You might be surprised at how many people go to Los Angeles, California and don’t actually go to Los Angeles. Sure, they visit Venice Beach and Santa Monica and Hollywood. But downtown L.A.? Not so much. There are a number of pretty good reasons, including a Lakers game at the Staples Center, why downtown deserves better. And thanks to the metro (as well as a fleet of cabs), you should be able to navigate this city center with minimal fuss. You can even consider bicycle rentals if you’re feeling adventurous.
What might surprise you about the heart of Los Angeles, California, is how international it actually is. Sure, there are the expected high-rise office buildings and you probably won’t have a moment in Little Tokyo, say, when you actually think you’re in Tokyo, Japan. But still.
That having been said, Little Tokyo, aka J-town, isn’t a bad spot to start your world tour of downtown L.A. One of only three Japantowns in the United States, Little Tokyo boasts sushi bars, peaceful temples and a museum or two. Just north of Little Tokyo is El Pueblo de Los Angeles (not far from Union Station), a historic area home to the oldest buildings in the city, with plenty of Mexican cultural influence to be found along Overa Street. Farther north discover Chinatown, with temples, colorful shops and good Chinese eateries to punctuate your passage. From here, it’s an easy jaunt on to Dodgers Stadium - nothing like the iconic American pastime, baseball, to bring your tour full circle.
Korea Town, west of downtown, offers a further glimpse of the nation’s heterogeneity. You’ll find a substantial Korean population here, but in feel, it’s more culturally diverse than Chinatown or Little Tokyo. There’s a Korean American Museum but also in the immediate area look for the the likes of the Art Deco Bullocks Wilshire Building, the Greek Orthodox St. Sophia Cathedral and the Grier Musser Museum (showcasing very American antiques).
In short? No passport required for this easy international jaunt and you might just see Los Angeles for the cultural mixing pot it really is.