Los Angeles was once called “72 suburbs in search of a city.” But modern-day downtown LA is giving the cluster of neighborhoods a true center, a focal point filled with activities, fine dining, and numerous staycation possibilities. In fact, many of the newest attractions in Los Angeles take place in the downtown sector—enough of them to plan a whole day and night out among the city’s brightest lights.
Even from the street, The Broad is a work of art. The museum’s exterior, with its geometric honeycomb-like pattern, stands in contrast to the smooth exteriors thought to be standard in downtown districts. Inside, the building houses more than 2,000 works, including the very popular Infinity Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama, and operates under a free ticketing system that allows access for all. (If you don’t have a ticket in advance, don’t fret, but bring your patience; waits can stretch for up to two hours on busy weekends and holidays.)
If The Broad is one of the most popular new attractions in Los Angeles, the biggest restaurant debut might be right next door, as chef Timothy Hollingsworth presents Otium. Taking the farm-to-table concept one step further, Hollingsworth uses ingredients gathered from a rooftop garden to accent a simple, almost rustic menu. Arrive at the right time, and you can grab a table near the big bay windows and take in the reflection of the sun glistening off of the buildings of downtown LA’s Bunker Hill neighborhood.
Walking into Clifton’s Cafeteria, diners and revelers alike are faced with a taxidermied lion, a fake redwood tree, and faux rock formations along the walls, jutting into the dining spaces. The revival of the 1930s establishment has maintained much of the decor, while updating some of the offerings: Clifton’s famous jello is still served, but it also has three mixologist-friendly bars (a fourth, in the basement, is scheduled to open in 2016). Bypass the cafeteria line and head upstairs to the Gothic Bar on the third level for interesting concoctions whipped up in front of a portrait of a crow and behind an altar.
For fun under one roof, it’s tough to imagine a better place to stay than the Ace Hotel. The downtown LA outpost of the hip lodging chain, the Ace features a rooftop bar (appropriately named Upstairs), with scenic views of downtown Los Angeles and live entertainment, and one of the area’s busiest new restaurants, L.A. Chapter. But the highlight of the hotel has to be the Theatre at Ace Hotel, formerly one of Broadway’s movie palaces, which now hosts concerts, film screenings, and other events that attract the city’s artists and dreamers on a regular basis.