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The Huntington Library
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

The 29 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

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 that are open for takeout, essential outdoor 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?

March 2021: Though things are starting to look up, we’ve still have to temporarily remove most major attractions and museums from this list, as they’re still closed. But we’ve added even more outdoorsy options this month, including a field full of flowers and a desert-spanning art biennial. And remember: Please wear a face covering and practice social distancing.

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere.

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.

Huntington Library
Photograph: Courtesy Beth Coller/The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Stroll through the stunning gardens at the Huntington Library

Things to do Event spaces San Marino

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. Though its library and museum are currently closed, the gardens are open with reservations.

Don’t miss: Go for a stroll around the Chinese garden, which opened its massive expansion last fall.

Griffith Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

See L.A. from above at Griffith Park

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, 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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Rancho Palos Verdes
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Andrew Sterling

Take a scenic drive around the Palos Verdes Peninsula

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.

Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

Travel back in time at the drive-in

Movies

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

Why go? Well, it’s basically the only way to see a first-run movie right now that’s not on your couch. But it’s also tons of fun, cost effective and one of the few ways you can go out safely right now.

Don’t miss: We particularly love the programming at Mission Tiki in Montclair. And look out for the occassional free screening or premieres thanks to familiar outlets like the ArcLight.

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Marvin Braude Bike Trail, The Strand, Los Angeles, California
Photograph: Shutterstock

Bike the Strand

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.

Neptune's Net
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

Have an oceanfront, roadside meal at Neptune’s Net

Restaurants Seafood Ventura County

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).

Don’t miss: The famous spot is currently open with limited outdoor seating. So 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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Echo Park Lake, Los Angeles, California
Photograph: Shutterstock

Pedal around Echo Park Lake

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. You can push your way through the lake in a pedal or swan boat ($11–$25 per hour) or stroll around the path that hugs its borders (though be advised that a large tent city of unhoused residents has set up around the western side and caused quite a bit of controversy, both for and against it, since its rapid growth in the park in 2020).

Don’t miss: Make sure to stop at the revived boathouse and its breakfast pit stop Beacon.

Grand Central Market, Los Angeles, California
Photograph: Shutterstock/Walter Cicchetti

Have tacos and egg sandwiches from Grand Central Market

Restaurants Lunch Downtown Historic Core

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 Sticky Rice, Belcampo, 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.

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Rosie the Bulldog at Rosie's Dog Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia/Justin Rudd

Take your pup to the only off-leash beach, Rosie's Dog Beach

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 colorful “Dogs at Play” sculpture—so you’ll want to stay between Granada Avenue and Roycroft Avenue between 6am and 8pm daily.

LACMA
Photograph: Shutterstock/Min C. Chiu

Pose in front of streetlights at LACMA

Museums Art and design Miracle Mile

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? Though LACMA is currently closed, yes, you can still snag your streetlight selfies (between 10am and 10pm). In addition, Michael Heizer’s teetering boulder Levitated Mass and the 26-foot-tall Yoshitomo Nara sculpture Miss Forest are still viewable, as well.

Don’t miss: The LACMA Store inside the Resnick Pavilion is once again open and selling artsy keepsakes. 

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Venice Canals, Venice Beach, California, boats
Photograph: Shutterstock

Walk along the Venice Canals

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: arching pedestrian bridges, charming beach houses, bunches of ducklings and the occasional paddle boarding bulldog.

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).

The Drive-In Theatre at the Hollywood Roosevelt
Photograph: Courtesy the Hollywood Roosevelt

Watch a movie in a parking lot

Movies

What is it? Drive-in movie theaters popping up in parking lots all over town.

Why go? Normally, outdoor movie season means watching classic films in a cemetery or on a rooftop. But this year they’ve all gone to the drive-in. Street Food Cinema, in particular, has found new life with a temporary car-friendly format, and we’ve seen newcomers at the Hollywood Roosevelt and outside of the Hollywood Legion Theater.

Don’t miss: New series and screenings are sprouting up constantly, so be sure to check back for updates.

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Korean Bell of Friendship, San Pedro, California
Photograph: Shutterstock

Fly a kite by the Korean Bell of Friendship

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.

Malibu Creek State Park, Los Angeles, California
Photograph: Shutterstock

Get some fresh air at Malibu Creek State Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Santa Monica Mountains

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.

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Temescal Gateway Park, Los Angeles, California
Photograph: Shutterstock

Admire the coastline atop Temescal Gateway Park

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.

Micheltorena Stairs
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Alissa Walker

Hike the Silver Lake Stairs

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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El Matador State Beach, Los Angeles, California
Photograph: Shutterstock

Watch the sunset from El Matador

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.

Butterbeer ice cream float at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood at Universal Studios
Photograph: Michael Juliano

Taste your way through a trio of theme parks

What is it? A series of food-focused events at Disney California Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood and Knott’s Berry Farm that all kick off in March. 

Why go: It’s likely the only way to step inside of a theme park for the near future. Sure, the rides aren’t open at any of these landmarks, but you can once again lap up a Dole Whip, slurp down a Butterbeer and dig into all things boysenberry.

Don’t miss: If you’d rather not have to pay admission to explore a ride-free theme park, you can dine and shop along DCA’s Buena Vista Street until March 14, after which it’ll flip over to the ticketed A Touch of Disney.

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Baldwin Hills
Photograph: Benny Haddad

Tackle 282 steps at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

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).

farmer's market, beets
Photograph: Shutterstock

Achieve your farm-to-table dreams at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market

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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The Flower Fields
Photograph: Courtesy Flyby Photography

Make up for a disappointing wildflower season at the Flower Fields

Attractions Parks and gardens San Diego

What is it? A nearly 50-acre field in northern San Diego County features a staggering assortment of shades of giant ranunculus flowers, sort of similar to buttercups

Why go? For those springtimes when the poppies don’t pop and wildflowers are a bust, Carslbad’s Flower Fields offer a perfectly manicured but visually stunning alternative. They’re only in bloom for about six to eight weeks each year—and expect every one of those weeks to be pretty busy—but if you want to frolic and pose in a field of flowers, consider it worthwhile.

Don’t miss: There’s more than just the namesake field, too, with an orchid greenhouse, a sweet pea maze, U-pick blueberries and wagon tours. You’ll need to secure a reservation, though, to do any of them.

Descanso Gardens
Photograph: Michael Juliano

Stroll through SoCal flora (and cherry blossoms) at Descanso Gardens

Attractions Parks and gardens La Cañada

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 spring, and the Japanese garden’s cherry blossoms in March.

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Point Dume State Beach, California
Photograph: Shutterstock

Relax on the sand at Point Dume State Beach

Attractions Beaches Malibu

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.

Coachella Valley
Photograph: Lance Gerber, Courtesy Desert X

Explore a bunch of site-specific art installations at Desert X

Art Installation Various locations in L.A.,

What is it? A desert-spanning biennial that stages outdoor installations across 40 miles of the Coachella Valley.

Why go: Until museums can reopen, it’s one of the only ways you can safely interact with art right now. And with the exhibitions all built for the outdoors and wide open spaces, it seems like a perfect fit for right now.

Don’t miss: It only runs from March 12 to May 16 (and with no music festivals hitting the area this April, you shouldn’t have quite as many ’grammers to compete with compared to previous years).

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Lake Shrine
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/J Jakobson

Find your zen at the Lake Shrine

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.

Mammoth Mountain
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Robson Hatsukami Morgan

Hit the slopes at a ski resort

Travel

What is it? Just under a dozen destinations within a day’s drive of L.A. where you can ski or snowboard on fresh power—and some of them are just a freeway away.

Why go? You can drive for about an hour into the mountains and meet snow in the winter. But burn through a bit of extra gas and you’ll be rewarded with a proper high-altitude wonderland.

Don’t miss: Snow Valley, Mountain High and the twin slopes of Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are all within a three-hour drive from most parts of L.A.

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Corgi
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Audrey Fretz

Spend time with your dog at the South Coast Botanic Garden

Things to do Walks and tours South Coast Botanic Garden, 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 and a face covering, while your best friend (the pup) will need to remain on their leash at all times, including in the parking lot.  

Electric Mile
Photograph: Courtesy Insomniac/Gabe Tiano

Roll through a music fest-inspired drive-thru at Electric Mile

Things to do Santa Anita Park, Arcadia

What is it? An hour-long illuminated drive-thru at Arcadia’s Santa Anita park from Insomniac, who’s behind EDC, HARD Summer and the Wonderland series.

Why go? Electric Mile has constructed seven themed areas inspired by the promoter’s various fests, with five million candy-colored lights—plus lasers, disco balls, light-up mushrooms and a warehouse rave. And as you might expect, it’s all set to an EDM soundtrack curated by festival founder Pasquale Rotella.

Don’t miss: After a couple of extensions, the drive-thru is window down for good on March 14.

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Broad Street Oyster Co lobster roll in Malibu Los Angeles
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

Take advantage of takeout and alfresco deals during dineL.A.

What is it? Two weeks of prix fixe menus available at over 250 restaurants across L.A.

Why go: Whether you’re picking up a meal to eat at home or looking for a seat on a patio, you can nab multi-course menus for as little as $15 for lunch and $25 for dinner.

Don’t miss: It only runs through March 14, and we’ve picked out 10 of our favorite deals to try before then.

Looking for more places to explore?

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Uluru’s ‘Field of Light’
Photograph: Mark Pickthall, courtesy Field of Light, Uluru, Bruce Munro 2016

The 40 best things to do in the world right now

Things to do

Going out and doing things satisfies our need to explore, to learn and to grow (and then to brag about it on social media). Our hope is that the DO List becomes not just your bucket list, but your inspiration to experience and appreciate the corners of magic in the world.

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