Reality TV shows highlighting celebrity romps and the lives of the super-rich give a superficial glimpse of what it’s really like to work and play in Los Angeles. Locals know it as the West coast epicenter of creativity, diversity and inspiration.
You won’t have to look hard to stay entertained in Los Angeles.
Things to do in Los Angeles with Kids
Los Angeles has a plethora of hands-on activities and exciting places for the kiddos to explore. Here are some ideas:
Ride the ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pier.
Face down some dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.
Interact with exhibits at the Kidspace Children’s Museum.
Enjoy a puppet show at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater.
Learn and play at the Discovery Cube Los Angeles.
Unique things to do in Los Angeles
If you’re looking for an offbeat LA experience, you don’t need to run for the hills — these thrills exist in the heart of the city:
Catch a Mexican wrestling-burlesque mash-up at Lucha VaVoom.
Go clubbing at the California Institute of Abnormalarts.
Pick up past and future essentials at the Time Travel Mart.
Make art that glows by taking a class at the Museum of Neon Art.
Peruse eclectic gifts at Soap Plant Wacko.
Fun things to do in Los Angeles
Let loose and let the LA good times roll:
Sing karaoke at an underground K-town bar
Get dinner or lunch in Little Tokyo
Shop the open-air Melrose Trading Post
Be an audience member for a TV show taping
Laugh your head off at a Groundlings comedy show
Take a ride on historic Angel’s Flight railway — a round trip ticket is just $2
Free things to do in Los Angeles
On a budget? Keep your cash with these free LA activities:
Unwind at Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens
Stroll through charming St. Vincent Court
View the city from City Hall’s observation deck
Lounge on the lawn of the gorgeous Los Angeles Public Library
Wander through The Last Bookstore
Hike across the Bridge to Nowhere
Listen to groovy tunes at Amoeba Music
Cruise along the iconic Mulholland Drive
Admire curated art, architecture and gardens at The Getty
Top landmarks and attractions in Los Angeles
Newcomers could start with LA’s most popular stops and classic eats.
1. Hike the Hollywood trail.
Few landmarks are as iconic as those nine block letters rooted above the Los Angeles skyline. See for yourself by hiking the Mt. Hollywood Trail in Griffith Park. The beginner-friendly three-mile loop is free to hike, and you’ll be rewarded with priceless views.
Rent a pedal boat or walk the path around Echo Park Lake, a man-made oasis in the heart of La La Land. Grab a sandwich at Beacon and pay respects to the Lady of the Lake statue before taking it easy beneath the palms.
Since 1917, this grand emporium has hosted local food, floral and craft vendors in the heart of DTLA. Shop delicacy groceries and fresh produce or fill your belly with hot ready-made fare. Sights and smells are free.
The Getty, an art-lover’s oasis, has two locations to visit. See Van Gogh and Monet masterpieces, plus 20th century sculpture from Isamu Noguchi and Henry Moore. Admission to the Getty Center is free, though you’ll need to pay for parking.
And the Broad, founded in 2015, is packed with Insta-worthy contemporary art for an at times surreal and always stimulating experience. Admission is free.
Explore hundreds of restaurants and grocers at the Original Farmers Market. An LA fixture as historic as it is delicious, the market first opened in July 1934. Don’t miss the hot sauces at Light My Fire.
8. Book a seat at the Hollywood Bowl or Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Spend a night under the stars and catch a concert at the renownedHollywood Bowl. Tucked into the concave hillside of Mt. Hollywood, this natural amphitheater has hosted everyone from Bob Dylan to The Beatles.
And watch a dance or musical performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Designed in the deconstructivist style by tastemaker Frank Gehry, it’s just as thrilling to view from the outside.
Free self-guided audio tours and guided tours are available for both venues.
As an LA native, the Hollywood Bowl has been a scene my whole life. I even worked as an usher there two summers just to catch the shows. And if I had to choose one event in all of Los Angeles never, ever to miss, it’d be the Sound of Music sing-a-long at the Hollywood Bowl.
It’s as magical as it sounds. Thousands of people dress up as characters from the musical — yes, I dressed up as the hills one year — and everyone sings together as the film plays on a massive screen. I usually go with friends and family, and we bring a picnic and at least two bottles of wine.
The best part is how interactive the whole experience is. Every time the Baroness comes on screen, expect to hear 17,000 people hiss in unison. When Maria sings “I must’ve done something good,” you’ll see 17,000 lighters swaying. It’s pretty amazing.
Other places we love to go in Los Angeles:
Clifton’s Republic. Stand face-to-face with taxidermied creatures at this multistory cocktail bar.
Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Wander through acres of specialized gardens and revel in extensive European and American art.
Museum of Jurassic Technology. Marvel at unique and unorthodox memorabilia from the Lower Jurassic.
Self-Realization Fellowship. Meditate beneath the Lake Shrine and wander through the Temple’s gardens for free.
Deals on activities and experiences in Los Angeles
20% off bus tours online + kids go free with classic tickets (Los Angeles)
Save up to 70% on entry fees to attractions in top cities
Over 300 attractions in 13 top US destinations: New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, Los Angeles, Key West, Smoky Mountains, Nashville, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Puerto Rico. Valid for 30 days.
While seasons may be less clearly defined in Los Angeles than other parts of the country, it’s still an easy way to organize annual events. No matter when you travel, you can leave your parka at home.
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The largest book festival in the US occurs each April. Stop by for author appearances and lectures by industry speakers. All outdoor events are free to the public.
Cherry blossom festivals. Admire blush-pink blooms at celebrations all around LA, from Monterey Park to Huntington Beach and Descanso Gardens.
Wine tasting at Barnsdall Park. Pay $35 for four glasses of vino and bring cash for food truck grub at this community picnic hosted by a DJ. Event is held every Friday in the summer, though you’ll want to get tickets in advance.
Movie screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Catch an outdoor flick at the famous resting place on weekends. Tickets cost between $12 and $20.
Halloween Horror Nights. Universal Studios brings many of its spine-chilling scary stories to life. General admission is between $67 and $77, while an Ultimate Fear Pass for 32 nights is $299.
Dia de los Muertos. The traditions of Mexico’s Day of the Dead are brought to life around LA, from art installations in Grand Park to the Jardin de Recuerdos (Garden of Memories) at the Natural History Museum.
Heart of LA – CicLAvia. For one day in early December, streets are closed to motor vehicles and open to pedestrians, runners, cyclists and skaters. It’s free, and lasts from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Outdoor ice skating. Glide beneath palm trees and skyscrapers at Pershing Square near downtown LA. Access to the ice plus skate rental is about $14 per hour.
There’s no shortage of sites to see — and places to eat — in sunny Los Angeles. After you’ve set your itinerary, find the most effective routes to hop from place to place in LA.
Frequently asked questions.
Yes! There are so many to choose from, but here are some of our favorites:
Annenberg Space for Photography
California African American Museum
California Science Center
FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) museum
Hollywood Bowl Museum
Institute of Contemporary Art
Marciano Art Foundation
The Main Museum
Lots of museums in the Los Angeles area have designated days or hours where admission is free, so be sure to research your top spots ahead of time to get the best deal.
Admission is as follows:
Adults — $35.99
Children4 to 11 — $19.99
Children 3 and under — Free
If retail’s what you’re after, head to the Grove, a giant shopping complex in West Hollywood. You’ll find everything from Barneys New York to Nike, Banana Republic and Diane Von Furstenberg.
Alexandra Koster is Finder's publisher for car, home and pet insurance. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Cultural Studies from the University of Sydney. Her hobbies include reading product disclosure statements and deciphering complicated insurance lingo to help people save on their insurance so that they can spend their money on better things – like dogs.
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