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Here’s a two-day itinerary to explore Los Angeles art and architecture.

Lydia Kremer Day Trips

los angeles

A fun “get out of Dodge” escape might be the right prescription for surviving the holiday season. Follow this two-day itinerary of fun to explore what’s new with the Los Angeles arts and architecture scene.

First stop is at the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District (DTLA) to explore this emerging hotspot for the arts. DTLA’s boundaries are between First Street to the north and Seventh Street to the south; Alameda Street to the west and the Los Angeles River to the east. It has become one of city’s most dynamic centers for mural art as well as art spaces.

DTLA boasts a sophisticated art gallery scene with more than 30 art galleries. Because there is a robust adaptive reuse effort, many of the art galleries, restaurants, hotels, and boutiques in this district occupy historically significant architectural buildings. Therefore, you can simultaneously marvel at cutting-edge art while enjoying historic architecture.

There are several notable examples, such as the Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel gallery, which opened earlier this year in the restored 100-year-old former Globe Mills complex comprised of interconnected buildings and outdoor spaces. This international gallery is devoted to contemporary art and modern masters. Plan to spend a couple of hours exploring this site’s several galleries, a bookstore, and a new restaurant.

Street art surrounds the Downtown Los Angeles Art District.

Wall Murals add to the dynamic art offerings in downtown Los Angeles.

After establishing its brand in the desert, Royale Projects launched a second gallery in DTLA. Owned by part-time Coachella Valley resident Rick Royale, his gallery focuses on the history and continuing advancement of West Coast abstraction in painting and sculpture.

Another notable stop on your DTLA arts exploration should be at the A+D Museum, which moved to its present location in June 2015. Like Palm Springs’ own Architecture + Design Center, the A+D presents exhibits of architecture and design and serves as a showcase for the work of important regional, national, and international designers and architects.

After a morning of your art gallery crawl, stop for lunch at one of DTLA’s uber-cool eateries. Enjoy a casual lunch at Café Gratitude or Manuela at Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel, named for the gallery’s founder and features artisanal cuisine and locally grown produce.

Fashion Finds

After lunch indulge yourself with an afternoon of bargain hunting in the adjacent Fashion District, the hub of the L.A. fashion industry that spans an area several blocks. While many of the stores are wholesale and sell only to the fashion trade, there are countless stores that sell to the general public and offer deep discounts off retail prices.

Downtown Digs

The historic Millennium Biltmore hotel on 5th and Olive is the perfect way to make your LA getaway extra special — the 1923 Beaux Arts architectural gem is designated as a Los Angeles Cultural Monument.

The Biltmore’s original lobby is now the Rendezvous Court.

The Biltmore has been a nexus to LA’s glamorous celebrity culture for more than 90 years, hosting several of the early Academy Awards beginning in 1931, documented with a fascinating exhibition of historic photos from the Biltmore’s heyday that line the corridors. From the Biltmore location you will be conveniently situated and within walking distance to attractions and restaurants so you can leave your car parked.

Across the street at Pershing Square, don’t miss the festive holiday ice skating rink, a fun outdoor winter wonderland. The Holiday Ice Rink Pershing Square will remain open daily through January 2017 with admission and skate rentals for bargain prices.

For the cocktail hour, head over to Perch a block away from your Biltmore headquarters. Defined as an “elevated resting place,” Perch offers craft cocktails, French bistro-inspired plates, and killer views of Downtown LA’s Christmas lights.

The Bradbury Building is a spectacular piece of architecture.

From here you are but a short walk from a bounty of restaurants and cultural offerings. If you are looking for an evening of performing arts, you’re minutes from Walt Disney Hall and the Music Center. For more art immersion, the Museum of Contemporary Art and The Broad are also a comfortable stroll away.

A few blocks away, you should visit the renowned Bradbury Building (304 S. Broadway). Built in 1893, the Bradbury Building is a spectacular piece of architecture with its cage elevators (still working), marble staircases, and its iconic iron railings which you’ll recognize from many films and TV shows. The Bradbury Building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

So many options to fit in but, hey, you have a whole other day to explore! Before calling it a night, be sure to stop in at the Biltmore’s Rendezvous Court for a night cap and some tunes performed by a pianist. The Rendezvous Court is a grand architectural space that served as the hotel’s original lobby; it has been a location in numerous films.

“Wright” On: An Architectural Masterpiece

On your next morning, take a five-minute walk over to the Grand Central Market for breakfast at Egg Slut or one of the scores of tempting options. The Grand Central Market is a 1917 landmark that has found its mojo in the 21st century as an LA culinary hotspot. It offers a dizzying array of food vendors plus fresh produce, cheese, and much more.

Take a walk over to the Grand Central Market for breakfast at Egg Slut or one of the scores of tempting options.

After breakfast, catch the Metro across the street at Pershing Square to Barnsdall Park.

One of the highlights for your getaway will be a tour of the Hollyhock House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1919-1921 — his first Los Angeles commission. It was built for heiress Aline Barnsdall at the top of a hill on a 36-acre site. Upon her death, Barnsdall bequeathed the Hollyhock House, so named for her favorite flower, to the City of Los Angeles. The building underwent a major renovation and was reopened in 2015 after being closed for several years. Hollyhock House, along with nine other Wright buildings, have been nominated for an UNESCO World Heritage designation.

Tickets for self-guided tours can be purchased on site (no cash), but for a docent-led tour you have to book in advance. Heading back to your cozy lair at The Biltmore, you can plot another fun evening of cocktails and dining.

Visit www.discoverla.com to plan your LA getaway.

The interior of the Hollyhock House.