Los Angeles nightlife doesn’t have to be all about bars and clubs. There are plenty of neon light shows, fascinating performances, and late-night eats to explore after the sun sets. Here are 17 unique ways to take advantage of your nocturnal nature.
For a family-friendly night event, check out Universal CityWalk®, adjacent to Universal Studios Hollywood. You don’t have to buy a ticket to the theme park to access this pedestrian-friendly walkway full of retail, restaurants, dessert shops (like Voodoo Donuts), a movie theater, and neon signage. It’s open until 9 p.m. Monday–Thursday, 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 p.m. on Sunday.
Hike Griffith Park
Take a night hike through Griffith Park with the Sierra Club. They offer weekday hikes, which come in a variety of skill levels from beginner to very advanced. On one Friday a month—specifically the one closest to the full moon—the club offers a 2.5-hour night hike that features a potluck at a scenic vista.
Pacific Park® is an amusement park located on the Santa Monica Pier. There are several rides and midway games, including a Ferris wheel that is best viewed when lit up after dark. The park is free to enter, but guests will need to buy tickets to the individual attractions. Hours vary, so check the park’s website before heading out.
Pacific Park, 380 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA, USA, +1 310 260 8744
Glendale’s Museum of Neon Art hosts the Neon Cruise. Guests take a narrated tour on a convertible bus through downtown L.A., Hollywood, and Chinatown, learning about the neon signs and their historical context along the way. Tours last over three hours, and start in either downtown or Hollywood, depending on which tour you select. Tickets are $65 each.
In October, Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles (GHOULA) offer a haunted Red Line tour, which takes guests along the Metro Red Line from Union Station to North Hollywood, a total of 13 unlucky stops. Though the tour begins at 6 p.m., it lasts until 9 p.m., meaning it will get dark at some point along your journey. The tour will take you on and off the train, exploring the haunted history along the way. It’s a donation-based tour, but guests will need to purchase a Metro day pass ($7) to avoid being charged a separate fee for every stop. For something more year-round, check out the Queen Mary’s ghost tours. The retired ocean liner always makes “most haunted” lists, and they offer both day and night tours. For late-night spookiness, book a paranormal investigation or ship walk.
Canter’s has been around since the 1930s and in its current location on Fairfax since the 1950s. It’s been a frequent haunt of musicians playing on the nearby Sunset Strip and serves Jewish fare, such as matzoh ball soup and lox, alongside American diner dishes. It’s open 24 hours, except for certain holidays. Comedy and music go down in the adjacent cocktail lounge, Kibitz Room.
Canter’s Restaurant, 419 N Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 323 561 2030
BCD Tofu House
BCD Tofu House has multiple locations, but its Koreatown spot on Wilshire is open 24 hours. Find comforting, spicy Korean cuisine like galbi, bibimbap, and soups in hearty portions. Vegetarian menu items are available, as well as alcohol before 2 a.m.
BCD Tofu House, 3575 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 213 382 6677
If you need to unwind at night instead of amp up, then pay a visit to Koreatown’s 24-hour spa, Wi Spa. Steam rooms, saunas, showers, and hot and cold tubs are available in one area, while all-gender spaces feature mineral saunas, a restaurant, fitness center, and rooftop terrace. If you stay too late into the night, you can always take a nap here as well.
Wi Spa, 2700 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 213 487 2700
Angeleno Adam Tenenbaum has adorned a tree in front of his Silver Lake home with over 30 chandeliers. Anyone is welcome to stop by and bask in the glow or take a few photos. It’s typically lit up in the early evening to about 10 p.m., but you can check the tree’s Facebook page to make sure it’ll be lit.
The Clubhouse is a comedy club tucked in a strip mall where you can catch late-night improv shows. The theater is completely independent and volunteer-run, so though every show is free, donations are highly suggested to keep this gem alive. There are also plenty of opportunities here for newer performers to participate, including classes and improv jams.
One of Los Angeles’ most popular Instagram spots is in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Chris Burden’s Urban Light sculpture features 202 vintage street lamps, neatly positioned in several rows. At night, the glowing sculpture is a romantic destination for locals and tourists alike.
Chinatown Summer Nights
On select Saturdays throughout the summer, local radio station KCRW hosts a party in Chinatown’s Central Plaza, featuring DJs, dancing, shopping, cooking demonstrations, art installations, cultural activities, food trucks, and beer. The Plaza is just a short walk from the Metro Gold Line’s Chinatown station. Chinatown Summer Nights are suitable for all ages, and admission is free.
The almighty Opp
Perhaps one of the strangest nighttime activities, the almighty Opp is a mysterious puppet show that pops up on a Koreatown corner on the last Saturday of each month. Guests assemble at the corner of Western and Elmwood, just a short walk from arcade bar Blipsy, at around 9 p.m. for a night of bizarre music and puppetry. It’s funny, weird, occasionally participatory, and always a strange adventure, drawing a dedicated group of regulars every month.
Downtown Art Walk
The Downtown Art Walk occurs every second Thursday of each month. Guests are advised to start at the visitor center, open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., to get a map and the lay of the land. From there, visit nearby galleries for art openings and events. Plenty of restaurants, bars, and venues are nearby for making a full night of it. Food trucks typically set up shop at 7th and Spring for a quick bite.
The Willows is an immersive theater event located within a sprawling, old home just south of Koreatown, the exact location of which will only be revealed once you’ve purchased your tickets. As the story goes, you’ve been invited to a dinner party at the home of the Willows family. They’re no ordinary family, harboring a host of dark secrets, including what really happened to a recently deceased relative. Throughout the night, more will be divulged, occasionally in one-on-one scenes should a character decide to pull you away from the group. The show lasts about two hours and includes dinner and drinks. Tickets are $125 and are available to purchase online. They’re released in batches which sell out quickly due to the small audience size and limited dates, so sign up for their mailing list to hear about new shows first.
California Donuts is a 24-hour donut shop in Koreatown where one can satisfy any late-night cravings for sweets. They’ve been a family-operated establishment since the 1980s, and it’s not uncommon to see a line of people waiting for their turn to make their donut selections. Colorful creations abound, including donuts topped with crunchy cereal, candies, and fruit. You can also select among the classics, including fritters, croissants, jelly-filled pastries, and cinnamon rolls.
California Donuts, 3540 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 213 385 3318
Infinitely Dinner Society’s Midnight Snacks
Infinitely Dinner Society is certainly mysterious. Guests who follow them on social media will find sporadic invitations to participate in a midnight snack. Those selected will purchase a ticket online—typically $10 to $25—before agreeing to meet at a specific location at a select time, usually after midnight. Performers will soon arrive to deliver on their promise of dinner and a short, immersive show. Previous snacks have included oysters, cheese plates, and donuts. Shows typically focus on the concept of infinity, as the name might imply. Follow them on Instagram at @infinitelydinnersociety.