This historic district, El Pueblo, is where Los Angeles was first born as a city and still serves as a hub of Latino culture. The Olvera Street marketplace paints a romanticized portrait of Old Los Angeles filled with adobe decor, zig-zagging brick walkways, and outdoor cafes where it’d be impossible not to catch a waft of carnitas from nearby taco stands. It draws millions of visitors throughout the year and is especially busy on occasions like Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo, and, of course, Dia de los Muertos.
What to Expect
Olvera Street hosts a procession and blessing each night of Dia de los Muertos -- the candlelit Novenario is a tradition that predates Columbus -- with free pan de muerto (sweet bread) and champurrado (a thick chocolate drink) served afterward. The processions lead up to a two-day festival on November 1-2 that delivers with street performers, Aztec dancers, ornate altars, and mariachis aplenty. Be prepared to see a legion of skeleton-costumed revelers who look like they could be sidekicks to David S. Pumpkins.
Being so close to Union Station, Olvera Street can be conveniently reached by public transit (a phrase you will rarely hear with destinations in LA County) with the Metro’s gold, purple, and red lines running directly into the station. DASH buses connect downtown Los Angeles, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, and the financial district to El Pueblo with buses stopping every 10 minutes and costing only 25 cents.
But I Insist on Driving!
If you’re still planning to drive, then know street parking will be scarce during the festivities. The least expensive parking structure in the area is Gateway Plaza behind Union Station and is a 10-minute walk away. There are additional lots at the Metro Hotel, by the old post office, and on North Spring Street north of Cesar E. Chavez Avenue.