Walking Tour of Los Angeles

Walking Tour of Los Angeles

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  1. I always hear people talk about great “walking cities” and picture a metropolis with gargantuan legs strolling up the Pacific Coast Highway. What they mean, of course, is cities where the best way to see the sights is by walking. A couple of examples of great walking cities in America include Washington D.C. and San Francisco. This phrase implies that walking in urban zones such as Los Angeles is to be avoided, and as a native Angelino I’m forced to kill anyone who suggests such a thing slowly and painfully. And by that, I mean that I sit then down and have them take notes, because they couldn’t be more wrong.


    Yes, if you want the entire “LA experience” you will need to get around, but many people who live elsewhere are unaware that LA’s rapid transit system is much improved from years past and now includes an extensive light rail train/subway system that takes people to key locations throughout the city. In addition, we have the Dash busses that, while they don’t run as often or as extensively as the Metro busses, only cost a quarter.

    More to the point, LA has a number of locations that can keep the average tourist busy all day, without the need to rely on a car or rapid transit.



    Chinatown is a favorite of many, including me. Sure, San Francisco’s Chinatown gets more hype, but ours is better defined, less dirty and you don’t have to wade through homeless people to get around. The two main streets (Hill and Broadway) are resplendent with gift shops, herbalist, specialized grocery stores, meat and fish markets and countless restaurants. While there, I strongly recommend you go to Ocean Seafood for a dim sum brunch (located between Hill and Broadway and between Ord and Alpine Streets) and ABC Seafood for lunch or dinner (on New High at the corner of Ord).


    Marina Del Rey

    Marina Del Rey teeters on upper crust but remains accessible to slobs like me. You can wander through Fisherman’s Village, buy a sandwich or bagel at the Lighthouse, or have brunch at the Fish Market. Take a stroll around the south rim of the marina to Burton Chase Park to take in the view, play with the kids (if any) or have a picnic. 


    The Grove/Farmer’s Market           This one is a two-fer, but you’ll still have to pay for parking if you drive (and the light rail/subway doesn’t go there… yet). Park in the Farmer’s Market lot if you can; it’s considerably more affordable. One can easily waste the better part of a day perusing the ultra-expensive stores of the Grove, take the trolley down to Farmer’s Market and waste the rest of the day elbowing through the crowds there to see the many interesting, strange and often amusing things in the many little shops and restaurants. Stop at Phil’s Deli for excellent pastrami if you feel the desire and be sure to take a gander at the hot sauce shop; some of the brand names will get you laughing.


    Downtown Los Angeles

    Downtown bustles with foot traffic on weekends. You can meander through various shops, specialty stores, wander through the Fashion District for incredible deals on clothes, check out Little Tokyo and even visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (which every Angelino calls MOCA).


    If you can get spur-of-the-moment tickets, you can take in a show at the Music Center Pavilion, featuring three of LA’s finest stage theaters: the Amundsen, the Mark Taper Forum and my favorite, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Or you can cross the street and listen to the LA Philharmonic play at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is even stranger looking up close than in the pictures you’ve seen.


    For a walking tour within a walking tour, park at Pershing Square and spend your day exploring the immediate area. Especially on weekends, this area has a lot to offer. Heading north from the square, also on Hill St., you’ll find Angel’s Flight, one of America’s few funicular railways. Rides are only a quarter each way, and at the top lies California Plaza, with its amazing fountain and waterfalls.


    Across the street is Grand Central Market, a swap meet-style indoor mall offering a wide variety of edibles, both produce and packaged products, as well as several very good food stands (the Mexican ones are particularly good). And if you go through the mall to Broadway, you’ll find the Bradbury Building right across the street, a masterpiece of architecture featured in several movies, including the futuristic Blade Runner.


    Three blocks due east of the Bradbury Building is City Hall, or what I call “the pointy building” in tribute to the late Los Angeles great, Gary Owens. But instead of that, I would recommend returning to Pershing Square to take in the many museums and art galleries. Just within the square consisting of 4th and 7th streets to the north and south, and Broadway and Main to the west and east, you can tour over a dozen locations filled with various styles of art, mostly interesting and innovative contemporary stuff. On the second Thursday of each month, the Downtown Art Walk takes place, beginning in the afternoon. If you come for this, you’ll have plenty of company in the galleries, but it’s a cool crowd and not so many people that you ever feel rushed or compressed, common feelings associated with downtown Manhattan. There are also many restaurants in the area I mentioned, but you can save money and get food that’s just as good—if not better—from one of the many taco trucks that service various art walks in the LA area.

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