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The best things to do in LA this summer

26 places to visit in LA, from incredible architecture to the best new art exhibits

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Looking for something to do over Labor Day weekend? Welcome to Curbed LA’s city guide, a map of 26 essential things to do in Los Angeles. Suited for locals and visitors alike and curated by Curbed editors, this map is a guide for an ideal summer weekend in Los Angeles. It’s also inspiration for entertaining out-of-town friends and family—without visiting a single tourist trap

The pocket guide is updated seasonally, spotlighting cultural institutions, the outdoors, and beautiful spaces. With summer in full swing, picks include kayaking in the Naples Canals, touring Malibu’s spectacular first beach house, feasting on seafood at the waterfront, and viewing a powerful exhibit on black art at the Broad.

Looking for more ways to explore the City of Angels?

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1. Magnolia Park

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Magnolia Park
Burbank, CA 91505

Some of the best (and more affordable) vintage stores in Los Angeles can be found in Burbank’s Magnolia Park, one of those special local commercial districts that makes the LA area feel like a small town. Spend an afternoon strolling tree-lined Magnolia Boulevard and popping into its well-curated, second-hand clothing shops and its quirky boutiques and coffee shops.

Small business storefronts, one with a black and white sign for “coffee,” on a tree-lined street.
Magnolia Park.
Liz Kuball

2. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

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1151 Oxford Rd
San Marino, CA 91108
(626) 405-2100
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The Huntington is a splurge, but the $25 admission is more than worth it. One of the most beautiful properties in Los Angeles, the sprawling estate holds more than a dozen themed gardens, including a jaw-dropping Japanese Garden, fragrant rose garden, and colorful desert garden. The admission also includes access to the the grand library and other exhibition spaces that display a wide-ranging mix of artifacts, literature, and paintings, from a Donald Judd prototype to Henry David Thoreau’s manuscript of Walden to an original 1516 copy of the Thomas More book Utopia.

In the foreground are plants, trees, and grass. In the distance is a large white building. It is sunset.
The Huntington.
Jenna Chandler

3. Beachwood Canyon Secret Stairs

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2695 N Beachwood Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90068

Beachwood Canyon is a magical, quaint neighborhood filled with gorgeous homes of a variety of styles dating back to the Golden Age of Hollywood. One of the city’s first planned housing tracts, it has counted many silver-screen stars among its residents.

Tour Beachwood by way of its “secret stairs,” a network of staircases dating back to the streetcar era of Los Angeles. As the neighborhood is quite hilly, the Beachwood Canyon stairs are fairly challenging, adding a healthy component to sightseeing. There’s a whole book on walking tours of LA’s staircases, and the website for the book includes a PDF map and directions on how to get to and traverse the ones in Beachwood. It recommends starting at Beachwood Cafe.

Parking is scarce on the winding streets (some of which are permit-only parking), so why not take Metro’s 180/181 bus lines or the Beachwood DASH bus up to the start of the walk? All of those buses pick up near the Hollywood/Vine subway stop and W Hotel on the Walk of Fame.

A street with trees on both sides. There is a large white house at the end of the street.
Homes in Beachwood Canyon.
Liz Kuball

4. Hollywood Bowl

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2301 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90068
(323) 850-2000
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Concerts have been held at the bowl-shaped site—chosen for its excellent acoustics—since 1921; the balloon-shaped seating and concert shell date from 1926 (though they’ve been updated since).

5. Hollyhock House

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4800 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 913-4030
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In July, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House—his first house in Los Angeles—added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The house represents not just a beautiful Wright creation but also a “germination of what became California Modernism.” A recent restoration brought the house back to as close an approximation as possible of how it looked in 1921, when it was completed. It features the plaster, elaborate ceiling moldings, and accordion glass doors that it was intended to have.

Furnished with a mix of original furniture and detailed reproductions, the house is open for self-guided tours Thursday through Sunday each week; standard admission is $7. After your tour, stick around for a picnic in Barnsdall Art Park.

6. Mama Shelter

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6500 Selma Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 785-6600
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If it’s summer, you should probably hang out on a breezy rooftop. It doesn’t get more chill and unpretentious than Mama Shelter. The colorful outdoor bar in the heart of Hollywood has colorful, cozy chairs for lounging, foosball tables, and, of course, views.

7. Château Marmont

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8221 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 656-1010
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If you’re doing Los Angeles, you should probably do one thing on the iconic Sunset Strip, and we recommend that thing be the Chateau Marmont. Built in the 1920s as the city's first earthquake-proof apartment building, it became a hotel and the place for stars to misbehave in the 1930s, and it has been that way ever since.

The rooms and bungalows are shockingly expensive, but make a reservation for lunch, enjoy the restaurant patio, then sneak a look around the pool and grounds, shrouded in foliage and perched tastefully above the Strip.

A large white building that resembles a castle. There is a tower on top the building. Outside the building is a sign that reads Chateau Marmont Hotel.
Chateau Marmont.
Shutterstock

8. Hollywood Forever Cemetery

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6000 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 886-0181
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The film selections are top-notch, but seeing a movie at Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery is more about the hip, laid-back scene and the experience of picnicking in one of the city’s oldest graveyards. Pack a dinner, a blanket, and a bottle of wine—yes, booze is allowed—and arrive early to stand in line for a good spot on the sprawling grass lawn, which is where you’ll watch a flick projected on the side of a mausoleum. Buy tickets ($21) early, because they sell out fast.

9. The Getty

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1200 Getty Center Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-7300
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Funded by oilman J. Paul Getty’s trust, the Getty is one of the most breathtaking places in Los Angeles. The light-colored marble buildings bob and weave up and down, among pools, fountains, and a circular garden designed by Robert Irwin, all on top of a ridge high above the 405 freeway with 360-degree views. Plus you get to take a funicular up there. The permanent collection isn’t particularly beloved, but there are several exhibits worth checking out this summer, including “Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story,” “An Enduring Icon: Notre-Dame Cathedral,” and “Bauhaus Beginnings.” It’s all free except for the parking ($20; $15 after 3 p.m.).

People walk up an outdoor staircase towards a large white building with multiple floors.
The Getty.
Shutterstock

10. Serpentine Pavilion at La Brea Tar Pits

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5801 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(213) 763-3499
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Designed by Madrid-based architecture firm Selgascano, this temporary, eye-catching installation is offering free public programs like film screenings and talks through November 24. It’s on the grassy lawn in the park next to the tar pits, TK KT

A series of photos of colorful tents. The tents are on a lawn with palm trees. There are people walking through the tents.

11. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

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5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 857-6000
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LACMA is one of LA’s most prominent museums. Its vast permanent collection holds famous works of art, including Henri Matisse’s “La Gerbe,” Ed Ruscha’s “Standard,” and Diego Rivera’s portrait of Frida Kahlo.

Admission is $20 for LA residents and $25 for visitors who live outside the county, but you can view two of the museum’s most popular installations—“Urban Light” and “Levitated Mass”—for free. Both are located outside the museum’s doors. LACMA’s sprawling campus connects to the La Brea Tar Pits, and there’s a hardy network of walking paths between the two, making it a lovely place to stroll.

LACMA is closed Wednesdays. Admission is free for LA residents after 3 p.m.

Rows of lamp posts with lights on top are in a large square. People are walking between the lamp posts. There are palm trees surrounding the square.
Urban Light at LACMA.
Shutterstock

12. The Broad

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221 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 232-6200
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In short time, The Broad Museum atop Bunker Hill in Downtown has made itself an indispensable part of Los Angeles’s cultural landscape. Right now, it’s hosting one of LA’s must-see exhibits: “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” a showcase of powerful black art at the height of the Civil Rights movement.

Within the confines of the honeycomb-covered building by Diller Scofido + Renfro, guests to The Broad will also find contemporary art galore from the likes of Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Barbara Kruger, John Baldessari, Kara Walker, Jeff Koons, and Jasper Johns. The infinitely Instagramable piece by Yayoi Kusama entitled “Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” is back, but it requires separate reservations to enter. Guests can make that reservation once they're inside the museum.

The Broad is open daily except Monday, and entrance is free. Admission to “Soul of a Nation” costs $18, and requires advance reservations. Tickets can also be reserved in advance online for regular admission. Another option, however, is an on-site standby line for those who like to live spontaneously.

A large white building. There is a street in the foreground and a yellow bus is parked outside of the building.
The Broad.
Liz Kuball

13. The Museum of Contemporary Art

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250 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 621-2766
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Check out the first Los Angeles commission by 2019 Pritzker Prize winner Arata Isozaki. With the award earlier this year, the under-celebrated building was thrust back into the spotlight. Clad in red sandstone and opened in 1987, it features geometric forms, including glass pyramids that were designed to serve as skylights. Be sure to venture inside; the permanent collection on Grand Avenue includes works by Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, and Joan Miró. (Tip: The museum offers a buy-one-get-one-free deal on admission when you ride Metro.)

A group of buildings surround a fountain. The buildings are all different shapes, colors, and styles of architecture.
MOCA.
Shutterstock

14. Angels Flight

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350 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90013

If you want an old-timey LA experience, it doesn’t get any better than Angels Flight—a tiny railway that climbs up and down Bunker Hill in Downtown Los Angeles. The two tangerine-colored train cars, named Sinai and Olivet, are more than 100 years old. The short ride costs $1 each way, or, if you have a TAP card, just 50 cents.

In the foreground is the entrance to a railway with train tracks. The sign on the entrance reads Angels Flight. Behind the railway are buildings and a park with trees and flowers.
Angels Flight.
Shutterstock

15. Hauser & Wirth

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901 E 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 943-1620
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If you’re headed to the Arts District to eat and drink, carve out some time for... art. The Los Angeles outpost of Hauser & Wirth is the most obvious choice, and it’s free. The sprawling campus occupies an old flour mill and features beautiful galleries, along with a courtyard and landscaping by Los Angeles landscape architect Mia Lehrer (including a chicken coop—with Instagram-famous chickens). Located on East Third Street, it’s walking distance to Angel City Brewing and Downtown LA’s Little Tokyo neighborhood, where you should absolutely stop for a bowl of ramen.

A giant white building with a large entrance that has an arch. There are trees outside of the building.
Hauser & Wirth.
Liz Kuball

16. Leo Carrillo State Beach

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One of the least touristy beaches in Los Angeles, this state park stretches for 2.5 miles and offers tide pools, soft sand, coves, 7 miles of trails, and pretty vistas. But it’s best known for being dog-friendly: Leashed pups are allowed in designated areas (north of lifeguard tower No. 3). Unlike some other Malibu beaches, this one is also pretty easy to access. There’s free street parking and designated parking for a fee ($12 per day).

A sandy beach and the ocean. There are people on the beach and in the ocean.
Leo Carrillo State Beach.
Shutterstock

17. Adamson House Museum

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23200 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 456-8432
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An heiress and a wannabe cowboy built this seaside mansion covered in spectacular tilework in the days when the Malibu coast was all theirs. Today, the Adamson House, Malibu’s first beach house, still stands and holds its original furnishings. It’s open for guided tours 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (adults: $7; six to 16 years: $2; five years and under: free).

18. Eames House

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203 Chautauqua Blvd
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

One of the most important homes in Los Angeles, the personal residence of prolific designers Charles and Ray Eames is widely considered the “epitome of Midcentury California design.” That’s saying a lot in a city overflowing with experimental, groundbreaking, and stunning architecture.

On a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and partially shrouded by a row of eucalyptus trees, the Eames House was designed by the couple over a two-year period in the late 1940s, and its steel frame was erected by five men in just 16 hours. Using prefabricated, mass-produced materials to build a house was a total innovation at the time, and the “home became internationally known as a warm and ‘human’ solution to standardized prefabricated domestic building.”

The house is open for visits (exterior only) six days a week for $10. Reservations are required 48 hours in advance.

A rectangular house with windows surrounded by trees and plants. The front of the house is white with multiple windows.
Eames House.
Shutterstock

19. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

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6300 Hetzler Rd
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 558-5547
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Do this one before the temperatures climb and the sun gets too intense. The “hike” to the overlook is short and steep: either march up 282 stairs or wind around a more gradual, switchbacking dirt path. Both routes end in the same place, and when you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with expansive Los Angeles Basin views, including an Instagram-worthy shot of the Downtown skyline.

A dusty hillside opens a sprawling cityscape of treetops and rooftops. A cluster of skyscrapers and a mountain range are in the background. Liz Kuball

20. California African American Museum

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600 State Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90037
(213) 744-7432
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Exposition Park is home to multiple museums, but if you can only visit one, make it the California African American Museum. Its mission is to showcase under-represented artists of color, with an emphasis on art connected to California. Current exhibits include The Liberator, an homage to a black-run newspaper in 20th century Los Angeles.

Admission is free, and the museum is closed Monday. Before or after your visit, stroll through the elegant Exposition Park Rose Garden.

21. Leimert Park Village

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Leimert Park—voted Curbed LA’s 2016 neighborhood of the year—was developed in the 1920s from a design by the Olmsted brothers, and for many years was a whites-only neighborhood. Once that kind of housing discrimination became illegal, wealthy African-Americans began to move in, and, by the 1970s, Leimert became the epicenter of black arts culture in Los Angeles, eventually breeding the LA Rebellion film movement and the famous World Stage open mic nights.

Leimert Park Village is a walkable and diverse cluster of small, local businesses, many of them artsy in nature.

CONTRA-TIEMPO showcasing at the Vision Theater tonight!

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22. Santa Monica Beach bike path

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Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Rent a bike from a rental shop or bike-share hub (sorry, no scooters) along the strand in Santa Monica and pedal south to the Venice Boardwalk or north to Malibu, soaking in the sights and gawking at weird people along the way. 

In Venice, you’ll spot pot shops, sick skateboarding, drum circles, and some pretty solid breakdancing. In Santa Monica, you’ll cruise past Shutters on the Beach and the world famous pier (but don’t bother stopping unless you enjoy chain restaurants and tacky souvenirs). Things get normal from there, and you really can’t beat the vistas. You can also ride south from Venice to Redondo but will have to navigate around the Marina before the path picks up again.

There are two tall palm trees in the foreground. In the distance is a path with people riding bicycles. The path is surrounded by sandy beach on both sides..
Santa Monica Beach bike path.
Getty Images

23. Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park

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1727 E 107th St
Los Angeles, CA 90002

The Watts Towers are one of the most famous works of folk art in the U.S., made up of 17 steel and mortar sculptures built between 1921 and 1955 by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia. The towers rise as high as 99.5 feet and are entirely covered in “a diverse mosaic of broken glass, sea shells, generic pottery and tile, a rare piece of 19th-century, hand painted Canton ware and many pieces of 20th-century American ceramics.”

When he was done, Rodia said, “I had it in mind to do something big and I did it,” then he deeded the property to a neighbor and moved away. After his house burned down, a group of neighbors banded together to save the towers, eventually founding the Watts Towers Arts Center; the site is now run by the city and is on the National Register of Historic Places. You can take a guided tour, or just go yourself to see what Simon Rodia created.

Multiple tall structures which are metal and consist of a framework of cable-like structures.
Watts Towers.
Shutterstock

24. Dockweiler Beach

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12000 Vista Del Mar
Playa Del Rey, CA 90293
(424) 526-7777
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There are lots of beaches in Los Angeles, but Dockweiler is special because it’s lined with fire pits for evening bonfires. Round up a group of friends, pack some blankets, marshmallows, and your acoustic guitar—and join the party. The Los Angeles Times calls it “SoCal’s most populist hangout” and the “Burning Man in the South Bay.”

At night, fire pits glow along a stretch of beach. A peninsula illuminated in city lights is in the background.
Fire pits at Dockweiler State Beach.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

25. Kayak the Naples Canal

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Naples Canal
Long Beach, CA 90803

There are plenty of fun reasons to visit Long Beach. There’s a beachfront bike path, water taxi, award-winning craft beer at Beachwood BBQ, a huge monthly flea market, and walkable shopping districts, such as Retro Row and Belmont Shore. There’s also the canals. Excavated from a tidal estuary in the early 1900s by a real estate developer “who fancied the region as a sort of Italy-on-the Pacific,” the canals today are lined with multimillion dollar homes. They’re a scenic spot for some lazy kayaking. Rental rates are $12 per hour.

A body of water surrounded by palm trees and houses. There are kayaks and boats sitting along docks on the water.
Naples Canal.
Shutterstock

26. San Pedro Fish Market and Restaurant

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1190 Nagoya Way
San Pedro, CA 90731
(310) 832-4251
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Even after the Ports O’Call Village is remade into a Fisherman’s Wharf-like destination with fake vintage warehouses and new retailers, the San Pedro Fish Market will still be kickin’ selling trays full of fish cooked to order, however you’d like it.

It’s the more affordable, no-frills alternative to a fancy, waterfront seafood restaurant. Here, guests eat their ridiculously hearty portions while seated on picnic tables overlooking the port, then wash it all down with a (plastic) pitcher of beer.

If you’re thirsty but not into Bud Light, there’s a craft brewery about a mile away—not a bad walk on a cloudy day. And after all that seafood, a brisk walk might do some good.

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1. Magnolia Park

Magnolia Park, Burbank, CA 91505
Small business storefronts, one with a black and white sign for “coffee,” on a tree-lined street.
Magnolia Park.
Liz Kuball

Some of the best (and more affordable) vintage stores in Los Angeles can be found in Burbank’s Magnolia Park, one of those special local commercial districts that makes the LA area feel like a small town. Spend an afternoon strolling tree-lined Magnolia Boulevard and popping into its well-curated, second-hand clothing shops and its quirky boutiques and coffee shops.

Magnolia Park
Burbank, CA 91505

2. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108
In the foreground are plants, trees, and grass. In the distance is a large white building. It is sunset.
The Huntington.
Jenna Chandler

The Huntington is a splurge, but the $25 admission is more than worth it. One of the most beautiful properties in Los Angeles, the sprawling estate holds more than a dozen themed gardens, including a jaw-dropping Japanese Garden, fragrant rose garden, and colorful desert garden. The admission also includes access to the the grand library and other exhibition spaces that display a wide-ranging mix of artifacts, literature, and paintings, from a Donald Judd prototype to Henry David Thoreau’s manuscript of Walden to an original 1516 copy of the Thomas More book Utopia.

1151 Oxford Rd
San Marino, CA 91108

3. Beachwood Canyon Secret Stairs

2695 N Beachwood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068
A street with trees on both sides. There is a large white house at the end of the street.
Homes in Beachwood Canyon.
Liz Kuball

Beachwood Canyon is a magical, quaint neighborhood filled with gorgeous homes of a variety of styles dating back to the Golden Age of Hollywood. One of the city’s first planned housing tracts, it has counted many silver-screen stars among its residents.

Tour Beachwood by way of its “secret stairs,” a network of staircases dating back to the streetcar era of Los Angeles. As the neighborhood is quite hilly, the Beachwood Canyon stairs are fairly challenging, adding a healthy component to sightseeing. There’s a whole book on walking tours of LA’s staircases, and the website for the book includes a PDF map and directions on how to get to and traverse the ones in Beachwood. It recommends starting at Beachwood Cafe.

Parking is scarce on the winding streets (some of which are permit-only parking), so why not take Metro’s 180/181 bus lines or the Beachwood DASH bus up to the start of the walk? All of those buses pick up near the Hollywood/Vine subway stop and W Hotel on the Walk of Fame.

2695 N Beachwood Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90068

4. Hollywood Bowl

2301 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068

Concerts have been held at the bowl-shaped site—chosen for its excellent acoustics—since 1921; the balloon-shaped seating and concert shell date from 1926 (though they’ve been updated since).

2301 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90068

5. Hollyhock House

4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

In July, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House—his first house in Los Angeles—added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The house represents not just a beautiful Wright creation but also a “germination of what became California Modernism.” A recent restoration brought the house back to as close an approximation as possible of how it looked in 1921, when it was completed. It features the plaster, elaborate ceiling moldings, and accordion glass doors that it was intended to have.

Furnished with a mix of original furniture and detailed reproductions, the house is open for self-guided tours Thursday through Sunday each week; standard admission is $7. After your tour, stick around for a picnic in Barnsdall Art Park.

4800 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

6. Mama Shelter

6500 Selma Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

If it’s summer, you should probably hang out on a breezy rooftop. It doesn’t get more chill and unpretentious than Mama Shelter. The colorful outdoor bar in the heart of Hollywood has colorful, cozy chairs for lounging, foosball tables, and, of course, views.

6500 Selma Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028

7. Château Marmont

8221 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046
A large white building that resembles a castle. There is a tower on top the building. Outside the building is a sign that reads Chateau Marmont Hotel.
Chateau Marmont.
Shutterstock

If you’re doing Los Angeles, you should probably do one thing on the iconic Sunset Strip, and we recommend that thing be the Chateau Marmont. Built in the 1920s as the city's first earthquake-proof apartment building, it became a hotel and the place for stars to misbehave in the 1930s, and it has been that way ever since.

The rooms and bungalows are shockingly expensive, but make a reservation for lunch, enjoy the restaurant patio, then sneak a look around the pool and grounds, shrouded in foliage and perched tastefully above the Strip.

8221 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046

8. Hollywood Forever Cemetery

6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038

The film selections are top-notch, but seeing a movie at Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery is more about the hip, laid-back scene and the experience of picnicking in one of the city’s oldest graveyards. Pack a dinner, a blanket, and a bottle of wine—yes, booze is allowed—and arrive early to stand in line for a good spot on the sprawling grass lawn, which is where you’ll watch a flick projected on the side of a mausoleum. Buy tickets ($21) early, because they sell out fast.

6000 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90038

9. The Getty

1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049
People walk up an outdoor staircase towards a large white building with multiple floors.
The Getty.
Shutterstock

Funded by oilman J. Paul Getty’s trust, the Getty is one of the most breathtaking places in Los Angeles. The light-colored marble buildings bob and weave up and down, among pools, fountains, and a circular garden designed by Robert Irwin, all on top of a ridge high above the 405 freeway with 360-degree views. Plus you get to take a funicular up there. The permanent collection isn’t particularly beloved, but there are several exhibits worth checking out this summer, including “Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story,” “An Enduring Icon: Notre-Dame Cathedral,” and “Bauhaus Beginnings.” It’s all free except for the parking ($20; $15 after 3 p.m.).

1200 Getty Center Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90049

10. Serpentine Pavilion at La Brea Tar Pits

5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
A series of photos of colorful tents. The tents are on a lawn with palm trees. There are people walking through the tents.

Designed by Madrid-based architecture firm Selgascano, this temporary, eye-catching installation is offering free public programs like film screenings and talks through November 24. It’s on the grassy lawn in the park next to the tar pits, TK KT

5801 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

11. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Rows of lamp posts with lights on top are in a large square. People are walking between the lamp posts. There are palm trees surrounding the square.
Urban Light at LACMA.
Shutterstock

LACMA is one of LA’s most prominent museums. Its vast permanent collection holds famous works of art, including Henri Matisse’s “La Gerbe,” Ed Ruscha’s “Standard,” and Diego Rivera’s portrait of Frida Kahlo.

Admission is $20 for LA residents and $25 for visitors who live outside the county, but you can view two of the museum’s most popular installations—“Urban Light” and “Levitated Mass”—for free. Both are located outside the museum’s doors. LACMA’s sprawling campus connects to the La Brea Tar Pits, and there’s a hardy network of walking paths between the two, making it a lovely place to stroll.

LACMA is closed Wednesdays. Admission is free for LA residents after 3 p.m.

5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

12. The Broad

221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
A large white building. There is a street in the foreground and a yellow bus is parked outside of the building.
The Broad.
Liz Kuball

In short time, The Broad Museum atop Bunker Hill in Downtown has made itself an indispensable part of Los Angeles’s cultural landscape. Right now, it’s hosting one of LA’s must-see exhibits: “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” a showcase of powerful black art at the height of the Civil Rights movement.

Within the confines of the honeycomb-covered building by Diller Scofido + Renfro, guests to The Broad will also find contemporary art galore from the likes of Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Barbara Kruger, John Baldessari, Kara Walker, Jeff Koons, and Jasper Johns. The infinitely Instagramable piece by Yayoi Kusama entitled “Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” is back, but it requires separate reservations to enter. Guests can make that reservation once they're inside the museum.

The Broad is open daily except Monday, and entrance is free. Admission to “Soul of a Nation” costs $18, and requires advance reservations. Tickets can also be reserved in advance online for regular admission. Another option, however, is an on-site standby line for those who like to live spontaneously.

221 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012

13. The Museum of Contemporary Art

250 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
A group of buildings surround a fountain. The buildings are all different shapes, colors, and styles of architecture.
MOCA.
Shutterstock

Check out the first Los Angeles commission by 2019 Pritzker Prize winner Arata Isozaki. With the award earlier this year, the under-celebrated building was thrust back into the spotlight. Clad in red sandstone and opened in 1987, it features geometric forms, including glass pyramids that were designed to serve as skylights. Be sure to venture inside; the permanent collection on Grand Avenue includes works by Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, and Joan Miró. (Tip: The museum offers a buy-one-get-one-free deal on admission when you ride Metro.)

250 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012

14. Angels Flight

350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90013
In the foreground is the entrance to a railway with train tracks. The sign on the entrance reads Angels Flight. Behind the railway are buildings and a park with trees and flowers.
Angels Flight.
Shutterstock

If you want an old-timey LA experience, it doesn’t get any better than Angels Flight—a tiny railway that climbs up and down Bunker Hill in Downtown Los Angeles. The two tangerine-colored train cars, named Sinai and Olivet, are more than 100 years old. The short ride costs $1 each way, or, if you have a TAP card, just 50 cents.

350 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90013

15. Hauser & Wirth

901 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
A giant white building with a large entrance that has an arch. There are trees outside of the building.
Hauser & Wirth.
Liz Kuball

If you’re headed to the Arts District to eat and drink, carve out some time for... art. The Los Angeles outpost of Hauser & Wirth is the most obvious choice, and it’s free. The sprawling campus occupies an old flour mill and features beautiful galleries, along with a courtyard and landscaping by Los Angeles landscape architect Mia Lehrer (including a chicken coop—with Instagram-famous chickens). Located on East Third Street, it’s walking distance to Angel City Brewing and Downtown LA’s Little Tokyo neighborhood, where you should absolutely stop for a bowl of ramen.

901 E 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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16. Leo Carrillo State Beach

Leo Carrillo State Beach, California 90265
A sandy beach and the ocean. There are people on the beach and in the ocean.
Leo Carrillo State Beach.
Shutterstock

One of the least touristy beaches in Los Angeles, this state park stretches for 2.5 miles and offers tide pools, soft sand, coves, 7 miles of trails, and pretty vistas. But it’s best known for being dog-friendly: Leashed pups are allowed in designated areas (north of lifeguard tower No. 3). Unlike some other Malibu beaches, this one is also pretty easy to access. There’s free street parking and designated parking for a fee ($12 per day).

17. Adamson House Museum

23200 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

An heiress and a wannabe cowboy built this seaside mansion covered in spectacular tilework in the days when the Malibu coast was all theirs. Today, the Adamson House, Malibu’s first beach house, still stands and holds its original furnishings. It’s open for guided tours 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (adults: $7; six to 16 years: $2; five years and under: free).

23200 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265

18. Eames House

203 Chautauqua Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
A rectangular house with windows surrounded by trees and plants. The front of the house is white with multiple windows.
Eames House.
Shutterstock

One of the most important homes in Los Angeles, the personal residence of prolific designers Charles and Ray Eames is widely considered the “epitome of Midcentury California design.” That’s saying a lot in a city overflowing with experimental, groundbreaking, and stunning architecture.

On a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and partially shrouded by a row of eucalyptus trees, the Eames House was designed by the couple over a two-year period in the late 1940s, and its steel frame was erected by five men in just 16 hours. Using prefabricated, mass-produced materials to build a house was a total innovation at the time, and the “home became internationally known as a warm and ‘human’ solution to standardized prefabricated domestic building.”

The house is open for visits (exterior only) six days a week for $10. Reservations are required 48 hours in advance.

203 Chautauqua Blvd
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

19. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

6300 Hetzler Rd, Culver City, CA 90232
A dusty hillside opens a sprawling cityscape of treetops and rooftops. A cluster of skyscrapers and a mountain range are in the background. Liz Kuball

Do this one before the temperatures climb and the sun gets too intense. The “hike” to the overlook is short and steep: either march up 282 stairs or wind around a more gradual, switchbacking dirt path. Both routes end in the same place, and when you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with expansive Los Angeles Basin views, including an Instagram-worthy shot of the Downtown skyline.

6300 Hetzler Rd
Culver City, CA 90232

20. California African American Museum

600 State Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037

Exposition Park is home to multiple museums, but if you can only visit one, make it the California African American Museum. Its mission is to showcase under-represented artists of color, with an emphasis on art connected to California. Current exhibits include The Liberator, an homage to a black-run newspaper in 20th century Los Angeles.

Admission is free, and the museum is closed Monday. Before or after your visit, stroll through the elegant Exposition Park Rose Garden.

600 State Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90037

21. Leimert Park Village

Los Angeles, CA

Leimert Park—voted Curbed LA’s 2016 neighborhood of the year—was developed in the 1920s from a design by the Olmsted brothers, and for many years was a whites-only neighborhood. Once that kind of housing discrimination became illegal, wealthy African-Americans began to move in, and, by the 1970s, Leimert became the epicenter of black arts culture in Los Angeles, eventually breeding the LA Rebellion film movement and the famous World Stage open mic nights.

Leimert Park Village is a walkable and diverse cluster of small, local businesses, many of them artsy in nature.

22. Santa Monica Beach bike path

Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica, CA 90401
There are two tall palm trees in the foreground. In the distance is a path with people riding bicycles. The path is surrounded by sandy beach on both sides..
Santa Monica Beach bike path.
Getty Images

Rent a bike from a rental shop or bike-share hub (sorry, no scooters) along the strand in Santa Monica and pedal south to the Venice Boardwalk or north to Malibu, soaking in the sights and gawking at weird people along the way. 

In Venice, you’ll spot pot shops, sick skateboarding, drum circles, and some pretty solid breakdancing. In Santa Monica, you’ll cruise past Shutters on the Beach and the world famous pier (but don’t bother stopping unless you enjoy chain restaurants and tacky souvenirs). Things get normal from there, and you really can’t beat the vistas. You can also ride south from Venice to Redondo but will have to navigate around the Marina before the path picks up again.

Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica, CA 90401

23. Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park

1727 E 107th St, Los Angeles, CA 90002
Multiple tall structures which are metal and consist of a framework of cable-like structures.
Watts Towers.
Shutterstock

The Watts Towers are one of the most famous works of folk art in the U.S., made up of 17 steel and mortar sculptures built between 1921 and 1955 by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia. The towers rise as high as 99.5 feet and are entirely covered in “a diverse mosaic of broken glass, sea shells, generic pottery and tile, a rare piece of 19th-century, hand painted Canton ware and many pieces of 20th-century American ceramics.”

When he was done, Rodia said, “I had it in mind to do something big and I did it,” then he deeded the property to a neighbor and moved away. After his house burned down, a group of neighbors banded together to save the towers, eventually founding the Watts Towers Arts Center; the site is now run by the city and is on the National Register of Historic Places. You can take a guided tour, or just go yourself to see what Simon Rodia created.

1727 E 107th St
Los Angeles, CA 90002

24. Dockweiler Beach

12000 Vista Del Mar, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293
At night, fire pits glow along a stretch of beach. A peninsula illuminated in city lights is in the background.
Fire pits at Dockweiler State Beach.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

There are lots of beaches in Los Angeles, but Dockweiler is special because it’s lined with fire pits for evening bonfires. Round up a group of friends, pack some blankets, marshmallows, and your acoustic guitar—and join the party. The Los Angeles Times calls it “SoCal’s most populist hangout” and the “Burning Man in the South Bay.”

12000 Vista Del Mar
Playa Del Rey, CA 90293

25. Kayak the Naples Canal

Naples Canal, Long Beach, CA 90803
A body of water surrounded by palm trees and houses. There are kayaks and boats sitting along docks on the water.
Naples Canal.
Shutterstock

There are plenty of fun reasons to visit Long Beach. There’s a beachfront bike path, water taxi, award-winning craft beer at Beachwood BBQ, a huge monthly flea market, and walkable shopping districts, such as Retro Row and Belmont Shore. There’s also the canals. Excavated from a tidal estuary in the early 1900s by a real estate developer “who fancied the region as a sort of Italy-on-the Pacific,” the canals today are lined with multimillion dollar homes. They’re a scenic spot for some lazy kayaking. Rental rates are $12 per hour.

Naples Canal
Long Beach, CA 90803

26. San Pedro Fish Market and Restaurant

1190 Nagoya Way, San Pedro, CA 90731

Even after the Ports O’Call Village is remade into a Fisherman’s Wharf-like destination with fake vintage warehouses and new retailers, the San Pedro Fish Market will still be kickin’ selling trays full of fish cooked to order, however you’d like it.

It’s the more affordable, no-frills alternative to a fancy, waterfront seafood restaurant. Here, guests eat their ridiculously hearty portions while seated on picnic tables overlooking the port, then wash it all down with a (plastic) pitcher of beer.

If you’re thirsty but not into Bud Light, there’s a craft brewery about a mile away—not a bad walk on a cloudy day. And after all that seafood, a brisk walk might do some good.

1190 Nagoya Way
San Pedro, CA 90731

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