5 Ways to Experience Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Moviegoers watched as Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone danced their way from one end of “La La Land” to the other, but let’s turn the lens on Los Angeles’ vibrant downtown. Resurrected from decades of neglect, today’s DTLA is the result of massive investment in both residential and commercial properties ($7 billion worth since 2011), spurred by a shortage of available land in and around the city. Here’s a quick look at the heart of the City of Angels.

Scene 1: Shop Till You Drop

Long known for its fashion and jewelry districts, the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising campus, and the massive LA Mart, downtown can now be called a retail mecca. Leading the charge is The Bloc, a $180 million multilevel, open-air mall anchored by a flagship Macy’s. Conference attendees from the nearby convention center can stroll over Wednesday afternoons to enjoy food trucks and outdoor games.

Scene 2: Take a Seat

Angelenos love their Mexican food. At Las Perlas—the nation’s first mescal bar—off-site gatherings can center around a customized tasting culled from more than  400 agave spirits. At Faith & Flower, the interior decor pays homage to L.A.’s past and present; and the venue can host groups up to 400. For an after-dinner treat, consider booking a private tour (up to 15 guests at a time) at the trendy Museum of Ice Cream.

Scene 3: Enjoy the Show

Located near the Los Angeles Convention Center, Staples Center is home to pro basketball and pro hockey teams, as well as numerous other sporting events. Adjacent to it is LA Live, which has several event venues. But the newest star is OUE Skyspace LA, located on the 69th and 70th floors of the historic U.S. Bank Tower. Planners can take advantage of its outdoor observation deck (California’s tallest), 360-degree city views and a glass slide between floors.

Scene 4: Celebrate the Arts

You’ll find plenty of dazzle at the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, the city’s first major landmark in downtown’s cultural corridor. Nearby, Broad Museum (opened in 2015) exhibits the private collection of philanthropist Eli Broad and is open to private groups. Close by is DTLA’s Arts District, offering street art, galleries and walking tours.

Scene 5: Rest Easy

Downtown L.A.’s hotel scene is heating up. The Los Angeles Athletic Club, established in 1880 and now converted into a 72-room, nine-suite hotel. Newcomer Hotel Indigo is a hip, 350-room property with interior design inspired by pre-Hollywood speakeasies. Freehand Hotel and Hostel, opened in May, is a transformation of the 1924 Commercial Exchange Building. The 13-story complex has 226 rooms plus a rooftop pool and lounge.