Boyle Heights is a neighborhood of 100,000 residents located in central Los Angeles, just east of the downtown area.
Named after the Irish immigrant who originally purchased 20 acres along the Los Angeles River more than 200 years ago, it’s now one of the city’s most culturally diverse neighborhoods.
It’s close to many of the metropolitan area’s most iconic attractions, and its proximity to some of Southern California’s largest highways makes getting around easy for those interested in exploring the area by car.
Boyle Heights’ attractions include abundant museums, restaurants, theaters, parks, and other nearby ethnic enclaves like Little Tokyo.
1. Benjamin Franklin Library
Located on East 1st Street in Boyle Heights, the Benjamin Franklin Library is one of the neighborhood’s most enduring historical icons.
The library has been open for more than 100 years. Though the original structure has largely been replaced with contemporary architecture, it’s still one of the most notable buildings in the area.
In addition to an impressive collection of books, the library is also well-known for its large murals depicting aspects of local life and the various ethnicities that constitute its population.
The library’s staff also frequently hosts special events focusing on literature, art, and culture.
2. Evergreen Memorial Park & Crematory
Though it may seem like a macabre way to spend a few hours, visiting Evergreen Memorial Park and Crematory in Boyle Heights is a great way to get up to speed quickly on the area’s history.
The cemetery and crematory were established in the 1870s and are the final resting place for many of the city’s most prominent historical figures, including mayors, business moguls, and founders of more than a few of LA’s distinct municipalities.
Evergreen Memorial Park & Crematory has been a filming location for a number of popular movies over the years, and its paved paths are often full of walkers and joggers.
3. The Boyle Heights Museum
Dedicated to preserving and promoting the multicultural makeup and history of Boyle Heights, the Boyle Heights Museum is a worthwhile attraction for those interested in learning about what makes the area so diverse, vibrant, and unique.
The museum is conveniently located on East 1st Avenue. In addition to its impressive collections of art, cultural, and historical memorabilia, the facility’s staff conducts research and offers various educational programs and workshops throughout the year.
Their website also features a unique online museum, giving visitors working with limited itineraries a chance to experience the attraction without visiting its physical location.
4. Casa 0101
Founded by a best-selling Latina author born and raised in Boyle Heights, Casa 0101 is a unique area attraction that’s equal parts theater, gallery, and museum.
Casa 0101 is conveniently located in the downtown Boyle Heights area near to several other attractions. Its year-round calendar is packed with a variety of events, including plays, music and arts and crafts shows, dance, cultural celebrations, and children’s productions.
Casa’s staff also offer regularly scheduled classes for children and adults that focus on a wide range of topics, from acting and poetry to playwriting.
5. Otomisan Restaurant
Otomisan Restaurant in Boyle Heights is one of the area’s premier Japanese restaurants, and previous visitors have described its ambiance as trendy, comfortable, and inviting.
Featuring lots of traditional Japanese favorites – like teriyaki, tempura, and miso soup – its menu also includes seafood, salads, and hearty combo platters that come with rice and salad, which are perfect for value-conscious diners.
They’re also known for their huge portion sizes, which means sharing an entrée between two people is definitely doable, and there are often leftovers for those who order one of their own.
Otomisan is a family-owned restaurant located on East 1st Avenue in Boyle Heights.
6. Los Angeles City Hall
Located just a few blocks northwest of Boyle Heights in LA, Los Angeles City Hall is a towering multi-tiered structure that’s one of the area’s most notable examples of ‘20s-era architecture.
The building was finished in 1928 and features a popular observation deck offering great views of the surrounding city.
To enter, you’ll need a government-issued ID, after which you’ll get a visitor’s badge and instructions on how to reach the designated observation area on the 26th floor.
Parking can be hard to find in the area, so consider hopping on public transportation to make the short trip from Boyle Heights.
7. El 7 Mares
No matter where you find yourself in Southern California, you’re never far from the cultural influences that shape the city’s art, architecture, and food.
Boyle Heights is a largely Hispanic neighborhood, and traditional restaurants serving authentic fare are in no short supply.
El 7 Mares is located on East Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights and is famous for its fish tacos and fresh ceviche.
They’ve also got a popular happy hour that lasts a few hours longer than many of their competitors; it includes lots of great deals on food and drinks.
Expect reasonable prices, efficient service, and hefty portion sizes.
8. Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Though LA’s showbiz attractions tend to steal the spotlight for most out of state visitors, it’s often the hidden gems that have the biggest impact for those who take the time to find them.
Featuring gravesites for iconic entertainment celebrities like Sammy Davis Jr., Walt Disney, and Nat King Cole, the Forest Lawn Memorial Park on South Glendale Avenue in Glendale is just a 20-minute drive from Boyle Heights.
It’s a perfect side excursion for those interested in seeing things from a unique perspective. The facility also includes a renowned museum that showcases fine art, much of which centers on the founder’s Christian beliefs that touch on seminal Bible events like the crucifixion and resurrection.
9. The Alex Theater
Since it opened in 1925, The Alex Theater has been on of LA County’s premier entertainment venues.
The theater features an impressive spire and classy art deco architecture. It has been one of the area’s preeminent sites for blockbuster movie premieres over the years, including timeless hits like Ben-Hur and National Velvet.
The facility welcomes more than 100,000 visitors annually and features more than 200 productions per year.
Events include contemporary and classical music, dramatic theater, and movies. Guided tours are available as well.
The theater is located on North Brand Boulevard in Glendale, about 20 kilometers from Boyle Heights.
10. Huntington Library and Gardens
Named after the man who founded it more than 100 years ago, the Huntington Library and Gardens are must-visit attractions for those enamored by literature, natural beauty, and art.
The library’s eclectic and historically significant works are spread across three distinct galleries. Each gallery features comprehensive collections comprised of literature and artwork spanning many centuries and sourced from America and Europe.
After exploring the library’s indoor exhibits, most guests take a leisurely stroll through the fantastic botanical gardens that sprawl across more than 100 acres and include plants, trees, and flowers from all over the world.
The library and gardens are located in San Marino, about 20 minutes northeast of Boyle Heights.
11. Beaudry Loop
With balmy year-round temperatures and an abundance of sunny days, Southern California is a wonderland for fit and outdoorsy types.
Located on Beaudry Terrace in Glendale, less than a half-hour from Boyle Heights, Beaudry Loop is a popular six-mile trail that winds through the scenic Verdugo Mountains between Glendale and Burbank.
The trail features two routes that offer amazing views of the city skyline, as well as lots of relatively undisturbed natural areas that include foothills, ravines, and desert scrub.
Shade is scarce along the trails, so bring a hat, sunblock, and enough water for the round-trip.
12. Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Though it’s more commonly referred to by its acronym JPL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena is one of Southern California’s premier science and aerospace attractions.
The facility is a joint venture between NASA and Caltech and has been responsible for much of the groundbreaking technology that ultimately led to the development of jet engines and space travel.
Visitors can get a behind the scenes look at the facility if they sign-up for one of the regularly scheduled guided tours in advance of their visit.
Tours generally last a few hours, and the drive from Boyle Heights shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes, depending on traffic.
13. The Americana at Brand
Though the weather in Southern California is perfect for much of the year, during the summer months, the heat can be downright oppressive.
If you’ll be visiting, it’s a good idea to have a backup list of indoor attractions. The Americana at Brand is a great place to indulge in a little retail therapy out of the elements.
Located on Americana Way in Glendale – just 20 minutes by car from Boyle Heights – it includes dozens of shops, restaurants, and a mega theater featuring nearly 20 screens.
The facility’s restaurants run the gamut from fast food and quick-casual to more pricy options like the Cheesecake Factory.
14. Eaton Canyon Nature Center
Featuring nearly 200 acres of undisturbed natural areas and a state of the art visitor’s center, the Eaton Canyon Nature Center is a go-to attraction for visitors who’ve tired of the area’s often overcrowded urban attractions.
The center is set amidst the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and includes engaging, interactive exhibits that touch on zoology, botany, and ecology; many of them are appropriate for young visitors.
For families traveling on budgets, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon. During the spring, fall, and winter, when the weather is just right, it’s perfect for picnics, hikes, bike rides, and bird watching.
The center is located on North Altadena Drive in Pasadena, about 20 kilometers northeast of Boyle Heights.
15. The Warner Brothers Studio Tour
Taking a guided tour of Warner Brothers Burbank studios is one of the LA area’s most popular vacation activities.
For film buffs and lovers of classic movies made during the Golden Age of cinema, it’s like a walk down memory lane.
Warner Brothers also produces contemporary movies and television shows ranging from Friends and The Big Bang Theory to Harry Potter. Tours are generally big hits with the old and young alike.
Burbank is located about 15 kilometers north of Boyle Heights, and tours last between three and six hours depending on which option you choose.