Los Angeles Hollywood sign with sun-burst

16 Things to do in Los Angeles: Beyond Typical Tourist Trails

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Welcome to Los Angeles, a city that’s as vast and varied as it is iconic. Known as the City of Angels, this destination is a hotspot of culture, entertainment, food, and art. With its cinematic streetscapes, palm-fringed boulevards, golden beaches, and enticing attractions, Los Angeles is a city that keeps on giving. It’s a place where dreams take flight, a city that promises a diverse mix of experiences. Whether you’re an art lover, a foodie, an explorer, or a beach bum, you’ll find something to love about LA. In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of 16 must-do activities in Los Angeles, featuring both well-known attractions and lesser-known treasures. From world-renowned museums and iconic landmarks to under-the-radar spots and hidden gems, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler looking for a fresh perspective on the city, this list promises a wealth of unforgettable experiences.

1. Wander through The Getty Center

Getty Center Panoramic View Los Angeles

“Begin your Los Angeles adventure at The Getty Center, an art institution par excellence, celebrated for its extensive collection of European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. Perched on a hilltop in Brentwood, the center offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city, making it a visual feast in more ways than one.

The Getty Center, designed by architect Richard Meier, opened its doors in 1997 and quickly established itself as a cultural icon. The complex comprises multiple pavilions, each housing an array of art spanning centuries and continents. The highlights include works from masters like Van Gogh, Monet, and Rembrandt. Equally impressive is the center’s modern architecture and meticulously manicured gardens designed by Robert Irwin. In essence, the Getty Center is not just an art museum but a comprehensive sensory experience where the line between art and nature is beautifully blurred.

But the charm of the Getty Center isn’t limited to its art collection. The complex is also home to the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the J. Paul Getty Trust, making it a crucial hub for art research and conservation.

Voyagix Tips

Here are a few practical tips for those planning to explore this cultural gem:

  • Timing: The Getty Center is open Tuesday to Sunday. The best time to visit is in the morning on weekdays when it’s less crowded. Also, the clear morning light makes the city views from the center even more enchanting.
  • Tickets: Admission to the Getty Center is free, but parking is $20 per car. If you’re using public transportation, the Getty Center provides a free shuttle from the bus stop at Sepulveda Boulevard.
  • Booking: It’s advisable to book parking in advance if you’re driving, especially during weekends and holidays. You can reserve parking on their website: getty.edu.
  • What to Bring: Don’t forget your camera for capturing the spectacular city views and art pieces. Comfortable shoes are recommended as you’ll be doing a fair amount of walking.

Immersing yourself in the rich artistic treasures and picturesque landscape of the Getty Center is not just a visit, it’s a cultural journey. It narrates the tale of human creativity, from ancient times to the contemporary era, and provides a glimpse into LA’s dedication to arts and culture.”

2. Discover Hollywood’s Glamour

Los Angeles Hollywood sign with sun-burst

Your journey through Los Angeles wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the star-studded neighborhood of Hollywood. This legendary district is the beating heart of the American film industry and a place where dreams are spun into cinematic gold.

Start by taking a leisurely stroll along the world-renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame. This iconic sidewalk is adorned with more than 2,600 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the pavement, each honoring a significant contributor to the entertainment industry. As you meander along, you’ll find the names of actors, musicians, directors, producers, and other entertainment personalities from both past and present. It’s a fascinating walk through Hollywood’s storied history.

No trip to Hollywood is complete without catching a glimpse of the famed Hollywood Sign. Nestled in the hills, this American cultural icon was originally erected in 1923 and has since become a symbol of the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle. Several viewing spots around the city offer an excellent view of the sign, but for a closer look, consider hiking the trails leading up to the sign.

Next on your itinerary should be the Dolby Theatre, the crown jewel of Hollywood’s entertainment venues. Since its inception in 2001, this high-tech venue has been the host of the annual Academy Awards ceremony, making it a pilgrimage site for movie enthusiasts. Embarking on a tour of the theatre, you’ll get an insider’s perspective on where Hollywood’s biggest night unfolds.

Voyagix Tips

Here are a few practical tips for your Hollywood adventure:

  • Timing: The Hollywood Walk of Fame can be explored at any time, but it’s less crowded in the morning. For the Dolby Theatre, check their website for tour timings.
  • Tickets: Walking the Hollywood Walk of Fame is free. For the Dolby Theatre tour, tickets can be purchased online or at the box office. Prices vary based on the tour package.
  • Booking: It’s advisable to book your Dolby Theatre tour in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. You can book your tour on their website: dolbytheatre.com.
  • What to Bring: A camera is a must for capturing memorable moments and star sightings. Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking a lot.

Immerse yourself in the glamour of Hollywood. As you walk down the Walk of Fame, gaze at the iconic sign, and explore the grandeur of the Dolby Theatre, you’ll feel the magic that makes Hollywood the film capital of the world.

3. Delve into the LA Art Scene at The Broad

The Broad, the contemporary art museum on the Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles.

An integral part of the Los Angeles arts scene, The Broad is a contemporary art museum that is a must-visit for any art enthusiast. Opened in 2015, the museum is the brainchild of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, whose aim was to make contemporary art accessible to the public.

The Broad houses nearly 2,000 works of postwar and contemporary art, making it one of the most prominent holdings of its kind in the world. As you explore the museum, you’ll come across masterpieces from some of the most renowned artists of the last half-century, including Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, and Cindy Sherman, among others. From paintings and photography to large-scale sculptures and installations, the variety and depth of the artwork on display is astounding.

The Broad itself is an architectural marvel. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the building features a distinctive, honeycomb-like exterior dubbed “the veil,” while the interior, known as “the vault,” houses the art collection.

Voyagix Tips

Here are a few practical tips for your visit to The Broad:

  • Plan Ahead: The Broad can get very busy, especially on weekends. It’s recommended to book free general admission tickets in advance from their website to guarantee entry.
  • The Infinity Mirrored Room: One of the most popular exhibits at The Broad is Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room. Tickets for this installation are separate and tend to get booked quickly. Try to reserve your spot as soon as you arrive at the museum.
  • Free Tours: The Broad offers free public tours of the museum and collections. Check the schedule on their website: thebroad.org.
  • Visiting with Kids: The Broad is a family-friendly museum. They offer free Family Weekend Workshops where families can engage in activities inspired by the artwork.

Exploring The Broad is not merely a visit to a museum; it’s an immersion in the cutting-edge world of contemporary art. As you explore the thought-provoking exhibits and engage with the artwork, you’ll gain a fresh perspective on the creative human spirit.

4. Bask in Natural Beauty at Griffith Park

Griffith Park sign and bear statue - Los Angeles, California, USA

Griffith Park, with its sprawling green spaces, is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. With more than 4,300 acres of natural terrain adorned with hiking trails, picnic areas, and recreational facilities, the park is a green oasis in the heart of Los Angeles. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities like hiking, horseback riding, and golf.

One of the major attractions in Griffith Park is the Griffith Observatory, which has been enlightening visitors about the wonders of the cosmos since 1935. Whether you’re an astronomy aficionado or a casual stargazer, the observatory offers an opportunity to explore the universe through its exhibits, planetarium, and telescopes. Be sure to hike up to the observatory for a breathtaking view of the city by day and a mesmerizing starry display by night.

For wildlife lovers, the Los Angeles Zoo, located within the park, is home to a diverse range of animals from around the globe. With over 1,400 animals spanning 270 species, the zoo offers a fascinating insight into the world’s diverse wildlife.

Voyagix Tips

Here are a few practical tips for your visit to Griffith Park:

  • Start Early: Griffith Park is huge, and there’s a lot to see and do. Starting early allows you to make the most of your visit and avoid the midday heat.
  • Hiking Essentials: If you plan on hiking, make sure to wear sturdy shoes, bring water, and use sun protection. Also, download or print a map of the park’s trails from the Griffith Park website.
  • Observatory Visit: While the observatory is free, shows at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium require a ticket. These can be purchased at the observatory.
  • Zoo Visit: Check the zoo’s schedule for animal feeding times and special presentations. It’s a great way to enhance your zoo experience.

A day spent at Griffith Park is a day spent closer to nature and the cosmos. From hiking scenic trails and gazing at celestial bodies to exploring diverse wildlife, Griffith Park is a testament to Los Angeles’s multifaceted charm.

5. Embark on a Culinary Adventure at Grand Central Market

Inside View of Grand Central Market Los Angeles

Immerse yourself in Los Angeles’s dynamic food scene at the bustling Grand Central Market. Nestled in the heart of Downtown LA, this culinary hotspot has been delighting food lovers with its diverse offerings since 1917.

The market houses a multitude of vendors, each serving up a unique blend of flavors that paint a vivid picture of the city’s cultural melting pot. Here, you’ll find everything from artisanal cheese and fresh produce stands to hip food stalls dishing out everything from handmade pasta and wood-fired pizza to gourmet coffee and artisanal ice cream. Standouts include the egg sandwiches from Eggslut, the BBQ at Horse Thief, and the traditional Mexican dishes at Ana Maria’s.

Apart from being a foodie’s paradise, Grand Central Market is a vibrant community hub. It’s a place where you can watch the city’s culinary trends evolve, participate in cooking workshops, and attend cultural events. It’s not just about food; it’s about the people, the culture, and the community spirit that permeates the space.

Voyagix Tips

Here are a few practical tips for your visit to Grand Central Market:

  • Peak Hours: The market can get pretty crowded, especially during lunchtime and on weekends. To avoid the rush, consider visiting in the morning or late afternoon.
  • Try the Variety: With so many amazing vendors, it can be tough to decide what to eat. Consider ordering small portions from different vendors to experience the broad spectrum of flavors.
  • Parking: There is a parking garage directly underneath the market, but it can fill up quickly. Public transit, walking, or ride-sharing services are good alternatives.
  • Take Home: The market isn’t just for prepared foods. Consider picking up fresh local produce or gourmet ingredients to take home and experiment with in your own kitchen.

Exploring the Grand Central Market is a journey through Los Angeles’s vibrant food scene. It’s a celebration of the city’s diverse flavors, an ode to its culinary creativity, and a testament to the communal spirit that makes LA so unique.

6. Stroll on Santa Monica Pier

sunset above Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles

Make your way to the sunny coast of Los Angeles to experience the joy and vibrancy of the iconic Santa Monica Pier. This famed landmark, built in 1909, has long been a symbol of the carefree Californian lifestyle, attracting visitors from around the globe with its beautiful beach views, classic amusement park, and charming seaside atmosphere.

A visit to the pier is like stepping into a postcard. As you stroll along the boardwalk, you’ll be treated to views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean on one side and the bustling city on the other. The sight of the historic Ferris wheel against the backdrop of the expansive sky is picture-perfect.

The crown jewel of the pier is Pacific Park, a classic amusement park that offers fun for the entire family. With a range of attractions including a solar-powered Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, and a variety of games and rides, it’s a place where childhood dreams come alive.

Beyond the park and pier, the beautiful sandy beach beckons. You can swim in the ocean, lounge on the sand, play a game of beach volleyball, or take a leisurely bike ride along the beach path.

Voyagix Tips

Here are a few practical tips for your visit to Santa Monica Pier:

  • Timing: To avoid the crowd and have a peaceful experience, consider visiting early in the morning or later in the evening. Sunsets here are particularly stunning.
  • Parking: Parking can be found in the lot north of the pier, but it can get crowded, especially on weekends. Consider using public transportation or a rideshare service.
  • Entertainment: Throughout the year, the pier hosts various events, including concerts, movie screenings, and yoga classes. Check the schedule on their website: santamonicapier.org.
  • Remember: Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen, beach towel, and a camera to capture the beautiful views.

Whether you’re seeking a fun-filled day, a relaxing beach outing, or a taste of old-fashioned amusement park magic, Santa Monica Pier offers a quintessential Los Angeles experience. It’s a place where cherished memories are made against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty.

7. Enjoy Shopping and Street Performers at The Third Street Promenade

Third Street Promenade Los Angeles

Step into the vibrant heart of Santa Monica by visiting the bustling Third Street Promenade. This open-air, pedestrian-only shopping destination is more than just a retail hub; it’s a dynamic showcase of LA’s lively street life, filled with fashion, food, and fantastic entertainment.

At the Third Street Promenade, you’ll find an array of shops that cater to every taste and budget. From high-end designer boutiques and chic fashion retailers to independent bookstores and eclectic shops selling everything from surf gear to artisanal crafts, there’s something for every shopper.

But the promenade isn’t just about retail therapy. It’s also a fantastic dining destination. The area is teeming with a diverse mix of restaurants, cafes, and bars, offering an array of culinary delights that span the globe.

Adding to the energetic atmosphere of the promenade are the talented street performers that grace its sidewalks. From musicians and singers to magicians and acrobats, these performers lend a unique flavor to the promenade, transforming it into an outdoor stage.

Voyagix Tips

Here are a few practical tips for your visit to Third Street Promenade:

  • Timing: While the promenade is vibrant throughout the day, evenings offer a special charm, with performers lighting up the sidewalks and the area bathed in a beautiful glow.
  • Parking: Several public parking structures are available near the promenade, and the first 90 minutes are free. Street parking is also available but can be harder to find.
  • Events: The promenade regularly hosts events like farmers markets and holiday celebrations. Check out their event schedule on their website: downtownsm.com.
  • Explore: Don’t restrict yourself to the promenade. The nearby Santa Monica Place shopping center and the lovely streets around are also worth exploring.

A visit to the Third Street Promenade offers a taste of LA’s lively street life. From shopping and dining to outstanding street performances, it’s a place where the city’s energy and creativity are on full display.

8. Tour the Magnificent Getty Villa

Getty Villa Los Angeles

Experience a slice of ancient Greece and Rome right in Los Angeles at the Getty Villa. This sibling to the Getty Center is an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.

Housed in a re-creation of an ancient Roman country house, the Getty Villa showcases a collection of approximately 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities. As you wander through the galleries, you’ll encounter exquisite sculptures, stunning mosaics, and precious artifacts that tell the story of these ancient civilizations.

However, the art isn’t confined to the museum’s interior. The villa is surrounded by beautiful gardens that are as much a part of the experience as the art itself. Inspired by ancient Roman models, the gardens are a blend of horticulture and art, featuring fountains, arbors, reflecting ponds, and a variety of Mediterranean plants.

Voyagix Tips

For a truly immersive experience at the Getty Villa, consider the following:

  • Reservation: Though entry to the Getty Villa is free, timed-entry tickets must be reserved in advance. You can reserve your tickets on their official website: getty.edu/visit/villa.
  • Parking: On-site parking is available at $20 per car, but the rate drops to $15 after 3 pm. Carpooling or using ride-share services can help save on parking fees.
  • Guided Tours: To get the most out of your visit, join one of the free guided tours. They offer fascinating insights into the architecture, gardens, and collections of the Villa.
  • Explore Everything: Don’t rush your visit. Alongside the artwork, take time to explore the beautiful gardens filled with Mediterranean plants. And don’t miss the Herb Garden, where you can learn about plants that were significant in ancient times.

A visit to the Getty Villa is a journey through time and an exploration of the ancient world. From the stunning art collections to the tranquil gardens, the Getty Villa offers an enriching and inspirational experience that goes far beyond the typical museum visit.

9. Explore the Underrated Bradbury Building

Bradbury Building Los Angeles

Delve into the architectural magnificence of Los Angeles by stepping off the typical tourist trails to explore the stunning Bradbury Building. This architectural gem may not be as renowned as some of LA’s other landmarks, but its spectacular interior design and captivating history make it an unmissable destination for those seeking a unique travel experience.

The Bradbury Building, built in 1893, is the city’s oldest commercial building and is considered one of Southern California’s most remarkable architectural achievements. From the outside, its modest Romanesque exterior may not be striking. But step inside, and you’ll find yourself in an awe-inspiring atrium filled with ornate ironwork, beautiful Mexican tiles, richly patterned staircases, and a glass-roofed court that fills the space with natural light.

The building’s intricate design details and atmospheric lighting have made it a favorite location for film and television productions, including the iconic Blade Runner.

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the Bradbury Building is steeped in intriguing history. The design, attributed to architect George Wyman, was reportedly inspired by a futuristic novel, further adding to the building’s mystique.

Voyagix Tips

For those planning a visit to the Bradbury Building, consider these tips:

  • Timing: The building is open to the public during regular business hours (9 am to 6 pm). But remember, it’s still an active office building, so be respectful of the space.
  • Photography: Feel free to bring your camera, as the building is very photogenic. However, tripods are not allowed without a permit.
  • Exploring: While the upper levels of the building are not open to the public, the lobby and the first flight of stairs are accessible and provide stunning views.
  • Location: The Bradbury Building is located near the Grand Central Market. Combining these two sites can make for a fantastic half-day outing.

By stepping into the lesser-known Bradbury Building, you step into a stunning world of architectural beauty and historical intrigue. It’s a testament to Los Angeles’s rich and varied cultural tapestry, offering visitors a uniquely rewarding experience.

10. Take in Views from the Los Angeles City Hall Observation Deck

View of downtown Los Angeles, seen from observation deck of Los Angeles City Hall

Swap the crowds and ticket lines of more popular view spots for an uncrowded, cost-free, and breathtakingly panoramic experience at the City Hall Observation Deck. One of LA’s best-kept secrets, this destination offers visitors a unique perspective of the city, and it’s a treasure loved by locals.

Perched on the 27th floor of the Los Angeles City Hall, the observation deck offers sweeping 360-degree views of the city’s sprawling urban landscape. From the shimmering Pacific Ocean and the Hollywood Sign to the San Gabriel Mountains and beyond, you’ll be able to see some of LA’s most iconic sights from an incredible vantage point.

Apart from the stunning views, the deck provides an insightful historical context, as the City Hall itself is a piece of LA history. Completed in 1928, the building served as the city’s tallest until the late 1950s. Its distinctive architecture is a blend of elements derived from ancient Greek and Roman designs, as well as influences from California’s Spanish missionary heritage.

Voyagix Tips

Before you head to the City Hall Observation Deck, keep these tips in mind:

  • Timing: The observation deck is open to the public from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. It can be less crowded early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
  • Security: Be prepared for airport-style security when you enter the building. All visitors are required to go through a metal detector, and all bags are screened.
  • Photography: Don’t forget your camera. The panoramic views make for some great photo opportunities.
  • Accessibility: The building is wheelchair accessible, and there’s a set of binoculars on a stand that’s wheelchair-friendly.

Visiting the City Hall Observation Deck is like stumbling upon one of LA’s hidden gems. It’s a place where you can admire the city’s grandeur from a unique perspective, all while immersing yourself in a piece of its historical tapestry.

11. Visit the Unique Museum of Jurassic Technology

Museum of Jurassic Technology Los Angeles

Embark on a journey into the surreal and bizarre at the Museum of Jurassic Technology. As an eclectic and unusual museum, it defies categorization, blending artistic, scientific, ethnographic, and historic exhibits into an experience that is as mind-boggling as it is fascinating. This is not your typical museum – and that’s precisely what makes it worth the visit.

Founded in 1988 by David Wilson – a man whose fascination with the peculiar and obscure is evident – the Museum of Jurassic Technology is a celebration of curiosities. Its collections span a broad and unusual range, from intricate miniature sculptures carved into fruit pits to exhibits on the history of trailer park culture, from paintings of Soviet space dogs to a gallery of American mice on toast.

Perhaps what’s most intriguing about the museum is the ambiguity surrounding its exhibits. Are they real, or are they products of imaginative fabrication? The museum leaves that judgment up to you, encouraging a sense of curiosity and wonder that keeps you second-guessing.

Voyagix Tips

Before you explore the curious world of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, consider these tips:

  • Timing: The museum is typically open from Thursday to Sunday. However, due to its popularity, it’s best to check the museum’s official website for the most current opening hours: mjt.org.
  • Admission: While there is a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors, the museum operates on a ‘pay what you can’ basis.
  • Pacing: Allocate at least a couple of hours to explore the museum. The exhibits are dense with information, and the true joy of this place comes from the ability to linger and ponder.
  • Tea Room: Don’t miss the Tula Tea Room on the upper floor, where you can enjoy complimentary tea and cookies in a relaxing, dimly lit atmosphere.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology offers a departure from the conventional museum experience, taking you on an unusual and intriguing journey through the lesser-explored corners of human knowledge. It’s a museum that doesn’t just showcase oddities; it challenges our perceptions and encourages us to question the world around us.

12. Immerse Yourself in the Watts Towers

Watts Towers Los Angeles, California

Immerse yourself in a world where art, architecture, and personal determination intersect at the Watts Towers. This remarkable collection of 17 interconnected structures, standing in the heart of Los Angeles’ Watts neighborhood, is not only a unique architectural marvel but also a testament to individual creativity and relentless determination.

Built single-handedly over 33 years by Italian immigrant Sabato “Simon” Rodia, the Watts Towers (also known as Nuestro Pueblo, meaning ‘Our Town’) are an impressive example of ‘outsider art’. Using only simple hand tools, Rodia transformed discarded materials such as steel rods, wire mesh, and cement into a spectacularly intricate structure adorned with a mosaic of glass, tile, shells, and other found objects.

Each tower, reaching heights of up to nearly 100 feet, showcases Rodia’s commitment to his vision and his extraordinary tenacity. Despite facing numerous challenges, including financial difficulties and skepticism from his community, Rodia never wavered from his goal – to build something ‘big and strong’ and to do something ‘nobody else could do’.

Voyagix Tips

When planning your visit to the Watts Towers, consider these tips:

  • Tours: The best way to experience the Watts Towers is by guided tour. These are available from Thursday to Sunday, but remember to check the official website for the most up-to-date tour schedules: wattstowers.org.
  • Admission: Admission to the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus is free. However, there is a small fee for the guided tours, which supports the maintenance of the towers.
  • Events: Keep an eye out for the annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival and Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival, which celebrate the cultural heritage of the Watts community.
  • Respect the Neighborhood: The Watts Towers are located in a residential neighborhood, so visitors should respect the privacy and peace of the local community.

The Watts Towers stand as a remarkable testament to what can be achieved through individual determination and creativity. This unique landmark, rising from the urban landscape of Los Angeles, invites visitors to marvel at the human capacity for imagination and resilience.

13. Relax at the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

The garden of meditation in Santa Monica, United States. Park of five religions at the lake Shrine, landscape.

Escape the bustling cityscape of Los Angeles and find a tranquil haven at the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. As a spiritual oasis, this place offers a serene setting for reflection, meditation, and connection with nature. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, a temple, and a peaceful lake, it’s a perfect retreat from the city’s usual hectic pace.

Founded in 1950 by Paramahansa Yogananda, a pioneer in making yoga and meditation widely available in the West, the Lake Shrine is open to people of all religions and spiritual orientations. The shrine aims to promote peace and unity among all people and cultures, a vision encapsulated by the Gandhi World Peace Memorial that enshrines a portion of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes.

The shrine’s lush gardens, populated by a variety of flora and fauna, offer visitors a peaceful ambience ideal for quiet contemplation. The sparkling lake, home to swans, ducks, and koi, enhances the tranquil atmosphere, while the windmill chapel, houseboat, and Dutch windmill add unique elements to the overall scenic beauty.

Voyagix Tips

When planning your visit to the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, here are some tips to consider:

  • Hours: The Lake Shrine is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 12 pm to 4 pm, and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. However, do check the official website for any changes in timings: lakeshrine.org.
  • Admission: Admission to the Lake Shrine is free, and donations are welcome.
  • Etiquette: As a place of worship and meditation, visitors are asked to maintain a quiet and respectful demeanor.
  • Photography: While photography for personal use is permitted, commercial photography and the use of tripods are prohibited.

The Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine offers an unexpected sanctuary amidst the bustling city of Los Angeles. Whether you’re seeking spiritual upliftment or simply a peaceful place to unwind, the Lake Shrine invites you to immerse yourself in its serene beauty and tranquility.

14. Marvel at the Velaslavasay Panorama

Velaslavasay Panorama

Dive into the immersive world of 19th-century art at the Velaslavasay Panorama, one of the only venues in the world dedicated to the lost art form of panoramic painting. More than just a visual display, the Velaslavasay Panorama offers a multi-sensory experience that transports you to a different time and place – an experience unlike any other.

Housed in the historic Union Theatre, the Velaslavasay Panorama is the brainchild of artist Sara Velas. The panorama showcases 360-degree, life-sized paintings, a popular form of entertainment before the advent of cinema. Here, you can witness the ‘Effulgence of the North,’ a mesmerizing depiction of the Arctic, enveloped in ethereal light, complete with sound effects and atmospheric elements that create a sense of being amidst the icy wilderness.

Not just a museum, the Velaslavasay Panorama is an ever-evolving project that hosts performances, lectures, and other events that enhance and enrich the visitor experience. The venue also boasts a charming garden, featuring exotic plants and a historic fishpond, which adds to the aura of stepping back in time.

Voyagix Tips

Before you step into this unique art realm, here are some tips:

  • Hours: Open from Friday to Sunday, it’s advisable to check the Velaslavasay Panorama’s website for current hours and upcoming events: panoramaonview.org.
  • Tickets: Tickets are typically $6 for general admission, but do confirm from the official website.
  • Attire: Comfortable footwear is recommended as the experience involves standing and walking around the panorama.
  • Expectations: Keep in mind that this is not a traditional museum experience. Be open to the unusual and let your senses guide your exploration.

The Velaslavasay Panorama offers a unique glimpse into a nearly forgotten art form, promising an experience that is as enlightening as it is enchanting. It’s an opportunity to step outside the conventional art scene and immerse yourself in an unusual, yet enriching sensory journey.

15. Dine at the Historic Clifton’s Cafeteria

Inside view of Clifton's Cafeteria Los Angeles

Step into a dining experience steeped in history and tradition at Clifton’s Cafeteria, an iconic Los Angeles landmark. This unique establishment has been serving up comfort food since 1935, all within a surreal, forest-themed setting that promises more than just a meal – it’s a journey into the past.

Clifton’s Cafeteria is the oldest surviving cafeteria-style eatery in Los Angeles and has witnessed the city’s evolution over the decades. Founded by Clifford Clinton during the Great Depression, it was originally known for its “pay-what-you-can” policy, which reflected Clinton’s commitment to feeding the hungry. Today, Clifton’s continues to offer a vast selection of hearty American classics, from meatloaf and mashed potatoes to salads and decadent desserts.

The magic of Clifton’s, however, lies in its decor. A multi-story, forest-themed dining area awaits patrons, complete with a faux redwood tree, taxidermy animals, a brook, and even a chapel. This whimsical setting offers a delightful respite from the bustling city outside.

Voyagix Tips

To make the most of your visit to Clifton’s Cafeteria, consider the following tips:

  • Hours: Clifton’s is open seven days a week, but it’s best to check their website for current hours: cliftonsla.com.
  • Menu: With a wide variety of dishes, Clifton’s caters to different dietary preferences. Don’t forget to try their famous jello salad, a dish that takes many Angelenos down memory lane.
  • Exploring: The building houses various other themed bars and entertainment spaces. After your meal, take some time to explore these areas.
  • Parking: Street parking is available, but it can be limited. Consider public transportation or ride-sharing services.

Clifton’s Cafeteria is more than just a place to grab a meal; it’s a unique slice of Los Angeles history. From its comforting food to its whimsical decor, Clifton’s offers a dining experience that is both nostalgic and unforgettable.

16. Unwind at The Last Bookstore

Last Bookstore Inside, Los Angeles

Conclude your adventure in Los Angeles by immersing yourself in a literary retreat at The Last Bookstore. Housed in a spacious, multi-level historic bank building, this place is not only one of the largest independent bookstores in the world but an intellectual paradise that provides a serene escape from the city’s buzz.

With its high ceilings, marble pillars, and labyrinth-like arrangement of shelves, The Last Bookstore embodies an old-world charm that is both mesmerizing and inspiring. This unique bookstore boasts a vast collection of new and used books, covering a multitude of genres, and a dedicated space for vinyl records, offering something for every bibliophile and music enthusiast.

But what truly sets The Last Bookstore apart is its commitment to keeping the enchantment of physical books alive in a digital age. Its whimsical installations, such as the famous book tunnel and the color-coded bookshelf, add an element of magic to your exploration, making your visit not just a shopping excursion but a journey into a world of stories and imagination.

Voyagix Tips

To make your visit to The Last Bookstore a rewarding experience, consider these tips:

  • Hours: Open every day of the week, with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays. However, check their website for current hours and upcoming events: lastbookstorela.com.
  • Events: The Last Bookstore frequently hosts author signings, readings, and other events. Check their calendar to coincide your visit with an event of interest.
  • Exploring: Don’t miss the second floor where you can find the book tunnel and local artists’ shops.
  • Purchases: If you’re looking for a bargain, visit the dollar book section. Also, remember to support local authors featured in the store.

Wrapping up your day at The Last Bookstore is akin to ending your day on a literary high note. This iconic institution is more than just a bookstore – it’s a tribute to the enduring power of stories, a celebration of creativity, and a peaceful sanctuary amidst the city’s hustle and bustle.


Los Angeles is a city that dazzles and surprises at every turn. Its energetic cityscape is packed with a blend of old-world charm, modern innovation, cultural landmarks, and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. With this diverse range of activities, from immersing in high art at The Getty Center and The Broad to exploring the unique Museum of Jurassic Technology and the historic Bradbury Building, you’ll experience the many dimensions of LA’s vibrant spirit.

Experience the grandeur of Hollywood, enjoy the panoramic city views from Griffith Park, and indulge in a culinary journey at the Grand Central Market. Or step off the beaten path to explore the Velaslavasay Panorama, the Watts Towers, or the peaceful ambiance of the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. Los Angeles is a city of endless possibilities, and this list of 16 must-do activities ensures you capture its essence. So pack your bags, strap on your adventurous spirit, and dive headfirst into the exciting and enchanting world of LA.

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