It’s Friday night, you’re tired of staying indoor simply watching Netflix or YouTube, and you just had a long week filled with papers and assignments due. You’re in LA and want to do something fun, unique and interesting. Well, this post is perfect for you! Below is a list of what to do in LA on Friday nights for international students, as well as non-LA students.
- Explore new eateries
- Go window-shopping
- Night hike at Griffith Observatory
- Dance your night away at nightclubs
- Enjoy L.A. nightlife at Santa Monica Pier
- Watch a Broadway show at the Hollywood Pantages Theater
- Watch movie screenings outdoor at Cinespia Hollywood Forever Cemetery
- Unleash your inner artistry at Color Me Mine
- Attend free concerts at Grand Performances
- Challenge your inner detective skill at Escape Room L.A.
- Take a walk at the Downtown LA Art Walk
Source: Jeff White & Lori Donahoo
I love food! From burgers and pasta to sushi, falafel and dim sum… you name it, I’ll eat it. LA is a melting pot of so many difference cultures and diverse food, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t explore new eateries and cuisines in the city! Don’t just stick with 1 restaurant or fast-food store. Instead, go out and explore other places! Stop by Korea-Town and try All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE) KBBQ, or slurp a bowl of ramen at Little Tokyo, or taste Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza (Batali is one of the Iron Chef America), or grab a taco from a food truck.
Check out my articles on the best food trucks in LA HERE and recommended fast-food restaurants in SoCal HERE. If you’re craving something sweet, there are lots of dessert places and boba shops to satisfy your sweet tooth. Check out my articles on the best dessert places in LA HERE and the best boba shops in LA HERE.
Source: Rodeo Drive
There are lots of shopping malls and shopping strips in LA. So if you want to hang out with friends and de-stress from a long school week, definitely consider going window-shopping (window shopping is simply looking and browsing the stores without buying anything). Some of my recommendations for shopping destinations include The Grove, Old Town Pasadena, Rodeo Drive, Melrose Avenue, Fashion District, Westfield Santa Anita, Westfield Century City, and if you’re willing to drive a little bit further, Citadel Outlet.
My favorite window-shopping place is The Grove, especially at night and during Christmas time. All the lights, fountains and decorations are absolutely beautiful! Clothing stores at The Grove are more high-end, with stores ranging from J. Crew, Coach, and Banana Republic to Topshop and Forever 21. The Grove also has the Original Farmers Market since 1934, where you can buy all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables, gourmet groceries, clothing & accessories, gifts & souvenirs, and lots of diverse food. Farmers market makes me reminiscing the market that I always go with my mom on the weekend in Vietnam to buy our groceries!
Source: Marshall Mashup
Griffith Observatory is one of the best places to see the breathtaking view of L.A. Come during the evening/nighttime to watch the stunning L.A. sunset and be immersed in a sky full of stars (well, depending on the days) with you friends or special someone. It’s free to get in and also has free parking. There are lots of hiking trails around Griffith Observatory that range from flat and easy-to-walk trails to hilly ones and much more challenging trails.
Source: Entourage Tours
If you’re into dancing and partying, L.A. has lots of nightclubs for you to choose from. Stop by one in your neighborhood or explore different nightclubs on Sunset Strip (Sunset Boulevard that passes through West Hollywood). Remember to bring your I.D., drink responsibly and don’t drink and drive! Always determine beforehand who’s going to be the designated driver among your group of friends, or if no one can drive, consider calling a cab, Uber or Lyft.
Source: Envato Market
Santa Monica Pier is one of the top destinations to visit in L.A., right next to Santa Monica beach. There are lots of restaurants, pubs and shops for you to choose from, as well as an arcade and the Pacific Park inside the pier that has a Ferris wheel and roller coaster.
Source: Fine Art America
You should watch at least one Broadway shows at the Pantages Theater during your time in L.A.! This beautiful venue with lovely décor both in the interior and exterior hosts productions that range from The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and Les Misérables to Rent, Cats, and The Book of Mormon. During my senior year at USC, I received free ticket to see The Book of Mormon at the Pantages and absolutely loved it! Tip: Park further away from the theater for cheaper parking.
The productions schedule changes occasionally. Check out their schedule HERE.
Source: Entertainment Voice
I personally have never been to Cinespia Hollywood Forever Cemetery, but I’d love to try this unique experience the next time I visit L.A. The concept is very simple: outdoor movie screening at the cemetery. Make sure to buy tickets, come early, and find parking a head of time since space can fill up very quickly! You’re highly encouraged to bring you own blankets, chair, food, snacks, and even booze to the screening!
If you prefer to watch just-released movies and go to traditional cinema theaters instead, there are plenty of cinemas such as the AMC, Cinemark and Regal at different locations in L.A. for you to choose from.
Source: LA Jewish Guide
I absolutely love Color Me Mine (I’m a big fan of drawing, painting, and the arts in general)! It’s a small craft shop for you to unleash your inner artistry by painting and decorating your own pottery, perfect as a de-stress activity after a long school week. The pottery ranges from bowls, plates, to small containers and other fun shapes. I first went to Color Me Mine as a department retreat while interning at Guthy-Renker and really enjoyed it! Simply pick the pottery piece, brushes, and paints to start crafting your masterpiece. There are multiple Color Me Mine locations in L.A., including Beverly Hills, Glendale, Pasadena, and Santa Monica, among others.
Source: Denny Jagard
Located on Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A., Grand Performances host free concerts and live events that bring the diverse people of L.A. together. Similar to the Cinespia Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Grand Performances encourages you to bring your own food, snacks, drinks, blankets, friends, baes and prepare to have a good time! It’s a great way to spend your Friday night and to embrace the L.A. culture. You may even meet a lot of interesting people through the concerts. Check out their schedule HERE.
Escape Room L.A. let you put on your detective hat and participate in real-life escape games where you and other people must race to beat the clock and escape from a locked room in less than an hour. There are different rooms and themes available. If you like watching CSI (or similar crime-solving TV shows) and are up for a challenge, this is a great fun-filled game for you! Check out Escape Room L.A.’s website for more information HERE.
Source: Discover Los Angeles
This event actually takes place every second Thursday of each month, but is still worth mentioning. Downtown L.A. Art Walk transforms L.A. into a giant art festival filled with art galleries, art works being displayed on the sidewalks, and delicious food trucks. It’s a great event to explore new works of art and be connected with artists and fellow art-enthusiasts. Be prepared to wear comfy shoes since you’re going to be walking a lot and it can get quite crowded at night.
About Hue La
Hey there, I'm Hue (pronounced “huay”, not “hue” like how you would normally say it in English). I'm a USC graduate and traveler with 6+ years of study abroad experience in the U.S. I founded Study Abroad Corner with the goals of providing helpful advice and building a social network for fellow study abroaders around the world.