Downtown Los Angeles
Why you should go now: A renaissance over the last decade has brought trendsetting restaurants, beer bars, swank lounges, hotels, retail and more throughout all of the Downtown zone, including the Arts, Historic and Fashion Districts; Little Tokyo; Chinatown; and South Park near L.A. Live and the Nokia Theatre.
Where to eat and drink: Bestia, Alma, The Factory Kitchen, Rivera, Q Sushi, and Josef Centeno’s three restaurants, Baco Mercat, Bar Ama and Orsa & Winston, are all tops on the scene. Don’t miss historic Grand Central Market, which has recently been renovated and features new stalls like G&B Coffee, Egglsut for messy egg sandwiches, Belcampo Meat Co. butcher and lunch counter, Olio Pizzeria, Wexler’s Deli and DTLA Cheese. Cedd Moses and his 213 Nightlife rules the cocktail scene with Seven Grand, Cole’s and Honeycut - which also has a disco - among others.
Where to stay: The new Ace Hotel took over the 1927 United Artists building and theater in the Fashion District, adding 182 boho-chic rooms, a restaurant (LA Chapter) and rooftop bar and lounge (Upstairs). (Rooms range $161-$459 per night.) One of the first boutique hotels in the area, The Standard, is still a draw (rooms from $187 a night). And the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton anchor the L.A. Live complex, near the convention center (from $339 and $459, respectively).
While you’re there: The cultural hub of LA is Downtown, including the Frank Gehry landmark Disney Concert Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Museum of Contemporary Art. There’s always something happening in Grand Park, a new 12-acre park that spans four blocks in the civic center, including farmer's markets, yoga, live music and more. Get lost in one of the best bookstores on the planet, The Last Bookstore, a two-story labyrinth of books, art and curiosities.
Insider tip: Yes, there is actually worthy public transportation in LA. Union Station is the hub for all Metro Lines, which shoot in from all directions. The Red Line has stops throughout Downtown and the Gold Line hits Little Tokyo and Chinatown. -Lesley Balla