Iconic Los Angeles: A Few Local Suggestions
Tourists thumbing through guidebooks will immediately find all the typical sightseeing spots which include the Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive, and Santa Monica Pier. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find gems to which residents give their nod of approval. There are a few locales that will leave an impression and are unequivocally Los Angeles. Where to start? Downtown Los Angeles, otherwise known as DTLA.
Broadway Theatre District
Los Angeles actually has a Broadway of its own, and it’s home to twelve stunning historical movie theaters that were built from 1910 to 1931. One great way to learn about these magnificent properties is on the LA Conservancy’s Broadway Historic Theatre and Commercial District Walking Tour, available Saturdays. The tour includes places like the Orpheum, Million Dollar, and Palace Theaters and ends at a location that “Blade Runner” fans will recognize right away: the Bradbury Building at 304 S. Broadway, built in 1893.
Ace Hotel & Theatre
The Ace Hotel brand is definitely hip, cool, and urban. As for DTLA’s Ace (929 S. Broadway), it has its own distinct City of Angels vibe. Located in the Broadway Theatre District, the hotel comes replete with a stage venue of its own. Indeed, the 1927-built United Artists Theatre (now the Theatre at the Ace) was the brainchild of Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith, as was the adjoining tower, now the home of the Ace Hotel.
Cocktail from LA Chapter in hand, start at the rooftop swimming pool. Depending on the time of day, it’s possible to find a yoga class or a deejay spinning there. Grab sustenance at LA Chapter or Mezzanine before unpacking in one of the 13-story hotel’s 182 rooms. There’s a gym for workouts, but you could also grab a complimentary Tokyobike from the front desk and take to the streets. There’s much to see.
This slice of history, circa 1932, reopened in DTLA in October 2015. Don’t be waylaid by the urge to explore upon stepping inside. Instead, make a beeline for the cafeteria itself, where there’s gourmet chicken potpie, a carving station, deli fare, and desserts galore. Definitely a great place to get your grub on.
Now back to Clifton’s (648 S. Broadway) and its delightful quirkiness with surprises to be discovered on various floors. Commence a veritable game of I-Spy, being on the lookout for a(n): 250-pound meteorite, redwood tree complete with fireplace, Green Water Legend, Art Deco map room, and secret passageways.
The Last Bookstore
You can buy new books, used books, and vinyl records here, but perusing the stacks is a venture unto itself. Located in the Spring Tower, the Last Bookstore (453 S. Spring Street) has a 22,000-foot space with a tunnel of books, bank vault, peepholes, and plenty of other cool things to find. But perhaps best of all are the in-store events where local authors read their works.
Grand Central Market
Eggslut. That word alone should be enough of a draw for a visit to DTLA’s Grand Central Market at 317 S. Broadway. Operating since 1917, the market continues to be host to butchers, fishmongers, and local produce. A 21st-century metamorphosis brought with it gourmet coffee and breakfast hot spots. Not to be missed, though, are traditional faves like China Café and Antojitos Mexicanos Roast to Go.
The Mayan (1038 South Hill Street) is a nightclub where Saturday night salsa sessions were once legendary. Upstaging such action these days is Lucha VaVOOM. This isn’t just Mexican masked wrestling; there’s also comedy, spicy burlesque, and superb aerial arts. Check the website for when the next flights of aerial feats commence, whether it’s masked chickens thrown from the ring or a sexy mink twirling from lofty silks.
Photo credit: Sharon