Los Angeles has some very exciting high profile neighborhoods: Hollywood, Beverly Hills,Santa Monica, etc. But one area worth checking out for an authentic feel for what LA is really about as well as a glimpse of its history is Downtown. Situated inland from the ocean and southeast of Hollywood, it is Downtown where you will find yourself emerged in the financial and fashion districts along with such historical areas as Olivera Street and Union Station, not to mention the home of Staples Center where the Los Angeles Lakers play. Downtown mainly comes to life Monday through Friday during the work hours. On the evenings and weekends the area is easy to get around and is very accessible.
Located at Olympic Blvd and Maple Avenue, the Fashion District in Downtown Los Angeles is the largest of its kinds on the entire west coast. Spanning over 90 city blocks, the Fashion District is home to both wholesale and retail, gigantic showrooms, raw materials and everything fashion you can think of from clothing lines to accessories. It is here that major and independent designers converge from all over the world to bargain for the latest fabrics and shop for designs to further their lines. For wholesale buyers alone, the Fashion District hosts 5 market weeks a year where over 4,500 lines in over 1,200 show rooms are displayed. Saturdays is the busiest day in the Fashion District, as that is the day many of the Wholesalers sell to the general public.
STAPLES CENTER/LA LIVE
Home to both the LA Lakers and Clippers, the Staples Center has become the premiere multi- purpose sports venue destination for much of Southern California. With a capacity to hold up to 20,000 spectators, the Staples Center hosts major sporting events and concerts all year long. The facility is relatively brand new. Construction began in 1998 and it opened only a year later in 1999. Today the Staples Center is capable of hosting a Lakers Game on one night and a Miley Cyrus concert the following evening. Over the course of a year the Staples Center is home to over 250 events.
Immediately adjacent to the Staples Center is one of Downtown's newest attractions, LA Live. Having arrived in late 2007, LA Live is a major entertainment complex that is home to dozens of restuarants, a movie theater, bowling alley and outdoor pavillion that is capable of hosting concerts and major public events. LA Live comes to life at night with bright neon lights, billboard televisions and colorful artifacts. Just steps from the entrance to the Staples Center and the LA Convention Center, LA Live allows fans and visitors of big sporting, industry and entertainment events the opportunity to relax, dine and be entertained before and after the big events. ESPN recently opened a restaurant in the center of the complex complete with a live broadcast studio. Other restaurants in LA Live include: Trader Vics, Lawry's, Yard House, Rock'N Fish, Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill, Rosa Mexicano and Katsuya to name a few.
One of the more colorful draws to LA Live is the Lucky Strike bowling alley. Lucky Strike in LA LIve traces its routes back to the same fun and swank bowling alley found in the Hollywood and Highland entertainment complex on Hollywood Blvd. The Lucky Strikes complex is home to 18 lanes, flashing electronic art, private VIP areas and a DJ.
Whether visiting LA Live on the way to an event at Staples or the Convention Center or just checking the area out for its own merit, LA Live will provide hours of entertainment for both the family and solo visitors. The area is captivating with the bright flashing billboards, loud music, and constant stream of crowds who come from all over.
Union Station/Olvera Street
Just north of the high rises and off the 101 freeway the original area that Los Angeles was founded on is preserved for both tourists and locals alike.Olvera Street is the original avenue that ran through the first settlement that would become LA. Today the street is an exact replica of a little Mexico complete with Mexican adobe architecture, cultural vendors and stalls and food stands that serve the best authentic taquitos and Tacos north of the border. Union Station opened in 1939. Designed by the same architecture firm that completed LA City Hall, Union Station has been the backdrop of numerous tv shows and movies. Today Union Station has retained its architectural beauty with numerous gardens, greeting arriving and departing passengers. Marble walls and floors and works of art scattered throughout the corridors. Union Station is a popular departure point for AmTrak trains heading south to San Diego. A three hour train journey, this route is known as the line that rides along the coast giving passengers a spectacular view of the Southern California coastline.
The high rises that comprise the financial area of Los Angeles are the tallest structures west of the Mississippi River. Home to hundreds of financial and law firms, this area of LA on weekdays with thousands of businessmen and women appears more of a small Chicago or New York than a glitzy LA. The Standard Hotel Downtown (the sister hotel to the Standard West Hollywood) has a rooftop lounge and pool where visitors can enjoy a cocktail, relax and enjoy the views of the Downtown landscape and greater LA and Hollywood beyond.
Historic Broadway Theater District
Those visitors looking to get in touch with a piece of LA history that highlights movies, architecture and culture definetly should not miss the opportunity to check out the historic Broadway Theater district on Broadway. Located adjacent to the Jewlery district, this stretch of Broadway is teaming with working class latinos and discount retail outlets selling everythin from fruit to jeans to boots and Mexican newspapers. Sprinkeled along this stretch are theaters representing LA's past when Hollywood's elite would arrive on street cars and take in a premier or vaudeville act at one of these unique, architectual wonders.
Tour Buses From Hollywood:
Tour buses depart daily from Hollywood and Highland on Hollywood Blvd in front of the Kodak Theatre for downtown. The tour just over 2 hours in length takes visitors through the jewlery and fashion districts as well as past Staples Center, China Town and little Japan Town.
Getting To Downtown
From Beverly Hills/West Hollywood-Take Robertson or La Cienega Blvds south to the 10 freeway. Take 10 (Santa Monica) freeway east to downtown, merge in left lanes and transition to 110 (Harbor Freeway) North. Exit any numbered street.
From Hollywood-Take the 101 (Hollywood Freeway) South and east, transition to the 110 (Harbour Freeway) south. Exit any of the numbered streets. The red line on the subway also has a direct route (no change of trains) from the Hollywood and Highland and Vine Street stations.
From Santa Monica-Take 10 (Santa Monica) freeway east to downtown, merge in left lanes and transition to 110 (Harbor Freeway) North. Exit any numbered street.
From Westwood/Brentwood/Bel-AIr Take 405 (San Diego Freeway) south, transition to 10 freeway east. Take 10 (Santa Monica) freeway east to downtown, merge in left lanes and transition to 110 (Harbor Freeway) North. Exit any numbered street.