L.A. Live has replaced Hollywood Boulevard as the bejeweled bellybutton of Los Angeles.
What's your pleasure? High-stakes basketball? Red-carpet concerts? Stunning views? This downtown destination has them all. Maybe I'm biased, but I'd say it rivals New York's Times Square for things to do, places to go, celebrities to see.
Jack Nicholson is its honorary king, LeBron James its court jester, and Beyonce and Ariana Grande its wild-child courtiers.
All because Staples Center 20 years ago transformed a drab part of town into an entertainment vortex.
Like the city itself, L.A. Live can seem impenetrable. But not with this list of 20 attractions -- some loud and obvious, others off the beaten track.
(All within L.A. Live, unless address is listed.)
WP24: A soft spot in a brittle city, Wolfgang Puck's place on the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton is a great vantage point to overlook the skyline at sunset. A festive meet-up spot or a dark, quiet place to unwind. The food is always fine -- get the scallops ($39) -- but I prefer the bar to the restaurant. wolfgangpuck.com
Hotel Figueroa: Tell your friends: "Meet me by the fireplace in the front lounge." They'll figure it out. Kind of clubby, with rich architectural touches. The 100-year-old Fig will quickly become your go-to spot. Taco Tuesday by the pool is a worthwhile stop too. hotelfigueroa.com
Grammy Museum: I suspect many folks think this will be a glorified gift shop, a la Hollywood Boulevard. No way. This is a first-rate, hands-on museum that celebrates music. Kids love it. And you can even take a drum lesson from Ringo. Admission $12. grammymuseum.org
The Original Pantry: A landmark ... a great nosh ... the greasy spoon of greasy spoons. This cash-only monument to late-night binging will be here long after Staples is gone. Look for legendary Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich sneaking a midnight bite. 817 S. Figueroa St. pantrycafe.com