From technicolor sunsets to an incomparably diverse dining scene and a longstanding role as the moviemaking capital of the world, Los Angeles is an absolutely magical city. Now, without even leaving home, you can savor all that is L.A. thanks to Magic Hour, a new Discover Los Angeles program that celebrates the City of Angels through an eclectic collection of virtual and interactive experiences.
These experiences are as exciting as the city itself, with both classic and surprising ways to explore. Whether you’re into sports, museums, or simply miss wandering around the city, Magic Hour has a little something for everyone. Check out the special events lineup and you might just discover a whole new side of the city.
For example, Jasper Dickson and Amy Luftig Viste of Angeleno Wine Co., the first new L.A. winery since Prohibition, are conducting a virtual history tour of the city’s nearly 200-year-old commercial winemaking tradition on May 7 at 5 p.m. PT. Long before the rise of Napa and Sonoma, Los Angeles was the center of American winemaking, and Angeleno Wine has resurrected that heritage by exclusively sourcing its grapes from county vineyards. Who even knew L.A. even had terroir?
“We’re going to focus on sharing this forgotten bit of Los Angeles history,” says Luftig Viste. “There used to be more than 200 winemakers here and, by the late 1800s, L.A. and its surrounding areas were producing around 25 million bottles a year and exporting to places like San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Europe. So we want to show what the area looked like when L.A. was a wine powerhouse. And then what happened to the industry.”
Here are more ways you can discover the magic of Los Angeles.
Live from Venice: Sunset at the Beach
People travel from all over the world to visit the beaches of Los Angeles and witness the daily light show as the setting sun paints the sky and ocean with vivid oranges, pinks, and golds. Now this display comes straight to you as Discover L.A. livestreams the sunset from the rooftop of Venice’s oceanfront Hotel Erwin. With swaying palm trees and the Santa Monica Mountains silhouetted against the brilliant, changing sky, this view of the sunset is the next best thing to being there. The stream begins at 6:45 p.m. PT every evening and the starting time will get progressively later as days grow longer toward summer.
Los Angeles and Southern California have long been synonymous with an active, healthy lifestyle. What’s more, many historians believe that Santa Monica was the birthplace of beach volleyball—and you can learn the basics of this dynamic sport in online courses developed by VolleyCamp Hermosa that will have you digging and spiking like a pro when you can get back out on the sands. It’s just one of Magic Hour’s many virtual health and wellness options. Keep fit and limber during free workouts with Mind & Motion, a holistic Pilates studio. Or calm yourself and clear your busy brain during free, soothing 30-minute Hammer Museum Meditation Thursdays (at 12:30 p.m. PT) conducted via Zoom by UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center director Diana Winston.
Location, Location, Location
There’s no shortage of movie studio backlots and soundstages in Southern California, but from the earliest days of Hollywood, filmmakers used Los Angeles and the surrounding region as a shooting backdrop. That practice has endured and you can go on detailed virtual tours of local locations in such recent hits as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, A Star Is Born, and La La Land, as well as such now-iconic L.A. movies as The Big Lebowski. As the tours guide you around the city and travel to classic spots, the sensations of Los Angeles come to life: the cool crispness of a martini at Musso & Frank Grill, the clack and clatter of downtown’s Angels Flight Railway, and the taste of chips and salsa at Casa Vega in Sherman Oaks. You’ll also find a detailed (and very fun) guide to locations featured in several Academy Award winners for best picture.
More Movie Magic
With theaters currently closed, these days we’re all doing plenty of streaming. So Discover L.A. has put together a curated selection of 50 Los Angeles–based films totaling 100 hours of stay-at-home viewing. You’ll find a varied, sometimes eccentric, set of recommendations that ranges from Chinatown to Fast Times at Ridgemont High. (And if you want suggestions for films shot up and down the state, check out this curated list.)
To Live and Dine in L.A.
Just about everyone misses getting out and exploring the dynamic Los Angeles dining scene. But with so many takeout and delivery options available, you can still support the city’s chefs and restaurateurs—and enjoy amazing food at the same time. On the Magic Hour site, you’ll find an extensive listing of restaurants, which can be sorted by cuisine and neighborhood. Treat the family to a delicious Mexican dinner with an emergency taco kit from downtown’s Guerilla Tacos. Or go for the tamales in a complex, smoky black mole sauce from the Oaxacan-style, James Beard Award–winning Guelaguetza in Koreatown.
Hooray for Hollyhock
In 2019 the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Hollyhock House became the first Los Angeles location to earn a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Likened to a Mayan temple, this unforgettable landmark can be experienced on a fascinating virtual tour that will make you feel like you’re walking through this incomparable house, thanks to 360-degree views and a user guide with detailed background on the architecture.
The tour is just one of many cultural experiences available through the Magic Hour initiative. You can also see current exhibitions at the Getty Villa and Getty Center, including Michelangelo: Mind of the Master, which comes alive through online visuals and an audio tour.
Assembling Your Own Los Angeles Experience
Miss the vibe and spirit of Los Angeles? Discover L.A. has put together a Spotify playlist of Los Angeles–themed songs that range from Frank Sinatra’s “L.A. Is My Lady” to Best Coast’s “California Nights.” Crank up these tunes and use them as an atmospheric soundtrack while you work on a selection of online puzzles of such L.A. landmarks as Union Station and Griffith Observatory. The playful, colorful puzzles were created by artist George Townley, and, depending on your attention span, you can select from as few as six pieces to more than 1,000.