12 hours in the Los Angeles Downtown…

12 hours in the Los Angeles Downtown…

What to do for 12 hours in Los Angeles, California without a car. Take a walk in the Hollywood, Los Angeles Downtown, and Little Tokyo.


Hollywood 1I have been to La La Land more than I could remember… Yeah, I went to the Disney world, I went to the Six Flags Magic Mountains – but I have spent like 12 hours in the downtown of Los Angeles so far. Let’s rewind… I have been to LAX (The Airport) more than I could remember, but I have never come around to see the city. Until one time I came back from Mexico one day early, I had a 12-hour window to take a quick spin in the downtown of Los Angeles by metro…

Tom Bradley Airport, Los Angeles, USA
Travel back in time again – its Friday Night 9pm @ Tom Bradley!

 The Three Things to See in Hollywood

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Being the world’s capital of movie and entertainment, the word “Hollywood” represents glamor and sparkle. The neighborhood was depicted as a luxurious dreamland where fabulous and trendy movie stars or TV personalities just “hang out” and “live” and wave hello at each other…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASadly, in reality, it was very unlikely that a down-to-earth (or even below-the-earth) “ant citizens” (like me) run into a Hollywood A-listers such as Tom Brady … or Jennifer Lawrence, just so happens that they are picking bananas at a grocery store, or sipping double espresso at a road-side Café, reading the people. No Way. Yet, I could still strut my way down the sunny and wide Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard just like an average person, and enjoy the few famous attractions that the area had in store.

Hollywood is a celebration of “crazy” people’s dreams and fantasies of creating out-of-the-box-movies, TV Shows, and so much more live performances. After all, all the creativeness happen in the studios, where it is not exactly located on both sides of the Hollywood Boulevard, the streets are a tourist and shopping districts that had (in my taste became too commercial and “forced”. In the end, the neighborhood attracted millions of tourists each year, and I was one of them.

Hollywood is a huge neighborhood, and I supposed the most robust and bustle area should be within the Hollywood Boulevard between the two subway stations “Hollywood/Highland” and “Hollywood/Vine.”

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Dolby Theatre

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The theater (formerly called the Kodak Theatre) is right outside the Hollywood/Highland” subway stations, and it is where the touring office is. I reckon it is a good starting point to explore the Hollywood area.

The Dolby Theatre has been the (with the capital “T”) venue for the Oscar Academy Award ceremony since 2002. Inside the theater, the name of the best pictures is listed on every pillar of the structure. Although there are a bunch of best “movies” that I don’t agree with (Among with a big bunch of others – some movies just won without any logical understanding…), in the end, it’s simply the “best” that matters. Because only the best would be the name that stays in the hall of fame forever, not the nominees!

At the corner of the crossroad, there was a time capsule on the ground that says “This is where it all begins” – marking the location of the first eight stars that installed in the Hollywood Walk of Fame since 1958.

Walk of Fame

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Technically the Walk of Fame is merely a line of five-pointed terrazzo on the sidewalk on the boulevard, yet it represents a tremendous honor to be able to be listed with their accomplishment and achievements in the entertainment industry. Now the entire Walk of Fame has over 2500 stars – which means even you have got your name on the road; you could be drowning and overwhelmed by some stars, and it could be confusing for fans to locate your name!

I’d say the walk on the Walk of Fame would be much more interesting and meaningful if visitors could do some preparations and research beforehand, or actually, join an excellent local tour that guides visitors through the road, providing funny stories and history of the environment. Because I felt (and obvious) that the area filled with stories and Hollywood – even fun facts or trivia, like, “who is the only artist on earth to receive a star on the Walk of Fame with all FIVE categories?” / “Which family has the biggest collection of stars?”

Weirdly, there are a bunch of fictional characters on the road – too!

Hollywood Sign

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The Hollywood could be seen everywhere as it stood on the almost 500-meter high peak of the Hollywood Hills (in Santa Monica), and each character is actually 14 meters tall. It is a world-recognized landmark, and I think it is as iconic as Eiffel Tower, Tower Bridge, or Statue of Liberty. It is interesting though as much of a landmark it is, unlike the others it does not very “welcome” large groups of visitors come close to the signs based on the reasons of quietness to the residents and traffic safety.

Driving and Hiking to the sign is possible. (But the best view of the sign is always from afar) 🙂


On the way back to LAX I had a quick stop at the Civic Center / Grand Park Metro Station, and it’s the downtown area of Los Angeles. The city hall was in view once I stepped out of the exit in the Grand Park and it’s the finest example of American city architecture.

Then I walked my way to the Union Station and Little Tokyo. The Union Station is a time capsule of which the retro interior has been featured in more than 30 big-budget movies like Pearl Harbor.

Buddhist temples, Asian restaurants, galleries, and museums, were found in “J-town,” little Tokyo. There were some great Japanese comic and animation stores, and I heard that the California roll was invented right here in Little Tokyo! Across the road, the Japanese American National Museum featured a Hello Kitty art exhibition with lots of Hello Kitty limited edition products.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the other end of Grand Avenue was the Walt Disney Music Hall, a modern architectural wonder that stood in front of the skyscrapers in the Downtown area. It’s a famous concert hall made with stainless steel and home to the Los Angeles harmonica orchestra.

So next time, I am renting a car.



16 thoughts on“12 hours in the Los Angeles Downtown…

  1. Gosh, 12 hours? Too bad you time was limited. I lived there 1969-1975 and I can honestly say it would be hard to find a more diversified and opportunity for adventure city anywhere. Oh well, you are a traveller and I expect another visit may be in you future.

    1. Yes I know it’s insane! The irony is I stop over LAX so many times for the last 7 years… I only spent 12 hours stepping outside LAX. :S

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