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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
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 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 also has a permanent home 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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  • Things to do

After having to take a few years off, LA Pride is back—and it’s split 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.

  • Things to do
  • Echo Park

With its Downtown skyline backdrop, lotus flower bloom and spraying fountains, this onetime drinking water reservoir is now the perfect recreational destination. Today, you can walk the track around the lake or push your way through it in a swan boat; either way, make sure to stop at the revived boathouse and the Lady of the Lake statue.

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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 B’ivrit, Cali Dumpling, Chimmelier by Hanchic, Happy Ice and Say it Ain’t So.

  • 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
  • Downtown Arts District

The masters of rooftop movie viewing have returned for another season of screenings in Downtown L.A. and El Segundo. 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.

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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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  • Music
  • Jazz

No we’re not talking about the experimental genre, free jazz: Jazz at LACMA is a free seasonal series that’s featured legit legends over its three-decade run at the museum. The beloved program is back again for the season, and so too is its open seating and picnicking format (whereas last year you needed a reservation). You’ll find the series on Friday evenings in LACMA’s welcome plaza (just behind Urban Light) starting in April.

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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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  • Art
  • Film and video
  • Miracle Mile

Though you can linearly chart decades of Oscars winners, you can’t really do the same with the history of cinema: There are many stories that have pushed the medium forward. So for its second major exhibition, the Academy Museum will focus on nearly an entire century of often-overlooked cinema. A collaboration with Washington, D.C.’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, “Regeneration” dives into the works of Black filmmakers from the birth of the motion picture industry through the Civil Rights era.

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