Los Angeles’ Arts District: Explore the vibrant downtown neighborhood

Los Angeles' Arts District is decked out with murals.
Los Angeles’ Arts District is decked out with murals. Photo Credit: Vincent Barone

Downtown Los Angeles is in the midst of a renaissance, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the Arts District. Dilapidated industrial spaces have morphed into edgy art galleries and innovative retail shops ripe for explorations. Loaded with bold street art, there’s an urban vibe and welcome touch of grit that is so often missing from L.A.’s suburban sprawl.

Art and culture

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (closed Mondays and Tuesdays, FREE admission; 1717 E. Seventh St., 213-928-0833, theicala.org) is an incubator of West Coast artistic experimentation. Helmed by former New Yorker Jamillah James, the space has flourished under her curatorial vision. Emerging voices are nurtured, so you may be viewing the work of the next rising star.

The art gallery Hauser & Wirth (closed Mondays, FREE admission; 901 E. Third St., 213-943-1620, hauserwirth.com), located in a former flour mill, has maintained elements of its industrial past. With a steady stream of rotating exhibits, there’s always something new. It’s home to the hip, hyperlocal dining spot Manuela, which sources vegetables from its on-site garden and just-laid eggs from its flock of courtyard hens.

Just outside of the Arts District in downtown is The Broad (closed Mondays, FREE admission, online reservations recommended; 221 S. Grand Ave., 213-232-6200, thebroad.org), pronounced like road. Its 2,000-piece postwar collection features work by Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. The building’s honeycomb facade is equally eye-catching.

Book your free reservation in advance for The Broad.
Book your free reservation in advance for The Broad. Photo Credit: iStock

Retail therapy

Galerie. LA (closed Mondays; 767 S. Alameda St., 213-372-5860, galerie.la) sells fashion-forward clothing and accessories ethically made in accordance with fair trade practices.

The Flower District (Wall Street between Seventh and Eighth streets) is a feast of color and fragrance. The prices on the locally grown blooms are excellent, but many come to simply smell the roses.

Hennessey + Ingalls (300 S. Santa Fe Ave., 213-437-2130, hennesseyingalls.com) is the largest art, architecture and design bookstore in the western United States. The vast collection of books on visual arts suits this neighborhood to a T.  

Eat and drink

At Zinc Café and Market (580 Mateo St., 323-825-5381, zinccafe.com), the calm music and soothing color palette are a respite from the bustle of the Arts District. Catch some sun in the courtyard and linger over a cup of organic tea and an orange ginger scone.

Rossoblu (1124 San Julian St., 213-749-1099, rossoblula.com) celebrates the cuisine of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, where chef Steve Samson’s maternal family’s roots run deep. Pair the tagliatelle al ragu bolognese with a glass of the region’s fizzy red Lambrusco.

At Arts District Brewing Co. (828 Traction Ave., 213-519-5887, artsdistrictbrewing.com), sip the Dietrich, a silky lager with a hint of vanilla, while you play vintage arcade games including Skeeball.


Getting there: It’s a six-hour nonstop flight from NYC.

Getting around: Ride the Metro Gold Line to the Little Tokyo/Arts District stop. Metro Bike Share and the electric scooter share Bird are eco-friendly ways to traverse the neighborhood.

Where to stay: Downtown’s Mayfair Hotel (1256 W. Seventh St., 213-632-1200, mayfairla.com) retains original 1920s architectural elements meshed with high-tech touches; Kelly Graval, the graffiti artist known as Risk, curates the vast art collection. Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles (929 S. Broadway, 213-623-3233, acehotel.com/losangeles) is in the former home of maverick film studio United Artists; the restored theater draws the city’s movie buffs.

More from around NYC