01 of 06
Los Angeles at Night
You'll find comedy clubs, bars, and nightclubs galore in Los Angeles, but that's not what this guide is about.
Instead, it's for the rest of us who aren't ready to go to bed after dinner and are looking for something fun, unique and exciting to do after the sun goes down. We've got some lively places to hang out, spots with great city lights views, fun night activities, movie palaces that are worth seeing, and some places to get a meal after you're done with all that.
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02 of 06
Places That Are Lively at Night
Los Angeles might not be quite like that "city that never sleeps" on the other coast, but compared to the rest of California it has a lot of areas that are still lively and fun after dark. These are just a few:
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- The Grove: The charming Los Angeles Farmers Market next door is mostly closed by 8 or 9 p.m., but the newer shopping area next door stays lively much later. The dancing fountains in the center are especially fun to watch at night.
- Universal CityWalk: It's next door to Universal Studios Hollywood and full of eateries and late night spots. There's a movie theatre, and much of the year there's outdoor entertainment on weekends.
- Hollywood Boulevard and Hollywood at Highland: I love the boulevard at night when all the neon lights are on and reflecting off the Walk of Fame.
- Abbot Kinney Blvd: Named after the city's founder, this Venice Beach street is only a few blocks long, but always packed in the evening, with lots of folks out for dinner or a stroll.
- Santa Monica... Pier: The seaside amusement park on the pier is fun, and in the summer, concerts are held on the sand next to it.
- Sunset Strip: It's mostly nightclubs on Sunset Boulevard between Doheny Drive and N. Crescent Heights Blvd.
03 of 06
Pretty at Night
If you're looking for a spot to get a good night view, try these:
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- Griffith Observatory: The view from their parking lot is panoramic. The road going in closes at 10:00 p.m.
- Hollywood Bowl Overlook on Mulholland Drive: Its official name is the Jerome C. Daniel Overlook. The view isn't quite as spectacular as the one from the observatory, but it's very easy to get to. Just be sure you get there before it closes at sunset. The address is 7036 Mulholland Drive.
- Dodger Stadium: You can't get in unless there's a night game, but it's almost worth it just to take in the 360-degree views.
- Oue Skyspace: It's at the top of the US Band Towe, nearly 1,000 feet above downtown LA with 360-degree views day and night. To see the city in light and dark, you can get a combination ticket that allows two visits in 24 hours.
04 of 06
Fun Night Activities
This is a somewhat miscellaneous list, which should have something on it for almost everyone.
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- Public Star Parties in Griffith Park: Once a month, local amateur astronomers set up their telescopes on the front lawn at Griffith Observatory.
- Night Hikes in Griffith Park: The Sierra Club leads frequent night hikes through the city's biggest park.
- Queen Mary at Night, Long Beach: The Queen Mary offers several night tours, including some that focus on its haunted history.
- Be in a Studio Audience: Fewer sitcoms use live audiences these days, but you'll still find some chances to watch a television program being filmed and it's often done in the evening.
- Neon Cruise, Downtown: Sponsored by the Museum of Neon Art, it's a ramble through LA in an open-topped bus.
- G-G-G Ghost Walking Tour: Our favorite Hollywood tour company does a walking tour in early evening where they say you'll see the "last breath" locales of Hollywood's famous & infamous.
- Magic Castle,... Hollywood: If you stay in their hotel or know a professional magician who can get you a pass, you can spend the evening in this exclusive magic club.
- Sporting Events: The LA area has two of almost every sport: LA Dodgers and Anaheim Angels baseball, LA Clippers and LA Lakers basketball, LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks hockey.
05 of 06
Go to the Movies
Before you jump to the conclusion that this is one seriously boring idea, take a look at the A-List of movie spots that you're not likely to find at home:
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- Cinerama Dome: It's part of Arclight Cinemas Hollywood, which is a fun place to see a movie with reserved seats, gourmet snacks, and a great gift shop. The dome screen is also a piece of film history, designed to present widescreen Cinerama films.
- Chinese Theatre: The best thing about this place is the swishy red velvet curtain that opens just before the show begins. The interior decor is Chinese inspired. It's one of several theatres in the same spot on Hollywood Boulevard, so be sure to ask whether your show will be in the big Chinese theatre. My favorite moment here: Watching the armored car scene in The Italian Job, which was filmed in the street in front of the theatre.
- Egyptian Theatre: Created by the same guy who built the Chinese Theatre, the Egyptian shows lots of retrospective film festivals. It's less well... preserved than the Chinese, but it's remaining details are gorgeous. It's on Hollywood Boulevard.
- Sundance Sunset: Located on Sunset Boulevard just past Sunset Strip, its "over 21" screenings offer a chance to enjoy an "adult" beverage while watching a film.
- Vista Theatre: Located in Los Feliz at Sunset and North Virgil Ave, this little one-screen movie house is a throwback, with Egyptian-style details and its own little handprint/footprints out front.
- New Beverly Cinema: It's owned by Quentin Tarantino, but that's not the best reason to go. When he bought the place, they took the digital projector out, and they show all their movies on real film.
06 of 06
Eat a Late Dinner
One of the things I love most about Los Angeles is that the restaurants are open late. You can easily get dinner reservations at 10:00 or later at some of the city's top spots. A quick check on Open Table, Yelp or your favorite food-finding app will turn up plenty of ideas.
These are just a few personal favorites:
- Pizzeria Mozza: The food is crafted by renowned chefs Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. If you sit at the bar Monday through Thursday between 10 p.m. and midnight, you can score a pizza, glass of house wine and dessert for a scandalously low price. The location is near Hollywood.
- The Kettle: This spot just a couple of block from the pier in Manhattan Beach is a late night go-to for all kinds of local characters.
- Bob's Big Boy: This diner in Burbank is fun just for its original 1950s styling and the "big boy" standing out front. They're famous for their double-decker hamburger, but the menu include vegetarian items, and I hear they make some... great pancakes.
- Canter's Deli: I'm going to go out a limb and recommend it even if I haven't been there late at night. They're on Fairfax near Hollywood, and besides the food, they have some seriously splashy neon signage.
- Pink's Hot Dogs: This place is equal parts hot dog joint and iconic LA institution, with most of its "dogs" named for celebrities and a link that can be a block long. It's on La Brea near Hollywood.
- Fred 62: This retro-styled diner in Los Feliz village has "Always here for you, 24-7-365," since 1997. Their contemporary take on classic diner cuisine includes vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.
More Things You Can Do in Los Angeles
There's a lot more to do in Los Angeles than just these few things, even though they are the most popular. You may also want to take a look at some less well-known LA attractions that are really fun to visit.
Do you want your kids to have fun in Los Angeles? Here's where to take them.
To keep your spending in check, just use the Guide to Things to Do for Free in Los Angeles.
Things Not to Do in LA
There are some tourist traps you may want to avoid in LA, but you also don't want to get arrested, surf at the wrong beach, sound like a doofus or freak out over weird driving. You can learn how to avoid them all in this guide to What Not to Do in Los Angeles.