The Ducks are again in contention for a national championship game, and as hundreds of Ducks make the migration south to Pasadena, CA for the “Granddaddy of them all” comes an opportunity to explore the second largest city in the United States. With respect to the beautiful city of Pasadena, there’s not much to do before or after January 1st celebrations. Fortunately, Los Angeles. is not too far of a drive away.

But as a native “Angelino” it upsets me when people think of Hollywood as Los Angeles. The landscape of Downtown Los Angeles is much more beautiful and historic than grimmy Hollywood Blvd. So in an attempt to showcase the unknown beauties of my hometown, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite places to visit and eat so fellow Ducks can visit in the couple of days they’re in Southern California.

Metro/Union Station

There’s no misconception about L.A. traffic – it’s awful. And Los Angeles isn’t much of a bike-friendly city, so the best forms of transportation in the city are the subway (yes, Los Angeles has a subway system) and walking. A quick drive to the closest metro parking lot and station and an $7 day-pass (plus $1 card fee) gives you access to Los Angeles’ 503 sq. miles. Union Station is just a few miles away from the heart of Downtown and offers a mission style architecture giving it a more historic and ancient feel to it.

City Hall/ Grand Park

A stretch of about 12 acres lies in front of Los Angeles’ city hall, and the view is outstanding. A long patch of grass and a colored fountain are right under the towering building a few blocks over. A quick stroll through this park and you’ll be captivated by the layout of the city’s buildings. (There’s a Starbucks to the left of this fountain – order your favorite drink. Trust me on this one.)

Disney Concert Hall

You don’t necessarily need to dress up and attend a philharmonic concert to appreciates its beauty. This Frank Gehry building is located in the heart of Downtown, but sits just outside where the skyscrapers are, making it feel like you’re an ant entering a forest. Though many people know about the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but few actually climb up the stairs on the side of the building to find a sitting area where you can chat and drink a cup of your favorite Starbucks drink overlooking the city’s tallest buildings.

The Last Bookstore

This is no Powell’s Books, but the former bank building offers a unique and artistic element to the popular bookstore. Located in what is known as Pershing Square is the bookstore that has beat up mannequins and a half tunnel built entirely of books. The floorboards creek when you walk and the used books form an antique atmosphere that is soothing in a loud and busy city. Whether you’re in the search for a new book to read or want to pick up a Beetles vinyl for your collection, this store is has it all.

Museum of Natural History/Science Center/Rose Garden

Museums are cool. There’s so much to do this in this small area. Sticking to the theme of roses, the Rose Garden is placed in between the California Science Center and the Natural History Museum. Take a stroll through this enchanting garden. At the Science Center you can get a glimpse of Space Shuttle Endeavor (entrance is free, but a time reservation may be required). Also, make sure to wear your Duck gear to this location because USC is across the street.


This modern art museum’s most popular exhibits can be accessed for free. The “Urban Lights” create this illusion of being completely surrounded by street lights. The aisles seem to become smaller and the light posts seems to grow the deeper you go in. “Levitated Mass” is a 340-ton granite megalith and for the art experience to be complete, you have to walk under the megalith. Admission to the museum is $10 for students with their ID.


Need I say more? Find the nearest In-N-Out here.

Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles

This lesser-known gem represents the rich black culture present in Los Angeles. In 2001, President Barack Obama made an unscheduled visit to one of the restaurants and ordered what is now known as the “Obama Special.” For the Roscoe’s in Pasadena and around the Los Angeles area visit here.

Need a map to find your way around? Use this one:

Follow Mike Mendoza on Twitter @MikeWheresIke

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