About time, right?! I know, I have been seriously lagging…again. But in my defense, I am just getting over a slight cold and recently just started a new job! So I’ve been a bit preoccupied and haven’t even thought about writing. But this post is long over-due. With the baby currently napping, I figure why not take advantage of the quiet time.
So a few weeks ago I celebrated my birthday with a lovely brunch at Winsome. While the brunch itself was a great way to spend my birthday, we were so close to Downtown I figured why not take the rest of the day and explore. Something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time now.
But let’s backtrack a bit. Obviously, the second we made reservations at Winsome I started writing down all the things I have been dying to see in DTLA. At the top of my list was The Last Bookstore followed by City Hall, LA’s Central Library, Union Station, Spring Arcade, and the Bradbury Building. Then in the middle of planning my BFF and I started talking about all things haunted. Yes, we’re weird like that. So we decided to add a few infamous spots on our little tour like the Cecil (now known as Stay on Main) and Biltmore Hotel. While planning in advance all the spots we wanted to visit was a great idea, looking back I really didn’t think of the logistics of getting everywhere. I figured we’d park and just walk. I mean, it’s downtown everything is pretty close together. But not everyone shared the same sentiments as me, especially with the drizzly weather we experienced that day. So although not everything on my list was checked off, we still had a great time wandering around and I actually saw a few things I didn’t expect to see. Now I’m getting a little ahead of myself…okay, back to where I left off.
Once we finished with lunch, we all jumped in the car and headed for Spring Street. For us, this was the perfect place to park because not only did we find super cheap parking (only $5 for the entire day!) but a few of the places I wanted to visit were located nearby. So after securing parking, we started our trek towards The Last Bookstore. Luckily along the way I was able to see the Spring Arcade, which to be honest, wasn’t that great. I was expecting a Europeanesque shopping area and I was severely disappointed. While there were a few little cafes and a doughnut shop, that was pretty much it. The place has potential but it has not quite met it yet. So after a very quick walk-thru, we continued and stumbled upon a Farmer’s Market which led us directly to the entrance of the bookstore.
Let me start by saying that if you have not visited The Last Bookstore, go right now! It is really all that it is hyped up to be. We spent a good hour in there just wandering around and perusing through all the books they had. Oh, and the art! From the huge wall gallery to the Spring Arts Collective shops, and the imaginative book display installations The Last Bookstore is a tiny wonder. If it wasn’t a busy Sunday I could have spent an entire day in there.
After we had our fill of books, we headed straight to the Ace Hotel to grab a much-needed cocktail. A very trendy and popular spot amongst young Hollywood, the Ace opened in the historic United Artists building in 2004. With an eclectic style which combines both old and new LA, the Ace has been an integral part of the Downtown renaissance.
With several dining options within the hotel itself, we decided to keep it casual and opted for the L.A. Chapter. Which is located just off the Ace’s lobby. A great spot for brunch or just a drink, the Chapter offers anything from Ricotta Pancakes to Crispy Duck Breast. But considering we just ate, we stuck to ordering some finely crafted cocktails. After a drink, or two, we decided to continue our day of exploration by heading to the haunted Stay on Main hotel (a.k.a. the Cecil).
Now, this was one of the top spots on our most haunted list. Known for its strange events, murder, suicides, and even the home to both Elizabeth Short (the Black Dahlia) and serial killer Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker), the Cecil is easily one of the most haunted places in all of Downtown. It is also said to have inspired the series American Horror Story: Hotel. While I wish I could share with you an eerie experience or just the overall feel of the hotel, unfortunately, we were meet with locked doors and a sign that read CLOSED. That’s right, one of the more exciting places we planned to visit was closed and not just for the day, indefinitely! How could we have not known that?? Although we were severely disappointed, we did find out later that the Cecil was recently declared a historical-cultural monument and is currently undergoing some serious restoration. Luckily, the hotel will at some point welcome guests again and I, in the meantime, will just have to wait for my ghostly experience.
After our little mishap at the Cecil, we decided to walk to the Grand Central Market; a go-to when in Downtown. With a lively and bustling atmosphere, the Grand Central Market has housed both food and grocery vendors for 100 years. While the more popular food spots include Egg Slut and McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, all the vendors are equally delicious. We settled on a pupusa from Sarita’s Pupuseria and pizza made by Olio GCM Wood Fired Pizzeria. It turned out to be the perfect snack as we walked around the market and even snuck outside to get a glimpse of Angel’s Flight, located on Hill Street. Having had our fill of treats, we headed just across the street over to the Bradbury building for our last stop of the day.
A historic landmark that is nearly 124 years old, the Bradbury building is the oldest commercial building in Downtown Los Angeles. More of a sight to behold than an actual activity, the building is an architectural splendor found nowhere else in L.A. With light pouring through a glass ceiling highlighting the unique Victoria ironwork and open caged elevators, visiting the Bradbury is like stepping back into the late 19th century. Even though the building is mostly off limits to sightseers, the view from the lobby is still stunning nonetheless. And with it being in such close proximity to the Grand Central Market, it is something worth taking the time to see.
And that is it, my little venture in Downtown L.A. Clearly we did not get to see half the places I wanted, but we had tons of fun regardless. I highly suggest taking a day to discover Downtown if you are not familiar with the area. You’ll be surprised by how much you will learn and see when you’re there.