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Griffith Observatory
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Cameron Venti

Things to do in Los Angeles today

Discover these things to do in L.A. today—including free and cheap concerts, screenings, shows, parties and more

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Looking for last-minute plans? Figuring out how to stop from slipping into yet another night on the couch? Find out the best things to do today in Los Angeles with picks for our favorite screenings, museum exhibitions and more. Sometimes, you make plans to go out months in advance. Other times, you’re left scrambling for plans a few hours from now—consider this your social emergency savior for those situations. So stay occupied no matter what day it is with these things to do in Los Angeles today.

RECOMMENDED: Full Los Angeles events calendar

Things to do in Los Angeles today

  • Movies
  • price 2 of 4
  • Downtown

The masters of alfresco rooftop movie viewing have returned for another season of screenings in Downtown L.A., the Arts District and El Segundo. Known for excellent film choices and a steady supply of snacks and booze, Rooftop Cinema Club is your snazzy, comfortable and less stressful alternative to other outdoor movie screenings. You don’t even need to bring your own blanket or camping chair—Rooftop Cinema Club provides you with your very own comfy lawn chair, as well as blankets on request for the ultimate cozy experience. And instead of listening to the movie over loudspeakers, you’ll get a set of wireless headphones so you never have to miss a word.

  • Movies
  • price 2 of 4
  • Chinatown

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 Old Hollywood greats—and a couple of off-site screenings, too. For its first batch of summer screenings this year, Cinespia will be showing Mean Girls (May 28), Back to the Future (May 29) and American Psycho (June 4), The Wizard of Oz (June 12), Aliens (June 18) and But I’m a Cheerleader (June 25) at Hollywood Forever, plus Jurassic Park (May 13), Twilight (June 3) and Selena (June 24) at L.A. State Historic Park. Then, come the Fourth of July, the series will present three fireworks-accompanied screenings over the long weekend: The Fast and the Furious (July 2), Purple Rain (July 3) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (July 4). The rest of the month includes Almost Famous (July 9), Showgirls (July 16), Jackie Brown (July 23) and The Birds (July 30) at Hollywood Forever, plus Pretty in Pink (July 22) at LASHP.  For each evening, pack a picnic, pose in the photo booth and enjoy DJ sets, dance parties and all sorts of other magical mischief that’d otherwise be strictly forbidden behind the cemetery gates. It’s an L.A. rite of passage, a quintessential summer experience and one of the best film venues in the city. Just be sure to get your ticket early, arrive early, pee early… it’s a popular affair, to say the least.

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  • Movies
  • price 3 of 4
  • Los Angeles

Though we’ve largely reverted back to grassy, picnic-style movie screenings after a stretch of pop-up drive-ins, we’ll gladly get back in our vehicles for this series—since, you know, this time that vehicle is a boat. True to its name, Boat Cinema will once again present largely nautical-themed movie screenings (think: Jaws, Titanic) on the beach at Castaic Lake every Friday, Saturday and Sunday this summer. You can rent an electric mini boat that seats up to five people ($279, front row for $329—both a considerable increase over last season’s prices), or bring along your own blankets and chairs for a spot on the beach ($20). The movie itself will be screened on the sand and viewable from both land and on the lake. You’ll be able to kick things off with beachside music, pick up picnic or charcuterie boxes, and even get pizza delivered directly to your boat or shop from a canoe of concessions.

  • Things to do
  • price 3 of 4
  • 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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  • Theater
  • Shakespeare
  • price 0 of 4
  • 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). You’ll find a few changes to the 2022 season that’ve carried over from last year: Since work is still underway on a permanent performance stage, the Independent Shakespeare Co. is instead setting up slightly farther up the hill at the Old Zoo. That means each performance will only be able to accommodate about 450 people, so reservations will be required. Registration opens on June 24.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • price 2 of 4
  • 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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  • Art
  • Installation
  • price 2 of 4
  • Boyle Heights

Installation artist Glenn Kaino has turned a 28,000-square-foot space in DTLA into a surreal forest that asks visitors to contemplate their relationship with nature. There’s a lot going on here, from its basis of years of nature essays in The Atlantic to a narrative about Native American controlled burns. But here’s the gist: You’ll find a few focal points from Kaino (an infinity mirror well, a grove of talking trees, a terrace of simulated fire and an illuminated repurposing of a fallen, century-old fig tree that once stood at the end of Olvera Street) all wrapped up in a moody forest environment.

  • Things to do
  • Fireworks
  • price 3 of 4
  • 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).

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  • Things to do
  • price 1 of 4
  • Costa Mesa

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.

  • Movie theaters
  • Outdoor
  • price 2 of 4
  • West Hollywood

West Hollywood’s ultra-chic restaurant and rooftop bar, E.P. & L.P., is serving much more than handcrafted cocktails and modern American bites. The spot also hosts Melrose Rooftop Theatre, an outdoor screening series that runs much of the year on the rooftop space attached to its open-air bar, L.P. Its all-VIP seating setup means everyone gets their own bean bag to watch a mix of cult classics and newly released films, with the audio piped in to provided sets of wireless headphones. Opt for the dinner-and-a-movie package and you’ll get a pre-show starter, main and dessert—or you can skip it and just opt for a cocktail during the movie.

Looking for some more things to do today?

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