Yeah, yeah, you’ll never get over being so far from the Smithsonian. But take it easy -- Los Angeles is a cultural mecca in its own right.
LA has a great theater and classical music scene. No, seriously -- and some of its top venues are in a one-block chunk of DTLA called The Music Center. When you miss the Kennedy Center, check out the Ahmanson Theatre for Broadway headliners; Disney Music Hall for ensembles, soloists and the LA Philharmonic; and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for opera. For the contemporary plays you’re used to at Arena Stage, hit up the Mark Taper Forum, or for a West Coast version of the intimate Studio Theater, head across town to Westwood’s two-stage Geffen Playhouse.
The Getty Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) combine elements of the National Gallery, the Phillips, the Sackler, and the Freer, and you’ll find a Renwick Gallery stand-in across the street from LACMA at the Craft & Folk Art Museum, as well as at UCLA’s Fowler Museum. If you’re a fan of the Hirshhorn and/or the National Gallery’s East Wing, get your modern art on at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), The Broad, and the Hammer Museum.
The Huntington in upper-crust San Marino offers a hybrid of the Library of Congress, the U.S. Arboretum, the U.S. Botanic Garden, and Hillwood Estate -- and you only have to park once.
Drive or take the Expo Line to Exposition Park for LA's Natural History Museum (where you can party after hours with bugs, dinosaurs, DJs, and booze the first Friday of each month). Also here is Air & Space Museum-ish California Science Center, home to the Space Shuttle Endeavour and a bunch of chicks. (They’re baby chickens, but still.)
When you start to feel nostalgic for the street art of Blind Whino, Union Market, Blagden Alley, and Adams Morgan, buck up and head to DTLA’s Arts District to feast your eyes on wall-bound works by artists like ROA, How and Nosm, and Tristan Eaton. Want to learn more about what you’re seeing? Let LA Art Tours show you around.
You might think you’re gonna die without Politics & Prose or author readings at Sixth & I, but you’re not -- because you have the liberal/literary haven of Los Feliz’ Skylight Books, as well as DTLA’s The Last Bookstore. The latter is one of the largest indie bookshops on Earth, decorated with sweeping art installations made of books, and offering stacks of old-school vinyl and studio space for local artists.