I spent my Sunday in downtown Los Angeles – leading my “Travel Ninja Scavenger Hunt: Explore Downtown with Confidence” event. I started doing these events through Meetup a few months ago and each time I do one I meet wonderful people and learn so much!
I am not giving a historic tour, but I do share a few tidbits of information about the history of the places we visit. Each time I discover more amazing thing about Los Angeles.
This event takes us from Union Station to Grand Park, we walk past several civic buildings, museums and concert halls. We take a quick ride down Angels Flight and stroll through the Grand Central Market, we sneak a peek in the Bradbury Building (if it is open, they are often filming at this location). Then we stroll through downtown, popping into some of the more notable and historic places, like Clifton’s Republic and the Last Bookstore.
Over the course of the day, I learn so much from the folks that join me. Here’s just a few of the things we discovered along the way.
Things I learned
Across the street from Union Station is the famous Olvera Street, the birth-place of Los Angeles. Which was founded under Spanish rule in 1781. Which consisted of 11 families – 44 men, women, and children (per Wikipedia). Olvera Street is a marvelous place to visit. It has been an event on our Meetup group before…and I’ve added it again! You can find here.
As we explored Union Station we discovered the floor at the East side is detailed with inset aquatic images, some were easy to identify; turtles, leaves and a symbol of transportation – the wagon wheel. But we were not able to identify one of the symbols (see picture). If you know…please share! I was able to find that floor was done by artist May Sun, who is responsible for several other public art pieces around Los Angeles. The floor is part of a project that was completed in 1995, called “City of Dreams/River of History”.
At the end of the day, Kira and Scott showed us the amazing “light sticks” that are at the top of the Red Line escalators on the East end of the station. I’ve walked past them many times, but never really understood their purpose. Thanks to Kira and Scott, I now know that these flashing lights are more than meets the eye – at first. Stand for a few seconds, relax, and you will see hidden images. We saw a train, Marilyn Monroe and other famous faces. After a bit of research, I discovered this is the work of artist Bill Bell. And according to the Metro website, there is also a hidden microphone that can activate a responsive sound system. Now I have more to discover on my next trip to Union Station.
At the Civic Center Station we stopped to admire the flying people art. That thanks to Kira’s quick research we found out that all six figures resemble the artists, Jonathan Borofsky. A quick Google search at home and I found the title for the piece is I Dreamed I Could Fly. And according to the Metro’s website, The work has an audio element as well—the figures are accompanied by an occasional trill of a bird. Who knew?
We talked briefly about the changes happening at Pershing Square. Here’s the article I read a few weeks ago with renderings of what the new park might look like. I’m very excited about the changes.
If you are interested in doing a more detailed historic tour of downtown or the art at the Metro station, I suggest checking out both of these organizations.
Restaurants to try
As we explored downtown, we talked about a number of wonderful restaurants and bars to visit. Here are some of the places we noted as we strolled along.
Both downtown, just a few blocks from one another. The new Spire 73, out did the 71 Above by 2-floors, but both are sights to see!
I’ve scheduled a Meetup for a Rooftop Bar Hopping, in July. The days will be longer, so we will be able to enjoy the view in the daylight and as the sunsets!
And a few more restaurants!
- The Perch
One of my favorite places downtown. Great spot for brunch or happy hour.
- Clifton’s Downtown
Has live music on the weekends. It is a historic Los Angeles location.
- Maccheroni Republic
This little place is nestled behind some greenery and fences, across the street from the Grand Central Market. I’ve walked by many times, but never been in. Last time I peeked in and notices a BYOB sign. After a little research – it is confirmed, they have BYOB policy. You can bring your own wine. There is a $10 corkage fee for the wine, but with the often, inflated wine prices at restaurants this can still be a savings, and you can have whatever wine you want…it doesn’t matter what’s on their list! I’ve not scheduled a Meetup for this location yet…but stay tuned..I’m sure it will happen.
This is my favorite happy hour locations. They sever the best martini in town, the Vesper.
- The Nickle Diner
I love this little place, with amazing comfort food. I have always be delighted with their food. I recommend the corn cakes!
I am not a sushi fan, but everyone I know raves about this place. I’ve been told they have the BEST sushi around.
- Little Sister
This is a new discovery. I had lunch here a few months ago and can’t seem to get enough of the place. They an eclectic menu. I suggest reservations, even for lunch. This place is small, but it is almost always packed.
Check out the 2 new Meetups that were inspired by the folks who joined me on Sunday!
- Taco Tuesday on Olvera Street, in June
- Rooftop Bar Hopping, in July