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.
Real Deals and People in downtown
If you like to discover the daily beat of the locals while visiting a new area as I do, come to the Fashion District. And, oh yeah, if you refuse to pay full price for various items, make your way here, where you will find the famous cheap-sometimes chic shopping mecca of Santee Alley and more..
Warning--Streets in these parts are not pristine at all. This is a shabby area and you should take some extra precaution here though it's not a very dangerous area (basically, don't fall into the bad tourist traps of flashing money, not looking around you, etc). However, it is worth coming here to see the everyday, non-pretentious folk and the daily dealings of the sale.
At Santee Alley or "The Alley", sellers showcase everything knock-off-sunglasses, purses, jeans, suits, shoes, etc. Don't expect to find the truly authentic garb and accessories from the Guccis and all but , hey, don't knock the knock-offs- they're just as fabulous! There have been some police raids done here of fake merchandise but Santee continues to thrive.
Besides the Alley, one will come across the Flower Mart, really a district within the bigger one. The L.A. Flower District is the largest market dedicated to flowers in the U.S. It's amazing to see virtually every kind of flower on Mother Earth. Oh, the aroma here- come here to get your organic perfume on!
Fondest memory: Getting, at last, my fabulous $4 black purse in the district!!
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.
Good food court/markets!
Grand Central Market is a neighborhood treasure. Downtowners appreciate it for providing a variety of fruits, veggies, meats, exotic spices and more which would all be otherwise hard to get. For workers and others who 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 Salvoradean 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!!!
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!
Great websites for places to go in downtown L.A. with walking maps.
1. Civic Center (Cathedral, Music Center, Disney Hall, MOCA & Plaza, Bunker Steps, Library, Jewelry District)
2. Union Station/Olivera St. (across from Union Station)
3. Chinatown (near Olivera St.)
4. Little Tokyo
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
Check out the beautiful Citibank Building located in DOWNTOWN.
Hm, you may wonder why I mention this building in particular.... Well, just for the starry-eyed amongst us (er... I guess that would be me huh??), this building was featured as the office building of the TV series 'LA Law'. ;-)
Travel agents are not considering as often as in the past due to the beginning of the Internet. However, they are still a great resource of information and provide you with an entire range of services, which will make your trip, run easily, as well as save you time, problem, and cash. Here is the process you should follow when choosing a travel agent.
Things you will need to do:
o Date, Place, and price range of Your Trip.
o List of agencies in your near by area.
o List of query
A good quality travel agent will ask you to outline your trip. They will ask where you’re going and why, how you would wish to travel, how long you plan to stay, and what your travel budget is. Be open and honest with your answers. A good agent will gladly put together a sample tours that describes availabilities in transportation, accommodations, and estimated costs.
Steps for Choosing Best Travel Agents
Recognize your needs
A good travel agent will always take your needs into thought. However, while an agent will typically ask questions to bring out this type of information from you (and you should take it as a bad sign if the agent does not), you will also need to do your part by speaking your mind.
• Clarify the main purpose of your trip.
• Decide where you want to go and when, making sure the trip will fit into everyone's plan.
• Choose your mode of transportation, whether it's Airline, Cruise, rental car, or something else fully.
• Try to determine a realistic budget for your trip based on all your other considerations.
Ask the right questions
Once you have pointed your choices, call around to ask questions. You should ask most of these questions to person, in addition, when you meet with those agents:
• What kind of travel do you specialize in?
• Can I contact you 24 hours a day?
• Which services do you charge for and how much will they cost?
Meet With Travel Agents
Travel arrangements like shopping of any car and other commodity, if you are too eager to jump on a deal right away. When you do meet with travel agents don't feel required to purchase anything. As you start to discuss travel options with an agent you like, keep these guidelines in mind:
• Do not rely on vocal agreements alone.
• Do not suppose your accommodations will look as impressive as they do in the glossy direct mail.
• Always read out the paperwork carefully before you sign on it, especially when it comes to package deals.
Finding a best travel agent might a little complicated at first, but it could simplify your life vastly. I would like to suggest you few best travel agents website as I found while searching on Google. These are Airtkt.com, Cheapfareguru.com, Eros Tours & Travel Inc., Latinfare.com.
How to Choose Best Travel Agent For Vacation, Best Travel Agent, Best Agent, Agent, Best Travel Tips, Top Travel Tips, Travel Tips, Travels Agents
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
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
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
Favorite thing: Downtown LA: skyscrapers jostle with low-rent business plazas in this multi-faceted part of town but Downtown LA is not just about the skyscrapers, but they sure are an important part of the city's skyline. For the most part these tall buildings are the heart of the city's financial district. The tallest building in Downtown is the First Interstate World Center which is 73 stories high. A good view on the district is offered by the elevated park around the 55 story 333 Hope Street Building
I'll admit it, for several years I always thought downtown LA wasn't a good place to go unless you worked there. I had driven through the ghetto areas and I mistakenly thought all of downtown was like that. Every major city has its ghetto areas.
But, if you walk around Grand Ave and 1st where the Disney Concert Hall is, it's actually a really nice area. It's clean and safe. There's a lot of restaurants to eat at. You can gaze up at the humongous skyscrapers... look at the various art pieces around the city. There's a lot of cool photographic opportunities that can be found just by taking a stroll around the city. Check out my pics and you'll see a few gems I found in my exploration of the city.