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The Best Destinations For Any Trip to Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles is one of the most famous cities in the world, not to mention the heart of American culture. It's an extremely luxurious, exciting city filled with locales that are famous around the world. However, LA is also home to peculiar, unusual, and outright weird places that should also be highlights of any trip to the City of Angels. The best LA trip will take you to a mix of famous destinations and hidden gems, not to mention some self-guided, itinerary-free exploration.


01 Philippe The Original

A visit to downtown Los Angeles would be incomplete without a stop at Philippe The Original. This culinary institution has been serving up hearty meals since 1908, making it a must-visit.

The charming ambiance takes you back in time, allowing you to experience a slice of LA history while enjoying their iconic French-dipped sandwiches. Don't forget to try their homemade mustard for the full Philippe experience. The bustling atmosphere adds to the charm of this historic eatery for locals and tourists alike.



Refinery29 29Rooms Los Angeles: Turn It Into Art Opening Night Party Phillip Faraone / Getty Images

If you're looking for a modern urban oasis in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, ROW DTLA is the place to go. This chic industrial space is home to a curated mix of retail shops, eateries, and creative office spaces. With a calendar filled with events, pop-up shops, and seasonal markets, ROW DTLA is a thriving hub of creativity and commerce.

Whether you're in the mood for boutique shopping, savoring gourmet meals, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll amidst modern architecture, ROW DTLA offers a unique urban experience. The blend of historic buildings with contemporary design creates a dynamic environment that reflects the evolving face of DTLA.


03 Smorgasburg LA

Every Sunday, ROW DTLA transforms into Smorgasburg LA, a bustling outdoor food market that showcases the city's diverse culinary scene. From gourmet donuts to international cuisines, there's a taste for every palate.

Smorgasburg LA isn't just about food. It also features a selection of vintage clothing shops and design vendors, making it a delightful destination for foodies and shoppers alike. Coupled with the tantalizing aromas wafting through the air, the atmosphere at Smorgasburg creates a vibrant setting for a Sunday outing.

The market also often hosts live music and special events, adding to the festive vibe that embodies the spirit of Los Angeles.


04 Rooftop Bars in DTLA

When the sun sets, take your evening to new heights at one of downtown LA's stylish rooftop bars. The twinkling city lights below and the star-studded sky above provide a romantic backdrop for an unforgettable night in the city.

Perch offers a cozy, Parisian-inspired ambiance with live music, while Spire 73 boasts being the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere, allowing you to enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline. If you're looking for a trendy, poolside setting for a laid-back night out, head to Upstairs at Ace Hotel.

Each rooftop bar offers a distinct vibe, promising a night of memorable vistas and crafted cocktails.


05 Hangar 21 Helicopter Tour of DTLA

For a bird's-eye view of the City of Angels, embark on a helicopter tour over downtown LA with Hangar 21. This daredevil adventure offers an exhilarating perspective of the city's architectural landmarks and sprawling urban landscape. It's a breathtaking way to appreciate the vastness and beauty of Los Angeles from a unique vantage point.

The thrill of soaring above the skyscrapers, coupled with the awe-inspiring views, makes this helicopter tour a bucket-list-worthy experience for both locals and visitors.


06 The Original Los Angeles Flower Market

The Original Los Angeles Flower Market is a fragrant oasis amidst the concrete jungle of the city. You can explore a colorful array of fresh flowers, plants, and floral accessories, offering a delightful experience of nature's beauty.

Whether you're picking up a fresh bouquet or simply enjoying the vibrant atmosphere, the market provides a serene escape from the urban hustle. The plethora of colors and fragrances invigorates the senses, making each visit a refreshing experience.

The market also has educational workshops and seasonal events, making it a community hub for nature enthusiasts.


07 Sidewalk Food Tours of LA

Embark on a culinary journey through downtown LA with a guided food tour by Sidewalk Food Tours of LA. Explore the historic core and its diverse food offerings, from iconic eateries to trendy food trucks.

On the tour, you'll learn about the city's rich culinary heritage while sampling a variety of flavors that make Los Angeles a food lover's paradise. Guided by local food experts, these tours provide insightful narratives on the evolution of DTLA's food scene, making each bite a lesson in LA's gastronomic history.


08 The LA Fashion District

The Fashion District is a sprawling hub of style and creativity in DTLA. With numerous shops offering fabrics, textiles, and fashion accessories, the district is a haven for designers, bargain hunters, and fashion enthusiasts.

The district buzzes with energy, especially during the LA Fashion Week, making it a lively destination for those looking to explore the latest trends. The blend of high-end boutiques with wholesale bargains provides a shopping experience that caters to every budget, making the Fashion District a dynamic and inclusive shopping destination.


09 The Santee Alley

Tucked in the heart of the Fashion District, the Santee Alley is a well-loved flea market famous for its open-air shopping and bustling atmosphere. With over 150 vendors offering a wide range of products from clothing and accessories to electronics and toys, this market is a bargain hunter's dream.

The lively ambiance, diverse merchandise, and bargain prices make Santee Alley a unique shopping experience. The alley is a microcosm of LA's diverse culture, with vendors from various backgrounds offering a wide range of goods, reflecting the city's multicultural fabric.


10 The Velaslavasay Panorama

Transport yourself back in time at the Velaslavasay Panorama, a museum that revives the pre-Hollywood era of entertainment.

As you step into the Velaslavasay Panorama, you're transported to a bygone era where the magic of visual storytelling began. The panorama showcases a 360-degree painted environment, immersing visitors in a visual and auditory experience reminiscent of 19th-century entertainment.


11 Central Library

Central Library with Arco Towers, Financial District, Los Angeles, California, USA, May 2010 Barry Winiker / Getty Images

Central Library in downtown Los Angeles is a treasure trove of knowledge adorned with great murals and architecture that tell stories beyond the books it houses. The artwork adorning its walls usually accompanies an interesting exhibit that rotates periodically.

The library also features a store for book lovers and a children's reading room, making it a destination for all ages. The blend of historical and contemporary exhibits makes the Central Library a rich cultural hub in DTLA.


12 The Bunker Hill Steps

Downtown Los Angeles adamkaz / Getty Images

The Bunker Hill Steps provide a fun climb leading up to the hill between Hope Street and Fifth Street.

Each step takes you closer to the heart of LA's vibrant cultural scene, making it a physical and symbolic journey through the city's artistic core. The steps themselves have become an iconic part of the cityscape, embodying the blend of urban and natural elements that characterize DTLA.


13 Biltmore Hotel

Pool and building cristianl / Getty Images

Step into a bygone era of elegance at the Biltmore Hotel, where old-school interior design meets Hollywood history.

The Biltmore Hotel isn't just a place to stay; it's a journey back to a time of glamour and sophistication. The hotel's walls are adorned with historic photos from the Academy Awards over the years, and the weekend afternoon tea is a sophisticated affair you need to reserve in advance.


14 Fine Arts Building

The Fine Arts Building in DTLA is a testament to the city's rich architectural and artistic heritage since 1898.

The story behind the lobby design and the outdoor edifice is a narrative etched in stone and color. The whimsical art exhibits housed within add a modern touch to the historical ambiance, making the Fine Arts Building a living canvas of LA's artistic journey.


15 Grand Central Market

Inside Grand Central Market Robert Landau / Getty Images

Embark on a culinary exploration of Los Angeles at the Grand Central Market, which showcases the city's diverse food scene in a visually engaging setting.

From local delicacies to international cuisines, the market is a food lover's adventure waiting to be explored. Each stall is a window into the cultures that make up the fabric of LA, making the Grand Central Market a delicious melting pot of experiences.


16 Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building Bradbury Building / Getty Images

The Bradbury Building is an architectural gem that stands as a testament to LA's rich architectural heritage.

The interior design is a visual narrative that tells the story of LA's historical and cultural evolution, making it a silent yet eloquent witness to the city's past and present.


17 Angels Flight

Experience a fun and historic ride on Angels Flight, the iconic railway that carries visitors up to Bunker Hill or down to Grand Central Market.

This quaint railway is a moving relic of LA's past, providing a unique perspective of the city as it ascends and descends the hill. The experience adds a touch of vintage charm to the constant hustle of DTLA.


18 The Broad

The Broad houses a phenomenal contemporary art collection that can be viewed for free, making art accessible to all.

The museum is a modern architectural marvel with a honeycomb facade that's as captivating as the art housed within. The Broad is a celebration of contemporary creativity, showcasing a diverse range of artworks that challenge, inspire, and provoke thought.


19 City Hall

USA, California, Los Angeles, Grand Park and Los Angeles City Hall Westend61 / Getty Images

LA's City Hall is more than just a government building; it's a historical monument that offers a self-guided tour and a fantastic observation deck at the top.

The panoramic views of the city skyline are a visual treat, providing a bird's-eye view of the sprawling urban landscape. City Hall is a blend of civic duty and architectural beauty, standing tall as a symbol of LA's vibrant community.


20 Union Station LA

Union Station - Los Angeles S. Greg Panosian / Getty Images

Union Station LA is a beautiful architectural marvel and one of the last great rail stations in the US.

Its design is a blend of Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival, and Art Deco styles, making it a visual journey through various architectural eras. Union Station is a bustling hub of activity, where the past and present coalesce in a beautiful dance of travelers, architecture, and history.


21 Bottega Louie

Bottega Louie is a beautiful restaurant and patisserie known for its extensive menu, great pizza, and delectable desserts. Its elegant ambiance is matched by the quality of the food, making it a favorite among tourists.

With a reputation as one of the most Yelped and Instagrammed restaurants in the country, Bottega Louie is a culinary icon in DTLA.


22 Walt Disney Concert Hall and Music Center

USA, California, Los Angeles, Walt Disney Concert Hall, elevated view Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

The Walt Disney Concert Hall and Music Center are architectural marvels designed by Frank Gehry. The relaxing plazas and intriguing Gehry architecture make this area a cultural hub in DTLA.

The upcoming Gehry Complex with the Conrad Hotel is anticipated to be another stop for those exploring the city's architectural and cultural landscape.


23 Grand Park

Fountain in Grand Park, and Los Angeles City Hall Mark Zhu / Getty Images

Grand Park is a beautiful promenade stretching from the Music Center to City Hall. The park is a green oasis amidst the urban jungle, offering a serene escape with its fountains, exhibits, and playground.

The occasional exhibits and the on-site Starbucks make it a pleasant destination for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing afternoon in the city.


24 The Last Bookstore

The Last Bookstore is a massive store with a whimsical design that captures the imagination of every visitor. Its vast collection of new and used books, unusual departments like horror, graphic novels, and comics, along with fun displays make it a haven for book lovers.

The art galleries on its mezzanine add a touch of modern creativity, making the Last Bookstore a literary and artistic haven.


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