Inside LA

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The Los Angeles Lowdown

For locals who want to experience LA like a visitor and visitors who want to experience LA like a local.

the Los Angeles Lowdown

The Los Angeles Lowdown is designed by us to take you inside LA, whether you’re visiting or you live here. From current-affairs inspired articles on Southern California’s history, to our suggestions on the best things to do in LA every month, via inside information on authentic experiences and events, we give you the essential lowdown on the city of angels.

And if you’re a visitor looking for more specific information related to your trip here, such as where to staywhere to eata list of the best family activities in Los Angeles or how to navigate the city using public transport, don’t forget to check L.A. Info.

Union Station: LA’s Great Rail Terminus

May 7, 2024

Los Angeles Union Station is to LA what Grand Central Station is to New York. It’s our major rail terminus, designed and built to reflect the history and feel of the city back at us as we pass through. It opened in May 1939 with much fanfare, ironically just as the US was falling out of…

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Hollywood: LA’s Dream Factory

April 30, 2024

This is the story of how a small farming town outside a mid-range American city became the most famous neighborhood in the entire world. Probably 95% of the world’s population know that there’s a place called Hollywood and that it’s in Los Angeles. How did that happen? Why did that happen? Even if you don’t consider yourself…

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Musso & Frank Grill: Hollywood Institution

March 25, 2024

Musso & Frank Grill opened in September 1919, 105 years ago later this year. In a town that changes so much, and is really almost unrecognizable to when Musso’s first opened, this Hollywood institution has somehow managed to remain the same. The menu and cocktails are exactly how you would want them to be, timeless…

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Film Noir: A Dark Side Of The City Of Angels

March 3, 2024

There’s something very LA about Film Noir. In a similar way that the novels of Charles Dickens recreate the feel of Victorian London, Film Noir captures the aesthetic and atmosphere of 1940’s and 50’s Los Angeles. The different aspects of the city, from lovely sunny beaches to downtown concrete jungle, made a perfect setting for these dark stories, as the paranoid protagonist falls into a…

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The Old Los Angeles Chinatown

February 22, 2024

With this month marking the date of the Lunar New Year (as celebrated in China and much of Asia) we wanted to take a look at the birth of Chinese-American culture in Los Angeles and, specifically, the history of LA’s Chinatown. Although San Francisco’s Chinatown is more famous, Los Angeles has been home to a…

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Bridget ‘Biddy’ Mason: Los Angeles Pioneer

February 8, 2024

In honor of Black History Month (this month) and Women’s History Month (in March) we’re celebrating the life and achievements of Bridget ‘Biddy’ Mason. An African American woman who was born into slavery in the old South, Biddy was brought to Los Angeles in the 1850’s (much against her will), only to become a free…

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Crime Seen: Prohibition in LA

January 4, 2024

America is almost unique among developed countries for its ban on alcohol, beginning in January 1920 (104 years ago this month) with the passage of the Volstead Act, which is known as Prohibition. Although it’s now synonymous with the corruption and organized crime that it later spawned, at the time the intention was to address…

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Crime Seen: LA Chinatown Massacre

October 24, 2023

One of the things we believe in at the Real Los Angeles Tours is talking about the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of history. It’s really the only way of looking at our past, if we ignore the nasty and ugly episodes then we are almost certainly dooming ourselves to continue making the…

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Legendary Los Angeles Latinos

September 18, 2023

People from the Spanish-speaking countries of Central and South America have had an enormous impact on Los Angeles. Which isn’t at all surprising when you consider nearly fifty per cent of the population of Los Angeles today has a Hispanic background and that, therefore Los Angeles Latinos form the largest ethnic share of the population.…

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Historic Preservation in Los Angeles

July 3, 2023

Historic Preservation in Los Angeles is a much more important thing here than many people realize. Is it important enough, though? That’s another question. It’s such a relevant concern here because so much of the city’s ethos is about reinvention. LA has often been a city that erases, or tries to erase, its past, as…

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Angels Flight: LA’s Last Funicular

January 15, 2023

One of DTLA’s many gems is Angels Flight, a funicular railway that connects Grand Central Market and the Historic Core to the Bunker Hill Financial District. In 2013 it was closed due to safety issues and it felt disappointing explaining to guests on our tours that the neglected, graffiti-covered, trolley cars were two of the most beautiful remaining artifacts of Victorian Los Angeles. Unused, rundown and…

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Hollywood Playhouse: Avalon Nightclub

January 13, 2023

The performing arts building at 1735 Vine Street, now known as the Avalon, has been singularly successful over the course of its nearly hundred-year-old life. When the Hollywood Playhouse opened in the 1920’s most theaters being erected in Los Angeles were being designed for moving pictures, meaning a smaller stage area was needed. The developers…

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Beverly Hills & The Stars Houses Tour

December 12, 2022

The name of Beverly Hills is synonymous with Los Angeles and the movie-star lifestyle. There probably isn’t a single visitor to Southern California who hasn’t heard of this small city, nestled on the slopes of the Santa Monica mountains, in the LA suburbs. It forms one of the four pillars of the city’s praetorian glamor…

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Crime Seen: The Barclay Hotel

November 13, 2022

The Barclay Hotel is, more or less, right in the navel area of the dark underbelly of downtown Los Angeles.The Hotel Cecil has become famous in the last few years, reaching a peak in 2021 with the Netflix mini-series The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel. However the Barclay has just as dark a history as the Cecil,…

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Crime Seen: The Hotel Cecil

July 17, 2022

Amongst Los Angeles hotels the Hotel Cecil holds a unique place. It’s a marquee name that not only a lot of Angelenos know, but also many visitors too. It’s been the subject of numerous documentaries, articles and, even, a TV horror series, yet you can’t actually rent a room there (at time of publication). In…

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The Los Angeles River: Past & Future

June 15, 2022

By the 2000′s the Los Angeles River had become little more than a joke in the city to which it gave its name. used only as a post-apocalyptic location for action movies and as a punchline for late-night chat show hosts. Despite the fact that many of Los Angeles’ inhabitants probably still don’t even know of…

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The Ambassador Hotel’s Date With Destiny

June 14, 2022

The Ambassador Hotel is one of Los Angeles’ most famous hotels. Which is no mean feat in a city that boasts the Biltmore, the Beverly Wilshire, the Chateau Marmont and many other famous, and infamous, establishments. The Ambassador’s renown comes from its reputation as a place of entertainment and glamor from its opening in 1921 to…

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What Happened To Los Angeles Streetcars?

April 4, 2022

Did Los Angeles have streetcars guests often ask us on tours, whenever the subject comes up. Many visitors, and even a few Angelenos, don’t even know that we have a metro rail system, they assume that “everyone drives in LA”, so it comes as a shock to them to learn that in the 1920’s we…

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Toypurina: LA Freedom Fighter

March 15, 2022

For Women’s History Month I want to look at someone from the earliest years of Los Angeles, Toypurina. In many cultures and countries around the world there are legendary historical women, leaders who rallied their people to fight foreign invaders. Examples include Joan of Arc in fifteenth century France, who emerged from a humble background…

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The Commercial Exchange Building

February 20, 2022

The South Park neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles is undergoing enormous change at the moment, as new apartment and condominium blocks sprout upwards and older buildings (such as the beautiful Herald Examiner Building and the Commercial Exchange Building) are renovated and repurposed, often as lofts or ‘creative’ offices. The crypto.com Arena and the many restaurants,…

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Outbreak: Spanish Flu In LA in 1918

February 20, 2021

It’s hard to think about anything other than Coronavirus or Covid-19 right now. It’s taken over the news cycle and our lives. Los Angeles is almost entirely shut down – schools, movie theaters, restaurants, bars and most businesses (including The Real Los Angeles Tours). Most of us have never experienced anything like it before. Life…

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How To Guarantee Seeing A Celebrity In LA

May 14, 2024

Some people have become obsessed by a celebrity and it can be very unhealthy. The news is full of stories of stars who’ve been stalked by overly-fanatical fans so I’m definitely not condoning that kind of stuff in How to Guarantee Seeing a Celebrity in LA! The first thing to know about famous people (and…

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Los Angeles On A Layover

April 9, 2024

If you’re booking a flight and the chance presents itself to visit Los Angeles on a layover, or stopover, you probably aren’t going to refuse the opportunity, especially if you’ve never been here before. LA is a place that most people would like to visit, at least once, in their lives. And why not? Forgetting…

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Culver City: LA’s Hidden Westside Gem

February 1, 2024

Culver City isn’t by any means considered one of Los Angeles County’s best known cities. Sitting on the Westside, almost completely surrounded by the city of LA, at first it can seem like it’s in-between a lot of other, much more interesting, places such as Santa Monica, Koreatown, Venice, downtown and even Beverly Hills. However,…

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Crime Seen: The Black Dahlia

January 8, 2024

The Black Dahlia is one of the most famous unsolved murder cases in criminal history and a subject for numerous documentaries, books, TV episodes and movies. Law enforcement agencies, criminal experts, on-camera presenters and amateur sleuths have all attempted to solve the case, all without success. Rather like the Jack the Ripper murders in London…

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The Sunset Strip: LA’s Adult Playground

January 3, 2024

Victor Ponet, a Belgian businessman and diplomat, bought 240 acres of the old Rancho La Brea in 1890. His new estate consisted mostly of poinsettia fields and was a couple of miles west of a small village that was only just becoming known as Hollywood. Fourteen years later Ponet had a six-hundred foot long dirt…

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Hollywood Sign: Hiking & History

November 9, 2023

The Hollywood Sign is such an iconic structure that it never needs an introduction or description to first-time visitors who are guests. They know it well, having seen it untold times in movies, TV shows and news pieces. They’ve almost certainly seen a picture of it many times too. Interestingly if you next ask them…

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Broadway Los Angeles: Historic Theater District

June 14, 2023

When we visit the Broadway Los Angeles Theater District on our tours, visitors from outside LA can get confused. We have a Broadway here too? Their confusion only increases when we tell them that it actually has the largest number of historic theaters in the U.S. It does perhaps seem incredible – but it’s true.…

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Bicycling In Los Angeles: 6 Great Routes

May 2, 2023

A lot of people, both visitors AND locals don’t even think it’s possible to go bicycling in Los Angeles. Or even if it is, that it would be unsafe, not to mention downright dangerous. The car is king here – this ain’t Yurup (which is how we say Europe by the way). However, you probably…

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San Fernando Valley: A Fascinating Place

March 18, 2023

The San Fernando Valley is, in many ways, underrated. Sure, it has some big attractions, such as Universal Studios, but it’s often derided as a suburban sprawl that’s generally way hotter than the rest of Los Angeles and much less interesting. It’s not seen as having either the cultural might of Hollywood, nor the theme park riches…

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Sid Grauman & His Theatres

February 24, 2023

When the TCL Chinese Theatre opened in 1927 it was known as Sid Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and some older Angelenos still call it such. Directly opposite, across the Walk of Fame, is the El Capitan Theatre, now owned by Disney, but when it opened in 1926 it was a Broadway style theatre that was part-owned…

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Venice: LA’s Seaside Neighborhood

July 24, 2022

Since its founding 117 years ago this month Venice Los Angeles has always attracted visitors, both from the region and, later, world. Conceived as a Disneyland – before Disneyland existed or had even been conceived – it was a crucial developmental stage between the early amusement parks, like Coney Island, and the huge adventure parks…

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Griffith Park: LA’s Greatest Gift

April 26, 2022

Visitors to Los Angeles may not know Griffith Park by name (although many do), but you would struggle to find anyone in the world not familiar with its best-known landmark, the Hollywood Sign. Griffith Park’s 4,300-acres make it five times the size of Central Park in New York (it’s not a competition – but if…

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Santa Monica: LA’s Beach Resort

April 5, 2022

Santa Monica is a city with Los Angeles County, but it’s long been considered the beach resort for Los Angeles. Now the city is very much part of LA’s Westside, but until the 1950’s it was separated from its much larger neighbor by open farmland. Angelenos, and visitors, would come to Santa Monica to swim…

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Charles Chaplin’s Los Angeles Today

January 1, 2022

In the end, everything is a gag. Charles Chaplin Charles Spencer Chaplin, or ‘Charlie’ for short, is one of the most influential figures from the early days of Hollywood and one of the entertainment industry’s first, and greatest, superstars. Not only do his pioneering silent films endure the test of time, with six of his…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In June

May 10, 2024

As the weather continues to warm up, there are more and more outdoor activities and events going on in Los Angeles this month. LA Pride (which features a bunch of separate events) definitely comes to mind here, but there are some great things happening indoors too! Every Summer the LA Conservancy throw open the historical…

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Malibu Food & Wine Tour

April 22, 2024

Get ready for the ultimate Malibu tour! This day trip includes 3 different wine tastings in the Malibu area and a scenic drive through the Santa Monica mountains. The whole day will be arranged in advance by an expert guide so that you can focus on taking in the sights… and enjoying the wine! This…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In May

April 12, 2024

With the advent of May comes the official beginning of Summer. This is a great time to be in Los Angeles as the days get warmer and longer, but with a cool marine layer coming off the Pacific creating the famous ‘May grey’, it’s almost the perfect temperature. This month we’ve got a beach festival,…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In April

March 14, 2024

“Ah! Los Angeles in the Spring”: said absolutely no one. But they should – LA is a great time to be at this time of year. The rainy season is behind us, the nights are longer, it’s nice and warm, but it still hasn’t gotten hot yet. Things are starting to gear up for summer…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In March

February 16, 2024

There are always a ton of things happening in Southern California, but what are the best things to do in LA in March? As Winter turns to Spring events and opportunities are popping up like flowers pushing their heads up! From Infinity Rooms to Saint Patrick’s Day parades at the beach, via marathons, secret gardens…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In February

January 16, 2024

February is a surprisingly good month in LA for events, there’s the advent of the Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, Bob Baker Marionettes AND numerous other things going on. It may only be the second month of the year, but we’re not waiting around in Los Angeles, we aren’t wasting time – we’re creating amazing…

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The Sunset Strip: True Crime & Ghost Tour

January 3, 2024

What do Lindsay Lohan, Bugsy Siegel and Charles Manson have in common? Sunset Boulevard. Find out if they have any other similarities on our true crime deep dive of the Strip. The Sunset Strip is one of the most famous streets in Los Angeles – and that’s saying something, bearing in mind that Hollywood Boulevard…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In January

December 13, 2023

There are lots of great events in Los Angeles this month, Christmas and the New Year doesn’t slow us down at all! January starts with a bang, with one of the biggest and most famous festivals in the U.S., and it doesn’t let up after that. There are cultural celebrations, art exhibitions, comedy shows, a…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In December

November 16, 2023

December is always a busy month, and there are always a ton of demands on our time. We’re rushing here, rushing there, as well as trying to do all the Christmas shopping, get all the food, do the social rounds etc. Maybe you’re looking for something different to do with friends or family, maybe you…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In November

October 12, 2023

Great things are happening in Los Angeles this month. From fairytale forests to hiking the highest peaks in the city, via red carpets and Academy Awards, we’ve got the lowdown for you, right here. Every month The Real Los Angeles Tours produces a list of ten of the top events or attractions in southern California,…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In October

September 7, 2023

October, for most Angelenos, means two things: Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos. As you would expect there are a ton of those events happening this month in Los Angeles that are based around those themes. However, not everyone wants to do a Halloween themed event, so I’ve included a range of activities and experiences…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In September

August 20, 2023

There are some great things happening in Los Angeles this month – from al fresco cinema to concerts by the beach, via film festivals and Mexican Independence Day celebrations. Every month we produce a list of upcoming events and other activities that we think anyone here, Angeleno or visitor, might want to do. Many of…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In August

July 24, 2023

August is a popular time to visit Los Angeles and, as always, there are a ton of things going on here this month. What we, at The Real Los Angeles Tours, try to do here is break it down and give you an easy to manage list, a selection of cool activities that we think…

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10 Best Things To Do In LA In July

June 23, 2023

As summer – more commonly known as pool party season in Los Angeles – gets into full gear we start the month off with THE most ‘merican of celebrations, Independence Day. It’s a special day here, probably partly because LA has a such a significant immigrant population (they’re often the ones who are most enthusiastic…

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