things to do in Los Angeles

Last updated: June 21, 2022

100+ Fun & Best Things to do in LA, California [Ultimate Los Angeles Bucket List]

The best things to do in LA! From the top attractions to favorite local experiences.

The aspect I love about Los Angeles is that there’s always something new to do each time I visit.

It’s a city to explore, not only for the famous sights but also for those quirky and unique places that exist all over the city.

I may not like the traffic sometimes, but it would be wrong to say that Los Angeles is overrated. The city is a sprawling metropolis that has a little something for everyone.

To get you brainstorming and excited for your next trip to Los Angeles, I put together a detailed LA guide with a list of 100+ things to do in the city. 

This Los Angeles bucket list is based on my numerous visits to the city over the past 20+ years. I lived in San Diego for five years and my sister lived in Los Angeles at the same time, so I would visit her A LOT. 

Without further ado, these are the very best things to do in Los Angeles, California. Enjoy your time in the City of Stars!

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips. 

things to do in downtown los angeles

Table of Contents

Universal Studios Hollywood

things to do at universal studios hollywood

One of the top things to experience in LA is Universal Studios Hollywood.

Universal Studios Hollywood not only offers up plenty of thrills for a fun family, solo, or couple’s day out, but it’s also very quintessential Los Angeles.

This is where you can see Hogwarts from Harry Potter come to life (and sip on butterbeer in Hogsmeade), take a tour of famous movie sets, and witness live-action over-the-top performances that will blow your mind.

A few of my favorite experiences at the park include WaterWorld, Hogsmeade at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the Revenge of the Mummy Ride. 

This is another touristy spot in Los Angeles, but I personally loved visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. There’s nothing that beats feeling like a kid again!

You can grab your admission ticket ahead of time here so you can bypass the line. 

Local tip: Download the Universal Studios App ahead of time for a full list of maps, wait times, and showtimes on your phone.


Grab your FREE LA Travel Planner! You’ll get instant access to printable checklists and my favorite Los Angeles travel itinerary – plus key local travel tips and restaurant recommendations.


Hollywood Walk of Fame

things to do in Hollywood, Los Angeles

One of the top things to do in California and a must-see place in Los Angeles–you really can’t get more LA than Hollywood! 

It’s boisterous and bustling and not for everyone, but it’s definitely something you should experience at least once.

It might be touristy but the Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of the more fun (and free) things to do in Hollywood.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of those spots to visit at least once in the city, even if it’s just for the photo ops.

It’s actually pretty fun to pose in the place where one of your favorite stars stood and was honored with a star ceremony. I posed with the stars of Tom Hanks and Ingrid Bergman the last time I was there.

There are now more than 2,700 terrazzo and brass stars that line the famous Hollywood Boulevard, taking up 15 blocks in total. That’s a whole lot of famous people.

Local tip: if you’re looking for a specific person’s star, you can use the Star Search on the official website for the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

TCL Chinese Theatre

While you’re hanging around the famous stars on Hollywood Boulevard, don’t forget to take a look at another popular sight on Hollywood Boulevard–the TCL Chinese Theatre (originally Grauman’s Chinese Theatre).

When the TCL Chinese Theatre opened in 1927, it was the most ornate and impressive theater in the world. 

You can still watch movies at the theater today (highly recommend this) and the interior is beautiful and historic. 

If you don’t have time for a movie, it’s still worthwhile to take a pic outside this well-known sight. 

Madame Tussauds Hollywood

Similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is one of the most popular Hollywood tourist attractions to experience.

The one in LA is actually the only Madame Tussauds I’ve been to and I’d say it’s worth a visit at least once if you haven’t been to a wax museum before. 

Although, to be honest, if you’ve been to other Madame Tussauds locations, it might not be as novel. 

This is one of those places to visit in Hollywood if you have a couple of hours to spare and want to pose with wax replicas of your favorite stars. You may as well get up close and personal with famous people if you’re in Hollywood, right?

You can grab your admission ticket ahead of time here to avoid having to wait in line.

Griffith Observatory

los angeles at night - Griffith Observatory
The view from Griffith Observatory at night.

By far one of the best free things to do in the Los Angeles area is the Griffith Observatory, one of the most visited public observatories in the world!

You might choose to visit the Griffith Observatory if you plan to hike to the iconic Hollywood Sign from there. 

But, even if you’re not interested in the hike, it’s definitely worthwhile to make a visit to Griffith Observatory for the views and the observatory itself.

It’s one of my favorite spots in LA and provides one of the best viewpoints looking out over the sprawling city from the south side of Mount Hollywood.

If you’ve ever seen James Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause or La La Land, you’ll know that Griffith Observatory has been featured in many Hollywood movies over the years.

And it’s easy to see why once you get up there. it’s naturally stunning and cinematic. 

Honestly, it’s worth it to go up to Griffith Observatory just for the view but if you’re interested in astronomy, you should visit the inside of the observatory too (especially since it’s free). It’s open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

Inside, you can view exhibits, look through telescopes, and watch live shows at the planetarium. The only thing that costs money is parking and the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. 

You can also see the Hollywood Sign from the Griffith Observatory, it’s just pretty small and far away. 

Local tip: I highly recommend taking public transit or using a ride-share app to get to the observatory, especially if you’re visiting on the weekend. Public transit up to the park and observatory couldn’t be easier, just hop on LADOT’s Dash Observatory/Los Feliz bus for 50 cents. The bus runs every 20-25 minutes and conveniently picks up near Hollywood Boulevard. If you want to drive, get there early because parking fills up fast!

Griffith Park

For many who visit LA, Griffith Park is home to discovering what’s beyond the Earth’s atmosphere at the famed Griffith Observatory. For others, it’s where you can hike to the top of the Hollywood Sign.

But there are so many other activities to do inside Griffith Park. 

At more than 4,300 acres and five times the size of New York’s Central Park, Griffith Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States today. 

It’s not uncommon to see several different events taking place simultaneously while strolling through it on a given day. 

One of the most popular things to do at the park is to simply enjoy an early morning stroll on the many different trails. 

First-time visitors can get directions to the starting points of different hiking trails at the Griffith Park Ranger Station near the main gate. 

If you’re looking for a unique sight, head west off the main trail before ending your adventure near the Bronson Cave. The Bronson Cave was used as the famed “Bat Cave” in the 60s Batman television series. 

Another unique Los Angeles attraction to see at Griffith Park is the Old LA Zoo. This was the location of the Los Angeles Zoo before it was abandoned and changed locations to a different area of the park. 

At the Old LA Zoo, you can walk through abandoned animal enclosures (where picnic benches have now been added) and reminisce on what used to be. This is also a popular place for budding photographers.  

Other popular things to do in Griffith Park include: 

  • LA Zoo & Botanical Gardens (the new one that’s currently running) 
  • The Autry Museum of the American West 
  • Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum & Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn
  • Fern Dell
  • Bette Davis Picnic Area
  • Wisdom Tree on the Cahuenga Peak Trail
  • Amir’s Garden

Hollywood Sign

hollywood sign hike - things to do at griffith park, los angeles

Have you even been to Los Angeles if you haven’t seen the Hollywood Sign?

The Hollywood Sign is one of the most famous Los Angeles landmarks and an attraction that most people want to see up close when they visit LA.

A common misconception, that I had too before I visited for the first time, is that you can easily drive up to the sign and snap a few quick pictures and peace out. WRONG.

Let me be the one to break it to you that seeing the Hollywood Sign up close is an ordeal and will probably involve a sweaty workout. 

This is because the best way to get up close is to hike to the Hollywood Sign. 

There are a few different trails you can tackle to get to the sign, as well as a handful of viewpoints that offer unobstructed views if you’re not big on hiking. 

You can read our article on the easiest and best ways to get to the Hollywood Sign for more details.

Venice Beach Boardwalk

things to do in venice ca

Walking the Venice Beach Boardwalk is one of the best activities in LA, especially if it’s your first time in the city.

The reason why I love Venice so much is that it’s a completely different side to LA from what you might find in, well, pretty much any other neighborhood.

There are also a lot of fun free things to do in Venice and a ton of delicious healthy eateries.

Venice is a mix of skateboarders, hippies, drum circles, local arts and crafts, hipster cafes, and a lot of people smoking cannabis. It’s the perfect place to take it all in and people watch.

You can watch the impressive skateboarders at the skate park, maybe enjoy an impromptu dance performance, enjoy a healthy vegan lunch, or buy some local handicrafts at the pop-up outdoor markets.

Beverly Hills & Rodeo Drive

what to do in beverly hills - Rodeo Drive

For the polar opposite of Venice, head to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive.

As you might already know, Beverly Hills (aka 90210), has been a historically upper-class city in Los Angeles for years. That’s right, Beverly Hills is actually its own incorporated city.

Rodeo Drive is where you’ll find expensive designer stores, such as Armani, Tiffany & Co, Versace, Gucci, Fendi, and pretty much anyone who is anyone in the upscale designer industry.

If you’re wondering what to see in Beverly Hills besides designer stores, other things to see in Beverly Hills include the Beverly Gardens Park and the Beverly Hills Signs.

My favorite place in Beverly Hills that meets my budget? Sprinkles!

This is where you can try the best cupcakes of your life. I’m not even joking, they’re SO good.

Alternatively, if you’re trying to figure what to do in Beverly Hills to get a good overview of the city with a local guide, this segway tour is a good option to start with.

Exposition Park

A huge 160-acre urban park in the city, Exposition Park is where you’ll find some of the best museums in Los Angeles, sports facilities, and entertainment venues.

Good museums to visit at Exposition Park include the California Science Center, California African American Museum, and the Natural History Museum.

You can also relax in the Los Angeles Rose Garden or catch a Los Angeles FC soccer game at the Banc of California Stadium.

Dolby Theatre

places to visit in hollywood - dolby theatre

Another popular attraction in Hollywood, located next to the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Dolby Theatre (formerly known as Kodak Theatre) is where the Academy Awards are held each year.

Besides the Academy Awards, there are events that happen at Dolby Theatre year-round, from music award shows to concerts and even the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

If you really want to dive into the history of this iconic Los Angeles events venue, I’d recommend going on a Dolby Theatre behind-the-scenes tour.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall - cheap things to do in la

On the list of popular things to do in DTLA, the Walt Disney Concert Hall has been hosting live performances since 2003 when it first opened.

The concert hall is most famous for its modern and unique architecture designed by Frank Gehry, which has made it a great place for photography in LA.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall is located in downtown LA and is part of the Los Angeles Music Center Complex.

This is where you can see a performance by the talented Los Angeles Philharmonic in the winter or simply take a ton of photos from the outside.

Local tip: Even if you take a tour of the building, you won’t be able to see the auditorium where live shows happen unless you buy a ticket to one of them because of rehearsal schedules. However, even if you just see the building from the outside, it’s one of the most impressive architectural landmarks in Los Angeles and well worth a visit if you’re into design.

Universal CityWalk

One of the best things to do near Universal Studios Hollywood, whether you decide to go to the park or not, is to explore Universal CityWalk.

Universal CityWalk is an outdoor playground for those interested in shopping and a variety of dining options.

There’s also an 18-screen movie theater, including IMAX dual 4K laser projection and an indoor skydiving spot.

I especially love walking around Universal CityWalk before sunset or just after.

To me, this is when you can really feel the energy of the place and enjoy a happy hour or the dueling pianos at Howl at the Moon.

Santa Monica Pier

things to do near santa monica - santa monica pier

If you’re wondering what to do in Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pier is by far the most famous attraction in the city.

The pier is over 100 years old and the official endpoint of the famous and historic Route 66 in the US.

More than that, it provides stunning views looking out over the ocean and classic amusement park rides for the whole family or a fun date night.

Plus, there are tons of things to do at Santa Monica Pier.

You can choose from fast food eateries, fresh popcorn, an arcade, a rickety roller coaster, a giant Ferris wheel, and a merry-go-round that has been in operation since 1922.

The Japanese Garden

If you’re looking for a peaceful moment in the usual busy nature of LA, head over to The Japanese Garden next to Woodley Park.

This 6.5-acre garden is ranked #10 out of 300 public Japanese Gardens in North America, which probably gives you an idea of how impressive it is.

The garden features a zen meditation garden, a wet-strolling garden, and a tea garden.

This is the perfect place to take a break from the city and maybe bring a good book to read on a nice day.

Sunset Strip

A must-see in California, cruising the iconic 1.6-mile Sunset Strip is one of the best things to do in West Hollywood and a Los Angeles hot spot you shouldn’t miss out on.

The Strip is part of the much larger Sunset Boulevard that stretches for 22 miles, all the way from Hollywood through Beverly Hills and some of the best Malibu attractions.

It’s one of the most famous streets in LA.

The Sunset Strip is fun to explore at any time of day but it’s especially known as one of the best places to go out at night in LA.

This is where you can check out trendy rooftop bars like SkyBar and Tower Bar or go to a live show at the iconic Viper Room or Whisky a Go-Go.

This is also where popular comedy clubs like The Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store are located.

Besides the LA nightlife scene, the Sunset Strip features the largest independent book store in LA called Book Soup and Sunset Plaza, a shopping center that has over 20 stores.

Los Angeles Zoo

family things to do in los angeles - la zoo

Founded in 1966, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a 133-acre complex that features 270 different animal species and over 800 different plant species in the gardens.

Besides the usual zoo attractions, at the LA Zoo you can experience behind-the-scenes tours with animals and the young ones can attend zoo camp.

This is one of the best things to do in the Los Angeles area with kids because the zoo offers so many interactive experiences for children.

For those 21 and up, check out Roaring Nights in the summer to party and dance the night away at the zoo.

The Grove

If you’re looking for a good place for a shopping spree, look no further than The Grove.

The Grove is a one-stop-shop where you’ll find some of the best shopping in Los Angeles (and every type of store imaginable).

There are also a variety of upscale eateries, a 14-screen art deco-themed movie theater, and they feature fashion shows and a summer concert series every year.

Little Tokyo

things to do in little tokyo, los angeles

One aspect that I love about LA is how multicultural it is and Little Tokyo is the perfect example of LA’s melting pot of cultures coming together in one city.

Little Tokyo is a historical neighborhood in Los Angeles and where the largest Japanese-American population in North America Lives.

Spend an afternoon in Little Tokyo to feel like you’ve been transported to Japan.

There are plenty of things to do in Little Tokyo.

You can visit the Japanese American National Museum, try some delicious Japanese hotpot or ramen, and shop in the Japanese-owned shops that line the streets. In the evening, don’t miss singing your heart out at MAX Karaoke Studio.

There’s a lot to love about this cultural neighborhood.

Warner Bros. Studio

things to do in burbank ca - warner bros studio

One of the best things to do in Burbank is to see where all the movie magic happens at Warner Bros. Studio.

Unlike Universal Studios, which is a part amusement park as well as a movie studio, Warner Bros. solely houses movie studios.

At Warner Bros. Studio, you can tour some of the most popular and oldest movie studios in Los Angeles.

Tours last anywhere from two to six hours and give you a good glimpse of the movie business, TV and movie sets, backlots and sound stages, and a whole lot of memorabilia.

Grab your tickets ahead of time for the original studio tour here.

The Original Farmers Market

fun cheap things to do in la - the original farmers market

Foodies unite! The Original Farmers Market is THE place for all your Los Angeles foodie dreams to come true.

This historic Los Angeles landmark has been around since 1934 and offers everything food-related – from food stalls to delicious sit-down eateries, and local produce.

There are over 100 gourmet grocers and restaurants to choose from at The Original Farmers Market so you should definitely come hungry.

Local tip: This is also the perfect place to take a food tour in LA. I’d recommend hopping on this one if you want to learn more about the history of the farmers’ market and taste a whole lot of good food.

LA Observation Deck

At the top of LA City Hall, the LA Observation Deck is one of the best things to do in the Los Angeles area for free and provides some of the best views of the city.

There’s no need to pay for one of those expensive sky decks in LA, the free LA Observation Deck provides 360-degree views from the heart of the city.

Plus, it’s a good excuse to walk through the historic Los Angeles City Hall.

The Getty Center

the getty center

The Getty Center is the thing to do in LA for anyone interested in art and architecture.

Take some time while you’re there to enjoy European and American art from Medieval times to the present.

You can also take a stroll through the elaborate gardens, which include a cactus garden and sculpture garden.

Lastly, make sure to admire the famous architecture of the Getty Center with a free 45-minute architecture tour.

The Getty Center provides some of the best views in Los Angeles from the perch of the Santa Monica Mountains and there are a few Getty Center restaurants on the property if you get hungry.

These include two cafes, a couple of coffee carts, and one sit-down restaurant (reservations recommended).

If you’re looking for free stuff to do in LA, the Getty Center is a good place to start.

The Getty Villa

getty villa

The Getty Villa is part of the same museum as the Getty Center but a completely different experience and location.

The Getty Villa is situated on the eastern side of the Malibu Coast and is a massive and ornate sight to behold.

At the Villa, you’ll be transported to the ancient world of Greece and Rome while you walk through an elaborate and well-manicured property.

There are 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities housed here dating from 6,500 BC to 400 AD.

Admission is free to The Getty Villa, making it one of the more popular free things to do in Los Angeles, but note that you have to reserve timed tickets ahead of time by phone or the museum’s website.

Also note that even though it’s free to enter the museum, parking costs $20.

Read my guide to the top things to do in Malibu

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

One of the best parts about this aquarium is that admission is free (just note that a donation of $5 for adults and $1 for children is recommended).

Although not as well known and popular as the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is a popular thing to do with kids in Los Angeles or for any marine life enthusiast.

At the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, you’ll find the largest concentration of Southern California marine life in the world.

The aquarium is also another Frank Gehry-designed building and it’s located in a stunning part of LA, next to the Cabrillo Beach Coastal Park.

It’s easily one of the best free things to do in Southern California for the whole family.

Runyon Canyon Park

los angeles nature - runyon canyon park

Runyon Canyon Park is a 160-acre park in the Santa Monica Mountains that is a popular hiking and running spot for locals.

This is where one of the hikes to the Hollywood Sign is located but, even more than that, the hikes here provide stunning views over Hollywood and Los Angeles as a whole.

As mentioned above, this is a popular spot for hiking in Los Angeles so don’t expect to have the trails to yourself.

It’s also a dog-friendly park so you’ll see quite a few happy dogs off-leash and running around.

There are a few different hikes to tackle at Runyon Canyon Park, most are a few miles roundtrip with various elevations – perfect for an outdoorsy start to your day.

Local tip: There isn’t much shade at Runyon Canyon Park so make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water on your hike.

Venice Canals

things to do in venice beach california - venice canals

One of those not-so-secret LA attractions anymore with its popularity on Instagram, the Venice Canals Historic District is still a fun spot to explore in Venice.

Rent bikes and ride along the beautiful canals on a nice day for the best kind of Los Angeles vibes.

The man-made canals were built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney and still attract tons of Los Angeles locals and visitors alike every day.

Bradbury Building

cool museums in la - Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building is seen as one of the most beautifully designed buildings in LA, and that’s saying something with the city’s fondness for unique architecture.

If you’re wondering what to do in downtown LA and you’re into design, photography, or simply cool historic buildings, don’t miss this building.

Similar to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, it’s one of the best places to take pictures in Los Angeles.

Built in 1893, this five-story office building is most famously known for its unique ironwork and naturally lit atrium of walkways and stairs.

It’s also the oldest commercial building still standing in central LA.

Local tip: Hop on one of the inexpensive Los Angeles Conservancy Walking Tours to learn more about the history of the Bradbury Building and other famous downtown Los Angeles landmarks.

Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk

One of the most fun things to do in downtown LA at night on a Thursday.

The Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk happens every second Thursday of each month and gives you the chance to explore the art scene in DTLA.

The Art Walk has been running for 10 years along Spring Street and Main Street in Downtown LA.

Just grab a gallery guide at one of the participating art galleries (check their website) for a self-guided tour of local galleries, artist studios, and cultural events.

This is one of the best free events in Los Angeles that happens every month so don’t miss it if you’re in town on the first Thursday of the month.

Drive the Angeles Crest Highway

Seen as one of the most scenic drives in California (and also one of the most treacherous), the Angeles Crest Highway goes through the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County.

The highway is a two-lane road that goes for 66 miles and curves around rocky landscapes, reaching 7,000 feet in elevation at its highest point.

Because of the high altitude, it’s not unusual for the weather to change dramatically when you start climbing up the mountain.

In winter, the road is usually closed due to snowfall and avalanche hazards.

However, it’s stunning to drive during the Los Angeles summer and a great road trip option from Los Angeles if you’re looking for a beautiful drive near the city.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Okay, granted it might sound creepy to visit a cemetery during a trip to LA, but Hollywood Forever Cemetery isn’t just any old cemetery.

This is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world and one of the best free things to do in Hollywood.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery was founded in 1899 and is the final resting place for a number of famous Hollywood stars.

The cemetery has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers 50 acres of peaceful greenery to walk around and pay your respects to those who have passed.

Maybe this is a weird thing to admit but I actually enjoy walking through cemeteries. I find them peaceful and meditative places.

One unique aspect of the cemetery is that they host regular events and movie nights. Check out their events calendar for a full list of upcoming events.

The movie nights aren’t free but they’re one of the best non-touristy things to do in the city and a fun thing to do in Hollywood at night.

Korean Bell of Friendship

korean bell of friendship - free stuff in la

Gifted to LA in 1976 by the Republic of Korea, the Korean Bell of Friendship is a beautiful structure and bronze bell at Angel’s Gate Park.

This spot also provides sweeping views of the Los Angeles Harbor and the Catalina Channel.

If you want to be there for the ringing of the bell, make sure to visit on July 4th, August 15th, September 17th, New Year’s Eve, January 13th, or the 1st Saturday of every month at 11:30 am.

The Last Bookstore

unique things to do in la - the last bookstore

I LOVE bookstores, the more unique the better.

And Los Angeles does not disappoint with The Last Bookstore, known as one of the coolest bookstores in the world and one of the more quirky things to do in downtown Los Angeles.

This bookstore sells new and used books and records and showcases local art in a multilevel space that used to be a bank.

The bookstore has become especially popular on Instagram in recent years but, more than just going there for the ‘gram, it’s the perfect place to visit if you love all things books.

John Sowden House

Also known as the ‘Jaws House’, the John Sowden House is a Lloyd Wright-designed mansion that was built in 1926.

It got its moniker for the shark mouth-like facade that’s featured on the outside of the house, even though it’s actually meant to be ancient Mayan-themed.

I mean, this is LA. You gotta go weird or go home.

The mansion is 6,000 square feet, located in the heart of Hollywood, and has been featured in numerous films and TV shows over the years.

The house has been shrouded in mystery for a long time, with its most notable mystery being its potential ties to the Black Dahlia murder.

They have offered public tours in the past but the John Sowden House changed hands again recently so they may have stopped those for the time being.

However, they still host various non-profit events throughout the year (if you can get an invite) and it’s an iconic building to see from the outside if you’re into architecture.

Eames House

Built in 1949, the Eames House is a famous property in LA and a testament to modern mid-20th century architecture.

This is another one of those fun cheap things to do in the Los Angeles area if you’re into architecture.

Note that although standard tours are only $10, they’re only of the exterior and you have to book 48 hours in advance.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles

El Pueblo de Los Angeles is a historical monument built in 1781 marking where the city of Los Angeles was first founded.

If you’re into history, this is one of the best things to see in Downtown LA.

El Pueblo is on the National Register of Historic Places and takes up 9.5 acres in downtown Los Angeles, showcasing the founding and growth of the city through various historical buildings.

I’d recommend watching this short documentary for more information on the history of El Pueblo de Los Angeles and its importance to LA as a city.

Mosaic Tile House

One of those more unique things to do in Los Angeles, the Mosaic Tile House is probably unlike any house you’ve seen before.

Over the course of two decades, it was transformed from a traditional 1940s house, complete with a white picket fence, to a piece of modern art by Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran.

The house is now completely covered in colorful mosaic tiles.

It costs $20 to tour but if you’re looking for a unique experience in LA and want to support local artists, this is a good way to spend an hour in the city.

Note: It’s only open on Saturdays from 1 – 4 pm and reservations are recommended.

Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

One of those secret places in Los Angeles that’s a favorite with locals, Galco’s Soda Pop Stop is where you’ll find every flavor of soda imaginable.

And when I say every flavor imaginable, I’m not exaggerating – there are 600 flavors to choose from!

The store has been family-owned and operated for over 100 years, It’s the perfect spot to stop at for a refreshing soda pop on a hot day.

The Original In-N-Out

If you’ve been in California for a hot minute, you probably know that In-N-Out is a big deal here.

The best way to offend a Californian is to claim you like Shake Shack more than In-N-Out. Please just don’t.

We take our beloved In-N-Out seriously here.

It’s an essential stop on any California road trip so it’s no surprise that The Original In-N-Out is a LA attraction in its own right.

It has been serving burgers since 1948 and is still a working restaurant in Baldwin Park.

Watts Towers Arts Center

The Watts Towers Arts Center is the masterpiece of Sabato Rodia, who spent 33 years creating the 17 interconnected sculptural towers that still exist at the center today.

It’s the world’s largest single construction created by one individual.

Public guided tours of the towers happen on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:30 am to 3 pm and Sunday from 12:30 pm to 3 pm.

There are no tours on rainy days but don’t worry, rainy days are pretty unusual in Los Angeles anyway.

Electric Dusk Drive-In

If you’re looking for romantic things to do in Los Angeles, think about going to the drive-in!

The Electric Dusk Drive-In is one of the best cheap things to do in the city that’s great for a date night.

It features movies from the 80s, 90s, and 00s as well as recent films at an affordable price.

Rose Bowl Flea Market

local things to do in los angeles - rose bowl flea market

Located in the historic Rose Bowl Stadium, the Rose Bowl Flea Market is one of the best places to shop in Los Angeles for an eclectic mix of antiques, apparel, crafts, and other random items.

This is one of those fun things to do in Pasadena and, as the saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

If you’re in the city on the second Sunday of the month, shop for your own unique treasures at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

Just note that there is an admission price to get into the flea market, starting at $9 per person.

Midnight Showing of The Room

Okay, you’re going to need an open mind for this local experience in LA, but The Room has become a cult film in Los Angeles and it’s a hilarious movie night that you should have at least once in the city.

The Room is one of those movies that’s so bad that it’s great.

There was even a more recent movie made about Tommy Wiseau (the creator and star of The Room) and starring James Franco.

The film plays regularly in LA because it is still so popular. If you can catch a midnight showing at Regent Theatre, it’s a fun thing to do in LA at night.

Here’s a trailer for the film.

Hollywood Bowl

Another fun thing to do in LA at night is to see a show at the Hollywood Bowl.

Located in the Hollywood Hills, the Hollywood Bowl has been a performance venue since 1922 and one of the top 10 live music venues in the US.

This is where you’ll see LA entertainment at its finest and seeing a show here is a fun Los Angeles experience.

There is every kind of music genre that performs on the stage at the Hollywood Bowl so whatever your music preference, you’ll probably find a show that interests you.

First Fridays

First Fridays are art, food, or community events that happen all over the US on the first Friday of every month and the ones in Los Angeles are particularly fun and immersive.

There are numerous First Fridays that happen around the city every month but Abbot Kinney is a good First Friday to start with.

You’ll find some of the best food trucks in the city at the Abbot Kinney First Friday, as well as a festive atmosphere.

All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ

With a decent-sized Korean population in LA, there are tons of delicious all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ spots around Koreatown and other parts of LA.

Grab lunch or dinner from Hae Jang Chon in Koreatown for the most popular Korean BBQ experience in the city.

Paddle Boats at Echo Park

things to do in echo park, los angeles - paddle boating

Echo Park has become a trendy neighborhood in recent years with colorful street murals, hipster bars, vegan eateries, indie live music venues, and a bustling nightlife scene.

So, if you’re looking for a more local perspective of the city, you should try to experience one of the many things to do in Echo Park. The Echo Park neighborhood alone is worth at least an afternoon of exploration.

If you’re looking for family activities in Los Angeles or even romantic things to do in the city, I would also recommend renting a paddleboat at Echo Park Lake.

Paddling around the lake is one of the best things to do in the Los Angeles area on a nice day.

Bar Hop in Highland Park

If you’re wondering what to do in LA at night and you’re over 21, head over to Highland Park.

Once known for its dive bars and sloppy-ish nights out, Highland Park has quickly become a trendsetter in the LA nightlife scene these days.

This LA neighborhood continues to attract a wide net of people and it’s easy to see why – you can find pretty much any type of bar in Highland Park.

This makes it a great neighborhood for bar hopping. A few favorites spots to stop by include Sonny’s Hideaway, Barcade LA, Block Party, The Hermosillo, and La Cuevita.

Baseball Game at Dodger’s Stadium

what to do in downtown la - dodger's game

As a Giants fan, it’s hard to recommend going to see the Dodgers play since they’re basically our arch-nemesis, but when in LA, right?

All jokes aside, seeing the Dodgers play at Dodgers Stadium should definitely be on your Los Angeles to-do list because it’s such a classic LA experience to have.

And Dodgers fans are very enthusiastic so even if you’re not a huge fan of baseball, the experience of watching a game in Dodgers Stadium surrounded by hardcore fans is quite the experience to enjoy.

Stand Up Paddle Board in Marina del Rey

off the beaten path los angeles - marina del rey

Another fun water activity in LA besides paddle boating at Echo Park Lake is stand-up paddleboarding in the stunning Marina del Rey.

Marina del Rey is an incorporated seaside community in LA and the place where Lana del Rey got her stage name from for all you LDR fans.

Marina del Rey is the largest man-made small-craft harbor in North America, home to around 5,000 boats and absolutely stunning.

You can choose to go with a guided tour if stand-up paddleboarding is a new activity for you or simply rent a SUP by the hour.

However you want to go about it, SUPing is the perfect way to explore the harbor and that LA sunshine.

Shop for Vinyls

There’s no doubt about it, people who live in Los Angeles have a thing for vinyl.

It has become a favorite pastime for many a local to go on a vinyl hunt on the weekends for new records to add to their collection.

If you want to buy a new vinyl or you simply enjoy walking through record stores like me, check out Freakbeat Records or Amoeba Music for your local vinyl fix in LA.

Enjoy a Comedy Show

LA isn’t just about the movie business, it also has a great comedy scene that features already established comics and up-and-coming comics who come through the city on a regular basis.

A few good spots to check out a quality comedy show include The Hollywood Improv, The Comedy Store, or Laugh Factory.

Rollerskate at Moonlight Rollerway

Looking for a fun activity for the whole family or a good date night idea in Los Angeles?

Head over to the Moonlight Rollerway for a retro roll around an old-school roller rink.

The Moonlight Rollerway has been open since the 1950s and it still has the feel of that decade when you walk in.

Make sure to stop by on a Tuesday night to hear the owner play the organ as you roller skate.

Santa Monica Beach

things to do in santa monica - best beaches in la
Santa Monica Beach.

Probably the most famous beach in the greater LA area, Santa Monica Beach has been bringing visitors to its beautiful shores for years.

And it’s easy to see why with how accessible it is to get to from downtown LA.

To give you an idea, it only takes around 35 minutes to get from downtown LA to Santa Monica Beach (with usual LA traffic).

Santa Monica is its own city in Los Angeles County and the official endpoint of the famous Route 66 highway in the US.

If you want to make a day of it and explore one of the most popular attractions near Los Angeles, there are plenty of fun things to do in Santa Monica beside the beach.

One of my favorite experiences? Once the sun sets, enjoy the beauty of the Santa Monica Pier at night.

Zuma Beach

learn how to surf in california - malibu zuma beach

Zuma Beach is a popular beach in Malibu and slightly less touristy than Santa Monica Beach.

Zuma Beach is particularly known for its great surfing and pristine long stretches of sand, perfect for sunbathing and chilling out for an afternoon.

If you go in the winter, you might even spot a grey whale making its annual migration from the beach (it’s good to bring binoculars).

Another good aspect about Zuma Beach is the amount of parking. There are eight parking lots with around 2,000 parking spaces.

Local tip: The water at Zuma Beach is colder than other beaches around Los Angeles and it’s known for rough tides and riptides so be mindful if you go swimming.

Read my full guide to the best Malibu beaches 

Venice Beach

venice beach in los angeles

Another famous beach in LA that’s worth at least one visit, even if it’s just to check out the Venice neighborhood around the beach.

The Venice Boardwalk along the beach is where you’ll find street performers, street art, local crafts, and unique shops.

Make sure to walk by the skate park and the nearby outdoor gym called Muscle Beach before finding a good place to lay out on the sand.

There are beach volleyball courts along the three-mile stretch of sand and spots where you can rent surf, body, and skimboards right from the beach.

Hermosa Beach

la beaches - hermosa beach

If you’re looking to visit a less touristy beach in Los Angeles County, think about spending the day at Hermosa Beach.

Located just southwest of downtown LA, Hermosa Beach is its own city and offers long stretches of white sand and a more local atmosphere.

This is a great spot to bring the whole family and catch a stunning sunset.

Just note that parking around the beach can be tough to find sometimes.

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

If you want to check out more LA cities that are centered around the beach, Manhattan Beach is a good place to start.

Before you find a spot on the beach, walk along The Strand Bike Path that takes you along oceanfront mansions and volleyball courts.

The small Manhattan Beach Pier is a good place to take in Pacific Ocean views and watch the surfers below.

The beach can get busy on the weekends but it’s mostly full of locals.

Related: 9 Best Orange County Beaches 

Will Rogers State Historic Park

This park isn’t just named after famous actor Will Rogers, it was also his former estate until his sudden death.

Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, there are various activities you can enjoy in the historic park.

Take a tour of the original ranch from Thursday-Sunday or tackle one of the moderate two-mile hikes on the property.

Other options for things to do include horseback riding lessons and tours every day except Monday with Westside Riding School, plenty of picnicking opportunities, polo games, and even movies in the park.

This is one of the best parks in Los Angeles for its sheer variety of things to do.

Note: Parking is $12 at Will Rogers State Historic Park.

Related: California State Parks List

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area

A popular state park in the Baldwin Hills Mountains, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area is one of the largest public parks in the city and the perfect urban oasis for a relaxing afternoon in Los Angeles nature.

There is a little something for everyone at this expansive park, from baseball fields, soccer fields, picnic areas, children’s play areas, barbecues, basketball courts, fishing lakes, outdoor fitness courses, volleyball courts, and five miles of hiking trails, among various other activities.

If you’re looking for things to do with kids in LA that involve the outdoors and plenty of space for running around, this park is a good family-friendly option.

Note: Parking is $6 at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area.


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Ascot Hills Park

If you’re looking for more of a retreat from the crowds, Ascot Hills Park is a beautiful place in Los Angeles that features hiking trails, rolling hills, and views of downtown LA, Dodger Stadium, and the Hollywood Sign.

The Ascot Hills Park Trail is a moderate two-mile loop that has wildflowers in the spring and good views.

It’s also dog friendly but you have to keep dogs on a leash.

Descanso Gardens

best parks in los angeles - Descanso gardens

If you’re fond of botanical gardens, you don’t want to miss out on the 150-acre Descanso Gardens.

Visit for a relaxing stroll around the world-renowned horticultural displays or come to enjoy one of the many concerts, events, or classes they offer at the gardens.

Traveling with young ones? Check out their events calendar because they often offer unique things for kids, too.

Note: Admission to the Descanso Gardens is $9 (or $6 for students or seniors, $4 for children 5-12).

Franklin Canyon Park

Franklin Canyon Park is a huge 605-acre park located near Benedict Canyon, offering five miles of hiking trails, a large lake, and a duck pond.

The three main trails at Franklin Canyon Park are Discovery, Berman, and Hastain, which are all great for beginner hikers.

This is another one of the best things to do in the LA area with kids if you want to be in nature because the park has a stroller-friendly trail around the reservoir.

Local tip: They like to give $100 tickets at this park for not stopping fully at stop signs. There are hidden cameras so make sure to come to a complete stop (some people recommend for a good 5 seconds) at the stop signs to avoid getting a pricey ticket.

Topanga State Park

Another park located in the Santa Monica Mountains, Topanga State Park is one of the best parks on this list for hiking.

The park offers 36 miles of hiking trails through various types of terrain and good views.

Most hikes start from Trippet Ranch and it’s recommended to give yourself at least a couple of hours, even for the shorter hikes in the park.

A good hike to start with is the Musch Trail to Eagle Rock, which takes around two hours and provides stunning views at the top.

Note: Dogs aren’t allowed on any of the trails at Topanga State Park and parking is $10.

Related: 13 Best Malibu Hikes

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

If you want to enjoy the outdoors but also want to go somewhere that’s known for its breathtaking views, head over to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.

This urban park offers free exhibits about local conservation and restoration efforts in the area, hiking trails, and, of course, great views looking out over downtown LA.

Note: Parking is $2 at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.

Vista Hermosa Natural Park

Another park that features fantastic city views, Vista Hermosa Natural Park offers easy trails, picnic areas, a pond, playground, and grassy fields to lay out in the sun.

One of the best things to do on a Sunday in Los Angeles is to bring a picnic to the park and enjoy the city views on a nice day.

This is also a great place to take in the LA skyline at night.

Local tip: This spot has become fairly popular on Instagram in recent years so expect some crowds and selfie sticks where the main view is, especially on weekends.

LA Arboretum

Not quite as impressive as Descanso Gardens but still worth a visit in its own right, the LA Arboretum is another botanical garden and arboretum in the city, offering 127 acres of flora and fauna.

The garden is located at a historical site near the San Gabriel Mountains and offers tons of events for adults and kids throughout the year, which you can check out here.

Note: Admission to the LA Arboretum is $9 (or $6 for students or seniors, $4 for children 5-12).

California Science Center

Located in Exposition Park, the California Science Center is an interactive museum and another one of those things to do in Los Angeles for free.

Through free exhibits, you’ll learn about human inventions and innovations and the life sciences.

If you’re looking for educational kids’ activities in LA, this is a popular museum with the young ones.

Local tip: If you’re looking for more free museums in LA, make sure to check when the free museum days are in the city. You can find the full list here.

The Nethercutt Collection

If you’re a fan of old cars, you can’t miss out on The Nethercutt Collection.

This multi-level antique museum’s main draw is its automobile collection, which is considered to be one of the top five greatest automobile museums in the US.

The museum showcases over 250 American and European cars that date from 1898 to 1997.

Other features of the museum include collections of mechanical musical instruments and antique furniture.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

free museums in la - urban light

Considered to be one of the best museums in Los Angeles, the LACMA is the largest art museum in the Western US and attracts around a million visitors every year.

Located on Museum Row, the museum has over 150,000 pieces of art ranging from ancient times to the present day. The museum also regularly hosts a film and concert series.

Local tip: Don’t miss Urban Light, LACMA’s most famous art installation that consists of 202 vintage street lights.

Natural History Museum

Los Angeles is kind of like Texas sometimes with the whole ‘go big or go home’ mindset and the Natural History Museum is no exception.

This museum is the largest natural and historical museum in the Western US, holding 35 million artifacts and specimens from over 4.5 million years of history.

If you love dinosaurs or anything related to natural history, this is one of the best natural history museums to visit in North America.

Local tip: Skip the line and grab your tickets ahead of time here.

The Grammy Museum

If you love music and watching the Grammy Awards every year, don’t miss out on the Grammy Museum near the Staples Center.

The museum features exhibits that talk about the award show’s long history and past winners.

I’d recommend giving yourself at least two to three hours to walk through the museum.

The Hollywood Museum

One of those very Hollywood things to do, head over to The Hollywood Museum for a huge collection of all things Hollywood.

Appropriately housed in a historic art deco building, at the museum you can learn more about your favorite Hollywood legends, films, and TV shows through four floors of memorabilia.

From costumes to props, scripts, vintage collectibles, and photographs, there are 10,000 authentic Hollywood treasures that call this museum home.

Japanese American National Museum

Dedicated to sharing the Japanese American history and culture, the Japanese American National Museum is located in Little Tokyo and goes through over 130 years of Japanese American history.

From home movies made from the 1920s to 1950s to historic photographs, artifacts, art, and oral histories, this is a thorough museum to visit to learn more about Japanese culture in the US.

Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Founded by a group of Holocaust survivors in 1961, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust is an important museum to honor those who were lost in the Holocaust and educate future generations about the tragic loss of human life.

This was the first museum ever founded by Holocaust survivors in the US.

Museum of Tolerance

Another important museum to visit in Los Angeles, the Museum of Tolerance tackles the heavy topics of racism and prejudice around the world.

There is a strong focus on the Holocaust at this museum as well, including the life of Anne Frank.

The museum also talks about the struggles of Latino families in California and general issues of intolerance.

Museum of Death

One of the more weird thing to do in the Los Angeles area, the Museum of Death focuses on the topic of death with the purpose of making people happy to be alive.

This is a pretty heavy and dark museum, so make sure you’re mentally prepared before visiting.

Expect to find all things relating to death and murder, including antique funeral memorabilia, coroner instruments, pet death taxidermy, and crime scene photographs.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum

Looking for fun museums in LA that are good for the whole family?

Ripley’s is another weird museum in Hollywood but much lighter than the Museum of Death.

It’s a bit of a tourist trap but the interactive exhibits and Hollywood memorabilia are a fun way to spend an hour if you have time to spare in Hollywood.

I’d recommend only making a visit if you have kids who would enjoy the interactive nature of the museum, otherwise, it’s not as impressive as other museums on this list.

The Broad

best museums los angeles - the broad

If you’re looking for an alternative art museum to LACMA that isn’t quite as crowded, The Broad is a good option.

Founded by philanthropist Eli Broad, this is another popular free museum in Los Angeles.

The museum showcases contemporary art from the 1950s to up-and-coming artists of today and regularly hosts family art workshops on the weekends.

The Broad is home to over 2,000 works of contemporary art, making it one of the largest collections of postwar and contemporary art in the world.

Holyland Exhibition

Any Indiana Jones fans here?

The Holyland Exhibition is a small museum filled with artifacts that were discovered by the man rumored to be the real-life inspiration behind Indiana Jones – Antonia F. Futterer.

If you love archeology, old artifacts, or Indiana Jones, this museum is worth a visit.

Museum of Jurassic Technology

If you’re looking for cool museums in LA that are all about an eclectic experience, look no further than the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

It’s hard to describe the museum without experiencing it yourself, but let’s just say it’s meant to be a love letter to the act of storytelling.

Visit the museum for an overall unique experience and to learn a lot of random facts.

This is definitely one of those more hipster things to do in the city, but worth a visit.

Los Angeles Brewery Tour

best los angeles tours

The Los Angeles brewery scene has taken off in recent years.

So, if you’re into craft beer I would highly recommend hopping (pun intended) on a brewery tour to give you a taste of the best beers around the city.

The East and Central LA Brewery Tour if a good place to start exploring the brewery scene in Downtown and Central LA.

The tour lasts around 4.5 hours and includes a flight of four beers and an expert beer guide.

Alternatively, if you want to do your own brewery tour, check out this post where I lay out my favorite breweries to visit in California, including a few in Los Angeles.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

One of the top adventures to do in LA, Vasquez Rocks Natural Area is a 932-acre park that is actually located in Los Angeles County, even though it’s an hour’s drive away from downtown (this should give you an idea of how sprawling LA is).

The Vasquez Rocks Natural Area is located in the high desert and features stunning rock formations that have been there since prehistoric times.

Visit the area for a good picnic spot, hike, or horseback riding.

Angeles National Forest

Only 30 minutes from Los Angeles, Angeles National Forest is seen as the ‘backyard of Los Angeles’ and a popular outdoorsy weekend getaway from the city.

The Angeles National Forest is one of the best places to immerse yourself in nature without having to drive too far outside of LA.

There are 650,000 acres to explore in the park, so you can bet there are plenty of hiking opportunities – from easy hikes to more challenging all-day adventures.

Disneyland & California Adventure

Disneyland & California Adventure

There are so many things to do in SoCal, but one of the most popular things to do in California with kids (or not) is visiting Disneyland & California Adventure!

Disneyland is one of those California attractions that you should visit at least once because the Disney Parks are unlike any other amusement park in the world.

Local tip: Visit during the low season (Jan-April) and get to the park as early as possible to get first dibs on rides without having to deal with long wait times.

Also, make sure to grab your tickets ahead of time here. It’s all about avoiding those lines for the best experience.

Best Los Angeles Food & Coffee

These are a few fun places to eat in Los Angeles, as well as my top picks for where to get your caffeine buzz on and your sweet tooth satisfied.

Some of my favorite stuff to do in California is eating to my heart’s content and LA definitely does not disappoint with its foodie scene.

discover los angeles

Coffee & Tea

  • Tea Master Matcha Cafe & Green Tea Shop
  • Balcony Coffee and Tea
  • Philz Coffee

Breakfast/Brunch

  • Met Her At A Bar
  • Eat This Cafe
  • EAT
  • Eggslut

Lunch

  • Pink’s Hot Dogs – one of those famous places to eat in LA
  • Leo’s Taco Truck
  • Broken Mouth | Lee’s Homestyle
  • Howlin’ Ray’s

Dinner

One of the best things you can do in LA at night is to experience one of the many foodie spots in the city for a nice dinner.

  • The Morrison
  • A Food Affair
  • Bavel
  • Bestia

Dessert

  • Saffron & Rose Ice Cream
  • SK Donuts & Croissant
  • Diddy Riese – one of the best things to do near UCLA that you can’t miss out on
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes – one of my favorite things to do in Beverly Hills – grabbing cupcakes from Sprinkles!
things to do in beverly hills - sprinkles

Nightlife & Live Music Venues

There’s a lot to do in Los Angeles at night and these bars and live music venues are a good place to start. 

  • Pig ‘N Whistle
  • Idle Hour
  • Tiki-Ti
  • Seven Grand
  • Hotel Cafe
  • Troubadour
unique things to do in southern california - freestone mansion

For a full list of recommendations for where to stay and a guide to LA neighborhoods, check out this post.


Grab your FREE Los Angeles Travel Planner for everything you need to plan the perfect trip to the City of Stars (including printable checklists). 


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Looking for more California travel inspiration? Check out my related posts below!

34 Things to do in Long Beach

101 Things to do in San Diego

101 Things to do in Santa Cruz

101 Things to do in Sacramento

100+ Things to do in San Francisco

30 Best Things to do in Orange County

25 Things to do in Big Bear

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Mimi McFadden
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100+ Fun & Best Things to do in LA, California [Ultimate Los Angeles Bucket List]

9 thoughts on “100+ Fun & Best Things to do in LA, California [Ultimate Los Angeles Bucket List]”

  1. Great list! I lived in LA and hated living there, but it is a fun place to visit since you don’t have to deal with the traffic every single day 🙂 Lots of great food & wine to be enjoyed, and Griffith Park is awesome. I’ll have to check out some of the breweries you’ve listed here the next time I visit. And you’re right: there is always something new & exciting in LA!

    • Thanks Marlynn! I would have to agree with you, I love visiting L.A. but I’m not sure if I would live there myself. The foodie & wine scene is something I haven’t checked out so much in the city yet, I’ll have to make that a priority next time I’m in town.

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