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Living in Los Angeles when you’re young is, to put it plainly, awesome. There are so many things to do, both wholesome and well, not so much. Staying up until dawn, going on first dates, and enjoying nature with your friends are just a few of the must-dos of youth. Here are 20 things to do before you hit 30. (And after, because in L.A., you’re only as old as you feel.)
So what if you can’t carry a tune? The fine folks at karaoke bars like Brass Monkey, R Bar and Backstage don’t care. Pick out your song and belt it out. If you feel like you need to practice first, there are plenty of private room karaoke bars in Koreatown and Little Tokyo.
Though L.A. bars tend to shut at 2 a.m. or earlier, those looking to welcome the dawn can swing an after-hours spot. The most popular is the Overpass, which is located, as one might guess, beneath an overpass.
Los Angeles has dozens of escape rooms, each one requiring teams work together to find clues and solve riddles. While escape rooms are for suitable for all ages, when you’re 20-something, they can make a unique date. What’s a better way to know if you can get along with someone than getting trapped in a puzzle room with them for an hour?
Ah, yes: baking under the sun to watch the hottest new acts at Coachella, surrounded by hundreds of fashionistas and new-age suburban kids on a quest for self-discovery. It’s a young person’s game. And don’t forget about all the parties occurring off-site.
Starting in 2018, Californians should be able to purchase recreational marijuana. There’s no time like your 20s to experiment with a cookie or joint. And given all the things Californians have historically listed as reasons why they need a medical marijuana card, the plant may follow you into your later years.
If you must go clubbing in Hollywood, it’s best to do so before you get old enough to realize you’d rather talk to the grumpy bartender at the neighborhood dive while listening to music at a reasonable volume.
Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County transforms into Knott’s Scary Farm every Halloween. Later in life, only things like figuring out your 401K and the Covered California website will scare you. Scream while fleeing from monsters wielding fake chainsaws and diabolical clowns, wind through mazes full of ghouls, then enjoy greasy carnival food at one of Southern California’s longest-running haunted amusement parks.
Lots of tourists head over to CBS Television City in Fairfax for their chance to spin the Big Wheel on The Price is Right. Luck being a fickle mistress, as they say, you might as well give it a shot. Tickets to be in the audience are free, and you never know… you may be able to pay off your student loans.
Not too far from Knott’s Berry Farm (that’s what they call it when it isn’t Halloween), is “the happiest place on Earth”. Sure, it can take you 12 hours to go on five rides, but the ambiance is worth it. Pose with Mickey, buy a lightsaber, go on the Haunted Mansion ride, have a Dole Whip!
Even if you’re not an aspiring actor, it’s worth seeing what it’s like to be on set in the city where a considerable amount of films and TV shows are made. The easiest way to do this – unless you know a guy who knows a guy – is to sign up for Central Casting in Burbank. Sure, you’ll have to wait in a long line and someone will try to convince you to go to a Scientology-run acting workshop. But one day, you might get that call to stand behind a big star on an episode of a network drama. Your reward will be making about minimum wage while grazing at craft services all day, as well as a good story about that time you were on TV.
Learn of the follies of other young fools in love at the Museum of Broken Relationships in Hollywood. This is the museum’s second location, the other being in Croatia. Relics of love and friendships lost can be found, each presented with its own heartbreaking, and occasionally uplifting, story.
Pick a cool cultural institution, such as an art or history museum or public radio station KCRW, and become a member. It’s a nice way to invest in the arts, and it’ll get you into cool parties and show previews where you can network with like-minded new friends.
See and be seen at the Tropicana Bar. It’s the pool bar at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt, an if-these-walls-could-talk hotel that’s been around since 1927 and frequented by the likes of Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy it, but you will have to buy a pricey drink or food.
Before you learn how to cook and/or supplement your meals with Eat 24 deliveries, dine out at one of L.A.’s most extravagant and strange restaurants. Make reservations at The Magic Castle, Los Angeles’ private magician’s club; or perhaps dine at Barton G, where every single dish is a spectacle made for Instagram.
There’s nothing like watching a cult classic film while picnicking at Los Angeles’ most famous cemetery, Hollywood Forever. Judy Garland and Cecil B. DeMille are buried here, amongst others. Yet despite the spooky scene, fans flock to this always-crowded summer film event, enjoying photo booths and the cool night air. Wait too long to attend, and you’ll have to contemplate your own mortality while gazing at the tombstones.
Really, there is no age limit on any of these activities, and especially Joshua Tree. It’s one of Southern California’s most beautiful national parks. Yet there is something both spectacular and memorable about making the relatively short drive with a couple of friends and gazing up at the stars – often not visible from bustling Los Angeles. Numerous gorgeous hikes can be found within the park, too, and you can unwind at a music show at famed venue Pappy & Harriet’s by night.
If you listen to your new-age friends, then camping in Joshua Tree is for finding yourself. In that case, making the four-hour road trip to Las Vegas is for losing yourself. It’s a flat, easy drive through the desert with a few interesting landmarks along the way, like the giant thermostat and Alien Jerky in Baker.
Eventually, you pass the looming neon of Buffalo Bill’s in Primm and the Gold Strike in Jean. Then, before you know it, you’re in Vegas. Stay up all night, play KISS mini-golf, and shoot a machine gun. Just don’t gamble away your grocery money. The best tip for this journey is to never leave for Vegas on a Friday night and never return to L.A. on a Sunday afternoon. That’s what everyone else does and the traffic can be horrendous.
Go to a hot yoga class, or a Soul Cycle session. Maybe some Pilates at Pop Physique or Sandbox Fitness. You could follow it up by getting very cold in the cryotherapy chamber at Next Health. It will be very refreshing, and you’ll feel really good about yourself as you head home sipping a cold-pressed juice. Later, you can sign up for L.A. Fitness or Gold’s and squeeze in some cardio and light weight training before work while listening to a true crime podcast like everyone else.
Root for the home team, eat a Dodger dog, and if you’re lucky, catch the fireworks. Even if you’re not a baseball enthusiast, a game can be a nice way to spend an afternoon or evening with friends eating junk food and enjoying the camaraderie of your fellow Angelenos.
Before your life is overwhelmed with a career and/or kids, invest in the resource that is time by spending it doing something you care about. Los Angeles offers numerous volunteer opportunities, including working with animals, children, students, the homeless, nature and in cultural institutions. Find a calendar of some options here, or contact local organizations you admire and ask how you might help.