When you’re visiting LA, there are so many things to see! Because it seems like there’s too much to see all on your own, some people take on the guidance of a tour guide. However, these tours can run quite expensive and your experience won’t be as fun if you have the lingering feeling that you could be spending that money on fun instead. To help you see some of the best that Downtown LA has to offer, we’ve come up with this self-guided walking tour that takes you in a nice circle around the downtown LA district. Not only will you be able to see a variety of important local attractions, but you’ll also be comforted by the uniformity of our walk starting and ending in similar places that can only be found in the best self guided walking tours LA! This is to ensure that you get the most out of your time in LA and don’t waste time getting lost in a district you’re not familiar with. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it!
1. Angels Flight Railway
As one of the nation’s oldest funiculars (opened in 1901), the Angels Flight Railway is one of the most unique things you’ll be able to do in LA. Its original purpose was to take passengers from Olive St to Hill St to make transportation easier, but nowadays it also serves as a unique piece of LA history. You can also ride it for only $1! What is especially important to note with the Angels Flight Railway is the old railway car design, still in tact from the early 1900s! This is truly a piece of LA that has seemingly survived being put in a time capsule, so we recommend you take a look at all of the details preserved in the typography, railway cars, and even the columns that make up the entrances.
2. Grand Central Market
If you’re on the lookout for some really unique foods, the Grand Central Market is the place to be. What is one of the longest-running markets in Downtown LA (over 100 years) is still a great place to get some groceries and try new foods, whether you’re just looking for fresh vegetables or some unique blends of coffee. You’ll also find a handful of organic vegetables here including some of California’s best avocado, kale, and celery!
3. Museum of Contemporary Art
LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the nation’s most important locations to see some of the most engaging contemporary art there is. It also has reasonable pricing with discounts for students and senior citizens! It is a great location to spend an entire afternoon at if you have the time, pushing the boundaries of how audiences interact with pieces of art. Recent exhibitions include One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art, which we recommend you see if you happen to be in town while it is still showing.
4. Walt Disney Concert Hall
As the home of the LA Philharmonic, the Walt Disney Concert Hall maintains its reputation as one of the best places to hear classical music worldwide. Designed by Frank Gehry, the building was opened in 2003 after over 15 years of planning spurred by the late Lillian Disney (Walt’s wife) herself in order to give the city of Los Angeles a place to hear music. The acoustics, designed by Minoru Nagata, give the hall an incredibly warm, booming sound that only gives the music intense clarity. The organization of the hall was inspired by the Berliner Philharmonie in Germany, bringing US concert halls into a new era of critically-acclaimed acoustics.
5. Bradbury Building
As the oldest commercial building still in Downtown LA, the Bradbury Building has been attracting visitors since its 1893 opening. This is because of its unique design that recalls an earlier, more reserved Victorian time period. The highlight of the building is the wonderful court on the inside, highlighted by a glass ceiling that lets through plenty of natural light. With beautiful staircases made of marble and plants in the center, it’s certainly worth seeing. Though the building went under a significant restoration in the 1990s, the Bradbury Building today still represents an incredible feat of late 19th century architecture that must be seen to be believed.
6. Pershing Square
Located in the center of Downtown LA, this park looks small and unassuming, but carries with it a great deal of beauty. We recommend taking some time to sit down and admire the minimalist sculptures that decorate the park alongside the beautiful natural foliage. Relax, have a nice time, and let yourself unwind!
7. The Last Bookstore
After you’ve had time to sit down and rest at Pershing Square, head on over to The Last Bookstore for the last stop on this walking tour. This is a massive bookstore that will attract fans of any variety in with its ornate book sculptures and the wide variety of books available. You’ll find some of the most impressively organized collections of books here, including books that are organized by the color of their spine to make a rainbow! For those who would rather find their books by genre, there are also great collections here for you to find any type of book you might need. Since it’s the last stop on this walking tour, we recommend that you end your afternoon here, getting a book, and taking it back to your hotel for some reading before dinner!