKER HILL & GRAND AVENUE
 
MOCA  
    Los Angeles’ sole museum dedicated to contemporary art, MOCA’s most recent exhibit, Under The Big Black Sun, showcases Californian art from 1974-81. This specific epoch is bookended by Nixon’s resignation and Reagan’s inauguration, and the displayed art chronicles this tempestuous transition. Embracing its SoCal roots, the exhibit’s title is a nod to L.A.’s punk music staple, X. Running through Feb. 27 is Naked Hollywood: Weegee in Los Angeles, which takes a voyeuristic look into the work of an old-school paparazzo. It’s not just art—it’s L.A.’s art. 250 S. Grand Ave., moca.org

Walt Disney Concert Hall
    The Walt Disney Concert Hall stands as the most famous building in the Los Angeles Music Center family. Known for its modern, avant-garde design, a walking tour through this architectural wonder is only trumped by taking in a show in its 360-degree theatre, complemented by its larger-than-life built-in concert organ. 111 S. Grand Ave., laphil.com

REDCAT
    Housed within the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater describes itself as “an interdisciplinary contemporary arts center for innovative visual, performing and media arts.” It’s one of the most versatile and technologically advanced presentation spaces in the world. After attending a performance or screening, be sure to hit the lounge for a macchiato and some hobnobbing with L.A.’s finest aesthetes. 631 W. 2nd St., redcat.org

Music Center Plaza
    The West Coast cousin of New York’s Lincoln Center, Music Center Plaza houses the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, Ahmanson Theatre and Mark Taper Auditorium. Whether you’re in the mood to attend an opera (Dorothy Chandler), dramatic piece of theater (Mark Taper) or a high-energy musical (Ahmanson), this elevated portion of Downtown L.A. has you covered. Shows and performances rotate regularly. 135 N. Grand Ave., musicenter.org

Angels Flight
    A measly quarter will get you a one-way ride on the world’s shortest railway. Built in 1901, when Bunker Hill was one of L.A.’s most fashionable neighborhoods, Angels Flight has been dismounted and reopened several times since then. Today it is available to shorten your trek between the Historic Core and Bunker Hill neighborhoods. While in the area, be sure to enjoy this unique L.A. experience. 351 S. Hill St., angelsflight.com

First & Hope
    Before taking in a show in the area—or after the show—check out this Downtown culinary destination, mere steps away from the area’s theatres. Relax at this American bistro with handcrafted cocktails, a menu of American classics and nightly “Blue Plate Specials.” Favorites from the menu include the chicken pot pie, wedge salad and the Bacon Beer Mac + Cheese. 710 W. 1st St., firstandhope.com


CHINATOWN

Yang Chow  
    Arguably the best Chinese cuisine in L.A., this Mandarin/Szechuan restaurant was established by a quintet of brothers in 1977. (Yang Chow was the name of their hometown in China.) In the ‘80s, their signature dish, Slippery Shrimp, was openly praised in an L.A. Times article, garnering citywide fame for the small eatery. Today, Yang Chow is an essential pitstop for both locals and tourists and is alone worth the trek to Chinatown. 819 N. Broadway, yangchow.com

Ocean Seafood  
    Hong Kong-style dim sum, fresh seafood and specialty Chinese cuisine are all in this restaurant’s wheelhouse. In addition to the mouth-watering meals, Ocean Seafood boasts a spacious, lavishly ornate interior and encourages groups to rent out one of their many rooms for private events. If traveling to Chinatown isn’t in the cards, try the restaurant’s catering service. The award-winning shrimp dumplings are a must-try. 750 N. Hill St., oceansf.com

Phoenix Bakery
    The famed neighborhood’s oldest and largest bakery, Phoenix was opened by Fung Chow Chan and his wife Wai Hing in 1938, with the intention of producing desserts that were otherwise unobtainable in the area. Utilizing secret family recipes, the tiny bakery quickly grew prosperous, and several decades later, Phoenix is still successfully run by the same family, now in its third generation. Swoop on in and try one of their signature strawberry whipped cream cakes for yourself. 969 N. Broadway, phoenixbakeryinc.com

Central Plaza
    As the name implies, Central Plaza is situated in the heart of Chinatown. Inaugurated in 1938 and considered one of the first malls in America, it acts as a hub for the first modern Chinatown in the nation. Currently the plaza houses scores of restaurants and shops as well as its own farmers market. But to unearth the neighborhood’s rare gems, attend “Undiscovered Chinatown” this March and discover a secret side to this historic L.A. corner. chinatownla.com

Plum Tree Inn
    On your next trip to Chinatown, step into this restaurant for authentic Chinese dishes and great service. Enjoy some of the best Peking Duck you’ll ever have the opportunity to savor, along with a specialty drink from the restaurant’s full bar. Whether you’re on a date for two or with a large group, Plum Tree Inn is able to accommodate your every need. 913 N. Broadway, plumtreeinn.com

CIVIC CENTER

L.A. City Hall Observation Deck  
    Home to one of the most breathtaking views in Los Angeles, it’s not surprising that, for three decades, City Hall was our city’s tallest building. The structure’s ziggurat-like design alludes to the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the world. But the crown jewel of the tower is the observation deck. Take your significant other up there on a starry night and take in the sights together. 200 N. Spring St., lacity.org

The Edison
    You haven’t lived until you’ve wined and dined at The Edison. With a vibe best described as “Steampunk-meets-silent film,” this is a place where hipsters sip and celebrities clandestinely indulge. A celebration of the “era of invention and imagination” gone-by, it’s a true blend of the past, present and future. Dress to impress, and don’t leave without visiting the tucked-away old-school game room. 108 W. 2nd St., edisondowntown.com

Redwood Bar & Grill
    If Blackbeard opened a bar in L.A., it would be a carbon copy of Redwood. This pirate-themed grill offers a playful atmosphere, live local music and a hearty menu. Grab a seat at one of the many captain’s tables and indulge in some local tunes, all while gobbling down beer-battered fish and chips. 316 W. 2nd St., theredwoodbar.com


FASHION & FLOWER DISTRICTS

Pattern Bar  
    Finally there’s a bar that really caters to L.A.’s fashionistas. This couture-themed watering hole serves up signature cocktails like The Chanel, The Dior and The Galliano. That’s right—a drink to match your ensemble. A full menu is available for those courageous enough to eat in public, and don’t forget that Fashionable Hour (aka happy hour) runs everyday from 5-7 p.m. Keep your eyes peeled for their upcoming Blu-Ray concert night series with full sound and projection—a nice excuse to buy a new outfit. 100 W. 9th St., patternbar.com

Santee Alley
    Santee Alley, otherwise known as the colorful “back alley shopping path” of the Fashion District, makes for an entertaining afternoon of shopping. With the vibe of a swap meet and the eclectic nature of a garage sale, you’ll find everything from cheap sunglasses and colored contacts to T-shirts sold in bulk. Let’s just say “The Alley” is a great shopping destination for those who can’t afford ‘designer prices.’ 210 E. Olympic Blvd., thesanteealley.com

Original L.A. Flower Market
    In 1919, Tom Wright united a group of 30 European-American flower growers to found American Florists’ Exchange, the precursor to this flower market. Nearly a century later, the enterprise still thrives, now offering over 125 varieties of cut flowers. Adapting with the times, the market has transformed its primary showroom into a solar-powered facility. With this forward thinking and perseverance, it’s not surprising OLAFM is the largest and most successful wholesale floral district in the country. 754 Wall St., originalflowermarket.com

Wood Spoon
    The brainchild of Natalia Pereira, Wood Spoon serves as a venue for this skilled chef to share her mother’s traditional recipes. The menu is best described as Brazilian comfort food. Must-tries include the pork burger, Calabreza salad and the Brazilian chicken pot pie. Once you’ve burned through the primary menu, swing by on a Saturday night, when Pereira introduces a new specialty menu based on a different country each week. 107 W. 9th St., woodspoonla.com

FIGUEROA CORRIDOR
 
Natural History Museum  
    Downtown isn’t just great for shoving food and booze into your stomach, but also for cramming knowledge into your skull. The Natural History Museum is a reputable authority of both the natural and cultural spheres. The new Dinosaur Hall houses the premiere dinosaur experience in the Western U.S., displaying over 300 real fossils and 20 complete dinosaurs and prehistoric marine life. It’s the perfect destination to bring the kiddies—or an adult friend—on a free afternoon. 900 Exposition Blvd., nhm.org

California Science Center
    Another great family destination is the California Science Center. This kid-friendly institution uses interactive and entertaining techniques to educate young minds on inventions, innovations and natural forces of life. It also sports a seven-story IMAX screen, showing 3-D films. On sunny days, be sure to hit up the rose garden and get some family photos in this lush, serene landscape. 700 Exposition Park Dr., californiasciencecenter.org


FINANCIAL & JEWELRY DISTRICTS

L.A. Central Library
    Services at the Downtown library range from a computer center, a government document depository and more than 15 national and international subject departments. Visual exhibitions inside rotate regularly. Perhaps most notable is the art and architecture that colors the library—the main lobby’s painted ceiling, atrium lanterns, atrium chandeliers and the Maguire Gardens, a fountained park in front of the library. Guided tours are available. Closed on Sundays. 630 W. 5th St., lapl.org

Grand Central Market
    The oldest and largest open-air market in Los Angeles, thousands of patrons flock to the Grand Central Market to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish. Here, international diversity is the name of the game. On a regular basis, over 40 merchants sell their edible goods and often offer up their favorite recipes and cooking techniques to buyers. Snacks are also sold ready-to-eat, and many patrons swing by for an afternoon treat—burritos, roasted chicken, pupusas and Cuban sandwiches are favorites. 317 S. Broadway, grandcentralsquare.com

Millenium Biltmore
    The Biltmore is where the well-traveled stay while visiting L.A., and also a favorite stop-off for locals who love to dine and drink. Smeraldi’s serves up some of the best Italian cuisine in the city, and the Gallery Bar is known for its signature martini and vintage cognac offerings. Have traditional afternoon tea in the famed Rendezvous Court, regularly attended by Hollywood celebs, politicians and the rich and famous. 506 S. Grand Ave., milleniumhotels.com

FIDM Museum & Galleries
    A gift to all of L.A., the FIDM Museum and Galleries showcase the history of fashion, accessories, textiles, jewelry and frgarance. Staff and faculty of FIDM raided their personal closets to assemble the fledgling museum’s very first collection. The Gallery is a permanent exhibition space for a growing collection. Rotating exhibits celebrate wearable art in all genres. 919 S. Grand Ave., fidmmuseum.org

   Seven Grand Whisky Bar
    The ambience of this bar can best be described as ‘hunting lodge-meets-Downtown chic, populated by trendy hipsters.’ As its namesake hints, hundreds of whiskeys are on hand here for the sampling, ranging in price from $8-80. Dipped-in-bourbon cigars, a 150-year-old pool table and Irish urban décor inspires this more-than-a-bar’s feel with a touch of testosterone and class. Most definitely not a hole-in-the-wall, Seven Grand Whisky offers live jazz, happy hours and frequent tasting events. 515 W. 7th St., sevengrand.la

Bottega Louie
    The most famous restaurant on 7th Street’s Restaurant Row, this Italian eatery is famous for its big portions and big crowds. A restaurant, gourmet market and patisserie, Bottega Louie gets a little loud, but in the best of ways. Serving up a New York vibe in the heart of Downtown L.A., the scene is alive with A-listers and high-class locals alike. The small plates menu allows you and your party to sample the best of the Bottega tapas-style. 700 S. Grand Ave., bottegalouie.com

Big Man Bakes
    The beginnings of this bakery are what legends are made of. The Big Man, William “Chip” Brown, was a 6’5” physician who distributed cupcakes to his co-workers. They were so delicious that A-listers began enlisting him to bake for them—the bakery opened soon thereafter. Big Man Bakes covers all the basics—red velvet, lemon, double chocolate, carrot and a specialty caramel apple. 633 W. 5th St.; 413 S. Main St., bigmanbakes.com

The Standard Rooftop Bar
    The Standard Hotel’s Downtown location is anything but standard. The rooftop bar offers stunning, unparalleled views of the city—not to mention beautiful Angelenos. Sleek, modern and bizarre, the bar boasts a red AstroTurf deck, vibrating waterbed pods, a dance floor and grassy knoll. The surroundings are worth the bar’s high prices. 550 S. Flower St., standardhotels.com


HISTORIC CORE & GALLERY ROW

Downtown Art Walk
    L.A.’s Downtown Art Walk is a true melting pot of art lovers. Held the second Thursday of every month, events typically occur at the galleries along Spring and Main Streets. Additionally, the Art Walk supports other art-related events and openings, activities and special programming that takes place all over Downtown. Collectors come to shop, admirers come to browse and—once the ‘walk’ part winds down—many take to local bars and restaurants. downtownartwalk.org

Orpheum Theatre  
    Newly restored, the historic Orpheum Theatre has long been one of L.A.’s most celebrated entertainment venues, showcasing live concerts, movie premieres, film festivals and religious events. The venue seats over 2,000 people, and a 30-by-50-foot stage is complemented by the lobby’s white marble walls and lavish original carpeting. 842 S. Broadway, laorpheum.com

The Last Bookstore
    Revitalized three times, The Last Bookstore opened its doors in 2005 in its latest loft locale. This shop still buys books from patrons, an old-school practice that keeps their shelves stocked with thousands of rare titles. Located in its 10,000 square feet are also a record shop and coffee bar. The Last Bookstore vows to be one of the last-standing bookstores in L.A., and they encourage you to “read real books—before they’re gone!” 453 S. Spring St., lastbookstorela.com

Cole’s French Dip
    The (albeit disputed) originator of the French Dip sandwich, Cole’s is a sandwich authority. The décor retains all the charm of the early-1900s saloons that colored Western America, which makes for a memorable meal. Above and beyond the sandwiches, Varnish at Cole’s serves up classic cocktails at extremely reasonable prices. 118 E. 6th St., colesfrenchdip.com

Nickel Diner
    Maple bacon donuts—why, don’t mind if we do! Featured on the Food Network, this L.A. classic is home to a slew of specialties, including the aforementioned donuts, homemade PopTarts and a divine Salt Peanut Cake. The Nickel Diner has a full menu, but the desserts are delectable, and the staff is as fun as the food. Closed Mondays. 524 S. Main St., nickeldiner.com

Babycakes
    For the organic, gluten-free vegans out there who love their baked goods, never fear—Babycakes will delight your sweet tooth. All treats are free of refined sugar and common allergens like wheat, gluten, dairy, casein and eggs. We’re not sure exactly what’s in these delicious slices of heaven, but we love ‘em! (Most products are sweetened with agave nectar.) Originally made famous in NYC, even for the non-health nut, Babycakes is not to be missed. 130 E. 6th St., babycakesnyc.com

The Gorbals
    A surefire favorite on L.A.’s restaurant circuit, Gorbals boasts the only mix of Scottish and Jewish food in SoCal. You may recall owner and chef Ilan Hall as the 24-year-old who won Top Chef in the series’ highest-rated episode ever. The Gorbals prides itself on not limiting the menu to a certain ethnicity, preparation method or niche menu. Expect “tasty, oddball food.” We can’t get enough of the bacon-wrapped matzoh balls. 501 S. Spring St., thegorbalsla.com

The Mezz Bar
    The Mezz Bar is a Downtown L.A. nightlight with a jazzy/blues twist. Located on the second floor of the 100-year-old historic Alexandria Hotel, a pool table and booths in the back give this rather large space some real charm. Live jazz nights, often without a cover charge, are some of the best in the city. DJ appearances occasionally turn the venue into an all-out dance club. Check the website to view the bar’s eclectic performance schedule. 501 S. Spring St., 2nd floor, themezzbar.com

DTLA Bikes
    DTLA Bikes is L.A.’s biggest and most comprehensive bike store in the city. If you can’t find it here, you’re not going to find it anywhere—saddles, handle bars, chains, straps, pedals, tires, rims—the list is endless. With a 10,000-square-foot showroom, every type of rider is celebrated here, from the amateur to the thrillseeker to the professional cycler. An indoor track allows shoppers to try out bikes before purchase. 425 S. Broadway, dtlabikes.com

Bolt Barbers
    An authentic ‘old-school’ barber shop (now with a secondary location in WeHo), the name of the game here is “shearing, shaving, shining!” Specialties include beard maintenance, tight fades, slick pomps, hawks, ‘high & tight’ cuts and flat-tops. For the straight-edge business man, standard cuts are offered as well. Open until midnight on weekends. 460 S. Spring St., boltbarbers.com

Bark Avenue
    It’s “everything under one woof” at Bark Avenue, a combined daily play care, pet hotel and pet spa and training facility for your canine or feline friend. Bark Avenue has been voted the area’s best for full-service pet care, boarding, doggie daycare and more. And if you’re interested in giving your pet a day of grooming or relaxation but can’t make it Downtown, Bark Avenue will even pick up your pet! 545 S. Main St., barkavela.com

Pete’s Cafe & Bar
    When you think of an old-school café, you’re thinking of Pete’s, a bustling city café in the heart of Downtown. Think floor-to-ceiling windows with great views of the city, dark-wood paneling and delicious food. Walk in for breakfast, lunch or dinner, anytime as late as 2 a.m. 400 S. Main St., petescafe.com

Perch
    Rise above the hustle and bustle of Downtown by headed to this elevated, French-inspired rooftop bistro.
With outdoor fireplaces, three bars, a menu of classic French dishes and both lounge and table seating, you can sit back and take in the peaceful scenery. On any given night you’ll find a live cabaret act, indie band or a late-night DJ. 448 S. Hill St., perchla.com

LITTLE TOKYO  

The Lazy Ox Canteen
    At the new Lazy Ox Canteen, the focus is simple—they pair the freshest seasonal ingredients with the best craft beers and esoteric wines on the market. The economical brunch/lunch menu delights, and the dinner menu is out of this world. Favorites include the polenta with creamed mushrooms and curry, the Jerusalem artichoke with roasted apples and aged balsamic and the 10 oz. ribeye steak with fava bean puree and bone marrow. The Lazy Ox Canteen is quickly becoming known as one of L.A.’s best new restaurants. 241 S. San Pedro St., lazyoxcanteen.com

Demitasse
    At this new caffeine-lover’s bar, coffee is life. Patrons are given special attention to find that perfect cup, as they’re encouraged to smell the beans and brews in order to discover new flavors. Many of the beans ground and pressed here are from San Rafael-based Equator Coffees and Teas (as well as local growers). Demitasse has all the chic of major chains but personal attention and customer service that trumps other L.A. coffee shops. 135 S. San Pedro St., cafedemitasse.com

Little Tokyo Market Place
    For Japanese retail and dining needs, many turn to Marukai at the Little Tokyo Market place. Quirky goods from Japan—and unique vegetables, snacks and alcohol—are regular purchases here. Membership to shop at the marketplace costs $10 per year or $15 for two years (much like CostCo) but includes entry to all facilities and access to unparalleled sales. Expect to encounter some of L.A.’s top fashion designers and chefs, checking out what’s new and hot in Little Tokyo. 123 S. Onizuka St. #105, marukai.com

Japanese American National Museum
    A celebration of the contributions of Japanese Americans in L.A. and America at large, this museum is open to all and is a fun, educational stop-off. Find samplings of the museum’s collections available online. 369 E 1st St., janm.org

The Spice Table
    This new Singaporean restaurant is quickly gaining local fan fare with  its authentic, un-Americanized food. The Spice Table brings Southeast Asian flavors to those who may otherwise be hesitant about getting ‘exotic’ with their tastebuds. Make plans to discover this new L.A. eatery. Oh, and the fried cauliflower dish is to-die-for. 114 S. Central Ave., thespicetable.com

Kinokuniya Bookstore
    Proof that Little Tokyo isn’t just a great place to eat, this bookstore (although that’s an understatement) is a Mecca for anyone interested in Japanese culture. Whether you’re looking for graphic novels, Japanese fashion mags, music, T-shirts or the widest selection of pens and pencils in L.A., you’re sure to lose track of time in Kinokuniya. 123 Astronaut E. Onizuka St., kinokuniya.com


OLVERA STREET AT HISTORIC EL PUEBLO

Union Station
    Many know Union Station as merely a stop along the way in their travel plans, but a walk through the station unveils the beauty of a historic location. Known as the “last of the great railway stations” erected in the States, Union Station boasts enclosed garden patios, travertine-covered marbled walls and Traxx, a high-end restaurant that recalls train travel’s golden era. Looking to the future, Union Station plans to be a major hub for the future California High-Speed Rail System. 800 N. Alameda St.

La Plaza de Cultura y Artes
    The mission of La Plaza de Cultura y Artes is to celebrate and cultivate an appreciation for Mexican and Mexican-American culture. The nation’s most comprehensive center dedicated to this aim, La Plaza offers visitors the opportunity to learn and contribute through hands-on and participatory events and exhibits. Free to all, build a visit online and ask the friendly and knowledgeable staff any questions you may have. Whatever your culture, a visit to La Plaza is eye-opening and intellectually delightful. lapca.org

Olvera Candle Shop
    Clandestinely tucked away on historic Olvera street, If you aren’t looking for it, you may miss it. Boasting a collection of colorful, homemade scented and unscented candles, the shop specializes in religious-themed offerings. Olvera Candle Shop has a flair for the dramatic and mysterious—each candle has a purpose, and each one is beautiful. The low prices are attractive  as well. 11 Olvera St., calleolvera.com

Mr. Churro
    To know the churro is to love it. It’s Mexico’s answer to the American donut, and no one does it better than Mr. Churro, a traditional Mexican bakery where flan, pastries and traditional fare are served to an always-packed (and hungry) crowd. Beer and lunchtime comfort food are also available. 2333 W. National Ave.

Avila Adobe
    Erected in 1818 by Don Francisco Avila, the Avila Adobe is registered as the oldest existing house in L.A. proper. The house has a rich history—as a home to mayors, the rich and the famous—and JFK once took an afternoon nap here. Today it stands as a museum, looking exactly as it did in 1840, a throwback to L.A.’s eclectic, ethnic heritage. 10 Olvera St.

SOUTH PARK

Grammy Museum
    “Devoted to exploring and celebrating music,” the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live is a fun day trip for L.A. visitors and locals alike. The museum’s “An Evening With...” series, where superstars take to the stage, is almost always sold out. Programs concerning all genres of music are staged here, and the exhibits are more than educational—they’re fun! 800 W. Olympic Blvd., grammymuseum.org

The Mayan
    Home to gay circuit parties aplenty but also a slew of cultural events and concerts, the historic Mayan is best known for its Tropical Saturdays—a dance party featuring Salsa orchestras and top DJs. Dance lessons, competitions and gay events are regular happenings here, which makes the Mayan’s calendar worth perusing. 1038 S. Hill St., clubmayan.com

Poolside Bar at Figueroa Hotel
    A hotel with real history, the Hotel Figueroa was originally built in 1925 as a residence. Here, “Casablanca collides with ancient Arabia” at the small yet elegant pool, brightened with bougainvillea and lit by flickering lanterns. Famous for the bar’s mojitos and a music industry ‘A-List’ crowd, the pool and bar are filled with hotel guests during the day and industry movers-and-shakers at night. 939 S. Figueroa St., figueroahotel.com

Caña Rum Bar
    Entering the Caña Rum Bar is like stepping into the home of your well-traveled friend—exposed brick and a welcoming fireplace are accentuated with soft lighting. The bar features more than 140 small-batch rums, handcrafted cocktails and rum punch, as well as complimentary tastings and spirit education on the last Tuesday of every month for those in the bar’s “Caña Rum Society.” 714 W. Olympic Blvd., canarumbar.com

 For more information on Downtown L.A., go to downtownla.com.


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