There are hidden gems amidst the skyscrapers and bustling crowds of Downtown L.A. Some of these places might even escape the attention of locals. Others are well-known destinations that house secret spots to find art, culture or adventure. None of them should be missed on your tour of Downtown Los Angeles.
From discount fashion to high-end goods to vintage finds, the shopping scene in Downtown Los Angeles has you covered. Downtown L.A. is home to some of the city's best buys, thanks to shopping meccas like the Fashion District and Jewelry District. But Downtown's status as a hip neighborhood on the rise has brought in a host of newer retailers, too.
The Arts District wasn't always known as a shopping hub, but it's growing collection of retail outlets is attracting shoppers from near and far. Here, you'll find local boutiques and L.A. extensions of chic brands like Shinola and (Malin + Goetz) mixed with more alternative culture-minded shops. The bulk of the shopping is located either on 3rd Street or at One Santa Fe, but you'll also find a few hot spots off the beaten path.
Dining in the Arts District isn't quite like any other neighborhood in Los Angeles. There isn't much in the way of fast food here. Instead, it's a hub for gastropubs and small chains with hip takes on classic grub. If you're up for trying something unusual - rattlesnake and rabbit sausage or avocado and strawberry sherbet - this is the place to go. Vegetarians and vegans will be delighted to find that there are multiple meal options here too.
In some respects, the Arts District in Downtown L.A. is one big hidden gem. Save for the relatively recent addition of One Santa Fe, there's not much here that screams "Shop here!" or "Eat here!" Restaurants and stores are tucked away in old buildings. Parties happen inside former warehouse spaces. Signage is often easy to miss when you're busy staring at massive murals or stenciled sidewalks. In general, the Arts District takes more time to explore than other L.A. neighborhoods and it's big enough where you might want to split it up into multiple trips. While you're here, keep on the lookout for these local treasures.
Opened in 1923 with a design by Schultze & Weaver, the architecture firm behind the Waldorf Astoria and Park Lane hotels in New York, the Biltmore’s decadent Beaux Arts-inspired design occupies half a city block and 11 stories - its suites have hosted six Presidents, Bugsy Malone, the Beatles, and now, you.
Atwater Village is small, but it's packed with hidden gems. The neighborhood is located right by the L.A. River and that alone will give outdoorsy types lots to explore. It's a neighborhood with a music history memorialized in the mural portrait of late Beastie Boy MCA and a future that's being forged inside nearby Swing House Studios. For being such a small neighborhood, Atwater Village's bar game is strong and includes spots where you can check out up-and-coming local talent too. Whether you're looking for an afternoon adventure or a dose of L.A. nightlife, Atwater Village has you covered.
Built in 1976, the Far East Plaza food mall in Chinatown has become iconic for its mix of old-school and new, creating a buzz among L.A.’s foodie crowd since local chef Roy Choi relocated his first brick-and-mortar there in 2013.
Since then, this unassuming two-story space has become a culinary destination for people from all over. Visitors come for authentic regional Asian bites, restaurant-hop for a taste of everything, or hunker down in line with coffee and ice cream, waiting for service at a trendy pop-up. Communal tables arranged between stands selling knick-knacks serve the many fast-casual options along the corridor. Positioned in the heart of Chinatown, the plaza is worth checking out whether you’re a fan of traditional Asian street food or seeking out the next big food thing.
Parking is easily found at surrounding paid lots; street parking is also available, but hard to come by with busy weekend crowds.