Downtown Los Angeles is in the midst of a notable transformation. One area in particular, the Downtown Arts District, is a lively place to spend a weekend morning pedaling around. The streets are flat and bike lanes abound here, making the ride an inviting one. Another bonus of visiting this sprawling area by two-wheeler is that visitors will not have to worry about hunting for parking, as bikes can be secured to one of many racks. El Maestro Bicycle Shop, on Main and Eighth streets, is the closest place for visitors to rent a bike. From there, take Main Street up one block to Seventh Street and turn right; travel down Seventh for a little less than 2 miles until you reach the Arts District.
On Saturday mornings, it’s standard to see residents gathered outside, walking their dogs and chatting with friends at cafes. Also, food trucks line up in front of Stumptown Coffee Roasters on South Santa Fe Avenue. Stop by for a morning pick-me-up with a cold brew or single origin drip coffee, or grab a bag of freshly roasted beans to take home.
Those in need of more sustenance can go one block up to East Seventh Street, where Bread Lounge makes loaves for cold sandwiches and paninis. The curated marketplace Urban Radish, located on Imperial Street, also tempts passersby with cheese and charcuterie boards, sandwiches and salads, as well as house-made drinks like honeydew and mint agua fresca and cold-pressed juices. Every Saturday starting at 1 p.m., there is an outdoor barbecue for grilled quail, trout and steak.
Following refreshments, dozens of art galleries and boutique shops await visitors. Head back toward the bicycle shop to Spring Street. Here, The Hive Gallery and Studios is one of the busiest galleries in the area, and Spring Arts Tower is also a must-see. The bottom floor houses The Last Bookstore, one of the best independent shops in LA. Inside this converted bank, you will find used novels and nonfiction tomes, old records and, oftentimes, live music; there is also a labyrinth to explore upstairs.
Once you have your purchases, pedal over to the Spring Street Park where you can lay down a blanket and read your newly bought books or people watch. The park is a green oasis amid towering urban buildings, and it was recently renovated to provide a mecca for nature lovers and dog owners alike.
At sunset, facing west on the Fourth Street Bridge is the best place to be. Surrounded by the Los Angeles River and two blocks away from the Sixth Street Bridge, this ride offers a grand view of LA. As you cross the body of water, you will be heading toward the city skyline, which is breathtaking as the sun settles on the horizon. This is an ideal spot to see the metropolis from a distance after spending a day experiencing it up close.
Where: Downtown Arts District
Distance: 10 miles
Starting Point: El Maestro Bicycle Shop
Travel Tip: As you ride along the river at fourth and sixth streets, you’ll experience cinematic deja vu. The area around the bridges is filmed for commercials and movies.
—Written by Jackie Adams