Downtown Los Angeles
While indoor masking laws have dampened some of Downtown Los Angeles’s interior festivities, the high life has resumed on the neighborhood’s signature roof bars and restaurants. The fashionable and famous throng to the refurbished Upstairs bar at the Ace Hotel, and those who yearn for Mexico City’s ambience head to LA Cha Cha Chá, overlooking the Arts District.
Perhaps the most impressive sky bar, Spire 73, hardly had a chance to make its mark before the pandemic forced it to close last year. It reopened on July 4, and its 73rd-floor perch atop the Wilshire Grand building makes it the highest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere. Lines of fire pits warm up the views of Los Angeles’s light grid dissipating into the distant sea and mountains. The vistas are matched by excellent craft cocktails, including the house version of the old fashioned, made with small batch Elijah Craig bourbon consecrated by dashes of bitters and maple syrup, or a white negroni with lillet blanc standing in for the vermouth. Drink up (and maybe grab a burger), as there’s a $60 minimum per person.
For a smaller, more iconic lift, head to Angels Flight, the tiny tramway built in 1901 to take pedestrians up Bunker Hill in the middle of downtown. After three tumultuous decades of accidents and decay, the tram is fully refurbished and finally running again (masks required). The tram’s two funicular cars, named Olivet and Sinai, take turns going up and down the steep, 298-foot rail. If the tramway looks familiar, it’s because it’s appeared in dozens of movies, including “Kiss Me Deadly” and “La La Land.”
Angels Flight is an especially glamorous ride at night, when downtown’s Art Deco and Beaux-Arts buildings disappear below and you emerge to the hilltop’s modern cityscape, crowned by Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall and the recently reopened Broad Museum. One only pays the dollar fare at the kiosk at the top of the tram, making this one of the best bargains for experiencing a rising Los Angeles.
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