South Central is a relatively impoverished region of Los Angeles infamous for gang violence. Because of its reputation, Leimert Park has developed as an African-American cultural center.
As with most of LA, the area has a well-developed bus system facilitated by its square grid system. The Blue Line, which runs along the 110 Freeway, offers easy metro access from downtown. Streets are wide enough to prevent too much automobile traffic.
- Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Boulevard, Exposition Park, . Every day 9:30AM-5PM. A crown jewel of Los Angeles' museums. A national leader in exhibitions, education and research, the Museum was L.A.'s first cultural institution to open its doors to the public in 1913. It is the largest natural and historical museum in the Western United States, safeguarding more than 35 million spectacular, diverse specimens and artifacts. $12. edit
- California Science Center, 700 Exposition Park Drive, Exposition Park, . Every day 10AM-5PM. Best times to visit are weekdays after 1:30PM or weekends. Weekdays to 1:30PM are often busy. Permanent exhibition galleries free. edit
- California African American Museum, 600 State Drive, Exposition Park, . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Free. edit
- Watts Towers of Simon Rodia. 17 interconnected structures, two of which reach heights of over 99 feet (30 m). An example of non-traditional vernacular architecture and naïve art. The Towers are located near and visible from the 103rd Street-Kenneth Hahn Station of the Metro Rail LACMTA Blue Line. Next to the Towers is a small museum and a cultural center.
- Leimert Park - A famous center for Los Angeles' African-American culture, this neighborhood (just south of Crenshaw/Martin Luther King- accessible by bus) is a must-see if in the area. A quick sidetrip into nearby Baldwin Hills offers beautiful views of Downtown Los Angeles as well as a nice peek at lifestyles in the "Black Beverly Hills".
- The Shrine Auditorium - A huge venue that holds the Emmy's and other award shows. Located on Jefferson Blvd and Figueroa Street across the street from the University of Southern California, famous for its red bricks and nightlife. Closed to visitors.
- Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum - 3911 South Figueroa Street. The current official capacity of the Coliseum is 92,516. This is where the opening ceremonies of the Olympics were held. It is located on the south side of USC.
- University of Southern California hosts many musical and theatrical performances throughout the year that are free or cheap. USC football games are one option. Tickets can be purchased on campus at the Ticket Office next to Tommy Trojan, but can sometimes be hard to come by.
- Go to a Baptist (or AME) African-American Church for a peek into local spiritual culture.
- Go to a Leimert Park coffee shop at night for some spoken word or freestyle rap.
- Chanos - A taco stand frequented by USC students is located on Figueroa Street very close to the Shrine Auditorium. It is delicious, has a drive through and is open very late.
- Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles - Technically located in Inglewood (just outside LA City boundaries) on Manchester (or further north on La Brea in Country Club Park), this is the most well-known of the ubiquitous LA-area chicken & waffles restaurants. Cheap, and with good service, this restaurant is a convenient, quick dinner spot.
- La Taquiza - on Figueroa two blocks north of USC, this restaurant serves its famous "mulitas de res," a must-try Mexican dish.
Lots of cheap bars abound. For a peek into Greek university student life head to the 2-9 a few blocks west of Figueroa (just north of USC) or the 9-0 right on Figueroa (USC students' favorite dive).
- La Barca, 2414 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles. Another favorite hangout of USC students, locals, and law enforcement officers alike. Although it is actually a restaurant, La Barca is famous for its "two dollar tuesdays", when you can get strong and delicious margaritas and pina coladas for under three dollars. Expect a long line for seating on Tuesdays. They do not take reservations. edit
There's no shortage of cheap motels here. There are a few standard chain hotels in Inglewood near LAX which offer standard anonymous airport area accommodation. Otherwise, every block offers some sort of cheap accommodation. Luxury hotels, however, are in short supply.
- Los Angeles-Dayus In Airport Center, 901 W. Manchester Blvd, Inglewood. checkin: 12PM; checkout: 11AM. Starting at $100. edit
- Comfort Inn & Suites LAX Airport, 4922 W. Century Blvd, Inglewood. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. Starting at $100. edit
- Westfield Inn at LAX Inglewood, 4652 W. Century Blvd Inglewood. checkin: 1PM; checkout: 11AM. Starting at $55. edit
- Sea Rock Inn, 14032 S. Vermont Ave, ☎ 310 515 7260, . checkin: 2 PM; checkout: 11 AM. A budget hotel that offers daily and weekly room rentals. $50. edit
South Central has long had a reputation for violence. It was the scene of the '92 L.A. riots and is known for producing the Bloods, Crips, and other notorious gangs. Although its reputation has preceded itself over the past couple decades, it's no longer quite as dangerous or violent as some might suggest — though it's still not really a destination for the average tourist. While muggings still occur, most happen at night on smaller streets. Stay in groups of at least three if you must be on foot.
If you must drive through South Central (for example, because the Harbor or Century Freeways are jammed), try to do it only during daylight hours, with the assistance of a GPS navigation system (or a passenger armed with a good gun), carry a fully-charged cell phone, and stay on major arterial streets. To quote the great Dr. Dre "Cali sunshine come visit, just don't stop at stop signs with bullet holes in em"