24 hours in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is as expansive and varied as the characters that walk its streets. It’s a destination that deserves attention, whether you’re interested in the glittering world of Hollywood, an explosion of culture, or the convenient beaches. But if your time in the City of Stars is short and you want to get the most out of your fifteen minutes of fame, I invite you to join us on this tour as we master the city in 24 hours.
By Demian Colman
Photos: Demian Colman
Let’s start at Union Station where, as the saying goes, Los Angeles begins. Its magnificent walnut wood ticket counter has always welcomed those who arrived here in search of the “California dream.” The station was declared a Historic-Cultural Monument in 1972 and was later added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, in addition to being the backbone of public transportation in Los Angeles, it is an open-air gallery, cultural center and, more recently, site of the first post-pandemic Academy Awards ceremony. For additional information about its history, activities, and shows.
Directly in front of the station, you will find El Pueblo de Los Angeles. There, in 1781, eleven Mexican families settled in the name of the King of Spain. After independence, Olvera was the capital of the Mexican state of California until Pío Pico, its governor, was defeated in the Mexican-American War of 1846. The place is a collection of historic buildings that include the Plaza; the oldest house in California, known as Ávila Adobe; the Firehouse; the church; and the theater. Walk along Olvera Street and stop at the Mexican handicrafts market, the perfect place for a very Mexican breakfast.
Retrace your steps along Main Street and visit La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, then stop at Los Angeles City Hall. It has an eclectic architectural style described as Modern American and an art deco tower that reaches 453 feet high. Walk to First Street and continue on until you get to the Los Angeles Times building. The tour ends at the corner of Main and First with an example of modern American architecture that will serve as a bridge to the modernity of our next stop.
Head to Grand Avenue, where the first stop is the Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The metallic waves designed by Frank Gehry gave the city a new look when the hall opened in 2003. One block further up is The Broad, which houses the private contemporary art collection of the philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. The building, a work of art in its own right, houses pieces by Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Jeff Koons, among others. To finish, cross the street to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).
After walking about three blocks, cross California Plaza to arrive at the famous Angels Flight funicular, which witnessed Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling dancing and created the backdrop for many other memorable cinematic moments. Head down the block from Olive St. to Hill St. and you will be at the entrance to the Grand Central Market, where you can have a well-deserved break.
Before leaving downtown Los Angeles, walk a quarter of a mile along Broadway St. and turn onto 5th to visit The Last Bookstore. In an attempt to attract readers of the written page, the bookstore has created a magical environment with tunnels of books and iron chairs. Afterwards, return to reality, go to the Pershing Square station and take the subway (Metro Rail) to Hollywood and Vine.
Hollywood Boulevard connects stars, towers, theaters, interesting museums, enormous shops, and the city’s unique fauna. Don’t forget to look up at the majestic buildings yuou’ll recognize majestic façades from the movies: the El Capitan Theatre and the TCL Chinese Theatre, known for its grand premieres, and the Dolby Theatre, home of the Oscars.
As dusk approaches, run to the Ovation shopping center to watch the sun set in the California sky. From the bridge that connects the center’s two towers you’ll have a panoramic view of the Hollywood hills and, of course, you’ll be in an enviable position to see its very famous sign. Take advantage of the stop and find a place to have dinner.
Nighttime in Hollywood offers an array of options. I recommend booking a show at the Pantages, famous for staging the theater capital’s greatest productions. After the show, have a drink at one of the full range of small bars nearby, where special guests might surprise you. It’s the perfect way to wrap up this immersive day of contemporary popular culture.
You have survived 24 hours in the City of Stars. Now a new day shines and it’s time to go. If you still have time, this is the moment to visit the famous film studios, followed by the city’s museums. Or, if you decide to head to the ocean, you can see how the California dream unites sun, sea, and art.