For the average local, a day off in Los Angeles can be rare and it can often come unexpectedly. Yet you want to make the most of it and have a day to remember. If you’re just visiting the city, it can also be tough to navigate all the options and recommendations available to you. You might just want to start with the basics or some things that you can enjoy no matter what day it is. There are special events, sure, but often the best things are those which you can enjoy at your own pace.
To that end, we think that just taking in the city and doing one of the many things that you always can is a great idea. Yet how should you do so in such a rich and large city? What are some of the ways to make the most of where you live?
Here are five ways you can spend your free day today in Los Angeles:
1) Go for a Walk
If the weather permits (it can get too hot at times for it to be safe and it does still rain occasionally), within and near Los Angeles are some of the best and most beautiful trails for hiking, biking, or walking in the country. And while “going for a walk” might seem like a somewhat boring thing in the abstract, these trails are anything but boring. Franklin Canyon Park and Griffith Park alone are sights to see, and they are merely examples if you were to look them up.
Some additional trails and options are just a bit outside of Los Angeles, but they are still a short ride away and worth it, and certainly add to the value of living in Los Angeles. Bringing a partner can also make for a romantic trip and some time away from the screens and hustle of normal life.
In addition to the trails, you can also just go for a walk in the heart of the city and see what you find. Some areas might be better than others and are more friendly to visitors, but what you can find is something new that isn’t necessarily talked about. Maybe there’s a poorly advertised event that you just happen to run into. The streets of some parts of Los Angeles are attractions in and of themselves. The stories you stumble on are often better than the ones you plan, and you might find a place that will become a new favorite or hideaway for you.
2) Go See a Movie at a Famous or Interesting Theater
Being the undisputed film capital of the world, there is no shortage of theatres in Los Angeles, many with their own unique charms and flairs to them. And going to see a movie (or three) can be a great way to spend the day in Los Angeles. Even the overpriced popcorn and drinks are part of the experience, though some might say a dime a sip isn’t worth the refreshment.
Since Los Angeles is leading the theatre technology, you can perhaps go see an IMAX showing in one of the larger theatres in the city or you can experience a film you already love with some of the best sounds in the industry. You might think you won’t notice the difference, but believe us when we say you will.
And if you aren’t interested in the many films produced each year that feel like they have no substance to them, many of which have more explosions than dialogue, you can likely find a classic showing or an independent film showing in a cozier theatre. For smaller films, you might even get to meet the director and some of the cast, especially if it’s a premiere night. While things slowed down a bit due to the pandemic, the industry is opening up again over time, and more of these events will become commonplace, especially if you look for them or ask around.
3) Go to the Hollywood Bowl
You might have heard about the Hollywood Bowl before in passing either as an event space or something else, but have never gone yourself. You can take today to change that. Opening in 1922 and only improving since then, the Holly Bowl has been host to many different live performances, some of them iconic. The acoustics are wonderful, and many say it’s one of the best outdoor venues in the country.
Exactly what is going on there today may vary based on the day (there are often concerts and performances in the Spring and Winter), but either you may get the chance to go see a great show or you can enjoy some nice time out in what is a public park. There’s no downside no matter what is going on, and there is even a self-guided tour you can take.
It’s one of our favorite places in the city, and if you want to know more about it, you can visit their webpage here or search them on social media for some inevitable photos from both events and normal days. We do recommend you do check them out beforehand, as there still might be some pandemic restrictions in effect depending on when you’re reading this.
4) Go to One of Many Museums
While not every museum is open every day, there is certain to be at least one to interest you open unless it’s a major holiday. And the excitement and curiosity of going into a museum without much fore planning or much scheduled for the rest of the day cannot be matched. You will have all the time to take in the atmosphere and let your curiosity take you away.
You may want to just go to the nearest one and give it a try, but we would be remiss to not give you at least a few recommendations:
The GRAMMY Museum – One of the largest collections of activations, red-carpet memorabilia (old and most current) of music favorites and icons. Get inspired at the 4-floor venue, tickets just $15 for adults, in the heart of LA LIVE.
The Getty Villa (a.k.a. The Getty Center) – A beautiful Roman-style villa that is home to wonderful sights and artifacts.
Natural History Museum – The Natural History Museum in Los Angeles is home to skeletons of dinosaurs and mammals alike, large exhibitions about the natural history of the region, and more.
LACMA – With several locations, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art is sure to have some installations and pieces that will positively blow your mind.
Griffith Observatory – While the view around the Observatory is beautiful in itself, there are also several exhibits inside, and two telescopes that can provide an amazing view of the stars at the right time.
And going to see one of these places (or another) is one of those things that you can do with or without friends and family and have a great time. You can either take in the sights and exhibits at exactly your own pace, lingering as you’d like, or you can share the experience with others and have quite a bit to talk about.
There are plenty of others as well for all ages and over a range of interests, so don’t be afraid to do further research to see if there’s one for something closer to your interest. And if money is a concern, many libraries and other programs have passes available that you can use to gain admission, so see if such an offer is available to you. Some museums also have periods where admission is free or free for residents.
5) Go Shopping
After a while, you might just be used to grocery shopping and shopping for necessities, either online or limited in person. Yet when was the last time you went shopping with no particular goal in mind? Making a day of it can be a fun time, especially with friends who might have a few things they’re looking for but have plenty of time to look for them. As given that it’s Los Angeles, there is no shortage of stores and there is practically always someplace that is open.
If you aren’t sure where to take your shopping trip, consider one of the following:
Check out the Designer Outlets – Do note, however, that such a trip might not be for the faint of wallet, as designer clothes and the newest trends cost a lot. A single splurge or two, though, if you can afford it, can make a wardrobe and a day. Even window shopping where welcome, however, is bound to be a nice distraction from your day-to-day life.
Go Thrifting – Los Angeles is home to some of the nicest thrift and consignment stores in the country, as well as some of the largest. Do you want some designer goods where the cost is a bit more affordable? There are stores for that. Do you want a place where clothes literally cost a dollar? There are thrift stores for that. And there are options for everywhere in between, with some having definitive themes and specializations.
Buy Arts and Decorations – Los Angeles is bursting with creativity, and there are tons of artists who would love to sell prints of their art or perhaps even the originals, whatever the medium. On the higher end, there are likely galleries with beautiful works of art for sale. Check out stores in your area that specialize in such things or simply look around and see what you can find as you look around. If it looks great, speaks to you, and is affordable, treat yourself!
Explore a Mall or Shopping Center – Whether outdoors or indoors, there are several shopping centers to explore in Los Angeles. You can try out The Grove, Hollywood and Highland, The Americana, Santa Monica Place, and so many more. Each has its own aesthetic and charm, so you’ll be set whether you are looking for an over-the-shopping experience or something a little more subdued.
Try Some New Food – On top of all of the above, nothing ends a shopping trip like a good meal or a small but carefully selected bag of groceries. With so many cultures and populations making up Los Angeles, there are bound to be some groceries with goods you’ve never seen before and should give a try as opposed to your standard fare. Even using some less common ingredients in your cooking when you finally go home can add some spice to your day.
Los Angeles is such a big city with so much to do that it can be overwhelming. There is also so much to do that it is nearly impossible to go over everything. In fact, by the time anything was written going over all the options, a few new things would have popped up. But that is the nature of the city, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We hope that you found something above to help you and that you’ll be able to explore the city exactly the way you want to.