The LA Bucket List: 34 Things to Do Before You Die

Published On 05/06/2015 Published On 05/06/2015

The one and only thing every single Angeleno needs on their LA bucket list? Reading this, uh, LA bucket list, which lays out all 34 things you need to do in Los Angeles before you're sent to the big traffic jam in the sky.

1. Check out the Doo Dah Parade

Yeah, you can go to the Rose Parade, but LA parade-pros know the Doo Dah Parade is the superior procession; it's basically an occasionally nude, stoner-parade fantasy, featuring over-the-top troupes like an array of people pushing shopping carts, hot ladies carrying a literal bed of roses, and dogs. Lots of dogs.

2. Visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a museum that's... not actually really a museum? Yeah. Exhibits include a diorama-laden ode to the history of the trailer park (don't ask) and the dice of legendary provocateur Ricky Jay (seriously, why'd you ask?). There's also an ultra-legit tea garden on the top floor. Seriously, this place is extraordinarily weird. And great.

Flickr/Hector Sanchez

3. Go to a free show at the Getty Center

Years ago, when they were building the monorail system that would eventually take people up to the Getty Center, locals would debate whether anyone would go through the effort to park, wait for one of those shuttles, and go up to what -- even then -- was clearly not going to be an "important" art museum. But the art's become secondary to the whole experience of it -- the garden is beautiful, the view extraordinary, and the ultimate way to experience it is during one of the free shows, which have included Fool's Gold and Mayer Hawthorne.

4. Star-spot in Runyon Canyon

And by "star," we mean "that guy from the one episode of Breaking Bad maybe."

5. Go to a Lakers playoff game

Bonus points if it's a Finals game.

Flickr/Alissa Walker

6. Eat unlimited Dodger Dogs at Dodger Stadium

Which is a thing you can do in right field, along with nachos, popcorn, and more through the 7th (which is when you're leaving, anyways). Pro-tip: get a bunch of extra peanut bags and throw 'em to your neighbors to make new friends.

7. Go to a secret restaurant

If you can get an invitation to the most secret restaurant in LA, even though it's a wallet-buster, you should go. And if not, you can always go to a secret supper club instead.

8. Go on an East LA taco crawl

Not sure where to go for LA's most legit tacos? Good thing we figured it out for you.

9. Wait in line for Daikokuya

Is it the best ramen in LA? That's subject to debate. But it's LA's most classic bowl, and something about putting your name on that yellow-paper list and waiting in line in Little Tokyo for an hour with a horde of Japanese teenagers makes it taste that much more legit.

Flickr/Kent Kanouse

10. Wait in line for Pink's

If only to see the epic wall of celebrities.

11. Visit the Magic Castle

Whether you score an invite from someone who's a member, or get in on the 30-day trial membership, this is one of LA's most iconic venues and home to the world's greatest magicians. Gotta do it.


12. Take a walk through LA's most beloved Japanese Garden

Traffic tripping you out? The Huntington Gardens near Pasadena are one of LA's most beloved serene spots to get away from the city while you're still technically in it -- it transports you to Japan via an imported-from-Kyoto teahouse, a banzai collection, and an awesome koi pond.

13. Watch a movie in one of LA's most classic movie palaces

Once upon a time, LA was known for its ornate, palatial movie theaters, almost none of which are actually used to show movies anymore... except for during the LA Conservancy's Last Remaining Seats series, which, in transport-through-time-without-a-DeLorean fashion, opens up long-defunct venues like the Los Angeles Theater and the Million Dollar Theater for screenings of classic movies for just a few nights during the year.

14. Visit the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

You already know about the annual outdoor movie screenings, but Hollywood Forever Cemetery also hosts concerts from bands like the Flaming Lips, plus the unusual grave sites make it an awesome place to visit, whether or not you're there for entertainment.


15. Take one of the world's best canyon drives

Yep, it's Mullholland, and it's even better if you find a place to park and overlook the city (or the Valley) and take it all in.

16. See a ton of bands for free on the Eastside

Every Monday, the best venues in Silver Lake/Echo Park are free -- and actually book great bands. Local Natives, Foster The People, Cold War Kids, Silversun Pickups... all of them played Monday residencies at the Echo, Satellite, Silverlake Lounge, or Bootleg before going on to international success.

17. Hit a world-renowned museum without paying

Toward the end of January every year, just about every museum in LA participates in a totally free day -- which means you can finally hit LACMA and MOCA without feeling like you may be sinking money into something you just don't... get.

18. Work out at Muscle Beach

It's only $10 for a day pass to this legendary right-on-the-sand buff-up factory, though the cost of years of therapy for feeling inadequate when you realize that you're lifting a fraction of what the guy to your left is doing is much, much more expensive.

Flickr/Spencer Tweedy

19. Be a contestant on The Price Is Right

There's no shortage of free TV show tapings in town, but none is as iconic as The Price Is Right -- plus you totally have the chance to win... a NEEEEEWWWW KARAAAOOKEE MACHINEEE!

20. Watch 4th of July fireworks from a rooftop

Because LA is laid out wide instead of tall, if you're on a rooftop on the 4th of July, you can see multiple fireworks displays all over the city. Our favorite spot? High at the Hotel Erwin in Venice, which gets all of the beachside displays (Marina Del Rey! Manhattan Beach! Malibu!!!) as well as everything from Culver City to Dodger Stadium.

21. Take a free tour of the Walt Disney Concert Hall

The Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown has become one of LA's most iconic buildings, thanks to its swooping, odd sides and unusual interior design; the whole thing is explained on daily guided tours through the building that'll give you a whole lot more adjectives to describe it than "odd" and "unusual."

22. Stay alive with Marty and Elayne

Remember that scene in Swingers where they go to that bar and see that old duo playing that cocktail-lounge version of "Stayin' Alive?" That duo is Marty and Elayne, and every Tuesday through Sunday they're still at the Dresden in Los Feliz, busting out the most excellent kitsch imaginable.

Flickr/Neerav Bhatt

23. Go shopping with, like, every chef ever

Ask just about any chef, anywhere, and they'll tell you the best farmers market in the US is on Wednesdays in Santa Monica, thanks to both a plethora of ultra-fresh purveyors and the early-on-a-weekday timing that make it a perfect combo. You could literally see Mario Batali battling it out with Michael Cimarusti for cilantro, and it wouldn't be that odd.

24. Go to the Griffith Observatory

Cross a ton of stuff off at the Griffith Observatory -- you've got a killer view of the Hollywood sign, photos at one of the most iconic movie locations of all time, and... tons and tons of science. Boom.

25. Go on a bar crawl Downtown

It's easy to bemoan LA as a city that's not walkable, and therefore not bar-crawlable, but Downtown's explosion in nightlife has made that an irrelevant argument once you get there -- 6th St alone has Las Perlas, Cole's, The Varnish, and the Association; a short walk (through some questionably quiet streets, for sure) gets you to the Ace's upstairs bar, the just opened Love Song, and many more. Added bonus: you can take the Metro there, and crawl along the way, too.

26. Take in a show at the Hollywood Bowl

Not only is it one of the most acclaimed venues in the world, but you can get tickets for some performances for literally $1 -- and those seats in the back are notoriously party-hearty.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

27. Tour LA's only legal distillery

Shocking, but true: Greenbar is LA's only legal distillery, it only opened in the last couple years, and it's managed to keep its weekly tours both under-the-radar and fun, with regular tastings of its crazy-good spirit lines available as well.

28. Take a drive on PCH to a killer seafood shack

You've gotta drive to Malibu -- it's just something you've gotta do -- and when you're there you've gotta go to Malibu Seafood, let the salt breeze hit you, and eat... whatever was caught today. And then, you've gotta go on a date hike right afterwards. Trust.

29. Get a "prescription" card from a "doctor"

If only to be like, "Wow. That was super-easy. Wow. It really was that easy???"

30. Go to Lucha VaVOOM

Seriously, Lucha VaVOOM -- the absurd, over-the-top Mexican-wrestling spectacle that drops in LA quarterly -- may be the best bang-for-your-buck entertainment in town. And if you don't believe me... just ask my 86-year old grandma.

Ray Kachatorian

31. Have dinner with Curtis Stone

Even if you can't convince him to hang out all night like we did, you can have dinner with one of the best (and let's be honest, most-handsomest) dudes who's ever cooked food. He's at his tiny Beverly Hills restaurant Maude, actually cooking, almost all the time -- and will happily pose for photos or sign menus, so long as he's not busy firing the next course.

32. Sit at the stage at Jumbo's Clown Room

The bar where Courtney Love once danced isn't a strip club, per-say -- there's no nudity at all -- nor is it really a burlesque show. It's more of a dive-bar-with-a-stage-where-women-who-may-or-may-not-be-conventionally-attractive-dance, and it's one of LA's best dive bars, and it's where lots of bad decisions are made, and it's where you should go once. At least. Probably more.

33. Go overnight to Catalina

It was once a playground for major movie stars, but now it's more of a sleepy seaside hamlet... with some seriously fun stuff to do, like zip-lining, and adventure boating, and bar-crawl stumbling, and fried food eating, and... well, just click the link above.

34. Take a trip down the LA River

Hopefully the drought doesn't shut this one down: people still don't believe it, but you can actually kayak down the LA River in the summer, where there's actual wildlife (!?!?!) and a crazy-different way of seeing the city. Plus, bragging rights!

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Jeff Miller was born and raised in LA and only hasn't done two of these. Guess which one at @ThrillistLA on Twitter or @JeffMillerLA on Instagram.



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