What to do in Los Angeles?

I’m going to be down in Los Angeles for the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference next week, but I hope to have a little sightseeing free time. What would you recommend seeing or doing in Los Angeles?

77 Responses to What to do in Los Angeles? (Leave a comment)

  1. Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles

  2. If you’re a science-geek like me (and you probably are), check out the museums, including the Natural History Museum as well as the La Brea Tar pits. Griffith Park has some good heights, and the Griffith Observatory is worth visiting.

  3. The Downtown Film Festival (http://www.dffla.com/) is that week, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into. I’d recommend the Wednesday night film at the Orpheum, if only for the theater experience.

  4. Check out the http://www.digibarn.com/ (digi barn in culver city!)

    Its pretty geeky but fun! Also, my yelp profile has some great reviews!

    ankur.yelp.com πŸ™‚

  5. Hey Matt!

    Check out the Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl if you get a chance. It really makes for a pleasant evening. Hope you have fun!

  6. .August is perfect weather month in LA. Why not just enjoy nature?

    Enjoy the warm beach and watch the beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

    We often forget how divine just doing nothing but relaxing with nature can be


  7. Well there are so many cool things to do in L.A. and others have made some great suggestions, so I’m going to recommend where to dine out. I live in San Diego, but when I go to L.A., especially to the theatre, my favorite place to eat is Patina.


    Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but oh so worth it. Great menu, amazing wine list, gracious and accommodating staff, and not in the least bit pretentious, which is not easy to find in a high-end L.A. restaurant.

    Have fun doing the town!

  8. I will be in LA for two days in October for 2 days, and this is what I plan to do:

    Though you can count me out from Shopping!

  9. Matt,
    Make sure you visit ZUMA Beach for your beach time (just up the coast from Malibu)… This is the perfect sandy beach. I also have to second Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, but hit the one in HOLLYWOOD if you can, it’s the most authentic (and best).

    Also, if you want to experience what life is like in a real Los Angeles backyard, complete with a 90degree rock lagoon pool and built-in BBQ, you and all your friends are invited over to my PAD. just shoot me a note so my wife and I can prep for it! It would be an awesome experience to host you and the crew in Woodland Hills. (18min north of Malibu)…

  10. I recommend you hike to the top of Griffith Park. From there, on a clear day (when the smog isn’t too dense) you can see almost all of LA from that vantage point. It should only take a half hour or so to get up there, as well.

    That, and if you have a full day, Joshua Tree park is beautiful. It isn’t in LA but east from there. Everyone should see it once.

    Whatever you end up doing, I hope you enjoy yourself.

  11. There’s an exceptional new art exhibit at LA Conemporary (2634 South La Cienega Boulevard) – an entirely new style of art called Transcendental Realism. The Artist is Adi Da Samraj, and the pieces are overscale constructions 20 feet tall or more – you really should catch it if you can.

    The pieces were just on display in Florence, Italy by invitation of the city officials, They were the first city-sponsored contemporary art shown there in centuries, since Florence is known for Rennaisance art.

  12. Kidpsace is a lot of fun, but you need to have a kid. Funny how people think being a parent makes it hard to do things. There are so many fun things that require a kid.

  13. Matt – I highly recommend “Body Worlds” the human body exhibition now thru Sep 7 at the California Science Center near downtown LA:

  14. hey Matt, I’d second the suggestion about the Griffith Observatory; one of the best views of L.A. … and here’s a few other ideas:

    1. The Farmer’s Market is ajacent to The Grove (a big shopping plaza designed by some of the same guys that designed Disney’s theme parks). The Farmer’s Market is a GREAT place to grab a quick lunch, it’s been around since 1934. http://www.farmersmarketla.com/

    2. Runyon Canyon is a terrific place to exercise, it’s a hike up a hill and back down. It’s a little strenuous but you can stop any time if it gets to be too much… the view at the top is absolutely worth the climb. Everyone brings their dogs and they get to run around and it’s just a nice way to spend an hour getting some fresh air. There’s also a lot of interesting history…. check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runyon_Canyon_Park and http://www.laparks.org/dos/parks/facility/runyonCanyonPk.htm

    3. If you want to see more local theater and shows, there’s half-price tickets on http://goldstar.com and LA Stage Tix, http://snurl.com/2secz

    4. For celeb spotting, forget Rodeo Drive– you’ll have a much better chance spotting a celeb in the wild among the boutiques on Robertson Blvd between Beverly and Burton. (Keep an eye out for the paparazzi, when you see them clustered in a pack with cameras, they’re usually either right in front of a store with a celeb or directly across the street.) Here’s a map: http://snurl.com/2sedv

    5. Warner Bros has a VIP studio tour; it’s a real studio tour, unlike Universal which is about 80% fake.

    6. Disneyland is a must-see if you have any kids under age 14. Even if you don’t have any kids, Disneyland is still pretty terrific πŸ™‚

    have a great time down here, and bring lots of shorts and t-shirts, it’s been *hot*!

  15. No question– Upland. Tropical Lei. πŸ™‚

  16. Alexander Shulgin

    LA …. mmmmmmmmm πŸ™‚

    Venice Beach

    ….. so much! But not SEO related! πŸ˜›

  17. …if your sessions run long – and since you’re likely staying downtown, a late night steak at the Pacific Dining Car. Or if you’d prefer, dinner at the firehouse. Let us know if you’re game. We owe you.

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

  18. The getty museum is always nice. It’s free (except for parking) and you get a real nice view of LA.

  19. Oooo Body Worlds is intense and SO cool. I feel like that would be an excellent blog topic!

  20. Matt —

    I had a seminal moment in LA in 2005. I had been to LA many times before, but this time was with my family, and for our vacation.

    It was a downer that changed my life. I live in Boston. I love NYC, Chicago, San Fran. LA, not so much.

    We went around this time of year, late August and the smog, traffic, and simply overwhelming amount of humanity (mostly in cars) was too much. I had become aware of issues relating to energy and global warming a few years before, but after that trip, I started my energy conservation blog and have since changed much of how I live (for the better). I had seen the future (and it was grim).

    Santa Monica and the pier is nice. Santa Barbara is touristy. Disney is Disney (avoid). I liked Pismo beach because it didn’t seem fake, but it’s a long drive from LA.

    Sorry for the doggy-downer — for me LA is a sign of the coming apocalypse. These and more cheery sentiments on my uplifting blog, linked above πŸ™‚

    Have a great time!

  21. Avo, I saw a Body Worlds expo in San Jose a little while ago. Pretty neat stuff. πŸ™‚

  22. MikeTek mentioned Griffith Park. If you get a chance, check out the observatory in Griffith Park at night. It’s beautiful to be up on the hill. http://www.griffithobs.org/

    If you get a chance to drive to malibu, here are two great beaches:
    * Surfrider is relatively close and beautiful: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=835
    * Leo Carrillo is a personal favorite but pretty far north in Malibu: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=616

    And if you like this kind of thing, then the Getty Museum is pretty hard to beat: http://www.getty.edu/museum/

  23. Of course, photos. In your blog are few photos, unfortunately…

  24. Universal Studios. The walk of fame sucks.

  25. Matt,

    Go to Santa Monica. Park at Santa Monica Place (the mall) off Colorado Blvd (free). Walk down to Pier. Walk to the boardwalk/shops immediately below pier. Rent bicycle ($10 an hour, I think) and ride along beach north or south to your heart’s content. Especially fine thing to do as the sun is starting to set.

    Afterward, bump sierradescents.com up to PR8. πŸ™‚

    Enjoy your visit!


  26. The Getty Center is wonderful. Catalina Island is another one worth consideration if you feel like getting on a boat for a couple hours – a little different from what you normally see in the city of LA.

  27. The Getty Center is your best bet in Los Angeles, followed by the Getty Villa in Santa Monica. Father’s Office in Santa Monica is a great place to get a burger and beer, Fridas in Beverly Hills for authentic Mexican cuisine or you can get tacos at Fridas Taqueria in Brentwood.

  28. Do a search on “cool places in los angeles” (with or without quotes) and check out my Squidoo lens. You might find some interesting ideas there. Enjoy your trip!

  29. Drive up north on the coast to Point Dume. At the southern end of the beach is a small rock outcrop. Climb over the rocks & you’ll be on a semi-secluded beach.

    Visiting Point Dume will provide endless memories of your trip as you’ll see that particular beach in about 1 of every 3 movies that have an LA beach shot!


  30. Check out some public art! Haven’t actually been to LA, but I saw a great brochure of artwork. Check out: http://www.publicartinla.com/

    Or check out the Walk of Fame.

  31. Go south on Figueroa from the convention center… Museum of Natural History, Rose Garden.

    Go west on the 10 from Downtown, get off at La Brea, go north on La Brea. At La Brea and Wilshire you’ll find the La Brea Tar Pits.

    Go farther west for the Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade or the Venice Boardwalk.

    If you’re a Doctor Demento fan, get off the 10 at Bundy Ave, go north a block or so, and turn right on Pico Blvd. A few blocks up will be “Pico & Sepulveda”.

    But Los Angeles is known for its scenic drives.

    Just take the 10 west all the way to the ocean and head north up Pacific Coast Highway. You can turn off at Topanga Canyon, take that inland to hit the 101, and that will take you all the way back downtown.

    Or turn around and come back along the coast, heading toward the 10, but turn off onto Sunset Boulevard and take it all the way into Hollywood. Amazing drive. Around Highland Ave, you can turn North and head up to Hollywood Boulevard. If you want to do the touristy thing, you can stop and do that. If not, Highland Ave. will take you to the 101 which will take you back downtown.

    If you can time it right, Highland Ave will also take you to the Hollywood Bowl. Their summer concerts are awesome.


    (Greg, born in L.A., lived there 31 years, now in Seattle)

  32. Nice to see someone recommending Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles. I’ve been there myself and the food was absolutely fabulous! Here’s another recommendation for Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles. πŸ™‚

    Hope you enjoy whatever you do either way!

  33. I would definitely go to the Toober.com store in Los Angeles. I think that’s where it is…or maybe its Miami. Either way, they give you free points to their web site just for going to their store! Have fun!!

  34. I’d definately check out the burgers at Father’s Office and visit the pier on Santa Monica

  35. For great music, great food and superb people watching go the the Original Farmers Market at 3rd St. & Fairfax Blvd. LA, CA 90036

    Rene, I have lived across the street from the Farmers Market for 13 years and have no intention to move away from such a great place.

  36. AUG in LA… not the best month to visit, IMO. Why don’t you do something really *manly* and do some sport fishing. I’m sure you can use Google Technology (maybe Google underwater maps) to spot the fish. πŸ˜‰

    If you need a fishing buddy I live within driving distance… just shoot me an email.


    other ideas:

    -Go see the Jimmy Kimbel Show
    -Go see the Tonight Show
    -Can you get on the price is right??? (not sure)
    -Go get an “Randy’s Donut”
    -Go see the Griffith Park Observatory
    -The Dodgers are in town all week

  37. Aaarrrgghh! Someone beat me to it! I second Father’s Office. The Office Burger will change your life.

  38. Greg Bulmash, great suggestions! I may blow off SIGGRAPH for a day or two and just wander around the city. πŸ™‚

  39. I would say get out of LA and go to Vegas, its way better and only a short drive away. If you must stay in LA then Venice beach is a great place to chill out and you can get a slice of pizza for $1, a bargain!

  40. I grew up in L.A.

    I agree to Observatory at night!

    Farmers Market to get the old feel of the city.

    Zuma also is a very authentic L.A. beach scene.

    Or do what I did, drive south till you get to San Diego, then stay there πŸ™‚

    If you feel brave, drives through South Central or East L.A. are also amazing cultural experiences and really allow one to fully understand the city, and have some way cool food, especially East L.A. for Carnitas Stands.

    Canters Deli, 24 hours, Jewish Deli, fun and bizarre.

    For a hardcore, super scorching, dusty, rattle snake infested, hike through the dry beauty of L.A.’s surrounding hills, while looking down on over a million people, follow the fire road up from here,

    This was right behind my house where I grew up, and formed me. πŸ™‚

    Beverly Hills is a good place to recover.

    Have way too much fun!


  41. If you are a movie buff, you must check out the Chinese Theater. It may not be the best quality in terms of display, but a building that can’t be missed. As a bonus its right on the walk of stars, so you can do the normal touristy stuff.

    But if you want to see a movie in one of the best theaters in the world, go to http://www.arclightcinemas.com/, an experience hard to beat.

  42. Try using Google Maps when you travel. I’ve heard it’s a great site πŸ˜‰

  43. If you want to see a movie, make sure you see whatever’s playing at the Cinerama Dome at the Arclight Theaters!!!!

  44. 1) Ditto the Getty recommendations (both, if you have the time), especially if the air is clear.

    2) Ditto Venice Beach (for people watching), but also walk along the canals further inland.

    3) Ditto Zuma Beach (for a real SoCal beach experience).

    4) The ORIGINAL Tommy’s (Beverly & Rampart) for a Tommy’s burger (go around 2:00 A.M. for the most interesting people).

    5) Universal Studios- definitely take the back lot tour there.

    6) If you’re going to the Beverly Hills area anyway, take a short stop and visit the La Brea Tar Pits.

  45. There is lots to do around downtown LA. Seeing the movie “Chinatown” before the conference would be good research. My recommendation would be lunch at the LA Police Academy Cafeteria (http://www.lapraac.com/contact.php). It is located in lovely Elysian Park and is one of the more unusual places I’ve dined…ever. You’ll vbe the envy fo all other attendees and I guarantee that you’ll not field one question on Google Search…search and seizure maybe, but not Web search.

  46. Pennant race! You don’t get that every year, most of the rest of that stuff will always be there. Catch the baseball while you can!


  47. Hi Matt,
    Not relted to the dubject:
    Has Google been hacked by the Russians?

  48. After you do your round, have some great and delicious Lebanese wine, Arak and Tabbouli.

    Have fun, we all need some visualisation time out at some point.

    Oh Yes, do not forget to buy Google a gift.

  49. Hang in Venice and perhaps you will see me on my mountain bike.

  50. Turn around and get out :o)

  51. Go check out blue heaven on earth, the Dodgers are on town this week.

  52. Wow, this thread is a great LA Travelogue.

    La Brea is fantastic.

    Touristy stuff in LA is .. literally made for TV. The contrast on Hollywood Blvd which is kind of dumpy and what you’ll see at Mann Theater during movie premiers is very intriguing to me:


  53. Hi Matt,

    Here is a good product that has a ton of things to do in LA:

    Hope this helps!

  54. Lots to see and do in LA. LA is really a collection of cities and neighborhoods, each with their own identity and culture.

    The number one thing to remember is that with traffic, timing is everything! That’s not to say that you can’t hit traffic any time of the day, but there are definitely times that traffic is better than others. For instance, after 7pm, you can make it from Santa Monica to Downtown in about 20 minutes. From about 3:30-6:30, you are looking at up to an hour! Try using the traffic time maps on google, I find them to be fairly accurate.

    Don’t miss the Getty as others have suggested. The main museum up above Sunset and the 405 is drop in, no reservation needed, just $5 for parking. The Villa in Malibu requires a reservation and is definitely worth it (the cafe is really good too). The Villa is free entry too.

    Culver City is a growing area to hang out in, with art galleries and a lot of good restaurants. It’s about half way between downtown and the beach.

    You will be close to Little Tokyo in downtown, there is also a great little Japanese area in West LA along Sawtelle Blvd. Great ramen, sushi, yakitori and Japanese shops. Also, visit Giant Robot.

    If you had more time, there are some great hiking trails in the Santa Monica mountains. Will Rogers park is good for picnics and hikes, plus they have polo on the weekends.

    If you do head over to the westside, stop into Bay Cities Deli. WARNING – the line here is INSANE. The only way to get a sandwich here is to order online so that the sandwich is ready when you get there. Otherwise you are looking at a 30-60 minute wait.

    Going the other direction, Pasadena is great to visit. Huntington Gardens are amazing, but will likely be pretty hot around that time and there isn’t much shade. You can also try the smaller Descanso Gardens.

    Finally, get some ice cream at Scoops.

    Ok, one more. Take the Redline Metro (subway) from Dowtown to Korea Town and have some Korean BBQ, then some Soju at Soju Town…

  55. Hi Matt,

    every time I go to Los Angeles I drive down Sunset until I reach the Pacific Coast Highway. There I join Sunset as there are nearly no people at the beach. This is where I do my “yearly reset” which is great! After that, some Dinner at Gladstones help you save money at the Vallet Parking at the beach.

    If you have a nice rental car or motor bike then join the streets around of Los Angeles. Passing Ghetty Center on the 5 after som emiles you can leave to Mullholland Drive. This is where you start your mountain valley street fun arriving somewhere in malibu beach. There are some nice places down at the sea for lunch time. Send me an E-Mail if you need more Infos. Or JΓΌrgen will give you a quite wild drivce throgh the Canyons with his sports car πŸ™‚

  56. Since you’re at the Convention Center one place I’d go is the Disney Concert Hall – spectacular architecture.

  57. My recommendation is to quickly leave Los Angeles and drive down to Sea World in San Diego.

  58. Speaking of Los Angeles, did you see this video having fun with your likeness?


  59. I am off to buy a couple of enigma machines on ebay


  60. If I win the bid I am sending the second enigma to the guy who sits next to me to me so we can have secure conversations πŸ™‚ I find all current encrytion flawed as there is a passkey also encryption should be algorythmic and random once encrypted the programmer should not be able to follow or backtrack the result.

    Anyway have fun in LA

  61. @WaveShoppe:

    That was the funniest thing I have seen in a long time. Matt you better join a health club, or I think you are gonna be the booty sweat poster boy for a long time. Yo yo booty sweat… ya heard?

  62. Hi Matt- You are the only person I know at Google. I went to look up a picture for the word Sweet in Italian (sfogliatelle) under images with moderate safe search on in Google … The first image that came up was not moderately safe in any way! shape of form! I teach children. I worry. So… how can I report it??
    Thanks for your help Matt- fondly, Suzanne PS Have fun in LA…

  63. PS whoops nope – I looked up dΓ©licieux in French… for a description of music!! seriously … it’s gross. Can I warn ppl that it isn’t moderately safe??

  64. 1) Visit USC Campus, take a photo in front of USC Trojan
    2) After visiting USC, leave USC and head into Exposition Blvd so you can see Exposition park for 30 mins, and you may check out California Science Center (free & kinda cool if you like physics)
    3) Go to downtown la, I enjoy taking photos on broadway st, it is quite Hispanic area.. I just love it, but you may not.
    4) spend an afternoon on Santa Monica Beach
    5) during evening go to Larry king square ( Cahuenga/Hollywood ), you can have a drink in the Beauty Bar ( cheapest drink for $15 πŸ™‚ )
    6) You can have drink on the rotating bar of Westin Bonaventure Hotel
    7) If you can drive after drinking, that 10 W and head to venice beach, it is quite relaxing during the night..You can walk from their to santa monica pier, boy, thats super awesome during late night..

    Hope that helps!

  65. Head up to Pebble Beach for the most gorgeous round of golf ever!!

  66. ok if you’re up for it…

    1 o’clcok: take a hike up to griffith park
    3 o’clock: go to The Standard hotel and hang out at the pool and people watch(the funniest thing in the world is all the euro trash running around in their speedos with all the wanna-be celebs)
    4 o’clock: have the greatest sangria in California @ Lala’s Argentine Grill on Melrose
    6 o’clcok: head over to Santa Monica and watch the sunset on the Ferris Wheel at the pier
    8 o’clock: use your google clout to get into mr. chows to eat sushi and party with the likes of Ben Stiller, David Blaine and the Owen Brothers on a good night

    Hope that helps!

  67. You have to go to In & Out burger. I was in San Diego a year ago and I guess they are not down that far cause I couldn’t find one. I hear about them all the time from people that go to LA.

  68. Matt,

    And now we need a new post:

    What would you recommend seeing or doing in NYC during winter? πŸ™‚

  69. Other than the fact that my Mom and Dad are still there, I feel a lot like Tom Harrison above does about LA…

    I grew up down there, and I just can’t go home without a trip to Pinks, which has made the most famous chili dogs in the world for 70 years.
    It’s on LaBrea near Melrose, perfect for hitting on the way to Hollywood / Griffith park spots.

    At SES Local last year I took a cab 20 minutes each way to eat three of ’em, and it was worth every mile πŸ˜‰

    Oh, and if you like pastrami, hit up DK’s recommendation of Canters. I went to high school right across the street, and it was our favorite hangout.

  70. So, how did it go at the conference in LA?

  71. I will re-emphasize some previous comments:

    GO to Tommy’s!!!!! Make sure you get their Chili Cheese Fries, and a Chili Burger….

    Go to Pink’s…. for an amazing hot-dog…

    and Go to Roscoe’s chicken and waffles….

    also, out on the Santa Monica Pier there is a great mexican restauraunt called Playa del sol (or something close to that)… just go to the end of the pier…

  72. Matt, check out The Roxy or The Whiskey, that is the place where bands like Guns and Roses and Van Halen once got started.

  73. Hi Matt,
    You could charter our big sailboat and go for a sailboat ride !

    That way i could ask you a very pressing question. I havent been able to find an email to write to you so am trying here.

    Just today i noticed some of our titles are displaying very strangely in Google results
    It happens when we write our title using hyphens but no spaces. google is dropping the hyphen and jamming all the words together into one big non sensical word. We have done titles this way since the dawn of time because – no space-hyphen-no space – between “thoughts” in a title takes up the least space.

    Oddly or not – we do not see this happening in all results so we are guessing this is something you all are testing on one or another datacenter ? Or, do we have a huge amount of work ahead of us fixing a problem that is becoming the norm ?

  74. Probably you’re already home now but I would have recommended getting some good but extremely cheap T-Shirts in Venice Beach. That’s where I bought mine 20+ this week and I’m also gladdened by a precious currency rate. Those would have cost factor 15 (!) here.

  75. Hi everyone!

    If you are a big soccer fan, then here is an event you won’t want to miss! The women’s professional soccer team of Los Angeles- The L.A. Sol- will be hosting the inaugural match of the season against the Washington Freedom. The game will begin at 3 pm at The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. Season tickets, family packs, and individual tickets are available online at http://www.losangelessol.com.

    I can’t wait until Sunday! Hope to see you there!