Los Angeles is a very big city. Its growing population isn’t the only thing that makes it big. Los Angeles is a sprawling place compared to cities like New York or Chicago. Greater L.A. has oceanfront, hills, riverfront, rich farmland and deserts. There are dozens of definable neighborhoods that have their own particular vibe. If doesn’t matter if you’re a Los Angeles native or a visitor, it would be hard to run out of things to do and see. Los Angeles makes it easy to accommodate extended trips to the area. You’ll find affordable car rental, lodging for all budgets, and a foodie culture that suits any taste or budget.
Even though the weather’s almost always pleasant, Los Angeles is very in tune to the calendar as well. You can find exciting and interesting events during most any time of the year. In fact, there are so many things to do in the city that it’s easy to overlook places that would be essential destinations in a less diverse city. Here’s a list of five of the most overlooked destinations for fun when you’re in Los Angeles:
The Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles has a long history, but it can seem brand new compared to east coast cities. The city also is associated with the movie industry, which is also constantly re-inventing itself. Don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s nothing cultural to do in the city. The Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale are world class performers, and they hold court in the astonishing Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Many visitors to the city only take pictures of the exterior of the Walt Disney concert hall. Don’t miss out! The Frank Gehry design is as iconic as the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Step inside, and you’ll find out that the sound is as amazing as the architecture.
The Derby Dolls
Looking for something a little less sedate to do? Los Angeles has its very own roller derby team, the Derby Dolls. The all female squad has charming stage names like Thora Zeen, Amber Alert, and Carmen Monoxide. They deliver lots of action and laughs at their new location, the Dolloseum on Alhambra Avenue in Los Angeles.
The Derby Dolls aren’t really just one team. They’re a league with over 150 skaters and other volunteers, and they field five full roller derby teams on their banked track. The whole organization is run by volunteers, and the teams rely on the local community and the fans to keep the doors open. If you’re looking for 100% fun, with real spills and thrills, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the derby dolls. The Dolloseum is handy to the 101 freeway, and you’ll find plenty of affordable car rental places, hotels and motels, and eateries in the area.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a hot team again. They were sort of an afterthought in decades past while the Lakers reigned supreme. Their stadium wasn’t considered a baseball cathedral like Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. Even though the stadium is close to downtown L. A., it seems a bit out of the way in the middle of Elysian Park. Don’t let that fool you. Dodger Stadium is one of the best places in the country to watch an MLB game.
The stadium has aged well since it opened in 1962, and over the decades it’s hosted eight World Series. There’s plenty of nightlife and restaurants in the area, so the stadium makes a great place for an excursion while you’re in town.
The Santa Monica Pier
Los Angeles is famous for its great beaches. Don’t restrict visits to the beach to sunbathing and swimming. There’s lots to do and see along the waterfront. The Santa Monica Pier is a great place to take the whole family, and there’s enough activities to keep you busy all day and night.
Sadly, most people just take Instagram pictures outside the gate that leads to the pier without entering. They’re all missing out. One of the most memorable rides in the world is at the end of the pier. It’s a blast to ride the world’s only solar powered Ferris wheel and look out over the ocean. If heights aren’t your thing, you can always stick to riding the carousel from the famous ’70s movie The Sting.
The OUE Skyspace
Most people wouldn’t expect to find any fun in a bank building. The US Bank Tower in Los Angeles is an exception. The top of this tower has a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city, plus a very unusual twist. The building has a transparent slide on its exterior that lets you experience the city from midair. It’s a blast to test your bravery in the glass chute that makes it appear you’re flying between floors. There’s plenty of other activities and shopping destinations in the downtown area when you’re done with your thrill ride and sightseeing.
Photo of the Walt Disney Concert Hall courtesy of the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.