Touring Downtown Los Angeles with Kids

walking tour of dtla

On New Year’s Eve, we took the kids on a self-guided walking tour of Downtown Los Angeles. We had relatives from out of town and we decided to meet up in LA for some family fun time. It had been years since I walked around LA. Personally, I never walked around DTLA, as locals refer to it, I went to specific spots, like museums, and didn’t stray from my course. It’s definitely changed since I was a lot younger.

Our first stop was breakfast. We went to Grand Central Market. Hubby and I saw a new television show, Food Porn, and the first segment was on a restaurant that had enormous social media power, Eggslut. As we waited in line, and you would be lucky if you waited less than 30 minutes to order your food, we got the kids a hot chocolate from Valerie. Big B was cold and the hot chocolate was such a welcome warm treat. It was delicious.

grand central market

valerie confectioners neon sign

From Eggslut, we ordered the Fairfax, The Slut, and a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. (Restaurant feature coming soon.) Oh. My. Goodness. Everything we tasted was heaven. The wait was worth it. I would seriously consider leaving Orange County early enough in the morning just to have breakfast at Eggslut. It was that good.

eggslut the slut

After breakfast, we stopped by Angels Flight®. We were hoping to ride the funicular railway. Unfortunately, due to regulatory issues, the railway is closed temporarily. According to the website, the funicular dates back to 1901. The short railway ferried passengers between two streets to avoid walking up a steep hill. Hopefully, the railway will open soon. Though short, the ride is quite an LA experience.

angels flight funicular railway

Our next stop was the Bradbury Building. Although DTLA is replete with buildings with a range of architecture, the interior of the Bradbury Building is quite unique. It’s the oldest commercial building left in the heart of the city. Businesses are still run in the building, however, visitors are not allowed to go beyond a certain point.

outside architecture bradbury building

Upon walking inside, I felt like I went back in time. Natural lighting showcased the intricate cast iron staircase and elevators. The kids couldn’t believe that people used to ride in open cage elevators back in the day. And yes, the two elevators still work.

bradbury building cast iron elevator

bradbury building stairs

Along the way, pedestrians can take the time to gaze and appreciate street art. I had to explain to Big B the difference between graffiti and street art. I’m not sure he quite understood the difference, but the mural below is definitely in the class of art.

los angeles street art

We then headed to Grand Park. Nestled among several civic buildings, the Grand Park is a stretch of several lawns and a water feature where the community gather throughout the year for leisure and events. While the kids played at the play area, some of the grown ups headed towards the Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain. The fountain is a memorial for the former LA County chief administrative officer. I was glad that the kids stayed behind because if they saw this water feature, they would have started to run around in it. It’s a very popular place for kids during the summer to play in.

Arthur J Will Memorial Fountain

My sister insisted that we stop by The Last Bookstore. I love books, but I never would have stopped at a bookstore while touring DTLA unless I wanted to buy a book. This bookstore blew me away. It was beyond cool. It’s more than just a bookstore, it’s also an art gallery and marketplace (second floor). Apparently, events are held there. I could understand why. It’s got an intimate artsy vibe to it.

the last bookstore

There are several book structures all over the store. One of my favorites was the book tunnel. If you visit the store’s Instagram account, you will see it as one of the most photographed structures. I’m sure you can understand why.

the last book store book tunnel

These two sculptures were in a corner on the second floor of the Labyrinth, right before the entrance to the gallery. They were just there, standing pretty, waiting for admirers to stop by. We did eventually buy books before leaving. My sister loves to spoil her nephews and bought them a Star Wars book and trading cards. I take no issue with enabling my family to spoil my children, especially if it’s Star Wars related.

the last bookstore art

After the bookstore, we headed for the Central Library. I had not been to the Central Library in almost 15 years. It’s still as glorious as I remember it. We went to the children’s section to visit with hubby’s friend who works there.

dtla street level

Do you remember these? The card catalogs? The library catalog is online today, of course, but these lined one wall in the atrium near the entrance to the children’s section. Hubby actually took Big B to the library years ago for a PBS event. He met Steve Songs! We will be back to this library soon. There is so much to explore that we didn’t get a chance to see during this tour.

central library

Before heading back home, we went back to Grand Central Market for a late lunch. As per my sister’s recommendation, we got pupusas at Sarita’s. They were delicious. The first time I had Salvadorean pupusa was in San Diego; it quickly became my standard. The pupusas at Sarita’s came very close to my favorite ones. Of course, I had to have fried plantains too.

saritas pupusa

saritas fried plantains

This tour was as enjoyable for the kids as it was for me. Everywhere we went was kid-friendly and piqued the kids’ interest. Although we didn’t plan our tour beforehand, stopping at the play area in Grand Park in the middle of the tour helped revitalize them a bit. Also, buying them a little “souvenir” at the bookstore was a good idea. I think going during the holidays was perfect since the streets weren’t so busy; at least not as busy as I’ve seen the streets of LA to be.

If you plan on visiting DTLA, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Unless you know for sure you will only spend less than two hours in one place, skip the meter and get day parking. You just never know how long you will stay exploring.
  • Stop at Grand Central Market. Although there are so many noteworthy eateries all over Downtown Los Angeles, there you will find a concentration of different cuisines in just one place.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. There are hills, though not quite as ubiquitous as in San Francisco, but some are a good incline.
  • Bring a stroller for little ones. I clocked over 10,000 steps on my FitBit on this tour. I can only imagine how easily little feet would tire after walking so much.

Have you ever walked around DTLA? What are some of your favorite spots to visit?


    • Romina says:

      It was, Mary. I felt like a total tourist in my own backyard (speaking as a former LA resident). I loved it. There’s so much that LA has to offer. I would visit more often, but oh the traffic!

    • Romina says:

      Oh it was amazing. The boys (7 and 3) enjoyed it very much. I’m sure it was partly the company, but they also had a good time tasting the flavors LA has to offer as well as the sights.

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