Despite going to school in the heart of L.A., it can be difficult to know what to do when you want to explore, and don’t know where to start. Especially for students new to L.A., with literally hundreds of restaurants and attractions, there are an infinite number of ways to go about exploring. To start off though, here is one example of a hypothetical “day in downtown L.A.” that touches on just a few of the simple but well-known attractions in this beautiful city.
9:00 a.m.: Leave USC
Assuming that you are starting from USC, catch the Expo line behind the Galen Center and take it to 7th Street/Metro Center station. From there, transfer onto the red line and take it two stops over to Civic Center/Grand Park station. This brings you within a street or two of the first destination: the Walt Disney Concert Hall, one of DTLA’s most well known buildings.
10:00 a.m.: Chill on top of the Walt Disney Concert Hall
For those who haven’t visited before, one of the best features of the Disney Concert Hall is actually its rooftop garden. What’s great about the rooftop garden is that it lifts you above the bustle of the streets into an environment of peacefulness. The reflective silver of the concert hall itself, juxtaposed with the myriad of trees and shrubs makes you feel like you can forget your problems and exist in the beauty of the present. This is also the perfect place to go and study, or sit with a cup of coffee and read your favorite books.
12:00 p.m.: Lunch at Grand Central Market
No matter what day you go, lunch is always one of the busiest times in the city. What better place to mingle with the residents of L.A. than at Grand Central Market (another one of DTLA’s most visited attractions)? From the Disney Center go back to Civic Center/Grand Park station and take the red line one stop back to Pershing Square station, which drops you off right at the backside of Grand Central Market. Once there, the fun really begins. There’s a wide variety of food, so there’s bound to be something for even the pickiest of eaters. One of the most well-known of these food stands is Eggslut, which, true to its name, specializes in delicious egg sandwiches. There’s also Thai, Mexican, Chinese food and much more, so explore and let your stomach lead you to what sounds best.
2:00 p.m.: Visit the Bradbury building
Built in 1893, the Bradbury building is one of L.A.’s historic buildings, having been featured in countless movies such as “500 Days of Summer” and “Blade Runner.” The building itself is fairly unassuming, but it’s the beautiful, antique interior that gives it its prestige. The moment you step inside, the wrought iron grilling, spiraling up the polished wood railings, and the ethereal glow from the ceiling skylight makes you feel like you’re being transported back to another era. The best part though is that it’s right across the street from Grand Central Market, meaning you can hit both attractions in one go!
3:00 p.m.: Have an afternoon snack at Syrup
By mid-afternoon you may be feeling that post-lunch sweet craving, and one of DTLA’s must-try spots for sweets is Syrup Desserts. To get here from Grand Central, simply walk down Spring Street until you reach the intersection of Spring and West 6th St. As you might guess from its name, Syrup specializes in sweets, particularly waffles, crepes, and ice cream, although they also offer an assortment of sandwiches, coffees, tea, and smoothies as well. Some of their most popular items are the Mixed Berries Liege Waffle and Blackberry-Jasmine ice cream. With such intriguing confections and their relaxed, cafe feel, this is one location definitely worth a try.
4:00 p.m.: Go find Boba 7
So far we’ve explored food and dessert, but what about drinks? One of DTLA’s hidden gems is Boba 7, a boba shop and cafe cleverly hidden in the back of another restaurant, making it a place accessible only for those in the know. And, if you don’t know what boba is, now is the perfect time to find out. To get here from Syrup, go to 7th Street, and walk to the intersection of 7th Street and South Grand Avenue. Look for a restaurant called Soi 7, and go straight through to the back, where you’ll see a small little café — that’s Boba 7. They specialize in unique flavors such as the amaretto milk tea or the horchata boba, and for those over 21, there are several alcoholic boba drinks on offer as well. All in all, the perfect refresher!
5:00 p.m.: Return to USC
After a long day of exploring, returning to USC is pretty simple. From Boba 7, the 7th Street/Metro Center Station is just a few streets away at the intersection of South Flower and 7th Street. Catch the Expo line running to Culver City, and get off again at the USC station by the Galen Center.
This is just one of many, many ways to explore downtown L.A., but hopefully it’s inspired you to take the first step in experiencing a city that has so much to offer.