A Day in L.A. #1 (Downtown / Civic Center)

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Welcome to a new series of my blog called “A Day in L.A.”  Because I live about an hour away from Los Angeles, I find myself taking adventure day trips solo at least once a month.  I’m excited to share my experiences and tricks I’ve learned along the way!

Planning the Day

First, I like to set a goal and general destination.  It is L.A. so just driving around exploring is a waste of time with the constant traffic.  To decide what area I want to focus my explorations in, I consult many different sources.  A great resource is a book called 10,000 Steps a Day in L.A.: 52 Walking Adventures.  The book contains 52 routes for exploring L.A. by foot.  Now, these are preset routes and many of the landmarks are not the most interesting.  But each walk does have a good starting point and there are many useful tips on where to find parking, where to eat, etc.  Another book that I like to reference is Walking L. A.: 38 Walking Tours Exploring Stairways, Streets and Buildings You Never Knew Existed but I actually didn’t pick it up until I was on my first L.A. adventure.

I also like to use TripAdvisor as a tool for researching where I should go and what people are saying about it.  There are so many useful tips in the review section from other adventurers.  Another great tool is Yelp.  Similar to TripAdvisor, you are able to see awesome tips and how people rate certain attractions or restaurants.  There are also special offers from certain locations sometimes that can be redeemed when you check-in on Yelp so keep an eye out for those.  I also check Groupon to see if there are any activity or food discounts I can find.   As I’m doing all of this research, I’m also checking where everything is in relation to each other on Google Maps just to make sure I’m not planning to go somewhere that’s way out of the way.

After finding a few landmarks I’d like to see and even some places I may like to eat, I add them to my TripIt itinerary map.  I am in love with this app and I can’t recommend it enough.  You can add in all of the details of your trip, whether it’s your flight info, hotel stay, a museum tour, a hike, a restaurant, etc.  It is a lifesaver for people like me that love having a schedule.  You can even forward your flight or hotel confirmation email or allow them access to scan your email inbox and they add all the details to your itinerary automatically.  It really is an impressive app and I use it for every trip I take, whether a short day trip to L.A. or longer trips like the one I’m taking in April ’17 (it’s a surprise!).  This is not sponsored!  I just love the app so much.

Day in LA #1 Recap (Note: There is a Google Map at the bottom of this post with each destination listed.)

After a two hour drive in L.A. traffic, I arrived in the city center around noon.  I took a tip from 10,000 Steps a Day in L.A.: 52 Walking Adventures and looked for parking in the several lots near the Civic Center / Grand Park Metro Station at 101 Hill Street.  The lots all charged high rates so I kept searching for other options.  The metered street parking was all taken.  After a good 30 minutes, I found a lot on 2nd Street between Olive and Hill Street where the all-day rate was only $8.00.  Score!  I am considering using the metro next time for an easier arrival.

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View of Grand Park from the top of City Hall

My first stop was Grand Park.  While it’s nothing in comparison to New York’s Central Park, it is a nice little park surrounded by skyscrapers.  I noticed it was mostly occupied by workers from the nearby offices on their lunch breaks, aside from the intense soccer game taking place.  Pretty cool to see amidst the hustle and bustle!

I then made my way to the pedways (an elevated pedestrian walkway).  I had NO idea these existed.  There are multiple in this area.  Where Figueroa and 2nd Street intersect, I took a stairway up to the overpass and followed the walkway through the World Trade Center and the Bonaventure Hotel, making my way up to the highest pedway in LA that connects to the YMCA building.  Heading down the stairs on the south side of the hotel brought me to the corner of 5th and Flower across from the Central Library.

Taking the pedway to the WTC
Taking the pedways

I love libraries so I always try to squeeze them into my itinerary.  This particular library has the coolest little store inside filled with souvenirs, greeting cards and very useful items – some even made by local vendors!  I then made my way southeast on 6th Street.  It wasn’t in my itinerary, but whenever I see a Tender Greens, I have to eat there.  I enjoyed a delicious Backyard Marinated Steak, Tender Greens Salad, Mashed Potatoes and a Garlic Herb Crostini.  Their other food is amazing as well, so check out the menu here.

Pershing Square
Pershing Square

Continuing on 6th Street, within a block is Pershing Square where you’ll see various sculptures, as well as an ice rink in the winter and a concert stage.  A few minutes’ walk led me to the Last Bookstore at the corner of 5th and Spring Street.  This was one of my favorite parts of the day!  I could have easily spent hours here.  They have a section of used books and ones by local authors that I loved.  I actually bought the Walking L.A. book linked above there for only $3.00!  Speaking of books, check out my growing list of my favorites here.

After getting my book fix, I found the legendary Bradbury Building and awed at its Victorian architecture.  Across the street is the Grand Central Market in the Homer Laughlin Building.  I really wish I hadn’t just eaten because, let me tell you, this place was amazing!  There were so many different types of cuisine at very reasonable prices.

I finished off my adventure day with a bang!  Taking a short 5 minute walk, I found myself at Los Angeles City Hall.  Boring, right?  No!  All the way up at 27th floor is a panoramic observation deck, displaying sweeping views of the L.A. skyline.

 

Walking Map

day-in-la-1-map
Click on the map to open the route in Google Maps

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