If you’ve just moved to DTLA, or if you’ve lived here a while and could use an adventure day, here’s a great itinerary that’ll keep you moving from morning until evening.
Saturday Itinerary: 3 Fun Things to Do in DTLA When You Have a Chance
First things first: you can do one, two or all three things on this itinerary. This is just our idea of a perfect day.
Morning: Hike up to Bronson Cave in Griffith Park
Bronson Cave, located in Griffith Park – a huge wilderness area right in the city of Los Angeles – is a really popular film location. In fact, if you ever watched Batman in the 1960s (or saw the reruns on TV), you’ve seen Bronson Cave. Its iconic entrance – used by Batman and his ever-faithful sidekick, Robin – is tough to miss.
To get there, plug in 3200 Canyon Drive, Los Angeles, into your GPS or Google Maps. Park and start on Canyon Drive, on the south side of Griffith Park. If you see the Brush Canyon Trail (the same one you’d take to Mount Lee and the Hollywood Sign), you’re going in the wrong direction. Go down Canyon Drive to a dirt road that heads southeast (it’ll be on your right as you face the end of the road).
Walk a quarter-mile and turn left into a bowl-shaped quarry. You’ll see Bronson Cave there.
Lunch: Picnic at the Old Zoo Picnic Area
Also located in Griffith Park (but on the north end), the first Los Angeles Zoo sits abandoned. Now, it’s full of grills and picnic benches rather than animals – but back in 1912, when it opened, it was full of exotic creatures.
When the zoo opened, it had just 15 animals. The enclosures sitting there today were built largely in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration, and they’re pretty standard for what you’d expect during that era. The enclosures are not what we’d call suitable for housing animals today – not by a long shot – but they were “home” to bears, lions, monkeys, elephants and several other animals until 1966, when the current LA Zoo opened.
You can picnic in an old lion enclosure, and then take a trail up from the caves to give you the zookeeper’s view. From there, you’ll see dozens more abandoned cages.
To get to the picnic area, stick to Griffith Park Drive where it veers off to become Crystal Springs Drive.
Evening: Dinner at Clifton’s Cafeteria
Clifton’s Cafeteria is a fabulously charming little place. The theme: California Redwoods. You’ll find animatronic raccoons, wooden bears, moose heads and other eclectic decor, but the history is what really makes this place special – along with its golden rule: Dine free unless delighted.
This little restaurant opened in 1931. Owned by Clifford Clinton, who wanted to rid the world of hunger (literally) during the Great Depression, he called the place “a poor man’s nightclub.”
Back in the 1930s, too, science fiction icons like Ray Bradbury, L. Ron Hubbard, Robert Heinlein, Forrest Ackerman and Ray Harryhausen met weekly in the back of the restaurant – in the “Brown Room” – to chat about the future and what it held.
Clifton’s Cafeteria is located at the corner of 7th Street and Broadway downtown.
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