84 Los Angeles attractions for tourists and natives alike

Visit these essential Los Angeles attractions, whether you're a tourist in for the weekend or a native looking to explore



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  • Price band: 2/4

It's been a while since this 17,500-seat space was the city's go-to arena, and its fading halls were beginning to belie its rich history: "Showtime" Lakers, Gretzky-era Kings, '84 Olympics, Led Zeppelin, Queen and a ridiculously long set from Guns N' Roses. The Staples Center hogs the spotlight these days, but, as it turns nearly a half-century old, the Inglewood venue is poised to regain some of its former glory. Now, after a $100 million renovation—thanks to New York's Madison Square Garden Company—the Forum is shaping up to be fabulous once again. The reenergized arena showed off its facelift with six shows from the Eagles, complete with a revolving vinyl record of "Hotel California" on the roof.

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  1. 3900 W Manchester Blvd
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Skirball Cultural Center

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Something of a local powerhouse, the Skirball aims to look at connections between 4,000 years of Jewish heritage and different communities around LA. Those with an interest in Jewish history will get the most from some of the exhibits (the 30,000-object collection is one of the largest holdings of Judaica in the US), but this is an egalitarian enterprise that should interest most visitors with a sense of cultural adventure. Little ones will love Noah's Ark, a wonderful kid-oriented exhibit that explores cultural differences through a retelling of the old animals-two-by-two tale. The Skirball might be off the beaten tourist track, but it's well worth the diversion.

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  1. 2701 N Sepulveda Blvd
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Aquarium of the Pacific

  • Price band: 2/4

Dedicated as much to education as entertainment, this spectacular aquarium more than justifies the drive down to Long Beach, especially if the alternative is the razzle-dazzle of San Diego's considerably pricier SeaWorld. Inevitably, the Shark Lagoon is the most popular exhibit. Other highlights include the low-key but fascinating Whales: Voices of the Sea. The rest of the aquarium is divided geographically: loveable sea lions in the Southern California section, all kinds of garish fish in the Tropical Pacific area, a variety of exotic creatures in the new Gulf of California exhibit.

  1. 100 Aquarium Way, at Shoreline Dr
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Annenberg Space for Photography

  • Free

Specializing in photography, this newly founded, privately funded space takes an innovative approach to displaying its digital and print works. More than just images on a wall, exhibits at the Annenberg often incorporate videos and/or music, creating a more dynamic experience for the visitor. The free admission and $1 parking help attract a younger crowd to the otherwise more corporate neighborhood. (It is housed adjacent to the intentionally intimidating CAA offices.) Bring a date on a Saturday evening and spend 30 minutes wandering through the gallery before catching a movie across the street at the Century City AMC. During the summer, Saturday evening concerts in partnership with KCRW turn the space into a vibrant hot spot.

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  1. 2000 Avenue of the Stars
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Echo Park Time Travel Mart

  • Price band: 2/4

At first glance, the inside of this storefront resembles any other market in the area—but look closer and you’ll find a collection of funny “time travel” curiosities that one needs in order to visit the past and future. Oddities include Robot Toupees, Aeon Bottled Time (i.e. sand in a bottle), Barbarian Repellent, Primordial Soup In a Can, and a whole bunch of books. What’s going on? The market is a ruse: everything in it is indeed for sale, but the store is actually a front for 826LA, a nonprofit organization which tutors kids ages 6 to 18.

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  1. 1714 W Sunset Blvd
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  • Price band: 1/4

Craving the taste explosion that only Korean short ribs and Mexican quesadillas can deliver? Catch one of Kogi's Korean taco trucks as they travel throughout LA Tuesday-Friday. Find out if a truck will be in your neighborhood by scouring Kogi's weekly schedule—you don't want to miss out on this LA street food staple!

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  1. Various locations
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Travel Town/Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Free

The northwest corner of Griffith Park is the destination for train enthusiasts and curious kids. Travel Town, open all week, is a "railroad petting zoo" full of historic rail stock like an 1880 Southern Pacific locomotive and an 1881 Union Pacific caboose; the museum also expertly explains how the railroads helped build Southern California. Lovers of things that go choo-choo should be sure to visit the park on a Sunday, when the neighboring Los Angeles Live Steamers section is open for railheads.

  1. 5200 Zoo Dr
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Will Rogers State Historic Park

  • Free

The former home of writer, cowboy philosopher, trick-roper and the first honorary mayor of Beverly Hills has been maintained as it was in the 1930s. The 186-acre grounds give access to some good hikes; one path takes you to Inspiration Point, from where you get a breathtaking view of mountains and sea. Polo matches are held on weekends, and you can also take horse-riding lessons: call or check online for details.

  1. 1501 Will Rogers State Park Rd
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Knott's Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm started as a farm selling the homemade preserves of one Mrs. Cordelia Knott. But the folks at Knott's Berry Farm have realized that it can't get by on nostalgia alone: there seems to have been a concerted effort of late among the park managers to haul this formerly old-fashioned enterprise into the 21st century. Some charming remnants of the park's early years remain: most notably in the Ghost Town section, which contains a number of buildings that have been transplanted from old mining towns. The continued presence of Snoopy as the park's mascot is another gentle nod to tradition. Ultimately, though, the thrill-seekers win out over the sentimentalists thanks to a number of water rides, the stomach-churning Xcelerator and Montezooma's Revenge attractions, and two newer rollercoasters: the Sierra Sidewinder and the Pony Express.

  1. 8039 Beach Blvd
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Barnsdall Art Park & Hollyhock House

  • Free

After oil heiress and philanthropist Aline Barnsdall bought this cute little hill after the end of World War I, she engaged Frank Lloyd Wright to build her a group of buildings at its summit. The complex was designed to include a cinema, a theater and an array of artists' studios alongside Hollyhock House, Barnsdall's proposed home, but it was never completed and she never moved in. Barnsdall went on to donate the house, guest house and 11 acres of the land to the city on the premise that they be used as a public art park. More than eight decades later, the site still fulfills that role, with exhibitions in a variety of different gallery spaces. Reservations for tours of the restored buildings—now a Historic National Landmark—aren't required unless you're in a group of ten or more. In the summer, the park hosts a variety of al fresco cinema nights, wine tastings and cultural events that bring out a nice mix of singles, couples and young families.

  1. 4800 Hollywood Blvd
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