Downtown Los Angeles: Eat, See, and Explore – by Fiahna Cabana MPA’17

One you start grad school, time will fly by. Let me repeat: time will fly by. So, don’t miss out on an opportunity to explore what Los Angeles has to offer. On weekends, there’s always the option of spending a beach day in Santa Monica or exploring Hollywood, but there are so many great museums, cultural institutions, and restaurants to explore in Downtown LA—all within a 15 minute drive of USC (without traffic).

Aerial View of the Finanical District in Downtown Los Angeles

So, if you’re ready to take a study break and don’t know where to go, here are a few suggestions:

Eat: Smorgasburg – Every Sunday | 10am-4pm

The greatest thing about L.A. is: the food culture. Whether you like tacos, Thai food, lobster rolls, or donuts, you can find all great foods in one place: Smorgasburg. Smorgasburg is a Brooklyn-originated weekly Sunday market located on the five-acre site of the weekday Alameda Produce Market in Downtown LA. Not only will you find great food vendors, but you’ll find local businesses who sell crafts, clothes, and the gamut of random trinkets. From time to time, Smorgusburg also hosts cultural or pop-up events in their outdoor space.

It’s is a great place to spend the afternoon, enjoy the sunshine, and have lunch with friends. Quick tip: The venue provides 2-hour free parking and bike valet.

If you’re still hungry, be sure to check other great food venues like Mercado La Paloma or Grand Central Market.


See: The Broad – Open Tuesday-Sunday | Various Times

New to the Los Angeles museum community is the contemporary art museum, The Broad. The Museum is the public home for Eli and Edythe Broad’s collection of over 2,000 post-war works.

Admission to the museum is free, but you’ll need to reserve at least a month in advance.

The must-see installation is Yayoi Kasuma’s, “Infinity Mirrored Room” which brings you into a small, twinkly room for 45 seconds. Quick tip: Immediately once you enter the museum, make your reservation at the tablet (or museum staff) stationed outside of the piece, then you can wander free to the other parts of the museum until you get a text message to return.

If you’re feeling like having a museum day, the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) are right in the same area. Also, don’t miss out on the Downtown Art Walk on the 2nd Thursday of each month.


Explore: Metro Bike + Grand Park  – Metro Bikes | Available 24/7, Grand Park | 5:30am-10pm

What better way to explore your city than by bike? The Metro Bike Share system was recently added to Downtown LA and features hundreds of bikes available to you 24/5, 365 days a year. Station locations are spread throughout Downtown, but are strategically placed near other transit agencies and community resources.

To reserve a bike, you’ll need to find one of the docking areas. Once you get there and you see available bikes, you can use the touchscreen kiosk to pick and pay for a bike. You can pay for a bike with a TAP card, or for those without a TAP card, walk-up trips are $3.50 for 30 minutes ($1.75 for flex pass owners).

After an hour of biking or so, and you need a place to rest, relax, and embrace community, check out Grand Park. Each month the park hosts community events, cultural experiences, and even holiday celebrations. For certain events, there are even food trucks and other food vendors in the area. In the summer, the park hosts Sunday Sessions, a free music festival with LA’s best DJ’s. In the winter, Grand Park comes alive with holiday decor.

Be sure to check out their events calendar, here.


More Fun & Games: Joymode

Finally, if you’re looking for fun things to do like host a backyard movie night, go camping, throw a thanksgiving feast, and don’t necessarily want to invest in the equipment needed for those activities, I would highly recommend reserving “experiences” through Joymode. Joymode is a local downtown LA startup with a Willy Wonka-esqe warehouse full of giant games, activities, and outdoor supplies. Think: giant jenga, giant connect four, a popcorn machine, and more.

Let’s keep this list going! What are your favorite places to eat, see, explore in Downtown Los Angeles?


Fiahna Cabana

MPA c/o 2017