Monday, September 12, 2011

#210: L.A. Conservancy Historic Walking Tours

"Out with the old and in with the new" is probably not the Los Angeles Conservancy's favorite saying, at least when buildings are concerned.  The Conservancy is a nonprofit group that works to preserve historic architecture in L.A.. Thanks to their efforts, L.A. treasures such as the Wiltern Theater, the Cinerama Dome, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House have been saved and revitalized.

The Los Angeles Conservancy offers eight walking tours of L.A.'s historic buildings, including Angelino Heights, Downtown's Modern Skyline, Broadway's Commercial and Theater District, Union Station, Spring & Main, and Art Deco architecture

While all of the tours sounded fascinating, the one that caught my eye was the tour of the elegant Biltmore Hotel.  

For just $10 per person, we were treated to an educational tour of the Biltmore Hotel's history and design.  The tour was supposed to be 1 3/4 hours, but it was more like 2 1/2 hours since everyone in our 8 person group had lots of questions which our tour guide was happy to answer.  

view from Pershing Square

The tour started in the center of Pershing Square. Parking under the square was only $5 with validation. After giving us a brief timeline of the 1,500 room hotel, our guide led us across the street and into the hotel lobby.  

the original lobby of the hotel, now an afternoon tea dining area

The hotel was built in the Renaissance style with a heavy Mediterranean influence.  It opened in 1923 and became the place to see and be seen throughout the decades.  It was also one of the first venues to host the Academy Awards.

The front of the Hotel. A portrait of Ceres on the left and Neptune on the right.

One part of the Biltmore which has remained intact through all the renovations is the ceilings.  Wherever you go in the hotel, you'll find yourself always looking up.

The Biltmore walking tour is a bargain. It's much more affordable than spending a night at the hotel, and you even get to see parts of the hotel that might otherwise be inaccessible or occupied.

Some tips for your visit:

  • Wear comfortable shoes since you will be on your feet most of the time
  • Photos are allowed, so bring your camera!
  • Take advantage of the $5 parking and explore the area after the tour. We had a fantastic early dinner at Bottega Louie, which is just a block away. 
  • The Biltmore Hotel, Angelino Heights and Broadway Tours require reservations. The other five tours allow walk-ins. 

the grand ballroom

Have you been on one of the L.A. Conservancy Historic Tours?  Which one? Leave me a comment below!

Los Angeles Conservancy Historic Tours


  1. This looks absolutely beautiful. The pictures are great. This will have to be on our list to see when we finally visit y'all.

  2. i've gone on their art deco tour! Also an amazing tour! Biltmore is next on my list, thanks!

  3. @ Eugi: I want to go on the Art Deco tour next! Haha. Have fun at the Biltmore :)

    @ Susan: Yes, let's go on a tour next time you come over!

  4. I went on the historic downtown tour! so great.

  5. Cool! Another one I must go on soon. Thanks for the comment :)