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.
22. Catch a show at Bob Baker's Marionette Theater
Baker opened his doors in 1963 with Fiesta, which is playing again now almost 50 years later (with a short hiatus during the holidays for the seasonal puppet production of The Nutcracker). The kitsch factor is high here—original (some worse for wear) puppets, cheesy old songs and ancient decor—but it's good fun. After the show, guests are treated to free ice cream and coffee and a backstage tour. The theater's future is uncertain, due to lack of funding, so check out this enchanting bit of LA history before it's gone.
23. Take a hike—a stair hike
LA is famous for its semi-secret network of public staircases, reminiscent of a time when residents actually walked (!) up and down hills to get to school, the supermarket and transit lines. More than 275 individual staircases—some neglected, some leading to hidden parks or bungalows, all a good workout—lace the Los Angeles area, from Pasadena to the Palisades. Pick up a copy of Charles Fleming's Secret Stairs to find a route near you.
Watch the kitchen heat up from the best seat in the house at chef Scott Conant's Scarpetta. Admire chef de cuisine Freddy Vargas as he prepares exquisite food in the middle of the bustling kitchen at a counter that seats 12-24. Reservations Sun-Thurs require a $1,000 food and beverage minimum—a deal compared to the hefty $1,500 minimum for Fridays and Saturdays.
- 225 North Canon Drive
26. Sit atop a grassy knoll
Read a book or find your favorite flower on the rolling hills of UCLA's Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens, a beautiful collection of gardens on the southeast corner of campus. Tip: The self-guided tour is fascinating—you'll see specimens straight out of a botanical fantasy, including a dragon tree from the Canary Islands in the desert section and weeping myrtles from Western Australia.
27. Take in the Pacific at a roadside seafood shack along PCH
Join the weekend biker crew at Neptune's Net, where the outdoor patio affords views of surfers, kite boarders and fellow diners, many of whom will be large, hairy and leather-clad. Dine with locals at Malibu Seafood, where the long line is worth the wait for fresh fish and seafood (grilled or battered and fried) and outdoor picnic tables. Or drop in at the Reel Inn, an oceanside fixture for fresh grilled fish served with fries and slaw. Grab a beer and head to the outdoor patio at sunset, then go back in to savor the nautical kitsch.
- Critics choice
At Duff Goldman's Cakemix in West Hollywood, Martha Stewart wannabes can pipe, stud and sparkle cakes with frosting, fondant, sprinkles and even edible air-spray paint and glitter—all with the help of on-site professional pastry chefs. If you're feeling hungry, the on-site bakery has cake slices and cupcakes in flavors like lemon-poppy seed and red velvet, along with beverages for sale.
Recommended: Best new bakeries
- 8302 Melrose Ave
29. Tee off at one of the city's few public golf courses
The 18-hole, 71-par Rancho Park course is one of LA's nicest. It's hosted such bigshots as Bill Clinton and golf legend Arnold Palmer. Plus, it's a welcome (and conveniently located) refuge in the middle of the city. Check out John O'Groat's for brunch next door.
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