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Things to Do in Los Angeles - page 2

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Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
5 Tours and Activities

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.

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Hollywood Bowl
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4 Tours and Activities

The largest natural amphitheater in the United States, this Art Deco-era band shell tucked into the Hollywood Hills seats 18,000 and hosts some of the biggest musical acts in the world. Just as when it first opened in 1922, the Bowl serves as the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; since 1991, it's also been the home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

The outdoor Bowl's performance season generally runs from early June to October, featuring acts from every major musical genre; continuing into the winter, "lease events" are put on by acts who lease the stage here for a limited time. During the main season, an enormous movie screen allows for popular events like movie-musical sing-a-longs (The Sound of Music is a perennial favorite) and orchestral accompaniment in place of movie soundtracks. Every year on July 4th, the holiday show culminates in a spectacular display of fireworks.

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Beverly Center
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2 Tours and Activities

Encompassing an entire city block at the intersection of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, this eight-story shopping mall has been a popular attraction since its opening in 1982. With over 100 individual shops ranging from chain to high-end, the mall is also home to three department stores, a food court and several restaurants.

Once the site of a locally beloved amusement park, the mall's valuable property still encompasses a working oil field. Considered by many Angelenos to be an architectural eyesore studded with external escalators and a poorly-designed, $1-an-hour parking lot, the Beverly Center's iconic status with tourists has been fueled by its appearances in movies like Scenes from a Mall and Less Than Zero. Resident stores include Henri Bendel, True Religion, Yves Saint Laurent, Jimmy Choo and H&M and restaurants include L.A.'s only outposts of The Capital Grille and Grand Lux Cafe.

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Walt Disney® Concert Hall
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6 Tours and Activities

On a busy Downtown street corner a half-block from the main plaza of L.A.'s Performing Arts Center and across from the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Walt Disney Concert Hall's twisted-metal landmark building bursts forth like a strange silver flower. Designed by Frank Gehry, the city's most famous contemporary architect, and acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, the walls and ceiling of the interior are finished with Douglas fir and the floor with oak. Attending a performance in this soaring, swirling sanctum of perfect pitch is a treat for all of your senses.

Founded by Lillian Disney to honor her husband Walt's commitment to arts and culture in L.A., the Concert Hall is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Master Chorale. The 2,265-seat performance space also hosts an impressive, eclectic array of musicians and singers from around the world. Acts range from the Soweto Gospel Choir to composer Philip Glass and indie rockers Death Cab for Cutie.

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El Capitan Theatre
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3 Tours and Activities

Owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company, this ornately restored 1926 movie palace was part of real estate developer Charles E. Toberman and showman Sid Grauman's original Hollywood theater district (along with the neighboring Chinese and Egyptian theaters). Now used primarily to host premieres and special runs of Disney films, the El Capitan is bordered by a Disney store and soda fountain, the latter of which features ice cream flavors named for the theater's current feature.

After a couple of decades of the theater changed ownership as Disney finally purchased it in 1989. At this time it was thoroughly restored it to its initial Spanish Colonial Revival splendor and re-opened in 1991 with its original name. The El Capitan today includes a vintage Wurlitzer organ and a museum room beneath the main theater which exhibits artwork and set pieces from the movie of the moment.

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Olvera Street
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29 Tours and Activities

A festive chaotic Mexican marketplace, Olvera Street is part of colorful and car-free El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the vibrant historic district near the spot where LA's Mexican colonists first settled. Gaudy decoration and souvenir stalls abound here, alongside dozens of little eateries serving tacos, tortas, and burritos. This is not a mere tourist trap: Olvera Street is a wonderful place to walk, eat and explore. It's a great add-on to a downtown LA visit.

On Olvera Street, you can shop for Chicano art, slurp thick Mexican-style hot chocolate, or pick up handmade candles and candy. Stop in Avila Adobe, the oldest surviving house in LA, which includes an exhibit on Christine Sterling who helped save the historic district. Olvera Street spills into the Old Plaza, El Pueblo's central square with a pretty wrought-iron bandstand. Sleepy during the week, the square turns into a full-blown fiesta zone on Saturdays and Sundays, drawing crooning mariachis and costumed dancers.

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Staples Center
22 Tours and Activities

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Dennis Rodman and Shaquille O’Neal are just five of the celebrated basketball players who have worn the purple and gold of a Los Angeles Lakers jersey. Today’s lauded star, Kobe Bryant, led the Lakers to three national championships in a row from 2000 to 2002, and again in 2009 and 2010.

Needless to say, the NBA team is one of the country’s most worshipped, and catching a game at the Staples Center is an LA must-do. If you’re not a sports fan, keep your eyes open for the A-list stars who frequent the floor seats – particularly Jack Nicholson, who has had season tickets since the 1970s. You may also see Tom Cruise, Snoop Dog, Jack Black, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz.

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Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA Grand Avenue)
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8 Tours and Activities

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.

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More Things to Do in Los Angeles

Capitol Records Building

Capitol Records Building

32 Tours and Activities

Rising 13 round stories above Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame, this city landmark, built in the mid-1950s to house the first West Coast outpost of a major record label, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Famed for being the site of recordings by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and many other big artists, the distinctive tower, designed by Louis Naidorf and Welton Becket (the latter, architect of the nearby Cinerama Dome and other prominent L.A. buildings) was purportedly meant to symbolize a stack of record albums on a turntable.

The building houses a series of working recording, mixing and mastering studios, including a unique echo chamber designed by guitarist and inventor Les Paul. Though the building has made a handful of appearances in popular entertainment, it was most dramatically featured in the 2004 disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow, being smashed to the ground by a giant tornado (and computer-generated effects).

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Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street (Hollywood and Vine)

Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street (Hollywood and Vine)

4 Tours and Activities

The intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood is the center of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This popular stretch of sidewalk runs along 15 blocks of the boulevard and 3 blocks of Vine, inlaid with almost 2,500 brass-edged, pink marble stars bearing the names of Hollywood celebrities. The majority of stars are dedicated to movie actors, but you'll also see famous names from the world of television, music production, radio and the stage.

Hollywood and Vine first became famous in the 1930s for its high concentration of glamorous structures, often full of entertainment industry companies and powerful executives' offices. A couple of radio stations were based here, resulting in broadcasts made "live from Hollywood and Vine." Gossip columnists like Hedda Hopper further fueled the corner's mystique by writing about big deals and exciting events made and held in the vicinity.

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La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits

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21 Tours and Activities

Set beside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Mid-City's Hancock Park, these are real live cesspools in the heart of Tinseltown. While the asphalt here was first excavated back in 1915 (when this spot was home to the city’s natural history museum), the pits themselves were discovered as many as 40,000 years ago by hapless saber-toothed tigers, dire wolves and ground sloths who fell in and drowned. The misfortune of these bygone beasts is symbolized by life-size statues of imperiled woolly mammoths caught in a still-bubbling pool of tar.

Preserved for an aeon or so, the Pits' amazing Ice Age fossils are tagged in various excavation sites around the park. Work is generally slow, however, as the ground here is constantly evolving; around the park and out on Wilshire Boulevard you can still see black, sticky asphalt oozing up from cracks in the road and sidewalk.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

14 Tours and Activities

Founded in 1899, this is Hollywood's oldest cemetery, a burial ground for some of L.A.'s most historically important and famous citizens. Today, it's a gathering place for community events, like a huge celebration of Dia De Los Muertos (the Mexican Day of the Dead) and a popular summer-Saturday series of outdoor movie screenings.

Its original owners, San Fernando Valley developers Isaac Lankershim and son-in-law Isaac Van Nuys (whose names, respectively, are lent to a major boulevard in North Hollywood and a town in the northwest Valley), sold much of the cemetery in 1920 to Paramount Pictures, RKO Studios and the Beth Olam Synagogue. As a result, many entertainers (like Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, and two of the Ramones) and prominent Jews (like gangster/entrepreneur Bugsy Siegel) are buried here.

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Angels Flight Railway

Angels Flight Railway

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In 1901, Angeles Flight began its run as a funicular called the Los Angeles Incline Railway, offering a one-cent, one-minute ride up or down steep Bunker Hill in Downtown Los Angeles. Closed in 1969 when the then-decaying district around it underwent a full-scale renovation, the Angels Flight signature black-and-orange cars (named Sinai and Olivet) stayed in municipal storage for 27 years.

After a long battle by city conservationists for its return, Angels Flight was re-opened in 1996, just a half-block from its original site, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Despite its completely modernized and re-designed operating system, Angels Flight experienced a tragic accident in 2001, when Sinai reversed without warning and plummeted downhill into Olivet, killing one passenger and injuring several others.

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Petersen Automotive Museum

Petersen Automotive Museum

8 Tours and Activities

Car lovers don’t just plan a visit to the Petersen Automotive Museum, they race to get to it when they arrive in Los Angeles.

The Petersen is dedicated to cars and how they’ve changed the way we live. Focusing on Los Angeles, exhibits showcase more than 150 rare and classic cars, trucks and motorcycles. But the beauty of The Petersen is that you don’t need to be an expert on cars and their numerous moving parts to enjoy what you’ll see. Some of the cars here come loaded with options and memories. The flaming red Ferrari Magnum P.I. used to cruise around Hawaii in, now calls The Petersen home. If red isn’t your color, you might take a liking to the 24-karat gold-plated DeLorean. The Petersen has more cars than museum space, so what you see from one trip to the next can change. To keep some of the especially valuable automobiles safe and sound, there’s the Vault. It’s essentially an extremely large garage-sized safe used to store cars.

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Citadel Outlets

Citadel Outlets

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6 Tours and Activities

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.

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OUE Skyspace Los Angeles

OUE Skyspace Los Angeles

5 Tours and Activities
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Los Angeles Broadway Theater District

Los Angeles Broadway Theater District

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5 Tours and Activities

Los Angeles’s Broadway Theater and Commercial 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.

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Hammer Museum

Hammer Museum

4 Tours and Activities
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Hollywood Wax Museum Los Angeles

Hollywood Wax Museum Los Angeles

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4 Tours and Activities
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Los Angeles the Grove

Los Angeles the Grove

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4 Tours and Activities

This 57,000 square-foot outdoor mall in L.A.'s condensed Mid-City neighborhood draws crowds of tourists and locals every day of the year. Opened in 2002 and designed to look like a city within a city, its meandering layout features faux-Art Deco facades, stone-paved pathways, several restaurants and cafes, a shiny double-decker streetcar, and a whimsically animated fountain beside a grassy park. Since 2010, the entertainment tabloid show Extra has been filmed here, providing visitors a chance to see both a TV production and host Mario Lopez in action.

Surrounded by a shopping district full of independent boutiques and restaurants, and only about a mile from the famous Beverly Center, The Grove's popularity can be ironically attributed to its location. The mall sprawls adjacent to two other major attractions, CBS Television City (where visitors line up to see tapings of TV shows like Dancing With the Stars and American Idol) and the Original Farmer's Market.

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