Fun Things to Do in LA
From its sunny beaches and lush hills to its glamorous movie sets, it’s hard to resist Los Angeles. Part glitzy metropolis, part West Coast paradise, the City of Angels is a truly unique locale. And, as the country’s second-largest city, there’s something for everyone across its diverse neighborhoods. Soak up the Southern California sun with our guide to the best fun things to do in LA, covering:
- Top beaches
- Hiking and recreational activities
- Restaurant scene
- Hollywood and film industry
Let’s get started!
1. Get your tan on (and more!) at the beach
Technically, the city of Los Angeles is landlocked. But beaches are an essential part of the culture, with over 15 pristine coastal areas to explore. Throw a picnic at Hermosa Beach, ride the waves in Long Beach, stroll along the tide pools at Catalina Island, or simply soak up the sun at one of these top Los Angeles beaches:
- Venice Beach
- Santa Monica Beach
- Manhattan Beach
This is your entrance to Los Angeles beach life. Once a rundown area, Venice Beach has transformed into a lively area and one of the main attractions of Los Angeles, with charming shops and eateries to fill countless weekends. From skating to people-watching, this touristy beach offers plenty of fun things to do under the sun, including:
- The Boardwalk: You can’t visit Venice without strolling the Boardwalk. Catch live music acts, street vendors, and countless visitors as you stroll along this two-mile walking path before you head to the water. You can even revisit at night, where it still roars with life.
- Board sports: Venice Beach has long been a mecca for Los Angeles skaters and surfers. You can watch amateurs and pros throw tricks at the skatepark, or take your surfboard to Breakwater to ride some serious waves.
- Sunset watching: Through the silhouette of palm trees, the sunset at Venice Beach is stunning. Catch it from the Venice or Santa Monica Piers, on Marina Del Rey Marina, or up high at the High Rooftop Lounge.
- Hinano Cafe: For decades, this casual beach joint has grilled burgers for Venice Beach tourists, including a few rockstars. Come for the relaxed ambiance and a delicious cheeseburger.
Santa Monica Beach
It’s possible you’ve heard about Santa Monica Beach in a song. This super-popular and pedestrian-friendly beach is typically packed, but well worth the crowds. There are so many fun things to do along the three-mile Santa Monica Beach shore, including:
- Marvin Braude Bike Path: Santa Monica Beach is the starting point to this 22-mile bike path. Pedal all the way down to Torrance County Beach for a picture-perfect ride along California’s shores.
- Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery: Locals know that you come to this deli for one reason—the Godmother sandwich. Grab this five-meat Italian concoction for a heavenly bite that’ll refuel your Santa Monica Beach adventures.
- Santa Monica Pier: You can find anything from Ferris wheels to an aquarium on this bustling, one-of-a-kind pier. Enter Pacific Park for an amusement park afternoon, snack on funnel cake, or even watch the sunset.
Manhattan Beach is for the person who can’t stand lying down at the beach. There are enough outdoor activities to keep your most athletic friend busy, from disc golf to biking. And, once you deplete your energy stores, the nearby restaurants and bars are the perfect refresher.
- Sand Dune Park: Yes, you’ll find plenty of dunes in this beachside park. But the sandy slopes also double as a prime workout spot. Get your sweat on alongside locals, or take a picnic among the many walking trails.
- Fishing With Dynamite: Top off a day on the beach at this cheery spot’s must-visit oyster bar, where you can taste some of the best mollusks around. With an oceanside view, it’s an unbeatable seat.
- Beach volleyball: The north area of Manhattan Beach, known as El Porto Beach, has some of the best beach volleyball games around. Bring a few friends to play a couple of rounds as the sun sets over the sea.
2. Embrace the Hollywood life
There’s no Los Angeles without Tinseltown. The entertainment industry runs this city, employing nearly 18 out of every 1,000 workers. To get a taste of the Hollywood life, you have to explore the star-studded attractions across the city, including:
- Studio tours: If you’ve never been on a real movie set, this is your chance. Take a studio tour and roam the top studio lots in the world, including Universal Studios Hollywood, Warner Bros, Paramount, and more.
- Academy Museum of Motion Pictures: Newly renovated and reopened, this Los Angeles county museum is the best stop for admiring Hollywood’s relics. See countless posters, film reels, costumes, props, and more from the most iconic films of all time.
- Hollywood Forever Cemetery: Since 1899, this palm-lined cemetery has been the final resting place for countless Hollywood legends. Pay tribute to the likes of Bugsy Siegel, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, and more on these pristine grounds.
3. Dig into LA’s unique food scene
Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in America—and it shows in the city’s food and places to dine. Dozens of the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles bring flavors from across the world to the city’s restaurant tables. To taste all of the best restaurants in LA, explore its multicultural influences on your plate.
Just a few hours from the Mexican border, Los Angeles is a renowned hub for Hispanic food. Tacos may be a citywide favorite, but there’s plenty more to enjoy from across the Latin diaspora, including:
- Chichen Itza Restaurant: Sometimes, the best food doesn’t even need a proper table. Enjoy this counter-service restaurant’s authentic Yucatan food on your feet. The suckilng pig tortas, panuchos, and agua de chia are must-try dishes.
- Casa Vega: If you’re up for a drive, head north to Casa Vega in the Valley. This warmly lit sit-down restaurant has served delicious enchiladas and margaritas for decades and has the perfect ambiance for dining as a group.
- Tacos y Birria La Unica: The crispy, cheese-lined shells are well worth the lines at this taco joint. Birria tacos are the juicy, rich Mexican dish that defines LA, and this is the No. 1 stop to try them.
Japanese, Korean, and Chinese immigrants have shaped the LA food scene for over 100 years, infusing traditional dishes with new flavors and ingredients. Appreciate both the old and new across these cuisines at some of Los Angeles’s best restaurants, including:
- Park’s Barbecue: Head to Koreatown to sizzle some prime-cut brisket and bulgogi yourself, a la Koren barbecue. This traditional spot has all the fixings, from quality rib eye steak to beef tongue, on top of some excellent kimchi pancakes.
- Kam Hong Garden: Noodles are the name of the game at this casual Monterey Park joint. Enjoy their hand-pulled noodles in a delicious lamb broth, or go for the equally delicious soup dumplings and pork crackling pancake.
- Shunji: With seafood this tasty and master chefs this talented, LA’s top-dollar sushi is well worth the money. One of those top chefs include Shunji Nakao, who opened his own namesake omakase restaurant in Sawtelle. Come by for a delicious lunch special, with quality ingredients like Japanese bass and bafun uni.
New American cuisine
With so many cultural roots, Los Angeles has created an American cuisine all its own. Take a bite of the fusion, innovative, and contemporary dishes born in this city, including:
- Republique: This cozy, brick-walled bistro puts a California twist on a multitude of flavors. Try the yuzu oysters, Santa Barbara prawns, and excellent short rib with wild mushrooms.
- Orsa & Winston: Japanese and Italian cuisines dance together in this refined restaurant. Served omakase-style, you can pick from a selection of tasting menus (up to 20 courses), with delicious bites like fennel panna cotta, milk bread focaccia, and geoduck rice with uni.
- Pasjoli: Come for the modern romantic ambiance and stay for the delicious updated French cuisine. You’ll see classics like beef tartare alongside West Coast-influenced seafood and duck dishes on Pasjoli’s menu.
4. Hike the California hills
One of the best parts of Los Angeles? You have easy access to city life and nature. California is a hiking-friendly state, and LA is no exception. From hills on the city border to hiking trails just a drive away, there’s a hike to fit every pedestrian, including:
- Escondido Canyon: This fairytale-like trail is a perfect counter to city life. Drive northwest to hike the mossy cliffs of this canyon, where a gorgeous waterfall awaits you at the trail’s end.
- Runyon Canyon: You barely have to leave the city to access this hill. Runyon Canyon is just north of Hollywood, and you just might bump into a celebrity on its three-mile loop. It’s an easy hike with a great view of the infamous Hollywood sign at the top.
- Topanga State Park: Up for a full day hitting the hiking trails? Head to the seven-mile Los Liones path at Topanga State Park. While you’ll have to conquer some steep climbs, the Parker Mesa Overlook view at the top is worth every drop of sweat.
Fun things to do in LA: Honorable Mentions
Of course, with a city this size, there is no shortage of fun things to do, whether you want to stick with tourist-friendly attractions or dive deep into this city’s rich culture. Here are some additional recommendations for a great day out in LA:
- Griffith Observatory: Located in Griffith Park, this observatory has amazing views of downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign, as well as a thrilling planetarium. Many films have been shot at Griffith Observatory, including “La La Land” and “Transformers.”
- Getty Center: Home to the Getty Museum, Getty Center is an art lover’s paradise, boasting gorgeous gardens surrounding the Getty Villa Museum and a permanent collection of must-see artwork.
- LACMA: Want more art? We recommend checking out the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Then, head next door to the La Brea Tar Pits to check out some preserved fossils right in the middle of the city!
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