14 Things to Do in LA

There's so much more nature and culture here than just stars and sand! With these 14 under-the-radar activities, you can get a full, surprising sense of LA's diversity.

By: Rachel B. Levin
Everyone knows that Los Angeles is a place to experience the movie magic of Hollywood and frolic on iconic beaches. But there's so much more nature and culture here than just stars and sand! With these 14 under-the-radar attractions, you can get a full, surprising sense of the LA's diversity.
1. Meander Through a Book Labyrinth
The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, California

The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, California

Photo by: P. Eoche/Photolibrary/Getty Images

P. Eoche/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Book lovers will be thrilled by the labyrinth of volumes on the mezzanine level at the Last Bookstore. Wind your way through tunnels and passageways made from tomes and bank vaults filled with books, until you arrive at your final destination: a treasure trove of 100,000 books for $1 each.
2. Ride a Paddleboat on a Lake
Echo Park Lake, pedal boat, Los Angeles, California

Echo Park Lake, pedal boat, Los Angeles, California

Photo by: TheCrimsonRibbon/iStock/Getty Images

TheCrimsonRibbon/iStock/Getty Images

Traversing an idyllic lake on an old-fashioned paddleboat may sound like a pastoral pleasure, but at Echo Park Lake, you can do so in view of the downtown skyscrapers. Admire the spectacular vistas and verdant lotus beds, and end your ride with a snack at Square One at the Boathouse.
3. Visit LA County Wine Country
Malibu Family Winery, Los Angeles, California

Malibu Family Winery, Los Angeles, California

Photo by: Malibu Family Wines

Malibu Family Wines

The surfside town of Malibu is becoming quite a wine destination, with vineyards creating a quilt on the rolling foothills that give way to the sea. At Malibu Family Wines, you can sample flights of local vino in the outdoor tasting park. Pack a picnic and come on the weekends for live music.
4. See the Hollywood Hills on Horseback
Sunset Ranch Hollywood, horseback riding, Los Angeles, California

Sunset Ranch Hollywood, horseback riding, Los Angeles, California

Photo by: Sunset Ranch Hollywood, Inc.

Sunset Ranch Hollywood, Inc.

Get a taste of LA's Wild West at Sunset Ranch in the Hollywood Hills. Day and sunset horseback rides provide guests of all skill levels with incredible views of the city and landmarks such as the Hollywood sign. For seasoned equestrians, the Friday night Fiesta Ride traverses the hills by moonlight.
5. Appreciate Sculptures With an Ocean View
Getty Villa, courtyard, Los Angeles, California

Getty Villa, courtyard, Los Angeles, California

Photo by: The J. Paul Getty Trust

The J. Paul Getty Trust

Housed in the Getty Villa, a Roman-style house commissioned by oil magnate J.P. Getty, is an art museum dedicated to Greek, Roman and Etruscan art. While the galleries stuffed with masterpieces are alluring, the views of the Pacific Ocean from the tranquil sculpture gardens steal the show.
6. Check Out a Space Shuttle
California Science Center, Endeavor, shuttle, Los Angeles

California Science Center, Endeavor, shuttle, Los Angeles

Photo by: California Science Center

California Science Center

Hollywood has the stars, but the California Science Center has a craft that took man to the stars: the space shuttle Endeavour. Even though you're not allowed to climb inside, the behemoth shuttle is a sight to behold, and excellent interactive exhibits demonstrate what it's like to be onboard.
7. Lose Yourself in Unspoiled Wilderness

Tired of the concrete jungle? Just northeast of downtown Los Angeles, you can enter the Angeles National Forest, which covers more than 650,000 acres of forestland across the San Gabriel Mountains. Hike through pine trees or wildflowers, camp under the stars, or take a scenic drive on the Angeles Crest Highway.

8. Have a Real Farm-to-Plate Meal
Le Comptoir, restaurant, Los Angeles, California

Le Comptoir, restaurant, Los Angeles, California

Photo by: Le Comptoir

Le Comptoir

"Farm-to-table" may be a foodie buzzword, but Le Comptoir is the real deal. Chef Gary Menes runs a local organic farm that supplies the produce for this chic Koreatown restaurant. The prix-fixe menu is served at an intimate 10-seat counter and crafted with vegetables picked by the chef that very day.

9. Spend the Day on an Island
Catalina Island

Catalina Island

Photo by: ThinkStock

ThinkStock

Shove off from LA Harbor, and not much more than an hour's boat ride away, you can disembark on Catalina Island. The main port, Avalon, boasts quaint streets for strolling and calm seas for water sports. You can also venture into the island's interior for zip-lining and wildlife spotting.

10. Watch a Movie in a Celebrity Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place for many of Tinseltown's most famous film legends. During the warmer months, you can watch outdoor movie screenings on the grass and picnic under the stars. While you're at it, glimpse the tombstones of greats including Douglas Fairbanks and Jayne Mansfield.

11. See a Concert in a Magnificent Movie Palace
Ace Hotel, downtown Los Angeles, Theatre, California

Ace Hotel, downtown Los Angeles, Theatre, California

Photo by: Spencer Lowell

Spencer Lowell

The Theatre at Ace Hotel, whose eclectic concert calendar features everything from indie rock to chamber orchestras, is set in a former United Artists movie palace. The hip downtown hotel recently restored the 1920s Spanish Gothic interiors, with ornate balconies and a mirrored, vaulted ceiling, to their original glory.
12. Visit a Historic Orange Grove
orange grove, tree, citrus, Los Angeles, California

orange grove, tree, citrus, Los Angeles, California

Photo by: Mitch Diamond/ Photodisc/Getty Images

Mitch Diamond/ Photodisc/Getty Images

Once upon a time, LA County was carpeted with citrus trees. Nearly all of the city's orange groves have given way to urban development, but at California State University, Northridge, you can see one of the few remaining groves in the San Fernando Valley — and even pick some fruit.
13. See a Piece of the Berlin Wall
Wende Museum, Berlin Wall, Los Angeles, California

Wende Museum, Berlin Wall, Los Angeles, California

Photo by: Richard Cummins/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Richard Cummins/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Is it Cold War-era history, or is it art? It's both! The Wende Museum displays the largest segment of the Berlin Wall outside of Berlin on Wilshire Boulevard. Check out the murals on 5 of the wall segments, which were commissioned to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its fall.
14. Smell the Roses
Descanso Gardens, Los Angeles, California

Descanso Gardens, Los Angeles, California

Photo by: Mitch Diamond/Photodisc/Getty Images

Mitch Diamond/Photodisc/Getty Images

Rose plants thrive in LA's Mediterranean climate, and there's no better place to get a whiff of the fragrant flowers than at Descanso Gardens, whose rose garden hosts more than 3,000 roses on 5 acres. If they're not blooming during your visit, check out the equally stunning Camellia Collection.
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