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Destination: Downtown Los Angeles

An urban renaissance has turned formerly gritty Downtown Los Angeles into a vibrant enclave of award-winning restaurants, modern art, and design-forward boutiques


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Stay

Ace Hotel

Built in 1927 and once home to the United Artists film studio, the Ace Hotel has an Art Deco feel with a heavy dose of the hotel brand’s signature hip design, including midcentury minimalist rooms in seven sizes (small to suite) and a highly curated gift shop with vinyl records and Moleskine notebooks, as well as a slick rooftop pool and concert venue that plays host to musical acts like Béla Fleck (July 20).

At The Standard, it’s all about the Insta-glam rooftop, where poolside waterbeds, a beer garden, restaurant, and bonafide Ping-Pong club converge. Plus, don’t miss local roaster Hermanos Coffee downstairs. Altogether, the scene is buzzing, as evidenced by the complimentary earplugs provided to guests.

Prefer something more independent? Check out one of the many Airbnbs in the thriving Arts District.

Ride the Rail

Avoid L.A. traffic and hop on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner train from Santa Fe Depot, Old Town, or Solana Beach for a three-hour ride to DTLA’s Union Station ($74 round trip). From Oceanside, the trip is an hour shorter and around $10 cheaper.

 

Play

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Downtown has become the new HQ for art enthusiasts. The Broad, which opened in September 2015 and has already garnered a rabid fan base, is a beauty of a building, with pieces by Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, and more. Don’t miss Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, a dazzling chamber lit by hundreds of LEDs, which ends its run this fall. The room accommodates just one person at a time, so get on the waiting list the day of; spots can’t be reserved in advance and fill up early.

The striking Frank Gehry–designed Walt Disney Concert Hall is home to the L.A. Philharmonic, where works by Mozart and Beethoven take center stage. Insider tip: Many shows offer $20 day-of tickets.

For shopping that’s more reasonable than Rodeo Drive, stop by Olvera Street, a charming cobblestone drag of mostly Mexican goods, including pottery, leather products, Dia de los Muertos decor, and food.

At Poketo, shop for copper coffee accessories, gourmet s’mores kits, and other trendy giftables. Or sign up for one of their workshops, like perfume making on July 16 and marble clay ceramics on July 30.

On your way home, soak up elegant architecture in the unlikeliest of places. Union Station reminds us of the glory days of train travel, with a design that feels equal parts churchlike and Spanish Colonial.

This Month in DTLA

  • July 4th Block Party: Celebrate with fireworks, food, and music at Grand Park and The Music Center. July 4
  • Salsa Festival: Spice up your weekend at this annual event dedicated to a tortilla chip’s best friend, with beer, margaritas, and live music. July 9–10
  • Argentine Tango: The Dance Downtown series highlights a new genre weekly with a live band as you shimmy under the stars. July 22

 

Eat

B.S. Taqueria

Start your morning at Juice Served Here/Verve Coffee, which pairs green juices and caffeinated options from the Santa Cruz–based roaster in a shared space where the pretty, plant-filled patio is the best seat in the house.

Brunch, decadent cakes, and colorful macarons are the top picks at Bottega Louie, a bright and lively eatery that feels like a slice of Paris in SoCal.

Topping a handful of best restaurant lists since its 2012 debut, Bestia is a shining example of simple, flavorful Italian cuisine. Don’t miss the ricotta dumplings and beef ragu—and don’t go without a reservation. Tables are often booked months in advance.

Feast on heirloom corn tortillas and specialties like the clam and lardo tacos at the colorful B.S. Taqueria, helmed by buzzy chef Ray Garcia and designed by the same team behind Bracero’s eclectic look.

Almost anonymous from the street, Mignon is a hidden, locally loved wine bar and bistro with an excellent selection of wines, steak entrées, and charming French waitresses. It’s a dimly lit, intimate space perfect for date night.

For something more group friendly, make a stop at Angel City Brewery, a laid-back and unpretentious warehouse turned craft beer hub with IPAs and the popular White Nite, a stout with a chocolate-coffee finish.

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