For many, downtown LA is a drive-by affair. But explore this architecturally spectacular area by foot, and it becomes an affair to remember. Take on the sidewalks of downtown’s Bunker Hill for a mile-and-a-half urban walk, starting at the massive and modern Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
. Check out the whimsical sculpture garden (comprised of animals and a beehive) before taking sanctuary in the marble-and-wood cathedral sunlit through magnificent alabaster windows. Afterward, head for the shapely shimmering silver beacon on the horizon: Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall
is filled with crazy-cool angles to check out even if you’re not heading inside. Just a hop away at the Museum of Contemporary Art
, take a peek at Nancy Rubins’ gravity-defying conglomeration of used airplane parts in the courtyard. This is a good spot to rest up before climbing the marked stairway to Angels Knoll off Hill Street. You may remember this hilltop arrangement of tree-shaded, city-gazing benches from 500 Days of Summer
. From here, a ride on the historical Angels Flight funicular railway (pictured) gives you just the boost you need. Pay 25 cents to ride a rail car back to street level, cut through the food stalls at Grand Central Market
(the pupusas at Sarita’s are delicious) then duck into the Bradbury Building
off Broadway. The 1893 Italian Renaissance Revival stunner is perfectly preserved, with cast-iron stairways and a glass ceiling that have landed it countless movie cameos. Walk back to your car along Broadway with a fresh perspective on city icons you thought you knew so well. Downtown, delivered.
BONUS: Stop for a killer sandwich made from locally grown ingredients—A Sandwich Study of Heat and Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi are perennial favorites—at Mendocino Farms in the California Plaza between MOCA and Angels Knoll. Grab an outdoor table in the central Watercourt to soak up some rays.
Park on Hill St. just north of Temple St.; two-hour metered parking is $3/hr. Round the corner at Temple to enter the cathedral at the gate (open 9–6 Sat. and 7–6 Sun.) Leaving the cathedral, head south on Grand Ave., hitting the Disney Concert Hall and MOCA along the way, then turn left on 4th St. Another left onto Hill St. leads you to Angels Knoll, open 9–5. Directly across Hill from Angels Knoll and the funicular is Grand Central Market, open 9–5 Sat–Sun. Head through the market to Broadway and across the street to the Bradbury Building on the southeast corner of Broadway and 3rd St. Circle back to the starting point via Broadway (north) to Temple. The 1.5-mile route is dog-friendly if you stay outdoors.