It has been said that LA is not really a city, but a collection of 88 independent towns that overlap. Nowhere is this truer than within the 5-mile (8-km) radius of Downtown. West of here, Koreatown is home to the largest Korean population in the US, while east LA has the largest group of Latinos living outside Latin America. In the Latino-Byzantine quarter, surrounding St. Sophia Cathedral, Latinos and Greeks predominate. Northeast is Dodger Stadium, a world-famous landmark, while south of the center is Exposition Park with its museums and sports venues.
3800 Homer St, Highland Park • 323-225-2700 • Open 11:30am–4:30pm Fri–Sun (Oct–Mar: hours may vary, call for details) • Adm • www.heritagesquare.org
Apart from those on Carroll Avenue, most Victorian homes in LA were demolished. A few, however, were moved by helicopter to form the Heritage Square Museum. Eight vintage beauties cluster here, with Hale House, the most outstanding.
1717 E 17th St • 213-928-0833 • Open 11am–7pm Wed–Fri, 11am–6pm Sat–Sun • www.theicala.org
Founded in 1984 as the Santa Monica Museum of Art, this museum opened at its new location in 2017 and has played a crucial role in the revitalization of downtown. Exhibitions feature contemporary artists from around the world and reflect the cultural diversity and energy of the city. The facility also offers an open-air courtyard and café.
900 Exposition Blvd, Exposition Park • 213-763-3466 • Open 9:30am–5pm daily • Adm (free for under 5s) • www.nhm.org
Spend a day exploring this engaging museum where the dinosaurs always draw huge crowds, as does the Age of Mammals exhibit with the Simi Valley mastodon, and the 14.5-ft (4-m) long megamouth, the rarest shark in the world. The Gem and Mineral Hall contains a huge gold exhibit and a walk-through gem vault. Cultural exhibits explain and highlight the traditions of Native and Latin American civilizations. Children love the hands-on activities in the Discovery Center and the Insect Zoo.
737 Lamar St, Lincoln Heights • 323-223-1401 • Tasting room: open 9am–7pm Sun–Thu, 9am–8pm Fri & Sat • www.sanantoniowinery.com
LA’s only surviving winery (see Maddalena Restaurant) is tucked away in the industrial area north of the Los Angeles River, an area once blanketed with vineyards. When founder Santo Cambianica arrived in 1917, he faced competition from over 100 wineries. Prohibition put most out of business, but Santo survived making sacramental wine. Taste the wines and try the restaurant – a popular lunch spot.
234 Museum Dr, Highland Park • 323-221-2164 • Open 10am–4pm Sat (call for details) • www.theautry.org
The oldest museum in Los Angeles was the brainchild of Charles Lummis, whose collection of Native American artifacts formed the basis of its holdings. It has one of the nation’s largest collections of Native art and artifacts. Galleries provide a survey of the traditions of Native cultures from California, the Great Plains, the Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest. Restoration work is ongoing; call ahead for details.
1324 S Normandie Ave, Koreatown • 323-737-2424 • Open 10am–4pm Tue–Fri, 10am–2pm Sat, 12:30–2pm Sun • www.stsophia.org
One of LA’s surprises, this central church of Southern California’s Greek Orthodox community is an opulent hall of worship. The eye is drawn to the icon-studded, golden altar of the Virgin Mary, while Jesus, surrounded by saints, looks down at the congregation from the 90-ft (27-m) high dome.
600 State Dr, Exposition Park • 213-744-7432 • Open 10am–5pm Tue–Sat, 11am–5pm Sun • Parking $10 • www.caamuseum.org
This museum celebrates the art, history, and culture of African Americans, especially in relation to California and the western US. The main exhibit traces the journey from Africa to slavery throughout America to final freedom on the West Coast. Exhibits here highlight the contributions made by African-American artists to American culture.
700 State Drive, Exposition Park • 323-724-3623 • Open 10am–5pm daily • Parking $10 • www.californiasciencecenter.org
Filled with clever and engaging interactive exhibits, this highly entertaining science and technology museum has three themed galleries. The World of Life exhibit explains the processes living organisms undergo, Creative World focuses on the ability of humans to adapt to their environment through technology, and the Air and Space Gallery explores the great beyond. But it’s the Space Shuttle Endeavour that steals the show and attracts the crowds.
200 E Ave 43, Highland Park • 323-222-0546 • Open 10am–3pm Sat–Sun • Donation
Now the headquarters of the Historical Society of Southern California, this was once the home of the eccentric Charles Fletcher Lummis (1859–1928), who walked the entire 3,000 miles (4,830 km) from Ohio to LA in 1885. An outspoken California booster and preservationist, Lummis built his house with his own hands out of concrete and found materials, including boulders and railroad rails. The house is also known as El Alisal, Spanish for “sycamore,” due to the giant sycamore by the building.
1000 Elysian Park Ave • 323-224-1448 • Tours (on non-game days by appointment only), tickets required • www.dodgers.mlb.com/la/ballpark
For many, spring wouldn’t be the same without baseball. The pilgrimage to Dodger Stadium to watch the “Boys in Blue” fight it out is an annual ritual for thousands of fans. Hunkered in the bleachers, munching on the famous Dodger Dogs, they watch their team (the LA Dodgers) in action. The stadium opened in 1962 and is often called one of US’s most beautiful ballparks. It has hosted the World Series, many concerts, and even a papal mass.
Parts of western Vermont Avenue around Wilshire Boulevard west of Downtown would not look out of place in Seoul. These are the main arteries of Koreatown, home to the largest Korean population in the US and a beehive of commercial activity. Learn more about the Korean community at the Korean Cultural Center at 5505 Wilshire Blvd.
Start at Exposition Park from Figueroa Street and make the Natural History Museum the first stop of the day. Admire its lovely facade, before delving into the exhibits inside. A landmark bronze sculpture of a Tyrannosaurus rex battling a Triceratops stands to the north outside. Crossing the street takes you to the University of Southern California campus, where you can join a free guided tour offered hourly from 10am to 3pm. Have lunch on Exposition Boulevard or at the Mercado La Paloma (3655 S Grand Ave), a Latin-style community center with colorful crafts stalls and casual eating outlets.
Backtrack to Exposition Park and start the afternoon with a look at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (3911 S Figueroa St), the main venue of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics. The two huge headless bronze figures outside the eastern entrance were designed by local sculptor Robert Graham. Just north of this spot is the California Science Center, with many interactive exhibits. Grab a cold drink from the cafeteria downstairs and head outside to the fragrant Rose Garden to relax. If you still have the energy left, do check out the store at the California African American Museum. Otherwise, wind down the day with a 3-D adventure at the IMAX Theater next to the Science Center.
1100 Glendale Blvd, Echo Park • Open only during special events
Founded by a popular preacher with a flair for theatrics, this 1923 domed building was once the headquarters of the Foursquare Gospel Church.
3790 Wilshire Blvd, Koreatown
A live concert venue, encased by the 1931 Art Deco Pelissier Building.
3050 Wilshire Blvd, Koreatown
One of the earliest Art Deco structures anywhere in the United States, this beautiful building is now home to the Southwestern University School of Law.
665 W Jefferson Blvd, Exposition Park area
This 1926 Moorish-style theater seats up to 6,700 and was once the largest in the US.
Bounded by Jefferson, Figueroa, Exposition Blvds & Vermont Ave, Exposition Park area • 213-740-2311 • www.usc.edu
Built in 1880, the oldest private university in Western US counts George Lucas among its alumni.
2520 Cimarron St, W Adams district • 323-735-7605 • Tours by appointment
This 1926 building has a rare collection of English books only available to scholars, and an oak-paneled music room.
3425 E 1st St, E LA • 323-268-3451 • Open 10am–8pm Mon–Fri, 9am–9pm Sat & Sun
Stop for an authentic meal or browse colorful stalls at this Mexican-American indoor marketplace.
1300 E First St, E LA • 323-881-6444 • Gallery hours: 9am–5pm Tue–Fri, 10am–4pm Sat
This nonprofit arts center works with the Latino community on print-making, workshops, and exhibitions.
Corner of Boyle Ave & 1st St, E LA
Mariachi musicians in black robes gather in this small park, waiting to be hired for the night’s engagements.
2100 N Main St, Lincoln Heights • 323-441-9593 • Gallery open Fri–Sun (by appointment only)
Art walks are organized twice yearly at this massive artists’ colony.
737 Lamar St, Lincoln Heights • 323-223-1401 • Lunch and early dinner (closes 7pm Sun–Thu & 8pm Sat) • Tours daily • $$
This slice of Italy, in what was once the cellars of the San Antonio Winery, is a popular lunch spot.
704 S Alvarado St • 213-483-8050 • Closed Sun • $
Award-winning Jewish deli serving LA’s best pastrami sandwich.
812 N Evergreen Ave, E LA • 323-267-8668 • No credit cards • $
Long lines form outside LA’s burrito “headquarters” for the “Hollenbeck,” stuffed with guacamole and pork.
2771 W Pico Blvd, Koreatown • 323-737-2970 • Closed Mon • $
Drop into this friendly, busy eatery next door to St. Sophia for fat portions of great Greek food.
3136 8th St, Koreatown • 213-387-3865 • $
Grill your own deliciously marinated meat at this authentic Korean spot.
3014 W Olympic Blvd, Koreatown • 213-427-0601 • $
This lively restaurant serving food from southern Mexico is famous for its moles – sauces made from spices, nuts, chilies, and chocolate.
3357 Wilshire Blvd • 213-385-7275 • $$
Popular historic local hangout with retro chic. Steaks, pub food, and cheap drinks are served up in nautical surroundings. Film shoots take place here once in a while.
3361 W 8th St, Koreatown • 213-382-8449 • $$
Send your cholesterol count through the roof at this venerable throwback to the 1950s, with faux leather booths and huge yummy steaks almost the size of baseball mitts.
1121 S Western Ave, Koreatown • 323-734-2773 • $
This festive Mexican eatery has been full of diners hungry for fajitas and burritos since 1923. Their margaritas pack a wicked punch.
1911 Sunset Blvd, Echo Park • 213-484-1265 • $$
This family-owned 1927 eatery serves good-value portions of French country classics, which include such dishes as delicious roast chicken with bordelaise sauce. Great soups.