Chinatown is near the intersection of U.S. 101 and State 110. From U.S. 101, take the Broadway exit, pass Cesar E. Chavez Ave., and continue north for several blocks. Many area stores and restaurants validate parking, and openair lots charge $3-$5. Or take the Metro Gold Line ($1.25; metro.net) to the Chinatown Station. INFO chinatownla.com
Why go now: Celebrate Chinese New Year 4707, the year of the ox, by trying something new.
Main streets: Broadway and Hill Street Get the lay of the land: Download a free neighborhood map (angelswalkla.org/walks_china town.html). You'll see Bruce Lee's former studio and the Dynasty Center for designer knockoffs.
Brush up on local film lore: Watch Roman Polanski's Chinatown.
Get a fiery start to the year: Thousands of firecrackers will ward off evil spirits and signal the start of the Los Angeles Chinatown Firecracker Run (Feb 8; from $30; firecracker10k.org).
Discover a new favorite artist: Hit studios like the Happy Lion Gallery (closed Sun; 963 Chung King Rd.; thehappylion.com); China Art Objects (closed Sun; 933 Chung King; chinaartobjects. com); and Sister (closed Sun; 955 Chung King; sisterla.com).
More must-stop Chinatown eats
Get your Peking ducks in a row with a classic Chinese barbecue dinner at Hong Kong BBQ. Congee--a savory rice porridge-- comes in at least a dozen incarnations. Also try hot pots in inventive combos like Cantonese beef stew and turnip. $; 803 N. Broadway; 213/687-7238.
Warm up at Via Cafe, where you can slurp a bowl of Vietnamese pho (pronounced "fuh") piled with bean sprouts, jalapenos, and basil. Assemble your own appetizers of fresh herbs, cucumbers, pickled veggies, and meat, shrimp, or tofu, and sweet-potato fritters. $; 415 Gin Ling Way, Ste. B; 213/617-1481.
Adventurous eaters should stop by Automat--a fast-food joint with vending machines full of international snacks rarely seen stateside. Anyone up for shrimp-flavored chips, instant corn salad, or Pocky's crisp, thin, chocolatecovered biscuit sticks? $; 936 Chung King Rd.; 213/617-0422.
Share your weekend finds. Favorite new restaurant? Local hike? Email your suggestions to the weekend guide editor at email@example.com
Ebbe Roe Yovino-Smith | From the February 2009 IssueL.A. getaway: Chinatown