The foolproof LA guide to entertaining difficult visitors

Published On 07/25/2013 Published On 07/25/2013

Out-of-town friends and relatives coming in to visit is perhaps the second most terrifying thing you have to worry about, after sharknados (seriously, be prepared). But luckily, Thrillist has you covered with a bevy of sweet spots to take all those people who don't totally fit in your normal social hangin' wheelhouse

THE GUEST: YOUR SISTER AND HER THREE-YEAR-OLD KID Yeah, of course you love your niece/nephew, but the last time you hung out somewhere that allowed children in was... er... the last time you visited your sister's house in Pennsylvania, probably. Here's where you can take 'em in town that won't bore you to tears, too

El Capitan Theatre, 6838 Hollywood Blvd; Hollywood; 323.467.7674 This Disney-owned theater is a glitzy reproduction of an old-school movie house, with a super-state-of-the-art sound system and screen and a pre-show that includes an organist playing classic tunes from animated films -- plus often-included-with-your-ticket bonuses, like Pixar-themed carnival games and 4D shows.

Flickr user Sirsnapsalot

Santa Monica Ferris Wheel, 200 Santa Monica Pier; Santa Monica; 310.458.8901
They can hit the iconic ferris wheel. You can ride the rollercoaster and eat funnel cake. Everyone wins.

Travel Town, 5200 Zoo Dr; 323.662.5874
Admit it: you still like trains. So does this child-thing your sister has running around. Climb on old trains with him. Bond.

Descanso Gardens Facebook

Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Dr; La Cañada Flintridge; 818.949.4200
This 150-acre park/botanical garden's got kid-friendly running areas, plus the "enchanted railroad": a diesel-powered train one-eighth the size of a legit Amtrak.

Mother's Beach, 4101 Admirality Way; Marina Del Rey
The water at this sand-spot's super calm, so it's a great way to hit the shore -- which your sister will clearly want to do -- without her worrying about her kid being swept away into the sea, as that tends to ruin trips.

Just 'cause they're, like, old, doesn't mean they're, like, boring: hit 'em with some classic LA stops, and you'll jog their memories of Clark Gable/ Greta Garbo/ actually being able to drive at night.

Dan Tana's, 9071 Santa Monica Blvd; West Hollywood; 310.275.9444
An institution since the mid-'60s, this cozy, classic eatery may say "Italian Cuisine" over the door, but you're not here for the pasta. Let's be Frank: the pro tip is still to order the Steak Sinatra.

Hollywood Bowl's Facebook

Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N Highland; Hollywood; 323.850.2000
Sure, this one's a bit of a no-brainer, but 'cmon: few places scream "LA" like the Bowl, and even if you end up there for some sort of classical music bore-fest, their young conductor Gustavo Dudamel's a riot to watch on stage.

Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd; Mid-Wilshire; 323.930.2277
You may know it best as "that place that Biggie got shot outside of" (RIP), but the Petersen's got an ill collection of classic cars, as well as rotating exhibits focusing on everything from souped-up motorcycles to film props like the Batmobile.

Flickr user Fadedpictures

The Getty Museum, 1200 Getty Center Dr; West LA; 310.440.7300
Not only does this easy-to-navigate, wheelchair-friendly art-a-palooza have an underrated collection of paintings/ sculptures/ etc., it's also got beautiful gardens and one of the best views of the city.

Musso & Frank Grill, 6667 Hollywood Blvd; Hollywood; 323.467.5123
You'll get a perfect martini. Your grandparents will get to see the Walk of Fame and take a photo in booths where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio once sat. You'll get another perfect martini. You will all win.

For the friend who is taking a time-out from the sauce, here're five places where drinking is secondary (or doesn't even exist), but you can have fun anyways (seriously!).

The Echo/Echoplex, 1822 W Sunset; Echo Park; 213.413.8200
This duo of clubs is booked by Spaceland Productions, by far the most consistent live-music promoters in town, which means that you're guaranteed quality indie-rock or dance parties with out-there soul and mash-ups, often with no cover at all. And, since they're 18-plus, the impetus is on the party, not the booze.

Flickr user Groupon

iFly Hollywood, 1000 Universal City Plaza; Universal City; 818.985.4359
Citywalk's a tourist mecca for a few reasons: proximity to Universal Studios; an IMAX theater; Buca di Beppo. But you'll go for this skydiving simulator, an actual rush in the middle of a bunch of people just, uh, rushing.

Los Feliz 3-Par, 3207 Los Feliz Blvd; Los Feliz; 323.663.7758
LA's got a slew of affordable, friendly, generally-not-too-crowded public golf courses, but this one's actually playable even if you don't know the difference between a putt and a slice. (Those are both swing types, right?) Added bonus: nine holes doesn't eat up your entire day.

Bludso's Facebook

Bludso's, 811 S Long Beach Blvd; Compton; 310.637.1342
Yep, we're sending you to Compton: bragging rights will be his after you both eat the perfect ribs/ brisket/ pulled pork at this BBQ staple, whose newer location on La Brea's a bit more boozy, a bit more expensive, and a lot less gangsta.

Museum of Jurassic Technology, 9341 Venice Blvd; Culver City; 310.836.6131
Perhaps the oddest place in all of LA is this is-this-a-joke-or-not "museum", which has "exhibits" like a diorama-laden history of trailer parks and a display of magician/provocateur Ricky Jay's playing cards. Added bonus: a tea room upstairs. Which has live violin players. And looks like it's set in Russia, from a James Bond movie.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. El Capitan Theatre 6838 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

Part of the heart of Hollywood's performing arts world since 1926, this historic theater still hosts live performances and premieres.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Mother's Beach 4100 Via Marina, Marina del Rey, CA 90292 (Marina Del Rey)

The water at this sand-spot's super calm, so it's a great way to hit the shore without worrying about you or your bros getting swept away into the sea, as that tends to ruin trips.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Santa Monica Pier 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (Santa Monica)

An amusement park, aquarium, and food purveyor all in one, and it's always open.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Travel Town Museum 5200 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (Hollywood)

A must-visit for anyone who loves trains and the history of the railroad -- aka, any little boy or little-boy-at-heart.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Descanso Gardens 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

These beautiful and historic botanical gardens offer an "urban retreat" from the city.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Dan Tana's 9071 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (West Hollywood)

Dan Tana's has been around for 50 years and counting, largely due to its family-oriented, intimate environment -- and the fact that it offers up classic Italian dishes like chicken Parm and linguine with clams. It's also open until 1am Monday-Saturday, and until 12:30am on Sundays!

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. The Hollywood Bowl 2301 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068 (Hollywood)

An iconic amphitheater and music venue in the Hollywood Hills, the Hollywood Bowl hosts hundreds of nationally renowned musical acts every year, as well as annual fireworks extravaganzas. Unlike most theaters, the Bowl lets guests bring their own food and drink (including wine and beer), but it might be in your best interests to opt for one of the several on-site options since James Beard award winner Suzanne Goin and her business partner, Caroline Styne (of A.O.C. and the Larder) head up the catering services.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Petersen Automotive Museum 6060 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Mid Wilshire)

This automotive museum is a must-visit for any gear-head and car-lover.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. The Paul J. Getty Museum 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049 (West La)

This revered art museum features a wealth of art, beautiful gardens, and a breathtaking view of LA.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. Musso & Frank Grill 6667 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

This old-school steakhouse has been frequented by the who's-who of Hollywood for years. When a restaurant that doubles as a historical landmark employs bartenders who’ve worked there longer than you’ve been alive, this is a true Hollywood staple. The steakhouse, right in the heart of the most touristy section of arguably the most touristy city in the world, has been virtually unchanged since the days when the Rat Pack spent their off-time there, dining on prime rib and sipping martinis.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Echoplex 1822 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Echo Park)

This duplex of a venue features consistently good indie acts and fun dance parties.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
12. iFly Hollywood 1000 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91602 (Hollywood)

Come defy gravity at this indoor skydiving hub in Universal Studios CityWalk.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
13. Los Feliz Municipal Golf Course 3207 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039 (Los Feliz)

This pretty, tree-adorned nine-holer is friendly to all playing levels and won't take you a whole day to finish.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
14. Bludso's 811 S Long Beach Blvd, Compton, CA 90221

This BBQ mecca serves up incomparably juicy burgers, thickly shredded pulled pork, and melt-in-your mouth ribs. Opener Kevin Bludso moved to LA from TX, so he specializes in the thick, slow-cooked meat his state is famous for. Sides include baked beans, mac & cheese and potato salad, each perfect in its own right.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
15. Museum of Jurassic Technology 9341 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232 (Culver City)

This wacky "museum" features off-the-wall exhibits like a diorama of trailer parks. Pro Tip: Don't miss the tea room upstairs.