Los Angeles is filled with hidden gems to discover and explore, but we tend to overlook the obvious spots without realizing that some of the best the city has to offer, is hiding in plain sight. At these spots, you’ll find a diverse mix of both locals and tourists from all walks of life just going about their business. Here are all the essential things to do in Los Angeles at least once!
Browse around 2,000 works of art, all housed in this groundbreaking building. The Broad is considered to have the world’s best collections of contemporary and postwar art and constantly brings in renowned contemporary artists for temporary exhibitions every few months.
🎨Currently on view:
📍Location: 221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Astra Lumia is truly a celestial experience combining a peaceful stroll in nature and glimmering lights! The soothing lights, ethereal soundscapes, and the lush nature of South Coast Botanic Garden result in a fairy-tale atmosphere that’s the perfect, illuminated escape for you and your loved one. There’s nothing quite like the perfect symphony of serenity and celestial wonder that will leave you breathless. Tickets are officially on sale — grab your tickets to Astra Lumina here!
📍Location: South Coast Botanic Garden 26300, Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90274
The Griffith Observatory is a must-see in L.A., which is why it’s number one on our list – what better way to get to know a city than to peer out at the fantastic views, including the famous Hollywood Sign? Come day or night, both experiences are different in their own right – telescopes are available to look at the starry sky and several exhibits can be found inside. Oh, and another added benefit is that it’s totally free—you just have to get yourself there. The easiest way is to take the DASH Observatory bus from Vermont / Sunset Metro Red Line Station, or alternatively, get an UBER. Find more information here!
📍Location: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
You need to ride around the train and explore the living artworks within the gardens of the monumental Getty Center or wander amongst Roman-style columns of the Getty Villa at least once in L.A. These cultural gems exude art and beauty on every level. In addition to the 19-20th century European art that can be found in the museums, the entire premises are an architectural treat to walk around in. Learn more about it here.
📍Location: 17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
You haven’t been to L.A. unless you’ve attempted to capture Chris Burden’s iconic “Urban Light” installation in front of LACMA. Once you’ve done that you’ll have over 100,000 artifacts to explore inside the museum. You can even catch live jazz on Fridays this fall. Make it a day full of music and art!
- October 27, 2023: Janis Mann
- November 10, 2023: Knick Smith Band
- November 17, 2023: John Proulx Quartet
- November 24, 2023: Luther Hughes and the Cannonball-Coltrane Project
📍Location: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Hollywood finally has a dedicated place that honors the incredible creative legacy that put this coastal desert on the map. The Academy Museum is the first of its kind in the country and, once again, the impressive structure is just as jaw-dropping as the contents. You can even visit it for free.
📍Location: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
We know Los Angeles is full of concerts across the city, but Candlelight Concerts really take the music to another level. At these shows, you can find classical renditions of modern music all while in the glow of candlelight. You can find these concerts across the city, check out upcoming Candlelight Concerts here!
8. Walk, skate, or cycle around Santa Monica & Venice Beach
While they are two different places, the good thing is that you can see Santa Monica and Venice in under an hour because they’re walking/biking distance apart.
With the opening of the new Metro Rail Expo Line, there’s a direct route from Union Station in DTLA to Downtown Santa Monica. From there, it’s a 5-minute walk to the Third Street Promenade, where you’ll find restaurants and all the biggest name-brand shops. Look out for the giant Ferris wheel, located on the Santa Monica pier. From there you walk along the beach until you reach the Venice Boardwalk.
During this walk, you’ll pass by Muscle Beach; aka the birthplace of the fitness boom in the US, where there are always people doing incredible gymnastics. You’ve reached the end of the walk once you get to the skate park, stick around for a bit and watch the talented skaters do their thing!
9. Immerse yourself in creativity in the Arts District
The Arts District has become one of the most popular spots amongst locals and tourists. Its history began back in the 70s when artists started illegally occupying spaces for their studios and has slowly developed as the place to be for creatives. You can find wall art, galleries, breweries, and much more.
📍Here are some spots we recommend:
Step into the neighborhood that never sleeps, where neon-soaked streets are packed with exciting experiences and curiosities. This L.A. neighborhood is a must when it comes to nightlife (yes, that includes karaoke), but also has a vibrant food scene, incredible spas, and tranquil hideouts to discover. Check out our full Koreatown guide here!
11. Spend a Sunday on Melrose Avenue
What’s more L.A., than spending the day shopping on Melrose Ave? Melrose is known for its cool wall art, funky/trendy shops, and great cafes. It’s perfect for a stroll on a sunny day (which is pretty much every day), whether you’re there to go shopping, or just get a coffee. Check out Melrose Trading Post, a market that happens every Sunday where you can find vendors selling things like antiques and vintage clothes. You may also want to stop by the Insta-famous hot pink Paul Smith wall for that obligatory wall snap.
📍Location: 8221 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
12. Hop on the trolley at The Grove
The Grove is an outdoor open-plan shopping mall and is within walking distance from Melrose so you can easily combine both into a day of activities. You can find more shops, several food vendors, places for drinks, a cinema and an overall cozy atmosphere. You should come just before sunset to get the best of both worlds because the vibe is completely different during the day and night. While the twinkling lights and rushing fountains are an experience on their own, you should head to the rooftop parking spot for epic views of the city too.
📍Location: 189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90036
This street name must pop into your head right after Melrose when you think of L.A. right? Known for its luxury brand shops, you can find it in the heart of Beverly Hills, and although not everyone can afford to shop there — you can’t come to L.A. and not check out Beverly Hills!
📍Location: Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA
The Laugh Factory is a chain of comedy clubs that can be found in Chicago, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Reno, Scottsdale, and of course, Hollywood. It’s one of the most famous comedy clubs, home to some of the biggest names in stand-up comedy today. We recommend going to the event Chocolate Sundaes which is held every Sunday. You can RSVP here — the entry is free, with the only requirement being a two-drink minimum per person.
📍Location: 8001 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Does this really need any explanation? Universal Studios is one of the most quintessential things to do in Los Angeles, and it’s right in the heart of Hollywood so it’s easy to get to. You can get a guided tour of real-life movie lots and studios, see the re-imagining of Hogwarts where you can buy wands, Butter Beer, and anything else Harry Potter related, and go on a bunch of thrilling rides! On top of that, in 2023 it will be home to the first Nintendo World in the USA.
You simply cannot leave L.A. until you’ve watched the LA Phil play at the mind-blowing building designed by one of the most famous architects in the world Frank Gehry.
Experience the Hollywood sign up close and personal! Get ready for an awe-inspiring hike with an expert tour guide. Even if you’ve hiked Griffith Park before, this is an extraordinary tour you’ll surely want to cross off your bucket list — don’t miss out and book your Hollywood sign tour hike here!
The Bowl has been a music mecca since it opened in 1922 and has continued to cement its place as a top music venue in the world with its curated music roster. Whether it’s a centennial celebration, concert, or an immersive theater show, you’ll never be disappointed with a visit to this attraction. Find a show here!
📍Location: 2301 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Sure, there are hundreds of incredible food markets in Los Angeles, but none have featured in as many films as much as Grand Central Market. You might as well get a taste of the city with the delicious offerings while reliving romantic a moment from all your favorite films. Visit them here!
📍Location: 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Speaking of films — many come to mind when we think of Los Angeles. One of them being La La Land. To no surprise, you can visit the locations from the film all across the city. There’s nothing quite like exploring L.A. like through the lens of cinema. Get the list of La La Land filming locations here!
21. Watch planes at In-N-Out
While L.A. may offer top-notch dining, In-N-Out has become part of the city’s culture. Getting your favorite order “animal style” while watching planes fly overhead at their location near LAX (in the longest line you’ve ever seen), is an essential thing to do.
📍Location: 9149 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Los Angeles is all about the views and this historic hilltop restaurant is undoubtedly one of the best places to witness the skyline. Dine in an ornate Japanese-inspired setting with delicious food while taking in the sweeping vistas of the twinkling city lights.
📍Location: 1999 N Sycamore Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Los Angeles is filled with unique rides and modes of transport, but this is definitely one that you can’t skip. For almost two centuries this charming orange, wooden railway has been carting people between Hill Street and Grand Avenue on Bunker Hill. It’s one of the cheapest thrills in the city and it’s also a cute date idea.
📍Location: 351 S Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Whether you’re a sports fan or not, the buzz of a full crowd in the City of Champions cannot be missed. It’s fall after all, which means catching a Kings game is a must! Go Kings, Go — check out their schedule here.
📍Location: Crypto Arena, 1111 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
The Sixth Street Viaduct connects Downtown Los Angeles with the Boyle Heights neighborhood. Take an evening drive past the 3,500-foot concrete creation and enjoy the glow of the city as a backdrop.
📍Location: E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Some of the greatest actors and comedians have graced the halls and stages at The Groundlings. Will you be next? Whether you’re taking a class for professional reasons or are just looking to get your creative juices flowing — a class at The Groundlings is calling your name. Check out their class listings here!
📍Location: 7307 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
The Magic Castle is Hollywood’s famed private clubhouse devoted to the art of magic. This alluring châteauesque residence is made up of parlors, hidden rooms, and mysterious illusions that will leave you bewildered. It’s considered one of the most unusual places on the planet and is definitely one of the classic Los Angeles things to do at least once. While you need to befriend a magician to be invited, it’s well worth the endeavor. Find more information here!
📍Location: 7001 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Echo Park Lake is a tranquil paradise, during the day — where the signature lotus beds and mesmerizing fountain await you. But at night, the swan pedal boats offer a whimsical adventure on the shimmering water with the city lights as a backdrop. Grab your tickets to the beautiful swan boat on the lake here!
📍Location: 751 Echo Park Ave, Los Angeles
The Smorgasburg LA takes place every Sunday at Row DTLA and has become a go-to destination for foodies throughout the city. It features over 100 vendors serving up an incredible selection of both international and local flavors, allowing visitors to sample cuisine from all around the world in one sprawling location. Learn more about Smorgasburg here!
📍Location: 777 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Hidden in plain sight within L.A.’s thriving downtown arts district — Two Bit Circus is a carnival-themed VRcade that includes a full-service bar and a snack stand stocked with hotdogs, pizza, and hot potato tots galore! The venue even has a cozy lounging area with tons of open seating where you and the crew can set your competitive differences aside and relax. Get your tickets here!
📍Location: 634 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90021