The most vibrant district of downtown L.A., the Historic Core displays charming parks, ornate movie palaces and other architectural marvels.
Broadway Theater District
The Broadway Theater District features the largest number of old movie palaces in the United States. Located along South Broadway between Third and Ninth Streets, the stately cinemas once hosted performances by early Hollywood celebrities, such as the Marx Brothers, Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. Still operating as a theater, the Orpheum is a gorgeous building with a 1928 Mighty Wurlitzer organ, elegant marble lobby and sophisticated lounge. The recently refurbished theater in the Ace Hotel, the Los Angeles Theater, and the Million Dollar Theater continue to welcome guests daily.
Clifford Clinton founded the Clifton's restaurant chain in 1931 and eventually expanded to eight Southern California locations, each with its own theme. In 1935, Clifton’s Cafeteria opened as Clifton's Brookdale, featuring a mesmerizing forest-like environment and tasty dishes at reasonable prices. Clifton’s Cafeteria is known as the oldest surviving cafeteria-style restaurant in Los Angeles and the largest public cafeteria in the world. Clifton’s Cafeteria closed in September 2011 for a multimillion-dollar restoration financed by the restaurant’s new owner and developer, Andrew Meieran, who also owns The Edison. Judging by Meieran’s previous work, the renovations will be just as impressive as the original Clifton’s. A new neon sign was turned on in January 2015, and, with chef Jason Fullilove and barman Damian Windsor helming the kitchens and bars respectively, Clifton’s Cafeteria is scheduled to reopen at last in September 2015.
The Hive Gallery and Studios
The Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk highlights the newest local gallery openings, but you don't need to wait for every second Thursday of the month to check out Gallery Row where the art spaces are often open to the public year-round. Originally a black-and-white photo lab, Drkrm has since expanded to showcase photography specializing in documentary and photojournalism. Meanwhile, Hive Gallery & Studios features two galleries, a store and 25 resident artists. They're just a few of the galleries that have made downtown L.A. synonymous with groundbreaking art.
Not so long ago, five cents went a lot further than it does now. Still, the Nickel Diner manages to recall the good ole days when lunch counters and soda fountains were the go-to destinations for hungry Angelenos. The Nickel Diner features breakfast, lunch and dinner, but the fun, nostalgic ambience and tasty breakfast menu helps kick off the day, even if all you're getting is a maple bacon donut.
The Last Bookstore
The Last Bookstore sells more than 250,000 magazines and new and used books. In addition to its vast selection of titles across all genres, the store itself is a must-see for its interior design alone. Not only are there books for sale, but printed material is adapted to create a unique environment where novels, anthologies, manuals and storybooks actually become a part of the store's own layout too. Don’t miss the mezzanine level, which includes the Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore — the back room sells 100,000 books for $1 each! — Gather Yarn Shop, and the Spring Arts Collective gallery shops.
Selling beer and wine in addition to film tickets, this isn’t your average movie theater. The Downtown Independent has a laid-back, lounge-type vibe, but the focus remains on its roster of rare, cult, classic and indie film programming. Whatever your taste in cinema, the Downtown Independent lives up to its name.
Once L.A.’s first private power plant, The Edison is now a steampunk-themed underground bar, lounge, restaurant and performance space that integrates remnants of the building’s 105-year-old history into its interior design. Whether you’re going to drink, eat, dance, catch a show or all of the above, The Edison is an eye-popping design marvel that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Grand Central Market
With a huge variety of local and international foods and treats, Grand Central Market satisfies those with even the pickiest palates. From prepared meals and groceries to beverages and sweets, there’s no shortage of delicious dishes at this historic eatery and gathering place, which has been in operation continuously since 1917.