South from the Plaza, across the Santa Ana Freeway, the municipal-government core of the Civic Center offers three of the city’s most notable buildings. City Hall, 200 N Spring St is an iconic, classically styled tower that’s been visible in films from Dragnet to Superman. You can get a good look at the inside of the building for free, including its 28th-storey 360-degree observation deck. To the west, Walt Disney Concert Hall, First Street at Grand Avenue, is Frank Gehry’s grand spectacle of modern architecture, a 2300-seat acoustic showpiece with a curvaceous, stainless-steel exterior and an interior with rich, warm acoustics and a mammoth, intricate pipe organ. Self-guided audio tours (1hr; narrated by actor John Lithgow) are the easiest way to explore the hall and are offered most days from 10am to 2pm for free; days vary for the free one-hour guided tours, which run at noon and 1pm. Visit Wmusiccenter.org for the latest schedule. Note that no tours include the actual auditorium – for that you’ll have to see a show.

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