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Santa Monica
Photograph: courtesy Ehab Aref

75 things to do in the 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
Written 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 an outdoor market 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 things to do in the summer in L.A.

75 things to do in the summer

  • Movies
  • Downtown Historic Core

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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  • Movies
  • Downtown

The masters of alfresco rooftop movie viewing have returned, with both a Santa Monica drive-in and a new rooftop in El Segundo (the typical Hollywood and DTLA locations are still on hold for now). You’ll find the rooftop screenings in a warehouse district of El Segundo, on the fourth floor of a parking garage (1310 E Franklin Ave) that’s been remade into socially distanced alfresco cinema. You’ll find all of the RCC fixtures here, including wireless headphones, lounge seats (or loveseats), popcorn, a full bar, lawn games and pizza from the Urban Oven.

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  • 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totally overhauled California Plaza stage in DTLA, where the shallow water separating the stage from the audience has been replaced by a proper event lawn (though seating will be limited to the amphitheater). Don’t miss a diverse and highly intriguing mix of bands, DJ sets and dance parties.

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

We’ve missed the Sunday strolls through dozens of restaurant stalls and pop-up shops, but thankfully, Smorgasburg L.A. is coming back. The food bazaar and gathering place temporarily closed—along with practically everything else—in mid-March of 2020, but now it’s really, finally back starting July 4th. Every Sunday you’ll once again be able to find dozens of food vendors at the event’s home in ROW DTLA.

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  • 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.

  • Restaurants

Endless summers in Los Angeles mean non-stop cravings for the best ice cream. When temperatures climb and the Santa Ana winds roll in, treat yourself to the city’s tastiest frozen treats. As Angelenos, we appreciate a quality scoop of ice cream as much as a quality workout—after a hike or even after a sweaty yoga practice. After all, what’s the point of a great workout sesh if you don’t indulge?

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  • Museums
  • History
  • Pacific Palisades

In 1974, oil magnate J. Paul Getty opened a museum of his holdings in a faux villa on a Malibu clifftop. 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.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Malibu
  • price 2 of 4

A little bit coastal and a whole lot of a party, Christopher Tompkins’s seafood pop-up finally found a permanent home, and it’s tucked into a Malibu strip mall where the windows of his modern seafood shack open out onto a creek. 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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