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Is the downtown area safe?

Sydney, Australia
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Is the downtown area safe?

I was wondering if the downtown Los Angeles area is safe for a visitor to stay in?

Also interested on thoughts about staying in downtown vs hollywood or west hollywood considering I can get a nice hotel around 3.5 to 4 star in downtown for the same money I can get a 1.5 or 2 star in the other areas.

Is it really worth staying in Hollywood area even in a crappy hotel? I mean I am not coming to LA purely for a hotel stay of course.

I want to do all the usual tourist things - expect Disneyland

Any thoughts are appreciated

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Fremont, California
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1. Re: Is the downtown area safe?

About the only hotel in downtown LA I really like is the Omni. The Westin has smaller rooms and they could have done better. The Biltmore has nice common areas, dinky bathrooms, and bad customer service. If you're hip, the Standard Hotel is ok stay. after that, I really don't like downtown LA to stay in. Its basically a commute in - civic buildings, courts, business and then commute back out at night. There are some newer condos so the area is a bit nicer than before.

I like Hollywood as you are right at tourist type attractions and is the best locale to stay at if you do not rent a car in LA. Are you planning to rent a car?

What is your price range as that will help. Due to the economy, several places are running specials right now, so its helpful to know your price range to suggest these types of deals.

The other thing I don't like about downtown is safety factor - I felt fine walking around Hollywood up to 11 or 12 by myself; but not in downtown LA due to the constant number of street people who get in your face.

Rancho Santa...
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2. Re: Is the downtown area safe?

You need to take mini's well-intentioned comments about downtown with a grain of salt. They are a little out of date. Circa 1992, absolutely, no good reason to stay downtown unless you have business there. Yep, shades of Blade Runner or some lousy zombie movie. However, in the past ten years, the area has seen remarkable changes. There has been a residential boom which has attracted tens of thousands of affluent residents. It all started with the conversion of historic offices to lofts. This subsequently led to the construction of brand-new residential. Ralphs supermarket opened a very high-end store and it has become one of their most profitable stores.

New developments like the Staples Center, Disney Hall, the Cathedral, Nokia Theater have encouraged the residential development. Just last month, the L.A. Live development and Grammy Museum opened. This area has attracted large evening crowds and has numerous restaurants. On a recent Saturday night, I strolled through and all the restaurants had lines out the door. Just wait until the hotel and 14 screen movie theater open up shortly. There is talk of constructing another hotel tower even in this recession!

The Red Line, Blue Line and Gold Line have achieved some real critical mass of transit riders on the Metro Rail system. Amtrak and Metrolink trains are very busy. An extension of the Gold Line east through Little Tokyo is slated to open this year and the Expo Line to USC and Culver City is scheduled to open in 2010. The MTA is planning an downtown connector of the Blue Line to Union Station. I'd point out the MTA has developed a very popular Rapid bus service with multiple lines cris-crossing downtown. The Dash buses are still only 25 cents.

Little Tokyo is thriving. It has seen the influx of many restaurants and new residents. The Fashion District now encompasses 90 blocks of shopping. I'd dare say some shops here are actually getting classy. Historic Olvera Street has been renovated quite nicely and with more plans in the works.

A massive park has opened next to the Gold Line Station in Chinatown. Also, Chinatown is now home to some renowned art galleries on Chun King Road. Speaking of art, in addition to the various museums like MOCA, the monthly downtown Art Walk has blossomed into a real happening. Crowds of five thousand are typical now.

The area is now home to some of the cities finest bars and clubs -- The Edison, Golden Gopher, Broadway Bar. There are plenty more which I'm not hip enough to know about. One last detail I'd point out is the opening of 60+ last year. That is quite impressive. There is no way I can try them all. My to die for recommendation is the Colori Cafe. Best Italian I've had in the last decade.

Now, is downtown safe? Absolutely. Crime is at it's lowest levels since 1943 when they first started collecting the data. My only caveat is Skid Row. While hugely improved from its wild west days of yore, it is still not the place you want to be. I suspect you have the good sense to avoid this part of downtown. Will you encounter any street people? Sure. But, you'll meet them pretty much any where. (Check out Santa Monica. Yikes!)

Now, all this aside, should you stay downtown? That really depends on you. If you're heart is set on images of Hollywood or the beach, downtown is not for you. Moreover, Hollywood is the center of nightlife in the city now. If you're looking for the mostest in clubbing, then you definitely should stay in Hollywood. (However, I'd point out downtown is a short subway ride away. Actually, getting to Santa Monica is a snap too on the #10 Big Blue Bus.) But, I think the most important point is what you're interested in. Downtown is not some Beverly Hills air-brushed place. It is like any urban center. Downtown is a complicated and gritty place. In addition to places like the Financial District and the Civic Center, it is chock full of vibrant but downscale areas like the Jewelry District, Latino Broadway and the Toy District. These are places, in addition to the Fashion District, which affluent Angelenos wouldn't be can't dead in. But, in places like the historic core, the new residential lofts have created some nifty and lively neighborhoods. Oh yeah, if you are interested in architecture, downtown is the place. Check out the L.A. Conservancy's walking tours.

Obviously, I love downtown Los Angeles and I think it is the most interesting part of a fascinating city. But, the important question is -- is this where you want to base yourself? I don't know. That's up to you. But, hopefully, I've given you a sense of the place so you can make a decision.

HTH

Los Angeles
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3. Re: Is the downtown area safe?

Is downtown safe? During the day, no problem. At night, best to be a bit more careful - just use common sense and don't wander into an area that looks too unsavory. Do that,and you'll be fine.

As to choosing to stay in Downtown or not, it comes down to a choice of having a nicer hotel for less money, vs. the convenience of being located closer to some other attractions. Downtown does have the new LA Live development, but aside from that, at night and on weekends its largely deserted and is not really a happening area to walk around to restaurants and bars at night. You can always take the Metro Red Line from downtown to Hollywood though, which has a ton of nightlife.

The other thing to consider is if you'll have a car or not while you're here. Downtown and Hollywood both have good access to public transportation, but downtown is not very centrally located, especially with regard to most tourist attractions - its not really in the center of the city, its far to the east of the center. So that means in most situations longer commutes between your hotel and the places you want to visit.

Los Angeles...
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4. Re: Is the downtown area safe?

They key is this:

"I want to do all the usual tourist things"

Then, NO, you do not want to stay downtown. The "usual tourist things" are not downtown.

Safety?

Yes, mostly. I've walked around hundreds of times downtown and never was threatened at all. My grandmother lived in Boyle Heights, which has the one of the highest gang related violence stats in the city and when I visited her, no one even gave me a second look. Lucky, maybe. I don't know. But my perception of downtown is that it is mostly safe.

Santa Monica...
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5. Re: Is the downtown area safe?

Downtown is thriving. It's become the hotspot at night, and of course there are some of the city's great galleries there, as well as our museums (MOCA and Geffen), and Disney Hall. Its become a cultural center.

Personally, I would rather be in a nicer hotel, so I would go with downtown LA. Also, personally, I would not enjoy staying in Hollywood - especially not in any of the lower end hotels.

Will you have a car?

Los Angeles...
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6. Re: Is the downtown area safe?

Have the "usual tourist things" become Disney Hall and MOCA?

I wasn't aware of that.

Hollywood, ca
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7. Re: Is the downtown area safe?

If renting a car, you also need to consider parking fees in downtown hotels vs. Hollywood or West Hollywood hotels, to get an idea of the true cost. Parking downtown ranges from $30-40 per night and there are few, if any cheaper options. Parking in Hollywood hotels ranges from free to $20.

So, if the downtown hotel is still a bargain, then you should consider it. Downtown is relatively safe, and certainly livelier than in years past, although parts of the business district still clear out at night.

Los Angeles...
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8. Re: Is the downtown area safe?

Go west young man! Westside, Hollywood.

Santa Monica...
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9. Re: Is the downtown area safe?

>>Have the "usual tourist things" become Disney Hall and MOCA? I wasn't aware of that.<<<

If one seeks out museums in new cities (as I do). Museums are very much a part of the tourist's agenda. And, if I were visiting here, I would absolutely look to see what's on the calendar at Disney Hall -- not to mention the fact that it is a very famous building, one that tourists visit just to SEE.

psap - it's not just about the Walk of Fame, thankfully.

San Francisco...
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10. Re: Is the downtown area safe?

I've just returned from LA after 3 nights in Westin Bonaventure in downtown LA. My impression on downtown is its clean, safe, with lots of arts and public spaces all around. There is even a pretty good public transportation. This is only my first time in LA so I don't know how it was in the 90s and before. And there is a lot of downtown I haven't seen in my short trip. But I have walked and drove around during the day and the night and I have not encountered any issue. The streets are fairly deserted at night and that's all.

Hollywood and Vines is where I find a little bit seedy. Although it is still far from what I consider unsafe.

The downtown hotel is great by the way.