Rediscover L.A.’s New Revitalized Downtown

Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles, a once-deserted city center, has come to life again — after years of neglect — as a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood full of new arts, entertainment and food venues. Locals and tourists are flocking to the City of Angels center to enjoy Lakers games, concerts, plays, museums, bars and restaurants.

Here are some places to check out on your next visit downtown:

STAY

Ritz Carlton, 900 West Olympic Boulevard

Rising above the modern L.A. Live complex is the gleaming Ritz Carlton. Rooms are housed on four floors of the 54-story glass tower and provide an oasis of calm amidst the hustle and bustle below. Guestrooms and suites  house views of downtown and beyond, as well as rain showers, huge bathtubs, work alcoves and a high-tech television built into the bathroom mirror. Guests can also enjoy the beautiful rooftop pool, large gym and spa.

EAT

WP24, Ritz Carlton
WP24, Ritz Carlton

WP24, 900 West Olympic Boulevard

The Ritz is also home to Wolfgang Puck’s latest L.A. venture,  WP24.   Located on the 24th floor, the huge lounge and adjacent restaurant features high-end Asian cuisine. The lounge is perfect for enjoying small plates and drinks before or after a Lakers game or concert, while the formal dining room also offers vast panoramic views and Asian fusion dishes, including Peking duck, angry main lobster and their famous marjolasian dessert.

Yxta, 601 South Central Avenue

Located in a strip mall in the industrial arts district of downtown is Yxta Cocina Mexicana, serving up traditional Mexican cuisine. The brick-walled, high-ceiling, sleek restaurant is full of dark wood, leather chairs, Latin-inspired artwork and a large communal table overlooking the mosaic-tiled bar. Menu highlights include fried squash blossoms, enchiladas de mole, and a large variety of tacos. The bar offers a wide selection of tequila, margaritas and agua frescas.

Drago Centro

Drago Centro, 525 South Flower Street

The vaulted ceilings and large panoramic windows of Drago showcase views of the financial district of downtown. This Italian spot of sophistication from renowned chef Celestino Drago offers traditional Italian cuisine and an impressive list of offerings from the central 15-foot glass wine tower. Favorites include I garganelli, homemade pasta with pork sausage, parmesan and fennel in a red wine reduction, the risotto al funghi with wild mushrooms and truffle butter, and the delicious bomboloni donuts.

Church and State, 1850 Industrial Street

Brasserie Church and State serves up French bistro fare in the heart of downtown’s Art District. Large Warhol-esque paintings, brick floors and strings of lights surround diners as they choose from entrees including a house-made charcuterie, bouillabaisse, steak frittes and a variety of cassoulets. The small but lively bar offers an extensive wine list with two dozen pours by the glass.

Staples Center, LA Live

EXPLORE

L.A. Live, 800 West Olympic Boulevard

Whether you’re catching a Lakers, Kings or Clippers game, touring the Grammy Museum, or attending a concert at the Nokia Theater, there’s always something to do at the 27-acre sports and entertainment L.A. Live venue. It’s also a great after-work date spot with lots of fun options including bowling at Lucky Strike, a movie at the Stadium 14 Regal Theater complex or dinner at The Conga Room’s Boca, Fleming’s Steak House or Rosa Mexicano.

Angel’s Flight

 

Angel’s Flight and Angels Knoll Park, Hill Street

Take a ride on original restored orange and black 1901 Angel’s Flight cars on the world’s shortest railway 298 feet to the top of Bunker Hill.    Stop by the adjacent Angels Knoll Park to catch your breath and take in phenomenal views on the famous bench showcased in the film (500) Days of Summer.

Downtown Art Walk, Chung King Road

On the second Thursday of every month, downtown is home to its own artwalk. Galleries stay open late allowing Angelinos to get a glimpse at new and emerging artists and their work. Explore the streets, storefronts and theaters of downtown’s Gallery Rowe neighborhood and get a glimpse of L.A.’s robust art scene.

Disney Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 South Grand Avenue

Designed by world-class architect Frank Gehry, the big, curvy and shiny Walt Disney Concert Hall deserves a visit even if you don’t have a ticket to the Philharmonic. Bring a picnic and head to the outer staircase to the rooftop garden oasis with its stunning fountain and views of the city. Afterwards, take a free docent-led or self-guided tour.

Fashion District, 9th and Los Angeles streets

The 100-block Fashion District seamlessly mixes high- and low-end clothing. Shopaholics will delight in the variety of deeply discounted designer threads, fabrics and accessories. Start at the warehouses at 9th and Los Angeles streets and shop your way to the open Santee Alley for knock-off designer handbags, old Levi’s, $5 T-shirts, toys, luggage and other assorted items.

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About the author: Shaena Engle

Shaena Engle is a food and travel writer based in Los Angeles. She is a freelance writer for a variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Pasadena magazine, M Lifestyle and PokerPro magazine. Additionally, she is a contributing writer for the websites AOL.com, Sherman'sTravel.com, www.lowfares.com and www.hotelhostes.com, providing reviews of hotels, restaurants, spas and city guides. She has authored three books, The Best Places to Kiss in Southern California (a romantic travel guide), Silver Linings: Triumphs of The Chronically Ill and Physically Challenged, and The Cheap Bastard's Guide to Las Vegas. She is also creator of www.thedivinedish.com, a food and travel website. Her iphone application, The Best Places to Kiss in LA, features romantic places and restaurants in LA. She is currently researching and writing The Best Places to Kiss in Las Vegas, Food Lovers Guide to Las Vegas and The Best Places to Kiss in Palm Springs iphone applications. Shaena is also an amateur magician and often writes on gambling, poker and magical happenings.

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