Los Angeles is very spread out which makes it a little difficult to site-see, primarily since traffic is unpredictable and can slow you down immensely. The following are the best accessible areas and attractions in Los Angeles and does not include things to do and see in cities close by like Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, and Pasadena.
Greater Los Angeles incorporates these cities along with many others like Culver City, Westwood, Bellaire, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
There are a number of cultural attractions in downtown Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Hall is the most prestigious, featuring classical performances. This venue is on Bunker Hill and is a state-of-the-art building with all modern perks for a traveler who needs accessibility.
Almost right across from the Walt Disney Concert Hall is the Museum of Contemporary Art. On the weekend, this business district is almost deserted so street parking at a meter is very realistic. Even during the week, you have a good chance; otherwise, there is a parking structure on the same side of the street as MOCA about 500 feet away. There is a handicapped spot directly in front of the museum, but ironically there is no curb cutout for easy sidewalk access; instead, one must travel up the street to a crosswalk or be assisted up the curb. Unless, of course, you have the skills to go up yourself. After purchasing a ticket you can access the museum by taking the lift (shown in a photo below) up a level, then through the glass doors immediately to your right, and finally take the elevator down to the main floor of the museum. Each floor of the museum is completely flat and smooth. In one area there is a long ramp with a mid-point rest area. Along this ramp is the cafe on an outdoor patio. Wheelchair accessible restrooms are available.
Angeles Flight is a landmark railway located in the Bunker Hill District that opened in 1906. It was closed in the late 1960s and reopened April 2010. The cost to take the short ride is $0.25. There are two trains and both can hold one wheelchair user. Angeles Flight is a convenient way to explore Bunker Hill and then other areas of downtown LA below without getting back in the car or traveling up an enormously steep incline.
Down Figeroa Street is the Staples Center which is most famously known as the home of the L.A. Lakers but also has special music performances from all-stars, like U2, Rolling Stones, and Cold Play. Right across the street from the Staple Center is the Grammy Museum.
Further down Figeroa, close to the University of Southern California, is Exposition Park. Here you can find a number of museums with different interests. For small children, the California Science Center is a fantastic hands-on learning experience that will burn up energy. It also has an IMAX. Otherwise, there is the African American Museum and Natural History Museum. During college football season the LA Memorial Coliseum hosts the home games for the USC Trojans.
There are all kinds of restaurants in Downtown Los Angeles, some even naked to the human eye. A few bars and restaurants worth looking at are Golden Gopher, Broadway Bar, and The Standard and for an L.A. meal check out Hama Sushi.
The Los Angeles Farmer’s Market is a few miles from the Fairfax exit off the 10 freeway. On your right-hand side there will be a Whole Foods then the Farmer’s Market and Grove. The Grove has great shopping but the Farmer’s Market is a true treasure and has been around since Los Angeles was settled. What makes the Farmer’s Market so special is the food. Fresh produce, herbs, meat, cheese, bread… you name it can be found at various stands. There are also hand-made candies, ice cream, doughnuts, and other sweet treats. All different kinds of international cuisine, cooked to its roots. There is so much to choose from that I have not tasted all there is to offer, but don’t worry, you can’t go wrong.
I love French onion soup and whenever I visit L.A. I must go to the French restaurant Mr. Marcel Pain Vin Et Fromage. The French invented the soup, did they not? This little bistro puts a little more effort into its ambiance compared to the rest of the restaurants. You can sit at the counter or there are little tables.
The walkways through the Farmer’s Market are really wide but there are always people hurrying so be on the lookout for those not paying attention. General open seating areas are provided for all the restaurants, the place I mentioned above is unique. The handicapped restroom in the Farmer’s Market is on the narrow side, but much wider and cleaner restrooms can be found within the Grove near the parking garage or at the movie theater. The Grove is right next to the Farmer’s Market.
If dining anywhere in the Farmer’s Market, get your parking ticket validated and you don’t have to pay a thing. However, there is a time limit. Lots of handicapped parking too is available but be prepared to search for an open spot.
The Grove Shopping Center is one of Los Angeles’s shopping signatures and is located right next to The Farmer’s Market so it’s a perfect day trip. The Grove Movie Theater features the latest and greatest from Hollywood. All the restaurants and cafes have indoor and outdoor seating on patios. What draws most to this area is the shopping including stores like Nordstroms, Tommy Bahamas, Michael Stars, American Girl, Anthropology, and much more. The whole outdoor shopping center is designed to mimic a street but for pedestrians only. Running through the center is a trolley. Many tourists cannot resist watching the musical fountain in the center of the Grove, which dances to the very song that is playing for all to hear.
La Brea and La Cienega are two streets close to each other that run perpendicular to Wilshire near the Miracle Mile. A large portion of La Cienega is called Restaurant Row and features a variety of fine-dining restaurants. Thus far, all seem to have modern accessible features. Also located just past this section towards the Hollywood Hills is the Beverly Center, an indoor, ADA friendly shopping mall with a parking structure with handicapped spots. Between La Cienega and La Brea on Wilshire are a few theatres and venues, including Saban Theatre. Closest to La Cienega off 3rd Street is a great outdoor and indoor cafe called Toast. It is a very popular bakery cafe, especially for brunch though Lunch and Dinner are also served. Meter parking is available, otherwise, you can valet your car for an overpriced fee.
La Brea, which is closer to the downtown area offers consists of tons of restaurants, bakeries, and shops on either side of the street. One must look for street parking or pay to have the car valet. There are a number of other restaurants and cafes to check out along La Brea, like La Brea Bakery. All kinds of stores align La Brea near Wilshire Blvd., including clothing (used, boutique, and retail style), furniture, hardware, antiques, card, and flower shops… you name it. Some clothing examples would be Buffalo Exchange, Volcum, Stussy, and American Rag. Being close to Hollywood there are a few movie/television prop stores that are eclectic and overpriced. Anyone can buy something but because it is so expensive mainly studios come here to rummage for items.
On a small strip of Wilshire Blvd., there is an area referred to as the Miracle Mile. On the corner of Fairfax is a diner that is frequently used in movies, including Pulp Fiction. Along the street are nightclubs, restaurants, venues, television production offices, and even tar pits. Yes, smack in the middle of the Miracle Mile between La Brea and Fairfax are the La Brea Tar Pits. The oldest mammal that has been found is estimated to be aged 38,000 years and scientists are still finding organisms from the ice age period. Surrounding the La Brea Tar Pits is a public park with smooth, accessible walkways for a wheelchair user.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) shares land with the La Brea Tar Pits. LACMA is a world-class museum with an impressive permanent collection and an entire building just for special exhibits. There is plenty of space, elevators, and accessible restrooms all around. Initially, to get a ticket, which is based on a donation, a wheelchair user needs to use the elevator to the right of the main staircase; there should be signs. Access to the special exhibit does cost an additional fee, so it depends on how much you love art and how much time you have. The permanent collection consists of some of the most famous artists in the world, like Warhol and Picasso, among many others. There are also sculptures, Asian art, photography, and modern and contemporary art. Seeing everything, not even including the special exhibits, can easily talk for a couple of hours. There is a cafe if you get hungry or want a coffee break. In the evenings it is very common to have a live band playing in the main courtyard, which usually consists of a jazz band of some kind.
LACMA is one of of a couple attractions in this area but its home is the Miracle Mile. A block above it consists of the historic Farmer’s Market and the Grove. A short drive away is the Beverly Center, Restaurant Row, Melrose Ave., and tons more.
Sitting on top of the Los Angeles hills right off the 405 by UCLA in the Westwood area of LA is the Getty Center, Los Angeles. All you have to pay for is parking and you’re in. A modern and 100% wheelchair accessible “people mover” takes you up the hill where this majestic art museum awaits. The grounds are covered by beautifully manicured landscapes and smoothly tiled floors. Elevators and accessible restrooms are easy to find and could be better designed.
Each corridor of the Getty displays different art from various periods from the most famous artists. Most of what you will see is a part of the permanent collection and one life-long traveler can look forward to a rotating featured exhibit or two. The architecture alone is worth the only fee of $10 for parking.
Even the lovely garden is wheelchair accessible. A spiraling pathway wraps you around a babbling stream bordered by brightly colored flowers and plants and down to the bottom fountain. There are inlets on the way back up in case you need to take a short rest.
The Annenberg Space for Photography opens at 10am on Sunday and my early start landed me there a hair past 9am. And so I waited until opening, reminding myself to check such valuable details like hours of operation. The “space” has rotating exhibits every few months and when I was there the current one was called “Beauty Culture.” The layout of the museum was designed to be in the shape of a camera, totally flat and wheelchair accessible. There was no admission but couldn’t escape paying for parking. With validation from the Annenberg Space for Photography on Saturdays after 4:30pm and Sundays, the parking garage costs a flat fee of $1, and Wednesdays through Fridays it is $3.50 for two hours.
Hollywood is home to the historical Pantages Theater featuring Broadway performances, the renowned Chinese Theater that premiers many Los Angeles Blockbusters, and the Kodak Theater, host of the Oscars. Surrounding the Kodak Theater is the world-class shopping center Hollywood & Highland not to mention 3-story Amoeba Records.
Dispersed all over this area are gaudy souvenir stores, sex shops of all kinds, fortune tellers, and smoke shops. Tour guides are too, promising “star-studded thrills” but mainly lead you to the homes of washed-up actors and actresses of people you don’t recall. All kinds of street performers crowd the sidewalks of the Kodak Theater, begging for attention and your money, like this clown on stilts in the photo above. More cheap tourist attractions include the Hollywood Wax Museum and Hollywood’s Guinness Book of World Records. There are also many souvenir shops all over, selling everything from plastic Oscars to license plates.