Here’s a fabulous Downtown Los Angeles travel guide: Downtown Los Angeles has a certain charm, o.k so it can be a little rough around the edges with a very diverse mix of areas ranging from the fashion district to Skid Row. Despite suffering economically for decades Downtown Los Angeles is gradually seeing a renaissance with some of its glorious old buildings being restored to their former glory and put to good use. Downtown Los Angeles does have an undeniable charm.
Downtown Los Angeles is technically the central business district of Los Angeles so do expect to find soulless skyscrapers, government buildings and plenty of white collar workers, scratch the surface however and you’ll discover a hive of creative energy with independent art galleries, book stores, speak easy gatherings, historic gems, vintage happenings, classic dive bars and regular art walks when the whole of downtown comes to life!
Morning of day one:
Ease into your day with brunch at Coles. Back in 1908 entrepreneur Harry Cole invented the French dip sandwich and opened Coles’, which is now the oldest public house in Los Angeles. Cole’s is a real American gem frozen in time. Housed in the historic Pacific Electric Building once the centre of transport tycoon Henry Huntington’s Railway Network, at it’s peak 100,000 passengers passed through the city’s vital transportation hub daily, many stopping for one of Cole’s delicious French dips and a pint.
By 1974 Cole’s was designated a Historical Landmark Site by the City of Los Angeles not only for it’s location but also for recognizing Cole to be the true inventor of the French Dip Sandwich. It goes without saying that brunch should consist of one of Cole’s famous Pastrami sandwiches with French Dip and a side order of sweet potato fries, so good. Follow that up with ‘The King’ of all deserts, the Elvis Presley style Peanut butter and chocolate cake. If you’re out later in the evening do swing by Cole’s as they house a very well hidden speak easy in the backroom. It’s easy to see why Cole’s was chosen as a backdrop to film several scenes for AMC’s MadMen.
Get lost for an afternoon in The Last Book Store: The Last Book Store takes up almost a whole block; from the street you’d never know what lies in-store through those large doors. Once inside you’ll be blown away, The Last Book Store is every readers dream. The Last Book Store is a vast labyrinth of new and pre loved books. Housed in an old bank building built in 1914 this architectural piece of history is being put to brilliant use with bookworms visiting from near and far to browse the extensive collection of books in an undeniably cool building.
Upstairs you’ll find a maze of indie art studios where you can see artists at work and buy all manner of art from paintings to sculpture. The Last Book Store also acts as a place for people to meet to discuss literature, art and music, fostering community and creativity. As well as art there’s also a HUGE variety of books upstairs for $1! (453 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013, United States)
Sun, swim, cocktails and pretzels at The Standard: Swim and laze in the sun with Cocktails and a giant pretzel on the rooftop of The Standard. The Standard is a mid-century landmark skyscraper surrounded by even bigger, shinier sky scrappers. Downstairs you can play ping-pong and table tennis.
On the roof top there’s dazzling views across the cityscape. There’s an array of waterbeds to lie on and enjoy the pool party atmosphere, there’s a cocktail bar and food stand selling German foods including giant pretzels, snitzels and beers. DJ’s play 24/7 as the sunsets and the pool party turns into a late night cocktail soiree. The Standard is located in the heart of Downtown so perfectly positioned as your hotel when exploring the city. (550 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071)
Head to the King Eddy Saloon for Burkowski style drinking: Nicknamed “the best watering hole on Skid Row”, King Eddy’s Saloon is a classic seedy dive bar famed for being a regular haunt for writer Chrles Burkowski. The dark interior offers a no-bother atmosphere where nobody knows your name, you don’t go to the King Eddy to be seen, you go there for cheap drinks, some food, to prop up the bar or play darts late into the night. (131 East 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013, open 5pm-2am)
Morning of day two: Eat a big breakfast at the Nickel Diner. The Nickel Diner is a cozy no-frills all American diner serving an all day breakfast from 8am. The staff is friendly and welcoming and you always see one of the owners lending a helping hand. The food is made to perfection; you can tell everything is homemade. Attracting a mixed crowd from hung-over beatniks to office workers, it’s the perfect place to experience the real American diner environment, non-pretentious good food at great prices. (524 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013)
Go ride on the Angels of Flight: Angels Flight is a historic landmark funicular railway system in the Bunker Hill District of Downtown Los Angeles. The original Angels Flight was erected in 1901 on Olive Street, since then the original cars have been relocated to Bunker Hill and run daily. Angels Flight is said to be the World’s shortest incorporated Railway system. The cost of a ride is 50cents.
Cocktails, dinner and dancing at The Cicada Club: Cicada Club is a premier Los Angeles swing dance venue and vintage night club where you can relive the magic of old Hollywood, it doesn’t get much better than an evening at The Cicada Club! The Cicada Club has been featured on The Fabulous Times before, so I’m sure regular readers will recognize this glorious deco style hang out.
Most Sunday nights the Oviatt Building comes to life turning into a 1920s-’30s style nightclub complete with live bands, orchestras, singers, a crowd of snappy dressers and one heck of a dance floor. The Entrance of The Oviatt building is ever bit as impressive as what lies beyond the golden Art Deco Doors.
Cocktail in hand, surrounded by picture perfect Art Deco opulence, the moment the band kicks in you’re transported back in time to the roaring twenties.