8 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Los Angeles, California

It’s no secret that Los Angeles California, like most large metros, has its tourist pockets.

That ranges from the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood to Universal Studios to the Santa Monica Pier.

But they are all the top things to do in Los Angeles with kids (or without) that most people already know about before ever planning a trip.

However, many of the best things to do in L.A. are activities that many tourists don’t know about, let alone visit. So today I’m coming to you with my round-up of what I believe are some of the best 8 non-touristy things to do in L.A.

Things to do in Los Angeles (non-touristy)

1. Go on an urban hike at Griffith Park

Griffith Park, LA

One of the best perks of Los Angeles is the hiking available without having to leave the city.

Many visitors, however, often head straight to Runyon Canyon, which is one of the most accessible hikes (just off Hollywood Blvd.), but as a result, also one of the busiest, since it’s a small hiking area.

However, just east of Runyon Canyon is Griffith Park, characterized by the Griffith Observatory, which sits perched on a hilltop below the Hollywood Sign.

Here you’ll find more than 50 miles of trails, such as the four-mile Mt. Hollywood Trail.

Also at Griffith Park is Bronson Canyon, or Bronson Caves, which has been the filming location of a long list of films and television shows, including the 1960s Batman television series.

Check out this video of a few LA hikes:


2. Watch a concert/movie at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Cinespia / Hollywood Forever , Los Angeles
Image: Cinespia

For most tourists to L.A., the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is merely the resting place of some of their favorite celebrities.

However, it livens up during the summer and fall months when it plays host to classic movies, like The Goonies, and concerts from top musicians, such as Lana Del Rey.

The outdoor movie series is one of most popular summer events in L.A., often selling out.

The best part, however, is that you can bring in all your own food, wine, and beer. Just make sure you bring some blankets and pillows, and arrive well before doors open so you can snag a great spot on the lawn.

3. Go wine tasting beachfront in Malibu

Rosenthal Winery, Malibu, Los Angeles
image: ellenm1

It’s not just anywhere you can go wine tasting at the beach.

However, Rosenthal Winery in Malibu offers just that, located on the Pacific Coast Highway, across from the breaking waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Rosenthal’s tasting room features flights and tastings for their long list of wines, which include Viognier, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and numerous other varietals.

Weekends are the best time to visit, when Rosenthal’s backyard features live music Friday through Sunday, with food trucks often parking outside.

4. Climb the secret stairs for panoramic views of LA

View of Hollywood sign from the Beachwood Canyon Stairs in LA
View of Hollywood sign from Beachwood Canyon Stairs. Image: Daniel Pouliot

Decades ago, Los Angeles was connected by a series of more than 400 staircases. It provided a direct route for residents to schools, markets, and other points of interest, long before highways connected L.A.

Today, many of those staircases remain and are open for the public.

One of the most convenient series of stairs is near Hollywood Blvd., off Highland (on the back of the Hollywood Bowl), and has great overlooks of the city from the Hightower Elevator Tower.

Also nearby are the Beachwood Canyon Stairs, which include views of the Hollywood Sign and Lake Hollywood.

5. Kayak down the Los Angeles River

Kayak down the river in LA. Who knew?
image: LA River Kayak Safari

Not only does Los Angeles have a river, but also it’s a river that you can kayak down.

Guided kayaking trips are done by a couple different charter companies at recreational areas on the L.A. River.

Guided trips down the Los Angeles River are twofold, one to experience the outdoors of L.A. in a way that you can only do in a kayak, but secondly to learn about preservation efforts of the river, as the river and surrounding area is undergoing significant revitalization.

6. Catch an Improv Show

IO West Thearter, Los Angeles
image: iO West Theater

Some of the most well-known actors and actresses got their start at improve theaters like iO West, including Jason Sudeikis, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler.

Naturally then, Los Angeles is home to some of the best improve theaters in the U.S., including iO West and Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (UCB), often featuring numerous shows per evening.

Tickets are rarely more than $10, offering some of the cheapest, funniest entertainment you’ll ever see. Then one day you’ll be able to say, “I saw them when…”

7. Go on a Brewery Crawl

Go on a brewery tour in LA

While San Diego gets most of the credit for California’s beer scene, Los Angeles is putting itself on the map with its brewery offerings.

With so many great new breweries opening up, it means you never have to travel very far for good craft beer.

On the east side, there are a couple of L.A.’s longest running breweries, Golden Road and Eagle Rock.

Downtown Los Angeles is home to the appropriately named Angel City, as well as a recently opened brewery (and several others opening soon), Mumford Brewing.

The South Bay, however, has the highest concentration of breweries, including Smog City, Monkish, The Dudes‘, and El Segundo, just to name a few.

8. Visit a Bar that was Prohibition Speakeasy

A close up of a wine glass

Who says L.A. has no history and culture?

Los Angeles is unique in that it’s home to multiple bars that are operating today that were speakeasy bars during prohibition.

This includes the King Eddy Saloon in Downtown Los Angeles, more dive than speakeasy now, which has entertained a host of characters for about a century, such as famous poet Charles Bukowski.

For a more proper speakeasy experience, there’s Townhouse in Venice, which is home to The Del Monte, which was a working speakeasy during prohibition, and celebrating 100 years this year.

More things to do in LA

You can read about my travels and things to do in Downtown LA here. 

You can watch the video of my travels in LA by clicking play below:

Related Posts:

Planning a Trip to LA


Related Post – 28 of the best hotels in LA 


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Tours and attractions

If you plan on doing a few attractions in LA, purchase a Sightseeing Pass.

It is a city discount card which will save you money on several big name attractions. we use them in all major cities we visit. (We also work as affiliate partners with The Sightseeing CArd and they provided us with LA passes).

We are happy to share them with you as they can be a great saving tool when you travel.

If you are visiting multiple cities in the USA, a USA Sightseeing Pass may work better for you. 

Do you have any tips on things to do in Los Angeles? Let’s hear your non-touristy tips or places the locals like to hang out?

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23 thoughts on “8 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Los Angeles, California”

  1. Griffith Park is one of my favorite places for a good hike! So many different paths to take, all with a gorgeous view! Then of course there’s the Observatory, where, if you catch LA on a good day, you can even see all the way to Long Beach 🙂

  2. I used to live in Los Angeles for 5 years. My favorite drive routine from Lancaster to Los Angeles is to drive through the mountains on either San Francisquito Canyon Rd or Bouquet Canyon Rd. It’s a great drive if you need to get away from the grind of the crowds or traffic. I love to drive on one of either roads depending on my mood.

  3. Be sure to check out Long Beach! I lived there for years. The city is full of great restaurants, activities and unique places to shop. Oh, and a lot of cool dive bars. It sadly gets overlooked by LA. I’d love to show you around if you go (I live in a nearby city)!!

      1. Craig,
        If you haven’t been to Long Beach, you are missing out!! It’s a lovely city with tons of stuff (even free) to do. To mention a few, Shorline Village, Second Street, Naples, CSULB (Pyramid and Japanese Garden), little Cambodia, El Dorado Park and Nature Center, Queen Mary, the list is endless. Email me next time you’re in town to give you more ideas. 🙂

  4. I have to admit I really didn’t see LA’s charms on my first visit. It wasn’t until I made friends who lived there and went back and got to be taken to places the locals go and do the things they do that I started to feel good vibes for the city.

    So loving this list… some things my mates have already taken me to, and a few new ones I can try on my next visit. And impress them with 😉

    1. Awesome. Yeah we could say the same thing about other destinations. Getting to know some locals and doing “local stuff” can give you a completely different perspective on a place!

  5. Wow! This is great. I’m working to inspire travel to and within Oregon, especially the coast. And it’s working. But this has inspired me to think more about places unknown by tourists—like some of the hiking I’ve done. Thanks for the inspiration! Safe travels!

  6. This is very useful information. Wanted to visit LA for quiet sometime now and missed every time. Had been to Vegas twice and LA was in our plans but missed it for some or other reason. Will visit soon and information in this article will be very handy.

  7. Melissa Arechiga

    Your promoting the LA River as a “safe”place to get in and Kayak? In caca water highly contaminated. Omg! Disgusting.
    And the owner of that business (a colonizer) assulated an indigenous man from the community. #shame

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