Downtown: EncinoMom’s Things To Do In Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles – Things To Do

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So many things have changed since we lived at 7th and Spring in a loft more than 20 years ago. There are a lot more things to do in downtown Los Angeles and there is a life on the streets that was merely a developer’s dream two decades ago. Here are some of the things we discovered recently on a trip down memory lane:

The Last Bookstore

453 S. SPRING ST, GROUND FLOOR

Books arranged by spine color, photo by Lisa Keating for Downtown Los Angeles Things To Do.

DOWNTOWN LA  |  213.488.0599
MON-THURS: 10A-10P
FRI-SAT: 10A-11P
SUN: 10A-6P

This mecca for used books is worth the trek downtown to explore the 2 floors and some 8,000 square feet of book shelves to wander. Upstairs is appropriately called the Labyrinth where thousands of paperbacks are arranged on shelves by their spine color, and artists have indulged their Steam Punk fantasies unwinding the natural order of books, by title, topic or author. Let your imagination take you down the rabbit hole as you browse through the volumes turned to art and architecture.

Take the Metro to Pershing Square. Walk East to Spring Street. Turn left (North), the Last Bookstore will be on the left side of the street.

Image of Destroyer/Creator by fine artist, Osvaldo Trujillo.CB1 Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located in historic downtown Los Angeles. We caught up with Gallery Director, Clyde Beswick who welcomed us and happily shared his enthusiasm for the scene downtown. Stop by the gallery for exhibits of younger artists and mid-career artists.

Gallery hours:
Wed – Sat, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sun, 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm (yes, there’s actually someone there on Sundays) or by appointment.

For more information contact Clyde Beswick, Gallery Director, at 213-806-7889 or clyde@cb1gallery.com

The gallery is directly next door to the 5th Street entrance to The Last Bookstore:
207 W. 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Parklets

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The good vibes continue down Spring Street where a series of Public Parklets have taken over parking spaces with boxed gardens, seating and recreational equipment. They are such a refreshing change from the urban blight that plagued the area “back in the day.”

The Parklets are truly a bright spot, welcoming community members of all ages and encouraging them to stop and socialize. Even children feel included in a landscape that formerly frightened families. The Parklets are located down Spring Street from The Last Bookstore – walk a block or two south toward 7th Street. There’s a new park on the other side of the street, as well, but we were there the day before the opening.

 

 

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Cole’s (with The Varnish hidden inside)

Cole's Neon Sign - photo from their website.

Cole’s is a short walk east of Spring on 6th Street. Said to be the originator of the French Dip sandwich (a distinction also claimed by Phillipe’s, another Los Angeles eatery). I can’t shed any light here, not having been around in 1908 or 1918 when the event was said to have occurred. I thought the French Dip was invented by Lyon’s Restaurant (not really), but that’s the first place I ever had one. I prefer Cole’s version to Phillipe’s, in case you care. I invite you to try them both and let us know what YOU think.

If you wander in, after dark – or at least 7 pm, you can gain entry to the tony watering hole known as The Varnish, hidden away in a back room. Photo is from their website: http://213nightlife.com/colesfrenchdip

118 EAST 6TH STREET

Pershing Square

View of the stage at dusk in Pershing Square.

If you happen downtown on a Saturday night, this summer, you’ll be treated to a free concert in the park. You can bring a picnic blanket or some folding chairs and there are food and beverage items for sale. The crowd lined up to see the Psychedelic Furs, a few weeks back, was very polite and an opening act assured that the audience were all in place before the main attraction took the stage.

Across the street from The Millennium Biltmore Hotel between 5th and 6th Streets, Pershing Square offers a variety of programs and notably hosts an outdoor ice skating rink in the winter.

Pete’s Cafe | Downtown Los Angeles

Pete's Cafe Bleu Cheese Fries

After the concert walk up to Fourth Street and head east, a couple of blocks to Main Street where you’ll find Pete’s Cafe. The Blue Cheese Fries are out of this world. If you like bleu cheese, and I do, you will end up craving these. Especially good with a Dirty Martini (gin). This suggestion is child tolerant, but not exactly child friendly. End your evening with a walk back to Pershing Square to catch the Metro home. You’ll feel like you live in the big city. Oh, yeah, you kinda do! www.petescafe.com/

400 S Main St  Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 617-1000

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Comments

Downtown: EncinoMom’s Things To Do In Los Angeles — 9 Comments

  1. A recent personal favorite of mine is the Nickel Diner at 524 S. Main. Their maple bacon donut . . . well, need I say more? OK, I think I must! Their catfish with corn cakes and pecan sauce was inspired. I would arrive on the early side for dinner or breakfast. They don’t take reservations, and there almost certainly will be a line at the door at “prime time.”
    • Sounds amazing! I should add it to my list for my visit to The Varnish. Last time, I was too early. They don’t open until 7:30 (website says 7pm).

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