10 Essential Experiences Every Angeleno Should Try in 2017

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What with the sheer size and density of Los Angeles, native angelenos and newcomers alike sometimes feel perplexed about where to go and what to do. The city, built on Hollywood romance, the beach, beautiful people and traffic, gives off both fantasy and reality.

Going into the new year, everyone has their New Year’s resolutions, but what about creating some L.A.-specific resolutions?


If you’re still trying to pencil in bucket list items for 2017 then here’s one (humble) suggestion: Start below.

Grand Central Market Los Angeles
Grand Central Market. Photo by Christina Minh / We Like L.A.

1. Dine and Explore at Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market may be turning 100 this year, but the historic food hall continues to reinvent and refresh itself with an extraordinary line-up of culinary offerings and happenings. Among the many choices are Bar Moruno, Horse Thief BBQ, falafel purveyors Madcapra, and the ever-popular Eggslut. Since extending its hours to 10 p.m., Grand Central Market has established itself as a vibrant nighttime destination with its inventive mix of food, drink, and entertainment.

The Market’s schedule of nighttime entertainment includes Sunday Jazz Nights, Trivia Tuesdays, Thursday Game Night and Drag Queen Bingo. Online radio station dublab recently launched Grand Central Fridays, bringing its soundsystem and DJ collective to the Market on a weekly basis to provide tunes to get the evening — and weekend — started. In addition, the Market hosts special evenings, such as readings with the Los Angeles Review of Books. -> More information

2. Play at a Virtual Reality Arcade: VR Territory

VR Territory is one of the world’s first virtual reality arcades, with fully immersive VR experiences within 10′ x 10′ individual spaces. It’s the only fully dedicated, officially licensed place for virtual reality in Los Angeles. Gamers can enjoy multiplayer and single-player entertainment experiences via the most innovative technology in decades. For 2017, VR Territory is adding Active VR experiences to help you get healthy and trim while enjoying Virtual Reality. -> More information

VR Territory
Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

3. Go to an Outdoor Movie Screening

There’s nothing quite like watching a movie under the stars. From vintage old-Hollywood movies to cult classics and more, Los Angeles offers plenty of opportunities to watch great films outdoors. Cinespia, at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, offers screenings where guests can watch classic stars of the silver screen near some of their gravesites. Tickets are $16 (not including optional parking) and can be purchased online here.  Street Food Cinema hosts numerous outdoor screenings all over town, with the added bonus of food trucks and live musical performances. More info and tickets can be found on Street Food Cinema’s website here. Other screening options include Rooftop Cinema Club atop the roof of Hollywood’s 90-year-old Montalbán Theater and Eat|See|Hear on Saturdays all over town.

Rooftop Film Club Los Angeles
Image via Rooftop Cinema Club

4. Do a Free Public Tour at JPL

Located in Pasadena, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a unique national research facility that carries out robotic space and earth science missions. For those wanting a peek into outer space, this federally funded research and development center offers tours free of charge on an advance-reservation basis. JPL offers three types of tours: educational group tours (20 or more people), public group tours (20 or more people), and visitor day tours (up to 10 people max per reservation). During tours, guests receive an overview of the Laboratory’s activities and accomplishments, and visit the von Karman Visitor Center, the Space Flight Operations Facility, and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility. -> More information


5. Spend Time at a Botanical Garden

L.A. isn’t just home to traffic, freeways, and buildings; the city also boasts an impressive array of gardens and green spaces for locals and visitors to explore. Some of the more popular gardens include the vast, 120-acre Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, the 160-acre Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge and the 127-acre botanical garden and historical Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden. Among the other beautiful gardens across the city: the Japanese Garden in Van Nuys, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Beverly Hills’ Robinson Gardens.

[RELATED: 16 Gorgeous Los Angeles Botanical Gardens You Definitely Need to Visit Once]


6. Have a Group Dining Experience

Dining in L.A. has taken a bit of a turn, as people are now opting to sit at a table with strangers at a secret location trying different cuisines. Supper clubs, including the DTLA Dinner Club, have taken L.A. by storm, wherein home chefs and trained restaurant chefs alike dabble in this new form of food art. The Roulette Society in West Hollywood is a series of pop-up events and dinner parties for the interesting and interested, while Chef Craig Thornton, via Wolvesmouth, hosts a pop-up dinner featuring world-class cuisine at his home. Thornton also has a new seafood centric series called Sharksteeth.

Others options include the Disco Dining Club, Hyejin Cho and Itay Zach’s Foodshop, The Coconut Club, and many more. We Like L.A. also had a fun experience checking out a Feastly event in the Arts District this past month (see pic below).


7. Enjoy at Least One Free Museum Day

Those looking to get their culture fix in L.A. can do so for free all across town, as many of our museums are either free or have free museum days. The Broad Museum in DTLA is free with reservations, while The Getty and Getty Villa are both free (though you do have to pay $15 for parking if you choose to drive). At LACMA, all guests receive free general admission on the second Tuesday of every month, while L.A. County residents receive free general admission on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on Fridays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Huntington Library is free the first Thursday of the month when you book an advance ticket, while the Natural History Museum is free the first Tuesday of every month (except July and August). A number of other free museums include the Hammer Museum, California Science Center, Griffith Observatory, Fowler Museum, and many more. See the list below is many more options.

[RELATED: A Handy List of Free Museum Days in Los Angeles]


Getty Center Garden
The Getty Center. Credit: Nick Webb via flickr cc

8. Do L.A. on Foot at CicLAvia

CicLAvia, a leader in the global open streets movement, temporarily closes streets to car traffic, opening them to Los Angelenos to use as a public park. This non-profit group catalyzes vibrant public spaces, active transportation, and good health through car-free street happenings across the city, giving Angelenos a great excuse to explore L.A. by foot, each time in a different neighborhood. CicLAvia currently has two events coming up: “Culver City Meets Venice presented by Metro” on March 26, and another in June, “Glendale to Atwater,” with more to be announced soon. -> More information

CicLAvia 2011
CicLAvia in 2011 near MacArhtur Park. Credit: Steve and Julie via flickr cc

9. Meet the Grunion at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Down in San Pedro, spend a night at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and meet some grunion. The small sardine-size fish arrive at night after high tide around the new moon and full moon, and Cabrillo Beach is one of the best locations to view them. The Aquarium opens at 8 p.m. During the auditorium program beginning at 9 p.m., guests learn about the interesting mating rituals and growth of this curious fish, followed by guided observation on the beach. Tickets are just $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, students, and children. -> More information

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
Photo by Gary Florin / Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

10. Go to a Free Live Music Show

Free concerts in L.A. aren’t hard to find, as music is one the city’s main forms of entertainment. Particularly during the summer months (such as Twilight Concerts at The Pier and lunchtime concerts amid food trucks at DTLA’s Grand Park), a number of venues and locations host free events, though some also have free concerts year-round. For a local vibe, check out local LA bands showing off their tunes every Monday night at The Satellite in Silver Lake. Other free music events include: Music Spotlight Series at Universal CityWalk, Echo Park Rising and Make Music Pasadena.


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