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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, 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?

April 2021: As L.A. continues to take major steps toward reopening, we’ve been able to add some of our favorite museums back onto this list. We’ve had to remove Echo Park Lake for now (you can read about its temporary closure) and a couple of events that have wrapped up for the season, but in their place we’ve been able to welcome back the Rose Bowl Flea Market, Universal Studios Hollywood and Amoeba’s new Hollywood store. 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. The library and museum are equally impressive, and reopen in mid-April; all require reservations.

Don’t miss: Go for a stroll around the Chinese garden, which opened its massive expansion last fall. And make sure to see “Made in L.A.,” which the Huntington is co-presenting with the Hammer Museum.

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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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.

“Urban Light” at LACMA
Photograph: Courtesy Museum Associates/LACMA

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? 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 museum reopened this month with a Yoshitomo Nara exhibition. 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.

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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? As theaters slowly reopen, it’s one of the only ways 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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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).

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Cinespia drive-in
Photograph: Courtesy Cinespia/Kelly Lee Barrett

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. Cinespia has found new life with a temporary car-friendly format in Griffith Park, and we’ve seen newcomers at the Hollywood Roosevelt and a Glendale parking garage, among others.

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

Endeavour
Photograph: Michael Juliano

Stand underneath a space shuttle at the California Science Center

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 permanent resting place in the museum.

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.

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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.

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).

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Rose Bowl Flea Market
Photograph: Rozette Rago

Hunt for antiques at the Rose Bowl Flea Market

Shopping

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.

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.

Amoeba Music
Photograph: Courtesy Amoeba Music

Load up on records at Amoeba Music

Music Music venues Hollywood

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 just moved from its longtime home on Sunset Boulevard to a spot at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue.

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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 tulips and the Japanese garden’s cherry blossoms in the spring.

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.

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Desert X installation view of Nicholas Galanin, Never Forget. 2021.
Photography by Lance Gerber. Courtesy the artist and 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: With the exhibitions all built for the outdoors and wide open spaces, it seems like a perfect fit for right now. And we happen to think a couple of them are pretty compelling; check our guide to the art fair for more info.

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).

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.

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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.  

wizarding world of harry potter hollywood
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Raise your wand at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Attractions Theme parks Universal City

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: Universal reopens April 16, so expect reservations to be a hot ticket for now (you can visit for a ticketed food-only event up until 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

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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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