Things to Do in Los Angeles - page 3
A commercial fixture in Santa Monica since the 1960s, this open-air, car-free three-block-long pedestrian mall (on Third Street between Wilshire Boulevard and Broadway) was re-designed in 1989 and officially named the Third Street Promenade. Only two blocks east of the amusements of the Santa Monica Pier, the promenade is one of the most popular tourist destinations on LA's Westside.
A joint project between the State of California and the California Science Center Foundation, this is the largest interactive science center on the West Coast. Home to an IMAX theater, the Space Shuttle Endeavour and much more, the Center is a comprehensive tour through the world of science.
Permanent exhibits here include explorations of ecosystems and how they work (or don’t); the survival processes of all living things; feats of engineering, technology and other inventions; and air and space exhibits (where you’ll find the Endeavour). Outside, you’ll find an outdoor sculpture garden with several interactive details like mosaic tiles that impart scientific knowledge, and high above the Center’s entrance, visitors can ride a bicycle that’s been carefully balanced on a high wire.
Set in Los Angeles, California, the Petersen Automotive Museum portrays the history of cars and their influence on American life. The building spans three floors and 25 galleries, with seasonal exhibits and a diverse collection of more than 150 rare and classic cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
Meet the colorful residents of Southern California’s underwater world at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro. The Frank Gehry-designed aquarium boasts the largest collection of Southern California marine life anywhere. Opened in 1935, approximately 300,000 people visit the aquarium's exhibits and programs every year.
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium runs a variety of programs for individuals and families. Visitors can go on guided walks, whale watching trips and even take art classes, so check the schedule when you are in town.
Cabrillo Coastal Park is also just outside the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. You could spend hours tidepooling, birdwatching, fishing, boating or swimming. With tables, bathrooms and a fishing pier, it’s a nice place for a picnic.
Housed in the historical Max Factor Building, the Hollywood Museum is a popular destination for visiting cinephiles and Old Hollywood enthusiasts. Home to thousands of objects, from costumes and photographs to movie props—and even a Rolls-Royce once owned by Cary Grant—it also features makeup rooms once used by Max Factor himself.
Warner Bros. Studio, founded in 1923 on Sunset Boulevard, moved to its present location in 1928. For a revealing look at how shows and movies are made at this classic studio, few experiences beat the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. No two trips through this production studio are alike, and lucky visitors may even spot a celebrity or two on set.
Perched high above the city of Los Angeles, the J. Paul Getty Museum (The Getty) is home to a stellar art collection—with pieces spanning the ages from Renaissance to Pop Art—as well as Richard Meier’s cutting-edge architecture and serene, seasonally changing gardens. On clear days, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of LA and the Pacific coast beyond.
Founded in 1988, the Autry Museum of the American West—commonly known as “The Autry”—shares stories and artworks from the region’s diverse residents, both past and present. Cofounded by entertainer and actor Gene Autry (once known as “America’s Favorite Singing Cowboy”) the museum maintains two Los Angeles locations.
A 160-acre park that sprawls along the Hollywood Hills, Runyon Canyon Park is where Angelenos go to hike and be seen. Full of dogs and their spandex-clad owners, a walk here is a regular routine for both aspiring performers and famous celebrities, singles of every age and persuasion, and folks who are simply single-minded about their fitness.
Devoid of shade and full of dirt-packed paths, Runyon’s various features allow you to customize your workout. The Fuller Avenue entrance requires one of two steep climbs, either up a winding series of high, uneven steps, or up a long hill with two switchbacks; these two climbs can be combined in a challenging loop. The Mulholland entrance enables you to either head up into the steepest hills for the most challenging terrain, or to take a mostly flat, 15-minute route straight out to a viewpoint; this second option leads to both the stairs and the long hill up from Fuller, so you can tack on either route – or neither.
Runyon looks and feels its best on L.A.’s clearest days, generally from late November to early May; throughout the summer and fall, it can get extremely hot up here anytime after 8 a.m. More often than not, though, the paths and lookout points here offer panoramic views of the city’s coastline, Westside, West Hollywood, Hollywood and Downtown.
The Hammer Museum is a Los Angeles arts and culture hub run by UCLA’s School of Arts and Architecture, housing everything from old master paintings to contemporary works. Since the museum is free, it's great for budget-conscious travelers that love the arts. You can stroll the galleries, relax in the courtyard, or join for a docent talk.
More Things to Do in Los Angeles
Located on the I-5 Freeway, 10 minutes south of Downtown L.A., this fortress-like, faux-Mesopotamian complex houses the city’s only shopping outlets. (The outlet malls in Camarillo and Ontario both lie outside of Los Angeles County.)
With 115 outlet stores, including Banana Republic, Calvin Klein and Old Navy, the Citadel can be a multi-hour diversion. Several casual/fast food restaurants provide a sense of true Southern California cuisine, with outposts of Ruby’s Diner and Hot Dog on a Stick, as well as Maui Style Hawaiian BBQ and Nibi Pho Bistro; the latter reflects the influence of Orange County’s Vietnamese population, which is the largest in the country.
Get your dose of European art and international botany in California at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, where you find an impressive display of art, rare books, and plants. The collections, gifted from entrepreneur Henry E. Huntington, contain the most 18th century art from around the world outside of London.
Stroll through the gardens admiring hundreds of species of colorful plants and flowers, or lose yourself in a book or a painting. The art collection houses both European and American pieces in its galleries, with sections dedicated to ceramics and decorative arts. The library holds more than six million items, including historic first edition Shakespeare manuscripts and a Gutenberg Bible, though the main section is available only to researchers. As for the gardens, you’ll find much variety — from Japanese and Chinese gardens, to herbs, roses, a desert garden and a children’s garden.
All in all there are more than 120 acres of garden open to the public to explore. And whether you choose to spend your time in the library, gardens, or galleries, you’ll have no shortage of things to do and see.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this graceful valley swath beside the San Gabriel Mountains was first developed in the 1880s by railroad barons and hoteliers to lure winter-weary Easterners out west. Today Old Pasadena—sometimes known as Old Town Pasadena—is best known for its museums and the annual Rose Parade and Rose Bowl college football game.
The Los Angeles Broadway Theater District is the first and largest theater district in the United States. Los Angeles has always been a performing arts and entertainment hub, and the artistic area was listed and entered into the National Register of Historic Places. It consists of twelve historic movie theaters lining six blocks of Broadway Street. The theaters were built as early as 1910, when Los Angeles was comparatively quite small in population. By 1931, when a few of the theaters were completed, Los Angeles had the highest concentration of cinemas in the world.
Walking along Broadway Street, with the many marquees and lavishly decorated exteriors, one gets a true sense of the era frozen in time. Routine efforts are made to ensure the conservation of the area architecture and cinematic palaces and to keep the history alive in the district. Though these days, most of the theaters are used for special events or markets rather than showings of films.
The first theater in Hollywood to host a national movie premiere, the Egyptian Theatre, built in the 1920s, remains a major Los Angeles landmark today. Adjacent to the TCL Chinese Theatre and ornamented with Egyptian-style statues, columns, and other architectural features, it occupies a key place in cinematic history.
As the main hall of the Los Angeles Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is home to some of the best musical performances in the LA area. It was built utilizing a “total design” aesthetic, meaning that every detail from the carpeting to the engineering was coordinated for uniformity of design. Historically its halls and stage have been home to everything from the LA Philharmonic to the Academy Awards, though these days it’s the site of the LA Opera and Glorya Kaufman dance performances (which often brings in traveling dance troupes.)
Excellent acoustics create resonating sounds across its four-tiers of seating, while crystal chandeliers and wide stairways add to the ambiance of elegance. The Los Angeles Music Center that it is part of it is one of the three largest centers for performing arts in the United States, and some of classical music’s greatest performers have graced its stage.
A U.S. National Historic Landmark District, Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo was founded in the early 1900s and is one of just three Japantowns in the country. The compact neighborhood in downtown LA is home to cultural attractions, shops selling Japanese goods, and dozens of restaurants serving sushi, ramen, and other Japanese and Asian fusion cuisine.
One of the most popular, influential comedy clubs in L.A., the Laugh Factory Hollywood bills itself as being in that celebrated zip code – but is actually a few blocks shy of the neighborhood. First opened in 1979, the club was a then 16-year-old’s enterprising answer to a comedian’s strike just up the street at the Comedy Store; young Jamie Masada got a loan from a family friend, bought a building, and started the city’s first comedy club that paid all of its performing comics for their work.
Masada would go on to become a comedian, manager and producer, helping the cast of 1990s TV comedy “In Living Color” achieve fame, and continuing to support minority comics via the Laugh Factory. The club is an ideal place to see emerging acts, watch showcases headlined by Kevin Nealon, Tim Allen and Tom Arnold, and witness comedy stars like Dane Cook and Dave Chappelle test their endurance by vying for the title of longest one-person comedic performance – presently longer than seven hours.
Located in the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles, the Japanese American National Museum tells the story of Japanese Americans. Opened in 1992, it is the first museum in the United States dedicated to the topic.
The Japanese American National Museum hosts many changing exhibits, but Common Ground: The Heart of Community is its ongoing central exhibition. Using an assortment of objects, documents and photographs, the exhibition covers 130 years of Japanese American history. It begins with the early days of the Issei pioneers, and continues through the World War II incarceration to present day. The museum’s calendar of events is loaded with all sorts of events and programs, so be sure to check the schedule when you visit.
The Hard Rock Café has become a center of international pop music and nostalgia, presenting some of the industry’s best memorabilia alongside service of classic American meals. What began in London in 1979 has since grown to be present in over 60 countries, each presenting its own unique style. The Hard Rock Café Hollywood in particular has quite a rock star heritage — in fact, it’s right beside the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As such it routinely has access to some of music’s best memorabilia across all genres, including The Doors, Metallica, and Ray Charles (to name a few!)
At 20,000 square feet in size, the Hard Rock Café Hollywood is one of the largest as well. There is a live music area regularly featuring fantastic performers, with a bar, retail store, and interactive touchscreens which allow visitors to experience the other Hard Rock locations worldwide.
Among the oldest and most storied Major League Baseball stadiums, Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium has attracted sports fans since its opening in 1962. Located in the city’s Elysian Park neighborhood, the landmark happens to be the country’s largest baseball stadium, and it also regularly hosts concerts and other events.
The Museum of Contemporary Art or MOCA, is one museum with the bonus of three locations. MOCA is devoted to contemporary art. Founded in 1979, its collection includes more than 6,800 works.
The museum calls three facilities home: MOCA Grand Avenue, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Little Tokyo, and MOCA Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. What’s on view at MOCA Grand Avenue is constantly changing, so be sure to check the schedule when you are in Los Angeles. Writing and sketching are allowed in the galleries in pencil, but photography is not permitted.
The older of two Getty museums in the Los Angeles area, this sprawling, elegant compound of new and old stone buildings is dedicated to Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities. Originally opened in 1974 as a museum to house oil tycoon J. Paul Getty’s extensive collection of ancient artifacts, the then-crumbling Villa was closed for renovations in 1997. Re-opened in 2006, the Getty Villa has once again become a popular seaside destination, often combined with a visit to Santa Monica or Malibu.
The museum’s great accomplishment is making antiquities exciting. From a combination map and timeline that illustrates how cultures and alliances of the ancient world were interconnected to beautifully-preserved coins, jewelry and objets d’art, the Villa brings history to life.
After taking a spin through the artifacts presented here, you can swan out along the rectangular pool with its frescoes, statues and fountains and sigh out over a view of the Pacific that once only a Getty could afford. Consider having lunch or a cheese plate and glass of champagne in the on-site café, where the patio looks out over the Villa’s front doors and an amphitheater/courtyard of stone quarried in Israel.
To avoid disappointment, be sure to make your on-site parking reservation ahead of time; street parking isn’t available, and those without a reservation will be turned away. Same-day reservations are often available.
An iconic symbol of the golden age of movies open for business since 1926, Paramount Pictures Studio is the only major film studio still operating in Hollywood's commercial district. Popular for its studio tours, the sprawling 65-acre lot features huge iron-scrollwork gates and Spanish-style architecture, as well as realistic replicas of vintage city streets.
- Things to do in California
- Things to do in Santa Monica
- Things to do in Long Beach
- Things to do in Santa Barbara
- Things to do in La Jolla
- Things to do in Palm Springs
- Things to do in San Diego
- Things to do in Pismo Beach
- Things to do in San Luis Obispo
- Things to do in Paso Robles
- Things to do in Las Vegas
- Things to do in Yosemite National Park
- Things to do in Sausalito
- Things to do in Nevada
- Things to do in Arizona