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Photograph: courtesy Ehab Aref

The 75 best things to do in L.A. this summer

From a day at the beach to a night at a free concert, plan ahead with these things to do in the summer in Los Angeles

Michael Juliano
Edited by
Michael Juliano
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Looking for things to do in the summer? Thankfully, in Los Angeles we have no shortage of outdoor activities and festivals to suggest. We’ve got you covered with a list of things to do this season—75 to be exact—from a show at an iconic amphitheater in Hollywood to heading down PCH for a day at one of the best beaches in L.A. or even just finding an excuse to spend time outside. Read on to dispel your couch potato habits and make the most of the season with these things to do in the summer.

RECOMMENDED: See our full guide to summer in L.A.

75 things to do in the summer

  • Movies

It isn’t summer in L.A. until the first cemetery screening brings hoards of movie-lovers to Hollywood Forever, toting folding chairs, picnic blankets, snack spreads and lots of booze. Each year, Cinespia brings classic cult favorites to the hallowed resting place of such Hollywood greats as Rudolph Valentino and Bugsy Siegel. It’s an L.A. rite of passage, a quintessential summer experience and one of the best film venues in the city.

See more of L.A.’s outdoor movie screenings.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Malibu
  • price 2 of 4

A little bit coastal and a whole lot of a party, Christopher Tompkins’s popular Smorgasburg stall (and now Grand Central Market stand) also has a permanent home tucked into a Malibu strip mall, where a pair of tented decks in the parking lot look out over the coastal hillside. It’s the perfect setting to grab a beer or some natural wine and our favorite lobster rolls in town (available warm and buttered or East-Coast style, chilled and in a thin sheen of mayo).

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  • Things to do

For the second straight year, LA Pride has splintered into two similar events this June. The familiar LA Pride has left behind West Hollywood for Hollywood, where the LGBTQ+ event first began in the 1970s. Meanwhile, WeHo will still be staging its own inclusive festival, WeHo Pride, the week before. Confused? Don’t worry, we break down everything you need to know about LA Pride, the Pride Parade and WeHo Pride right over here.

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  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Downtown Arts District

Every Sunday you can find dozens of food vendors at this market at ROW DTLA, with a mix of much-loved pop-ups and future foodie stars. Look out for this year’s new vendors, including the Golden Skewer, Shlap Muan and Thai Town’s Rad Na Silom—as well as the sweets-focused Ice Cream Alley, which usually runs throughout the summer.

  • Museums
  • History
  • Pacific Palisades

In 1974, oil magnate J. Paul Getty opened a museum of his holdings in a faux villa in a Pacific Palisades canyon. Eventually the decorative arts and paintings were moved to the Getty Center, and the villa was closed for conversion into a museum for Getty’s collection of Mediterranean antiquities. Even if you’re not interested in the art, the palatial courtyards and manicured gardens are worth the visit.

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  • Movies

The masters of rooftop movie viewing have returned for another season of screenings in Downtown L.A. and the Arts District. Known for excellent film choices and a steady supply of snacks and booze, Rooftop Cinema Club was the first series to hit town with a tough-to-beat alfresco setup: You’ll watch from comfy chairs with the audio piped in over wireless headphones, though you can still keep up with some quieter sets of speakers as you hit up the concession stand.

  • Music

This epic (and free) outdoor concert series features live performances by artists from around the world at the totally overhauled California Plaza stage in DTLA, where the shallow water separating the stage from the audience has been replaced by a proper event lawn. Don’t miss a diverse and highly intriguing mix of bands, DJ sets and dance parties.

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  • Attractions
  • Beaches
  • Malibu

Small, beautiful and dominated by rocky outcrops, El Matador is easily the most picturesque piece of coastline in the county. Wear shoes and don’t bring too much gear; the western Malibu beach is only accessible via a steep gravelly path from a paid parking lot (unless you score a free pass with your library card). There are no lifeguards or other facilities, but it’s the perfect spot to spread your towel in the cupped hands of the rocks—just watch out for high tide when sand comes at a premium. Arriving early or staying late should reward you with a memorable dawn or sunset.

  • Things to do

The allure of the canyons is inescapable once your car climbs their well-worn roads. The era of folk and free love trickled out of the mainstream but never left the canyons. Magic is still hidden around every bend in these mountains, and it’s yours to discover. So, fill up your gas tank and head for the hills.

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  • Movies
  • Drama

The L.A. Conservancy offers a delightful summer time machine in the form of landmark films, screened inside Downtown’s grand old movie palaces throughout the month of June.

This year’s lineup includes Metropolis and Enter the Dragon at the Orpheum (June 3), Planet of the Apes and The Philadelphia Story at the Los Angeles Theatre (June 10) and Auntie Mame and Vertigo at the Million Dollar Theatre (June 17).

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  • Things to do

Take a walk along the palm and eucalyptus-lined bluffs and it becomes obvious why tourists flock to Santa Monica. With the beach on one side and mountains on another, it’s the essence of that postcard picture of Southern California’s coastline. You’ll find more than just a beach town, though; there are plenty of things to do in Santa Monica without setting foot on the Pier or Third Street Promenade, from fresh dinners prepared straight from the farmers’ market to bars with a view.

 

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