The Guide to a Weekend Getaway in Downtown Los Angeles

Coming in for a landing at the Skyslide
Coming in for a landing at the Skyslide | Photo by Joseph Choi

Originally written by RootsRated for Discover Los Angeles.

In recent years, Downtown Los Angeles has experienced a renaissance of mass proportions. The once gritty streets of the city’s historic center have seen an incredible resurgence of culture, restaurants, hotels, nightlife and neighborhoods. If you're looking for an urban adventure for your next weekend getaway, then Downtown L.A. is the place to be.

HOTELS

The Rooftop at The Standard Downtown L.A.
Photo courtesy of The Rooftop at The Standard Downtown L.A., Facebook

First and foremost, find a hotel in a central location so you can easily experience all the sights and sounds that Downtown L.A. has to offer. For those seeking a hip and trendy setting, the The Standard is perfect. This boutique hotel has chic rooms and a rooftop complete with a pool, bar, beer garden and amazing city views.

If ultra-luxurious is more your style, then the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE will not disappoint. Living up to its world-famous reputation, the hotel’s rooftop pools, panoramic views, and top-of-the-line service will have you feeling like a superstar in no time.

Book a room at the historic Los Angeles Athletic Club and your stay includes access to the club's world-class fitness facilities, which are normally members-only.

Metro Bike Share

Metro Bike Share at Grand Park
Photo courtesy of Metro Bike Share, Facebook

Keeping it active in Downtown L.A. is easy. You can walk or bike almost everywhere, and there are numerous green spaces to enjoy. Read on for a weekend of adventure as you walk, bike and discover Downtown L.A.

Day 1

Sausage, egg and cheese sandwich at EggSlut
Sausage, egg and cheese sandwich at EggSlut | Photo by Joshua Lurie

8 a.m. - Grand Central Market
Start your morning at Grand Central Market, where you can get a quick breakfast (or lunch or dinner, for that matter) and enjoy stellar people watching. Amid the stalls selling food and other goods, you’ll find eateries to suit almost every taste. One of the most popular is Eggslut, where the star ingredient—the egg—is cooked up a variety of ways and served in a warm brioche bun. It gets crowded, so be sure to arrive early to avoid lines.

Bradbury Building in Downtown L.A.
Bradbury Building in Downtown L.A. | Photo courtesy of Candice Montgomery, Flickr

10 a.m. - Los Angeles Conservancy
One of the best ways to explore Downtown L.A. is to take one of the eight guided walking tours presented by the Los Angeles Conservancy. Their Historic Downtown tour gives you a great overview of the area’s culture and growth through the lens of its architecture. Highlights include the Bradbury Building, Central Library and U.S. Bank Tower.

The Conservancy also offers tours that focus on specific areas of interest, such as the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, the Modern Skyline, or the Broadway Historical Theatre and Commercial District. If you can’t make one of the guided tours, you can use one of the Conservancy’s downloadable guides and go on a self-guided journey.

Sashimi lunch special at Sushi Gen
Sashimi lunch special at Sushi Gen | Photo by Stacey Sun

Lunch - Sushi Gen
After you have worked up your appetite walking around historic Downtown L.A., it’s time for some good sushi. At Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo, they've found that sweet spot between quality and price, and you can’t go wrong—the restaurant’s long lines will attest to that. Sit at a table to get the $15 sashimi lunch special, or if you want to watch the chefs at work, grab a seat at the sushi bar.

2 p.m. - California Science Center
A world of science adventure awaits at the California Science Center, one of several acclaimed cultural destinations in historic Exposition Park. Now on view through April 9, 2017, The Science Behind Pixar is a 12,000 square-foot interactive exhibition that presents a first-time look into the Pixar filmmaking process, and explores the science and technology behind some of the most beloved animated films and their characters.

Other must-sees at the Science Center include the Space Shuttle Endeavour, stunning IMAX films like Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D, and attractions like the High Wire Bicycle, Motion-Based Simulator, and Ecology Cliff Climb. For online tickets, visit californiasciencecenter.org/visit/admission.

Skyslide at OUE Skyspace LA
Skyslide at OUE Skyspace LA | Photo by Joseph Choi

5 p.m. - OUE Skyspace LA
Opened in June 2016, OUE Skyspace LA is California’s tallest open-air observation deck and a must-see destination for panoramic, 360-degree views of Los Angeles. Located nearly 1,000 feet above the city at the iconic U.S. Bank Tower in Downtown L.A., the highlight of OUE Skyspace LA is Skyslide, a first-of-its-kind outdoor glass slide that’s attached to the exterior of the U.S. Bank Tower. The Skyslide is 45 feet long, about four feet wide and made entirely with 1.25-inch glass. Visitors can glide from the 70th to the 69th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower and see Los Angeles in a way that few will ever experience. For more information and to purchase online tickets, visit skyspace-la.com/tickets.

Bar at 71Above in the U.S. Bank Tower
Photo courtesy of 71Above, Facebook

Dinner - 71Above
After your Skyslide adventure, you'll be ready to unwind at 71Above, perched one floor above OUE Skyspace. Start with a classic Vesper (made famous by James Bond in the book and movie, Casino Royale) and enjoy the spectacular sunset and panoramic city views. You can nosh at the bar, or for a more refined experience, make a reservation in the elegant dining room for a three-course dinner featuring Chef Vartan Abgaryan's New American cuisine.

"The Vortex" at Exchange LA
Photo courtesy of Exchange LA, Facebook

Nightlife
Downtown L.A. offers a myriad of nightlife options. World-class venues like STAPLES Center and Walt Disney Concert Hall host performances ranging from pop music to classical. Dance the night away to EDM at Exchange LA, salsa at the Conga Room, or get your groove on the disco floor at Honeycut, discreetly located beneath Flower Street. For a more mellow scene, check out live jazz at the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo.

Day 2

Whole Grain Latte at Lazy Brewing Company
Whole Grain Latte | Photo courtesy of Lazy Brewing Company, Facebook

9 a.m. - Lazy Brewing Company
You've slept in long enough, it's time to start your second day of adventure at one of Downtown L.A.'s hottest new coffee spots. A sunny, bright space located between Main and Los Angeles Streets in the Historic Core, Lazy Brewing Company is the cafe you’d imagine a group of twentysomething bohemian friends in the big city would make their local. Influenced by founder Jiniee Yoo’s Korean culinary heritage, the specialty drinks are the ones to try. The Whole Grain Latte is a must - spiked with a traditional health-food blend of black beans and whole grains. Settle into a worn leather couch and tuck into avocado toast with crisp-crusty rustic bread, topped by paper-thin radish circles, vibrant sprouts and a slice of lemon. You'll be tempted, but don't linger too long - there's a whole day of adventure ahead!

Mural in the Arts District
Mural in the Arts District | Photo courtesy of L.A. Art Tours

11 a.m. - Downtown L.A. / Graffiti Tour
One of L.A.'s most exciting neighborhoods, the Arts District in Downtown L.A. is experiencing a boom in street art. L.A. Art Tours will take you on a walking tour of this vibrant area, showcasing huge murals and hidden works that would be missed on a quick car trip. With actual Downtown L.A. muralists and artists as guides, L.A. Art Tours offers access to spots that the public never gets to see. The tour covers about two miles of walking, so bring comfortable shoes.

Bratwurst, duck and bacon, mango jalapeño, Belgian fries at Wurstküche
Bratwurst, duck and bacon, mango jalapeño, Belgian fries | Photo courtesy of Wurstküche, Facebook

Lunch - Wurstküche
A self-described purveyor of exotic grilled sausages, Wurstküche serves up dozens of sausages featuring classic (bratwurst, Italian), gourmet (chicken apple and spices, mango jalapeño) and exotic (rattlesnake and rabbit with jalapeño peppers, pheasant with herbs de Provence) fillings. An extensive menu of draft and bottled American, Belgian and German beers, as well as ciders and non-alcoholic beverages, offers countless twists on the classic sausage and beer pairing.

The Alchemist at Escape Room L.A.
The Alchemist | Escape Room L.A.

3 p.m. - Escape Room L.A.
Located just east of Gallery Row, Escape Room L.A. features real-life escape games where you and up to 11 others must race to beat the clock and escape from a locked room in less than one hour. The four available games are The Detective, The Cavern, The Theatre and The Alchemist.

No special skills are needed for this 90-minute adventure. In all the games, you'll work together to solve puzzles and clues that eventually will lead to your escape from the room. Some clues are fairly easy, while others might have you scratching your head. Communicate with everyone, search the rooms carefully, and if you get stuck, move on to another area or a different puzzle.

Redwood tree and atrium at Clifton's
Photo courtesy of Clifton’s, Facebook

5 p.m. - Clifton's
Solving an escape room puzzle is thirsty work, so it's on to the next adventure for a pre-dinner drink. Opened in 1935 as Clifton's Brookdale, Clifton's reopened in September 2015 after a five-year, $14-million renovation. Once known as the world's largest public cafeteria, Clifton's now boasts a 40-foot (fake) redwood in its atrium and multiple bars spanning several levels. Order a cocktail at the second-floor Monarch Bar and explore the various spaces - you'll find everything from a 4.75 billion-year-old meteorite to a menagerie of taxidermied animals.

Dishes at Broken Spanish
Photo courtesy of Broken Spanish, Facebook

Dinner - Broken Spanish
Chef Ray Garcia’s take on contemporary Mexican cuisine, Broken Spanish is located near L.A. LIVE in a colorful space that is at once modern and homey. Start with the exceptional heirloom corn tortillas, which can be ordered with refried lentils or whipped carnitas fat. Mains include the comforting rabbit mixiote, a stew with nopales, bacon and cherry tomatoes that’s served in a cellophane bag. For adventurous diners, the cabeza (lamb’s head) is a showstopper, served with pickled onion and cabbage. Be sure to save room for desserts like the arroz con leche with arborio rice, roasted pear, blackberry jam, warm tres leches and canela.

General Lee's in Chinatown
Photo courtesy of General Lee's

Hidden Bars
After dinner, indulge your sense of adventure and end your weekend at one of Downtown L.A.'s hidden bars. Located inside an old power plant, The Edison welcomes guests through an alley off 2nd Street. Descend the staircase and enter this stunning event venue and high-volume craft cocktail bar with an industrial, steampunk design.

Hidden in the back of Cole's French Dip, The Varnish is renowned as one of the original craft cocktail speakeasies in Los Angeles. Once you're inside, you'll enjoy some of the best cocktails in the city in one of its most elegant settings.

Tucked away in historic Chinatown, General Lee's is a lively two-level bar with a stunning Tiki interior. Step inside and you'll feel like you've entered a film noir - the perfect setting to close out your weekend of adventure.