Olvera Street (also known as Calle Olvera, in Spanish) is the birthplace of Los Angeles. Everything began with this one little street. The original pueblo was built by the 44 settlers (eleven families) of Los Angeles in 1781, after a historic trek from the San Gabriel Mission. Today, what was once known as Pueblo de La Reina De Los Angeles, is one of the top tourist destinations in L.A.
Docents offer free tours of the many historic buildings and the traditional style Mexican Plaza (visiting Olvera Street is free, and open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily). If you visit, try some authentic tacos, taquitos, and enchiladas (don't forget the guacamole!) at one of the many fantastic restaurants and outdoor cafes. You can also stroll the marketplace and shop for handcrafted Mexican wares, a popular souvenir. On weekends there's free outdoor entertainment, such as performances by bollero musicians, mariachis, and folk dances by Aztec Indians. It's a great place to take the kids.
If you are in town at the end of October, Calle Olvera's week-long festival for Dia de los Muertos (or, Day of the Dead) is one of the best in the U.S. The colorful, ancient Mexican ceremony celebrates departed loved ones with beautifully decorated altars, exhibits, entertainment, a Pre-Columbian Novenario procession, and blessings each night.
Olvera Street is just across the street from Union Station and very close to Chinatown. You can stay at any of the downtown Los Angeles hotels or take the Metro from any of the Hollywood hotels with ease.
- Lesley Bracker