If there's one thing Angelenos love, it's a makeover, and city planners have put the wheels in motion for a dramatic revitalization. Downtown is both glamorous and gritty and is an example of Los Angeles's complexity as a whole. There's a dizzying variety of experiences not to be missed here if you're curious about the artistic, historic, ethnic, or sports-loving sides of L.A.
Downtown Los Angeles isn’t just one
neighborhood: it’s a cluster of pedestrian-friendly enclaves where you can sample an eclectic mix of flavors, wander through world-class museums, and enjoy great live performances or sports events.
As you venture into the different neighborhoods of Downtown—Chinatown, Little Tokyo, and El Pueblo de Los Angeles —take advantage of the tastes, sounds, and sights. Eat roasted duck in Chinatown, red bean cakes in Little Tokyo, or pickled cactus on Olvera Street. Spend time browsing at the Grand Central Market, where stalls are filled with colorful locally grown produce and homemade treats such as tamales and olive bread. The market recently received a makeover, and is now offering everything from Texan barbecue to Thai-style chicken over rice. For art lovers, the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA has one of the most important modern and contemporary art collections, and those who are fans of architecture should make a point to see another Gehry creation, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, or the massive, geometrically designed Cathedral of Our Lady for the Angels.
To see the glory of Broadway's golden years, look "up," above the storefront signs, to see the marvelous architecture and theater marquees of the majestic buildings they reside in. From the late 19th century to the 1950s—before malls and freeways—Broadway glittered with the finest shops and the highest number of luxurious theaters in the world, making it a rich, cultural haven. Though it remains the main road through Downtown's Historic District, the area has changed dramatically over the years. Currently bustling with businesses catering to mostly Mexican and Central American immigrants, between 1st and 9th streets you can find mariachi and banda music blaring from electronics-store speakers, street-food vendors hawking sliced papaya sprinkled with chili powder, and fancy dresses for a girl's quinceañera (15th birthday).
Glance in every direction and you'll see construction crews building luxury lofts and retail space aimed at making Downtown a one-stop destination to work, live, and play.
Two massive entertainment complexes are further transforming the area: The long-awaited Frank Gehry–designed Grand Avenue Project is in the works, to be built around the Music Center performance complex, and the L.A. Live/Nokia Theatre project, anchored around the Staples Center sports arena.