16 May 2012

Los Angeles Travel Guide

UPDATED for 2017

Travel from Airport:

FlyAway bus to Union Station
each terminal has a FlyAway bus stop near the shuttle buses
around $10 per person, they run every 30 minutes or so
pay when you disembark at Union Station, debit or credit cards only

Super Shuttle to your hotel
after Baggage Claim go out to the Shared Ride Van area for your terminal and find the blue uniformed attendant
around $18 per person

Taxi to your hotel

fixed rate of around $50 from LAX to downtown


Doubletree by Hilton Downtown
120 South Los Angeles Street
a nicely presented hotel, some dated decor in the lobby, with an outdoor Japanese garden above reception, and a Starbucks next door; three blocks from City Center station

Standard Downtown
550 South Flower Street
a rather trendy hotel, with a rooftop bar and pool, 24-7 restaurant, and rooms with gigantic beds and baths; two blocks from 7th & Metro station

Travel Card:

Metro card
You first need to buy a plastic TAP card for $1 (like an Oyster card in London) then load your day’s travel onto it - at Union Station ignore the "Metrolink" machines, that's a different company
Day pass $7, week's pass $25, pay in cash, credit or debit cards
Valid on all Metro trains and buses, but not on other bus company lines

Local Info:

LA Downtowner newspaper
Downtown News newspaper
LA Weekly newspaper
all available free in eg Grand Central Market



Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Spring Street, enter from Main Street
built in 1928, this iconic structure appears on LAPD badges and feature in an enormous number of films.
To visit the free observation deck on the 27th floor, you need to take your passport to the Main Street entrance and get a visitor sticker. Lifts take you to the 22nd floor, then another to the 26th floor, then stairs to the 27th.
On your way out take the lift to the 3rd floor and see the impressive rotunda, then at the Spring St exit is the Olympic torch from 1984. Spring Street has the most monumental staircase.

Avila Adobe
125 Paseo de la Plaza, enter from Olvera Street
built 1818, the oldest house in LA, part of the El Pueblo district with Mexican market
and stop off at Mr Churro next door for some great filled churros

Union Station
800 North Alameda Street
in a Dutch Colonial Revival style, this ornate and historic Amtrack station is a pleasure to visit and has ornamental gardens

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
555 West Temple Street, Downtown
modern Catholic cathedral, fantastic tapestries by John Nava, 9am-6pm
there's always lots of priests around

The Broad
221 S Grand Avenue
even though it is free, booking is essential, months in advance, as numbers are very tightly controlled and they have a Twitter feed just for daily ticket unavailability
Impressive international art works
PS It's pronounced "Brode" after the philanthropists who paid for it.

Department of Water and Power
111 N Hope St, opposite the Music Center
free, open 8am-4pm, take your passport, get a visitor sticker at reception, and ask to see the exhibition/museum which is on the ground floor and in the lower atrium
a history of water and power in Los Angeles, including things belonging to William Mulholland

The Bradbury Building
built in 1893, this is a landmark in its own right, as well as a film setting for movies from Double Indemnity to Blade Runner; visitors are allowed to the first floor landing, but not in the lifts

Los Angeles Central Library
630 West Fifth Street, Downtown
even though the whole exterior is in a bland beige stone, it has an amazing pyramid on top that looks like an illustrated manuscript. Inside are large atriums and a decent shop.


The Last Bookstore
453 South Spring Street
cavernous, with new and used books, including the arts, graphic novels, and California's favourite social issues


Grand Central Market
between Broadway and Hill St, at 3rd
this used to be a fruit and veg market, but now has a wide range of great eating places, including Eggslut (coddled eggs and sandwiches), Mexican taquerias, pizza, bagels for breakfast (at Wexler's Deli), and great Chinese and Thai at Sticky Rice Co.
evening events include live music, a pub quiz (free to enter, win free food!) and more

Nickel Diner 

524 South Main St, between 5th and 6th
modern reinterpetation of diner food, good breakfasts, popular with cops
closed Monday, open 8-3 and 6-9pm

The Original Pantry Café
Figueroa St at 9th
open 24-7 since 1924, bread and gravy and meat and all in gigantic portions, this is an eating experience with a sense of history

George’s Greek Café
Figueroa St at 7th, downstairs in the "Fig at 7th" shopping centre
fantastic authentic food, quickly served, lots of variety, take away also available


Getting there:
Take the Gold Line Metro to Little Tokyo station and walk south on Alameda until you reach 2nd St. Turn left along Traction Avenue and this takes you past the shops and cafes below.


Hauser Wirth Schimmel
901 E 3rd St
large art gallery with cafe and bookshop
open 11am-6pm, closed Mon Tue

Architecture and Design Museum
900 E 4th St

Sci Architecture Gallery
960 E 3rd St


Poketo gift shop
820 E 3rd St
open 12 noon - 7pm all week, Japanese stationery, homewares, clothing

Apolis bags & clothing shop
806 E 3rd St

Hennessey and Ingalls Art Bookstore
300 S Santa Fe Avenue


The Pie Hole
714 Traction Avenue
amazing pies, including Shepherds Pie Pie, open 7am-10pm

800 E 3rd St at Traction Avenue
sausages, open 11am - 1.30am all week

Zinc Cafe
580 Mateo St


Getting there:

The Metro Red Line has 3 stations along Hollywood Boulevard. There's not a lot at the first, so get off at Hollywood/Vine or Hollywood/Highland to be in the centre of things


The Hollywood/Highland complex has views to the Hollywood sign, street entertainers outside, big cinemas, and the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre. There's also the Hollywood Walk Of Fame (find your favourite actors/bands at http://walkoffame.com/) and cement handprints of early film stars.


Amoeba Music
6400 West Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood (two blocks south of Hollywood/Vine)
the best record store you’ll find in Los Angeles, super-friendly and knowledgable staff, you’ll browse for hours before coming away with something you didn’t know existed; good range of DVDs but remember about NTSC and Region 1!


Getting there:

The fastest buses are the express 720 from Downtown, also stopping at Wilshire stations on the Red/Purple lines. Don't get off at La Brea for the Tar Pits, they're actually further along at Wilshire/Fairfax, the same stop as for LACMA.
Bus 20 stops in more places but is much slower. 


Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
11am-5pm, Fri 11am-8pm, Sat Sun 10am-7pm, closed Wednesdays
free on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, $15/$25 otherwise
permanent collection and lots of visiting art exhibitions, spread across 5 different buildings

La Brea Tar Pits & Page Museum
5801 Wilshire Boulevard
the outdoor tar pits are free to visit, the museum is 

Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Boulevard
open every day 10am-6pm, $15
honestly, the best thing about this museum is the outside cladding, but if you like cars you may want to go inside


5905 Wilshire Boulevard (in LACMA)
nice place at which to get a modern lunch while browsing the art at LACMA

Courtyard Place
opposite the Tar Pits
has an outdoor food market on Wednesday lunchtimes with lots of stalls and a nice park at the end to eat in


Getting there:
If you're already at LACMA, we'd recommend a nice walk north on Fairfax, stopping in at This Is Not Ikea (515 South Fairfax), a vintage store that supplies lots of film productions and is worth a browse.
Otherwise, from Downtown you can catch buses 16, 17 and 316 which rattle along at a fair pace

Shopping (the only reason you'd come here!):

The Grove
189 The Grove Drive, West Hollywood
shopping, trolleycars, cops on bikes, restaurants, hip destination as seen on The Hills

West 3rd Street
A new shopping district with cafes along its length from the Beverly Center to The Grove
We recommend:
Magnolia Bakery #8389
Plastica #8405
Joan's On Third #8350

Beverly Centre and Beverly Connection
Bloomingdales, Macys, Uniqlo, Old Navy, Target etc etc


The Original Farmers' Market
hundreds of grocers, shops, cafes and restaurants in a historic semi-covered area


Getting there:

The new Metro Expo line takes you from downtown LA to downtown Santa Monica, passing through Culver City. There are also buses but these tend to drive slowly through acres of tract houses.


Visitor Information Center, 1920 Main Street and a kiosk on Ocean Avenue

Santa Monica Pier
Aquarium run by Heal the Bay charity, volunteers explain how they are trying to conserve the local marine life. A 'petting zoo' has fish, eels, crabs etc.

You can walk East along the beach, or alternatively catch a bus from the corner of 3rd and Broadway which runs all the way along the coast road to the end of Venice Beach.
The Tide Shuttle every 15 minutes, only 25c.

Ocean Park Library
2601 Main St
built 1917-18 one of last of Carnegie Foundation libraries


Third Street Promenade

Ye Olde King's Head British Pub, Restaurant and Gift Shoppe
Santa Monica Blvd and 2nd St


Hummus Bar Express
1333 3rd St Promenade
delicious Mediterranean food


Getting there:

Metro Blue Line from Downtown
takes you through lots of suburbs, then travel alongside freeway
as street numbers get bigger and bigger – eventually 190th St!
loop at end goes along main shopping street


The Queen Mary
1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach
vast ocean liner, now permanently berthed in Long Beach, a short bus ride (route C from Pine Avenue); shops, restaurants and historical exhibits of a life on the ocean wave

Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA)
628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach
off the beaten track, but a nice walk from the centre of Long Beach, this new museum has art from a variety of cultures and styles

East Village Arts District

St Anthony's Church
600 Olive Avenue, Long Beach

City Center Motel, Atlantic Ave and 3rd St
classic motel architecture and typography


Getting there:

Metro Gold Line, get off at Del Mar station for a nice walk through a park into the central shopping district


Pasadena Museum of California Art
490 East Union Street
open 12-5, closed Mon Tue


The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
unless you have a hire car or know a friendly local who can drive you, you’ll have to catch the bus (234 and 734 from Expo/Sepulveda on the Expo Line) to this beautiful complex out of town.

Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Metro Red Line to Vermont/Sunset - take the Vermont exit
DASH bus to the Observatory (a weekly Metro pass gets you free travel, ticket only 50c otherwise) which now runs 7 days a week from 12pm (10am on Sat Sun)
get there early to buy tickets for the Planetarium show which can only be bought on site, on the day
alternatively go in the evening to look at the real stars through free, public telescopes

San Antonio Winery
737 Lamar Street
the only Californian winery in central LA, including tastings, a shop and a great restaurant
open 8am-7pm
catch bus 76 from Downtown and get off at Main/Lamar just after it crosses the LA river and railroad tracks, the winery is down a side street about 5 minutes away

Exposition Park:
Museums of Natural History, Science, African American History
Coliseum, site of 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, tours for $25
take the Metro Expo line, and get off at Expo Park/USC or Expo/Vermont

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