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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

  • Things to do
  • price 2 of 4
  • La Cañada

Stroll through a mile-long trail filled with all things pumpkins, including an illuminated forest of jack-o’-lanterns, during Descanso Gardens’ annual Carved. For three weeks in October, the event will line a loop of the botanical garden with thousands of professionally-carved pumpkins in all sorts of forms: as a sea monster rising from a pond, arranged on the ground like a white-and-orange paisley, stuck together with branches in the form of some oversized bugs and cobbled together into a house. Most notably, you’ll find an uplit forested section of the garden lined with expressive jack-o’-lanterns, as well as some intricately carved ones that pay homage to everything from Hocus Pocus to Captain America to Kobe Bryant. There are a few familiar sights if you’ve ever attended Descanso’s other holiday tradition, Enchanted, but tweaked for Halloween (stomp along the trunk-encircling platforms in the oak grove and you’ll hear shrill cackles instead of sparkly sounds). Like Enchanted, the music is moody (but not spooky or scary; this is definitely made for families) and the installations are artfully assembled: Sure, they could’ve just dumped a bunch of jack-o’-lanterns everywhere, but supplementing them with woven straw lanterns, a floating Day of the Dead altar and red, glowing skeletons that subtly emerge out of the darkness was way more creative choice. Depending on the crowds and how often you stop for photos, expect to spend at least a half hour walking around—plus some extr

  • Things to do
  • Quirky events
  • price 3 of 4

After bringing some much-needed festivity to last year’s trick-or-treating options, this Halloween drive-through is returning to Woodland Hills as an on-foot adventure. Haunt’oween will celebrate spooky season with a walkthrough that features a pumpkin patch for both picking and carving, a scarecrow garden, a trick-or-treating–filled town and an illuminated carnival, plus face painting, performances, games and food trucks. The event runs the entirety of October and comes by way of Experiential Supply Co., which also set up last year’s Christmasy drive-through WonderLAnd and this spring’s candy-inspired Sugar Rush, plus some before-time big-budget activations for movies like IT: Chapter 2 and Ready Player One. Tickets go on sale August 25 at 9am and cost $30 on weekdays and $35 on weekends. You’ll find it at 6100 Topanga Canyon Boulevard on the site of the former Westfield Promenade, with free parking right next to the event entrance. View this post on Instagram A post shared by @31daysofhauntoween

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  • Art
  • Film and video
  • price 2 of 4
  • Miracle Mile

“Hayao Miyazaki,” which opens with the Academy Museum’s debut on September 30, features over 300 storyboards, concept images and backgrounds, many of them on display outside of Studio Ghibli’s Tokyo headquarters for the first time. It pulls from the director’s 11 feature films, with a particularly strong tilt toward My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away as well as his lush, enchanted forest settings. Find out more in our full preview of the exhibit.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • price 2 of 4
  • Griffith Park

After a year as a drive-through in San Dimas, this haunted event heads back to Griffith Park with a traditional hayride and a return to its 2019 setting: the mid-’80s fictitious town of Midnight Falls, which borrows a little bit of the road culture of Sons of Anarchy and the isolation of Twin Peaks. The Old Zoo tradition, now in its 13th installment, centers on a relatively lengthy hayride. The premise: A witch has summoned creatures that’ve hidden themselves among Halloween decorations in the town’s foothills. The event’s various other attractions will be centered around the jack-o’-lantern–filled Midnight Falls Town Square, with a creaky old funeral parlor set up in the Midnight Mortuary Haunted House as well as an evening at the Dead End Diner. Presale has already started, and if you sign up by August 25 you’ll unlock a discounted $10 off rate. Otherwise, prices increase to $35 during the general sale, which starts September 8 at noon.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • price 0 of 4

After last year’s self-guided tour of houses fit for a witch, Friends of Residential Treasures: Los Angeles is back with another map of storybook-style homes. Amber Benson, the Witches of Echo Park novelist and a mid-series regular on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has once again curated a guide to five castles and cottages, spread out between Los Feliz and West Hollywood. The actual route and selections will become available on October 13 (it’s free if you sign up on FORT:LA’s site). To be clear, the map won’t grant you access inside of each home, but it will help you set an itinerary for gawking at them from the sidewalk (and you can pair it with a selection of Grimm’s fairy tales readings). If you’re looking to extend your architecture tour, you can also tack on the new Hancock Park Howl, a walking tour of a dozen spooky houses in the neighborhood ($75 donation).

  • Movies
  • price 2 of 4
  • Santa Monica

The masters of alfresco rooftop movie viewing have returned, with both a Santa Monica “drive-up,” a new rooftop in El Segundo and its returning location in Downtown L.A. 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 an alfresco cinema. You’ll find all of the RCC fixtures here, including wireless headphones, lounge seats (plus loveseats and beanbags), popcorn, lawn games and a bar with beer, wine and ready-to-drink cocktails. It’s a similar story for the more familiar rooftop venue at LEVEL in DTLA. Meanwhile, the series is running what it’s dubbed a “drive-up” at the same time at Santa Monica Airport. You can opt for a regular drive-in parking spot, with space for tailgating next to your car, or you can upgrade to a “drive-up” ticket, which adds access to a lawn box closer to the screen with deck chairs and a side table. If you’re trying to figure out where exactly at the airport it’s being held, plug Airport Interim Open Space into your map app of choice. For its October screenings in Santa Monica, RCC is adding some Halloween fun with an inflatable bounce house and axe-throwing on Saturdays. (Oh, and look out for the October 12 screening of The Sandlot: There’ll be a batting cage set up.) Meanwhile, the El Segundo site will host trivia nights on Thursdays, DJ sets on Fridays and rooftop yoga on Saturday mornings.

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  • Art
  • Photography
  • price 0 of 4
  • Downtown Historic Core

For Blade Runner fans, stepping into the lobby of the Bradbury Building (where the sci-fi classic’s climax was shot) is practically a rite of passage. So heading up a few floors to see some rarely shown on-set images—well, that’s like watching C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. Throughout October, NeueHouse Bradbury, the exclusive co-working space inside of the 1893 building, will debut a collection of contact sheets and portraits from Blade Runner by the late set photographer Stephen Vaughan. We were able to scope out a few of the black-and-white images during an early 2020 tour of the then-in-progress space, and for Blade Runner fans they’re simply sublime (there’s a particularly old-school-cool photo of Harrison Ford in a long trench coat hanging on one side of the Wyman Bar, the floor’s social space). At the time, we were told that Vaughan’s partner approached NeueHouse with the negatives and an offer to put together a show, and now—one very long shutdown later—the 32 photographs have finally been mounted around the floor. The general public can visit the typically-off-limits space by emailing thewymanbar@neuehouse.com to make a free reservation. In addition, you can RSVP for an opening night reception on October 1.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • price 0 of 4
  • Downtown

Join Grand Park and Self-Help Graphics & Art—which hosts its own Day of the Dead celebration—for a nearly two-week display of 20 altars erected within the park. The altar displays officially kicks off on October 23 with a traditional Noche de Ofrenda ceremony to pray for and honor the dead, featuring a communal circle and blessing led by the indigenous community.

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  • Things to do
  • price 2 of 4
  • Santa Monica Mountains

Walk across the grounds of the scenic King Gillette Ranch as the Santa Monica Mountains hideaway is illuminated with thousands of hand-carved jack-o’-lanterns. Nights of the Jack reverts to an on-foot, two-thirds-of-a-mile trail this year (with a “Spookeasy,” too). Timed tickets required each night; expect to spend an hour to an hour and a half there.

  • Theater
  • Interactive
  • Pomona

Its past installments have found attendees stealthing their way through a Victorian home and embarking on a Blade Runner-esque bounty hunt. And now this celebrated immersive horror theater event is returning to L.A. for an event an a 146-year-old mansion. Delusion, an interactive seasonal event that combines elements of interactive theater and a more story-based haunted house walkthrough, will take over the Phillips Mansion, an 1875 estate in Pomona. “Reaper’s Remorse” opens on September 16 and will unfold a tale of the occult that’s centered around Esther Phillips, the real-life widow who once inhabited the house. Director and action coordinator Jon Braver, who hatched Delusion in 2011, has teamed up with the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride producers Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group for a staging that promises to “return [Delusion] to its horror roots.” You can upgrade to a VIP ticket for access to the second floor of the mansion, which includes a spooky, curated collection as well as a ghostly dark arts bar. All ticket levels include access to an “open world” area that promises to weave the story threads into what basically seems like an outdoor food and drink space. Presale starts July 14 at 11am (you’ll need to register in advance for access) while general admission will be available the following day. Tickets start at $90.

Looking for some more things to do today?

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