Since our first experience going downtown wasn’t so great, I wanted to take another crack at it so we explored the area early on a Saturday and a Sunday. “Downtown” LA is sort of hard to define and our explorations weren’t the strictest interpretations but all the things we did over the two days were grouped pretty close together geographically.
The first thing I wanted o try was the flower district. We went first thing in the morning and although this is a pretty sketchy part of town (with many homeless in the area) the district was hopping with tons of people in and out and once you got into the warehouses it was everything I hoped for. So many flowers, truly an explosion of colors and smells and all reasonably priced.
That day we also went to Canter’s deli for lunch which was VERY cool. This famous Jewish deli has been in business since the 1931 and at one time was the place where lots of important deals happened. The neighborhood has changed, with many of the nice houses being broken up into multiple apartments, but the deli and a synagogue are still there and it’s obviously still a jewish neighborhood to some extent. I was excited about trying the matzo ball soup, with the broth being amazing but the ball being on the large side for me. Lee also loved his sandwich and the pickles were delicious.
One thing I have learned about visiting LA is it has a cumulative effect on me. Lee and I have come to an understanding that its ok for me to say I’ve done enough for one day and that’s the end. Almost everywhere we go is very crowded and can be an assault on the senses. Our exploring is supposed to be fun, so I am starting to say out loud when I’ve had enough. That’s why we broke this exploring into two days and on Sunday we went back to downtown to finish our list.
The first thing we did was visit Olvera street which is the oldest street in LA. You forget that Los Angeles was part of Mexico and the town square are was the center of the town. It’s been largely closed off but there is a beautiful church and services were actively happening. The square area has restaurants and vendors and the park celebrates the Mexican culture.
After researching I learned that a statue of a priest (Father Serra) was toppled during the George Floyd protests by native Americans and the park as ultimately renamed and other controversial plaques were removed. There was no sign of that the day we were there though and the park along with the surrounding area was very nice. There are many old buildings still standing in this area including the first fire stations which is free to go into and has some great old fire equipment.
Best of all it is across the street is Union Station and we walked across and checked out the cool art deco design.
We were getting hungry and looking for someplace to eat and Lee suggested I choose from my restaurant list. Ultimately I decided on Redbird which is owned by Neal Fraser. They had a brunch menu and we were able to sit out the counter in an atrium styled area. Lunch was so-so…Lee loved his but I felt my short ribs although flavorful were tough. Worst of all the seats we were in were super uncomfortable. Never trade comfort for style, although this is LA and is it had a slogan that might be it 🙂
I was close to being done after lunch but Lee asked if I would walk down to the Last Bookstore. Despite the kind of long walk, I am so glad I did. We have been to used bookstores all over the country but this one is really special. The selection was awesome and the prices were incredibly reasonable, especially for downtown LA. Also the decorations on multiple floors were super cool where books were used to create all kinds of neat phot opportunity area. I also loved how the books were grouped and although it was somewhat crowded upstairs and the check out line was way to long, I found several books to take home with me. Definitely worth a visit if you are in downtown LA.
I was definitely done in after the weekend, but so glad we had some positive experiences and checked some stuff our list. Downtown isn’t a place I would want to hang out all of the time, but it was cool to visit and see the architecture and other places. Trying to get caught up on all the blog posts before I go to India. I think I have one more then will have more when I get back. Also Lee is out of town so if there are any grammar errors that’s all on me 🙂
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The bookstore looked wonderful. I loved seeing Olvera Street. We would go there for field trips when I grew up in Azusa, and at the time, it seemed like a completely different world. Growing up in Azusa I had no idea that I was really growing up in LA. Greater LA actually. Love seeing your posts about the area.