Before Las Vegas and Disneyland, there was Downtown LA, the original SoCal amusement park where the filthy rich mingled with the downright dangerous. This bar crawl is open to all ages, mixes history and mystery on L.A.’s most filmed backlot, where the neon lights still illuminate the faded movie palaces and the juke joints on Main Street reveal the grittier side of Glamourland. We begin at the Biltmore Hotel, where the Mob hosted movie moguls during Prohibition and became the birthplace of the Oscars and 8 Academy Award ceremonies. Next, to the faded splendor of a 1928 Art Deco bar that was once the finest men’s haberdashery in Tinsel Town dressing the likes of Howard Hughes and Errol Flynn. Julia Robert’s wrestled with a salad fork here in Pretty Woman. We stroll down the mean streets that inspired noir writer, Raymond Chandler, to ‘the wrong side of Main Street’ and home to one of the last remaining dive bars downtown. Charles Bukowski, L.A.’s bard of the barroom and brothel drank here and we soak up his inspiration. The night ends at my local hang out on the street where Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino once lived, offering cocktails in their name and an excellent dinner menu.
I curate historical walking tours of my neighborhood, Downtown Los Angeles and over the past three years, have guided guests from across the globe on fascinating adventures through the living theme park of DTLA. A composer by trade, I have a masters degree in Musicals from Goldsmiths College, London and play the piano for the Quick & Funny Musicals show in Hollywood. Join me and explore Downtown’s historic buildings and their place in movies, music, and the current cultural renaissance.
The Millennium Biltmore Hotel has been beautifully restored and we will visit the Ballrooms and the Gallery Bar. The Oviatt Building has a fascinating history and we will visit the restaurant bar. The Bank Of Italy building was where Noir writer Raymond Chandler worked in the 1930s. Wendell's Bar has a dive bar feel and lots of pop history. We will pass Cecil Hotel, site of many muders. Claytons Pub is a locals joint and has an excellent menu.
I recommend having the Uber or Lyft app on your phone, it’s an inexpensive way to get home safely. Soft drinks are also encouraged, this tour is equally wonderful whether you drink alcohol, or not.