Explore America's Campgrounds
Union Station, the main train station in Los Angeles, is located off North Alameda Street in the city's downtown area. Once a desolate part of town, the downtown LA area has undergone renewal since the early 2000s and is now a popular tourist destination. And while you usually need a car to get around LA, the downtown area -- especially around Union Station-- is easily explored on foot.
Say Hola to Olivera Street
A walk down Olivera Street is perfect for those with only an hour or so layover at Union Station. Located just across Alameda Street, Olivera Street is a hidden alleyway into the oldest area of Los Angeles, El Pueblo de Los Angeles. Lined with Mexican-American street vendors selling puppets, serapes, toys, pottery, candies and more, this section of downtown LA is an alternative to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Mariachi music travels through the air with the smell of traditional Mexican foods, and plentiful outdoor restaurant seating provides the perfect place to soak it all in. Check out the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles, one of the city's top sights.
Visit the East in Chinatown
About a 10-minute walk from Union Station leads to Los Angeles' Chinatown. One step through the gates guarded by two golden dragons -- on Broadway near Cesar Chavez Avenue -- and bilingual signs and Chinese-style architecture are on the other side. Storefronts are filled with herbal remedies, knickknacks, luggage, appliances and clothes. Hungry visitors have a choice of restaurants specializing in dim sum, roasted duck and Chinese street food. At night, Old Chinatown plaza's East Gate is lit bright with neon.
Spot Street Art in the Arts District
The downtown Arts District of Los Angeles became gentrified in the mid-2000s and has become increasingly popular with locals and tourists. Once boarded up and covered in graffiti, the area is now home to multiple apartment high-rises and is covered with large street art murals. Artisanal coffee shops and eateries line the sidewalks along with creative art, clothing and record shops. The Arts District is about a 20-minute walk from Union Station down Alameda Street or one stop on the metro's gold line.
Slurp Some Ramen in Little Tokyo
Just a 20-minute walk from Union Station, or one stop on the metro's gold line, and you can be in Japan. Starting around Alameda and 1st Street is Little Tokyo. Come hungry as you walk through the Japanese village, complete with an anime shop, shabu-shabu restaurants, izakaya, ramen shops, karaoke, sushi galore and bakeries. The Japanese American National Museum and the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA are also nearby, both just off of 1st Street.
Katherine Alex Beaven is a writer, photographer and world traveler who has been to all 50 states, visited nearly 40 countries and lived on four continents. Her writing has appeared in "Skratch Magazine" and "On Holiday" as well as on MusicPlusTV.com, GALOmagazine.com, BrooklynExposed.com, BBG.org, Fuel TV and in private tourism blogs and brochures. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology.