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The 50 best things to do in Los Angeles

Your essential guide to the best things to do in Los Angeles, from stair hikes to scenic drives and more

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano
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Looking for the best things to do in Los Angeles? We have you covered with the very best that L.A. has to offer. 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 landmark attractions that are still accessible, an ever-changing inventory of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, essential L.A. museums and even some off-the-beaten path secrets. How many of the best things to do in Los Angeles will you try?

July 2022: Summer in L.A. continues to bring more and more excellent movie and concert series outdoors, and we’ve continued to stock them in our list below. You’ll find a fresh round of music festal picks, plus the addition of free Shakespeare and our favorite alfresco dance party.

You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world, or take a look at our list of the 50 best things to do in the world right now.

Best things to do in L.A.

  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • San Marino
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A historic library, museum and sprawling gardens that was the bequest of entrepreneur Henry E. Huntington.

Why go? The Huntington’s distinctly themed gardens are easily the most stunning manicured outdoor spaces in SoCal, especially its recently expanded Chinese garden. The library and museum are equally impressive; all require reservations on weekends.

Don’t miss: Summer Evening Strolls, a separately ticketed event on select Saturdays and Sundays that lets you stay in the gardens until 8pm.

  • Things to do
  • Griffith Park

What is it? A 4,000-plus–acre rugged park in the center of the city.

Why go? The trails, the flora, the views, the howls of coyotes down the canyons at night, the twinkly lights of Downtown in the distance—L.A. may not have a grassy, centralized park, but Griffith’s massive, hilly wilderness makes for a stellar alternative.

Don’t miss: Even when the Griffith Observatory is closed (it’s temporarily only open Friday through Sunday), you can still drive or hike up to the grounds of the landmark Art Deco dome to take in the unparalleled viewsWherever you end up hiking, we highly suggest listening downloading Ellen Reid’s Soundwalk, a location-based musical composition that transforms as you move about the park.

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  • Museums
  • Movies and TV
  • Miracle Mile
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What is it? A permanent home for the history of moviemaking that’s finally open.

Why go? The collection includes the sorts of cinematic treasures you’d expect from the people who put on the Oscars: the Rosebud sled for Citizen Kane, Dorothy’s ruby slippers, R2-D2, the Dude’s robe from The Big Lebowski, the sole surviving shark from Jaws and the flowery May Queen dress from Midsommar. Expect some of those displays to give way to fresh selections starting this summer.

Don’t miss: The gift shop. Prepare to part ways with some cash over Totoro plush and Almodóvar earrings. Just don’t be surprised if there’s a line to get in.

  • Restaurants
  • Downtown Historic Core
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What is it? A European-style food hall that’s been operating in Downtown L.A. since 1917.

Why go? Even if you’re not there for the food, it’s worth a trip; people from all corners of L.A. mix and mingle among rows of spices, produce and vintage neon signage. Of course, if you’re hungry it’s a great place to get cheap pupusas, carnitas tacos and aguas frescas, as well as food from handsome, trendy eateries like Shiku, Fat & FlourSticky Rice, Sari SariHorse Thief BBQ, Eggslut, McConnell’s and G&B Coffee.

Don’t miss: Tacos Tumbras a Tomas serves the hall’s go-to taco, particularly the carnitas and al pastor.

Take a food tour of Downtown L.A.

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  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Miracle Mile
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? Chris Burden’s Urban Light, a piece made up of 202 cast-iron street lamps gathered from around L.A. and restored to working order, that stands outside of the massive museum.

Why go? Yes, snag your streetlight selfies. But you’d be selling yourself short if you don’t venture beyond the photo-friendly installation; LACMA’s collections boast modernist masterpieces, large-scale contemporary works, traditional Japanese screens and by far L.A.’s most consistently terrific special exhibitions. 

Don’t miss: The Barbara Kruger restrospective, an Alexander McQueen exhibition and the return of free jazz concerts on Friday nights. Reservations are required to visit the museum, but if you live in the county book one for a weekday after 3pm and admission is free.

  • Sports and fitness
  • Cycling
  • Venice

What is it? A 22-mile bike path, officially known as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, that traces nearly the entire extent of L.A.’s westward-facing coastline.

Why go? It’s the best way to tour the coastline. The path starts at Will Rogers State Beach and winds its way all the way down to Torrance County Beach.

Don’t miss: If you’d rather take the path at a walking pace, you’ll find pedestrian-friendly forks in Santa Monica, Venice and Manhattan Beach.

Take a guided bike ride along the coast.

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  • Things to do
  • Echo Park

What is it? A former reservoir turned public recreation area at the center of one of L.A.’s most buzzing neighborhoods.

Why go? The historic Echo Park Lake in recent years finally became a family-friendly destination worthy of its bold backdrop: the Downtown skyline amid the lotus flower blooms, fountains and the Lady of the Lake statue.

Don’t miss: You can push your way through the lake in a swan boat ($11 per hour) or stroll around the path that hugs its borders. Look out for the annual Lotus Festival, too (July 9, 10).

  • Attractions
  • Beaches
  • Long Beach

What is it? A pooch-friendly paradise in Paradise.

Why go? The four-acre waterfront spot is the only legal off-leash dog beach in L.A. County. The park is named after the area’s late local canine celebrity, Rosie the English bulldog.

Don’t miss: The entrance. There are no fences marking the dog-friendly area—though you’ll know you’re in the right spot if you see the signs and colorful “Dogs at Play” sculpture—so you’ll want to stay between Granada Avenue and Roycroft Avenue between 6am and 8pm daily.

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  • Movies
  • Hollywood

What is it? A screening series held at Hollywood Forever Cemetery every summer.

Why go? While the booze- and picnic-friendly vibe are enough for some people, the excellent film programming makes this outdoor series rise above the rest each summer. Oh, that and the fact that it’s held at the final resting place of Old Hollywood’s screen legends.

Don’t miss: After a fireworks-filled Fourth of July weekend, the series continues with screenings of Almost Famous, Showgirls, Jackie Brown and The Birds, plus Pretty in Pink at L.A. State Historic Park.

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Downtown

What is it? A free, contemporary art museum in Downtown L.A.

Why go? Three little words: Infinity Mirror Rooms. The persistently popular museum has two mirror-laden Yayoi Kusama installations (the more immersive of which you can now reserve in advance). Of course, there’s plenty more to see, from Robert Therrien’s oversized Under the Table to more than a dozen Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings.

Don’t miss: The colorful Takashi Murakami exhibition (which you can see for free on Thursday nights), as well as the return of summer concerts.

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  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs

What is it? A Sunday market with dozens of food vendors in the Arts District.

Why go? The weekly food fest is like an incubator for L.A.’s next big food spot, with more than 80 food and retail stalls at ROW DTLA. You’ll also find the I Love Micheladas beer garden for local brews and micheladas.

Don’t miss: Smorgasburg kicked off this year with five new pop-ups: B’ivrit, Cali Dumpling, Chimmelier by Hanchic, Happy Ice and Say it Ain’t So.

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Westside

What is it? A free hilltop art museum with a rolling lawn overlooking the ocean.

Why go? From the ocean to the mountains northeast of Downtown L.A., the panoramic views from this artopolis more than compensate for its relative inaccessibility (you need to ride a tram to the museum). So too do the masterpieces on display, particularly its Impressionist paintings and baroque and French decorative arts.

Don’t miss: Pacific Palisades sister institution the Getty Villa is absolutely worth a visit, too, and brimming with Greek and Roman antiquities. Both museums require a free reservation. Also, look out for the return of Off the 405, the roughly once-a-month free after-hours concert series at the museum.

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  • Music
  • Westwood

What is it? A slew of free summer concerts programmed by everyone’s favorite NPR member station.

Why go? Familiar KCRW DJs and local buzz bands will be providing free, open-air tunes on select nights from July through September at the Hammer Museum, One ColoradoCAAMDescanso Gardens, Bowers Museum, the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and JANM, among others.

Don’t miss: Our favorite, the party-till-midnight bashes at Chinatown Central Plaza (July 16, Aug 20).

  • Things to do
  • Venice

What is it? A series of small canals that run through the beachfront neighborhood—hence the name, Venice.

Why go? Tucked between the grimy Venice Boardwalk and the posh Abbot Kinney, the Venice Canals offer a completely different side of the famed beachfront neighborhood. Take a stroll through these three canal-lined blocks and you’ll discover an idyllic scene with arching pedestrian bridges, charming (and astronomically priced) beach houses and bunches of ducklings.

Don’t miss: Though you won’t find boat rentals anywhere along the canals, you can bring your own non-motorized vessel to tour the neighborhood at water level (enter via the launch ramp at Venice Boulevard).

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  • Things to do
  • Angeles National Forest

What is it? A mountaintop observatory, and a winding, scenic drive to get there.

Why go? High up in the San Gabriel Mountains, the Mount Wilson Observatory affords terrific views of the surrounding region. Admission to the area is free, but you’ll need to buy a Forest Service Adventure Pass in order to park at the site and its adjoining picnic area as it’s located within the Angeles National Forest.

Don’t miss: Take a self-guided tour of the grounds, or a seasonal docent-led tour ($15) of the observatory on weekend afternoons (same-day tickets are available at the Cosmic Cafe). For late-night stargazing, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for the rare ticketed event. And consider securing tickets for a concert inside the dome on select Sunday afternoons during the summer.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Ventura County
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What is it? A postcard-worthy seafood shack on the Pacific Coast Highway toward the western edge of Malibu.

Why go? The fried ocean bites and weekend biker crew make Neptune’s Net a unique destination. (Alternatively, dine up the coast with locals at Malibu Seafood, where the long line is worth the wait for fresh fish and seafood, or grab a superlative lobster roll at Broad Street Oyster Co.).

Don’t miss: Take your food across the street and park in the dirt patch by the water, with views of surfers and kite boarders.

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  • Movies

What is it? Multiple series of pop-up movie screenings, which are splitting their time between alfresco picnic-style events and drive-ins.

Why go? Outdoor movie season is here, and the schedule is jam packed. Melrose Rooftop Theatre is back nearly nightly as is Rooftop Cinema Club, while Rooftop Movies at the Montalbán has screenings on Saturday nights. Meanwhile Street Food Cinema has relaunched its weekend picnic-style screenings, as has Eat|See|Hear and Cinespia. And for something entirely different, Boat Cinema has brought waterfront screenings to Castaic Lake on weekends.

Don’t miss: New series and screenings are sprouting up constantly—including, this month, Outfest Under the Stars at the Ford—so be sure to check back for updates.

  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? A concert hall and home of the LA Philharmonic designed by famed local architect Frank Gehry.

Why go? Cruise along Grand Avenue and you can’t miss the Walt Disney Concert Hall, a twisted metallic explosion of Frank Gehry’s imagination. You can look inside the stunning auditorium on a self-guided tour, but the exterior is also just as exquisite.

Don’t miss: Climb up the staircase on Grand Avenue, near 2nd Street, and you’ll find a garden hidden behind the hall. Bring a bagged lunch or a climb along the building’s lustrous exterior.

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  • Music

What is it? The proper post-Coachella continuation of music festival season.

Why go? Festival season is in full force this month with the debut of alt-country event Palomino Festival, the return of EDM mainstay HARD Summer and the Zedd-fronted Zedd in the Park, plus more niche fests like the Drums-led Abysmal Fest and wellness and dance gathering Love Long Beach.

Don’t miss: There’s at least one major local music fest every month from now until the end of the year, so make sure to scope out our full list.

  • Things to do
  • Performances
  • Santa Monica

What is it? KCRW’s Night Market at the Bungalow, a free, family-friendly night market on Thursday nights.

Why go? Every week at the Bungalow you can expect KCRW DJ sets, bartender takeovers and a food pop-up lineup that includes the likes of Tacos 1986, River Street BBQ, ManEatingPlant, Steamin’ Burger, Gone Bananas Bread Co. and Bubba Ice.

Don’t miss: The series runs Thursday nights (5–11pm) until just before Labor Day weekend.

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  • Museums
  • Science and technology
  • USC/Exposition Park

What is it? A space shuttle, Endeavour, that’s permanently houses at the California Science Center.

Why go? The final ship to be built in NASA’s space shuttle program, Endeavour inspires a reach-for-the-stars ambition unlike any other exhibit in the city. And its story is distinctly rooted in L.A.: Endeavour was built in Palmdale and, almost 123 million miles later, rolled along our streets to its temporary resting place in the museum (the permanent one just broke ground).

Don’t miss: Timed tickets are required to visit the museum right now (though you don’t need an additional reservation to see Endeavour). There’s a $3 service fee that you can skip if you get your ticket at the box office—but then your time of choice won’t be guaranteed.

  • Things to do

What is it? Ten miles of streets, mostly along Palos Verdes Drive, hugging the coast from the Torrance border to San Pedro.

Why go? The first third of the drive sticks mostly to spectacular real estate a few blocks inland, but after you round Point Vicente, the drive changes dramatically. For a few miles past Terranea, there’s nothing but undeveloped oceanfront hillsides, winding roads and golden-hued bluffs.

Don’t miss: Take a stroll by the Point Vicente Interpretive Center for views of the nearby lighthouse.

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Silence your cell phone for the return of live theater
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Murphy

Silence your cell phone for the return of live theater

What is it? The return of musicals and dramas on stages all over town.

Why go? Though it had a few false starts in 2021, live theater has returned in a big way. In DTLA, the smash hit Dear Evan Hansen returns for a monthlong run at the Ahmanson. Over in Hollywood, Moulin Rouge! kicks off its summer run at the Pantages Theatre.

Don’t miss: If you want to plan far ahead, take a peak at which musicals are headed to Pantages later this year.

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Silver Lake

What is it? Dozens of public, outdoor stairways scattered around Silver Lake’s verdant hillsides.

Why go? These WPA era staircases are well-suited for a workout or a fitness-included tour of the area. Though some homeowners have tried to prevent open access, make no mistake: These sets of stairs are for public use. You can find an exhaustive list in author Charles Fleming’s Secret Stairs.

Don’t miss: Highlights include the heart-painted Micheltorena Stairs (Sunset Blvd and Micheltorena St) and the Music Box Steps (Vendome St and Del Monte Dr), of Laurel and Hardy fame.

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  • Things to do
  • San Pedro

What is it? A mighty metallic bell and pavilion in San Pedro donated by South Korea in 1976.

Why go? Perched over the Pacific, this grassy spot overlooking the ocean is known for its namesake bell, with an ornately painted hipped roof. The exposed hillside is an ideal spot to fly a kite thanks to persistent winds coming off the ocean.

Don’t miss: The bell rings only four times each year: Fourth of July, National Liberation Day of Korea (Aug 15), New Year’s Eve and during Constitution Week in September.

  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Hollywood
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What is it? A gorgeous and instantly recognizable outdoor amphitheatre that’s been hosting concerts since the LA Philharmonic first played there in 1922.

Why go? Nestled in an aesthetically blessed fold in the Hollywood Hills, the 18,000-seat venue can bring out the romantic in the terminally cynical. It’s the summer home of the LA Phil (and boozy picnics).

Don’t miss: As long as there’s no performance going on (which is most days in the winter and spring), it also doubles as a public park. During the busier summer season, you’re welcome to bring your own food to ticketed shows (and even booze to LA Phil-produced ones).

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Santa Monica Mountains
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What is it? An 8,000-acre mountainous park that looks unlike anything else in L.A.

Why go? With dramatic gorges, open pastures, lush forests, hidden pools and jagged peaks, Malibu Creek is simply one of the most stunning spots in Southern California.

Don’t miss: A bit of silver screen history; you can spot remnants of the M*A*S*H set and splash in the rock pool that was featured in Planet of the Apes. Consider using your library card to secure a free parking pass.

  • Theater
  • Shakespeare
  • Griffith Park

What is it? Bard fanatics watch their favorite works come to life for free at the historic Old Zoo in Griffith Park.

Why go? Independent Shakespeare Co. puts on a series of lively productions each week, inviting audiences to take a seat on the grass (read: bring a picnic blanket) and enjoy performances like this season’s headliners: Knight of the Burning Pestle (July 2–31) and Macbeth (Aug 6–Sept 4).

Don’t miss: Due to construction in the area, capacity is somewhat limited so reservations—while still free—will be required.

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  • Things to do
  • Pacific Palisades

What is it? A Pacific Palisades hillside park with multiple viewponts of the ocean.

Why go? With a variety of terrain, flora and views of the Pacific and city, Temescal Canyon Park is great for trail runners, hikers and dog walkers. You’ll experience vast, breathtaking views that span from Catalina to Downtown and enough varied terrain to keep you and your furry friend going—all the way to the Valley, should you dare.

Don’t miss: The stop signs. Seriously. They’re photo enforced, and you’ll be sent a $100 fine if you roll through.

  • Attractions
  • Beaches
  • Malibu

What is it? A small but beautiful state beach in Malibu dominated by rocky coves.

Why go? Because it’s easily the most scenic stretch of coastline in the region. It’s only accessible via a steep gravelly path from a paid parking lot. But the effort is worth it, whether it’s to watch the waves lap against the rocks or see the sunset.

Don’t miss: The tide. The beach here is pretty narrow and sand comes at a particular premium when high tide rolls in.

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  • Music
  • Music festivals

What is it? An ever-growing list of free concerts popping up over the summer.

Why go? Well, because they’re free. But also because museums like the Getty, LACMA and the Skirball stage some fantastic gratis shows over the summer, as do series like Grand Performances.

Don’t miss: Some series, like Off the 405 at the Getty, require free tickets, so make sure to scope out the situation for each event before you hit the road.

  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Anaheim
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What is it? A Marvel-themed, superhero-filled land at Disney California Adventure Park.

Why go? If you’re an MCU obsessive, then you’re going to want to add Disneyland’s newest area to your Infinity Gauntlet. You can see Spider-Man’s high-flying stunt-double animatronic launch 65 feet in the air, feast on a hilariously-proportioned Ant-Man–inspired chicken sandwich and encounter acomic-universe–deep roster of costumed character encounters.

Don’t miss: There are a lot of changes going on with Disneyland’s queueing systems, so we suggest brushing up on Genie Plus before you plan your attack for getting on the Spider-Man–themed 3-D ride WEB SLINGERS.

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  • Things to do
  • Pasadena

What is it? A 50-foot waterfall located in an easy-to-access canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Why go? Los Angeles is a beautiful place, and it’s not afraid to flaunt it. Case in point: Eaton Canyon. The Pasadena-area park is one of the most accessible and easygoing trails where you’ll truly feel like you’ve slipped into the wilderness.

Don’t miss: On weekdays only, you can cut out the most boring part of the hike and park outside of the Pinecrest Gate, which is just barely over a mile from the waterfall.

  • Movies

What is it? About a half-dozen drive-in movie theaters in SoCal that are still going strong.

Why go? For nearly a year, it was one of the only ways to see a first-run movie that wasn’t on your couch. But even with regular theaters open again, we still think it’s tons of fun and cost effective.

Don’t miss: We particularly love the programming at Mission Tiki in Montclair.

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  • Things to do
  • Rancho Palos Verdes/Rolling Hills Estates

What is it? A glassy chapel designed by architect Lloyd Wright on an oceanfront road.

Why go? Accessible via a dramatic oceanfront drive—no matter which direction you approach from—architect Lloyd Wright’s enchanting glass church drinks in tree-dappled sunlight through its faceted shell. All are welcome to admire the serene sanctuary’s intimate structure—though you may have to do so from the outside if there’s a wedding in progress.

Don’t miss: Across the street, Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is the perfect starting point for beachfront trailheads.

  • Things to do
  • Culver City

What is it? A Westside lookout best known for its 282 steep, concrete stairs to the top.

Why go? The views from the top offer some of the best views of the region, with the ocean on one side and the Downtown L.A. skyline on the other (set against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains in the winter). Once you reach the summit, sit at the long park bench and take in the 360-degree views.

Don’t miss: If you’d rather not beat up your knees, take a shortcut and drive up to the top of the hill and park in one of the many empty spaces ($6).

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Downtown Financial District
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What is it? Take a fuel-efficient walking tour and cherish Los Angeles’ urban architectural heritage.

Why go? The Los Angeles Conservancy walking tours take in the city’s top sights and most beautiful buildings, including Downtown’s historic theaters and Art Deco buildings (on a weekly basis) as well as the modern skyline (monthly). Be sure to reserve a place well ahead, because the tours are incredibly popular.

Don’t miss: Each June, the Conservancy hosts classic film screenings in the Broadway theaters during Last Remaining Seats.

  • Things to do
  • Performances
  • Reseda

What is it? A series of free community festivals put on by the Getty in a different neighborhood each weekend.

Why go? The beloved Getty Center turns 25 years young in 2022, and to celebrate the hilltop museum is partnering with local community organizations to host free music, art workshops and food pop-ups nearly ever Saturday and Sunday this summer.

Don’t miss: The lineup continues with events in Reseda (July 9, 10), El Monte (July 16, 17), Wilmington (July 30, 31), Crenshaw (Aug 13, 14) and Watts (Aug 27, 28).

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  • Bars
  • Downtown Arts District
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What is it? An Arts District arcade bar.

Why go? If ever there was a bar to geek out in, this one is it. L.A.’s first arcade bar boasts more than 40 classic arcade cabinets and pristinely preserved pinball machines—all fixed with cup holders for endless booze-fueled sessions. An homage to the golden age of arcade games, cocktails here have names like Kill Screen, Zangief and Dr. Mario.

Don’t miss: Swing by the last Sunday of the month for an open pinball tournament (or join the L.A. Pinball League, which plays on Tuesday nights).

  • Shopping
  • Pasadena

What is it? A staggeringly colossal flea market held outside of the Rose Bowl the second Sunday of each month.

Why go? The sheer size and scale of this flea market means that it encompasses multitudes: new and old, hand-crafted and salvaged, the cheap and the costly. There are plenty of duds, to be sure, but come out early enough and you may go home with that perfect purchase.

Don’t miss: Stray from the main loop around the stadium; there are rows and rows of old furniture, albums and vintage clothes and accessories that fill the adjacent parking lot.

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  • Art
  • Street art
  • South LA

What is it? A DTLA space filled with projections of photographs and animated recreations of murals from more than 200 street artists around the globe, including D*Face, Lady Pink, Blek le Rat and more.

Why go? Yes, it’s another one of those immersive art shows, but unlike plastering an impressionist’s face on a screen, this room-filling one of wall-based works actually kind of makes sense. It’s considerably more interesting (though just as expensive).

Don’t miss: There’s a lot going on inside Street Art Alive, so if you need a little break (or are feeling a little motion sick from the moving floor projections) dip into the back area where you’ll find some physical installations, as well as a bench in front of a setup of screens sans floor projections.

  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Santa Monica

What is it? A series of farmers’ markets held every week year-round in Santa Monica.

Why go? The next time you’re at a restaurant and tempted to ask the waiter where your astoundingly fresh beets came from—don’t. We’ll save you the trouble and answer for you: the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market.

Don’t miss: While the market occurs on a couple of days in various parts of Santa Monica, the best day to go is on Wednesday along Arizona Avenue.

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  • Attractions
  • Beaches
  • Malibu
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What is it? One of Southern California’s most beautiful beaches and a frequent Hollywood filming location due to its iconic rock face.

Why go? If you can’t find a free space along Westward Beach Road or you’re willing to pay for parking, you’ll be rewarded with this wide and rarely crowded patch of sand and surf. As all the parking spots are only steps from the sand, Point Dume is the perfect place to pack a picnic for a beachfront meal as seals and dolphins frolic during sunset—just watch out for those hungry seagulls.

Don’t miss: An easygoing dirth path climbs from the sand to the top of the point, with tons of yellow wildflowers in the winter and spring.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • La Cañada
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What is it? A hillside botanical garden in La Cañada Flintridge that harbors a year-round collection of native flora.

Why go? This delightful tribute to the horticultural magic of Southern California includes more than 600 varieties of camellia (best seen between the middle of February and early May), as well as groves and hillsides of native plants.

Don’t miss: The seasonal blooms, including—as mentioned—camellias in the winter, and tulips and the Japanese garden’s cherry blossoms in the spring.

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  • Things to do
  • Downtown

What is it? A grand, white concrete tower that’s served as L.A.’s city hall since 1928.

Why go? It’s the cheapest way to take in an elevated view of Downtown and beyond. If you’re ever passing through the Civic Center during weekday public hours, enter on Main Street—then you owe yourself a visit to the 27th floor observation deck.

Don’t miss: Look for the 1984 Olympic torch near the Spring Street exit.

  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Hollywood
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What is it? A warehouse-sized record store in the middle of Hollywood.

Why go? Sure, Spotify is great, but anyone in search of that arcane track off of that mid-’80s Tom Robinson album knows it isn’t perfect. Neither is Amoeba, but it is the largest independent record store in the United States, and the variety of music on offer is amazing, the prices are fair and the staff really know their music.

Don’t miss: Its new address. The shop recently moved from its longtime home on Sunset Boulevard to a spot at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue.

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  • Attractions
  • Theme parks
  • Universal City
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What is it? A Harry Potter-themed land at Universal Studios Hollywood. 

Why go? This meticulously detailed land, which features shops and edible delights in Hogsmeade village and a thrilling ride inside Hogwarts Castle, should delight even those Muggles unfamiliar with the Potterverse—particularly if you have a mug of Butterbeer in your hand.

Don’t miss: Speaking of that sweet treat, you can hack together a Butterbeer float with an order of soda and ice cream. Just a heads up that you’ll need to secure a reservation to visit.

  • Museums
  • History
  • Griffith Park

What is it? A model train workshop housed inside of a red barn that used to reside in Walt Disney’s Holmby Hills backyard.

Why go? Walt Disney used to ride his own 1/8th scale live-steam railroad—the “Carolwood Pacific Railroad”—around his backyard until he shifted his focus to a much bigger project: Disneyland. In 1999, the red barn that he used as his workshop was moved to Griffith Park’s Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum. Every third Sunday of the month, you can visit the barn to find a collection of train models and memorabilia.

Don’t miss: Legendary Disney artists and engineers are known to pop in during open hours.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • price 2 of 4
  • Rancho Palos Verdes/Rolling Hills Estates

What is it? A once-a-month block of dog-friendly hours at the Palos Verdes botanical garden.

Why go? To spend some quality outdoor time with your four-legged best friend, of course. Every third Sunday of the month, you can roam the gardens’ 87 acres with your fur baby.

Don’t miss: Nabbing a reservation. You (the human) will need a reservation, while your best friend (the pup) will need to remain on their leash at all times, including in the parking lot.  

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Pacific Palisades

What is it? A meditation garden in the Pacific Palisades.

Why go? Get lost in your thoughts at one of L.A.’s best kept secrets: the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. Set on a 10-acre site that was used as a film set during the silent era, its lovely gardens offer some increasingly rare assets today: peace and tranquility.

Don’t miss: A reservation. You’ll need one right now to visit the meditation gardens, which are open for free from Wednesday through Sunday.

More great things to do across the globe

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