They had us at year-round near perfect weather. Revitalized Downtown L.A. is not the Los Angeles of yesterday – and that’s an exciting prospect for travellers. It’s become a pulsing destination with increasing walkability, the food scene is exploding, and the city seems re-energized. Ready to take on sunny southern California’s La-La Land? Here’s how:
See & Do in Los Angeles
Save your cash where you can, as our Canadian dollar still doesn’t quite match the U.S. rate. Good news for visitors, L.A. has loads of museums and art galleries with a range of focus, many of which offer admission for our favourite F-word: free. Artsy types will love The Getty Center, music buffs the Hollywood Bowl Museum, and the California Science Center suits Big Bang Theory fans just fine. The Broad offers complimentary admission and Thursday nights are free at MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.
L.A. used to be the city where no one walked. Public transit left a lot to be desired which meant visitors had little choice but to drive. As sun-starved Canadians, wasting all that glorious sunshine parked on a freeway in a rental car with the AC cranked seemed a bit insular. But that L.A. is so passé. Bikes + Hikes L.A. offers guided tours, from pedalling ‘L.A. in a Day’ to mid-morning and sunset Griffith Park hikes and much more. Santa Monica is headquarters for Aqua Surf, where lessons or camps are options for all ages. Dude. You’re in Cali. Do this.
Bradbury Building | Brayden Law
How about an experience that gives you a fun history lesson? Get the real back story when you take the behind-the-scenes tour of Dodger Stadium or the LA Memorial Coliseum. Cinephile? Fans of the original Blade Runner will most certainly dig seeing the zigzag staircase featured in the intense final scene at the Bradbury Building, circa 1893.
Eat & Drink in Los Angeles
Eggslut | Grand Central MarketEggslut | Grand Central Market
Food halls may be a trend – but a worthwhile one that’s likely here to stay, we say. Something akin to an upscale food court, food halls typically house affordable culinary options – often from big deal chefs – all under one roof. The Grand Central Market has global food vendors so diverse you can make a meal of sticky rice, tostadas and Southern BBQ. Hey, we don’t judge. New food halls include The Fields LA (near the Banc of California Stadium) with two floors of delicious foodie heaven, plus a patio. Corporation Food Hall in downtown L.A. (DTLA) is a go-to for everything from gyozas to Greek salad. Brand new Platform 35 in Koreatown has been long awaited; just take the Western/Normandie exit on the Metro Purple line. Smorgasburg LA is open every Sunday on the outdoor site of the weekly Alameda Produce Market located in the revitalized ROW DTLA.
ROW DTLAROW DTLA
Local folks are skipping the usual big-name brands and getting into handcrafted spirits from boutique distilleries – and we advise travellers do too. Lost Spirits Distillery takes you on a Pirates of the Caribbean-style tropical river raft and their rum stills are your final destination. The Spirit Guild offers gluten-free gin and vodka because they use clementines rather than grain, and DTLA’s Greenbar Distillery plants a tree for every bottle purchased, plus offers tours and classes.
Vinyl bars. Nope. We’re not talking about vegan leather bars, although that is very likely a thing. In this case, we’re meaning vinyl, as in records and turntables, and places for HiFi audiophiles to chill, have a drink, and maybe even a bite. Gold Line Bar in Highland Park spins 8,000 records in a wood-paneled rumpus room bar, much like the hot vinyl bars of Tokyo. In Sheep’s Clothing is yet another reason DTLA keeps getting cooler by the day, with rare grooves, guest DJ’s and a sound system like you’ve never experienced. Sunset & Vinyl spins old school in Hollywood.
Stay & Sleep in Los Angeles
Los Angeles Athletic ClubLos Angeles Athletic Club
It’d be easy to call DTLA home for your entire visit, and it’s hard to beat a stay at Los Angeles Athletic Club. The building is an official historical monument with the private club and hotel occupying the top three floors of its 12 storeys. The club is actually open to hotel guests, with a $25 membership fee included in the room charge. With its classic, old-boys-club style, expect tufted leather furniture, velvet high back chairs, crisp white linens, and the occasional model ship. Post-flight and after check-in, decompress with a steam at the health club, grab a bite and classic cocktail at Invention bar, and still catch the Kings game at nearby Staples Center. Now that’s what we call a holiday hat trick.
When aiming for a Mid-City stay, check out Farmer’s Daughter Hotel. This Fairfax-located property is ideal for anyone looking for an alternative lodging option - watch its website videos featuring tattooed hipsters and Mason jar drinks if you don’t believe us. Originally opened in the 60s followed by a major face lift in 2016, the hotel mixes its original tongue-in-cheek, down-home vibe with contemporary design and avoids kitsch while still having some fun. Farmer’s Daughter is walking distance to The Grove, a shopping and dining area where you can basically go from enjoying a Bloody Mary brunch to catching a movie within just a few steps. Venice Beach appeal? The Kinney goes bold with pops of in-your-face colour in design-driven guest rooms. There are cruiser bikes for rent, plus a cool Quad area for guests to share fire pits, play ping pong, crash on loungers and take a dip in the pool – what more do you need while staying right on one of the most famous beaches around?
Located in the heart of the neighbourhood, Dream Hollywood’s digs are so hip it hurts. Its airy, white marble lobby drops the slightest hints of mid-century modern while contrasting with the moodier dining room of Tao Los Angeles, located on-site. The property’s crowning gem is The Highlight Room, a glamorous rooftop dining-pool-lounge space lined with cabanas and enveloped by immaculate city views.