Downtown Los Angeles - overwhelmed!

Old Jun 20th, 2005, 02:44 PM
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Downtown Los Angeles - overwhelmed!

Hi all

I am in downtown Los Angeles - staying near the Staples Centre. I have enjoyed the Santa Monica part of my stay - now I am struggling to enjoy downtown - I apologize to anyone offended by that. It isn't that I don't LIKE it here, it's just that I am spending this time by myself (my husband is at a conference) and I am finding the city a little overwhelming - and - am I wrong? - a bit unsafe! I will say I am not completely used to big cities though I have done a lot of travel throughout the world.

So basically I am looking for advice... I prefer to walk when exploring a city - as I said I am staying by the Staples Centre... is it safe for me to walk over to Olvera St. or Little Tokyo? Which route is best to get there? The other option is taking a tour... I've already decided to take a tour of Hollywood.

Thanks! And no offence to anyone - I am trying to find my comfort level here!

kdwyer is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2005, 03:02 PM
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Los Angeles IS overwhelming (and I was born there). You could catch a taxi to Olvera Street or Melrose Ave, then walk around once you are there (rather than trouping thru neighborhoods you aren't familiar with). I'm pretty sure you'd feel comfortable with that.

LA is a city based on cars, part of what you are running into is simply it was not designed as a pedestrian friendly place.

Also I'm not offended, but what you are experiencing is exactly WHY Santa Monica is a very popular area to live.
suze is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2005, 03:24 PM
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When my daughter was in 10th grade her Social Studies class did a filed trip to downtown. It is an annual thign at her school. the kids are broken up into groups of four and given scavenger hunt clues. They have the day to visit various location, such as Angel's Flight, the Bradbury Building, Chinatown, the courthouse, El Pueblo (Olvera Street), the Times building, etc., and bring back certain items as proof they have been there. The kids love it and as far as I know there has never been an incident--they still do this each year. My daughter has grown up exploring downtown, so it was a breeze for her. If it safe for 10th graders, I think you'll be ok!

I LOVE downtown L.A. As I said, I've been taking my daughter there since she was a preschooler, and downtown in certainly for waling! There is so much history, architecture and art to explore there. There are walking tours and events during the day in MacAuthur Park. http:/
is a good place to start. is another walking tour.

There are several others, one of my favorites, as Raymond Chandler fan, is the Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles walking tour. There is a book by the same title and it explores locales from his books. There is also an old L.A. architecture walking tour, but, again, it is in a book. This site gives you some of the finer highlights, though.

You can pick up walking tour maps in downtown from the L.A. Conservancy, 523 W Sixth Street, but there is one hgere as well

You are also close to Pasadena, the Angeles Forest, Hollywood, the Museum District and Miracle Mile on Wilshire
here_today_gone2Maui is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2005, 03:35 PM
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I feel pretty safe down there. The homeless are there in large numbers but are for the most part harmless. The subway would take you to Pershing Square. Check out the Hispanic shopping along Broadway or the jewelry mart. I enjoy the Grand Central Market for great variety of ethnic foods and grocery shopping.Climb the hill to see the Amazing new Disney Concert Hall and then continue on to Our Lady of The Angels Cathedral.
You could take the subway into Union Station and its beautiful Art Deco interior. Walk across the street to Olvera St. for touristy Mexican shopping and decent food. Or up the hill a few blocks further to Chinatown.
logandog is online now  
Old Jun 20th, 2005, 06:24 PM
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kdwyer, by all means, visit the interior of the Bradbury Building, spectacular enough to be a find in any city. When I worked in downtown L.A., I was fortunate to work close enough to this marvelous building to eat lunch frequently at a sandwich shop which then existed to serve the office workers there. I fell in love with its radiant beauty and peace (it was not surprising to learn later that its architect used an 1880's utopian novel as his inspiration for what an office building should be like.)

You would never guess at the wonders of the interior from its stolid exterior, but as you continue up Broadway, you'll see many extraordinary facades of the movie plalaces of early 20th century L.A., and reflect on the many famous names of the cinema who have attended premieres there. And when your eyes wander back to street level, you'll have every sensation of being on the busiest shopping street in downtown Mexico City, without the air fare.

The Grand Central Market, starting just acrooss the street and a half block on Broadway from the Bradbury Building, is a vast collection of food stands with one one of the largest varieties of foods you'll ever see anywhere. I almost guarantee you will see foods that you never knew existed here.

In these places you will understand that despite some impressive monuments of Anglo architecture, the truth of the vitality of downtown L.A. today is as one of the major urban centers of the Latin world.
JBC411 is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2005, 06:42 PM
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Karen - I know you had been working on your itinerary for your LA visit as several of us had given you advice. I looked back at the itinerary you posted on 6/7 and it looks good to me. You had already decided you would take a Hollywood tour on Tuesday (tomorrow) so that day is taken care of. You also mentioned you were going to go to the Getty Museum today-were you able to do that? Definitely not to be missed.

I am sure part of why you are feeling overwhelmed is because LA is not the best laid out city for walking-as others mentioned. I think it's pretty safe but taking a cab to Olvera Street or to the Bradbury Building would help you avoid some of the less nice areas. I also love Grand Central Market-you will be amazed at what you see there. chinatown is small but worth a visit if you have the time.

Here today gone2Maui's idea of one of the walking tours is a good one. Or visit the Museums on Wilshire Blvd. I think you will feel better about the city if you use cabs to get to the areas you wish to visit.
paula1470 is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2005, 10:18 PM
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I live in L.A. and the downtown area alone is pretty overwhelming. Just like any city, there are parts of downtown that look better than others. As far as it being safe, it depends what you mean by "safe." Yes, parts of the city doesn't look all that appealing and there homeless people everywhere, but would anything happen to you if you walked down the street?? Probably not. I can't remember the last time I heard there any stories of muggings or robberies or anything like that. I'm assuming you're talking about walking from Staples Center during the day? If so, all the streets are pretty lively during the day. It's a pretty long walk to Olvera St. though. Well over 10 blocks. If you want the "best looking" walk, take Figueroa all the way down. That's probably the "nicest" street. Personally, I would walk along Broadway and check out all the interesting shops. You could even go through the garment district and vist the famous "alley" for some bargains. Then go through the flower district and then the toy district. I agree that Grand Central Market and Union Station are not to be missed. Once you get to Olvera St., Chinatown is just down the street.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 11:33 PM
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downtown la is just as safe as sm during the day. logandog gave you good advice - don't miss disney hall, moca or union staiton. and try santee alley for a one of a kind bargain shopping experience.
crosscheck is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2005, 08:32 AM
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Thanks all! You've given me some courage, so I am off to explore!
kdwyer is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2005, 08:42 AM
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Catch the metro up to Hollywood and Highland, or one more stop north to the Universal Studios Tour.

You can also take a train down to Long Beach, then hop the quick shuttle to the Aquarium of the Pacific.
tracys2cents is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2005, 11:36 AM
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Let us know how it goes!
BigJim is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2005, 11:48 AM
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You can take the "A" Dash bus from Staples Center to Little Tokyo. It costs 25Cents and runs every 5 minutes. I advise everyone visiting Downtown to pick up a Downtown News which has a map of the Downtown Bus Routes and sites of interest.
Here's the link:
Have fun.
mlgb is offline  
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