In truth, there are tens of thousands of fun things to do in Los Angeles. But if you’re here for just a few days and want to get an authentic taste of the city, you must do at least a few of these nine activities.
Fun Things to Do in Los Angeles
Studio tours, outdoor concerts, shorefront cycling—there’s no shortage of exciting activities in L.A.
Bike the Strand
Though you may want to take on all 22 miles of the shorefront Marvin Braude Bike Trail—which spans from Will Rogers State Beach in the north all the way to Torrance in the south—most tourists stay around Santa Monica and Venice Beach.
One of the most fun things to do in Los Angeles is to rent a bicycle or skates from Perry’s and join the swimwear-clad parade rolling along the sunny boardwalk, enjoying fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean and its sandy stretches. Don’t miss Muscle Beach or the Venice Boardwalk and its eccentric collection of characters—street performers, artists, vendors, and surfers. There are plenty of waterfront restaurants to keep you sustained along the way.
Catch an Outdoor Concert
There’s nothing like watching a performance at the Hollywood Bowl, whether it’s the L.A. Philharmonic or a big-name rock star. It’s the premier way to enjoy the city’s crisp night air and exceptional musical talents. The Bowl’s yearly Independence Day fireworks spectacular is always a highlight.
Being a member of this huge amphitheater’s audience is one of the most memorable things to do in L.A., but if there isn’t a performance while you’re in town, there’s usually fantastic live outdoor music at the nearby Greek Theatre or Ford Theatres.
Take a Studio Tour
Go behind the scenes to see how movies and sitcoms are made. Warner Brothers, Universal, Disney, Paramount, and Sony all offer entertaining and informative tours of their working studios—you may never see your favorite show the same way.
If you arrange for tickets well in advance, you can be in the audience to watch a live taping of a sitcom or a late-night talk show—one of the most unique things to do in Los Angeles.
Go See a Game
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Los Angeles and it’s baseball season, head to Dodger Stadium. The home team at America’s third-oldest ballpark is highly entertaining. If it’s college football season, buy a ticket to see a game at the Rose Bowl.
Explore a Botanical Garden
The Huntington Library and Descanso Gardens, both oases of calm and beauty in the Pasadena area, offer tranquil things to do in L.A. At the 270-acre Huntington, a magnificently underrated tourist attraction, you can wander through abundant plantscapes from all over the world—its 14,000 plant species split into 14 themed sections.
Descanso Gardens, for its part, is so enchanting that it looks like it’s right out of a storybook. A miniature train ride through the park delights children and adults alike. Both parks offer cafes where you can have a pastry with tea.
Enjoy the Views
L.A.’s skyline is one of America’s most iconic sights, and it’s all the more spectacular when you’re atop it. You can get great views from the top of City Hall or from the Getty Center, but one of the most thrilling things to do in Los Angeles is to visit OUE Skyspace, a newish attraction atop the famous U.S. Bank Tower. It has an open-air observation deck and, more heart-poundingly, a see-through glass slide suspended nearly 1,000 feet above the city. Buy a ticket—if you dare.
Get Into Science
If you’re looking for things to do in L.A., you could do worse than visiting one of the city’s many science museums. The most unusual is at the La Brea Tar Pits, where paleontologists work in real time to thaw the mysteries of the Ice Age. The attraction’s George C. Page Museum is a field-trip favorite for L.A. children, featuring dinosaur skeletons galore, a working fossil lab, and Pleistocene-themed exhibits and gardens.
Also worth visiting is Exposition Park, home of California Science Center—featuring hands-on educational exhibits, a seven-story Imax theater, and the Endeavor space shuttle—as well as the Natural History Museum, with its halls of taxidermized animals from all over the world.
Admire the Art
Los Angeles has a vibrant art scene and world-class museums to match. These days, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is most known for Urban Light, one of the world’s most Instagrammable outdoor art installations. Step inside, though, and the curation is beyond excellent—rotating exhibits of contemporary art awe and impress.
There’s also the Broad, new and modern, with Lichtensteins and Warhols, plus another eminently visual experience: Yayoi Kusama’s magical Infinity Mirrored Room. The Broad offers free admission, but make reservations well in advance.
Go Back to School
Los Angeles is a haven for serious academics, which makes for beautiful university campuses and lively little college towns; visiting them is one of the most fun things to do in Los Angeles.
At UCLA, relax in the sculpture garden, watch a performance at iconic Royce Hall, sit in on a renowned professor’s lecture, or visit the excellent Fowler or Hammer museums. At Caltech, tour NASA’s famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory or stroll the garden-like campus. At USC, catch a football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1984 Olympics, or check out the Fisher Museum of Art.
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– Original reporting by Avital Andrews