I don’t care what the Los Angeles city officials say – Skid Row will never be referred to as Central City. Downtown Los Angeles, one of the most historically marinated and trend susceptible parts of Southern California is undergoing a controversial facelift, leaving historical landmarks as pillars of a cultural heyday. From the theater district to Chinatown, back to Olvera Street and the industrial section, anything you want you can find in downtown.

With flashy new clubs and obnoxiously opulent lofts slowly entrenching on the older establishments, I suggest starting your downtown experience with those very buildings on a ticking clock.

Clifton’s (648 S. Broadway) is a cafeteria-style restaurant in the heart of the broken down and abandoned theater district. While the food is nothing to write home about (bean salad, old-style lasagna, fried rice and everything else under the sun), this massive two-story eatery is teeming with foliage, forest wall paintings and stair handrails resembling gnarled plastic trees. With a striking resemblance to the log ride, calling the ambiance of Clifton’s distinct and charming is an understatement.

Like an old friend, Phillipe’s might not give you the best French dip sandwich you’ve ever had, but it was there before the rest. While claiming to be home to the first French dip, Phillipe’s truly fantastic secret lies in its potent 10 cent cup of coffee.

Food is the least of downtown’s attractions though, as you can get your day’s fill of action by merely roaming the streets.

Although the Standard hotel boasts a trendy hair salon, full bar and a challenge to your self-image, most importantly, it has an accessible rooftop pool. Be careful of your balance while you lay on the precarious lounge chair by the contour pool, as your sight will be distracted by the surrounding waterbed bungalows, cocktail waitresses and the downtown cityscape.

The Natural History Museum (900 Exposition Blvd.), one of L.A.’s most overlooked museums hosts audio and visual exhibits of the world’s animal, plant and environmental history. Combining anthropology, archaeology and our natural curiosity at how this planet came to be steeped in smog, the natural history museum will amaze and horrify even the most jaded.

Right across the courtyard from the museum is another avenue of departure from city life, my heart: the IMAX theater at California Science Center. Although no longer quite the novelty it used to be, the oversize and strategically angled IMAX movie screen creates a level of involvement and sensory overload that could make even 300 enthralling.

In the city’s warehouse district, bulk marts offer everything from jewelry to flowers and textiles, designating hours open to the public where you can get jewelry, thread and buttons at cost. The Flower Mart is open everyday in the morning hours for the public’s enjoyment, offering the widest array of striking flowers at discount prices.

When night falls the drastically clashing populations of downtown and the abundance of multicultural nightlife emerges. Downtown does the dive bar with Bar 107 showcasing a jukebox relic and hodge-podge of eclectic wall decorations.

Although Pete’s Café (400 S. Main St.) is cosmetically uptight and bourgeoisie in contrast to its proximal underage music hangout the Smell (247 S. Main St.), don’t hold that against it. While the Smell is not for the faint of heart, it’s a vestige of the true spirit of music, offering open arms to all those underage kids with authority issues and sometimes even your favorite band. Complimented by Pete’s crisp beers on tap and the most drool-worthy menu of rosemary, garlic and chipotle French fries, Pete’s outdoor patio might be the perfect way to wear in your new ripped jeans.

Holding the great historic hand of the Orpheum Theatre is the Broadway Bar, nestled within the historic theater district of downtown. You can almost smell the saxophones and fishnet stockings of decades past, as the Orpheum’s historic prestige spills over into Broadway Bar’s lush décor and chandelier-laden circular bar.

Downtown Los Angeles has been called a lot of names over the years, but please don’t call it Central City.