Are you visiting Los Angeles for the week or simply just stopping by for a day, well in this post, I’ll be sharing with you a list of 20 things to do in Downtown Los Angeles. Everything from food-related to entertainment. And if you would like to add another recommendation to the list, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments. Enjoy.
Update (April 2020): Please be aware that some of these places may be temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Food-Related Things to Do
1. Korea Town
Whether you are an inexperienced Korean food connoisseur or a complete newbie, Korea Town is the place to go to stuff your belly up with some delicious cuisines. Some of the most popular restaurants include Dan Sung Sa, Park’s BBq, and Mao Galbi But for a more comprehensive guide what and where to eat, check out this post with 38 awesome restaurants to visit in Korea Town
And apart from its diverse selection of restaurants, Korea Town is also known for its cute coffee and dessert shops. Check out this post by Discover Los Angeles to start deciding your dessert choices.
2. Get Boba
If you don’t like boba, then we can not be friends. One of the most popular bonding activities of millennials nowadays is going to boba shops and slurping away on these tea-based drinks filled with chewy tapioca balls. Due to the worldwide influence of Asian culture (boba is originally from Taiwan), boba shops are everywhere in Los Angeles. And some of the most popular ones are MILK + T (where you can make your own boba tea), Pot of Cha, and Hey Hey.
Chinatown is a must-see in almost all major cities in the States, including New York, San Francisco, and of course Los Angeles. Check out this article by LA Eater for a list of best Chinatown dishes. After eating some delicious Chinese food, don’t forget to walk around the area and admire the beautiful Chinese decorative details of the traditional buildings and check out some shops for souvenirs and artifacts.
This is one of my favorite things to do in Downtown Los Angeles. If you just happen to be in Los Angeles on a Sunday, hop on over to Smorgasburg to stuff your face with all sorts of crazy delicious food ranging from fried chicken and waffles, sushi burritos, Peruvian tacos, vegan donuts, sugared ribs, acai bowls, and much more. Sorgasburg is basically a food truck event that happens every Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. And a lot of the food is very “Instagrammable” too, hence you might have already seen many pictures of it on various Instagram food accounts.
5. Breakfast at Eggslut
Eggslut, as its name suggests, caters to egg lovers who just can’t get enough of it. And of course, almost everything on its menus consists of eggs, including the classic Bacon egg and cheese sandwich as well as their honey mustard egg salad. Though Eggslut originated in the city of Los Angeles, due to its fast-growing popularity, it now has locations around the globe including Tokyo, London, and Kuwait.
6. Grand Central Market
The next stop on our Downtown Los Angeles food tour is the Grand Central Market. A landmark since 1917, the Grand Central Market continues to celebrate the beautiful and diverse food culture of LA. Some of the most popular vendors include the above-mentioned Eggslut, PBJ LA, and Ana Maria. Grand Central Market is the perfect place to go for lunch if you can’t decide on a specific restaurant to eat in LA. With so many options at the market, you can try multiple dishes at the same time.
7. Little Tokyo
Little Tokyo is an iconic hub full of Japanese-owned restaurants, boutiques, and shops. And if you’re obsessed with authentic Japanese ramen like I am, check out this list of the best restaurants in Little Tokyo. Daikokuya and Sushi Gen are among the local’s favorites. But you should check it out for yourself!
Entertainment in DTLA
If you love solving mysterious puzzles and seek thrilling adventures, then you should check out the Escape Room LA. You’ll be given a limited time to solve puzzles in strange yet realistic environments such as an old haunted theatre and a medieval laboratory. It’s a great team-building experience if you’re visiting LA with a group of people. Compared to sightseeing, this is a much more interactive experience that you can share with your family and friends.
9. LA LIVE
LA Live is basically the Time Square of Los Angeles. If you have an entire day of free time, then LA Live would guarantee that you make use of every single moment in your day. In this massive entertainment complex, you could watch a movie at the Ice Theather that provides a luxurious movie-watching experience with immersive audio and RGB laser projection. Next, head on to the Grammy Museum to learn about music’s rich cultural history. And lastly, don’t forget to check out the Staples Center, the world’s most successful arena that has presented many of the world’s most popular events. Including NBA All-star weekends, the Grammy awards, ESPN’s X Games, major musical performances, and much more.
10. OUE Skyspace
OUE Skyspace is a great place to have fun at and get your adrenaline going. It is the tallest open-air observation deck in California and the only one to offer a glass slide. Even though you only slide from the 70th to the 69th floor, it is still 1000ft above ground, which is pretty thrilling. The best time to visit is during sunset or nighttime because from so high above, you get to see the twinkling golden city lights of the Los Angeles skyline. For more info and ticket purchase, visit OUE Skyspace official website
11. Go bar hopping/clubbing
What’s a night in Downtown LA without a few drinks! Los Angeles is the ideal city to drink and dance to your heart’s content. So of course, this has to be one of the top things to do in Downtown Los Angeles. There are several clubs and bars downtown, each with its own unique features. If you’re looking for a more high-end party experience, the Elevate Lounge might be your cup of tea. Situated 21 floors above ground, this club provides you with a panoramic view of the city while having the time of your life. The Reserve LA is another lounge/nightclub that’s quite fancy as well. For a more casual experience, La City Bar is a popular local’s go-to for fun DJ nights and reggae parties.
Museums & Sightseeing
12. University of Southern California
Located right in Downtown LA, the University of Southern California is known for its beautiful campus, amazing college football team, and famous college alumni around the world including Will Ferrell, Neil Armstrong, and Dave Franco. Recently, USC Village, a $700 million development by the university just had its grand opening. It combines student housing with dining halls, and ground-floor retail including Trader Joe’s, Target, Starbucks, Abercrombie & Fitch, as well as nail salons. With over 36 retail spaces, the USC Village is perfect for those who want to do a little shopping and also experience the wonderful college life of USC students.
MOCA stands for the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was established in 1979 as the only artist-founded museum in Los Angeles. There are two different venues in Los Angeles, the Grand Venue, and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. And the general admission is free, but if you would like to check out the special exhibits, the tickets are $18 dollars for those over the age of twelve ($10 for students and seniors).
14. Art District
The Art District of Los Angeles is one of my favorite places in the city because it’s ever-changing and full of life. Located just east of Little Tokyo, it is not only a creative hub for hippies and street artists to express their imagination, but also a major tourist attraction. There is an enormous amount of breath-taking murals sprinkled throughout each corner of this district. Each representing and telling its own story. Spend an hour or two here to truly appreciate the unconfined and unbound nature of its artistic celebration.
15. Natural History Museum
Want to spend an afternoon learning about the history of different life forms on this beautiful planet earth? Get a ticket online at NHM’s website and prepare to be amazed by the spectacular amount of information you will gain. My favorite part of the museum is the Dino Lab, where you can watch paleontologists carefully chipping aways rocks to reveal the dinosaur bones underneath. Imagine being THAT close to an actual prehistoric animal! Super cool.
What makes the Last Bookstore even more iconic than just its name, is that it’s housed in an abandoned bank. Super chic right? With the decline in independent bookstores due to online booksellers gradually dominating the market, the name of this bookstore tells the bleak and blunt truth of their inevitable demise. But for the time being, we should be grateful to be blessed with the presence of this 22,000 square feet sacred space for all book-lovers alike.
17. Broad Museum
The Broad Museum is one of the most popular contemporary art museums in Los Angeles. Mainly due to its “Instagrammable” exhibitions such as the larger than human size tables that you can literally stand under, the Yayoi Kusama’s infinity mirrored rooms, and the big American sign. On top of that, general admission to the Broad is completely free. But make sure to get tickets online in advance so you won’t have to wait an hour in line once you arrive.
18. Walt Disney Hall
Sight-seeing is one of the best free things to do in downtown Los Angeles. Designed by the genius architect, Frank Gehry, the Walt Disney Hall is considered to be one of the most spectacular architectural masterpieces on earth. It is directly across from the Broad Museum so if you have the time, I would definitely recommend checking out this landmark. Apart from the visually-pleasing designs of this building, this concert hall is internationally-recognized for its amazing and sophisticated acoustics. And with a seating capacity of more than two thousand people, the main auditorium is just simply astonishing to witness.
19. Union station
The Los Angeles Union Station is one of the busiest and largest railroad terminal in the United States. If you take the LA metro or the greyhound bus, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll have a transfer at the Union Station. While you’re there, stop and take a close look at its beautiful architecture and maybe it’ll look familiar to you. Why? Well, Union Station has served as a backdrop for various vintage and film noir movies, including Blade Runner and Pearl Harbor. And if you’ve seen these movies, you will know exactly which scenes the station had its moments of fame.
20. Olvera Street
Olvera Street is the oldest part of Los Angeles, also known as the birthplace of LA. This 44-acre Mexican marketplace is colorful and full of beautiful history. There are street vendors, cafes, and stands selling everything from mouth-watering tacos to exquisite hand-crafted goods. On weekends, you can listen to Mariachi performances and watch amazing dance performances from traditional Aztec folkloric dancers. Olvera Street not only represents the graceful preservation of Los Angeles’s past but more importantly an enlightenment for future generations. This place is a must-see to truly immerse yourself in the deep history of LA.
Booking An Accommodation In Los Angeles?
If you don’t have an account with Airbnb yet, you can sign up using my referral link to get $48 dollars off your first trip! If Airbnbs are not so much your thing, I also recommend checking out Booking.com since they always offer the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Have Fun In The City Of Angels!
I hope this list of “20 Things to do in Downtown Los Angeles” has helped you out in deciding your itinerary for your time in LA. Let me know if you end up going to some of the places suggested above! I would love to hear about your experience. If you’d like more information on DTLA, hop over to Nomadic Note’s Los Angeles travel guide for even more detailed info!
For more travel tips and recommendations, make sure to check out: