Hometown Tourist: A Walk in the Arts District, Downtown LA

On the second day of my friend Caitlyn’s visit, we took a journey into the concrete jungle of Downtown Los Angeles, from the Arts District to Olvera Street.

Once upon a time, the Arts District was covered in citrus groves.  Orange and grapefruits gave way to factories and warehouses.  Over time, the citrus industry moved away from LA, and a handful of artists transformed the abandoned warehouses into affordable live-work spaces.  Thus, the Arts District was born.

On a Tuesday afternoon, we planned to meet two of Caitlyn’s high school friends for lunch.  We arrived early, so we took a walk around the neighborhood to kill time.

Unofficial Art Walk

We did not plan on taking an art walk, but everywhere we looked, the walls were decorated with street art.  I still haven’t decided if I’m more surprised that this place exists or that we stumbled upon it by accident.  I enjoyed the anticipation of what we might find as we turned each corner.

Sidewalk Bench, Art District DTLA

From our parking spot on Traction Avenue, we spotted a bleeding heart around the words “Los Angeles.”  Upon closer inspection, we found Miley Cyrus standing underneath, holding a sign that said, “I twerk for good.”

I love you, Los Angeles.
Will twerk for good.

Next to Umami Burger on 3rd Street, we discovered a family of elephants painted by Los Angeles artist Damon Martin.  Caitlyn was wearing a black and white striped dress and camouflaged herself as an urban zebra.


Around the corner on East 4th Street, the entire side of a building was covered in vibrant-colored tags by street artists Risk and Seen.

Mural by Risk and Seen
Mural Reflection

If we had more time, we could have seen the “The Wrinkles of the City” piece by well-known artist J.R.  I’m saving that one for next time. Once we met up with Caitlyn’s friends, we enjoyed lunch at Umami Burger.  We walked to Handsome Coffee Roasters for an espresso before continuing our downtown adventure to Olvera Street.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better unplanned afternoon in the Arts District.

Caitlyn reunited with her high school friends in the Arts District
Handsome Coffee Roasters
Cold Pressed Coffee and Milk, Handsome Coffee Roasters

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