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8 Fun Things To Do Near Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

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Are you looking for fun things to do near Little Tokyo? Here’s a list of best things to do in and beyond the Little Tokyo district in Los Angeles.

The Little Tokyo Historic District, better known as just Little Tokyo, is located in downtown Los Angeles and is the epicentre of the biggest Japanese-American population within the United States. Little Tokyo covers four acres of prime real estate and is home to shops, restaurants, homes and attractions. Tourists love visiting this vibrant neighbourhood while getting to indulge in Japanese history and culture.

When you arrive in this lovely area, find a luggage storage service nearby to stow your large bags. Explore this fantastic area and check out some of the top fun things to do near Little Tokyo.

Griffith Observatory - Things To Do Near Little Tokyo
Griffith Observatory – Things To Do Near Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

Fun Things To Do Near Little Tokyo

1. James Irvine Japanese Garden at JACCC

This Japanese-style garden is best known as Seiryu-en in Japanese or Garden of the Clear Stream in English. Many say it is truly a hidden gem right in the middle of downtown L.A. This Zen garden is very well maintained and is breath-taking to visit. Many weddings and receptions have been held at Seiryu-en, due to the beautiful backdrop of the flowering plants, shrubs and trees.

Stroll across the cedar bridges that span a peaceful cascading stream. Look out over the waterfall and listen to the tinkling of the cascading water. It is the perfect place to stop for a few minutes of quiet meditation and soak up the beauty that surrounds you.

2. Japanese Village Plaza

This bi-level complex is located right at the entrance to Little Tokyo in downtown L.A. The plaza has several Japanese markets, shops, offices, and eateries you will want to spend an afternoon wandering through. For visitors, this place is an amalgamation of relaxation and comfort. This historic shopping plaza has evolved into an extension of Little Tokyo and is filled with cultural and historic references to the Japanese way of life.

3. Koyasan Buddhist Temple

The Koyasan Buddhist Temple, also known as the Koyasan Beikoku Betsuin, is located inside Little Tokyo. Its incredible and authentic architecture attracts many visitors. The serenity of the temple is simply amazing. Built in 1912 it is one of the earliest Buddhist temples on mainland North America. It serves the Koyasan Shingon Buddhists in the area and is open for you to visit when there are no services.

4. Los Angeles County Museum Of Art (LACMA)

Head over to Wilshire Boulevard and visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art or the LACMA. Located on Museum Row, it is just down from the La Brea Tar Pits. This visual arts museum is home to a large collection of Japanese and Islamic arts.

LACMA opened in 1961 after it was split from the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art. Modern and contemporary paintings, photographs, and textiles are on display from Japanese artists as well as Islamic artwork from around the world. Check out the library while here. You may even visit during one of the music or film events that LACMA hosts throughout the year. The museum also offers several online services such as selling books, apparel and art.

5. Universal Studios Hollywood

When you are visiting Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, you have to make a short side trip to visit Universal Studios Hollywood. This film studio and theme park is located in the San Fernando Valley and is an absolute must-see when you are in the area. A large portion of the studio is located on an island known as Universal City. It is one of the oldest studios in Hollywood that is still being used. It is also one of the most famous studios in the United States.

Sign up for a tour of the Entertainment Capital of Los Angeles and check out the behind-the-scenes look at many popular sets. Then head over to the theme park for a day of fun, laughter and excitement.

6. Griffith Observatory

About 10 minutes from Little Tokyo is Griffith Park on the south-facing side of Mount Hollywood. The Griffith Observatory offers fantastic views of downtown L.A., Hollywood, the Pacific Ocean, and the Los Angeles Basin. You will get fantastic photos of the iconic Hollywood sign when you visit the Griffith Observatory. There are scientific exhibits that are free to view as well as a big telescope.

The place is very popular and can quickly become crowded. So it is best to come early in the day or later in the evening to avoid the biggest crush of people. Sometimes you will get to see the staff moving the telescope if you come during off-peak hours.

7. The Broad

This contemporary art museum is located on Grand Avenue and is not far from Little Tokyo. The Broad was named after Eli and Edythe Broad, the philanthropists that financed the building the museum is housed in. General admission to the permanent collections is free. Traveling or special exhibits do usually have a small fee to view. The permanent collection galleries are open and spacious, showcasing the art of modern artists.

The building itself is a modern marvel and a work of art. It is one of the most photographed buildings in the area. Plan to spend about two hours to fully see everything The Broad has to offer.

8. La Brea Tar Pits Museum

When you visit Hancock Park, head over to Museum Row and visit the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. These interesting groups of tar pits are made of natural asphalt that seeped from the ground and was uncovered to create a park and museum. Over the years, the tar pits were covered by water and debris, causing animals to wander out over the tar and becoming trapped. The tar in the pits has preserved the bones of these trapped animals and you can see many of them when you visit.

While exploring the museum do check out the atrium. Once you come outside the atrium, you can see the actual tar pits. It is free to see the tar pits but there is an admission fee for the museum and atrium.

After you have explored Little Tokyo to the fullest, take some time to visit some of the top 8 fun things to do near this iconic area. From art museums to tar pits, you will see many fun and exciting things.

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Anjali Wadhwa (cheerfultrails) is a travel consultant and enthusiast who has traveled to 15+ countries. She shares about her explorations through her writings. You will find detailed itineraries, best travel tips and well experienced recommendations for food, transportation and hotels on her blog.

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