We left our coastal living to spend a weekend in Downton Los Angeles. I wasn’t sure that there would be a place to shift my perception of what makes LA great, but this neighborhood has quickly become a frontrunner. A complete contrast to living life day-to-day in Leucadia, but there was something about escaping from endless beauty created by picturesque sunsets and serene beach break that made the bustle of exploring life lived as a city dweller for a quick stint that had so much appeal.
The energy found in a downtown setting is vibrant. People moving, creating and seeking to connect with each other. Passions driven by customer service, cuisine, and uniquely curated spaces. Downtown Los Angeles definitely differs from some of its larger, more sought out competitors, but without question sent me back home charged with renewed passions for the love of making art and creating.
Whether you live up the block, a short highway drive away, or on the other side of the country, downtown Los Angeles is a west coast marker that you should make a point for an appearance in. For a few hours, a day or days on end. Scroll through our 24 HOURS TO Guide for a few tips to get you started, and we’re pretty sure you’ll have no trouble adding a few more of your own.
EAT + DRINK
The Freehand Los Angeles
Imagine sinking into a space that might coax you into considering never leaving. Take a walk through the doors of The Freehand Los Angeles and settle into an array of flavors, dishes and cocktail concoctions that will send your taste buds soaring. There are tastes for everyone, inspired from places all over the world. There are thousands of solid options for amazing and interesting flavors sprinkled throughout Los Angeles, but when you have a selection that will impress purely on presentation alone, you’ll forget the desire to go too far to seek more. Start your day with a cup of joe from the lobby coffee shop, Café Integral, grab lunch next door at The Exchange Restaurant or stroll around the corner for a quick bite from the cute + casual Chicas Tacos. Drinks to launch a night of fun poured with precision at Rudolph’s Bar & Tea, a family sharing dinner with friends at The Exchange Restaurant and a nightcap with views of the city from the rooftop at The Broken Shaker. Order anything (or everything) on the menus. The only regret that you’ll have is that your belly isn’t bigger. If you need extra support selecting, check out our musts on 3 Things to Taste at The Freehand Los Angeles.
Traveling on a budget or looking for a lower key luxe vibe, The Freehand Los Angeles is a place to unpack your bag and retreat to for a Downtown Los Angeles excursion. Classy enough to make you feel like you’re treating yourself to something nice while casually making you feel like you’re visiting family at a home away from home. If you’re one for privacy or have the means to spend a little extra while getting the most bang for your buck, grab a single room or suite and make it your own. Traveling with a group or on a budget, they have options to grab your gang and book an entire shared room or bunk up with other travelers exploring the cityside of LA too. The skyline suite was just the right room for two and with a view that translated city dwelling in the best light. Check out some of our favorite shots from our STAY + grab our TRIBE code at the bottom, for our friends + family rate.
When you have everything you need under one roof + only 24 hours to pack it all in, there’s really no reason to push yourself to venture too far. Well, if we want to be technical, The Broken Shaker at The Freehand Los Angeles is getting outside. This rooftop. poolside, tiki-inspired bar presents vibes that’ll make you forget the urge to leave the hotel if you start feeling the cabin fever creeping in. Head up to the top floor and soak in some afternoon sun or end your evening with a candlelit nightcap. Strut across the street for a quick fix off-site to the tucked away cocktail lounge, The Golden Gopher where you’ll discover locals and likely your favorite bartenders and staff post-shift winding down. And if you’re up for a little lower-key evening, head over to The Cinefamily Theatre and submerge yourself into a night of interesting and unusual programs of exceptional, distinctive, weird and wonderful films.
There’s no better way to experience a city than on foot. Pounding the pavement gives you the chance to absorb the energy that a city creates and forces you to see things that the eye would easily miss by car. The in-room guide provided compliments of The Freehand Los Angeles inspired an early morning city hike with some landmarks to be sure to not miss along the way. An early AM stroll around downtown exposed us to street art, museums and a killer open-air market that’s home to some of the best mom and pop eateries you’ll find downtown. If architecture inspires you, you’ll find an array of structures with geometric appeal. If you have a few hours to kill, hideaway inside of one of the many notable museums leading the art community in Los Angeles. With contemporary being my pick of poison, check out The Broad. The external design is only an appetizer to the experience that this building holds.
Whenever enjoying the outdoors, remember to Leave No Trace.
A short drive over to Melrose Avenue will put you in the heart of some of the best thrifting you’ll find in the city. Second-hand stores and trendy boutiques can be found for blocks and are filled with guys and gals prepared to look for the best steals and deals they can find. Racks packed with vintage styles and second round goodies that will send you back to the streets feeling like a winner. Have a few hours to kill for fashion? This is a place to find some and get the best bang for your buck while making a move to expand your wardrobe and recycle someone else’s trashes into your new treasures.
BASICS BUDGET: ~$175 PER PERSON
Based on expenses for 2, including room, eats + drinks, and valet at the hotel. Gas, travel + shopping not included.
Check out our Eat + Drink and Stay guides for added bonuses on how to enhance this experience.