30 Actually Cool, Non-Touristy Things To Do In Los Angeles
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30 Actually Cool, Non-Touristy Things To Do In Los Angeles

"An ocean's garbled vomit on the shore: Los Angeles, I'm yours."

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30 Actually Cool, Non-Touristy Things To Do In Los Angeles
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Los Angeles, California. It would be a writer’s greatest accomplishment to complete an accurate depiction of the city in all its misty nature. Vast yet congested, misplaced yet completely found, infamous yet beloved—our city exists within a desert, living as one of the most culturally inventive and creatively impacting places in the world. In all its splendor, it is capable of offering so much more than what meets the tourist's eye. Here is a comprehensive list of 30 non-touristy, non-cliché things to do in Los Angeles.

1. Visit Barnsdall Art Park.

East Hollywood is home to this top-notch, world class art gallery. Barnsdall Art Park is a beautiful venture on a warm, sunny day, accessorized with plentiful views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign. Take a visit and sip on some culture.

2. Go on a Secret Stair Walk.

Lo and behold, Los Angeles is more than lots of traffic, Hollywood Boulevard and downtown. Pick up a copy of Charles Fleming's "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles" and witness one of L.A.'s hidden treasures. Explore a unique, quirky side of Los Angeles you've never seen before!

3. Pedal Boating at Echo Park Lake.

Echo Park Lake is a lovely place to go pedal boating and do other fun, water-related recreational activities. Echo Park by itself is also super cool, too.

4. Bar Hopping in Highland Park.

For those over 21, Highland Park is home to some of the swankiest, hippest bars in town. Cruise around York and Figueroa one night and see for yourself.

5. The Shortstop for Motown on Mondays.

The Shortstop in Echo Park and on Sunset Boulevard hosts Motown on Mondays. DJs come and play the coolest tracks from the Motown era. Come down and get your groove on.

6. Roller skating at Moonlight Rollerway

Venture out into Glendale to one of the hippest, funkiest spots in town. Moonlight Rollerway is the ultimate disco and roller skating experience. They have a David Bowie Tribute night coming up, so swing by and get your tickets before they sell out!

7. Explore Descanso Gardens.

In a town where the beautiful Huntington Library gets most of its tourism, Descanso Gardens is a more quiet, less touristy option. However, it is just as gorgeous. Located in La Cañada, this beautiful sight is filled with flowers and ponds and trees and all things wonderful. Definitely worth the drive over.

8. The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Nuart Theater.

It's astounding! Time is fleeting! The Nuart Theater in Santa Monica is home to a weekly, midnight showing of this classical, musical comedy. It's just wild. You have to do it once, and it happens every week! Come through and do the time warp, again!

9. Any hike that isn't to the Hollywood Sign.

Los Angeles is filled with an abundance of beautiful landscapes and hiking trails! Just do your research—Palos Verdes, the cliffs of Malibu, the Santa Monica Mountains, Eaton Canyon, Chantry Flats, the Angeles National Forest, Monrovia Canyon, Rubio Canyon, Santa Ynez Falls, Los Liones... the list goes on, and on, and on, and on and....

10. Watch a movie screening at the New Beverly Cinema.

This place has been around forever, tracing its roots back to Vaudeville Theater and hosts like Dean Martin. Its recent history, however, has been marked by the one and only Quentin Tarantino, who saved the property from redevelopment and bought the building that houses the cinema. The director often organizes the cinema's screenings himself—and the screenings are almost always in 35mm film—from his personal collection. And you never know, you might actually find yourself sitting next to him catching a movie one night!

11. Catch a movie at The Vista Theater in Los Feliz.

This movie theater is glorious in its wild architecture! It only screens one movie at a time. Located in the cool area of Los Feliz, you can grab a bite to eat and catch a newly released film right around the corner. Check their schedule to see which movie they're currently screening.

12. Experience Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

During the summer, Cinespia hosts magical outdoor movie screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Everyone brings food for a picnic and enjoys watching the sun dip into the night while watching a carefully chosen movie. Experience Cinespia for yourself this summer!

13. Horse racing at Santa Anita Race Track.

Take the trek to Arcadia and bet on some horses. It seems a little out of place for Los Angeles, but this venue is unique and essential to the history of the San Gabriel Valley.

14. Eat too much food at the 626 Night Market.

The 626 Night Market is a wild food festival with the craziest combinations of food you can think of. This is every self-proclaimed foodie's dream. This is a seasonal thing, so make sure to catch the nearest one near you when they come through during the summer!

15. Explore the Fashion District, Arts District, and Flower District.

Los Angeles is home to these so-called "districts" that emulate a specific trade. The Fashion District is encompassed by whole-sale vendors from multiple different brands and designers (aka, less expensive). The Arts District is unique in that it is home to the up and coming innovative and creative minds that are present in Los Angeles. It is indefinitely prominent as it is highlighted with crazy murals and plenty of cool food and coffee places. And finally, the Flower District, in which a street is filled with vendors selling every flower possible, in all their beauty. Explore, explore, explore!

16. Visit Travel Town.

Los Angeles actually has a unique railroad history, and Travel Town is one of the few places that makes sure to capture it. Located near Griffith Park, this place is super fun for kids, especially if they like trains.

17. Leo Carrillo State Park.

Leo Carrillo is serene and quiet, filled with lots of tide pools and hidden coves. I invite you to take the trip to all the beautiful beaches southern California has to offer, though, as there are plenty of them!

18. Museums!

There's the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Getty, but make sure to visit all the other incredible museums Los Angeles has to offer. For example: the Broad (newly opened), the Museum of Death, Museum of Tolerance, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Getty Villa, California Science Center, the Norton Simon Museum, Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum, the Gamble House, the Autry... the list goes on. There's also plenty of cultural museums that highlight Japanese, Chinese, African-American and Latino art and history.

19. Food/coffee!

There is too much good food here, and we're pretty decent on the coffee train, too. Peruse your Yelp and make sure the bookmark all the best places to visit!

20. Check out the L.A. Zoo Lights.

The L.A. Zoo hosts this annual event during the winter time. Buy tickets to spend an evening seeing some really gorgeous lighting attractions at the zoo.

21. Go shopping at the Urban Outfitters surplus store in Sherman Oaks.

Take the drive to Sherman Oaks to go shopping at the Urban Outfitters surplus store. Everything is marked down and you can find a good amount of stuff for good prices.

22. Explore Little Tokyo.

Take the trip to grab some of the best sushi, ramen and boba L.A. has to offer!

23. Attend FYF Fest.

What used to be a smaller, punk rock festival has grown into some type of crazy-large, urban musical festival with a variety of musical genres. The music festival has featured artists such as: Toro Y Moi, MGMT, Flume, Julian Casablancas, Kanye West, Chet Faker, Flying Lotus, Morrisey, D'Angelo & The Vanguard, Belle and Sebastian, Mac Demarco, Tobias Jesso Jr., Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Grimes, Little Dragon, Blood Orange, Kindness, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Devendra Banhart, Solange and Washed Out. It has been held at the L.A. Sports Arena and Exposition Park for the last two years during late August, so make sure to buy your tickets and catch all of the amazing artists FYF Fest will feature this summer!

24. Visit the Bradbury Building.

Witness one of Los Angeles' proudest examples of the beautiful architecture that exists in our city.

25. Enjoy the L.A. Arboretum.

Explore the beautiful botanical gardens that this sight in Arcadia has to offer.

26. Grand Central Market.

Food, glorious food!

27. The Rosebowl Flea Market.


Every second Sunday of the month, Pasadena's Rosebowl hosts the wildest flea market ever. It starts in the early morning and is packed throughout the day, but it is absolutely worth the craziness. So many vendors sell beautiful, antique items—from jewelry, furniture, clothing and other fun, miscellaneous things.

28. Check out Amoeba Music.

This place is heaven for any person who holds music so dear to their hearts. You walk into Amoeba and you want to buy every record you see. Located on Sunset Boulevard, Amoeba also hosts small, free concerts and record signings by artists releasing new work.

29. Attend Harmontown.

Come through to Meltdown Comics on Sunset Boulevard to watch writer and producer, Dan Harmon, and other fun friends perform their weekly podcast, "Harmontown." The creator of "Community" and "Rick & Morty" sits down with his pal, Jeff B. Davis ("Whose Line Is It Anyway?") and often his wife, Erin McGathy, while the audience watches them hilariously talk about miscellaneous topics and performances. Check Meltdown's schedule to catch the weekly performance.

30. See the Chandelier Tree in Silverlake.

To end the list, I invite you to visit one of the most elusive and enchanting sights of Los Angeles. The Chandelier Tree in Silverlake is something so beautifully unique, creative and innovative to Los Angeles, and what is more remarkable is the communal involvement that is poured into the appreciation and love for the sight.

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