6 Alternative Things to Do in Los Angeles
Updated: May 6
In a large city like Los Angeles, there are many options for things to do. Most visitors come to LA just to walk around Hollywood Boulevard, take photos in front of the Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel, and do the Runyon Canyon hike. If you are someone who hopes to discover the alternative, underground side of Los Angeles, look no further.
You’ve probably seen a thousand films that take place in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, if you think that we locals spend all day hiking up to the Hollywood sign, shopping on Rodeo Drive, or running into celebrities, then I am sorry to disappoint you. The truth is that there are a thousand different types of people in the city who each have a thousand different things they like to do. While it may be impossible to do it all, here are some of the best alternative things to do in Los Angeles.
Tip: Los Angeles is a huge city and all of these activities are a decent drive from one another. During your trip, do not expect public transportation to be your friend. Most importantly, do NOT plan on driving between 8-10 am or 5-7 pm.
A toast *cue bread* to one of my all-time favorite Los Angeles traditions: Rocky Horror Picture Show! Devoted fans have continued to attend screenings/live shadow performances of the original cult classic since its release in 1975. My mom told me that she used to go to the live shows at Nuart Theater in the 80s!
The show is colorful, alternative, and fun, making it no surprise that the culture has been taken over by the LGBTQ+ community in Los Angeles. The whole experience is full of silly callbacks, wild characters, and wacky traditions. If you want to see something that is classic LA and yet insanely underrated, be sure to check it out on Saturday nights at the Nuart Theater.
By attending the event, you will also be supporting a very tight-knit, underrepresented community. If it is your first time going to Rocky Horror, draw a V on your face or chest in lipstick. When you get there, you will be in for a surprise ritual.
Unfortunately, taking pictures is against the rules at Rocky Horror, so I don’t have any photos. I guess you will have to see it for yourself.
Have an absinthe experience at Bedroom 6
Bedroom 6 originated in some kid’s USC dorm, hence the name. Throughout the years, it has grown into an exclusive, trendy absinthe experience with locations in Los Angeles and Manhattan.
The Bedroom 6 team serves authentic absinthe cocktail menus, fosters conversation with other attendees, and curates immaculate vibes. You’ll watch your bartender melt sugar cubes over your drinks and get to meet new friends. Drink like Van Gogh!
If you are interested in having the full Bedroom 6 experience, follow them on Instagram. From there, they will post table openings, DM you to extend a table invitation, or you can try DM-ing them. Their tables go quickly, so reach out as far in advance as possible, but who knows! You might get lucky and score a spot.
Pamper yourself at a Korean Spa
There are plenty of spas to choose from in Los Angeles, but Wi Spa in Koreatown is definitely one of the more unique options. It is a traditional Korean spa that offers saunas, treatments, and other spa services. They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, they do not offer most treatments after 10 pm.
If you wanted to, you could spend an entire day wandering Wi Spa. In addition to the many saunas and pools, they have a restaurant, rooms to nap in, a gym, and a rooftop terrace! The lower levels are separated by gender, but the common spaces are open to all.
There are many treatments you can indulge in, but my personal favorite is the buff. They scrub all the dead skin off your body and you will feel brand new. They also have manicures, facials, massages, and acupressure.
You can reserve a service 24 hours in advance on their site. If you purchase a service that is over $150, your admission fee is waived.
Jet Rag $1 Sunday sale
Each Sunday, Jet Rag Vintage in La Brea hosts a $1 Sunday sale. As the name suggests, everything featured is only $1!
It is quite competitive and also a bit of a gamble, but it is more about the experience. Tons of people from LA come out to poke through giant burritos of clothing in a Hunger Games-style competition, and there is no guarantee that you will get anything good. That being said, I have walked away with Levi jeans, a Patagonia jacket, and absolutely adorable vintage dresses. And I’ll remind you that everything is $1 so there’s no harm in grabbing something that you later throw away.
If you are interested in attending the sale, aim to arrive at Jet Rag by 10 am. There’s a great coffee shop called Sasquatch Coffee down the street if you are in desperate need of a caffeine boost. Around 10:30, they arrange the clothing burritos, and by 10:45 they will give you the rules and it is a total free-for-all.
I find that the Jet Rag Sunday sale is the perfect cure for my shopping addiction because it’s fun, intense, and quick. All of the best items are typically swept away in the first 5 minutes.
Indulge on authentic Asian dishes in Sawtelle
Whether you are looking for ramen, sushi, dumplings, katsu, or any other Asian dish you can imagine, Sawtelle truly has it all. It is one of those rare streets where you can close your eyes, spin in a circle, and point to pick a restaurant, but it is still guaranteed to be delicious.
Tatsu and Sushi Stop are two of the more popular spots on the street. Both tend to have a longer wait time, but if you aren’t too hungry you can always walk around, get a boba, shop in the little markets, or get a nice drink.
I also cannot express enough that you cannot go wrong with any place on Sawtelle. Unless you have a strong craving or need to go to a specific restaurant, this is a great place to see where the wind takes you and try something new.
Disclaimer: I know that each Asian culture has its own custom dishes and foods; I’m Japanese and Filipino myself. When I use the term Asian dishes in Sawtelle it is to be inclusive of all the restaurants Sawtelle is home to, not to homogenize the cuisine.
Have a drink at a real speakeasy
If you were to unassumingly walk past the Blind Barber in Culver City, you would think it was a typical barbershop. It appears to just be a little hole-in-the-wall with a few guys getting haircuts, but when you walk through the backdoor you will find a prohibition-era bar.
Everything about the bar feels very classic with nice cocktails, a dimly lit wooden bar, and cushy red booths. If you are hungry, they also serve special grilled cheese sandwiches with tiny bowls of tomato soup on the side. Adorable!
Whether you go for dinner, happy hour, or late-night drinks, Blind Barber is a great, underground spot to grab a drink while you’re in LA.