How to spend a night in LA

Your time in LA doesn’t have to end after a day of fun in the sun. Here’s your guide to the City of Stars under a star-studded sky.

Watch the sun sink behind the city skyline. Image credit  InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown
Watch the sun sink behind the city skyline. Image credit: InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown

While the beaches and parks are fun to enjoy in the Los Angeles sunshine, there’s still plenty to do when the sun goes down. After all, Los Angeles is a city of stars and an entertainment hot-spot. Whether you want a boisterous adventure or a unique activity, there are plenty of nightlife options in Los Angeles.

Check out amazing views of LA

Perched atop a 73-story building is the rooftop bar Spire 73—the tallest rooftop bar in the city. The views and photo opportunities of the twinkling city skyline are incredible at this height, as are the delicious cocktails and the selection of whiskies.

The bar has a semi-formal vibe and plenty of fire pits for cooler evenings, making it a calm, relaxing place to enjoy a drink with a view. If you’re not a guest of the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, where the bar is housed, you will have to pay a cover fee, but it’s worth it for the unparalleled views alone.

Enjoy live music in a living room-style bar

Start your night in Los Angeles by taking in some live music at The Peppermint Club. This intimate lounge-style space provides for a great view of the stage, at any angle. The Peppermint Club has taken the trend of listening parties and intimate house shows and created a relaxing space with 60s-style furniture and décor.

Artists across different genres take to the stage nightly, from hip-hop artists to contemporary jazz crooners. With major label Interscope Records as co-owner, you never know which of their big-name acts might make a surprise appearance.

See and be seen

If you’re in the mood for a lively evening, head to Beauty & Essex. The entrance fronts as a pawn shop—where you can browse the trinkets and art, which are all for sale—before leading guests through to the main attraction.

Every inch of the dining hall and bar provides an elaborate backdrop for photos, from the plush vintage-style couches to the glittering chandelier. Sip colorful cocktails and munch on tasty morsels, from vegan tacos to decadent seafood trays. Save room for dessert and order the signature; the Wonder Wheel: eight mini desserts served up in a Ferris wheel-style novelty.

Laugh out loud

As one of LA’s most established entertainment venues, Largo hasn’t lost its lustre. The venue is a hot spot for comedy acts, hosting some of the biggest names in stand-up, as well as Netflix comedians, and local improv troupes. When the big names roll through, you’ll want to try and book a ticket in advance, though they always have a standby line at the door. If you’re traveling solo, it can be easy to snag a spot last-minute.

Drink and dance in a casual space

In downtown LA’s arts district you’ll find Resident, a lived-in and relaxed venue, which feels like you’re visiting a friend or neighbor’s house. Grab one of their signature cocktails inside or enjoy the warm evening air outside in the beer garden, complete with its own food truck. On cooler nights, the outdoor fire pits keeps things cozy.

Find a speakeasy in a prohibition-era bar

Go for the French dip sandwich, stay for a drink at the secret bar. Image Credit: Cole's French Dip
Go for the French dip sandwich, stay for a drink at the secret bar. Image Credit: Cole’s French Dip

If you want to enjoy some LA history, head underneath the neon arrow sign and enjoy a meal and a drink at Cole’s French Dip. The store has been open for more than 100 years and some say the French dip sandwich—a hot sandwich with thinly-sliced roast beef atop a baguette, with beef broth for dipping—was invented here.

Walk through the door at the back of the restaurant and take a step back in time at The Varnish speakeasy bar, where live jazz music and cocktails mix in an intimate space.

Friendly competition

Challenge your friends at Two Bit Circus, an indoor arcade with digital Midway-style games, escape rooms, interactive game shows, virtual reality experiences, and motion simulators. They serve pub-style food and have plenty of beer to choose from. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, order a cocktail from the robot bartender behind the counter.

The Arcade area at Two Bit Circus. Image credit: Two Bit Circus
The Arcade area at Two Bit Circus. Image credit: Two Bit Circus

Go for wild card entertainment

If you’re up for the wild and unexpected, then check out a show at Lucha VaVoom. You might see burlesque, you might see circus-style performers, or you just might be able to see the namesake and legendary Lucha Libre wrestlers, who perform throughout the year. It’s a loud, vibrant spot and a ton of fun. They don’t serve food, so be sure to grab a bite before or after the entertainment.

See a show in the great outdoors

If you want to go where the locals hang out, see what’s playing at the Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre. These large outdoor concert venues host legendary shows by big-name performers, as well as pop-culture symphony experiences. See what’s playing when you’re in town and get a ticket. The experience at either of these venues is simply magical and a bucket list-style thing to do. You’ll have an enjoyable evening of music no matter what.

Take a spirited cruise

Sample whiskies and rums while learning about the distilling process at the Lost Spirits Distillery. This isn’t like any distillery tour you’ve experienced before: it has themed rooms, a carousel, and indoor boat ride through a jungle-like space, making it much more than a bar. You do need a reservation, so once you know you’re heading to LA, book a spot on one of the tours, which run every two hours.


Breanna Mroczek

Breanna is a writer and editor with a background in travel and lifestyle publications and projects. She was named one of the top 30 under 30 rising stars in media by FIPP network for global media.