Los Angeles is a town where you never can keep up with your bucket list. Once you finally score a reservation to the trendiest new restaurant, another one pops open. As soon as you finish exploring one neighborhood, another one goes through a complete transformation with new shops and cafes you’re now dying to visit. We’ve only been out of LA for a year, but already our list is piled high with new additions.
Since some things can be just a passing fad, we kept it classic or focused on places that had a solid track record. (Mr Holmes Bakehouse, the jury’s still out on you.)
We organized our favorite things by neighborhood, because, you know, LA traffic is the worst. This is your ultimate bucket list for the City of Angels, with 101 things to do in Los Angeles!
Downtown Los Angeles
Search for street art in DTLA
More and more murals are popping up what seems like daily. There’s awesome pieces all over LA. See what you can find!
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Attend a concert or visit for a free tour of this Frank Gehry building.
Contemporary art museum that opened in 2015. Book your free ticket ahead if possible, and arrive early if you want to reserve your timed spot for Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room.
Sporting Event at Staples Center
Kelly says “Go Clippers” while Aaron is a loyal Lakers fan. But sometimes we compromise and go to a Kings game.
Take me out to the ball game. And don’t forget a Dodger Dog!
This place is a microcosm of extreme gentrification. On my first visit back in 2009, I was greeted by all parts of the pig in the butcher’s display case, cheap taco stands and sawdust on the floor. Most of these vendors have been priced out, and now it’s a mecca for hipsters willing to spend $7 for an organic, free-range Egg McMuffin at Eggslut. But I still like it 🙂
One of the oldest buildings in DTLA, the wrought iron staircases will blow you away.
Known as one of the “Last of the Great Railway Stations,” I love the old school feel of the waiting room.
I don’t even like hot dogs or sausages, but I love this place. And the fries are amazing.
Food, ambiance, everything is great.
Eat ramen, sushi or mochi, or check out the free public gardens at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.
If you can’t make it to this Japanese ice cream shop for the mochi balls, you’re in luck, because you can also pick them up at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s.
The Last Bookstore
You can find anything and everything among the cool book displays at this large, multilevel bookstore.
Take a free docent tours of this early example of Art Deco.
Iconic example from the Case Study Houses program, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls and stellar views of LA.
With a caveat, start at Wattles Garden Park and you’ll have a nice trail to yourself before you hit the heavily trafficked highway that is Runyon Canyon. After that, forget about communing with nature as it’s packed with dogs and people wearing heavy perfume. But hey, it feels like the epitome of LA.
Classic old record store in Hollywood.
The Fonda Theatre
Classic Hollywood theater built in 1926. Come here for big names or those about to hit it big.
Start from the Los Liones trailhead for a 7-mile roundtrip hike with amazing views.
You’ll probably want to ask a real surfer where the best spots are, but places like Zuma beach in Malibu and El Porto near Manhattan Beach are a safe bet for good waves.
Cycling the Strand from Manhattan Beach to Hermosa Beach
We loved cycling around on our beach cruisers at our favorite beach. If you need to rent a bike, most of the spots are in Hermosa Beach.
Manhattan Beach Post
This farm-to-table restaurants with communal seating features small plates like Maine Diver Scallops and BBQ Moroccan Lamb Belly. Whatever you do, get the Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits.
Manhattan Beach Creamery
Colorful ice cream shop with artisan ice cream.
This is my pick for the best donuts in LA. They also have lots of fun decorated cookies.
Shop at The Grove
When we moved apartments after our first year in LA, our main criteria was that we had to stay within a 2 mile radius of The Grove. I kid, sorta ;). We’ve spent way too much money at this amazing outdoor shopping mall, and love all of the free events, like summer concerts and Christmas tree lighting ceremonies.
The Farmers Market on Fairfax and Third
Right next to The Grove, the Farmers Market has been on this corner since 1934.
Korean BBQ in K-town
Our favorite Soowon Galbi, or Genwa for a massive spread of banchan.
Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza
Italian restaurant and pizzeria from chefs Nancy Silverton & Mario Batali. Aaron claims their meatballs are almost as good as his Italian Nana’s. Almost 😉
Pink’s Hot Dogs
As they proudly claim on their banners outside the stand, Pink’s has been a Hollywood legend since 1939. Try to go at an off-peak time to avoid the long line.
Classic California donut shop. Hole-in-the-wall right around the corner from our first LA apartment, open 24/7 so there’s always fresh donuts on hand. They even have their own version of the cronut, called the skronut.
Small plates French restaurant that may have the best french fries in LA according to LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold. We concur.
Old-fashioned Jewish deli. Get the classic #19.
Art museum in Miracle Mile with the well-known Urban Light installation along Wilshire Boulevard.
La Brea Tar Pits
Tar pits with natural asphalt still seeping up from the ground. The animal skeletons discovered form the pits, like a Columbian mammoth, are on display at the George C. Page Museum.
Take a stroll through Hancock Park
Hancock Park feels like old, classy Los Angeles. Built in the 1920s, mansions tower above as you stroll the palm tree-lined streets.
Peterson Automotive Museum
Automotive museum in Miracle Mile that recently got a huge facelift, with a metal sculpture covering the building’s exterior.
Art deco concert venue on Wilshire and Western that was originally used as a movie theatre when it opened in 1931.
Huge flea market held in the Rose Bowl on the second Sunday every month. Entrance is $9.
Houses an extensive art collection, and surrounded by 120-acres of botanical landscaped gardens, including a Japanese Garden, Desert Garden, and Chinese Garden.
Galco’s Soda Pop Stop
We couldn’t have completed our quest to find the best Root Beer without trying the over 30 brands stocked at Galco’s.
Hot Pot in San Gabriel Valley
The best places are a bit (okay, maybe a lot) out of the way, but totally worth it.
Santa Monica Pier
Large pier with landmark entrance and ferris wheel. This place gets pretty packed, but it’s a great place to go whether you want the beach, shopping on Third Street Promenade, or just to mill about.
Santa Monica’s Farmers Market
This large farmer’s market focuses on fresh fruits and veggies, where local restaurants come to buy produce.
The Getty Center is one of the most visited museums in the US, with modern architecture, gardens, and awesome views overlooking Los Angeles. On display are pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; and 19th- and 20th-century American, Asian, and European photographs. Parking is $15, or $10 after 3pm.
Round of golf at Rancho Park course
At $9 on weekends and $8 on weekdays, we could afford to play the 9-hole 3-par course over and over again. There’s also a full 18-hole course, a putting green and a driving range.
Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
I’m always craving the godmother, the best deli sandwich ever.
Annenberg Space for Photography
Rotating exhibits featuring art photography.
Stand up paddle boarding
Try Marina del Rey for a smooth ride, or one of the surf spots to ride the waves.
Even after countless cones in Italy, this is still on of our favorite gelato spots. The flavors are constantly rotating, and they’re inventive without being just weird. My favorites are any of the flavors with marscapone.
Cafe with epic toast with the best house-made jams.
Boho chic shopping and hipster coffee shops along Sunset Boulevard.
Find respite from the craziness of Venice Beach in the Venice Canals, just a few blocks away. These manmade canals were built in the early 1900s as part of Abbot Kinney’s grand plan to make the Venice of America.
We were so stoked when we snagged a reservation here a few years ago. The place is cool and the food is great.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Abbot Kinney Boulevard is the heart of Venice, lined with the hottest restaurants, shops and art galleries.
Night + Market Song
Aaron lived in Thailand for two years, and this place is the closest as far as feel and food to the original. Careful, when they say hot, they mean hot!
The Griddle Cafe
Fun twists on breakfast classics, like red velvet pancakes. And the portions are huge!
Opening in the 1950s, this club helped launch the music career of greats like Elton John.
It’s free to walk the beautifully landscaped English gardens of this large estate that is occasionally used for filming.
Shop along Melrose
Some of the best shopping in LA. Score an amazing vintage or designer find at Decades, or visit one of the most popular LA brands, Fred Segal.
An LA institution with a giant donut on top.
17 metal sculptures built by Sabato (“Simon”) Rodia between 1921 and 1954.
Street tacos at a Taco Truck
Our favorite is El Chato that parks on the corner of Olympic and La Brea around 9pm.
We thought it was pretty epic when we saw Jay Leno’s last show…and then he came back. You can get tickets to gameshows, talk shows, and even sitcoms.
Tour a studio
Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios all offer studio tours.
I love this! I live in the city and it's organized in a great way!
Wednesday 3rd of June 2020
Thanks so much!
A Weekend Guide to Newport Beach | Things To Do In Newport Beach, CA
Thursday 7th of December 2017
[…] before our year abroad in England, I can only count a handful of times when we headed south out of Los Angeles to visit Orange County. But since moving to Newport Beach earlier this year, I’ve come to […]
Weekend Guide to Los Angeles | Celebrating the Art of the City
Monday 4th of December 2017
[…] once you accept the fact that it will take you thirty minutes to go five miles and start exploring Los Angeles by neighborhood instead of trying to swallow whole, you’ll see that this city is anything but […]
Free Summer Concerts in LA: The 5 Best Free Summer Concert Series
Friday 3rd of November 2017
[…] Let us know if you have a favorite to add to the list! And if you have more time to spend in LA, check out our Los Angeles bucket list, with 101 things to do in the city! […]
Monday 21st of November 2016
Great research Kelly! Planning on getting that way by Spring. Hope you do something like this for the U.K.
Monday 21st of November 2016
Thanks so much Trent! I just watched your intro YouTube video; what an incredible journey for you and your family! Looking forward to following along. Hope you enjoy LA when you get there.
And we're definitely working on something for the UK. ;)