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Hollywood Bowl
Photograph: Courtesy Adam Latham

The best things to do in Los Angeles this week

Find concerts, screenings, performances and more of our critics’ picks with the best events and things to do in Los Angeles this week

Michael Juliano
Edited by
Michael Juliano
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If we could write the rules of living in Los Angeles this would be our No. 1, always at the top of our list: When you live in this city, there’s no excuse for boredom just because it’s a weeknight. There are hundreds of things to do in Los Angeles each week, whether you hit the beach at sunset or go for a morning bike ride, or catch a concert or a comedy show—and that’s really only scratching the surface. Well, we don’t make the rules, but we will provide you with plenty of ideas for your next free weeknight right here. Now go out (or, in a few cases, stay in) and tackle these things to do in L.A. this week.

The best events in L.A. this week

  • Theater
  • Shakespeare
  • Griffith Park

Each summer, Bard fanatics watch their favorite works come to life at the historic Old Zoo in Griffith Park. Independent Shakespeare Co. puts on a series of lively productions each week, inviting audiences to take a seat on the grass (read: bring a picnic blanket) and enjoy performances like this season’s headliners: Knight of the Burning Pestle (July 2–31) and Macbeth (Aug 6–Sept 4).

  • Things to do
  • San Marino

As sunset creeps later and later into the evening, the Huntington is taking advantage of the extra daylight with this coveted after-hours series. Formerly open on select dates and just for members, Summer Evening Strolls is now open to the public, too, and will extend the San Marino garden’s hours until 8pm on Saturday and Sunday evenings in the summer, with a few holiday weekend Fridays thrown in, too.

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  • Things to do
  • Hollywood

Ring in another year of independence in the grand ol’ USA with Steve Martin and Martin Short. The Hollywood Bowl proudly hosts its annual Fourth of July party, complete with a dazzling fireworks finale. Grab your tickets early; seats in the nosebleed section go for less than the price of parking. Or consider springing for front section tickets—it is America’s birthday, after all.

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  • Things to do
  • Arcadia

The midnight snacker’s greatest fantasy is just a car ride away. One of America’s largest Asian food markets spans the course of Santa Anita Park’s front Paddock Gardens during the summer. Come hungry and come caffeinated—this lively market, complete with over 250 Asian street food and booze peddlers, live music, artists, games, and beyond, won’t put itself to bed until midnight.

The event has also expanded its way to Orange County, as well as to Santa Monica for a mini edition with two dozen vendors.

  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Downtown

In this captivating original musical, high school student Evan Hansen is thrust into social relevance after a classmate's suicide. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s score combines well-crafted lyrics with an exciting pop sound, and Steven Levenson’s book gives all the characters shaded motives.

Read the review of its run on Broadway.

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  • Things to do
  • Fireworks
  • Universal City

For just the third time, the storied movie studio and theme park will fire off a Fourth of July pyro extravaganza with fireworks synchronized to both Universal-themed music and patriotic standards. And this time around, Universal Studios has expanded its fireworks show to three straight nights around 9pm (July 2, 3 and 4). Expect some other holiday touches along the way, including themed décor and a fife and drum band. You’ll be able to view the fireworks from the Universal Plaza in the upper lot as well as near the Transformers ride on the lower lot (if you were thinking of getting away with watching from CityWalk, Universal says you should expect limited to no visibility from the shopping district).

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • South Park

The annual Anime Expo takes over the Los Angeles Convention Center for four days of panels, special events and plenty of cosplay. Thousands of fans come to celebrate the quirky art and culture of anime as figureheads and stars of the industry visit to speak and sign autographs. Plus, a massive wing of the convention is set aside specifically for gaming—both electronic and card-based.

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  • Music
  • Jazz
  • Miracle Mile

One of L.A.’s best free live music offerings, Jazz at LACMA has 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.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Pasadena

AmericaFest at the Rose Bowl is an explosive celebration of all things red, white and blue—and easily the biggest show in L.A. The fireworks typically don’t shoot off until 9pm, but the Rose Bowl opens its gates hours earlier on Independence Day, usually starting with kid-friendly carnival fun, followed by an in-stadium stunt-filled program. Parking for the event will cost a whopping $45 (in advance), but you can make it worth your while with an afternoon of tailgaiting outside the stadium. If you don’t want to venture into the stadium, the show is viewable from the areas around the Arroyo, most easily accessible along the Colorado Street Bridge and the neighborhoods west of the 210, and, distantly, from parking garage rooftops in Old Pasadena.

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  • Things to do
  • Marina del Rey

There’s something about watching fireworks over the ocean. Every year in Marina del Rey, fireworks explode over the marina channel and spectators gather all over to watch: at Burton Chace Park or Fisherman’s Village as well as from Marina “Mother’s” Beach, waterfront hotels and restaurants, and on boats. Fireworks start at 9pm and usually last for about 20 minutes. Arrive early to the area’s county lots.

  • Things to do
  • Downtown

If you’re on the hunt for a cheap, lively way to celebrate Uncle Sam, shake it over to Grand Park, and watch Downtown L.A. light up for free. This Fourth of July, Grand Park hosts a unique block party, featuring scrumptious food truck fare and two stages of live music. The tunes begins while the sun is still high in the sky, so bring yourself an all-day picnic—no booze allowed, only empty water bottles—and relax. Best of all, the event is Metro accessible via the Civic Center/Grand Park station (though $9 parking is also available at the Music Center and Walt Disney Concert Hall). Look out for the fireworks after 9pm on the north side of the park at the Music Center, fired off from the roof of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

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  • Things to do
  • Long Beach

The Queen Mary isn’t quite ready to partake in a fireworks show again, but the rest of Long Beach sure is. This Fourth of July, you’ll find pyro over Queensway Bay around 9pm for a free show easily viewable from most of the Long Beach waterfront’s attractions. If you’d rather watch from the water, Harbor Breeze Cruises has two different boats departing from Rainbow Harbor ($75) on the Fourth, as well as a July 3rd cruise ($40) for a 9pm show on the eastern edge of the city over Alamitos Bay.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Pacific Palisades

Cruise on up to the Palisades for a beachy Independence Day extravaganza. Things kick off in the afternoon with a 2pm WWII fighter plane flyover to herald the start of the parade. The baton twirlers and marching trombonists will begin their promenade on Sunset Boulevard, between Via de la Paz and Drummond. There’s usually a late-afternoon concert, followed by a 9pm fireworks show at Palisades Charter High School (tickets required).

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  • Things to do
  • Burbank

Burbank’s Starlight Bowl is putting together a whole day of 4th of July festivities, starting with a flyover, a color guard presentation and then performances by the Company Men and the Soul of Broadway. Then it’s on to the fireworks show around 9pm. If you’re not really into the programming but still want to see some pyro, we’d suggest scoping out Castaway just across the canyon, which typically offers fireworks seating and some pretty killer views of the Valley.

  • Things to do
  • Los Angeles

Theme parks, fireworks and Coca-Cola—talk about a patriotic trio. Six Flags will shoot off fireworks over three straight nights at its Valencia park. As far as the carbonated sponsorship goes, you’ll be able to slurp town a blue Sprite concoction while you’re there. Look out for the fireworks over the Full Throttle Plaza around 9:15pm.

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  • Music
  • Downtown

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.

  • Music
  • Fairfax District

The Original Farmers Market is host to a plethora of fun, family-friendly outdoor events, and its summer music series are some of its best. Take a load off near the end of the work week and stop by the West Patio on Thursday nights from 6 to 8pm to hear a genre-spanning mix of live music, or Friday nights from 7 to 9pm for a lineup of tribute bands courtesy of E.B.’s Beer & Wine.

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