19 Reasons You Must Visit Los Angeles in 2019

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures | Rendering ©Renzo Piano Building Workshop / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Los Angeles is one of the world’s most dynamic cities. Even frequent visitors and longtime residents who are familiar with L.A. can always discover something new in this exciting metropolis. Read on to find out the latest attractions, greatest events and new hotel openings taking place in Los Angeles. How many of these must-sees will you scratch off your bucket list this year?

Where Dreams Are Made: A Journey Inside the Movies, concept illustration for “Imaginary World”
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Where Dreams Are Made: A Journey Inside the Movies, concept illustration for “Imaginary World” gallery. ©Academy Museum Foundation/Gallery Design, Rick Carter and Gallagher & Associates, Artist Illustration, Erik Tiemens

1. Visit the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

One of the most anticipated and important cultural events of 2019, the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures marks the debut of the first institution of its scope and scale devoted to the past, present, and future of cinema. Read on for a sneak peek of the museum's inaugural exhibitions, including the long-term exhibition Where Dreams Are Made: A Journey Inside the Movies and a retrospective of famed Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.

Sarah Cain, "Now I’m going to tell you everything," 2017
Sarah Cain, "Now I’m going to tell you everything," 2017. Installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2017 – 2018. Courtesy of the artist

2. Experience Frieze LA (Feb. 15-17, 2019)

In February, LA will host the first-ever Frieze Los Angeles, a one-of-a-kind immersive art experience featuring acclaimed artists and 70 forward-thinking galleries from LA and around the world. During its limited run, Frieze Los Angeles will take over the famed New York Street Backlot at Paramount Pictures Studios. Read on for highlights of this unprecedented exhibition.

Chuck D: Behind the Seen at Gallery 30 South
  Chuck D | Photo: Gallery 30 South

3. Be the First to See Art by Chuck D & Lee Quinones

A multi-platinum recording artist and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Chuck D needs no introduction. On view at Gallery 30 South from March 1-31, Chuck D: Behind the Seen is the first exhibition of fine art by the legendary frontman of Public Enemy and Prophets of Rage. Much of the work in this exhibition was completed while on tour, giving each piece an incomparable vitality.

Now on view at Charlie James Gallery in Chinatown, IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK is the first-ever solo gallery show by Lee Quiñones in Los Angeles. IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK features a series of framed “tablets” – writings on slabs of drywall and wood paneling that were once the walls of his studios, which were painstakingly removed in recent years.

Charles White, "Frederick Douglass Lives Again (The Ghost of Frederick Douglass II)"
Charles White, "Frederick Douglass Lives Again (The Ghost of Frederick Douglass II)" | Photo: Sharon Mollerus, Flickr

4. View Landmark African American Art Exhibits

Charles White: A Retrospective is the first major 21st-century museum retrospective on this famed mid-century artist. On view at LACMA from Feb. 17 to June 9, the exhibition traces White’s career and impact in the cities he called home: Chicago, his birthplace; New York, where he joined social causes and gained acclaim; and Los Angeles, where he developed his mature art and became a civil rights activist. The exhibition includes approximately 100 drawings and prints along with lesser-known oil paintings. A superb draftsman, White focused on images of both historical and contemporary African Americans, depicted in ideal portraits and everyday scenes. He extolled their dignity, humanity, and heroism in the face of the country’s long history of racial injustice and encouraged his viewers and fellow artists of color to project their own self-worth.

On view at The Broad from March 23 to Sept. 1, Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983 celebrates the work of Black artists made over two decades beginning in 1963, at the height of the civil rights movement. The exhibition devotes individual galleries either to groups of artists working in a particular city — with three galleries dedicated to artists living and working in Los Angeles – or to a different kind of art production. The exhibition showcases communities engaged in robust artistic dialogues, while also revealing disagreements about what it meant to be a Black artist at this time. Artworks in the exhibition are both figurative and abstract, and range from collage, assemblage and photography to painting, sculpture and performance.

Paul McCartney "Freshen Up" Tour at Dodger Stadium
Paul McCartney "Freshen Up" Tour at Dodger Stadium

5. Sing Along With Legends

The Rolling Stones “No Filter” Tour will touch down in Los Angeles and head to Rose Bowl Stadium on Saturday, May 11.

Paul McCartney brings his "Freshen Up" Tour to Dodger Stadium on Saturday, July 13. Fans will enjoy nearly three hours of the greatest moments from the last 50 years of McCartney's solo, Wings and of course Beatles music catalogs.

The Hollywood Bowl hosts The Who: MOVING ON! Tour on Friday and Sunday, October 11 and 13.

6. Life, Uh, Finds a Way at Universal Studios Hollywood

Jurassic Park: The Ride became extinct in September 2018. But "life, uh, finds a way" so prepare yourself for Jurassic World, coming to Universal Studios Hollywood™ in 2019. Journey to where living dinosaurs roam the earth in the part expedition, part heart-pounding water ride based on the blockbuster films.

Tighten your laces and stretch your hamstrings, the first-ever Running Universal kicks off on May 11 featuring the mischievous Minions! As your 5K adventure begins you'll rush through the Front Gate and Upper Lot of the theme park. Next, you'll find yourself at the Universal Backlot where you'll run past some of the most iconic film sets in Hollywood. Finally, race to a picture-perfect finish at the 5 Towers on Universal CityWalk™ which will host a spectacular party with live music, food, and post-race swag.

Starlight Booth at La Boucherie in the InterContinental DTLA
Starlight Booth | Photo: La Boucherie

7. Have the Best Date Night Ever at dineLA

Now in its 11th year, dineLA is a biannual citywide dining event that showcases hundreds of restaurants in one of the most exciting food cities in the world. Taking place July 12-26, the Summer Edition of dineLA features the high-end Exclusive Series. For an unforgettable date night, book a table at an Exclusive Series restaurant and experience tasting menus from some of LA's most acclaimed chefs.

Rendering of the DTLA Proper | Photo: Proper Hotels
Rendering of the DTLA Proper | Photo: Proper Hotels

8. Check Into LA's Newest Hotels

Proper Hotels is slated to debut its Downtown LA hotel at the site of the former Case Hotel in the summer of 2019. The 13-story property, which was built in 1924, will have 148 rooms, two presidential suites, two restaurants, as well as a rooftop that includes a restaurant, bar, and pool.

AccorHotels’ Fairmont badge will take over the landmark Century Plaza hotel in Century City when the property is redeveloped. Scheduled to open in September 2019, the Fairmont Century Plaza will have 394 rooms and 63 luxury residences, down from the hotel’s 726 rooms when it shuttered in 2016. The project will also have 290 luxury residences in the project’s two new 46-story towers.

The Manufactory at Row DTLA
The Manufactory at Row DTLA

9. Dine at the Manufactory

Spanning 40,000 square feet at Row DTLA, The Manufactory is a collaboration between a trio of James Beard Award-winning chefs: Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson of San Francisco’s famed Tartine Bakery, and Chris Bianco of Phoenix’s legendary Pizzeria Bianco. The Manufactory is scheduled to open in phases, beginning with an all-day cafe, Tartine Bianco in January. In the weeks that follow, openings include a Coffee & Ice Cream window, the dinner-only Alameda Supper Club, and the Market. And if all that isn't enough, three more standalone cafes are slated to open in L.A. in 2019.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper perform "Shallow" in "A Star Is Born"
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper perform "Shallow" in "A Star Is Born" | Photo: Warner Bros.

10. Step Into a Movie IRL

Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, and whether you're a first time visitor or a lifelong Angeleno, there's nothing like experiencing the magic of the movies IRL.

Nominated for five Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture - Drama, A Star Is Born stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, who also directed, co-wrote and co-produced the critically acclaimed film. Read on for a tour of A Star Is Born Los Angeles locations, including places where the film was actually shot and the local joints where you can create your own A Star Is Born experience.

One of the seminal movies in the modern superhero film genre, Batman is celebrating its 30th anniversary this fall. Directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, Batman was a cultural phenomenon that spawned three sequels and won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. Bat-fans can imagine themselves wearing the Dark Knight's cowl when they book the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood, which includes a visit to the "Batcave" and its collection of Batmobiles and other famous vehicles used in the film franchise.

One of the year's most anticipated films is Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which opens on July 26. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a struggling actor and Brad Pitt as his best friend and stunt double. The movie takes place in 1969 at the time of the infamous Charles Manson murders. Fans have been following the filming progress as locations across LA are transformed for the period. Explore LA's true crime locations, including the restaurant where Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie) ate her last meal and the ranch occupied by the Manson Family.

The Varnish by Thirsty in LA
The Varnish  |  Photo: Daniel Djang

11. Raise a Glass at LA's Best Bars

Hidden in the back of Cole's French Dip in Downtown L.A., The Varnish is a speakeasy-style bar with classic cocktails and live jazz. Opened in February 2009 and celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, The Varnish was named Best American Cocktail Bar at the 2012 Spirited Awards, aka the James Beard Awards of the bar industry. 

Housed within a former Red Line trolley car, the historic Formosa Café was originally opened as The Red Spot in 1925 by former prizefighter Jim Bernstein. Known as the place “where the stars dine,” hundreds of autographed photos of the Formosa's famous patrons once lined the restaurant's interior. A glass case above a booth displayed Elvis porcelain figurines that were given to former chef and owner, Lem Quon by Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker. Closed since December 2016, the Formosa Café is being restored to its former glory and will be managed by 1933 Group, which received widespread acclaim for its renovation of Highland Park Bowl. 

Originally opened on New Year's Eve 2006-07 in Manhattan's East Village, Death & Co was named Best American Cocktail Bar at the 2010 Spirited Awards and recently opened a location in Denver. Scheduled to open in the Arts District this year, Death & Co joins other New York-based hospitality brands that expanded to L.A. such as Employees Only and The NoMad.

Shaq's monster dunk after an alley-oop from Kobe Bryant
Shaq's monster dunk after an alley-oop from Kobe Bryant | Photo: Lakers Nation, Facebook

12. Relive 20 Years of Greatness at STAPLES Center

STAPLES Center is a world-class sports and entertainment venue, located at the spectacular L.A. LIVE complex in Downtown L.A. The arena opened on Oct. 17, 1999 with a concert by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. STAPLES Center is the home of four professional sports franchises: the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. Since its opening, STAPLES Center has been the site of Lakers and Sparks championships, the Kings Stanley Cup, and thousands of memorable concerts and special events. Read on for some of the greatest moments in STAPLES Center history.

The bar at Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood
The bar at Musso & Frank Grill  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

13. Celebrate Centennials: Musso & Frank + The Huntington Library

Hollywood's oldest restaurant, Musso & Frank Grill opened in 1919 and has welcomed generations of celebrities, from Golden Age Hollywood legends to modern stars. Served with a classic chilled sidecar, the Musso's Martini is as iconic as the Dodger Dog or the Original #19 at Langer's Deli. A star in its own right, the historic restaurant has appeared in everything from Mad Men to Quentin Tarantino's upcoming Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Sip a Martini and discover the legendary Musso & Frank Grill as it celebrates its 100th anniversary.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens is home to the largest private library to one of the world’s great independent research libraries, with more than 9 million items, spanning the 11th century to the present. The Huntington’s art collections focus on European art from the 15th to the early 20th century and American art from the late 17th to the late 20th century. Spanning 120 acres of the 207-acre grounds, the Huntington's botanical gardens contain more than a dozen principal garden areas, including the acclaimed Garden of Flowing Fragrance and the historic Japanese Garden.

The Huntington's Centennial year opens in September 2019 with "Nineteen Nineteen," a major exhibition that draws from the library, art, and botanical collections to examine that historic year across the globe and the founding of The Huntington in the context of international events. Throughout the celebration year, The Huntington will present special programs that look at the collections in new ways and explore their potential impact into the future. The "Huntington's Hundredth" rose will be available for sale at The Huntington beginning in January (as bare-root plants at the monthly Second Thursday Garden Talk and Sale on Jan. 10), and at the Spring Plant Sale from April 26 through 28.

"Frozen" at the Pantages Theatre
"Frozen" at the Pantages Theatre | Photo: Deen van Meer

14. Give a Standing Ovation to "Frozen"

Located at the iconic intersection of Hollywood and Vine, the stunning Hollywood Pantages Theatre opened in June 1930 and is renowned for presenting spectacular Broadway productions.

Arriving at the Pantages this fall, Frozen opened to critical acclaim this past March: The New Yorker calls it "thrilling" and "genuinely moving" and applauds its "inspired stagecraft;" Newsday writes, "the show has all the makings of a serious megahit" and The Telegraph declares, "Frozen will burn up Broadway for years to come!" People writes that the dozen new songs by Oscar®-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez "blend seamlessly with favorites like 'Love Is an Open Door' and 'For the First Time in Forever,'" from "Elsa's earth-shattering anthem 'Monster'" to "Anna's 11 o'clock heartbreaker 'True Love' that...will have you reaching for the tissues."

Dragons at the Golden Dragon Parade in Chinatown
Golden Dragon Parade | Photo courtesy of JerryDP, Flickr

15. Discover LA's Cultural Festivals

The Lunar New Year is the most celebrated holiday of the year for nearly 1.5 million persons of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese descent in Southern California. The highlight of Downtown L.A.’s Chinese New Year festivities is the 120th Annual Golden Dragon Parade, taking place in Chinatown on Saturday, Feb. 9. Each year, more than 110,000 spectators view the parade, which features dozens of floats, marching bands, entertainers, local business leaders, and cultural groups. The parade starts at Hill and Ord Streets and concludes at Broadway and Cesar Chavez. The 2019 Grand Marshal is TBA. Previous Grand Marshals include everyone from legendary martial arts master Bruce Lee to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

Dating back hundreds of years, Día de los Muertos ("Day of the Dead") is celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world. During the multi-day holiday, family and friends gather to honor and celebrate those who have passed away. One of L.A.'s quintessential Día de los Muertos festivals takes place at Hollywood Forever, featuring a traditional procession with Aztec blessings and regional musical-dance group dedications; music and theatrical performances; hundreds of Aztec ritual dancers; art exhibition in the Cathedral Mausoleum; children’s arts project area; arts and crafts; and food vendors.

Fireworks at Battleship IOWA during LA Fleet Week in San Pedro
Fireworks at Battleship IOWA | Photo: Los Angeles Fleet Week, Facebook

16. Sail to LA Fleet Week (Aug. 30 - Sept. 2, 2019)

LA Fleet Week® is a celebration of U.S. armed forces at the nation’s #1 port, the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. Taking place over Labor Day Weekend, the four-day festival will host active military ships along the LA Waterfront and feature public ship tours, military exhibits, aerial demos, live music and entertainment, food and fireworks, educational programs, and more.

LA Fleet Week will take place at various locations along the LA Waterfront, including the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal, Battleship IOWA, and Downtown Harbor. Hosted by the Port of Los Angeles, event partners include the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, U.S. Coast Guard, Bob Hope USO, and Battleship IOWA.

17. Pick a Winner at The Breeders' Cup (Nov. 1-2, 2019)

With the San Gabriel Mountains as the spectacular backdrop, it's no wonder that Santa Anita Park was once described by Sports Illustrated as "The Most Beautiful Racetrack in the World." One of thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious international events, The Breeders’ Cup will return to Santa Anita Park, the site of some of its most memorable moments, for a record-breaking 10th time on the weekend of November 1-2. The Breeders' Cup began as a one day, seven-race event and has grown into a two-day, $30 million extravaganza attracting the best horses, trainers, and owners from across the globe.

18. Get Behind the Wheel at the LA Auto Show (Nov. 22 - Dec. 1, 2019)

Founded in 1907, the Los Angeles Auto Show (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 something the entire family will enjoy, don't miss the Los Angeles Auto Show (LA Auto Show®), open to the public Nov. 22 - Dec. 1 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Each year, the LA Auto Show offers more than 1,000 cars on display including numerous North American and global unveilings; test drives of nearly 100 of the latest models; and the newest in customized, tuner and aftermarket cars and trucks in The Garage. Whether you’re in-market for a new vehicle or planning for the future, the LA Auto Show is your one-stop-shop for hassle-free, stress-free comparison shopping for cars, trucks, SUVs, electric vehicles and more.

19. Dare to Ride West Coast Racers at Six Flags Magic Mountain

With 19 roller coasters, Six Flags Magic Mountain holds the world record for the most roller coasters in an amusement park. The "Thrill Capital of the World" will add a record-breaking 20th coaster when it opens the world’s first racing launch coaster, West Coast Racers in 2019. The one-of-a-kind coaster will feature two side-by-side tracks with four individual high-speed launches. The race covers two complete laps, multiple airtime hills, extreme high-banked turns and exhilarating over/under near misses. A highlight of the ride is an immersive real time “pit stop” designed and produced by world-famous West Coast Customs that will provide riders with a racing experience unlike any other.