26 Experiences That Make Los Angeles the Most Electrifying City in the World

L.A. is more than a city, it's a vibe

Los Angeles is a city like no other in the world. The energy of this vibrant global metropolis pulses in every neighborhood - world-class performances, spectacular events and stunning natural landscapes are waiting for you day and night. From the Historic Core in Downtown L.A. to a legendary surf spot in Malibu, read on for Los Angeles experiences that you will never forget.

1. Watch the Street Performers at the Venice Boardwalk

King Solomon the Snake Charmer at Venice Beach
King Solomon the Snake Charmer at Venice Beach | Photo courtesy of Eric Lassiter, Flickr

The world famous Venice Ocean Front Walk (aka “the Boardwalk”) is one of the best places in L.A. for people watching, from colorful local characters to visitors from around the globe. There’s something for everyone on the concrete boardwalk - on one side there are specialty shops, restaurants and uniquely designed residences; and on the other a myriad of street performers, artists, fortune tellers and much more. For inside info on how to explore this feast for the senses, read our Local’s Guide to the Venice Ocean Front Walk

2. Enjoy the LA Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the LA Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall
Gustavo Dudamel conducts the LA Phil | Photo courtesy of Gustavo Dudamel, Facebook

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.

3. Step Into History at The Theatre at Ace Hotel

The Theatre at Ace Hotel
The Theatre at Ace Hotel | Photo courtesy of Ace Hotel

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.

4. Go Into Orbit With the Space Shuttle Endeavour

Space Shuttle Endeavour at California Science Center
Space Shuttle Endeavour | Photo by Leroy Hamilton, courtesy of 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.

5. Stay Late at the Natural History Museum

First Fridays at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
First Fridays | Photo courtesy of Natural History Museum, Facebook

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. 

6. Catch a Game at Dodger Stadium

Right Field Pavilion at Dodger Stadium
Right Field Pavilion au Dodger Stadium | Crédit photo de Los Angeles Dodgers

7. Take the Wheel at the LA AUTO SHOW (Dec. 1-10, 2017)

Located in Downtown L.A., the Los Angeles Convention Center attracts millions of visitors a year and is internationally acclaimed as a prime site for conventions, trade shows, and exhibitions like E3 (June 13-15) and the Anime Expo (July 1-4).

One of the highlights of the year is the annual Los Angeles Auto Show, taking place at LACC on Dec. 1-10, 2017. Founded in 1907, the LA Auto Show is world-renowned as the first major North American auto show of the season. Whether you're a lifelong car enthusiast or just looking for an event the entire family will enjoy, the LA Auto Show offers something for everyone: more than 1,000 cars on display; test drives of nearly 100 of the latest models; custom, tuner and aftermarket cars and trucks in The Garage; and GO, a showcase of cutting edge personal mobility, wearables, mobility apps and more.

8. Dine Around the World at Grand Central Market

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone at the Grand Central Market in "La La Land"
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone at the Grand Central Market in "La La Land" | Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

9. Taste Next Level Cuisine at 71 Above

Bar at 71Above in the U.S. Bank Tower
Photo courtesy of 71Above, Facebook

One of L.A.'s hottest new dining destinations, 71Above is the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi. Featuring elevated modern American cuisine by Chef Vartan Abgaryan, 71Above boasts spectacular ocean views from Malibu to Laguna Hills, along with the Los Angeles basin and the surrounding mountain ranges.

10. Check the HOLLYWOOD BOWL Off Your Bucket List

Hollywood Bowl fireworks
Photo courtesy of Hollywood Bowl, Facebook

11. Sing Your Heart Out at BREAK ROOM 86

Break Room 86
Photo by DYLAN + JENI, courtesy of 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. 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.

12. Dance the Night Away at Exchange LA

"The Vortex" at Exchange LA
Photo courtesy of Exchange LA, Facebook

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.

13. Watch Masked Wrestlers & Sexy Burlesque at Lucha VaVOOM

Founded in 2002, Lucha VaVOOM is a wild mashup of lucha libre (Mexican masked wrestling), burlesque and standup comedy. Taking place at the historic Mayan Theatre in Downtown L.A., Lucha VaVOOM hosts alternative holiday events on Valentine's Day, Cinco de Mayo and Halloween. The L.A.-based performance troupe has sold out venues across the country and around the world. Tickets are now on sale for the next Lucha VaVOOM in L.A., Cinco de Mayan on Thursday and Friday, May 4-5.

14. Discover New Artists at the Downtown L.A. Art Walk

Downtown L.A. Art Walk
Downtown L.A. Art Walk | Photo courtesy of R.E.~, Flickr

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.

15. Stand Up & Cheer for "Hamilton" at the Pantages

Located at the iconic intersection of Hollywood and Vine, the Pantages Theatre was designed by architect B. Marcus Priteca and was the last theatre built by vaudeville impresario Alexander Pantages. The landmark Art Deco venue opened on June 4, 1930, as part of the Pantages Theatre Circuit. Renowned as one of L.A.'s top homes of legitimate theatre, during its nearly 90-year history the Pantages has also been a movie house, concert venue, and hosted the Oscars from 1949 to 1959. Current and upcoming Broadway productions include An American In Paris (through April 9), The Bodyguard (May 2-21), The Book of Mormon (May 30 - July 9) and Hamilton (Aug. 11 - Dec. 30).

16. Pack a Picnic for Eat|See|Hear

Eat|See|Hear
Photo courtesy of Eat|See|Hear

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. Several screenings are taking place at the Autry Museum of the American West: Pulp Fiction (May 27), The Princess Bride 30th Anniversary (June 10), Top Gun (July 1), The Sandlot (July 15), Young Frankenstein (July 29), When Harry Met Sally (Aug. 12) and Goodfellas (Sept. 2). On August 25, Eat|See|Hear presents a worldwide exclusive screening of the Depeche Mode documentary, 101, at Rose Bowl Stadium, where the band performed the final show of the Music for the Masses tour.

17. Get in the Groove at Jazz at LACMA

Jazz at LACMA
Jazz at LACMA | Photo courtesy of LACMA, Facebook

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. For upcoming performances, visit the Jazz at LACMA page.

18. Explore the Legendary SUNSET STRIP

Whisky a Go Go
Whisky a Go Go | Photo courtesy of Nancy-D, Flickr

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.

19. Paddle Out to Surfrider Beach

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.

20. Listen to Music Under the Stars at TWILIGHT CONCERTS (July - September 2017)

Twilight Concerts at the Santa Monica Pier
Photo courtesy of the Santa Monica Pier, Facebook

Twilight Concerts is one of L.A.’s favorite summer traditions, taking place on the landmark Santa Monica Pier Thursday nights from 7-10 p.m. Every year from July to September, the popular free music series offers a wide-ranging lineup that showcases a different music genre every week, such as indie rock, '80s New Wave, reggae, Latin and disco. The 2017 lineup is TBA.

21. Drop Into L.A.'s Best Skateparks

Frontside Air at Venice Beach Skatepark
Frontside Air at Venice Beach Skatepark | Photo courtesy of Matt Devino, Flickr

22. Get Patriotic at CARS & STRIPES FOREVER (June 30, 2017)

Cars & Stripes Forever at Port of Los Angeles
Cars & Stripes Forever | Photo courtesy of Port of Los Angeles, Facebook

Now in its ninth year, Cars & Stripes Forever is taking place on Friday, June 30 from 5-10 p.m. at Harbor Boulevard and the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro. Featuring a spectacular fireworks show at 9:15 p.m., the family-friendly event also hosts more than 100 classic cars, live music on two stages, food trucks and a beer garden.

23. Drive Like a Pro at the 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.

24. Try Not to Scream at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six Flags Magic Mountain is a mecca for thrill seekers, home to a world record 19 roller coasters and more than 100 rides, games and attractions. The heart-stopping rides include X2, the trailblazing fifth dimension roller coaster; Tatsu, the world's tallest and fastest flying coaster; and Full Throttle, featuring a record breaking 160-foot loop and the world's first (and currently only) top-hat element on a loop.

25. Make a Splash at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

For thrills of the hydro-powered kind, head next door to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Highlights include the four record-setting slides of Black Snake Summit; the six-story Bonzai Pipelines; and Tornado, one of the most original water slide designs in the world. Opened in June 2016, the Python Plunge slide complex is the newest addition to Hurricane Harbor. The three slides are perfect for those seeking to get their feet wet and work their way up to the water park's more thrilling speed slides.

26. Place Your Bets at Santa Anita Park

Opening Day 2015 at Santa Anita Park
Opening Day at Santa Anita Park | Photo courtesy of Santa Anita Park, Facebook

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.

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