Los Angeles is known for its sunny days and warm beaches. But the next time you head south seeking sunshine, you might want to spend some time downtown.
It’s not Hollywood, but downtown Los Angeles has found its own way to shine.
LA’s newest contemporary art museum, the Broad, opened in 2015. There’s two floors of gallery space, which for the non-museum fans is ideal. You don’t have to spend the entire day here, it can easily be seen in a couple hours. Jeff Koons balloon art, the dog and the rabbit were the hit the day I was there, and the security guard told me folks do the funniest things in front of them when they’re taking selfies.
Don’t miss the Infinity Mirror Rooms by Yayoi Kusama. There are two. One is actually a small mirror-lined room with lights, and staff let one person in at a time, for about a minute. The second is a mirror-lined chamber with flashing lights that you look into.
General admission to The Broad is free. But it’s a popular place. Tickets are released online on the first of every month for the following month (i.e. on October 1 at noon PT, tickets for November are made available), and are snapped up fast. If you’re not the organized type, you can also jump in the onsite standby line for first come, first served entrance.
I don’t think I’ve ever done this before for a destination, but I’m going to recommend taking a look at a second museum. Located in the hip and oh so popular L.A. Live entertainment complex, the GRAMMY Museum pays tribute to the history and importance of music in our lives. Music is playing throughout, interactive exhibits including a recording studio and instruments are at every turn, and throughout the four floors there’s a variety of rock star memorabilia including the jacket Michael Jackson wore in his Thriller video.
If you’re not hungry, you’ll have fun walking around Grand Central Market. It’s worth the trip, but odds are you’ll be hungry before you leave. The food hall has a history that dates back to 1917, but it’s enjoyed a huge popularity boost the past few years. Wandering is encouraged, but if you’re hunting for a certain spot, classic neon signage over the stalls make navigating easy. You’ll find a little bit of everything from spices and produce to pupusas, tacos and egg salads sandwiches.
And because it’s just across the street, I have to mention the Bradbury Building. Built in 1893, it’s Downtown’s oldest commercial building, but movie buffs will recognize the zigzagging staircases from the movie Blade Runner.
It’s a quick stop. The ground floor and half a flight of stairs is open to the public, but the rest of the building is private office space.
Since you’re already out and about in the neighborhood, it’s only a five minute walk or so to The Last Bookstore. An old bank building, books aren’t just reading material, they’re building blocks. There’s a tunnel you can walk through, and windows in within book labyrinths. Along with new and used books, there’s a great collection of records as well. At the simplest level, it’s a cool spot to hang out.