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 roast 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, and you'll find 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 Core, the area has changed dramatically over the years. Though it once exclusively housed businesses catering to mostly Mexican and Central American immigrants, there are now trendy pockets for shopping and dining. However, you can still find the classic experience of mariachi and banda music blaring from electronics-store speakers between 1st and 9th streets, street-food vendors hawking sliced papaya sprinkled with chili powder, and fancy dresses for a girl's quinceañera (15th birthday).