Welcome to Exploring Downtown Los Angeles

Driving Times and Distances

Minimum times represent little to no traffic; maximum times assume the worst. Adjust accordingly taking rush hour and peak weekend travel time into account.

  • From LAX: 30–75 mins/19 miles
  • From Hollywood: 15–30 mins/7 miles
  • From Beverly Hills: 20–45 mins/12 miles
  • From Pasadena: 15–25 mins/12 miles
  • From Santa Monica: 22–45 mins/15 miles

Getting Here

Driving Strategy

The good news is that Freeways 5, 101, 110, and 10 all get you there; the bad news is that the traffic can delay your travels. If you're coming from the Hollywood area, skip the freeways altogether and take Sunset Boulevard, which turns into César Chávez Boulevard. Make a right on South Grand Avenue, and after a few blocks you'll be in the heart of Downtown. If you’re coming directly from LAX, take the 105 E to the 110 N exit to the 6th Street/9th Street exit toward Downtown/Convention Center/Figueroa Street.


If staying at a hotel in Downtown with a garage, keeping your car there and getting around by foot, rideshare, or even the Metro is a better option than driving. If you prefer to take your own car, there are several options including lots and street parking, the latter of which is more affordable, but harder to find.

Top Reasons to Go

Visit Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall. Be wowed by the genius architecture and grab tickets for a Los Angeles Philharmonic performance led by passionate conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

See a Lakers or Clippers Game. Catch the action at the Staples Center and possibly rub elbows with stars such as Jack Nicholson, Billy Crystal, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Get Interactive at the GRAMMY Museum. Set your inner rock god free playing virtual drums, or learn about folk music from Bob Dylan at this highly interactive museum.

Take a Historic Walking Tour. The L.A. Conservancy offers several tours, such as of Olvera Street, where you can see traditional Mexican culture and shop for handmade goods.

Dine in at the Grand Central Market. Check out the newly revitalized Grand Central Market, where you can grab bites from artisanal food vendors.

Planning Your Time

Visit weekdays during the day, when the area is bustling and restaurants are open for lunch. It's easy to find street parking on weekends, but with the exception of Chinatown, L.A. Live, Olvera Street, and destination bars such as the Edison, the area shuts down at night.

Seeing everything in one day is possible, but it's best to spread it out over two. For art lovers, the Museum of Contemporary Art, MOCA at the Geffen Contemporary, the African American Museum, the Japanese American Museum, and the Chinese American Museum are worthy of more than just a pass-through.

Plan your visits around specific areas you can walk to in one circuit. Parking lots run $9 to $20, so if you’re on a budget you don’t want to be moving your car around too much.

The entertainment industry loves to use Downtown for movie backdrops, so when film crews take over entire blocks for shooting, traffic jams up in every direction.

There are no results

Previous Experience

Where to See Celebrities in L.A.

All Top Experiences


Book A Trip



  • CARS

Trip Finder

Fodor's Los Angeles

View Details