The 15 All-Time Greatest Things to Do in LA
It might not be a winter wonderland, but there are still so many fun things to do in Los Angeles this fall and winter, from football games to taco crawls, shopping, events, and more.
“The leaves don’t even change here,” people like to complain. “I never get to wear my winter coat,” they say. “The fireplaces are cozier, the pumpkin spice is purer, the grass is greener back home,” they shout into their airpods as they walk along the beach in shorts while sipping a cold brew in November. LA may not live up to the winter wonderland that most transplants left behind—though it did snow last winter, and it looks like we may get more this year—but the colder months are still some of the very best in LA.
Fall is prime brewery season, a great time to visit a weird museum or drink in the crisp air on the tennis courts, cool enough to curl up with a creative coffee drink but still warm enough to spend a day at the nude beach. In short, there’s enough to do in LA in the fall and winter that it more than makes up for the lack of easy leaf peeping. For the most timely events, check out our weekend guide, and for activities to keep you going all season, here are the best things to do in LA this winter.
Things to Do in LA in Fall and Winter
The California Double
The slopes and the beach
If you’re missing the feeling of fresh powder underfoot or under ski, you have plenty of great options to play in the snow or hit the slopes with an easy drive out of LA. Mt. High, Big Bear, and Mt. Baldy are all close by, and that also gives you the opportunity to complete the famous California Double—snowboarding and surfing in the same day. And don’t forget to send a picture from one of our killer year-round beaches to your East Coast friends who are stuck inside under depressing gray skies for months on end.
College or Pro Football Game
Inglewood, Pasadena, Exposition Park
LA isn’t famous for football culture, but somehow we ended up with three of the very best venues to see a football game. If you like history, you can’t beat the Rose Bowl or the Coliseum, two spectacular stadiums that are each 100 years old. Tailgate in the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains for a UCLA game or sign up to tailgate on campus downtown before a USC game for a perfect Saturday of football action. Or if you prefer your stadium modern and your athletes fairly compensated, head over to Inglewood to watch the Rams or Chargers on a Sunday. SoFi Stadium is big and beautiful, with all the bells and whistles, and worth a visit even if one team is “remodeling” and the other is cursed.
Most cemeteries aren’t high on the list of tourist attractions, but Hollywood Forever isn’t like most cemeteries. The full-service funeral home and cemetery is the final resting place for hundreds of movie stars and industry titans, and it’s also a beloved event space. In the summer months and through Halloween they host movie screenings in partnership with Cinespia, and their Dia De Los Muertos celebration is legendary. But perhaps the most exciting thing to do at Hollywood Forever is to see a performance at the attached Masonic Lodge. The 96-year-old venue hosts concerts, readings, screenings, and other cultural events, and it’s a stunning, intimate place to see some fantastic musical acts. This fall they’ve got James Blake, The Breeders, Courtney Barnett, and more.
Where to Eat and Drink in LA
Tacos in Boyle Heights
You can zip all over LA and get a full education in regional Mexican cuisine, but if you want a blast of taco knowledge like Keanu learning Kung Fu there’s no better spot than the dense stretch of Olympic affectionately known as taco row. Start at Pepe’s Red Tacos just East of Soto for rich beef birria, then cruise southeast on Olympic for Zacatecano burritos at Burritos La Palma, tacos de canasta from El Abuelo, more birria from La Unica, the most famous shrimp tacos and tostadas in town at Mariscos Jalisco, carnitas from Los Dos Chingones, smoky Tijuana-style carne asada at A Cabron, and anywhere else that looks good until you hit legendary Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla.
Dumplings in the San Gabriel Valley
Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel
The San Gabriel Valley is a mecca for Asian cuisine, thanks to a large Asian immigrant and Asian-American community. So the next time that dumpling craving strikes, head east and take your pick from options like Cantonese hargow, shengjianbao hailing from Shanghai, and silky Sichuan chaoshou, that you’ll find steamed, boiled, fried, or a combination of all three. Try Mama Lu’s guotie, with pan-fried bottoms that add a pleasant crunch to softly steamed dumplings. Or put in an order at You Kitchen for soup dumplings that burst with broth. Whatever kind of dumpling you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in the SGV.
106 Seafood Underground
LA’s brick-and-mortar restaurant scene is fantastic, but the unofficial restaurant scene may be even better. There are thrilling pop-ups, street stands, night markets, trucks, and carts, but the most fun food experience of all is the hidden backyard restaurant, and Chef Sergio Peñuelas’ Inglewood mariscos spot 106 Seafood Underground may be the best of a greatbunch. Peñuelas is most famous for his pescado zarandeado, a legendary dish in LA restaurant history that prompted none other than Jonathan Gold to tail the chef around town like a private eye. It is here in all its glory, but make sure to explore the rest of the menu too—ceviches are a marvel, as are the cooked shrimp dishes and the crunchy, cheesy smoked marlin tacos.
Things to Do Outdoors in LA
If you were concocting a stereotypical LA morning, it would probably involve putting on your finest athleisure and taking an easy hike up to a location made famous in a ton of movies. That is to say, your stereotypical LA morning would look a lot like a casual hike in Griffith Park. You can start at either Fern Dell or the Greek Theater and hike a mostly sunny, mostly uphill mile and change to reach the famed Griffith Observatory, where you can lounge on the grass, take in fantastic views of the city, and explore the wonders of the cosmos through the observatory’s many exhibits. Just watch out for that chubby rain.
The Huntington Gardens are the most famous LA-area garden, but don’t overlook the laid-back, wilder option at the top of the 2 freeway. Where the Huntington is manicured and perfect, Descanso Gardens are rustic and low key, full of hidden paths and secret benches. There’s a rose garden, of course, and a couple of small art galleries, but the oak grove, California garden, and oak woodland are special places full of native plants, designed to evoke the Southern California landscape before the arrival of European colonists. Don’t worry, though, it’s not that rustic—there’s still great coffee from local roaster Jones and a lovely little cafe by the entrance.
You don’t have to get in the ocean to enjoy the beach. In fact, one of the best ways to renew your appreciation for our gorgeous coastline is a bike ride along the Strand, known officially as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail. It takes you some 20-plus miles from Torrance to the Palisades, a lovely and totally doable ride—especially if you choose to make some stops on the beach along the way, maybe for beer and pizza, or even a little aquatic education.
Where to Go Shopping in LA
The Last Bookstore
Physical media may not have the pride of place that it once did, but there is still nothing like a great bookstore. One of the greatest bookstores in LA, the prophetically named Last Bookstore, makes the experience about more than the shopping. There are rare books and first editions to browse in a special caged-off area, an upstairs labyrinth with wild sculptures made out of books, and several art galleries and shops. They have thousands of books in store, both new and used, and once you’re done exploring the labyrinth the staff give fantastic recommendations.
Thrift and Vintage Shopping
We all suffer for fashion in one way or another, and in LA there’s a preponderance of one type of suffering: financial. That is to say, there are a lot of people who spend a lot of money on clothes and then wear them once and give them away. Which encourages another kind of suffering for the rest of us: sorting through the racks at a thrift store. There are a ton of great flea markets and thrift stores around LA, and if you head to the fancier or more stylish neighborhoods in particular, you can find some great clothes at fair prices, as long as you don’t mind digging through a lot of haystacks to find your needles. It’s worth checking out the famous Melrose Trading Post, Trove, Jet Rag, or Crossroads. And for something a little more stereotypically LA, try It’s A Wrap for pieces left over from movie and TV wardrobe departments.
Skip shopping at the mundane corporate complex The Grove and head instead a few blocks northwest to Fairfax, where the hypebeasts roam. The scene has grown and changed since Tyler, the Creator and the Odd Future squad used to ride their bikes around wreaking havoc on these blocks, but it’s still a hell of a party. In fact, Tyler actually has his own storefront there now—a Golf Wang shop right in the heart of the action. Supreme has moved on to bigger digs in West Hollywood, but HUF, The Hundreds, Flight Club, and more still keep the street packed with stylish kids looking for limited release streetwear. And it doesn’t hurt that you can pop in to Canter’s or Cofax after you’re done shopping or people watching.
Arts and Culture Events in LA
Book events aren’t usually what one would call a raucous good time, but the engaging, fun, and lively conversations at Reparations Club flip the script. The gorgeous and radical concept bookstore is one of our favorites in town, and their events are a phenomenal extension of the creative space. They’re often centered around readings or talks with Black authors, but they’ve also included fun events like podcast tapings and themed game shows.
Black Market Flea
Flea markets are fun, but the team at Black Market Flea have taken the format to the next level, turning their regular events into a total party. They highlight Black-owned vendors and businesses of all kinds, from food to jewelry, flowers, clothing, art, and more, and their events always have outstanding DJs and live music, so it feels as much like a block party as a market.
It’s easy to make jokes at LA’s expense, about the people and the city itself, and maybe that’s part of the reason so many of the funniest people on earth call LA home. If you want to watch some of those very funny people do their thing, our local comedy clubs are overflowing with great comedians every night of the week. You can go for big names at legendary venues like The Comedy Store, high profile alt comedians at places like Dynasty Typewriter, or get up close and personal with great indie comedians at recurring shows in smaller venues like Hot Tub with Kurt and Kristen at Permanent Records Roadhouse, Better Half Comedy at Bar Bandini, or Microdose at the Fable.