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Visiting Olvera Street — The Oldest Street in Los Angeles

by Mommy Frog on October 5, 2022 13 Los Angeles

If you are visiting Los Angeles and want to take a breather from the theme parks and beaches, you can add a little color to your trip by visiting Olvera Street. You’ll bring some culture and history lessons to your journey. All you need to do is hop out the doors of Union Station into the “birthplace of Los Angeles.” From there you can expand your journey to experience several other destinations in the diverse city of Los Angeles. There's a lot nearby on foot or by train.

Olvera Street and its surrounding areas offer many small free museums, shops, restaurants and music. Set in a traffic-free historic district, you can wander about at your own pace, which makes Olvera Street a great budget-friendly diversion in between visiting Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood. The kids will love shopping for souvenirs. Olvera Street is open seven days a week. Hours may vary from store to store.

Shopping While Visiting Olvera Street in Los Angeles

Visiting Olvera Street - Street Market

The tree-lined Mexican Marketplace is filled with open-air shops and street vendors selling souvenirs, treats, art and toys. Your kids will love shopping for mini accordions, guitars or colorful ponchos and Mexican fiesta dresses. You’ll enjoy seeing the piñatas, bags, wallets and sombreros for sale. It’s like saving you a trip to Mexico!

Eating at Olvera Street

Visiting Olvera Street - La Golondrina Cafe

All of that sightseeing can make you hungry. It’s a good thing there are a number of Mexican restaurants from quick-service, no-frills counters to sit-down, table-service restaurants all on Olvera Street. We had a long time before our next train, so we chose to relax and eat on the shady porch of La Golondrina Café, a table-service restaurant set in the first brick building of L.A. (This may be under new ownership post-pandemic.) Our food (shrimp tacos and chicken enchiladas) was very tasty. Another restaurant bragged of having the best carne asada fries in L.A. Those are some of the types of foods you can find on Olvera Street (along with traditional tamales, tacos and churros).

Museums at Olvera Street

Visiting Olvera Street - Avila Adobe

The Spanish King Carlos III ordered the building of pueblos to support his armies. That is how the city of Los Angeles was born in 1781, located near two missions.

Visiting Olvera Street - Avila Adobe

You can wander into the oldest house still standing in Los Angeles. The Avila Adobe (built in 1818) is right on Olvera Street, amid the shops. While there, you can see furnished rooms of the house and watch a video on how the city was formed. While on Olvera Street, you can also see an 1800s boarding house in the Sepulveda Block Museum, free art exhibits, a Museum of Social Justice, old churches and the nearby Chinese American Museum. All of the museums are free!

Experience Music and Art While Visiting Olvera Street in Los Angeles

Visiting Olvera Street - Musicians

While we ate lunch, we were serenaded by strolling musicians. Plus there were other musicians set up near the grandstand in the park. You can listen to Mexican cultural music as you read about statues/history or look over some of the colorful murals in the area. Sometimes you can catch Aztec and Mexican folkloric dancers in their colorful costumes.

Other Attractions Near Olvera Street in Los Angeles

Public Transportation to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood - Union Station

Olvera Street is just across the street from the beautiful Union Station. The signage in L.A. is actually quite good for getting around the historic areas. You can take a 15-minute walk to China Town from Olvera Street. You can also visit many more museums. There's an Italian American museum. The Broad contemporary art museum is a 15-minute walk away. Explore old churches such as Nuestra Senora Reina (founded in 1781), or take the subway from Union Station to a couple of destinations around L.A.

Off the red line, two stops away is Pershing Square, where you can access the Grand Central Market for several eateries—such as the trendy and curiously named Eggslut — and shopping for spices. You can walk to the Fashion District, Historical Little Tokyo and historical buildings such as the glamorous Biltmore Hotel. There are signs and descriptions of points of interest along the way.

If you and your tadpoles are music lovers, be sure to check out The Music Center where you can see popular broadway plays, visit the Walt Disney Concert Hall and more! 

Also along the Metro red line are stops in Hollywood, including Universal City/Universal Studios, where you can check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but you’ll want to plan a whole day to visit Universal. To find out how to take the train to Universal Studios (or even Disneyland), check out this post.

Visiting Olvera Street - Bolsas

We frogs love theme parks. But when we visit Los Angeles and Orange County, we also like to plan day trips to other destinations. Olvera Street is great historical fun. Besides Olvera Street in Los Angeles, we’ve also enjoyed hopping on the train or in the car for some family-friendly journeys to Orange County. All of these ideas can enrich your vacation and help you learn more about southern California and its culture.

Beyond Universal Studios Hollywood and other theme parks, Undercover Tourist offers discount tickets on a number of Los Angeles sightseeing tours and destinations. See all of our Los Angeles attractions

Related: Fun Things to Do in Los Angeles with Kids

Hoppy Planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments
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Sep 11, 2022 at 7:45 p.m. Regina Says...

I'm looking to buy a leather purse for my mom. I live on the East coast now but I remember going to Olvera Street when I was a child. Their leather purse were so pretty. Is there a way to buy one online?

May 26, 2020 at 10:20 p.m. Esmeralda M. Says...

I am a singer. Can I go and sing to the people that are visiting ? Acapella.

Sep 24, 2018 at 9:32 a.m. Gerald Says...

How long should I spend at Olvera Street? Plan to have lunch before coming here.

Oct 2, 2018 at 12:20 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Gerald!

1-2 hours should be plenty! Have fun :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Aug 18, 2017 at 5:13 p.m. Jennifer Says...

Is it safe for me to walk with two girls from The Broad to Olvera Street since we will already be parked?

Aug 18, 2017 at 1:41 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jennifer,

Yes, during the day it's a pleasant and paved 22-minute walk from Olivera Sreet to The Broad through Los Angeles.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Jun 16, 2022 at 2:26 a.m. Claudio Says...

Can we take my dog yo la placita Olvera

Jun 16, 2022 at 1:20 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Claudio!

There are no restrictions for dogs in general (just strolling along the street), though we would suggest that you double-check any individual restaurant, shop or other business for its policies on non-service animals. Other things to keep into consideration are the narrow sidewalks and crowds, especially on weekends.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Dec 27, 2016 at 8:59 p.m. Mario Says...

What do you guys think about Jan 5th? Will it be up in the air or still gauranteed busy?

Dec 27, 2016 at 3:11 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Mario,

On our Los Angeles Crowd Calendar, we're forecasting average crowds on January 5. Have a great time!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Dec 24, 2016 at 8:10 a.m. Andy Says...

I plan to take my family MTW on the second week of October 2017. It will be their first time. What is the prediction of being crowded then?

Dec 28, 2016 at 8:32 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Andy,

We're forecasting moderate crowds that week. Take a peek at our Los Angeles crowd calendar to see if that works for you!

Hoppy Planning!

Mommy Frog

Oct 3, 2016 at 6:51 p.m. Kelly Says...

Is Thanksgiving day crowed?

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