Walking Tour of Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California, is California’s and one of the USA’s largest cities. Weather is typically sunny and mild or hot year round. However, traffic is a perpetual problem — the freeways are a challenge to negotiate, and the main city thoroughfares are often in gridlock.
In the city, there are numerous museums for those so inclined, and there are also major attractions just outside the city center, in some of the suburbs, such as, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Pasadena. Because the city and its environs are so large and spread out, there are two walking tours recommended for the visitor.
Walk 1 – Hollywood Vicinity
This walk begins at the Farmers Market, on Fairfax Avenue at 3rd Street. This huge complex of shops and stalls has been a city staple since 1934. Save the serious browsing for later, however, after your walk.
First, head south on Fairfax Ave (across 3rd Street) to Wilshire Boulevard and turn left. There are several wonderful museums in this block, which should be visited. On your right, at the corner, is the Petersen Automotive Museum, an interesting venue which chronicles the history of the automobile. On the left is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), a fine art gallery, housed in a complex of several buildings. Further ahead, on the left, is the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, a fascinating place which offers a look at pre-historic life, in a location where many specimens were uncovered.
Now, turn left at La Brea Avenue, and then turn right, on Melrose Ave, which leads to Paramount Pictures, where you can take a Studio Tour. Then, walk north on Cower Street to Santa Monica Boulevard, where you should turn right to visit the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where numerous stars of the “silver screen” are interred.
Return to Cower Street and turn right to reach Hollywood Boulevard, and then turn left. You are now walking along what is referred to as the “Walk of Fame” – look for the sidewalk-embedded stars of your favorite entertainer as you proceed (other stars are located on Vine Street, between Yucca Street and Sunset Boulevard). You will also pass the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine, which is nothing special today, but had great significance in the early days of television. In addition, glance to the north, occasionally, to get a glimpse of the famous Hollywood Sign, up in the hills.
Sights to note as you continue to walk west on Hollywood Boulevard include, the Pantages Theatre, on your right, the Musso & Frank Grille, also on the right, and the Egyptian Theatre and Pig ‘n’ Whistle, on the left.
Further along the boulevard is the must-see attraction in this part of the city, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, with it hand- and foot-prints of over 200 notable celebrities. When you reach La Brea Avenue, turn left and walk to Beverly Boulevard. Now, turn left again, and then enter Pan-Pacific Park, which contains the very moving Los Angeles Holocaust Memorial. After the visit, continue west on Beverly Boulevard, and then turn left onto Fairfax Avenue, to return to the Farmers Market, where the walk began.
Walk 2 – Downtown
My walk begins at Los Angeles’ beginning, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, near the intersection of Main Street and Arcadia Street. This entire complex should be explored, either before or after the walk, with particular emphasis on sights, such as, Old Plaza, Old Plaza Church, and the entire length of Olvera Street.
From Olvera Street, exit the area to the east, across Alameda Street, to visit Union Station, a blend of Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture. The interior is spectacular as well, and don’t miss the murals in the East Portal Pavilion.
From the front of the station, walk straight ahead, onto Los Angeles Street, which goes west then turns south. When you reach Temple Street, turn right, then turn left on Spring Street to visit Los Angeles’ City Hall, which has starred in numerous movies over the years and is a prominent California landmark. Be sure to step inside to admire the restored interior.
Continue south on Spring Street and notice the Los Angeles Times Building, at the corner of 1st Street. Its design won an award at the Paris Exposition of 1937. Be sure to check out the elegant interior.
When you reach 3rd Street, turn left, and then left again at Broadway. At this corner is the Bradbury Building, a historic structure that dates to 1893. The interior atrium is incredibly splendid.
Slightly south and opposite side of the street is the Grand Central Market. Enter through the rear and wander among the heavenly odors and colors before exiting on the opposite side, onto Hill Street. Cross the street and take Angel’s Flight, a funicular, up the hill to the California Plaza. Kids love the Watercourt.
Emerge from the plaza on Grand Avenue, and then turn left, then right, onto 5th Street, to see one of the city’s architectural gems, the Richard J Riordan Central Library. Its tiled pyramid is a city landmark. Pay particular attention to the busts of famous literati, and be sure to read the profound inscriptions along the walls. The newer Bradley Wing is also worth a look.
Leave the library on 5th Street and walk across the street to the Library Tower, the tallest skyscraper in the city. Around its base are the Bunker Hill Steps, reminiscent of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Climb the stairs to Hope Street and look for Source Figure, at the fountain.
Walk north on Hope Street, and then turn left on 4th Street. Wander around the sculpture garden in front of the Stuart M Ketchum YMCA Building. Now, walk back to Hope Street and turn left (north). Just past the Bank of America Plaza is the Alexander Calder sculpture, Four Arches.
Cross through the Wells Fargo Center, across Hope Street, and then turn left onto Grand Avenue. Several blocks ahead, on your left, is one of architect, Frank Gehry’s innovative and unusual designs. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and a poster child of modern architecture.
To the north, just beyond 1st Street, is the Music Center, composed of three interesting and distinctive buildings. When you reach Temple Street, cross it to visit the evocative Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, only recently completes, but suggestive of earlier days in the state’s history.
After your visit, backtrack to Grand Avenue and walk a short distance south, then turn left into the Civic Center Mall, a park-like area surrounded by government buildings. Stroll through the Paseo de los Pobladores, enjoying the Arthur J Will Memorial Fountain, and other memorials and monuments along the way.
When you reach Hill Street, cross into the Court of Flags, which shows American flag designs from 1777 to today. Take the escalator down to the Civic Center Metro Station and out to Spring Street (City Hall is directly ahead). Turn left onto Spring and walk over the freeway and into the Los Angeles pueblo, where the walk began.