LA is fun during the day, but Los Angeles at night is even better. Don’t just return to your hotel and order room service--get out there and experience the City of Angels after dark.
If you’re in town for a few days, be sure to give as much thought to your evening plans as your day time ones. We want to help with that, so here are ten things to do in LA at night. We’ve done all of these things and personally recommend them.
See A Game
With eleven professional sports teams in Los Angeles, there are endless opportunities to see a game. Here are the teams to choose from;
Men’s Basketball--Lakers and Clippers
Baseball--Dodgers and Angels
Hockey--Kings and Ducks
Soccer--FC and Galaxy
Football--Chargers and Rams
As devoted Clippers fans, we love to see a game at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Fortunately, the Lakers, Kings and Sparks also call this place home, so it’s one of the best places in town to see a game. LA Live--a large entertainment center--is located across the street and offers dozens of restaurants and bars to visit before or after the game. With so much to do in one area, it’s the ideal place to be in LA at night.
Note: While the Angels and Ducks call themselves LA teams, they are actually located in Orange County which is about an hour south of Los Angeles.
Watch A Movie
Yes, you can see a movie anywhere, but this is home to Hollywood, and some of the country’s most historic theaters. And this is where many movie premieres still take place. So if you’re a movie buff, seeing a film in LA is a must do.
I’ve listed two that are located in Hollywood, making them ideal movie viewing sights for visitors. You can combine a movie along with iconic sights like the Walk of Fame and Hollywood Blvd. Both of these theaters were developed by the famous Sid Grauman in the early 1900’s.
TCL Chinese Theater (also known as Grauman’s Chinese Theater or Mann’s Chinese Theater) has been operating since 1927. You’ve probably heard of this place since its where celebrities have long left their handprints and footprints out front. But don’t stop outside, head on in to see a first-run movie. It’s worth the price of admission just to see the gorgeous interior decor.
Across the street from TCL Chinese Theater is El Capitan, opened in 1926. Today it is owned and operated by Disney. If you’re traveling with kids, or just really love Disney films, this is the place for you. We took our kids here several times when they were younger and always had a blast.
Catch A Show
Most people think of New York when it comes to theater, but Los Angeles has a thriving performing arts scene. If you’re downtown check-out one of the following theaters;
Disney Concert Hall--Home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Pantages Theater--showing the most popular musicals in a beautiful art deco space
Dorothy Chandler Pavilions--Home of the Los Angeles Opera
Mark Taper Forum--showing plays
Ahmanson Theater--showing popular musicals
I’ve been going to these theaters for years, and they keep getting better and better. The Music Center of Los Angeles (home to Dorothy Chandler, Mark Taper, and Ahmanson) completed a major renovation of it’s plaza in 2019 and now offers a restaurant, wine bar, cafe and interactive art installations. Even if you don’t see a show that interests you, it’s worth just exploring this plaza.
For a pre-show dinner, downtown LA also offers dozens of excellent restaurants like Red Bird, Manuela, and Au Lac (offering a Vietnamese inspired plant-based menu). Just be sure to make reservations in advance, especially on a busy theater night. Or for something fast and casual head to Grand Central Market. World-class theater and a delicious dinner? Definitely one of the best things to do in Los Angeles at night!
Watch The Sunset From Griffith Observatory
Make your way to Griffith Observatory to first watch the sunset, and then see the lights of the city come up. This is my favorite view of Los Angeles and at night it’s magical. This is also one of the best free things to do in LA at night, because after the sunsets you may still have time to visit the observatory. You won’t need much time since it’s a small museum, but the exhibits are excellent. If the weather is nice, bring a picnic dinner, grab a seat on the lawn, and enjoy a romantic date night.
If you're visiting LA during the summer, why not hike to the Hollywood sign at night? Fortunately, if you've visited the observatory, you've parked in the same lot as the Mt. Hollywood Trailhead. With sunset around 8 p.m. during the summer you can enjoy a moderate 2.5 mile roundtrip hike before it gets dark. After seeing the views of LA from the observatory and the Hollywood sign from the trail, you will have had the quintessential day in the City of Angeles.
Stroll The Beach At Night
There are miles and miles of beach to enjoy--day or night--in Los Angeles County, but there are two classic LA spots that I’ll recommend.
Among the most romantic things to do in Los Angeles at night is to stroll along Santa Monica Beach while enjoying the lights from the Santa Monica pier. The pier has appeared in many movies including Iron Man, Forest Gump, and The Sting. When you get hungry head into town for some seriously great food. Santa Monica is definitely the foodie capital of Los Angeles. A few of our favorites include Elephante and Forma Restaurant and Cheese Bar.
But if you’re looking for something more funky, opt for Venice Beach. This has also been the place for many movies and television shows, most recently for chase scenes on NCIS Los Angeles. You’ll see Muscle Beach, the skateboard park, and lots of vendors selling all kinds of souvenirs. Along this stretch are plenty of restaurants and bars to explore as well.
Grab A Drink At A Rooftop Bar
Rooftop bars have become extremely popular around the world, and LA has proudly joined this trend with dozens of great options. My current downtown favorite is Perch, located on the 15th floor of the Pershing Square Building, offering 360 degree views of downtown. Live music is offered each night at 7 p.m. followed by a D.J. at 10 p.m.
My favorite option in West LA is Terra at Eataly. This place has excellent Italian food, a very stylish patio, and great views of the Hollywood Hills. I’ve only been during the day, but I am making every effort to get back here for nighttime views real soon.
For a list of more rooftop bars read this.
See The Urban Lights At Night
The Urban Lights at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has quickly become the most Instagrammable sight in the city, both day and night. Normally I don’t care about what is or isn’t pictured in social media, but I have always been a big fan of this museum and specifically this installation by Chris Burden. We’ve been visiting LACMA for over 30 years and it just keeps getting better. I applauded an expansion about ten years ago that added a large outdoor space and installations that can be accessed free of charge. The most recognizable of these installations is Urban Lights.
Enjoying the Urban Lights won’t take long, but you can also wander the outdoor grounds to see another notable artwork, Levitated Mass. There's an excellent restaurant on site, Ray's And Stark, but be sure to make reseravations in advance.
Downtown Art Walk
The Downtown Arts District was once a warehouse district and home to citrus packing plants, but today has become an arts hub featuring dozens of galleries and street art of all sizes. This is a great destination any time, but on the second Thursday of the month the Downtown Art Walk takes place from 6-10 p.m.
Many cities around the country offer art walks as a way to support local artists, but what makes this one unique is the 100+ street murals you’ll see along the way. This section of town has become so well known for its murals that artists from around the world have visited and painted their own works.
Over time this part of town has also attracted dozens of great restaurants, cafes, bars and breweries. My personal favorite for dinner is Factory Kitchen and for beer is Angel City Brewery. If you're an oyster lover like me head to Rappahannock Oyster Company at Row DTLA.
Visit A Musem At Night
Currently, no Los Angeles area museums are offering evening hours. I will continue to monitor this situation and update as hours are extended.
If you’re short on time while in LA, or you’re here for business, it’s nice to know that many of our museums have evening hours.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the Grammy Museum is open until 8 p.m. Dedicated to the work of musical artists, this place offers a nice mix of permanent and rotating exhibits. On the top floor you’ll see Michael Jackson’s leather jacket from Thriller and one of Whitney Houston’s dresses. It’s located at L.A. Live, across the street from Staples Center, so this could be seen before or after a game.
If you’re looking for free things to do in LA at night, then The Broad is for you. Dedicated to contemporary art, this museum is open until 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. As one of the newest and most popular museums in town, the best way to visit here is with an online, timed reservation. Try and score tickets for one of Yayoi Kusama’s infinity rooms to make this visit perfect.
Our newest free museum in Los Angeles is the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), and on Thursdays it stays open until 8 p.m. I recently visited MOCA and was impressed with their current exhibition that features selections from their permanent collection. The Broad is located across the street from MOCA, so if time permits, see both places.
Where To Stay In Los Angeles
Why not enjoy even more of what Los Angeles has to offer and stay for the weekend? Here are a few of our favorite hotels in the area;
Omni Los Angeles Hotel California Plaza--This downtown hotel is close to museums and restaurants. We've stayed several times and love it.
InterContinental Los Angeles--Another good downtown area hotel with very stylish and modern rooms.
J.W. Marriott LA Live--This is a nice option if you're headed to a game at the Staples Center.
Sheraton Gateway--Next to Los Angeles International Airport, a great place to spend the night when you have an early flight.
What To Do In LA At Night
To make your experience in Los Angeles at night more pleasant, I’ll share a few tips.
First, traffic is always terrible in LA, so allow plenty of time for where you plan to go--I would hate for you to miss a show! Next, parking isn’t cheap, so plan to park once whenever possible. It is often cheaper to move between two places by Uber than to pay to park multiple times. We do have public transportation, but it’s limited, so I prefer Uber.
Los Angeles is a reasonably safe city, but if you’re planning to walk after dark, ask your hotel concierge or AirBnB for advice.
Some of the most popular restaurants in LA book weeks in advance, so if you have your heart set on a particular dining establishment, make your reservations as soon as possible. The same goes for popular theater shows.
Fortunately, LA has good weather most of the year, so no need to worry about when to visit. Come to LA anytime you can and you’ll have a great time!