Los Angeles is the melting pot of the west coast and the center of California’s arts and music scene. Your trip to California should undoubtedly include an exploration of this culture.
When you visit LA, you will see signs denoting ethnic neighborhoods celebrating its cultures. There are the largest Korean, Thai, Mexican, Iranian, and El Salvadorian communities outside their countries of origin. Over half of Los Angeles’ population is Latino.
Los Angeles is the birthplace and the brightest star of the motion picture industry. It also boasts the most museums per person than anywhere else in the year.
CheapOair has a new YouTube video series called “Things to Do In…” which highlights unique and authentic experiences available at their destinations. In celebration of this service, they have sponsored me to share my own list of cultural things to do in Los Angeles. Since I grew up just a short distance away and still visit at least once a year, I have spent a lot of time exploring Los Angeles. I love sharing these experiences that have been part of my life with my teenage sons, and I’m glad to share them with you.
After you are done reading, be sure to check out CheapOair‘s Things to Do in Los Angeles on YouTube, starring “The CheapOair Travel Guy” Beau Rials. There you can follow CheapOair’s social channels and be the first to see their new videos. Then you will also have the opportunity to be the first to know about their upcoming contests!
Table of Contents
- 1 Here’s my list of the cultural activities I love to do in LA…
- 1.1 1) Visit Olvera Street
- 1.2 2) Visit a Mission
- 1.3 3) Visit Korea Town (K-Town)
- 1.4 4) Experience Old Roman Culture at The Getty Museums
- 1.5 5) Museum of Tolerance
- 1.6 6) Canter’s Jewish Deli
- 1.7 7) Explore Los Angeles’ Film Culture
- 1.8 8) Visit the Birthplace of the Pentecostal Movement
- 1.9 9) Swing by Capitol Records
- 1.10 10) Explore Los Angeles’ Street Art Scene
- 1.11 Related Posts
Here’s my list of the cultural activities I love to do in LA…
1) Visit Olvera Street
125 Paseo de la Plaza, Los Angeles
The best place to experience Mexican culture in LA is Olvera Street, an authentic recreation of a paseo. It is the closest I have felt in the US to one of my favorite spots in Cancun, Mexico, Parque las Palapas, which is an off-the-beaten tourist path. On Olvera Street, you will not only shop for Mexican goods and eat delicious foods, but also tour the oldest residence in Los Angeles, Avila Adobe.
2) Visit a Mission
15151 San Fernando Mission Blvd, Mission Hills
The first Europeans to settle in California were Spaniards, who built a mission system on California’s coast. Visiting a mission is the perfect way to learn about the history of early California. Established in 1797, Mission San Fernando Rey de España now functions as a museum. To learn more about California’s mission history, read about my time in San Juan Capistrano.
3) Visit Korea Town (K-Town)
Around the cross streets of Willshire Boulevard and Normandie Avenue, Los Angeles
This three-square-mile area in Los Angeles contains a lot of shopping opportunities, coffee shops, dessert shops, and my favorite Korean foods. Be sure to try some kimchee, pot bibimbap, and Korean BBQ.
4) Experience Old Roman Culture at The Getty Museums
Getty Center 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles
Getty Villa 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades
Six-thousand years of antiquities and arts can be seen at the Getty Museums, and admission is always free (although the Villa requires a time-stamped ticket.) The Villa’s collections draw more from Greece and Roman antiquities, but the view of Los Angeles from the Getty Center is so fantastic, it can be hard to choose one. If you have enough time, visit both.
5) Museum of Tolerance
9786 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
An important part of exploring other cultures is gaining empathy. While you are in Los Angeles, be sure to spend some time in the Museum of Tolerance. Although it concentrates on the Holocaust, it also touches on racism and inequality around the world.
6) Canter’s Jewish Deli
419 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles
Arguably the most famous Jewish deli in Los Angeles, stop in to get your fix of corn beef Ruebens, Matzo ball soup, and most other Jewish foods you are dreaming about. Canter’s is the same deli that originated in Boyle Heights, the largest Jewish neighborhood in the US outside of Brooklyn, New York.
7) Explore Los Angeles’ Film Culture
If Los Angeles has a culture of its own, it revolves around the film industry. There are many classic studios to tour, including Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Adventures by Disney: Disney Backstage, Warner Bros., and Universal Studios. Warner Bros. is the oldest movie studio in Los Angeles. Universal’s tour is included in their amusement park entrance fee.
8) Visit the Birthplace of the Pentecostal Movement
Azusa Street, Los Angeles
Did you know that the Pentecostal revival movement started in Los Angeles? It was begun by the son of former slaves, William J. Seymour, in 1905 on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The Azusa Street Revival was also significant in that many different races were working together to spread this movent. This revival then spread across the southern United States, and the Pentecostal Church sprung from it.
9) Swing by Capitol Records
1750 Vine St, Los Angeles
Music is closely related to film, so it makes sense that Los Angeles also has played an influential role in American music. Charlie Chaplin had his studio here to make music for his movies. Los Angeles has born music acts such as NWA, Ritchie Valens, The Beach Boys, Weezer, Los Lobos, Metallica, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Doors, and many more.
The Capitol Records Building is a landmark shaped like a stack of records. Capitol is the first important West Coast record label.
If you have time, you can also visit the Grammy Music Museum at 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles.
10) Explore Los Angeles’ Street Art Scene
Melrose Avenue between Fairfax and LaBrea, Los Angeles
Everywhere you look on this trendy shopping and restaurant-filled street, you will see street art–on garages, sidewalks, in alleys, and even atop roofs. Street art is a common way for locals to express their beliefs boldly and can be quite beautiful.
With that, we end our exploration of the best cultural things to do in Los Angeles.
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Once you book your flights, remember to check out all their Things to Do in Los Angeles series to help you plan your best trip to this vibrant California town.