Welcome to Southern California! Home to Sun, Fun, and Exceptional Experiences
Let’s Explore the Wonders of Los Angeles, shall we…
Congratulations! You made the journey to Southern California to participate in the A4LE LearningScapes Experience. You’ve created an itinerary with extra excursion time and you want to experience Southern California at maximum capacity. Oh, but one minor factor, you have limited time AND you don’t want to sit in our famous traffic jams. Fear not, we have provided a long and favored list of top excursions that will leave you satisfied and equipped with meaningful memories.
Our first recommendation is to forget driving to the City. You will spend a great deal of time navigating the freeway system, dodging cars, dealing with unpredictable traffic patterns, and unkind drivers. Take the Metro!
Begin your Los Angeles journey from the ARTIC station in Anaheim (ARTIC stands for Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center). It is just a short distance from the Hyatt hotel in Anaheim. The station in and of itself is an architectural statement.
The Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, better known as ARTIC, provides rail (both Metrolink and Amtrak), bus, taxi and other services for daily commuters, visitors and leisure travelers. How will you ARTIC? Check out the links to the left for more on transit services, shops and dining and everything you need to know about parking, getting to ARTIC or about the station’s design. https://www.anaheim.net/3329/ARTIC
2626 E Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806 – (714) 385-5100
Please note: This is a great starting place if you are interested in traveling to Los Angeles or San Diego.
Los Angeles Union Station
Both Amtrak and Metrolink trains terminate at Union Station. It is a transfer station for the Los Angeles Metro system’s Blue, Red, Purple, Orange, Green, and Gold lines. Los Angeles Union Station is the main railway station in Los Angeles, California, and the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States. Union Station is located on the original site of the Tongva village of Yaanga, which was “believed to have been the largest of the Tongva villages.” This iconic Los Angeles landmark opened May 3, 1939 sits on 41 acres. Architects John Parkinson and Frank Donald D. Parkinson designed the facilities in an Art Deco architectural vibrance. Other featured architectural styles include Streamline Modern and Mission Revival.
Union Station is a vibrant symbol of downtown’s renaissance. A dynamic destination for the arts, entertainment and culture, forging a vital new connection to the community, Union Station is more than a bustling transportation hub in the heart of the city. It’s a true cultural hub connecting the infinitely varied and wonderful elements of one of the world’s great cities… a gateway to the best of Los Angeles. https://www.unionstationla.com/ 800 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Schedules, Maps, and Planner: https://www.metro.net/riding/maps/
Yay! Now you have arrived, welcome to Los Angeles. The top suggested sights listed below are proved by your Local Arrangement Committee hosts and long time Southern California residents. Have fun and enjoy!! https://secretlosangeles.com/10-things-you-cant-miss-in-l-a/
The Griffith Observatory is a must-see in L.A., which is why it’s number 1 on our list – what better way to get to know a city than to peer out at the fantastic views, including the famous Hollywood Sign? Come day or night, both experiences are different in their own right – telescopes are available to look at the starry sky and several exhibits can be found inside. Oh and another added benefit is that it’s totally free – you just have to get yourself there. The easiest way is to take the DASH Observatory bus from Vermont / Sunset Metro Red Line Station, or alternatively, get an UBER.
Open times: Tues – Fri (12:00 – 22:00), Saturday & Sunday (10:00 – 22:00)
Walt Disney Concert Hall – Home to the LA Phil
Walt Disney Concert Hall became a Los Angeles icon the moment it opened its doors to the public on Oct. 22, 2003. Located on Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A., the concert hall seats over 2,200 people and is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, with acoustics by Yasuhisa Toyota, Walt Disney Concert Hall has received worldwide critical acclaim and praise from concertgoers for its stunning architecture and extraordinary sound.
Interested in the theater? Check out the schedules for Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Ahmanson Theaters located directly next door to the Disney Concert Hall.
Hollywood Pantages Theatre
The Hollywood Pantages Theatre, formerly known as RKO Pantages Theatre, is located at Hollywood and Vine, in Hollywood. Designed by architect B. Marcus Priteca, it was the last theater built by the vaudeville impresario Alexander Pantages. https://www.hollywoodpantages.com
6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028 (323) 468-1770
Formally known as the Kodak Theatre, The Dolby Movie Theatre is a live-performance auditorium in the Hollywood and Highland Center shopping mall and entertainment complex, on Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles.
https://dolbytheatre.com/ 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028 (323) 308-6300
Ace Hotel Theatre
Located on Broadway and 9th Street, the Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles was built as the United Artists Building in 1927. The 13-story building was designed by architect C. Howard Crane in a Spanish Gothic style, modeled after the Segovia Cathedral in Spain. The United Artists Theatre was the flagship movie theatre for United Artists, the film studio founded by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith. The stunning 1,600-seat movie palace occupies three floors of the building. Now known as The Theatre at Ace Hotel, the former UA Theatre is once again showing movies, and also hosts concerts, dance performances, stand-up comedy, live reads and special screenings.
Spanning six blocks from 3rd to 9th Streets along South Broadway in Downtown L.A., the Broadway Theatre District includes 12 movie theatres built between 1910 and 1931. At its height, the neon-drenched district had the highest concentration of cinemas in the world, with seating for more than 15,000 patrons. Discover the historic Broadway Theatre District, the only large concentration of movie palaces left in the United States.
There are few experiences more quintessentially Los Angeles than spending a summer evening under the stars, catching a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. One of the most famous outdoor venues in the world, the Bowl has hosted everyone from The Beatles and Bob Dylan to Prince, Lady Gaga and Radiohead. Until you’ve see a show at the Hollywood Bowl, you haven’t really experience L.A.
California Science Center
Opened at Exposition Park in February 1998, the California Science Center spans more than 400,000 square feet and four major exhibit areas: World of Life, Creative World, Ecosystems and the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The Science Center also hosts international touring exhibits like The Science Behind Pixar and has an education-focused IMAX Theater with a seven-story screen.
On Oct. 30, 2012, the California Science Center became the permanent home of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which landed at Los Angeles International Airport in September 2012. After an extraordinary journey through the streets of L.A., the Endeavour went on public display in the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion.
Natural History Museum
First Fridays at the Natural History Museum (NHM) introduces audiences to the museum itself and a new kind of museum experience. Contemporary science, culture and individual experience converge during these after-hours events. First Fridays events feature discussions and tours; live performances by musicians, bands and DJs; and the entire museum is open to explore, often with pop-up performances and surprises in its historic halls and exhibitions.
The theme for the current season of First Fridays is Serving Up Science: The Dish On Food. Top researchers, prestigious food writers, and farm and garden experts will discuss food evolution and the science behind it. “If we are what we eat, then we are everything” – find out how our meals tell stories of lifestyle, culture and surprising science.
Break Room 86
Part of the Houston Hospitality collection of nightlife spots, Break Room 86 is an ’80s-themed karaoke venue hidden in the back of The Line Hotel in Koreatown. Don your best parachute pants and head to the Line Hotel’s ‘80s-themed Break Room 86 for the teen movie musical extravaganza For the Record: The Brat Pack. The super-fun show centers around the John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club, and blends into other teen faves from the decade of excess, like Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Sixteen Candles (complete with that Thompson Twins-backed final birthday cake scene). You’ll know every soundtrack song the actors belt out (flanked by live musicians), on a stage that turns into a bar when the club opens later. To really get into the spirit, you can order up an ‘80s-themed souvenir lunchbox that comes packed with a few old-school snacks, a sandwich from PBJ.LA, and a (spiked!) Capri Sun. The show’s “Summer School” extension runs on Friday and Saturday nights through the end of August.
With cocktail names that will remind you of your favorite teen idol and a soundtrack like your favorite mix tape, it’s always a fun time. Sing on stage with a live band, or book a private room for you and your friends, whether you’re there for the karaoke or the Atari.
Whether it’s karaoke, cigars, a glowing dance floor, or simply a hard-to-find entrance, bars across Los Angeles have surprises waiting for you. Read on for the best hidden bars in L.A. – because there’s nothing better than sharing a secret.
Grand Central Market
A Downtown L.A. staple since 1917, the bustling Grand Central Market (GCM) has recently welcomed a new generation of food and drink vendors. In August 2014, Bon Appétit named GCM one of the 10 best new restaurants in America. GCM institutions like China Cafe, Roast To Go and Tacos Tumbras A Tomas are still going strong. Learn about 11 of the best new food and drink options at Grand Central Market.
Santa Monica and Venice Beach
The good thing is that you can see Santa Monica and Venice in under an hour, because they’re walking/biking distance apart. With the opening of the new Metro Rail Expo Line, there’s a direct route from Union Station in DTLA to Downtown Santa Monica. From there, it’s a 5-minute walk to the third street promenade, where you’ll find restaurants and all the biggest name brand shops. Look out for the giant Ferris wheel, located on the Santa Monica pier. From there you walk along the beach, until you reach the Venice Boardwalk. During this walk, you’ll pass by Muscle Beach; aka the birthplace of the fitness boom in the US, where there’s always people doing incredible gymnastics. You’ve reached the end of the walk once you get to the skate park, stick around for a bit and watch the talented skaters do their thing!
For a truly eclectic shopping experience, head to nearby Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Dubbed “the coolest block in America” by GQ, Abbot Kinney is home to one-of-kind local goods as well as internationally recognized brands. Shoppers in the know come to Abbot Kinney for First Fridays, when the boulevard becomes a street festival filled with live music, food trucks and more.
Los Angeles is synonymous with the Endless Summer, and surfing locations don’t get more iconic than Malibu Lagoon State Beach, better known as Surfrider Beach. One of the most popular surfing spots in L.A. County, Surfrider Beach is located off Pacific Coast Highway near the historic Malibu Pier. The 110-acre site was dedicated as a state park in 1951, and later designated as the first World Surfing Reserve in October 2010. The famous right-break had a big impact on 1960s Southern California surfing culture. Surfrider has three primary surfing areas – on the south swells most common in late August and September, surfers can ride all the way to the pier.
Eat/See/Hear – Rotating Spots from Downtown LA to Santa Monica
Taking place on Saturday nights at rotating venues from Downtown L.A. to Santa Monica, Eat|See|Hear boasts the largest outdoor screen on the West Coast and state-of-the-art audio. Every screening features a curated line-up of food trucks and an opening performance by an up-and-coming band.
For movie fans, the summer outdoor movie season in Los Angeles is the best of all worlds: classic films and modern hits, shown on a big screen under the stars, with plenty of great food and drink. Gather your friends and enjoy hours of entertainment with our guide to L.A.’s outdoor movies.
Jazz at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
The award-winning Department of Music Programs annually presents over one hundred concerts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), featuring leading international and local ensembles in programs of classical, jazz, Latin and new music. Jazz at LACMA is one of the museum’s most popular offerings, having previously featured legends such as Wayne Shorter, John Clayton, Kenny Burrell, Les McCann, Billy Childs, Arturo Sandoval, Cannonball-Coltrane Project and Ernie Watts. More than 42,000 visitors attend the program annually from April through November. Jazz at LACMA takes place at 6 p.m. every Friday at the central BP Pavilion, near Chris Burden’s iconic Urban Light. Admission is free, there are no reservations for seating.
Jazz has been an integral part of the Los Angeles experience for decades, from historic Central Avenue to La La Land.
What’s more L.A., than spending the day shopping on Melrose Ave? Melrose is known for its cool wall art, funky/trendy shops and great cafes. It’s perfect for a stroll on a sunny day (which is pretty much everyday), whether you’re there to go shopping, or just get a coffee. Check out Melrose trading post, a market that happens every Sunday where you can find vendors selling things like antiques and vintage clothes.
Sunset Boulevard is one of the most famous streets in Los Angeles, and perhaps its most famous section is the legendary Sunset Strip, which stretches 1.5 miles from West Hollywood on the east to Beverly Hills on the west. Check into the landmark Chateau Marmont or modern properties like the Andaz West Hollywood, the Mondrian and London West Hollywood. Landmark music venues like the Whisky a Go Go, The Roxy and Viper Room are still going strong, while modern eateries like Eveleigh, the Church Key and BOA Steakhouse attract visitors and locals alike. Nightlife options include Bar Marmont, Skybar and the Comedy Store.
Music fans can go beyond famous venues like STAPLES Center and The Forum and discover hidden gems that are tied to L.A.’s impressive musical history. From rap to country and mariachi, Los Angeles will surprise you with its hidden connections to the past, present and future of music.
The Grove is an outdoor open plan shopping mall and is walking distance from Melrose so you can easily combine both into a day’s activities. You can find more shops, several food vendors, places for drinks, a cinema and an overall cozy atmosphere. You should come just before sunset to get the best of both worlds because the vibe is completely different during the day and night. (Special note for all of you Dancing with the Stars fans…the studio is located across the street from The Grove and they often film at the location for special event shows.)
LA was, for a while, surprisingly low on high-level libations compared to other cities — these days, though there are enough options to fill a week’s worth of evening’s if you’re up for it. With its hefty population of skyscrapers, DTLA is unsurprisingly the hood that will get you highest. The InterContinental Hotel’s Spire 73 became the Western Hemisphere’s highest open-air bar when it opened last year; and the glammed-up Perch has a full restaurant on the 15th floor — usually with live music in the evenings –and a dedicated cocktail bar on the 16th. For a summer poolside feel, Upstairs Bar atop the 13-story Ace Hotel boasts DJ sets many evenings a week; The 12-story Nomad Hotel’s The Rooftop, includes a bar and cafe with lush landscaping and a groovy fireplace; and The Standard’s long-running rooftop bar, 13 floors up, is still doing the over-the-top pool party thing with waterbed pods and bottle service.
The Oue Skyspace is a one-of-a-kind experience, it’s California’s tallest observation deck that gives a full view of the city, as well as the unique option to have a go on the all glass slide. The tri-level Oue Skyspace, best known for its 360-degree observation decks (and that bananas slide) just launched its Garden Bar on the 69th floor, though you’ll need to buy a ticket to access it.
The Laugh Factory is a chain of comedy clubs that can be found in Chicago, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Reno, Scottsdale and of course, in Hollywood. It’s one of the most famous comedy clubs, home to some of the biggest names in stand up comedy today. We recommend going to the event “Chocolate Sundaes” which is held every Sunday. You can rsvp here and either choose the time slot between 19:00-21:00 or 21:00-23:00. The entry is free, with the only requirement being a two-drink minimum per person.
Porsche Experience Center
Located in Carson, the Porsche Experience Center (PEC) is a 53-acre venue with a four-mile driver development track, state-of-the-art driving simulators, a retail store with exclusive PEC branded merchandise, and fine dining at Restaurant 917. Drivers can pilot the latest Porsche models through eight different driving modules. Inside the 50,000 square-foot building, which is also the new home of Porsche Motorsport North America, guests can get an insider’s look at historic Porsche race cars and the workshop team.
Does this really need any explanation? The original Universal Studios is quintessential Los Angeles, and it’s right in the heart of Hollywood so it’s easy to get to. You can get a guided tour of real-life movie lots and studios, see the re-imagining of Hogwarts where you can buy wands, butter beer and anything else Harry Potter related and go on a bunch of thrilling rides! Get your tickets online here!
Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood
Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood is a public attraction situated inside Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank close to Hollywood and part of the greater Los Angeles area. It offers visitors the chance to glimpse behind the scenes of one the oldest and most popular film studios in the world over a two to three hour period. www.wbstudiotour.com 3400 Warner Blvd. Burbank, CA 91505 (818) 977-8687
Peterson Automotive Museum
You don’t have to be an auto enthusiast to be seriously impressed by the Petersen Automotive Museum, which is currently showing exhibits currently ranging from cars made famous in sci-fi and fantasy flicks to SoCal-constructed classic race cars. If anyone in your group does have a penchant for cars, though, you’re going to want to book a guided tour of the museum’s recently renovated and reopened vault. You’ll have to buy a GA ticket ($16) and then pay an extra $25 for the tour, but you’ll get up-close access to 250 rare, historic, and iconic cars including a 1929 Bugatti, a 2015 McLaren P1, and a 2006 Ferrari 248 F1 race car.
You can’t forget to do something cultural, and what better place than the Getty Centre. In addition to the 19-20th century European art that can be found in the museum, the entire premises is an architectural treat to walk around in.
Open times: Tue–Fri, Sun 10:00 – 17:00. Saturday 10:00 – 21:00. Free admission.
This street name must pop into your head right after Melrose when you think of L.A. right? Known for its luxury brand shops, you can find it in the heart of Beverly Hills, and although not everyone can afford to shop there- you can’t come to L.A. and not check out Beverly hills! Ever see the iconic movie Pretty Woman? Well, this, my friends, is where it was filmed! Can’t you just hear Roy Orbison’s song playing?
With the current gentrification of Downtown L.A., the Arts District has become one of the most popular spots amongst locals and tourists. Its history began back in the 70s when artists started illegally occupying spaces for their studios, and has slowly developed as the place to be for creatives. You can find wall art, galleries, breweries, and much more!
Named for the building’s historic housing of the Los Angeles stock exchange on Spring Street, Exchange LA is a beautiful Art Deco edifice that’s been retrofitted for the modern nightclub experience. In addition to house and techno DJs, Exchange is also one of the few big clubs in L.A. that regularly books trance DJs. With four floors and 25,000 square feet, you have plenty of space to enjoy sets from artists such as Maya Jane Coles, Simon Patterson and Giuseppe Ottaviani. Los Angeles has become an essential stop on the global DJ circuit. Read on for some of L.A.’s best clubs for electronic music.
Los Angeles Art Walk
With exciting and unique offerings around every corner, the Downtown L.A. Art Walk takes place on the second Thursday of each month, year-round, rain or shine. Many of the Downtown Art Walk activities happen in and around the galleries on Spring and Main Streets, between 2nd and 9th Streets. During Art Walk, numerous art-related events and openings, activities, and special programming take place all over Downtown L.A. As the evening progresses, the energy builds as thousands of visitors descend on the area to meet up with friends and savor the local experience. Participating gallery hours range from noon to 10 p.m. Check individual gallery listings for details.
Santa Anita Park
With the San Gabriel Mountains as the stunning backdrop, Santa Anita Park is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and iconic racetracks in the country. Opened on Dec. 25, 1934, Santa Anita Park recently underwent $35 million in renovations to areas such as the Club House Box Seat Area, Chandelier Room, Turf Terrace, Eddie Logan Suite and private suites atop the Grandstand Club House Box Seat Area. Besides horse racing, Santa Anita hosts a wide range of events, including food and beer festivals, wine tastings and holiday events.
The Breeders’ Cup World Championships returned to Santa Anita Park in November 2016, marking the ninth time that Santa Anita hosted the Breeders’ Cup. Since its inception in 1984, the Breeders’ Cup has become one of the world’s top events in Thoroughbred racing, and draws the best equine athletes from around the world for two of the most exciting days in the sport.
One of a Kind Food Experiences and Other Whacky Stuff
Learn to Cook Like the Pros – Various locations
The Institute of Culinary Education, a longstanding NYC culinary school that opened a branch in Pasadena last year, focuses mainly on real-deal diploma programs for people looking to make a living in the restaurant world. For the rest of us, though, the school also has a roster of hands-on recreational classes focused on a range of different topics — from sushi to steakhouse menus, along with others that hone in on knife skills or grilling. The casual Hipcooks, with a few locations around the city, focuses heavily on international cuisines so you can take on Thai, master Moroccan and each session is paired with wine, beer, or cocktails. If all you care about is pizza (which is totally understandable), Little Tokyo pizza and-small plates spot Baldoria offers intimate pizza classes most Sunday nights, where head chef Duke Gervais shares tips on making his formidable dough and how to form and bake pizzas before you go to topping town, creating your own masterpiece in his brick oven.
Learn to Swing, Trapeze Style – Santa Monica
Trapeze School New York chose the right spot to open its LA venue — the Santa Monica pier, where the exhilaration of flying through the air circus-style is paired with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop. It’s easier than it looks, too: You simply sign on for a two-hour class, where you’re guaranteed to learn the knee-hang and maybe get to try one of those cool catches (so pay attention and say nice things to the teacher to up your chances). If you love it, you can move on to the next level or sign on to a multi-week workshop and shock your friends with your aerial moves when they visit and learn you’re now a crazy trapeze person.
Feel Fancy on a Private Yacht – Marina del Rey
Sure, you could join the pack on a booze cruise or group sightseeing outing, but to take to the sea in style, you’re going to want to charter a boat that comes complete with a captain so you can sit back and enjoy your three-hour tour. The marina is home to lots of outfits offering private crafts, from small sailboats to fishing charters to luxe yachts with chefs and a full-on crew for a more extravagant afternoon. (We’re looking at you, Silicon Beach peeps.)
Catch a Classic Flick by a Pool, on a Roof, or in the Park – Various Locations
Watching a movie is good, but watching a movie outdoors is great. We’re lucky enough to live in a city that has plenty of al fresco film options, whether you want to picnic in the park with your pup, hit a rooftop bar or kick back at a poolside screening. Melrose Rooftop Theatre has a summer rooftop residency at E.P. & L.P. on Melrose, with a mix of classics and newer releases every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, from now through November; guests can also add a pre-movie three-course dinner at the modern Asian eatery E.P. for a blend of Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Fijian cuisine. The traveling Eat|See|Hear series combines flicks on a 52-foot-wide inflatable screen with food trucks and live music at locations from North Hollywood to Santa Monica. You can luxuriate on a chaise lounge Beverly Hills style at Mr. C’s Tuesday night Poolside Cinema series complete with cocktails, candy, popcorn, and optional prix-fixe dinner offering. Rooftop Cinema Club offers rooftop movies practically every night in the summer at both LEVEL Downtown and Neuhouse in Hollywood with deckchairs, double deckchair “loveseats” for two, and bottomless popcorn packages.
Check Out 45,000-year-Old-Fossils – Mid-City
It’s hard to believe that the only active, urban Ice Age excavation site is less than a mile from The Grove, but at the La Brea Tar Pits’ natural-occurring tar (responsible for entrapping animals thousands of years ago) is indeed still bubbling and smart sciencey-type people are continuing to uncover fossils while you sit around Snapchatting. Inside the museum, they’ve put the trippiest fossils (mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and dire wolves, for example) on display and you can also take an Excavator Tour of the live dig site.
Enter a Choose-Your-Adventure Land of Carbs, Cocktails, and Croissant Ice Cream – Downtown
The Manufactory’s an ambitious 40,000-square-foot culinary collaboration between Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt of San Francisco’s fabled Tartine Bakery, and Phoenix-based Pizzeria Bianco’s Chris Bianco — and while the city’s rightfully buzzing about the bread here, there’s lots more to catch your eye. If you’re short on time, hit the walk-up window for grab-and-go cold brew as well as ice cream in fun flavors like orange Creamsicle and butter croissant; you can also bring home some cheese, charcuterie, flatbread by the slice, and a bevy of baked goods from The Market, or have a seat at the marble bar for a glass of wine and slice of flatbread. The window-heavy, high-ceilinged space (a former warehouse and now part of the massive ROW DTLA complex) spills into Tartine Bianco: an all-day eatery boasting a bevy of breads and spreads (think nori butter, warm ricotta and an eggplant dip) and open-faced smørrebrods (it’s a Scandinavian thing) that might be topped with uni or avocado along with a few salads and several entrees come dinnertime. The Italian-influenced Alameda Supper Club is your spot for fresh pastas, seasonal veggies, and a mix of small plates. Be sure to grab a fresh cocktail (like the rhubarb-Zucca-vodka-and-Rosé Rhu Tang) on the patio as well. Basically, you’re moving in.
Story-time at the Moth – Various Locations
Folks who can transcend cocktail party fodder with an actual entertaining story can try spilling their guts to a real audience at one of the open mic StorySLAM sessions held weekly around the city, as part of long-running series The Moth. The rest of us have it easier: Simply buy a ticket and watch as a slew of storytellers get five minutes each, telling tales centered around a single theme ranging from fear to scandal to joy. For the cream of the story crop, check out GrandSLAM events where StorySLAM winners compete against each other, along with curated MAINstage events where performers are handpicked ahead of time. Venues, dates, and pricing vary, but you can buy tickets online.
Visit Catalina Island and Hold a Falcon
Catalina’s technically in LA County and only an hour-ferry ride from Long Beach or San Pedro (or 15 minutes if you go with a baller-style helicopter), but you’ll feel like you just arrived in the Mediterranean when you see the crescent-shaped Avalon harbor dotted with bobbing sailboats surrounded by green hillsides covered in Spanish-style homes. The 75-square-mile island is home to a dizzying number of activities including submarine rides, glass-bottom boat tours, zip lining, and beach clubbing. If all of the above is old hat (well, look at you), try the Falconry Experience, a lesson in how to hold and summon hawks, owls, and falcons.
California Africa American Museum – Exposition Park
The venue unveiled four new impressive exhibits this spring, including Adia Millett’s Breaking Patterns: a collection of mixed-media that focuses heavily on women’s history with collages, photography, and quilts made from discarded materials. There’s also an exhibit centered around The Liberator, an early 20th-century newspaper founded by advocate and former slave Jefferson Lewis Edmonds, which gives a fascinating look back at LA’s emerging African American community of the time. All of the above will be gone by early September, so catch them while you can. Bonus: The venue is mere steps from the Expo Park/USC Expo line stop, if you want to keep it car-free.
Make Day-Drinking Feel Educational at a Brewery Tour – Various locations
While we don’t have the craft beer scene of other West Coast cities, LA certainly has enough breweries to keep you busy for a day and several of them offer behind-the-scenes tours to indulge your inner hop head. Angel City Brewery in Downtown’s Arts District does early evening tours during the week with afternoon additions on weekends and while Smog City Brewing Co. in Torrance doesn’t have official tours on its roster, the crew over there should set you up with one if you call ahead and ask nicely. You can also pay this outfit to drive you around, take you to multiple breweries, and give you beer.
Go Inside One of Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed Homes – East Hollywood
The fabled architect designed the 5,000-square-foot Mayan Revival-style Hollyhock House for an oil heiress nearly a century ago. After a complete restoration a few years back, the hilltop property — most famous for its seamless indoor-outdoor flow, massive hearth, and hollyhock flower details throughout — is open to the public for both self-guided visits and docent tours. It’s part of Barnsdall Art Park, so you can stroll the grounds and check out the LA Municipal Art Gallery afterward.
“Come on Down” at a Price is Right Taping – Fairfax
Chances are you won’t get to run down the aisle screaming, rub elbows with Drew Carey, spin that how-big-is-it-actually-in-real-life wheel, or bid on a Jet Ski and living room set during the Showcase Showdown — but by God, you can try. Tickets are released about six weeks in advance of when the show is taping, so check this website to get in on the cash-and-prize action.
Infinity Mirrored Rooms – Downtown
Out-of-town visitors have most likely seen this exhibit before thanks to the Instagram feeds of every single person in LA, but it’s worth an in-person visit to impressive contemporary art museum The Broad to see the exhibits (there are two now) – in which a gazillion LED lights perennially reflect inside mirrored rooms — for themselves. While admission is gratis, you’ll need to reserve your spots well in advance.
Blow Everything on a Crazy Tasting Menu at Vespertine- Culver City
Vespertine, according to Vespertine, “is a gastronomical experience seeking to disrupt the course of the modern restaurant.” And it’s pretty much doing just that thanks to chef Jordan Kahn’s $250 over-the-top tasting menu filled with course after course of food-as-art that diners devour inside a four-story glass-and-orange-steel architectural structure. We can’t tell you whether you’ll leave feeling it was worth it or not, but we can confidently say it’s a meal you won’t ever forget. Make reservations on Tock.
And so much more…check cool Los Angeles experiences here: