The 37 best things to do in L.A.
What is it? A free, contemporary art museum in Downtown L.A.
Why go? Three words: Infinity Mirror Rooms. The persistently popular museum has two of Yayoi Kusama’s immersive, mirror-laden rooms (and the standy queue to prove it). Elsewhere in the museum, Eli and Edythe Broad’s collection of 2,000 postwar works includes artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger and Jeff Koons.
Don’t miss: Free tickets are available on the first day of the previous month. If you miss out on reservations, monitor the Broad’s wait time on Twitter.
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 Sari, Horse 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.
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.
What is it? An Art Deco observatory that dates back to 1935
Why go? The vista from this hilltop landmark is stunning, particularly at night when Los Angeles twinkles below. Inside you’ll find a bevy of exhibits, including a Foucault pendulum, Tesla coil and planetarium show.
Don’t miss: Give yourself plenty of time before the 10pm closing to gaze through the 12-inch refracting telescope on the roof, otherwise you can look through the far less crowded modern, reflecting telescope on the front lawn.
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: Be on the lookout for limited runs of “Rain Room” and a Jame Turrell light installation, both of which have been added to LACMA’s permanent collection.
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. While you’ll need to buy a concert ticket to see the stunning auditorium, we think the exterior is 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.
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 an 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 outdoor patio affords views of surfers, kite boarders and fellow diners, many of whom will be large, hairy and leather-clad. For an even closer ocean view, take your food across the street and sit on a clifftop boulder.
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.
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 permanent resting place in the museum.
Don’t miss: Timed tickets are required for Endeavour on weekends and during holiday periods, but you can freely visit during the week.
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).
Don’t miss: You’ll find proper picnic tables down the hill at the tram station, but we highly suggest sitting on the lawn adjacent to the Central Garden.
More great things to do across the globe
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.
Looking for more places to explore?
If you’re a tourist looking for things to do, you’ll find plenty of vacation inspiration, from Hollywood tours to a day at the one the city’s best beaches. And locals, you may discover ways to fall in love with the city all over again in our extensive list of Los Angeles attractions.