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Sept. 22-24, 2011

LA Convention Center
1201 S Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

 

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Downtown Los Angeles on a Budget

Lots of fun for little cash in the central business district

California African American Museum

California African American Museum (CAAM) in downtown LA. — John Paul "Boomer" Iacoangelo/LA INC

Los Angeles may be well known for its glitz and glamour, but that doesn't mean visitors can't have a fantastic time while keeping an eye on the wallet, especially if you're looking to explore downtown. Museums, architecture, ethnic foods and even sports can be had in or near downtown on the cheap, and the year-round good weather makes a stroll through many of the downtown streets an enjoyable one. Here are a few activities worth checking out:

Expressionist Period

If you're looking to mix in a little art with your entertainment while getting a good piece of the local vibe and enjoying LA's legendarily good weather in the process, there are a handful of great monthly art walks throughout the region, and none better than the Downtown Art Walk. Held the second Thursday of every month, the Downtown Art Walk features some of the city's best art, with fashion, architecture, spoken word, and wine and cheese all mixed in.

More Works of Art

LA also has dozens of fantastic museums that either offer senior discounts or free admission altogether, making it easy to mix in some higher culture with your entertainment, and a few of them are near or in downtown. In Exposition Park, the California African American Museum contains exhibitions that celebrate African-American culture and its contributions to society, and admission is free. Nearby, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County protects over 35 million specimens, dating back 4.5 billion years. Adult admission is $9, or $6.50 for those over 62. Better yet, open-air and free Olvera Street in downtown gives visitors a living, breathing take on the arts and culture that shaped early Los Angeles. Finally, the Bradbury Building near Third Street and Broadway isn't a museum, per se, but the 1893-built office building, complete with its wrought-iron work and light-filled atrium, is truly a work of art, and worth a visit.

Go East

Other LA areas may be hotbeds for Korean, Jewish, Ethiopian and Thai culture, among other groups of people, but downtown provides easy access to both Chinatown and Little Tokyo. Little Tokyo was declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1995 for its quaint pedestrian streets and a charming collection of shops and restaurants. And Chinatown, the first of its type to be established in the U.S., provides an experience that's both uniquely urban and spiritual.

Green Grub

LA gets fantastic year-round produce, and the region offers a ton of street-held Farmers Markets that give visitors a truly local taste of the area's neighborhoods and shopping districts, especially on the weekends, and those neighborhoods include downtown. The Seventh and Figueroa Certified Farmers' Market takes place every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. And if you're real ambitious about your food, Grand Central Market at the bottom of Bunker Hill has more than three dozen vendors ranging from Mexican, Chinese and Hawaiian BBQ restaurants to produce suppliers. The Market has been a wealth of activity for gourmets and gourmands alike since 1917.

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