Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A.
Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Start with a Hike in Griffith Park
There's no better way to start a leisurely Sunday in Los Angeles than by getting an early start on a hike in Griffith Park. This sprawling urban parkland is one of the largest municipal parks in North America, offering over 4,300 acres of rugged wilderness right in the heart of the city.
Within minutes, you can be transported from the bustling streets of Hollywood to shaded trails winding through canyons and up to breathtaking views from the tops of ridges and peaks. It's the perfect way to get your heart pumping and blood flowing before the rest of your adventures around LA.
One of the most popular hikes is the route up to the Griffith Observatory. This landmark art deco building is perched up on the south-facing slopes of Mount Hollywood, offering unmatched panoramic views over the LA basin and out to the Pacific Ocean. The hike up is about 1.5 miles, gaining over 700 feet in elevation.
Along the way, the trail switchbacks under groves of oak and bay laurel trees, passing by the Greek Theatre and Berlin Forest before emerging from the trees to the sweeping views from the Observatory's grounds. On clear days, you can see all the way from Santa Monica to Downtown LA and beyond.
For those looking for a longer and more strenuous hike, the route to the Wisdom Tree and Burbank Peak is a must. This 5.8 mile out-and-back trail climbs over 1,700 feet to a lone tree perched on an exposed ridge high above Burbank.
The tree itself has an interesting history, having grown for decades in an impossible spot. But it's the views that are the real reward, looking out at the Verdugo Mountains, Crescenta Valley, and San Gabriel Mountains beyond. The elevation gain will get your blood pumping for sure!
What else is in this post?
- Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Start with a Hike in Griffith Park
- Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Wander the Paths of the Huntington Gardens
- Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Brunch Al Fresco at the Farmers Market
- Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Explore the Getty Center's Incredible Art Collection
- Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - See the Sunset from the Santa Monica Pier
- Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Treat Yourself to Dinner on Abbot Kinney Boulevard
- Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Catch a Comedy Show at the Laugh Factory
- Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - End the Night Dancing at the Echoplex
Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Wander the Paths of the Huntington Gardens
Step into a world of botanical wonder at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. This sprawling 207-acre estate is home to over a dozen specialized gardens showcasing plants from around the world. Wandering the paths here feels like exploring a living museum, with new surprises waiting around every bend.
The Huntington was once the home of railroad tycoon Henry E. Huntington in the early 1900s. He filled his palatial estate with rare books, paintings, and sculptures. But it was the gardens that became his true legacy. Huntington hired top landscape architects and botanists to develop specialized gardens highlighting botanicals from across the globe.
Today, visitors can explore over a dozen unique garden spaces. Don't miss the Desert Garden with one of the world's largest groups of mature cacti and succulents. Winding paths reveal over 5,000 species from arid regions in North and South America, the Mediterranean, and Africa. Highlights include a 60-foot tall Montezuma Pine and towering multi-armed Saguaro and Cardón cacti.
For a taste of China, head to the Garden of Flowing Fragrance. This 4-acre space recreates the architecture and landscaping of Suzhou, China during the Ming Dynasty. Centuries-old Taihu boulders from Lake Tai are surrounded by Chinese plants like camellias, magnolias, and water lilies. The sounds of flowing water and crickets chirping adds to the serene ambiance.
Rose lovers will be in heaven at the Rose Garden. Over 1,200 rose varieties from all over the world are arranged by type, color and bloom time so there's almost always something in flower. Inhale the heavenly scents as you stroll among Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, Climbers, and Shrubs from regions like France, Japan, and the Middle East.
For European flair, traverse the Shakespeare Garden. Plants mentioned in Shakespeare's works are artfully arranged among meandering paths, brick walls, and an Elizabethan-style knot garden. Look for lavender, poppies, roses, lilies, and herbs like thyme and rosemary. Quotes from Shakespeare's plays add whimsy.
The tranquil Japanese Garden transports visitors across the Pacific with an authentic tea house, koi ponds, bonsai trees, and a hillside waterfall. Gravel paths meander past maple, pine and cherry trees with moss-covered rocks and stone lanterns. It's easy to lose track of time while soaking in this peaceful oasis.
The 150-acre Botanical Gardens showcase plants from around the world arranged geographically in themes like jungle, lagoon, and palm grove. The Australian section contains a rare Wollemi Pine, a "living fossil" dating back to the time of the dinosaurs.
Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Brunch Al Fresco at the Farmers Market
After working up an appetite on your morning hike and garden stroll, make your way to the iconic Farmers Market just off 3rd Street for a delightful al fresco brunch. This lively open-air market first opened in 1934 and continues to be one of the best places in LA to sample fresh, local cuisine while rubbing elbows with fellow Angelenos.
Dozens of eateries and food stalls offer every type of craving, from pizza to crepes to tacos. But the Farmers Market is arguably best known for its classic breakfast fare. Head to Du-par's Restaurant and Bakery, the market's beloved diner that has been slinging eggs and flapjacks since 1938. Their buttermilk biscuits and gravy are legendary, as are the homemade pies from their on-site bakery. Expect a wait on weekends, but the people watching on the bustling patio makes it fly by.
For lighter fare, the French Crepe Company serves both sweet and savory options of the delicate French pancakes. Pair your crepe with a cappuccino and soak up the European flair. Wander towards the center of the market to find Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts, serving piping hot coffee and some of the fluffiest doughnuts around. Don't miss their signature frosted animal doughnuts like pandas and pigs.
If Eggs 'N Things is more your speed, come hungry for their huge portions of classic breakfast plates, towering stacks of pancakes, and signature "Eggs N Things" with two eggs, bacon or sausage and rice covered in brown gravy.
For a true LA experience, head to Trejo's Tacos and try Danny Trejo's unique breakfast tacos and burritos. The OG Skinny Pig features eggs, potatoes, cheese and bacon while the Donna taco piles on avocado, pico de gallo and crema. Pair it with one of their refreshing agua frescas for an authentic Mexican morning.
Wherever you choose to dine, the best part of brunching at the Farmers Market is soaking up the contagious energy of the crowd. By mid-morning, the market is buzzing with tourists, families with strollers, and hipsters sipping lattes. Street performers entertain with music, magic and comedy. On any given Sunday, you might brush shoulders with a celebrity or even catch an impromptu dance party breaking out.
Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Explore the Getty Center's Incredible Art Collection
After fueling up on brunch, make your way to the Getty Center in Brentwood for an afternoon immersed in art and culture. Perched high on a hilltop with sweeping views of Los Angeles, the Getty Center is one of the architectural gems of the city. But it's the world-class art collections inside that are the real draw.
The Getty's holdings span from antiquities to contemporary photography, but it's best known for its European paintings. Wander the grand galleries to come face-to-face with masterpieces from some of history's greatest painters like Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh, and Cézanne. It's an art lover's paradise.
One standout is Van Gogh's Irises, the Getty's most famous painting. The luminous purple and yellow irises practically leap off the canvas, revealing Van Gogh's passion for color and vitality. Nearby, gaze at Rembrandt's moving portrait of An Old Man in Military Costume and the serenity of Monet's Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning.
Don't miss Vincent van Gogh’s The Novel Reader, a stunning example of the artist’s mature style. The Post-Impressionist colors and energetic brushwork seem ready to walk right off the canvas. This striking portrait of a young woman absorbed in a book highlights Van Gogh's skill in capturing the inner spirit of his subjects.
Cézanne's Still Life with Apples and Oranges offers an intimate look at the apples and oranges on the artist's own kitchen table. Cézanne's characteristic flat, geometric brush strokes allow each piece of fruit to maintain its own unique character while unifying them into a cohesive composition.
Beyond the paintings, the Getty's antiquities collection spans 6,000 years of history with Greek, Roman and Etruscan artifacts. One standout is a larger-than-life marble statue of the mythical Greek river god Ilissos dating back to the 5th Century BC. Discovered in Athens, it's a rare example of an ancient Greek bronze original.
The Getty even displays illuminated Medieval manuscripts and dazzling 17th century French decorative arts. Take time to appreciate the craftsmanship of cabinets, commodes and clocks from the reign of Louis XIV through Louis XVI. Intricate wood marquetry and ormolu mounts elevate functional pieces into works of art.
In addition to the extensive permanent collections, the Getty often hosts world-class visiting exhibitions. Past shows have covered topics ranging from luxury in ancient Rome to the pioneering photography of Man Ray.
Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - See the Sunset from the Santa Monica Pier
As the day winds down, make your way west to catch one of Southern California’s most iconic sunset views from the Santa Monica Pier. This classic 100-year-old pleasure pier has starred in countless films, TV shows, and pop culture moments. But watching the sun sink into the Pacific from the pier’s edge is a quintessential SoCal experience.
The Santa Monica Pier stretches out 1,600 feet over the waves, lined with carnival rides, kitschy souvenir shops, street performers, and restaurants serving up stick-to-your-ribs fare like funnel cake and corn dogs. An iconic sign arched over the entrance greets visitors emerging from Pacific Park onto the main pier.
But for sunset, head out past the rides and concessions to the pier’s westernmost tip. Leaning on a railing at water’s edge with the golden light dancing on the swells, you’ll feel a million miles from the city. It’s just you, the rhythmic lap of waves, and the sun slipping below the horizon in a splash of pinks, oranges and purples.
Watch surfers catch the last waves rolling in as the offshore breeze picks up. Gulls glide and swoop over the water while pelicans skim just above the glassy surface. The faint sound of carnival music and laughter drifts out over the water as the sky darkens from fiery orange to dusky purple.
There’s perhaps no better vantage point to watch the sunset over the Pacific than from this iconic pier. As a local says, “I’ve seen the sunset from Malibu to Huntington Beach, but nothing compares to watching it from the Santa Monica Pier. The Ferris Wheel lights up, the colors reflect on the water, and you get that perfect view down the coast."
Another visitor raved “I've seen some epic sunsets all over the world, but the one I saw from Santa Monica Pier was phenomenal. The whole pier lit up in golden hour, the sun slowly melted into the ocean, and seeing the joy of others watching was infectious.”
Sunset at the pier has even won over locals. As one Santa Monica resident describes, “I've lived here for 20 years but still try to catch the sunset from the pier whenever I can. It just never gets old watching the sun sink behind the horizon with the silhouette of the pier stretching out to sea."
Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Treat Yourself to Dinner on Abbot Kinney Boulevard
After a jam-packed Sunday exploring Los Angeles, you'll have worked up quite an appetite. What better way to end the weekend than by treating yourself to dinner at one of the trendy restaurants along Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. This vibrant stretch has been called "the coolest block in America," and with good reason.
Dotted with chic eateries, bars, and boutiques, just strolling Abbot Kinney delivers a dose of that laidback Venice vibe. But it’s the mouthwatering menus that will have your stomach grumbling. From wood-fired pizza to sushi to farm-to-table cuisine, Abbot Kinney dining offers a world tour of flavors celebrated with California creativity.
According to Thrillist, Abbot Kinney’s “density of excellent restaurants” can’t be beat. Foodies rave that “every restaurant is worth trying” and “the quality of food is just through the roof.” Visitors say the hardest part is deciding where to eat on Abbot Kinney’s “restaurant row.”
One favorite is Gjelina, whose rustic Mediterranean dishes have diners swooning over favorites like crispy artichokes, wood-oven roasted mussels and charred octopus with lentils. Their menu changes with what’s fresh so every visit offers new temptations. Warm wood furnishings, worn brick and flickering candles add to the charm.
Café Gratitude is a must for vegetarians and vegans thanks to their meatless takes on comfort foods like burgers, nachos and mac ‘n cheese. Their dishes will make even carnivores smile with names like “Magical,” “Grounded” and “Loved.” It’s feel-good food in a Zen-chic indoor-outdoor space.
For sushi, Sugarfish draws long lines for their reasonably priced omakase-style menus focused on high-quality fish. Their “trust me” chef’s selections allow no substitutions so sushi purists are satisfied. Be prepared to wait but pass the time people watching on the bustling boulevard.
The original 800 Degrees Pizzeria location fires up Neapolitan-style pies blistered and bubbly from their wood-burning oven. Choose your toppings or opt for a signature pie like the Meatball with mozzarella, pecorino, basil and spicy tomato sauce. Their patio seating is perfect for pizza and people watching.
If farm-to-table is your thing, check out The Tasting Kitchen. Dishes like honey lacquered duck breast and diver scallops with English peas showcase seasonal ingredients from local farmers and foragers. Their Italian-leaning wine list pairs beautifully.
Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - Catch a Comedy Show at the Laugh Factory
After indulging in Abbot Kinney’s culinary delights, make your way inland for an evening of laughs at the iconic Laugh Factory comedy club on the Sunset Strip. This legendary venue has been cracking up audiences since 1979 with its nightly standup showcases. Its reputation for discovering new talent and surprise celeb drop-ins makes it a primetime Hollywood hangout.
According to LA Weekly, “No trip to Hollywood is complete without hitting up an evening at the Laugh Factory.” The intimate 335-seat club feels both glamorous and gritty, with its red velvet curtains and graffiti covered walls. You never know which comedy stars will drop in for surprise sets. Veterans like Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and Sarah Silverman have all popped by unannounced.
But the real magic is seeing tomorrow’s household names testing out their material on the Laugh Factory stage. From Dane Cook to Ellen Degeneres to Kevin Hart, many top comics got their start here. Its reputation for finding and fostering new talent is unmatched. As comedian Russell Peters put it, “If you want to make it, you’ve got to play the Laugh Factory.”
With shows starting as early as 8pm, you’ll have your pick of lineups. The rotating cast features established headliners plus up-and-comers ranging from dry, cynical humor to physical slapstick to musical comedy. Traditional standup dominates, but you may catch a magician or ventriloquist too.
According to LA locals, catching a show at the Laugh Factory offers “Guaranteed laughs from talented comedians” in an “Intimate, iconic space with an electric vibe.” The affordable tickets also make it “one of the best comedy deals in Hollywood.” Visitors say, “The talent blew me away” and “My cheeks hurt from laughing so hard!”
- Eddie Griffin – The veteran comedian known for bits like “You Can Tell ‘Em I Said It” always brings down the house with his high energy and fearlessly funny take on politics, relationships and race.
Spend the Perfect Sunday Soaking Up the Sights in L.A. - End the Night Dancing at the Echoplex
After an evening of laughs at the Laugh Factory, keep the good times rolling by ending your epic LA Sunday at the Echoplex. This lively venue in the hip Echo Park neighborhood offers an eclectic mix of live music, DJs, and dancing to finish off your weekend with a bang.
According to LA Weekly, the Echoplex is "one of the best places in town to dance the night away." With something going on almost every night, it attracts crowds ready to let loose and have fun. The converted basement club below the Echo music hall has all the ingredients for an unforgettable night - cheap drinks, good music, and a packed dance floor.
The talent booked here is impressively diverse, covering the spectrum from indie rock to electronic to funk and soul. On any given night you may catch a buzzworthy band on the rise, a renowned DJ spinning beats, or a high-energy cover band. Regular events like Funky Sole keep the vintage vibes going with classic soul and rare grooves vinyl sets.
Yelpers say the Echoplex offers "Cool underground vibes, great DJs, and a lively crowd." First-timers are wowed by the "intimate, gritty atmosphere" and "solid sound system." The small venue means you "really feel immersed in the music." Visitors rave "the dance floor was popping all night long!"
Don't miss the popular Reggae Night on Sundays. One fan gushed, "The reggae music was pumping, people were dancing with smiles on their faces, and the good vibes were contagious." Another said, "I couldn't stop dancing! The music was perfect as the night wound down." Even skeptics admit "I ended up dancing all night and having an amazing time."
Beyond the music, the crowd itself creates the energy according to locals. As one regular put it, "The people who go know how to have fun and don't care about looking cool. They just want to dance and let loose after a long week." First-timers agree, "The crowd was so friendly! Total strangers were dancing together and I made some new friends."
To keep your energy up for all that dancing, the club serves up wallet-friendly drinks like $4 PBRs and $6 well cocktails. With happy hour from 8-10pm, you can fuel up on the cheap before hitting the dance floor. Late night food trucks also park outside to replenish dancers with tacos, burgers, and more.
Insider tips: Don't wear heels or fancy clothes - this is a gritty, divey space so dress comfortably! The earlier you arrive the better chance of skipping the line. And bring cash for the entrance fee to avoid ATM fees.