Things to Do in Los Angeles in the Summer 2016

Although Los Angeles has the particularly attractive benefit of being a temperate city year round, it’s probably at its most delightful in the summer.

With tons of festivals, events, musical performances, theme parks, and top-notch museums, there’s no shortage of fun things for visitors and locals alike to enjoy this summer.

If you’re planning a visit and looking for things to do in Los Angeles in the summer, check out our list of the top attractions and activities going on this year, including…

  • all the NEW attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
  • LA Zoo & Botanical Gardens
  • and more…

Heading to the area to celebrate Independence Day? Then check out our post on things to do in Los Angeles 4th of July Weekend.

Want some more summer time suggestions? Here are a few fun things to do in Los Angeles Labor Day Weekend.

Save on Attraction Admission

Regular admission to a number of of these popular Los Angeles activities are included on the Go Los Angeles® Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.

Please note, the special summer events taking place at these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

LA Area Theme Parks

The Wallking Dead – NEW in 2016

Image Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood

Image Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood unlocked the iconic “Don’t’ Open, Dead Inside” doors to usher in its all-new “The Walking Dead” permanent daytime attraction, based on AMC’s top-rated television series and the most watched show in cable television history, which officially opens to the public on Monday, July 4.

“‘The Walking Dead’ is a phenomenon that has successfully and consistently affected the psyche of viewers on a global basis since its debut,” said Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood.  “We’re taking its authenticity to the next level by collaborating with the show’s award-winning production team to create a thrilling, living representation of the series that can only be experienced at Universal Studios Hollywood.”

A 3, 5, or 7-Day Go Los Angeles® Card includes Universal Studios Hollywood tickets

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six-Flags-Magic-Mountain-4This classic installation of a popular chain is a great destination for the whole family.

Located conveniently in Valencia, Six Flags Magic Mountain is a 260-acre park featuring 19 roller coasters and over 100 other rides, slides, and attractions.

Be sure to check out the newest addition to their coaster lineup, the Twisted Colossus.

Knott’s Berry Farm

LAX knott's berry farm (2)

A local favorite and longtime legend in the theme park business, Knott’s Berry Farm takes its name from the original, small-scale operation that was America’s first theme park.

This park is a great choice if you have kids of several different ages, as you’ll be able to find family rides, rides for little kids, and rides for older kids all in the same park.

Don’t miss their famous water slides, either! Visit their sister park Knott’s Soak City for a water-specific afternoon.

Pacific Park Santa Monica Pier

Pacific-Park-on-the-Santa-Monica-Pier-1Located in charming Santa Monica, Pacific Park is the perfect classic fairground-style theme park for the whole family.

Feel like a kid again as you enjoy classic rides like a Ferris wheel, roller coasters, tower rides, and more. Reserve a little time for their impressive variety of arcade games, too!

LEGOLAND® California Resort

LEGOLAND-California-1Every kid’s dream park, LEGOLAND® California is where the best toys in the world come to life.

Enjoy the intimacy of playing with LEGOs and making your own LEGO creations, as well as the excitement of enjoying LEGO rides, slides, and other attractions.

Visit the brand new Heartlake City, scope out Miniland USA, and visit all the Star Wars-themed models and rides.

Museums, Zoos, & Aquariums

California Science Center

california-science-center-imax-2If you’re looking for educational fun for the scientifically-inclined kids, this is the place for you.

This free attraction provides quality, hands-on exhibits, interactive demonstrations, and more.

You can also enjoy an IMAX movie at the California Science Center, or stop into the new temporary exhibit, “Dead Sea Scrolls: The Exhibition.”

Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

santa-monica-pier-aquariumFor those of you who love all things marine, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is the perfect destination and a great thing to do in Los Angeles in the summer time.

Meet specimens from over 100 species, from sea stars to swell sharks. If you happen to be in the area on a Sunday, be sure to stop by for their special shark events, including a feeding and a live presentation at their open tank exhibit.

LA Zoo & Botanical Gardens

la-zoo-botanical-gardensConveniently located in Griffith Park near a number of Hollywood attractions, this charming little zoo is filled with animals exotic and domestic from around the world.

In fact, there are more than 1,000 different species of critter, including several rare or endangered species.

The Botanical Gardens themselves contain well over 7,000 plants – quite the sight!

Huntington Library & Gardens

Los Angeles Art Museums

Arthur Dove, “Lattice and Awning,” 1941. oil on canvas.

This multi-faceted attraction is among our favorite almost-hidden gems in the area.

Enjoy lush, cultivated gardens, a world-renowned research library, an impressive art gallery, and a series of textual exhibits featuring a Gutenberg Bible, an original folio of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and more.

The Huntington Library is a must see and great thing to do in Los Angeles in the summer.

Festivals & Free Summer Events in the LA Area

Los Angeles Bread Festival – Grand Central Market

June 4 & 5, 2016

We know it sounds a bit specific, but trust us, you’ll love this free festival if you’ve got any love for carbs.

It’s designed to celebrate all things bread and bread-related in Southern California, so you’ll be able to participate in everything from butter-churning aerobics to tortilla making to bread kneading. And of course, there’s the tasting element, too!

Lummis Day Festival – Northeast L.A.

June 3 – 5, 2016
Another free event in June, this festival is in its eleventh year. It’s primarily a cultural festival, featuring everything from arts and crafts to poetry, music, dance, theater, and opera.

You’ll also find a diverse variety of food tents, musical performances, and even robots! The festival is held at five different locations, so consult the event website for more information.

Mariachi USA Festival – Hollywood Bowl

Image copyright Mariachi USA.

Image copyright Mariachi USA.

June 25, 2016

The first Mariachi Festival was held in 1990 and the event has been going strong ever since. The event showcases the best Mariachi bands from the U.S. and Mexico all on one stage.

Featuring traditional dancing and fireworks display that is well worth the price of admission, the Mariachi USA Festival is the only annual Latino-themed event at the Hollywood Bowl.

Watermelon Festival – Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, CA

August 13 – 14, 2016

An annual fundraiser for local schools, youth groups and cultural programs, the Watermelon Festival is a quintessential Los Angeles event.

In addition to free all-you-can-eat watermelon, the festival also features a number of other attractions, a seed-spitting contest, watermelon carving, and more.

Let’s Recap

So there you have it. Our picks for some of the top things to do in Los Angeles in the summer.

Please note, the summer events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included with the Go Los Angeles Card.

Plan to visit some of these top attractions during your trip. Whether you are traveling with your family or a couple of friends, we’re sure you will have a great time.

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