10 Actually Cool Things to Do With Out-Of-Towners Visiting L.A.

The Monty BarEXPAND
The Monty Bar
Levan TK

Your friends or relatives are heading to Los Angeles and have tasked you with showing them around town. What do you do? As a local, you're likely loath to spend a day pushing through the crowd at Hollywood & Highland, nor do you want to look for a parking spot at the Grove. And the last thing you want to do is get stuck taking touristy photos on Rodeo Drive.

The best thing you can do for your out-of-town guests is show them the Los Angeles you know and love. Stay away from the things they can do back home; they didn't travel across the country to go to a mall. Mix up the cultural institutions with outdoor adventures before delving into the L.A. nightlife and late-night food runs. Here are 10 suggestions to help make your guests' trip to Los Angeles a special one. 

Museum of Jurassic TechnologyEXPAND
Museum of Jurassic Technology
Liz Ohanesian

1. Visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology may leave you and your guests baffled. Even if you sit down to watch the explanatory video at the start of your self-guided tour, your group may still scratch your heads as you make your way through the labyrinthian collection of strange odds and ends. The path, at times, seems endless; you'll realize that you've missed corners of the gallery before you head back into the gift shop. The finds in here may spark your curiosity. If you're a dog lover, the museum's tribute to the Soviet Union's canine space travelers will have you fighting back tears. Make sure you head all the way up to the roof of the museum to relax on the serene patio. You also can check out films in the Borzoi Kabinet Theater.

A Dabs Myla mural in the Arts District
A Dabs Myla mural in the Arts District
Liz Ohanesian

2. Tour the Arts District murals.
You don't have to stick to the museums to give your traveling friends a taste of L.A. culture. The Arts District overflows with murals from noted artists such as Dabs Myla. 

If you're exploring on your own, leave no corner unturned. Look on the sidewalk and on the lamp posts — you'll probably find something. One of my favorite pieces, a group mural that recalls the work of fantasy artists like Frank Frazetta, is tucked inside a parking lot.

For those who want a little help navigating the neighborhood, L.A. Art Tours offers a 2½-hour trek through the neighborhood for $12.

While the art will bring you into the neighborhood, you should plan to stick around for a round of games at 82, beers at Angel City Brewery or grub at Umami Burger or Wurstküche. 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Hollywood ForeverEXPAND
The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Hollywood Forever
Star Foreman

3. Check out a Cinespia screening at Hollywood Forever.
Your friend has been moping about the house, complaining about the lack of celebrity spottings on this trip, and you've tired of trying to explain that most Angelenos aren't famous and you can't manifest interactions with movie stars at the local grocery store. Here's a solution: Go to a Cinespia movie screening at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Sure, the famous folks here are deceased, but it counts for something.

Superstar graves aside, a Cinespia screening will give you a chance to picnic, bond over an old favorite movie and maybe check out a local DJ before the show. If your guest is out here in the outdoor movie series' off-season, look for a show at the Masonic Lodge inside the cemetery. It's a beautiful, intimate venue that brings plenty of interesting, living artists to the stage. 

Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach
Michele McManmon

4. Visit the South Bay beaches.
For the obligatory L.A. beach day, you might be tempted to hit up Malibu, Santa Monica or Venice, but the coast of the South Bay can be less of a hassle and more fun. If biking is your thing, you can hop on the Marvin Braude Bike Trail at Dockweiler State Beach and head toward Torrance County Beach.

For those seeking  cultural outings, head to ESMOA, an "art laboratory" in El Segundo. For an outdoorsy experience that's away from the usual beach crowds, hike Abalone Cove Shoreline Park in Palos Verdes. Need more to do? Head into San Pedro and visit the Korean Friendship Bell before driving down to Ports O' Call. 

Grab a cocktail at the Purple Orchid.
Grab a cocktail at the Purple Orchid.
Liz Ohanesian

5. Drink at a tiki bar.
If you want to catch up with your pals over drinks and give them a taste of L.A.'s retro side, head to your nearest tiki bar. For those in the San Fernando Valley, flip through the fat "grog log" at Tonga Hut for a collection of flavorful — and stiff — cocktails. The North Hollywood bar, which has been around since 1958, also hosts live entertainment and other special events.

Tiki-Ti is a must-visit watering hole when you're near Silver Lake. When you're overwhelmed by the drink options, spin the Wheel of Tiki-Ti Drinks and let fate decide for you. Those who are closer to LAX should venture to the Purple Orchid in El Segundo, where you can check out the occasional music or comedy show while you slurp down your sweet drink. 

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >