101 things to do in Los Angeles
Your essential guide to the best things to do in LA this season, from stair hikes to welding workshops and more.
Tue Feb 11 2014
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Looking for things to do in Los Angeles? We've got you covered with tons of options—101, to be exact. Whether you're a culture vulture, outdoorsy type or simply a lover of our fine city, there's more than enough here to keep you busy. Even lifelong Angelenos will find something new to add to their to-do list, between the city's underground secrets and the ever-changing inventory of the best restaurants. How many will you try?
Head to the Santa Monica Senior Center (of all places), trade your photo ID for a key, then ascend a narrow staircase leading to a tiny room containing a camera obscura apparatus that’s more than 100 years old. Passersby outside are reflected in miniature on a large white disk, which you can steer for different views. Sneak a kiss in the dark as tiny strangers stroll across the disk, oblivious to your PDA.
Find your inner Katniss with beginning archery classes on Saturday mornings—first-come, first-serve—at the Pasadena Roving Archers Range at the Lower Arroyo Seco Park. If it’s your first time, show up no later than 7:15am to get fitted with equipment—returning archers can sleep in and show up at 9:45am. Your first lesson is free, and a small donation is suggested for each one thereafter. You'll find similar promos in Westwood and the Valley, as well.
Don't get us wrong, we love the Getty and LACMA, but some of LA's best art is plastered and wheat-pasted over billboards and onto the sides of buildings. Some of the world's most notorious street artists have dropped in on our fair city to behind their unmistakable marks.
RECOMMENDED: Underground LA: Secret art hidden across the city
Check out Echo Park beer and wine bar El Prado’s Record Club, hosted by Origami Vinyl, the record shop across the street. Every Tuesday, bring a record to play for your fellow barflies, and get a free drink in return. (Sign-ups are a week in advance, which means you’ll have to spend two Tuesdays in a row listening to great B-sides and drinking delicious beer. Tough life.)
There's a thrill that comes from seeing a movie inside the Chinese Theatre, home of seemingly every major movie premiere ever. While everyone else congregates around concrete footprints and brass names, you can admire the real star here: The auditorium's architecture is simply stunning, as is the picture quality on one of the biggest—now IMAX—screens in the country.
Visit the Original LA Flower Market, in—where else?—the Flower District, Downtown. Restaurateurs, wedding planners, florists and botany geeks (and okay, some tourists) make up the early morning hustle and bustle among rows of flowers, plants and “floral accessories” from around the world. Come out later during public hours to grab a bouquet for a friend, take some great pictures or just indulge your senses. Insider tip: Avoid Wednesdays and Fridays if possible—they’re busiest.
Views of the humble but far-reaching LA cityscape usually come at a price to your wallet or feet. Not so at City Hall. The white concrete tower's free perch above Downtown offers a privileged look without any obstructions (i.e. other buildings or tourists' heads). Whether you're begrudgingly stopping at a government building or just rolling by on a clear day—public hours are weekdays 8am-5pm—you owe yourself a visit.
Put the top down—or hop on your bike—and cruise along winding Mulholland Drive, the highway that travels through the San Fernando Valley to the Hollywood Hills. Pull over at the Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook to take in one of the iconic views of LA’s Valley (David Lynch thriller optional).
Witness an 80-year old LA tradition—and hear some great music—at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, just east of Downtown. Since the 1930s, mariachi bands have gathered here, decked out in their charro (traditional Mexican horsemen) suits, waiting to be hired to play at parties or restaurants. Take note of the historic 1889 Boyle Hotel, better known as “Mariachi Hotel,” where many of the musicians live.
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