When you think of LA, the first things that likely come to mind are, Hollywood Boulevard, palm trees, and celebrities. But we’re here to tell you, it’s so much more than that.
If you’re heading to the City of Angels, why not spend a little less time in Hollywood and a little more time in the heart of the city. Somewhere like downtown Los Angeles aka DTLA. Because DTLA is no longer the downtown you knew 20 years ago, it’s now a vibrant neighbourhood with a buzzing scene.
Now, before you start looking up flights, we’ve curated the ultimate guide to spending four days in DTLA.
Getting to and from LAX
Ah yes, transportation is key when you’re visiting Los Angeles. As most people know, LA suffers from some of the worst traffic in the world… but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Arrange a pick-up from Wilshire Limousine, where a driver greets you at the airport and drives you to straight to your hotel. That way you can belt out ‘Party In The U.S.A.’ with zero shame. Once you’re downtown, the best way to get around is Uber (especially if you’re looking to enjoy some cocktails), or you can walk to the shops to get a firsthand look at the neighbourhood.
Stay at a hotel with style and history
To really experience downtown, accommodations are important. Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, an industrial-chic hotel centrally located in the Broadway Theater District, has it all. From its eclectic decor to an acoustic guitar and record player in your room, Ace Hotel accentuates all the little details. Hot tip: They serve in-room happy hour 9-11 am on weekends. Mimosas, anyone?
No matter the occasion, there’s always something to do at Ace DTLA. You can check out the Upstairs rooftop and bar for a dip in the pool, or head up at night for drinks and nightly events, including live music and DJs. Whether you’re visiting with friends or simply on a quick work trip, it’s an awesome spot to catch a sunset and soak up those epic LA views.
To really make the most of your stay, The Theatre at Ace Hotel is right next door, where you can see live music, film screenings, dance performances, and more. The theatre itself is breathtaking with so much history, it’s a must-visit while you’re in town.
And of course, if you’re looking to do a little shopping, Ace DTLA is right in the middle of the Fashion District. With stores like BNKR, Urban Outfitters, and Acne, you’re bound to indulge in some retail therapy.
Eat at these hidden gems
Another huge bonus of staying at Ace DTLA is Best Girl, an all-day restaurant situated right in the hotel lobby. Best Girl offers a variety of healthy eats and comfort food and the menu is in collaboration with award-winning chef, Michael Cimarusti. We recommend a fresh salad paired with the ‘Surf Wax’ to drink, or go big or go home with the Tonkatsu-style chicken sandwich.
Just a short Uber away is DAMA, a Latin-inspired bar and restaurant in City Market South. The relaxed ambiance and open concept gives it a beach resort feel. The wide outdoor patio is decorated with pink cushions and palm leaf pillows which whisk you away to a tropical island. And when it comes to the food, everything is to die for. Our tip, get a bunch of items to share, that way you can try a bit of everything – but make sure you add the vegan tacos to your order!
Another must-try is Bavel, a Middle Eastern restaurant tucked away in the Arts District. Don’t let the almost hidden location fool you, this spot is hoppin’ and reservations are highly recommended. The space itself is beautiful with lush greenery and plants hanging from the ceiling giving us major secret garden vibes. Our personal recommendation, order the creamy hummus and ask for extra pita.
Bon Temps is a modern French restaurant located in an alley in the Arts District, but it’s not your average alleyway. As soon as you enter the alley doors, you’ll step into an industrial-chic two-level space. If find yourself dining at Bon Temps, you MUST try their crab cakes and have S’mores for dessert. You can thank us later.
Design the perfect floral arrangement
Did you know LA has an entire district dedicated to flowers? Neither did we!
If you’re looking for something to brighten your trip, book a flower arranging class with Oldvine Florals. Itika Oldwine, owner of the shop, brings you to the flower market for a tour while you handpick the flowers you’d like for your arrangement. Upon choosing your favourite blooms, you’ll head back to her shop to start designing the perfect bouquet. Not only do you learn how to design a beautiful arrangement, you get to keep it, which adds a nice touch to your hotel room.
While you’re busy being a florist all morning, you can really work up an appetite. Poppy + Rose is an adorable casual cafe in the heart of the Flower District making it the perfect place to grab some grub. On the menu, you’ll find classic American comfort food made with fresh, sustainable ingredients. They’re known for fried chicken and waffles, but we opted for the avocado toast and have zero regrets! Side note: Do yourself a favour and order the Rose Mojito.
Burn some calories with a fitness tour
If you’re feeling adventurous, book a tour with Bikes + Hikes LA for the morning after a night of indulging. You won’t regret it, we promise! Not only will you get a sweat in (aka sweat out the alcohol and carbs), you’ll receive a guided tour from a local expert while taking in the views of LA. Whether you’re into hikes, or bike rides, you have options to suit your preferences.
While it may seem contradictory, you deserve a post-workout brunch after all that hard work. Head over to Botanica in Silver Lake, a beautiful restaurant and market combo. It’s the perfect spot to brunch at and stock up on local eggs, fruit, veggies and other goodies. We highly recommend the Turkish Eggs, Maple Tahini Toast, and the Buratta (Tasty fact: The burrata is flown in from Italy once a week). We’re not drooling, you’re drooling!
Take a tour of ROW DTLA
There’s no doubt that LA has a buzzing arts and culture scene. Take a trip to ROW DTLA, a revitalized hub which supports local creatives. ROW DTLA transformed from an abandoned space to a growing community with restaurants, independent stores, and offices, including Shopify’s brick-and-mortar location.
While you walk around, you’ll stumble upon lots of popular spots, like the ‘You Are Going To Be Fine’ mural by Leta Sobierajski. And you can’t leave ROW without making a stop at Bodega. This spot is a sneaker lovers dream and even if you aren’t into sneakers, the concept is worth going for. You just have to do a little searching to find the hidden spot (Hint: The entrance is disguised as a produce warehouse).
And lastly, you can’t visit ROW without grabbing a bite. Spots like Pikunico, a fast-casual restaurant serving crunchy Japanese karaage (fried chicken), is perfect after an afternoon of exploring. Grab a sandwich and sit down at the picnic-style bench and enjoy some good eats.
Now that you have your itinerary planned, you’re one step closer to having the best weekend in La La Land!
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Disclaimer: Travel, accommodation, and meals were made possible by Los Angeles Tourism. All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the authors.
For more information and to start planning your trip to Los Angeles, visit their official tourism website now, or for updates, visit their Facebook and Instagram.