Dance, Theater, and Music
Community theater with rural roots settled in L.A. in 1992 with a special concept: The company works in and with low-income neighborhoods like Watts, Pacoima, and Boyle Heights to develop universal storylines that bring visitors to places they wouldn't ordinarily see. Tickets vary; sometimes it's pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $20. 708 Traction Ave.; tel. +1 213 613 1700; www.cornerstonetheater.org
Los Angeles Opera
Placido Domingo is general director of this world-class opera. Features lighter productions such as The Marriage of Figaro, Madama Butterfly, even Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music. Guest talent has included Cecilia Bartoli and Renee Fleming. Tickets from $20. 135 N. Grand Ave.; tel. +1 213 972 8001; www.losangelesopera.com
World-class orchestra long led by 26-year-old Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Performances in the Walt Disney Concert Hall or the newly restored, 18,000-seat Hollywood Bowl. Orchestral concert tickets from $17. 111 S. Grand Ave.; tel. +1 323 850 2000; www.laphil.com
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
40-member orchestra founded by Sir Neville Marriner to give musicians in film and recording studios a live outlet for their talents. Venues vary; tickets from $17. Tel. +1 213 622 7001; www.laco.org
Vibrato Jazz and Grill
Grammy-winning Herb Alpert's elegant jazz venue in Bel-Air has custom acoustics and energizing sets—often by renowned performers. Seafood features strongly on a surprisingly good menu. 2930 N. Beverly Glen Circle; tel. +1 310 474 9400; www.vibratogrilljazz.com
"Sleek and unblemished club for Hollywood hipsters, Saturdays especially."—Rebecca Brown, editor, 944 (Los Angeles). Newest hangout for models, millionaires (Hugh Hefner, anyone?), and gawkers. White banquettes, terrazzo dance floor, bottle service, and outdoor patio. Cover fluctuates between zero and $20. 643 N La Cienega Blvd.; tel. +1 310 652 2012; www.sbeent.com.
"Eastside hipster's dark music dive of choice, showcasing everything from insanely loud to refreshingly laid-back sounds."—Lina Lecaro, co-author, Fodor's L.A. Silverlake has booked Rufus Wainwright and the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for its unpretentious, celeb-frequented dive venue. Cash-only bar; cover from $5. 2906 Sunset Blvd.; tel. +1 323 663 9636; www.foldsilverlake.com.
The Rooftop Bar at The Standard Downtown L.A.
"Futuristic rooftop space makes a splash by day with DJs and plenty of bikini-clad pool play. After dark, it's just as sexy when the nearby skyscrapers light up the scene."—Lina Lecaro. Otherworldly, close-up view of downtown skyline. Cozy up with a "Sex on the Roof" (signature drink) on a settee by the outdoor fireplace. 550 S. Flower St.; tel. +1 213 892 8080; www.standardhotel.com.
"Comedy nights here are hilarious, but the music nights featuring Jon Brion, Michael Penn, and Grant Lee Phillips are like that terrific, elusive house-party jam session."—Lina Lecaro. Peaceful (no-talking rule in effect) den for singer-songwriters—most often regulars or part of the national circuit. Reserve for dinner (Italian, with $15 food minimum) or line up for standing-room-only tickets from $5. 432 N. Fairfax Ave.; tel. + 1 323 852 1073; www.largo-la.com.
"‘The Troub' is a rock 'n' roll institution in L.A., with raucous bookings: all the better to appreciate the fantastic acoustics."—Lina Lecaro. 1957 West Hollywood club where Elton John, Tom Waits, and many more legendary musicians played before they made it big. These days, headliners include Starsailor and Franz Ferdinand. "There's so much history here, but it's so unpretentious. It's my favorite venue."—Gary Knight, music journalist, Under the Radar magazine. Some shows free. 9081 Santa Monica Blvd.; tel. +1 310 276 6168; www.troubadour.com.
Pasadena Tournament of Roses—Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game
New Year's Day. Los Angelenos spend the year preparing their floats for this world-broadcast parade, followed by celebrated college football game. 391 S. Orange Grove Blvd.; tel. +1 626 449 4100. www.tournamentofroses.com
Blessing of the Animals
Saturday before Easter Sunday. Commemorates ancient Easter tradition of allowing animals into the church to receive a fertility blessing. A cow leads the afternoon procession, followed by dogs, cats, donkeys, horses, and even snakes—some donning sombreros. www.olvera-street.com
Playboy Jazz Festival
Mid-June weekend. Two-day jazz performance festival featuring legendary names like Wynton Marsalis and Etta James. At the Hollywood Bowl, a beautiful outdoor amphitheater. 2301 N. Highland Ave. www.hollywoodbowl.com
Los Angeles International Short Film Festival
Early September. Rare treat for lovers of animated and live-action short films and commercials—especially those shot on old-fashioned celluloid. Consider an all-access pass to all films, panels, and parties. Venues change annually; tel. +1 323 461 4400. www.lashortsfest.com.
Subscribe to Nat Geo Traveler
Available in print and for iPad®! See destinations come alive with 360-degree photos, videos, and more!