University of Southern California

SCampus Student Guidebook

Exploring Los Angeles

Cultural Los Angeles

The Los Angeles region includes a wealth of cultural attractions just waiting to be explored. Several of the city’s ethnic neighborhoods are located close to campus and are easily accessible by bus, car, train or on foot.

USC’s geography department has created an online walking tour of downtown Los Angeles ( and provides information about the area’s history.


Chinatown is a short walk from Union Station and from El Pueblo Historic Park. It is easily accessed via the Metro Red or Gold Lines. Chinatown is not only a center for Chinese culture in Los Angeles, but is also home to a burgeoning art community.

L.A. Chinatown Heritage and Visitors Center

411 Bernard St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(323) 222-0856

Docents lead one- to four-hour walking tours of Chinatown and point out locations relevant to the history of Los Angeles and Southern California. Tours cost $5 for adults ($3 with student ID).

Chinese American Museum

See “Museums.”

Places of Interest

The Chinatown Central Plaza (on Broadway between Bernard and College streets) includes shops and restaurants and hosts special events. The Bamboo Plaza (988 N. Hill St.) includes shops, restaurants and art galleries. Dynasty Center, a popular shopping area, is located along the 800 block of North Broadway.


  • – The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles Website lists upcoming events and an online directory of local businesses and services.
  • – Chinatown L.A.’s site includes detailed information about Chinatown, maps and directions, current news, calendar of events and businesses serving the area.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles

622 N. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-1274

Experience the history of Los Angeles first hand in the El Pueblo de Los Angeles district, located directly across the street from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Walk through historic buildings (now turned into museums) and enjoy the colorful Mexican marketplace on Olvera Street. El Pueblo tour information is available at The docent organization, Las Angelitas, provides free tours Tuesday – Saturday.

El Pueblo is within walking distance of the Civic Center, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Music Center and Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Olvera Street

845 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 625-7074

Named after the first county judge, Agustin Olvera, in 1877, Olvera Street was converted to a Mexican marketplace, including shops, galleries and restaurants, in 1930. It is the setting for holiday celebrations and Mexican-style dancing and music. Historical information about Olvera Street, El Pueblo and a community events calendar is available at

Mexican Cultural Institute

125 Paseo de la Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 417-8384

Located in the Biscailuz Building (1925-26), the institute offers a collection of Spanish-language literature, traditional Mexican handicrafts and traditional and contemporary Mexican art in its gallery.


Koreatown, also known as Wilshire Center, is bounded by Western Ave., Melrose Ave., Vermont Ave. and Olympic Blvd. Landmarks include the Wiltern Theatre and the historic Bullock’s Wilshire building. For more information about the area, visit

Korean Cultural Center

5505 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 936-7141

The center offers programs about Korean culture, history and the arts. The museum is the official link between the U.S. and Korea in the field of culture and includes a book and video library.

Koreatown Plaza

928 S. Western Ave., #300
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 382-1234

The plaza offers more than 80 shops, including apparel, bookstores, gifts and specialty stores, a grocery store, restaurants and financial services.

Chapman Plaza

3465 W. Sixth St.
Los Angeles, CA 90020

The Chapman Plaza, located at W. Sixth St. and S. Kenmore Ave. in a 1929 Spanish Colonial revival building, was one of Los Angeles’ first drive-in shopping centers. The plaza is one of the most popular hangouts for Koreans in Los Angeles with its cafes, restaurants, billiards and karaoke parlors.

Little Ethiopia

Little Ethiopia is located near the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles on Fairfax Ave. between Olympic and Pico boulevards. There are restaurants, markets, travel agencies, record stores, bakeries, and enough sources of goods and products to make Los Angeles feel a bit more like home to the city’s Ethiopian community.

Little India

Little India is located south of USC in Artesia, and is centered around Pioneer Blvd. between 183rd and 188th streets. The neighborhood offers Indian groceries, fashion, jewelry, videos, records and sweets, a Bollywood-only cineplex and restaurants specializing in regional cuisines such as Andrha, Gujrati and Punjabi.

Little Tokyo

Little Tokyo is the undisputed cultural focal point for Los Angeles’ Japanese population. It is located in the downtown Los Angeles area bordered by 3rd St. on the south side, Alameda St. and Central Ave. on the east side, 1st St. on the north and Los Angeles St. on the west. The district features hotels, restaurants, a tranquil Buddhist temple, shaded Japanese gardens, Isamu Noguchi sculptures and the Japanese American National Museum.

Japanese American National Museum

See “Museums.”

Japanese American Cultural and Community Center

244 S. San Pedro St., Ste. 505
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-2725

The center is the preeminent presenter of Japanese, Japanese American and Asian American performing and visual arts nationally, and provides office space to a number of nonprofit cultural, educational and community-based organizations. Its Website includes a community calendar of events, festivals and information about businesses and services available in Little Tokyo.


East West Players

See Civic Center Station.

Cold Tofu

222 S. Hewitt St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 739-4142

Improvisational theatre group that promotes diverse images of Asian Pacific Americans through comedy and develops multiethnic talent through education and performance.

Great Leap

1145 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 100-D
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 250-8800

The multicultural performing arts organization promotes cross-cultural exchange with local and nationwide audiences and presents original works in theatre, music and dance.


  • – Nikkei Federation is a clearinghouse of information on special events, sports leagues, clubs and social groups involving Southern California’s Japanese American community.
  • – Japanese restaurant guide.

Thai Town

Thai Town is centered on Hollywood Blvd. between Western and Normandie avenues. As the major economic and cultural hub for the Thai community, the area includes many shops, marketplaces, bookstores and cafes. For more information about Thai Town and upcoming events, visit

Thai Cultural Day

The Los Angeles Thai community celebrates Thai heritage and culture in a festival of ethnic food and entertainment in September at the Barnsdall Art Park. For more information, visit


  • – Provides information about Thai restaurants and culture in Los Angeles.

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