Downtown, Los Angeles
Regal L.A. Live
This is the biggest venue to see a first-run movie and frankly, the main cinema megaplex in downtown L.A. It's a beautiful cinema house inside and within.
COMING SOON- 4 DX technology! Regal L.A. Live is set to be the first 4DX technology theater in the U.S. Experience action packed movies to the ultimate by being rocked in motion seats, sprayed with fog, mists and /or scents. Specials effects are set to synched to seats. For the best ticket availability for 4 DX, go to website and reserve seats.
Catch $7 ticket days on Tuesdays. Great bargain!
On Wednesdays, adults can enjoy drinking wine while watching a movie.
Parking can be a nightmare here. Have patience in the L.A. Live parking area (LOT 4).
Alternatively, go to West Garage E or F, or plan out your evening and use the Blue/Expo Line to get here, exit Pico Station and walk (less than 5 min to cinema)
1000 West Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Films Al Fresco!
The drive-in experience is not dead. In fact, the old favorite is new and growing. Especially during the summer, Los Angeles and outskirt communities are very keen on doing outdoor film screenings. BRING A BLANKET, snacks, and all your friends to a preferred film. Here are some common outdoor film screening locations:
In Downtown L.A.
Electric Dusk Drive- year round spot! OK, the area where the theater is located is , well, sketchy at night esp., but you'll be fine most likely! It's skid row adjacent. Was that encouraging enough :-) ? It's a quite "hip" hangout worth checking out! Tickets are from $8-$13. Regular and e-tickets. Gift Certificate for admission available through Paypal. Food available includes hot dogs, veggie burgers, giant brownies and more. Carhop (food service) available and tips appreciated. More info on http://www.electricduskdrivein.com.
Pershing Square- heart of downtown location. Slightly better area than the one of Electric Dusk...slightly. FREE movie screening. Variety of films shown, tend to be mainstream, some family-friendly and R-rated.
California Plaza (occasional), Exposition Park (near downtown)
Good food court/markets!
Grand Central Market is a neighborhood treasure. Downtowners especiallyappreciate it for providing a variety of fruits, veggies, meats, exotic spices and more which would all be otherwise hard to get. If you happen to be downtown, this is the place to go for a filling meal without emptying the pocket. Various deli-style sandwiches are served and gobbled up. There is a good selection of cuisines- but, of course Mexican and other Latino foods are most popular, given the heavily-populated Hispanic community living around and frequenting here. My special tip- try Sarita's Pupuseria for Salvadoran craving feeding hungry mouths.
Food vendors are scattered upstairs (street level). There is a discount store underground. Basically, it is good for a quick drink, snack, a cheap toy , crayons, greeting card, an item for school/work and various other "knick-knacks"that make their way on the shelves. I actually found a fashionable pair of sparkling pink shoes for just $3. They would have been easily $20 at the mall. Oh the thrill of walking up to a fabulous deal!!!
Grand Central Market is between 3th St and 5th St, between Hill and Broadway.
Fondest memory: OK, not the fondest but I do miss my Sarita's pupusas and paying just 33 cents for a head of lettuce here instead on 80 cents+ in the suburbs!!!
at California Discovery Center! She has officially retired here in the Exposition Park venue.
Salute her at:
700 Exposition Park Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90037
Make a timed reservation for your visit!
Fondest memory: seeing the Endeavour literally creep down the streets of South L.A. and Leimert Park. A magnificent part of U.S. history rolled right in front of my eyes!
SUSPENDED: Lacking of Funding. The city's kinda broke! Maybe it will come back. "til then, consider this a MarinArena classic vault tip!)
Entertaining streets downtown!
Grand Avenue is one of many good streets downtown for going and out. The best way to sample what it has to offer is to arrive here for the Grand Avenue festival in the fall. The next one is scheduled to be in October. Last year was the second time for the official festivities and my first time there. On one day, one can get to see free highly caliber performances along the street and off Grand at the Music Center and other venues, as well as sample foods from various delectable downtown establishments that set up stalls.
Grand Ave Festival ...
is very family friendly
very accessible with Metro (Pershing Square stop, 7th/Fig and Civic Center stop all relatively close by (5-15 min walking distance). Driving and parking can be a little problematic.
Stimson House is a gorgeous little Richarsonian Romanesque castle just south of downtown. Once the most expensive home in all of Los Angeles (costs of over $150,000 in the 1890s), it has been a popular TV series shooting location (The Bionic Woman, Pushing Daisies, Mad Men, The Mentalist), feature film location (House II, After Midnight) , a frat house and currently a nunnery (There you go, "frat house" and "nunnery" used in the same sentence!) .
Indeed, the architectural gem of a castle stands out gloriously but oddly in otherwise bland, gray urban spawl. Los Angeles has held Stimson fondly as a city landmark since the late 70s Stimson is not open to the public but can surely be admired off Figueroa St.
2421 S. Figueroa Street in Los Angeles, CA
There is a bad myth about L.A. It is said often that the city is not good for walking. I beg to differ! True, people are so dependent on cars here. This is evident on the jam-packed freeways and equally crowded streets. However, walking is quite common and convenient especially when in downtown.
On 5th, between Olive and Flower St, is especially nice for a stroll. This is where I have often begun my little trips in downtown because my bus stops around here. Along this street is Pershing Square , the Central Library (including Maguire Gardens park area adjacent), the historic One Bunker Hill building, Westin Bonadventure and Arco Plaza.
There is quite enough history just on this stretch of 5th St. itself, let alone other paths. I'll elaborate about these sometime soon!
A thriving new part of downtown Los Angeles is artsy Spring St, especially between 4th and 7th St. A historical district home to the city's first skyscraper and many of the first financial institutions, modern-day Spring St is a little mecca for dining out cafe style, art gallery hopping and loft living. Nightlife is particularly trendy , with a variety of happy hour restaurant special and gallery showings. Check out among other hang out spots on and just off Spring St: Gallery Row galleries (some listed below), the 24 hr L.A. Cafe and The Last Bookstore, a huge shop with tons of good reading material of any genre one can imagine.
Featured Gallery Row galleries:
Spring Arts Tower
Famima is a godsend especially for discerning downtowners who want healthier on-the-go food and drink options and convenience items with flair. With over a half dozen locations and counting, the southern CA chain, which was originally a family market in Japan, can be described as a upscale 7-11 with pan-Asian flair, has taken a great liking to a flourishing downtown L.A.
Fast food grabs in the store include panini, gourmet salads, steamed buns, freshly packed sushi and a variety of creative entrees that would be in a semi-gourmet eaterie. If you want snacks, there are some traditional choices like classic potato chips and Oreo cookies but also one can buy dried seaweed crisps and Pirate's Booty, There are several organic, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan alternatives for those on special diets. Daily/monthly specials on items such as coffee, juices and freshly made sushi are marked throught the shopping area. Non-edible products within the store include alternative greeting cards, Burt Bees cosmetics, nail polish remover, phone cards, cigarettes, soy candles and toys.
My favorite Fam, Pacific Center location at 525 West 6th St, resembles a small cafe- plenty of space to kick back with a cup of joe and fav book or paper to read. A very conveniently located Fam store is pictured here- by the 7th and Metro Red/Purple Line subway stop.
Alcohol is sold.
24 Hour Fam locations:
Downtown 700 Wilshire at 727 W 7th St
Downtown Wilshire at 700 Wilshire
Staples Center, off Figueroa St, pay well-sculptured tribute a few of Los Angeles' treasured pro sports personalities who historically put L.A. sports in the forefront. Notably, NBA's one and only Magic Johnson, NHL legend Wayne Gretsky, late Lakers announcer Chick Hearn and boxer Oscar de la Hoya.
*2012 update: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (finally) will be also have a sculped tribute for outdoor display (what took so long? And really, Oscar gets one before Kareem. Shame, shame L.A.!)
Street Tacos and Hot Dogs!
Numerous Los Angeles streets have food vendors sizzling great grub during the day for hungry pedestrians. Many go for a jumbo hot dog or sausage. Hot dogs, particularly bacon-wrapped weenies, are popular in L.A.l. days w/ a generous topping of onions and peppers.
There are some risks doing all this of course. One runs the risk of sanitary practices may not be followed correctly by food preparers. Of course, this could be the case also of restaurant workers whom the public almost never sees making the food up close. Obseve food preparation and look for a mobile food prep license to be extra careful.
Street tacos are on average $1-$2 each
Bacon wrapped hot dogs are on average $2-$3 each
Some likely key spots for street tacos, hot dogs and other foods are:
at Santee Alley (14th/15th and Santee or Los Angeles St)
along and near Los Angeles St, esp between 4th and 5th
Other common areas for street hot dogs and tacos:
-Westlake District (just west of downtown)
on and near Alvarado St
along Pico Blvd.
corner of Wilshire and Vermont
along Crenshaw Blvd
Downtown Los Angeles Nature Beautification!
Grand Park is a beautiful, natural attraction to downtown L.A. It opened in late July 2012 to much fanfaire, including live celebration with professional dancing productions by Debbie Allen and the TV show So You Think That You Can Dance as well as music concerts. Located steps from the Music Center and a few blocks from Disney Hall, Grand Park is a delightful rest spot for a picnic, quenching thirst and lounging (Starbucks located within) and wetting your feet (water fountain area allows kids young and old to wade and drench in the water.
Special little architectural features make this park pop. Gotta love the hot bold pink seating and floral/fauna themed scheme (read sign picture) throughout the park.
So far, a few blocks of the multi street park have opened. Check website for new additions as they happen!
Ralph's Fresh Fare on 9th St
If you're staying in downtown L.A. for an extended time, you'll surely want to make coming here as an vital errand. As it stands now, this is the ONLY major chain supermarket in all of downtown. Fresh Fare is a high quality market in an emerging upscale part of town with an abundance of gourmet, organic and specialty grocery and misc items, as well as an on-site cleaners and fabulous deli and cafe with ample seating. The store is super clean and fancy. Come especially for the produce section. The fruit assortment is amazing. Surely, the prices here are quite costly in many cases but not all. On one occasion, I saw a toothbrush with a fancy Colgate or similar toothpaste advertised for only 98 cents! It helps to have the Ralph's club card to save but if just briefly in town, a shopper behind you may just lend his/her card or the clerk may swipe a a spare savings card as a courtesy .
Warning: Street parking is scarcse and sometimes risky here. One has to compete against residential parking across the market. There is a parking garage with validation as official market parking (90 min free parking). There are many car tow announcements in the store!
645 W 9th St, (213) 452-0840
Contemporary art is always on display in downtown LA.- and not just at the Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA, as we locals call the venue. Rather, an intriguing showcase of what I'd deem contemporary and artistic (even though commercial also) is the continuous tri-wall mural of Hotel Figueroa. Each day, thousands or motorists and pedestrians pass by and many notice the latest commecial advertisement for us to take into our consciousness- or just to simply glance at and then quickly forget.
The Moroccan-Arabesque themed hotel, opened in 1925 is architecturally charming itself. Ooh, the ornate design of the tiles, lanterns, gates and doors here...ooh la la the bold rich red, yellow, orange, blues on the exterior and within the hotel- will make you think you're in Casablanca, or Fez.
Check it out: http://www.figueroahotel.com/pages/about02.html
939, S. Figueroa Street
near Staples Center
Fondest memory: drinking a few fruity spirits in the gorgeous lobby after work. Made for very happy hours!
In response to a forum question:
So many things to do in LA specially if it is your first time. But if you are a good driver and have international license, I suggest renting a car which is so cheap anyway -- there's a lot of good deals that sometimes just charge under $30 a day (sometime even less than 20 USD).
Having a car saves so much time becase unlike in Europe, public transportation is not as extensive in California. But if you can, try to rent a car with GPS, or if you have GPS, bring your own. The drive from LA to San Francisco is nice and can be done in less than half a day, depending how much you stop.
Driving is the way you can understand the California way of life --- traffic sometimes in LA specially during rush hour. Once in SF though, you can just leave you car in your hotel and just use the nice public transportation of trams and buses which are easy to understand. It is harder to drive around the congested "up and down" 45- degree hills in SF...but a nice experience to go through the world's crookedest street! In driving from SF to LA or vice-versa, you can also take the more scenic Carmel route which goes along the California coast (see the map and freeways).
The AAA map is nice and if you have a friend who is a member in USA, they can get the map for you for free and even a little book for free which will outline everything you can do around California.