The 31 Best Things to Do in LA
Los Angeles welcomes 50 million tourists each year, most of which arrive in the city curious about the best things to do in LA. A diverse, sun-speckled metropolis by the sea, the city of Los Angeles, California boasts an impressive range of activities, eateries and things to do for both tourists and locals alike.
This massive city features nearly a dozen professional sports teams, world-class natural destinations and an unparalleled arts scene. LA also has some of the best restaurants and nightlife west of the Mississippi. The city also sits right on the Pacific Ocean, making it a top destination for surfers and beach bums alike.
In need of a bit of inspiration for your next California adventure? We’ve put together a diverse list of the best things to do in LA to get your creative juices flowing.
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- Best Things to Do in LA for Foodies
- Best Things to Do in LA for Sightseeing
- Best Things to Do in LA for Leisure
- Best Things to Do in LA for Museum Lovers
- Best Things to Do in LA for Entertainment
Best Things to Do in LA for Foodies
1. Take a Cooking Class
Exploring food is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in LA. You can get a hands-on feel for the local food scene with chef-led cooking classes in Los Angeles. Whether you want a fresh taste of Californian fare or you’re interested in trying a brand new cuisine, there’s something for all tastes and skill levels.
If you’d prefer to hang back at home, online cooking classes have you covered! You can join a live class and follow along in your own kitchen with world-class chefs stationed all over the world. Then, top your gourmet creation off with a craft cocktail learned in an online mixology class or a perfectly complementary glass of vino from a virtual wine tasting.
2. Book a Gourmet Private Chef
Skip the cooking altogether and indulge in an unforgettable gourmet experience at home. One of the best things to do in LA is to hire one of many incredible private chefs in Los Angeles. These chefs come to you with all of the ingredients, equipment and skills to prepare a five-star meal. All you have to do is pick your menu and let your chef handle the rest — including kitchen clean-up at the end.
3. Eat Mexican Food
Yes, LA is home to celebrity mansions, famous clubs and surfers’ paradises. But if you ask the average Angeleno what really defines the city, chances are they’ll say it’s the Mexican food.
Driven in large part by the city’s thriving Latinx population, Mexican food plays a massive role in Los Angeles’ identity. Whether you’re dining at a classic eatery like El Cholo or chasing down some of the must-try taco trucks on La Brea Avenue, one of the best things to do in LA is to sample some of the best Mexican cuisine this side of the border.
4. Visit a Speakeasy
In the days of Prohibition, Los Angeles established a reputation as a hotbed of speakeasies serving illegal alcohol. These days, it’s perfectly legal to drink, but LA has retained many of its speakeasies, some of which are very cleverly disguised.
For example, Blind Barber looks like any old barbershop, right up until you step through the door in the back. At Break Room 86, meanwhile, you’ll have to navigate your way through the underbelly of a hotel and pass through a fake vending machine before stepping into a sleek, sophisticated bar. Taking a step back in time and visiting some speakeasies is definitely one of the best things to do in LA.
5. Indulge in Vegan Cuisine
Los Angeles has always attracted people who are conscious about what they eat; in particular, it’s been a hub of vegans and vegetarians for decades. Outsiders may occasionally mock LA for its large vegan population, but no one is denying the quality of their food.
For one of the best things to do in LA, especially for foodies, you’ll definitely want to stop by one of many flagship vegan restaurants like Crossroads and Café Gratitude.
6. Grab a Beer in the Arts District
California is known primarily for its wines and tequila, but in recent years, it’s also begun to develop a strong craft brew scene. For one of the best things to do in LA, pay a visit to the Arts District, a colorful downtown neighborhood filled with murals, galleries and breweries. You can mingle with locals and tourists alike while sampling cutting edge brews at venues like the Arts District Brewery or Angel City Brewery.
Best Things to Do in LA for Sightseeing
7. Visit the Greystone Mansion
Once one of the largest private residences in Los Angeles, Greystone Mansion has become a popular filming location and a beloved public park in Beverly Hills. A visit to Greystone Mansion is not only one of the best things to do in LA, but also a chance to see where popular films like Star Trek and Spider-Man were created. Best of all, visiting Greystone Mansion is completely free, a rarity in LA.
8. Stroll Down Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, the legendary center of the film industry, sits right in the middle of Los Angeles. Exploring the area is one of the best things to do in LA, especially if it’s your first time visiting.
Spend some time strolling down the iconic Walk of Fame, which is dotted with stars honoring entertainment legends. You can also stop by famous attractions, such as the Chinese Theater. If you’re lucky, you might even glimpse a celebrity. (If celebrity spotting is your thing, however, you’ll be better off visiting Santa Monica, Beverly Hills or Century City — celebrities rarely hang out in downtown Hollywood due to a large number of tourists and paparazzi.)
9. Explore the Colleges
A number of colleges call Los Angeles home, but two of them stand above the pack: USC and UCLA. Both colleges boast nationally competitive sports teams, world-class academics, gorgeous campuses and thriving communities of students and faculty.
Whether you’re there for an event or simply to explore campus, visiting either of these two colleges promises a great introduction to Los Angeles’ academic scene and is one of the best things to do in LA.
10. Drive Down Mulholland
Mulholland Drive sits perched on top of the Hills, home to movie stars, tech moguls and business titans. While many choose to visit Mulholland simply to catch glimpses of A-Lister’s mansions, this twisty road also offers striking views of several parts of the city. Head out for a relaxing drive down this famed road for one of the best things to do in LA.
11. Gaze at the Stars at Griffith Observatory
An LA icon, Griffith Observatory sits atop Mount Hollywood, allowing it to both overlook the city and escape much of the light pollution. The observatory museum is open almost every day and features a fascinating museum. For even more of the best things to do in LA, there are also special events and parties thrown for significant astrological events.
12. Hike to the Hollywood Sign
Perhaps LA’s most iconic site, the Hollywood Sign is a must-see on any list of the best things to do in LA. The sign can be viewed in all its glory from many parts of the city. Did you know, however, that you can actually hike directly to the base of it?
There are numerous trails (some of which are quite challenging) that bring you within 10-20 feet of this world-famous attraction, along with offering majestic views of downtown LA and the Westside.
Best Things to Do in LA for Leisure
13. Go Surfing
Surfing is a popular pastime along the entire Pacific coast, and Los Angeles is no exception. Featuring warm waters, intermediate level waves and a friendly community, surfing in Los Angeles is like nowhere else, making it undeniably one of the best things to do in LA.
Even if you don’t want to hit the waves yourself, you can still enjoy a leisurely afternoon lounging on the beach while watching surfers hone their skills.
14. Wander the Venice Canals
When you hear the term “Venice Canals,” you probably think of Venice, Italy. However, LA’s Venice also has its own set of canals, which are crisscrossed by lovely walking paths and filled with charismatic homes. The canals are a perfect place for a post-dinner stroll after eating at one of the many restaurants on nearby Washington Boulevard. If you’re looking for low-key ideas for the best things to do in LA, this is a great option.
15. Explore the Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica is one of the most popular of LA’s beachfront areas thanks in no small part to its massive pier. Besides striking views of the Pacific Ocean, the pier also offers a surprisingly large amusement park and numerous restaurants, shops and bars.
One of the best things to do in LA, the pier is a fun place to get some fresh ocean air while also meeting people from all over the world.
16. Window Shop on Rodeo Drive
Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive (pronounced “Row-day-oh”) epitomizes modern-day luxury culture. This unique street is lined with luxury shops selling watches, jewelry and other extremely high-end goods. While most visitors aren’t looking to pick up a Rolex or lease a Lamborghini, it’s still one of the best things to do in LA to stroll Rodeo and glimpse into the lives of the ultra-wealthy.
17. Watch Skaters and Bodybuilders by Venice Beach
The boardwalk in Venice is one of LA’s most popular waterfront areas, and for good reason. One of the best things to do in LA is watching daring skateboarders fly into the air at the beachfront skatepark, which you may recognize from a number of films.
You can also stop by Muscle Beach, the infamous outdoor gym where Arnold Schwarzenegger used to train. These days, Muscle Beach is still home to many aspiring bodybuilders.
18. Go Shopping in Melrose
If you’re a fan of fashion — particularly modern styles and streetwear — a visit to Melrose is one of the best things to do in LA. This ultra-trendy area features countless boutiques and outlets from both major fashion labels and up-and-coming brands. Whether it’s a pop-up, farmers’ market or street festival, there’s always festivities going on in this cool and colorful neighborhood.
19. Unwind at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine
Los Angeles can be a hectic place, filled to the brim with noise and people. If you feel like you need a break, make a stop by the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in the Pacific Palisades for one of the best things to do in LA. This quiet oasis boasts a lovely lake, several shrines and temples, and a walking trail, along with classes on meditation, yoga and mindfulness.
20. Ride a Scooter
Los Angeles (specifically Santa Monica) is the birthplace of rentable, dockless electric scooters, which can still be found on just about every street corner. Besides being cheap and sustainable, riding these fun scooters are a great way to beat the traffic and one of the best things to do in LA.
As public transportation isn’t a practical choice for many Angelenos, scooters have become a major part of the city’s culture and transportation infrastructure.
21. Lounge on the Beach
Despite its numerous cultural, culinary and academic attractions, at the end of the day, one of the absolute best things to do in LA is spending time laying around on the beach.
While popular beaches like Santa Monica and Venice can get quite crowded, it’s possible to stake out huge areas at less-visited (but no less beautiful) beaches like Dockweiler and Playa del Rey.
22. Walk the Strand in South Bay
The Strand is a lengthy beachfront path that connects nearly all of the LA-area beach towns. The stretch in South Bay passes through Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach, and it’s widely considered one of the nicest walks in the city.
In addition to striking views of the ocean, you’ll also see multimillion-dollar homes, striking landscaping and a number of colorful shops and eateries for one of the best things to do in LA.
23. Go Hiking
The California coastline is dominated by huge mountains and cliffs positioned dramatically just above the water, even in major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. If you’re an outdoorsy type looking for the best things to do in LA, there are numerous world-class hiking trails that can be reached in just minutes.
The Santa Monica Mountains are located very close to the city and feature dozens of exciting trails. Meanwhile, the Angeles National Forest sits just north of the city and boasts 700,000 acres of protected forest to explore.
Best Things to Do in LA for Museum Lovers
24. Check Out the Cars at the Petersen Museum
Behind its eye-popping red facade, the Petersen Automotive Museum holds one of the most impressive collections of cars in the world, making a visit one of the best things to do in LA. New exhibits open regularly, allowing guests to get a glimpse at both the past and future of the automobile industry.
Some of the exhibits feature famous or celebrity cars, as well as unique concept designs that were never produced at scale.
25. See the Art at LACMA or the Getty
Countless filmmakers, painters and artists populate Los Angeles — in fact, it’s said that more artists currently live in LA than have ever congregated in one place in recorded history.
For one of the best things to do in LA, you must pay a visit to at least one of the stunning LA art museums, such as the LACMA or the Getty. These enormous museums both promote local artists and host international showcases.
Best Things to Do in LA for Entertainment
27. Catch an Event at LA Live
For one of the best things to do in LA, consider catching a live event — and there’s no better place to do so than LA Live. This unique complex is located downtown and features dozens of venues of all sizes, perfect for musicians, live theater and speakers.
LA Live is also home to the Staples Center, a massive arena where the Lakers, Clippers and Kings play, as well as the impressive Los Angeles Convention Center.
28. Visit Disneyland
As one of the most famous theme parks in the world, Disneyland hardly needs an introduction. Spend a day interacting with your favorite Disney characters, exploring the Star Wars galaxy or riding thrilling roller coasters in one of the most immersive parks around.
Disneyland also likes to throw extravagant, holiday-themed celebrations, which can be a lot of fun if you’re visiting at the right time of year.
28. Watch a Game
As the home to legendary sports franchises like the Lakers, Dodgers and Rams, Los Angeles takes its sports seriously. Even if you can’t catch the game in person, you can find dozens of sports-themed events throughout the city anytime there’s a big game.
29. Sing Karaoke in Koreatown
In the 2010s, Koreatown rose as a prominent nightlife destination in LA, due to its dazzling bars and delicious restaurants. It’s the karaoke, however, that keeps most Angelenos coming back.
For one of the best things to do in LA, you’ll find Koreatown is home to an impressive (and almost perplexing) number of karaoke bars, each of which features a different theme or format. Whether you want to sing in front of a crowd or simply watch your friends embarrass themselves, a night of karaoke is always a good time.
30. Go Out in West Hollywood
Nightclubs and bars can be found throughout Los Angeles, but few neighborhoods take their nightlife as seriously as West Hollywood, which is a must-visit stop and one of the best things to do in LA.
This vibrant area offers everything from dive bars to exclusive, invite-only affairs and everything in between. It’s also home to the infamous Sunset Strip, a central point of the rock n’ roll scene in the 1970s and 80s.
31. Visit a Theme Park
We already mentioned Disneyland, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the other spectacular amusement parks located throughout Los Angeles.
One of the most popular is Universal Studios, which features attractions themed around popular film franchises like Harry Potter and Fast & Furious. If you’re looking for something a bit more thrilling, consider stopping by Six Flags Magic Mountain, which focuses primarily on cutting-edge rides to get your heart pumping.
Clearly, there are tons of things to consider when looking for the best things to do in LA. If you know where to look, you can find just about anything in the City of Angels. Now that we've shown you our 31 favorite things to do in LA, let us know — which are you most excited to try first?
For even more fun things to do in Los Angeles and other cities, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.