Things to do near LAX – What You Need to Know Before You Go!

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October 29, 2023

Things to do near LAX – What You Need to Know Before You Go!

Whether a few hour layover or a multi-day stop, theres always something to do when at LAX. Just because your waiting at an airport doesn't mean you can't have some fun and explore. Here we review our top picks for things to do near LAX.

We chose our locations for the top things to do near LAX based on the most essential factors. Most importantly, the proximity of the location to the airport. All of these activities need to be within a 20 mile radius of the airport and enjoyed in a single day or less. We also looked at reviews and popularity when making our decisions.

1) Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Making it in first place, Venice beach is a must see place when near LAX. Venice beach is an iconic site that attracts visitors from all over the world. Located at just 6 miles away from LAX, this spot is perfect if you have a few hours to explore the area near LAX.

Best of all, there is enough activities to last you for days. The Ocean Front Boardwalk is the second most visited destination in California. The Venice Beach Boardwalk, spanning over two miles, is a hub of entertainment with countless street vendors, performers, and a wide array of privately owned restaurants and food spots.

For sports enthusiasts, the Venice Beach Recreation Center offers a variety of activities such as basketball, paddle tennis, and handball tournaments. Don't miss the chance to witness bodybuilding sessions at the world-famous Muscle Beach Venice gym and enjoy special events.

Additionally, Venice Beach has a fishing pier, a renowned skate plaza, a scenic bike path, and two children's play areas, making it perfect for families. Venice Beach is also a popular location for film productions, which take place year-round. All of these attractions, including the sports courts, skate plaza, and pier, are open daily to the general public.

For more information, check out the LA Parks Venice Beach Homepage.

2) Theme Building

Theme Building

Taking the number two spot for things to do near LAX, we have the theme building. The best part about this building is that it is at LAX, so there is no travel needed. You could visit even if you only had an hour or two to spare. This building has a space age design and was made to look like a flying saucer.

The building underwent multiple million dollar renovations and is a stunning place to explore. Inside you will find an observation deck with amazing views of the airport. There is also a restaurant inside to get food while you watch all of the planes take off an land.

Theme Building

We recommend visiting this place at least for an hour or two while at LAX. It has amazing architecture to explore, stunning spots to take photos, and a great place to watch the planes take off and land while waiting for you flight.

3) The Getty Center

The Getty Center

Making it in third place for things to do near LAX is the Getty Center. The Getty Center stands as a remarkable architectural marvel in the United States, boasting an extensive collection of world-class art. Designed by the renowned architect Richard Meier, this circular concrete and steel structure houses a diverse array of artwork spanning various ages and origins. Inside you'll discover a treasure trove of masterpieces, from Renaissance paintings and 20th-century American photography to Baroque sculptures and historical manuscripts. On clear days, the museum also treats visitors to breathtaking views of Los Angeles.

While being 12 miles from LAX, this location will take about 30 to 45 minutes to get to. As such, we recommend this spot if you have a full day available to travel and explore the area.

Recent travelers were impressed by the museum's extensive art collection, its splendid grounds, and the panoramic views. Some even enjoyed the tram ride that transports visitors to the museum. Many recommend embarking on a guided tour, noting the exceptional knowledge of the volunteer guides. Various tour options are available, including tours of the Getty Center's architecture and gardens, Collection Highlights tours, and era-specific art tours. Tour schedules may vary, so it's advisable to consult the Getty Center's website for a complete calendar. Additionally, visitors can opt for self-guided tours by downloading the GettyGuide app.

The Getty Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through Sundays, with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Saturdays. Various amenities are available on-site, including two coffee carts, two cafes, a restaurant, gift shops, and a garden featuring over 500 plants. Visitors are also welcome to bring their own picnic (excluding alcohol).

4) Manhattan Beach Pier

Manhattan Beach Pier

Next on our list of things to do near LAX, we have the Manhattan Beach Pier. The main benefit of this attraction is that it is only a 10 minute car ride from LAX.

There is also no shortage of activities to be had at the pier. The pier itself has amazing views of the Los Angeles Beach and is a great spot to walk around and take photos. There is also an aquarium at the end of the pier. The best part is this aquarium is completly free.

The Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium includes a shark tank, tide pool touch tank that has many species of fish native to California, and a variety of other fish species to look at.

In the summertime, the aquarium welcomes visitors from 2 PM to 5 PM on weekdays and from 10 AM until sunset on weekends. For the remainder of the year, the opening hours are from 2 PM to 8 PM on weekdays and from 9 AM to 8 PM on weekends.

Another fun beach activity here is surfing. California is one of the best spots in the world for surfing and is something everyone should experience when visiting. The Manhattan Beach Pier has attracted surfers since the 1940's. It remains an amazing beach for surfing and has many shops for lessons and board renting.

For those not interested in surfing, paddleboarding is also popular here. Paddleboarding offers similar experience to surfing minus the intense wave riding.

For more information, check out the Manhattan Beach Pier Homepage.

5) Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, often referred to as the "Central Park of Los Angeles," is a 401-acre park nestled within the Baldwin Hills, providing breathtaking panoramic views of the city. This park is an ideal destination for those seeking a calming retreat, outdoor adventures, and recreational activities. It is one of the best places to go when looking for things to do near LAX.

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area is only about a 20 minute car ride from LAX. This makes it perfect if you want some fresh air and outdoor activites when you have some time to spend.

If you're a nature enthusiast or just looking for some outdoor exercise, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area has a variety of hiking and nature trails that cater to all levels of hikers. The park features well-maintained paths that wind through lush greenery, taking you to scenic overlooks with stunning views of the Los Angeles skyline. The most popular trail is the Bowl Loop Trail, a 1.5-mile loop that leads to the park's famous overlook, offering breathtaking views of downtown LA.

The park is equipped with picnic areas and barbecue pits, making it a perfect spot for a family gathering or a relaxing day out with friends. Pack a picnic basket, fire up the barbecue grill, and enjoy a meal in the beautiful outdoor setting. It's an excellent way to unwind and savor the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area is home to Hahn Lake, an amazing and picturesque fishing spot. The lake is regularly stocked with catfish, trout, and other fish species, making it an ideal location for fishers of all levels. Bring your fishing gear and enjoy a day of casting lines while surrounded by the park's tranquil environment.

If you want some more information, check out the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area Homepage.

6) Westchester Golf Course

Westchester Golf Course

Located a mere two miles from LAX, Westchester Golf Course is a golfer's haven. Whether you're on a layover or staying close to the airport, this golf course offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy a round of golf, practice your swing, or unwind with some range balls. What sets Westchester apart is its accessibility and golfer-friendly features.

Westchester Golf Course caters to early risers, opening its gates at 5 a.m. This means you can start your day with a refreshing round of golf or a practice session before your flight.

For those arriving or departing late, you'll be pleased to know that the golf course keeps its lights on until 10 p.m. This extended playtime ensures you can enjoy a relaxing game even after the sun has set.

Worried about lugging your golf clubs through the airport? Westchester has you covered. They offer club rentals to guests at reasonable rates, making it a hassle-free experience for travelers.

Westchester Golf Course is the ideal destination for golf enthusiasts looking to make the most of their time near LAX. So, whether you're a seasoned golfer or a beginner, don't miss the opportunity to hit the greens at this convenient and golfer-friendly location.

7) Marina Del Rey

Marina Del Rey

Just minutes from LAX, Marina Del Rey offers a coastal escape that's perfect for travelers and locals alike. This man-made small-boat harbor is a destination filled with an array of activities and scenic beauty that will leave you amazed.

As you stroll along the harbor, you'll be able to watch the numerous boats lining the shores, each with their own unique charm. While the boats are impressive, Marina Del Rey goes beyond the boats. The holds numerous restaurants, souvenir shops, fishing cruise operators, and harbor tours, offering something for everyone.

For the adventurous at heart, Marina Del Rey provides the opportunity to rent a boat of your choice—whether it's a sailboat, motorboat, kayak, or Jet Ski. Explore the pristine waters and set out on your aquatic adventure.

For those who prefer a more serene experience, Burton W. Chace Park, a beautiful 10-acre recreational area overlooking the boat docks, is a must-visit. This park offers some of the most breathtaking vista points of the harbor, making it the ideal spot for a leisurely picnic.

Marina Del Rey combines the charm of a small-boat harbor with the vibrant spirit of Los Angeles. So, whether you're looking to unwind, explore the waters, or simply bask in the picturesque views, Marina Del Rey has it all. Don't miss the chance to discover this coastal gem just minutes away from LAX.

8) Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

If you're into art and looking for things to do near LAX, the Los Angeles Museum of Art is perfect for you. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) stands as a cultural jewel in Los Angeles, renowned as the largest art museum in the western United States. With over 150,000 works of art spanning across diverse cultures and time periods, it offers a comprehensive exploration of human creativity.

LACMA's iconic "Urban Light" installation at the entrance is a popular spot for visitors and serves as a symbol of the art treasures within. The museum's collection includes American and Latin American art, Islamic art, European paintings, and Asian art, showcasing a global perspective on creativity.

What sets LACMA apart is its dynamic array of exhibitions and programs. Special exhibitions present masterpieces from around the world, bridging the past with contemporary art. Educational programs cater to all ages, from the Art of the Ancient Americas to the interactive Boone Children's Gallery. The museum's film program contributes to Los Angeles' rich cinematic culture.

The museum's architectural design is also a work of art, with buildings like the Art of the Americas and the Resnick Pavilion creating a captivating backdrop. LACMA's commitment to contemporary art is evident through BCAM and the Renzo Piano-designed Pavilion for Japanese Art.

Located at about a 30 minute drive from LAX, this location is perfect if you have some spare time but may not be the best for those who only have an hour or two.

In essence, LACMA is more than an art museum; it's a combination of history, artistic expression, and diverse cultures into one amazing experience. Its dedication to education, accessibility, and community engagement makes it an essential destination in Los Angeles' vibrant artistic landscape.

Want to book a spot, check out the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Homepage

9) Third Street Promenade

Third Street Promenade

The Third Street Promenade, located in the heart of Santa Monica, California, is a vibrant and iconic destination that captures the essence of Southern California's coastal lifestyle. This mall has great spots for shopping, dining, and entertainment options against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, making it a beloved spot for locals and visitors alike.

As you approach the Third Street Promenade, you'll find street performers, boutique shops, and a diverse range of restaurants and cafes. You'll also be able to hear the live music while shopping, creating a unique and lively experience.

The Promenade is known for its diverse retail options, from big-brand stores to unique boutiques, and it offers a delightful shopping experience. It's a hub for fashion enthusiasts, home decor shoppers, and those seeking one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Dining options on the Third Street Promenade are anything but limited, catering to a wide range of food options. Whether you're in the mood for a quick bite from a food truck or a leisurely meal at a trendy restaurant, the Promenade has you covered. The alfresco dining options are particularly popular, allowing you to enjoy your meal while taking in the ocean breeze.

Entertainment is a cornerstone of the Promenade's appeal. Street performers, from musicians to magicians, offer impromptu shows, adding to the vibrant energy of the area. You can also catch a movie at the AMC Santa Monica 7, conveniently located nearby.

What distinguishes the Third Street Promenade is its close proximity to the beautiful Santa Monica Beach and the iconic Santa Monica Pier, making it an ideal starting point for a day of exploration. The Pacific Ocean is just a short walk away, providing an opportunity to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf.

The Third Street Promenade's architecture and layout contribute to the experience. The open-air design and palm-lined streets create a welcoming atmosphere, perfect for leisurely strolls, people-watching, and taking in the beautiful Southern California weather.

In essence, the Third Street Promenade is more than just a shopping district; it's a dynamic and engaging destination. It's a place where the beach and urban culture seamlessly blend, offering a unique and enjoyable experience for everyone who visits. Whether you're in search of retail shopping, great food, or a taste of Southern California's vibrant culture, the Third Street Promenade has it all.

10) The Forum

The Forum

Lastly, The Forum is a must visit destination when searching for things to do near LAX. Firstly, The Forum is renowned for hosting a wide range of world-class events, and its strategic location in close proximity to LAX makes it an easily accessible option. This means that whether you have a layover, a few hours to spare, or you're a local looking for entertainment, The Forum offers a convenient and exciting experience right at your fingertips.

One of the standout features that set The Forum apart is its status as a top-tier music venue. It consistently attracts some of the biggest names in the music industry. This makes it a prime destination for music enthusiasts. The Forum's acoustics and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems have been meticulously designed to enhance your overall experience.

Moreover, The Forum offers more than just music – it also hosts a variety of other events, including thrilling sports matches, high-profile award shows, and special gatherings. If you're a sports fan, it's the place to be when there's a game or tournament happening. The arena's renovations have transformed it into a world-class venue, guaranteeing your comfort and enjoyment. These enhancements include upgraded seating, ensuring that you have an unobstructed view of the action and that you can fully immerse yourself in the experience.

The Forum's proximity to LAX is a key selling point. Being only a 15 minute car ride from LAX, travelers can make the most of their time by catching a show or event without straying too far from the airport. The convenience factor is undeniable, allowing you to maximize your visit and create memorable moments before or after a flight.

Whether you're a music lover, a sports enthusiast, or someone simply seeking an electrifying night out, The Forum is your go-to destination. With its unbeatable location, diverse range of events, and world-class facilities, it guarantees entertainment, excitement, and unforgettable memories. This makes it a must-visit place for both travelers looking to enhance their layover experience and locals seeking an unforgettable night out. Embrace the magic of live entertainment in the heart of Los Angeles at The Forum, and you won't be disappointed.

If your interested in traveling to LA, check out our post on Once in a Lifetime Things to do in Los Angeles. Also our Main Page has free flights from over 200 airports in the United States if that interests you.