There's much to see Downtown, much of it an easy walk or DASH
ride (special buses that offer 25 cent rides) away.
The Old West lives again at the Wells Fargo History Center. The
exhibits include an authentic Wells Fargo stagecoach for ogling, a replica
for climbing into (it jiggles like the real ones did), 19th century firearms
collection and a 2 1/2 pound gold nugget (more ogling). The Plaza at Wells
Fargo Center, 333 S. Grand Ave.; 213 253-7166; www.wellsfargohistory.com.
Open Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Street for a sense of Los Angeles' early days, when it was an outpost
of Spain, explore El Pueblo de los Angeles Historic Monument, a cluster
of the city's oldest structures plus the restored central park (zocalo)
with a gazebo and plenty of running room. Olvera Street is at the north
end -- with its old-fashioned candy stalls, souvenirs galore, yummy hot
churros and a glassmaker at work making the most intricate sculpture right
before your eyes. It's definitely family-worthy. Watch YOUR tortillas
being made behind the counter at La Luz del Dia cafe or sit down for a
leisurely meal at one of the mid-block patio restaurants where mariachis
often stroll by. Also mid-block, the historic Avila Adobe, the oldest
house in Los Angeles, is open to visitors. 845 N. Alameda St.; 213 680-2525.
Docent-led tours of El Pueblo: Tues-Sat 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Olvera Street open
daily 10 a.m.-7 p.m. with many shops and restaurants open later. www.olvera-street.com.
Grand Central Market. L.A.'s oldest and largest open-air market
opened in 1917 and is still an intriguing adventure. Wander the aisles
and you'll find exotic produce, seafood and meats, fragrant herbs -- great
fun even if you don't buy. Several lunch counters are sprinkled throughout.
Be on the lookout for one that promises L.A.'s biggest burritos. 317 S.
Broadway; 213 624-2378; www.grandcentralsquare.com. Open daily 9-6.
Japanese American National Museum. A visit to historic Little
Tokyo, along First Street, might start with an exploration of the Japanese
American National Museum where the ongoing exhibit "Common Ground:
The Heart of Community," features objects, documents and photos that
detail 130 years of Japanese American life in the U.S. Then head for one
of the many restaurants for a great meal of tempura, sushi or noodles.
JANM, 369 E. First St.,; 213 625-0414; www.janm.org. Open Tues - Sun 10-5,
Thurs 10-8 (free after 5 on Thursdays).
L.A. Dodgers. That glow in the sky on summer evenings just north
of Downtown? That would be Dodger Stadium with the Boys in Blue playing
a night game. Night game. Day game. You can't miss having an old-fashioned
fun time watching the Dodgers in their 42nd season in L.A. And when you
hear fans in the stands talking about Dodger Dogs, it's not a comment
on their team's playing but a reference to the famous, succulent hot dogs
sold at the snack stands -- a must. Call for home game tickets: 323 224-1-HIT;
California Science Center. Just south of Downtown in historic
Exposition Park the big summer show (through Sept. 1) at the California
Science Center is "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit." You'll see
over 250 items rescued from the ocean floor including 15-ton piece of
the hull. The permanent exhibits of this dazzling monument to all things
scientific explore how everything works from engines to bodies -- and
the interactive exhibits are so clever and inviting, there's nary a textbook
vibe in the place. Save time for the Air and Space Gallery (helicopters,
planes and gliders to climb into plus a motion-based simulator) and the
IMAX Theater (a seven-story screen, the largest in L.A.) -- also part
of this complex. 700 State Dr., 213 744-7400; wwwcasciencectr.org. Open
daily 10-5. Air and Space Gallery: open 10-1 weekdays; 11-4 weekends.
Call for IMAX schedule.
Natural History Museum. With dueling dinos in the rotunda (complete
skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops) this museum will have
your attention from the get-go. Beyond the prehistoric giants, there are
dioramas of world wildlife, a gem and mineral hall with the largest gold
collection in the U.S. and a very interactive Discovery Center for kids.
This museum is a short stroll east of the California Science Center and
IMAX, still in Exposition Park. 900 Exposition Blvd.; 213 763-DINO; www.nhm.org.
Open daily 10-5.
The Museum of Neon Art is a gas. In fact the current special exhibit
(through Sept. 14) focuses on artistry in gas with amazingly complex neon
sculptures in eye-popping colors. 501 W. Olympic Blvd.; 213 489-9918;
www.neonmona.art. Open Wed-Sat 11-5; Sun 12-5. MOCA During august, the
Museum of Contemporary Art will be installing a major Fall exhibit welcoming
Frank Gehry to the neighborhood. Recent acquisitions to the collection
will be on view during this time including work by kid pleasers such as
Jackson Pollock and Roy Lichtenstein plus, out on the Sculpture Plaza,
there's Nancy Rubin's monumental sculpture made from used airplane parts.
250 S. Grand Ave.; 213 626-6222; www.moca.org Open Tues - Sun 11-5, Thus
11-8 (free after 5).
Concert Hall. How to turn a youngster on to architecture? Yes, architecture.
A walk by world-renown architect Frank O. Gehry's about-to-open Walt Disney
Concert Hall is guaranteed to catch kids' imaginations. All that free-form
stainless steel is already one of the world's most talked-about structures.
Part of the Music Center of Los Angeles County, Disney Concert Hall will
be the new home of the L.A. Philharmonic this fall. First St. between
Hope and Grand; 213 972-7211. www.disneyhall.com.
Union Station. Just as dazzling to kids is Union Station. This
Spanish Mission Revival train station, the last of the grand train stations
to be built in the U.S., has been restored to its 1930s glory with ornately
painted beams, marble floors and the comfiest leather and wood chairs
from which to admire it all. Just east of Olvera Street. 800 N. Alameda
St. Open daily.