Los Angeles, is one of the oldest and 2nd most populated city the United States. It is the entertainment capital of the world and is situated in a coastal basin of Southern California. According to history, Spaniards claimed Los Angeles and officially governed it in the 1500’s. It is commonly known as the City of Angels, LaLa Land, Orange City or mostly just referred to as “L.A.”. However, it is named the city of angels because of its Catholic founding and the name given by the Franciscan missionaries:
“El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles del Rio Porciuncula”.
This translates into English as:
Village of Our Lady Queen of the Angels that is on the Porciuncula River” (BTW, “Porciuncula” is a Franciscan church in Assisi, Italy) This bit of information is provided by my husband.. Such a nerd… 😉
Either way, it is a serious mouthful. It is no wonder that it’s name has been shortened so much over the years. Can you imagine having to write all that every time someone asks you for your address??
Since my visit of Downtown Bakersfield, I have become more fascinated with the history of the Downtown areas of cities in California. It is an amazing opportunity to be in a place where each building or street has its own story that has been there for so long.
So, where to start when visiting a new place? We usually just pick a couple points of interest to explore and leave the rest open to see where our inspiration leads us…
Here is our short trip guide to Downtown Los Angeles!
Where to stay in Downtown Los Angeles?
icon-map-marker Millennium Biltmore Hotel
For anyone who loves a classic, this is the place you would want to stay. A mix of Renaissance and Mediterranean vibe. Not to mention the Beaux-Arts architecture styles to complete the grandeur inside and outside of the building. I am absolutely stoked on how the architecture of the building was designed. From the carved marbled fountains and crystal chandeliers to the humongous wood-beamed ceilings, it makes everything so classy and takes you back to the fancy days of the roaring 20’s. It really has the feel of stepping back in time. Also, the staff here were very accommodating and even though our stay here was short, it was indeed relaxing. Our only regret was not making the time to take a dip in the Roman style pool.
Where to eat in Downtown Los Angeles?
icon-cutlery Bugis Street Brasserie
In 1993, Gloucester Hotel in London opened Bugis Street to offer homesick Singaporeans/Malaysians a genuine taste of home. Named after a now famous cobble-stoned street is Singapore that is sandwiched between the buildings of the Bugis Junction shopping complex. It has become a hub for nightlife and cuisine in this South East Asian City State. To rate this restaurant with just a good rating would be a mistake. Like most places in Downtown LA, you get the feeling that there should be more activity, crowds or something going on? The place was relatively chill by most standards. That being said, my husband and I really loved the food they served us. The ultimate place that we have found for you to enjoy the best of Singaporean, Malaysian and Chinese cuisine. It has a cool ambiance of modern oriental and two floor levels which separates the private and semi-private tables. My husband and I had a wonderful dinner date here. The food was excellent and we decided that we would have to try to copy how they cooked it when we get home. Check out our “New Year’s Eve Date Night at Home” post to see how we did.
What to do in Downtown Los Angeles?
icon-location-arrow Hollywood Boulevard
The sky is the limit in things to do or see in Downtown Los Angeles. However, Hollywood Blvd. is where you could check out the walk of fame that should be on your bucket list. It runs 3.5 miles long and covers 2600 stars. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in L.A. so, it is expected that it will always be packed. I would always recommend you to wear something comfy for walking.
While checking out the walk of fame, make sure to stop by at Graumann’s Chinese Theater for the hand prints, foot prints and signatures of many of the most famous Hollywood celebrities. This is just one of the historic landmarks on Hollywood Boulevard.
icon-location-arrow Union Station
Finding a parking area in Downtown LA is not always easy. Fortunately, there is always a train ride to keep you away from the traffic of city life. It is a fun and interesting ride for me and I like to experience what the locals would do. Their tickets are electronic and the card can be used multiple times. I would suggest, you would keep the card for future use if you plan on coming back. They charge you $1 for each card you buy. Would have been nice to know that you can just reload the card you have. The LA Metro system was pretty easy to navigate. We were able to get really close to anywhere we chose.
Another historic landmark of LA, and a good photo op, is Union Station. It’s really where Los Angeles begins. It is the major transportation station for Southern California that opened in 1939. The renaissance allure of the station is seen through its Travertine marble and Terracotta floors. You may notice its wooden ceiling which is actually made of steel.
icon-location-arrow El Pueblo de Los Angeles
Just across the street from Union Station, you will find other historic landmarks. El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park, Olvera Street and Nuestra Senora Reina of LA Church. The site is the oldest section of Los Angeles ruled under Spanish era, Mexican era and then American era. This is one of the most touristy areas in Los Angeles bringing more than 2 million visitors every year. The free museums, great food, shopping and other activities makes this a must see. You can check it out at El Pueblo de Los Angeles for more info.
El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park has been the center of a 44-acre park separating the lively Olvera Street from the empty buildings of Pico Garnier’s block. It is the main hub to many celebrations and other festivities.
Olvera Street will give you a Mexican Vibe. From its colorful market to their reasonable price of Mexican food, you will surely love this place. You can also find a bunch of interesting attractions along the street that marks the history of Los Angeles.
El Pueblo de Los Angeles has adobe houses. These are houses that are made from mud-brick. A community of these houses are called Pueblos in Spanish. Within Olvera Street is the Avila Adobe house which was built in the 1800’s. Home of the first mayor of Los Angeles and the oldest building of the city. Today, the Avila Adobe has served as one of the historic monuments of Los Angeles that you can visit with free admission. It is open from Monday to Sunday and from 9 AM to 4 PM.
As a Christian Catholic, we ended our trip with a visit to the Plaza Church. Spaniards were the first founders of the church around 1800’s. Mexicans have beautiful tradition of faith in Catholicism. During our visit at the church, we were very fortunate to hear a song of a different dialect from one of the elderly devotees inside the church. Her voice was so beautiful that it echoes throughout the chapel. It reminded me of the Latin prayers of my Filipino elders.
One of the attractions that draws me closer to the history of California Cities is how the faith of Catholicism started here. It has a lot of similarities from the Filipino culture. Thus, Los Angeles shows off the best of the cultural diversity from architecture and entertainment to food and religious traditions. It’s easy to see why Downtown Los Angeles is one the most visited areas in California.
While visiting LA, also don’t forget to check out it’s many comedy venues. Here’s an article that features The 6 Hilarious LA Comedy Clubs. This is another great way to spend the evening with friends or even that special someone.