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The Huntington Library
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

The 25 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

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?

February 2021: We still have to temporarily remove nearly all major attractions and museums from this list, as they’re still closed. But thanks to the removal of the stay-at-home order, we can recommend a few more outdoorsy and local travel options. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

Travel back in time at the drive-in


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 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.

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 views.

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 as a drive-through. So take your food across the street and park in the dirt patch by the water, with views of surfers and kite boarders.

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 has finally become 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.

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.

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.

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 seeling artsy keepsakes. 

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).

Rooftop Cinema Club
Photograph: Courtesy Rooftop Cinema Club

Watch a movie in a parking lot


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, Cinespia and Rooftop Cinema Club, among others, have all found new life with their temporary car-friendly formats.

Don’t miss: New series and screenings are sprouting up constantly, so be sure to check back for updates—even in the middle of the winter.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Descanso Gardens
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

Stroll through SoCal flora 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 trees in February and March.

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.

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


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.

Angeles Crest Highway
Photograph: Michael Juliano

See some snow in our own backyard up Angeles Crest Highway

What is it? A stretch of scenic highway that starts in La Cañada-Flintridge and quickly climbs a couple thousand feet into the San Gabriel Mountains.

Why go? Where else can you go from palm trees and temperatures in the 70s to freshly dumped powder in about 30 minutes? Depending on the winter weather, snow is but a quick (not not too quick: take your time on those blind curves) drive up the 2 freeway.

Don’t miss: The Georges Gap Trailhead tends to be one of the closest spots to see some legit snow covering on the mountaintops. If you want to actually step in some of the white stuff, expect to see it on the ground within a couple of miles of the (currently closed) turnoff for Mount Wilson, depending on how recently a storm has blown through. Make sure to have snow tires or chains if you plan on venturing east of there.

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: Timed tickets are priced per car (up to eight people) and cheapest on early evenings and school nights ($70)—otherwise you could end up paying as much as $100 on weekends.

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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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