Los Angeles/South Central
South Central is a relatively impoverished region of Los Angeles infamous for gang violence. However, despite its negative reputation, it has improved in recent years and does offer certain sights for the traveler. This is where you will find the museums of Exposition Park and the famous Watts Towers, and the neighborhood of Leimert Park has developed as an African-American cultural center.
|Daily highs (°F)||68||69||70||73||75||78||83||84||83||79||73||68|
|Nightly lows (°F)||48||49||51||54||57||60||64||64||63||59||52||48|
Data from NOAA (1981-2010)
As with most of LA, the area has a well-developed bus system facilitated by its square grid system. Streets are wide enough to prevent too much automobile traffic. Two rail lines also serve South Central LA: the Blue Line, which runs parallel to the 110 Freeway, offers easy metro access from downtown and Long Beach. The Expo Line also connects the area to downtown, serving Exposition Park and heading west along Exposition Blvd to Culver City.
- Watts Towers of Simon Rodia, 1765 E 107th St (east of Graham Ave and the Metro Rail tracks), ☎ +1 213 847-4646. Tours available Th-F 11AM-3PM, Sa 10:30AM-3PM, Su noon-3PM. 17 interconnected structures, two of which reach heights of over 99 feet (30 m). An example of non-traditional vernacular architecture and naïve art. The Towers are located near and visible from the 103rd Street-Kenneth Hahn Station of the Metro Rail LACMTA Blue Line. Next to the Towers is a small museum and a cultural center. Guided tours are available for a fee and at limited hours, but you can always view the towers from the outside for free. Guided tours $7 adults, $3 seniors/teens (13-17), free for children 12 and under.
- Leimert Park. A famous center for Los Angeles' African-American culture, this neighborhood (just south of Crenshaw/Martin Luther King- accessible by bus) is a must-see if in the area. A quick sidetrip into nearby Baldwin Hills offers beautiful views of Downtown Los Angeles as well as a nice peek at lifestyles in the "Black Beverly Hills".
- Shrine Auditorium, 665 W Jefferson Blvd, ☎ +1 213 748-5116. A huge venue that once served as host to a number of awards shows. Located on Jefferson Blvd and Figueroa Street across the street from the University of Southern California, famous for its red bricks and nightlife. Closed to visitors.
Just south of the University of Southern California campus, in a square formed by Exposition Boulevard, Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, Vermont Avenue, and Figueroa Street, is this complex of stadiums, museums, and gardens (including a massive rose garden) that make up one of the primary attractions in the area.
- Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Blvd, ☎ +1 213 763-3466. 9:30AM-5PM daily. A crown jewel of Los Angeles' museums and a national leader in exhibitions, education and research, this museum was L.A.'s first cultural institution to open its doors to the public in 1913. It is the largest natural and historical museum in the Western United States, safeguarding more than 35 million spectacular, diverse specimens and artifacts. $12 adults, $9 teens (13-17)/college students/seniors (62+), $5 children (3-12), free for children under 3.
- California Science Center, 700 Exposition Park Dr, ☎ +1 323 724-3623. 10AM-5PM daily. A huge science museum with a rather impressive aircraft collection. The highlight of the museum is the Space Shuttle Endeavour, one of only three remaining craft from the retired American space shuttle fleet (free reservations are required). Other attractions include fighter jets and other aircraft, numerous interactive science exhibits, an aquarium, an IMAX theater, and travelling exhibitions. Best times to visit are weekdays after 1:30PM or weekends, since weekdays before 1:30PM are often busy with school groups. Permanent exhibition galleries free; separate fee for IMAX theater.
- California African American Museum, 600 State Dr, ☎ +1 213 744-7432. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Free.
- Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 3911 S Figueroa St, ☎ +1 213 747-7111. The current official capacity of the Coliseum is 92,516. This is where the opening ceremonies of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics were held. It is located in Exposition Park the south side of USC. It currently host USC football games, but has hosted pro football, baseball, and soccer games in the past.
- University of Southern California hosts many musical and theatrical performances throughout the year that are free or cheap. USC football games are one option. Tickets can be purchased on campus at the Ticket Office next to Tommy Trojan, but can sometimes be hard to come by.
- Go to a Baptist (or AME) African-American Church for a peek into local spiritual culture.
- Go to a Leimert Park coffee shop at night for some spoken word or freestyle rap.
- Kopeikin Gallery, 2766 S La Cienega Blvd, ☎ +1 310 559-0800. Photography gallery with rotating exhibits.
- La Taquiza, 3009 S Figueroa St, ☎ +1 213 741-9795. M-W 9:30AM-10PM, Th-Su 9:30AM-11PM. On Figueroa two blocks north of USC, this restaurant serves its famous "mulitas de res," a must-try Mexican dish.
Lots of cheap bars abound. For a peek into Greek university student life head to the 2-9 a few blocks west of Figueroa (just north of USC) or the 9-0 right on Figueroa (USC students' favorite dive).
- La Barca, 2414 S Vermont Ave, ☎ +1 323 735-6567. Another favorite hangout of USC students, locals, and law enforcement officers alike. Although it is actually a restaurant, La Barca is famous for its "two dollar Tuesdays", when you can get strong and delicious margaritas and piña coladas for under three dollars. Expect a long line for seating on Tuesdays.
- The Vagabond Inn USC Hotel, 3101 S Figueroa St, ☎ +1 213 746-1531, toll-free: +1 800 522-1555, fax: +1 213 746-9106. $85+.
South Central has long had a reputation for violence. It was the scene of the '92 L.A. riots and is known for producing the Bloods, Crips, and other notorious gangs. Although its reputation has preceded itself over the past couple of decades, it's no longer quite as dangerous or violent as some might suggest — though it's still not really a destination for the average tourist. While muggings still occur, most happen at night on smaller streets. Stay in groups of at least three if you must be on foot.
The cities and neighborhoods that border South Central include the following:
- Downtown LA - Located northeast of South Central, downtown Los Angeles has been revitalized in recent years, and is now home to the impressive architecture of Disney Concert Hall, sporting and concert events at Staples Center, and a variety of dining and lodging options.
- Wilshire District - Located to the north of South Central, the Wilshire district is home to Koreatown, as well as attractions that include the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Peterson Auto Museum, and the world-famous La Brae Tar Pits.
- Culver City - South Central's western neighbor is a city that features an ever-increasing array of impressive dining options and is home to Sony motion picture studios.
- Inglewood - Located southwest of South Central, Inglewood is a tough neighborhood but attracts some visitors to sites such as the landmark Randy's Donuts.
- Hawthorne - Bordering South Central to the southwest, Hawthorne is home to several aerospace companies including SpaceX, and is an option for those needing lodging near Los Angeles International Airport.
- Gardena - Gardena is a residential community that borders South Central to the southwest.
- Carson - South Central's southern neighbor is the home to the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA soccer teams, both of which play at the StubHub Center.
- Compton - A rough neighborhood located to the south of South Central, Compton has been the home of numerous hip-hop and rap musicians, as well as tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.
- Lynwood - The city of Lynwood is South Central's southeastern neighbor.
- Gateway Cities - The Gateway Cities of South Gate and Huntington Park border South Central to the east.
|Routes through South Central|
|El Segundo ← Hawthorne ←||W E||→ Lynwood → Norwalk|
|Pasadena ← Downtown L.A. ←||N S||→ Carson → San Pedro|
|END ← Downtown L.A. ←||N S||→ Compton → Long Beach|
|END ← Culver City ←||W E||→ Downtown L.A. → END|
|El Segundo ← Hawthorne ←||W E||→ Lynwood → Norwalk|
|El Monte ← Downtown L.A. ←||N S||→ Gardena → San Pedro|