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Chinatown Central Plaza
Photograph: Courtesy Jesse Hsu

Things to do in L.A. this weekend

We pick out the best things to do in L.A. this weekend, including our favorite concerts, culture and cuisine

Michael Juliano
Edited by
Michael Juliano
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We don’t know about you, but our mind is always focused on the weekend. It can never come soon enough—which is why we’re already thinking about what new restaurants we want to try or where we can drive for the day. Whether you’re looking to scope out the latest museum exhibitions or watch a movie outdoors, you’ll find plenty of things to do in L.A. this weekend.

We curate an L.A. weekend itinerary of the city’s best concerts, culture and cuisine, every week, just for you.

The best things to do in L.A. this weekend

  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops
  • USC/Exposition Park

If you’re sick of First Fridays only offering a high density of food trucks and lines at your favorite dive bars, check out something old—in a good way, we promise—at the Natural History Museum, where First Fridays offer dinosaurs and DJs. The first Friday of every month from February through June plays host to a KCRW-presented evening of music, allowing visitors of all ages to stay late for a night at the museum. Each month offers a different lineup of musical guests and DJs, guided museum tours, and scientist-led talks.

  • Things to do

Support women-owned restaurants and dine at some of L.A.’s best spots during the return of this annual food fest. Regarding HER’s RE:Her festival will offer themed menu specials, convos and collabs from women restaurateurs all month long. Highlights from this year include a paella night featuring Casa Vega and Gasolina Cafe (March 22), a chaat party at Benny Boy Brewing (March 10) and a “chefs of the Arts District” dinner (March 20).

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  • Movies
  • Miracle Mile

One of the benefits of living in the city that hosts the Oscars and having a movie museum from the folks behind the award show? You can see screenings and conversations with a number of the nominees for only $10. In the leadup to Oscar Night on March 10, the Academy Museum will host panels with nominees in categories like animation, documentary and visual effects; for short-form categories, expect screenings of the films, as well, inside the David Geffen Theater.

  • Things to do
  • Chinatown

Take advantage of extended hours at a bunch of Chinatown galleries, shops and restaurants during this Friday night event series. You’ll find most of the galleries along Chung King Road, with other businesses in Chinatown Central Plaza and Far East Plaza.

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  • Art
  • Fairs
  • Santa Monica

The New York export lands in L.A. for its fifth art fair in February. After first debuting in the surreal setting of the Paramount backlot and then decamping to a space next to the Beverly Hilton, the event has since settled on a site-specific tent in the southeast corner of Santa Monica Airport.

  • Art
  • Downtown Arts District

In 1993, artist Charles Gaines mounted “ The Theater of Refusal: Black Art and Mainstream Criticism,” a UC Irvine gallery show that responded to the country’s cultural and political crises with works from then-up-and-coming Black artists. Now, three decades later, Hauser & Wirth has revived the show in two parts: a small reprise of “The Theater of Refusal” with ’90s pieces from Gaines, Gary Simmons and Lorna Simpson, as well as a larger room that continues the show’s themes with recent works from Lauren Halsey, Rashid Johnson, Caroline Kent and more.

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  • Restaurants
  • Downtown Santa Monica

Not to be confused with the old L.A. Food & Wine Festival, the L.A. Wine & Food Festival is a Frieze Week affair popping up next to the Santa Monica Pier with a pretty impressive lineup of restaurants and chefs including Pizzana, Jitlada, Holbox, Crudo e Nudo, Anajak Thai and many more. Though tickets are on the pricey side, they come with unlimited food and drinks.

  • Art
  • Hollywood

What does living in L.A. look like? It’s a wildly different picture depending on each Angeleno’s point of view, and so to celebrate that diversity of perspectives, Hollywood gallery Jeffrey Deitch will display pieces from a dozen local artists that delve into underground economies, landscapes, surveillance, backyard hangouts and public transit, among other topics.

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  • Art
  • Boyle Heights

Your favorite plush ’80s obsession meets the contemporary art market at this show from Corey Helford Gallery, which features pieces of Care Bears-inspired work by 75 currently working artists. Oh, and of course there’s a pop-up shop as part of the Boyle Heights-area show.

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  • Music
  • Pop
  • Inglewood

When last she played L.A., Madonna spent nearly two weeks at the Wiltern. This time around, the patron saint of pop is scaling up a bit with shows at the Kia Forum, part of her 40th anniversary Celebration Tour.

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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 Basket Taco Co, Battambong Barbecue and Taste of the Pacific.

  • Art
  • Installation
  • Boyle Heights

For one summer in 1987, a carnival popped up in Germany with traditional rides adorned with artwork by Salvador Dalí, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, David Hockney, Sonia Delaunay and a couple dozen others. And then… it kind of just vanished, sent off into storage for decades. But now, thanks to a couple of art world partners and Drake, Luna Luna has been revived in L.A., restored and reassembled in a soundstage in Boyle Heights.

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  • Things to do
  • Fairfax District

Far less deadly than the fictional competition it’s based on, this real-life adaptation of Squid Game lets you compete in six challenges inspired by the Netflix series. Over the course of 70 minutes, you’ll rack up points in a series of games presented to you by the Front Man himself. They’re largely inspired by familiar childhood games (think twists on marbles, Battleship and Operation), with some pulled straight from the series like Red Light, Green Light.

  • Things to do
  • Rancho Palos Verdes/Rolling Hills Estates

Stroll through a garden illuminated by celestial-inspired lights during this evening event at South Coast Botanic Garden. There’s nothing Christmassy nor even wintry about this hour-long Palos Verdes trail, yet its nine stellar installations are the most cosmically mesmerizing of the budding after-dark botanical garden shows that’ve come to blanket L.A. toward the end of the year.

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  • Art
  • Sculpture
  • San Marino

You might’ve noticed Johnson’s beautifully carved and gilded redwood organ screen on recent visits to the Huntington. Now, for the first time in four decades, you can see it paired with other pieces he created for the California School for the Blind in Berkeley, California—with 41 works in total on display.

  • Art
  • Miracle Mile

Judy Baca’s half-mile–long The Great Wall of Los Angeles, a collaborative mural painted in the ’70s along the Tujunga Wash, has received all sorts of museum love in the past few years. But LACMA has a particularly unique show to boast about: The local Chicana muralist and SPARC artists will paint two new sections of The Great Wall during museum hours. The exhibit also debuts a new section of the wall, in honor of activists known as the Freedom Riders, dubbed Generation on Fire.

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  • Art
  • Contemporary art
  • Downtown

This show at the Broad was supposed to debut in April of 2020 to kicks off the museum’s fifth anniversary, but, you know… the world had other plans. Thankfully, you’ll finally have a chance to see this free collection exhibition with a focus on L.A. artists, including Sayre Gomez, Toba Khedoori, Patrick Martinez and Barbara Kruger alongside an entire gallery dedicated to John Baldessari and Mike Kelley.

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  • Things to do

Expect to hear plenty of people shouting “you can’t sit with us!” during this Mean Girls-inspired experience in Santa Monica. Each ticket comes with an entree and side (think “Stab” Ceasar salad and cheese fries) in a cafeteria-style setting, plus access to the Cool Mom Bar and plenty of photo ops (like Regina’s bedroom mirror, the Burn Book and the talent show). Find it at 2020 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica.

 

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Hollywood

Brush up on a half-century of hip-hop history at this projection-filled show, which includes a mix of footage and collectibles from the likes of Death Row, Snoop Dogg, Nipsey Hussle, Delicious Vinyl, KDAY and more. The show, which was created in partnership with the Hip Hop Museum and debuted in New York last year, takes up residence at the former Amoeba space on Sunset.

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