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Getting to Know Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhoods

Joes Knows DTLA
Photo Cred: CBS LA

Downtown Los Angeles is known to be a hub of rich, diverse culture and exciting, vibrant experiences. With a unique and characterful neighborhood at practically every turn, a one-day visit to DTLA can make you feel like you’ve traveled the world. Explore some of our favorites and immerse yourself in what DTLA has to offer. After all, #JoesKnowsDTLA—we won’t lead you astray.

GALLERY ROW

The Gallery Row district, along Main and Spring Streets between 2nd and 9th streets, is lined with over 40 cutting edge art galleries, theaters, museums, and public art installations. The district was designated by the City Council in 2003 to bring forth a centralized area of art galleries and promote a culturally abundant, urban neighborhood. Gallery Row also hosts the Downtown Art Walk every second Thursday of the month, to bring the rich Los Angeles art scene to the streets of the neighborhood. Don’t miss this enriching experience, and stop by these iconic sites on the way:

THE LAST BOOKSTORE

If you’re an avid reader and traditional book lover, then head over to the ironically and appropriately named neighborhood gem, The Last Bookstore. This new and used bookstore has been in operation since 2005, and offers a variety of items for just about every body: vinyl records, graphic novels, rare books, yarn, souvenirs, and SO MUCH MORE. And don’t forget to take the stairs to the second floor to see the Labyrinth and Book Arch for a one-of-a-kind, Instagram-worthy experience. Fill up your book bag with some cool finds and park right next door at 449 S. Spring Street.

DTLA: The Last Bookstore
Photo Cred: The Last Bookstore

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART (MOCA)

Not all art is the same. At the Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA, fine and visual art conventions are tested with thought-provoking, fluid pieces of over 7000. The MOCA is the only artist-founded museum in Los Angeles, established in 1979 to preserve the artistic expressions of 1940 and beyond. See their vision for yourself and visit MOCA Grand Avenue, with convenient parking at 245 S. Broadway Avenue.

DTLA: MOCA
Photo Cred: MOCA

DISNEY CONCERT HALL

Are you more of a live music fan? Then you certainly won’t want to miss a show at shiny and futuristically designed Disney Concert Hall. The warped walls and architecture was intentionally designed by Frank Gehry to create one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world. The LA Philharmonic calls this architectural masterpiece home as they exhibit the best classical, contemporary, world, and jazz music for the ears of Angelenos. Catch a show soon and walk to nearby parking at 245 S. Broadway Avenue.

DTLA: Walt Disney Concert Hall
Photo Cred: LA Philharmonic

LITTLE TOKYO

Located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, Little Tokyo is home to one of the largest Japanese-American populations in North America. Downtown LA’s Little Tokyo is one of three Japantowns in the United States, and was documented as being founded sometime in the early 20th century despite the enactment of the Exclusion Act of 1924. It was declared a National Historic Landmark district in 1995, with numerous transformations along the way. Fast-forward to 2017 and Little Tokyo is livelier than ever: it offers a great variety of restaurants catering to Japanese and Non-Japanese patrons, small souvenir shops dedicated to Japanese pop culture, and many places to gain some historic insight about Japanese-American culture. Stop by Little Tokyo’s noteworthy sites below to give yourself a taste of the East without ever leaving this city.

JAPANESE AMERICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM

The melting pot of American culture can be boiled down to the Japanese American National Museum of DTLA, where the stories and experiences of Japanese-Americans have been preserved and displayed. Built in 1925, the museum’s renovated historic building was actually built by Japanese immigrants as a Buddhist place of worship, and has also served as storage for those who were sent to concentration camps during World War II. It was sold to the City of Los Angeles in 1972, and permanently became the Japanese American National Museum in 1992 when its doors first opened. No matter if you are or aren’t Japanese, this is something you won’t want to miss. Park at 350 E. 2nd in Sho Tokyo to immerse yourself in this historical experience.

DTLA: Japanese-American National Museum
Photo Cred: Socal Museums

JAMES IRVINE JAPANESE GARDEN

A zen oasis is waiting for you in the heart of the Downtown LA metropolis. Don’t believe us? The James Irvine Japanese Garden can be found in the Japanese American Culture Center and is free for all. Take some time for yourself and relax in this serene venue surrounded by a stream, plants and flowers, cedar bridges, and stone lanterns.  Get away from the buzz of the city for a bit and just park at 319 E. 2nd Street.

DTLA: James Irvine Japanese Garden
Photo Cred: Japanese American Culture Center

OLVERA STREET

Do you know where all of Los Angeles started? A narrow, tree-lined block in DTLA known as Olvera Street is proud to be “the birthplace of Los Angeles”, and recreates the romantic experience of “Old Los Angeles” through Spanish architecture, vibrantly painted walls, street vendors, and more. Since its conception in 1930, Olvera Street has preserved the customs and traditions of early California within every pocket of the neighborhood: from freshly made food, to culturally relevant goods, this neighborhood is a must-see for anyone visiting or living in Los Angeles. Don’t forget about these places to make your experience even fuller. Just park nearby at 414 E. Commercial Street to get there faster.

EL PUEBLO DE LOS ANGELES

Various people who journeyed from Mexico to form a farming town founded this city in 1781. The settlement’s, or pueblo’s, main square is now El Pueblo de Los Angeles: the living, active museum that is Olvera Street and its surrounding establishments. Start here when you first get to Olvera Street, and you’ll immediately find yourself amidst the Mexican culture that fills this community.

DTLA: El Pueblo de Los Angeles
Phot Cred: LA City

AVILA ADOBE

Known as “The Oldest House in Los Angeles”, the Avila Adobe was built by early settler and one-time mayor of Los Angeles, Francisco José Avila, in 1818. Through history, the building has served not only as a house, but as a military headquarter, a restaurant, and a rooming house until the infrastructure’s deterioration. When the City Health Department condemned it in 1926, local resident Christine Sterling petitioned to save the building, and is now serving as a historical museum that attracts over 300,000 visitors annually.

DTLA: Avila Dobe
Photo Cred: LA City

SOUTH PARK

The South Park neighborhood is located in Southwestern Downtown Los Angeles and it serves as a commercial district for entertainment and convention venues. Most major events in the Los Angeles area are held here, with its easy access to the Harbor and the Santa Monica Freeways. South Park has gone through a major revitalization in the past 7 years with the erection of LA Live, the Nokia Theatre and the surrounding work/residential properties that will only continue to thrive as the original architecture in the area is updated. It’s only fitting that some people refer to South Park when they think of DTLA—especially because of these recognizable locations:

LA LIVE

Not only is it one of the hottest spots in DTLA, but it is also one of the city’s newest additions. Starting in 2007, LA Live’s three-phase development gave Angelenos the premiere nightlife and live entertainment hub of the city. Whatever your heart desires can be found here: the Nokia Theater for entertainment, the Staples Center for cheering on the home team, the Grammy Museum, and so much more. Keep your weekends clear so you can explore all of LA Live. Convenient parking is just across the street at 1212 S. Flower Street.

DTLA: LA Live
Photo Cred: LA Live

LOS ANGELES CONVENTION CENTER

Special events need only the most special of venues. Here in Los Angeles, most special events, large gatherings, and conventions are held under one roof: the Los Angeles Convention Center. Annually, some of the most beloved events are hosted in one of the US’s largest convention centers—Anime Expo, RuPaul’s Drag Con, and LA Auto Show, just to name a few—in its vast 760,00 sq. ft. exhibition space. Find yourself interested in an event at the LA Convention Center? We’ve got parking just across the way at 1302 W. Pico Boulevard.

DTLA: LA Convention Center
Photo Cred: South Park BID

When you find yourself in Downtown LA, be sure to stop by these neighborhoods for the most exciting and cultured visit. And we know you just want to enjoy your trip, so don’t let parking stress you out. We have several locations throughout DTLA, so visit our website to find our nearest garage or lot to your destination!

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