15 Things to Do in Koreatown, LA (CA)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Though its name might lead you to believe otherwise, Koreatown is one of LA’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods.

The majority of its residents are descendants of Korean immigrants, but it’s also home to a significant population of Latinos and other Asian nationals.

Located just west of the downtown area, it is particularly well-known for its abundant nightclubs, karaoke bars, and large markets featuring exotic products from around the world.

Its convenient location near a number of major freeways gives visitors easy access to many of the city’s premier attractions, and there’s plenty to do within the neighborhood for those who’d rather not fight the traffic.

1. Koreatown Plaza

Koreatown PlazaSource: Walter Cicchetti / shutterstock
Koreatown Plaza

Comprised of dozens of shops on multiple floors, Koreatown Plaza was Koreatown’s first American-style shopping mall.

Located near the intersection of 9th and Western, it’s a must-visit attraction for those looking to immerse themselves in Korean culture.

The plaza’s shops sell everything from Korean health and body products and housewares to international brand handbags and shoes. It sports a popular food court featuring a variety of vendors selling street food-style grub with international influences.

Koreatown Plaza is a great place for lunch and dinner for those interested in quick eats. There’s a large grocery store, too.

2. Korean Pavilion Garden

Southern California is home to throngs of residents that trace their roots back to Asian countries like Korea, Japan, and China.

The Korean Pavilion Garden is one of many Asian-themed gardens in the LA area. Since it was developed in 2006, it’s been a much-loved place of quiet reflection for residents interested in temporarily escaping the city’s urban chaos.

The garden is located on Normandie Avenue in Koreatown and features traditional gazebos, several distinct cultivated areas, and comfortable seating out of the sun.

Korean gardens are known for their peace and harmony, so it’s probably not a great fit for travelers with rowdy kids.

3. Park’s BBQ

Park’s BBQSource: T.Tseng / Flickr | CC BY
Park’s BBQ

Since opening in 2003, Park’s BBQ has continuously drawn high-profile clientele, including Hollywood A-listers, K-Pop stars, and sports figures from Southern California’s professional teams.

Though Korean cuisine is most well-known for staples like kimchee and dumplings, it’s the BBQ that takes center stage at Park’s.

Korean BBQ restaurants feature coal-fired tabletop grills, and guests order uncooked items from the menu and grill them themselves.

It’s a fun and hands-on way to eat, and each table gets an assortment of dipping sauces, pickled vegetables, and all the utensils they’ll need to grill safely.

Park’s is located on South Vermont Avenue in Koreatown.

4. Korean Cultural Center

Korean Cultural CenterSource: KOREA.NET - Official page of the Republic of Korea / Flickr | CC BY-SA
Korean Cultural Center

Though it lies just a few blocks outside of Koreatown city limits on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, the Korean Cultural Center is a worthwhile attraction for visitors looking for a crash-course in Korean culture without hanging out in karaoke bars and BBQ restaurants.

In addition to its cultural role, the center is also a museum, library, and art exhibition space that offers guests a number of insights into what makes Korean culture so unique.

The center is staffed by knowledgeable locals who delight in sharing their heritage. They’re great resources for those looking for additional things to see and do while in the area, so don’t be shy about asking for recommendations.

5. Soop Sok Karaoke

KaraokeSource: Andrey Armyagov / shutterstock

For many visitors interested in immersing themselves in Korean culture, singing karaoke really isn’t the way they prefer to do it.

It’s definitely not for everyone, but for those willing to give it a try, it usually only takes a few adult beverages to get into the swing of things.

Soop Sok Karaoke is one of Koreatown’s most popular karaoke establishments. It features nearly two dozen private rooms that are suitable for groups of up to 30.

Guests will have access to a huge library of digital songs in multiple languages, full food and bar menus, sparkly disco balls, and high-tech microphones and speakers.

6. Alchemist Coffee Project

CoffeeSource: StudioByTheSea / shutterstock

Located on South Vermont Avenue in LA, just a few blocks west of Koreatown, Alchemist Coffee Project is one of the area’s swankiest coffee shops

Unlike its competitors, it features valet parking and a large selection of hot and cold coffees made with beans sourced from exotic countries worldwide.

Though it’s generally their coffee that draws the crowds, they also feature a full menu that includes fresh salads, Panini sandwiches, and baked goods like cheesecake and croissants.

Previous guests appreciated Alchemist’s contemporary industrial-style design, efficient staff, comfy chairs, and fast Wi-Fi.

7. Wiltern Theater

Wiltern TheaterSource: elizabeta-l / shutterstock
Wiltern Theater

Los Angeles features some of the country’s most well-preserved buildings from the art deco era of the ‘20s and ‘30s, and many of the most iconic examples are just blocks from Koreatown.

The Wiltern Theater is one of the city’s premier historic landmarks. Over its long life, it has been a movie house and a live entertainment venue featuring programs ranging from dramatic theater and vaudeville productions to burlesque shows and classic musicals.

In the ‘80s, the theater underwent major renovations and upgrades. Now, it retains much of its original charm while offering modern seating, lighting, and acoustics.

It’s located on Wilshire Boulevard, about five kilometers northwest of Koreatown.

8. Anko

Korean Shaved IceSource: Carlos Huang / shutterstock
Korean Shaved Ice

Sweetened shaved ice is a popular Korean treat that’s a big hit during the summer when the heat in Southern California can be downright oppressive.

Though it’s a bit like Italian ice, Korean shaved ice features a variety of unique ingredients, like pumpkin, sweet red beans, and black sesame seeds.

Anko is located on South Western Avenue in Koreatown. It is one of the most traditional shops of its kind in the neighborhood.

In addition to shaved ice, their menu includes traditional hot and cold coffee, custard, and baked goods.

Anko also serves some natural detox beverages that purportedly purge the system of toxins.

9. Cassell’s Hamburgers

Cassell’s HamburgersSource: David Tonelson / shutterstock
Cassell’s Hamburgers

Hamburgers aren’t exactly traditional Korean food, but they’ve taken on mythical proportions in the city’s trendy culinary scene over the years.

Cassell’s Hamburgers was founded as a lunch counter in LA more than six decades ago. It’s still serving up hearty, unpretentious burgers much the way it did back then.

They grind their own beef on-site daily and still use some of the founder’s original signs and equipment, giving it an old-time feel that’s like a walk down Memory Lane for many visitors.

Cassell’s is located three blocks south of central Koreatown at the intersection of West 6th Street and Normandie Avenue.

10. Aroma Golf Range

Golf SwingSource: OSTILL is Franck Camhi / shutterstock
Golf Swing

With hundreds of days of sun per year, golf is one of Southern California’s most popular outdoor activities. Every year, crowds of golfers swarm to the desert to avoid the harsh winter weather in their home states.

For golfers visiting Koreatown who don’t have sufficient time to squeeze in a full round, spending a few hours working on their swing at Aroma Golf Range is a great alternative.

Aroma is billed as LA’s most expansive semi-indoor driving range. Despite the urban setting, it features a 150-yard range that gives golfers amazing views of the city.

The center is located on Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown.

11. Hyesung Noodle House

Kalguksoo, Korean Noodle SoupSource: Circular queue / shutterstock
Kalguksoo, Korean Noodle Soup

Korean knife-cut noodle soup – or kalguksoo – is a popular comfort food served in restaurants all over town.

Hyesung Noodle House is located on North Western Avenue in Koreatown. It’s a go-to dining destination for visitors who’ve never tried kalguksoo, as well as Korean’s who long for an authentic taste of traditional food from their childhoods.

The soup can be ordered with broth made from anchovies or chicken. It’s typically served with sliced pork bossam and pancakes made with minced vegetables and scallions.

Though first-timers may not be able to tell, they make their noodles by hand on-site every morning.

12. Ernest E. Debs Regional Park

Ernest E. Debs Regional ParkSource: Kit Leong / shutterstock
Ernest E. Debs Regional Park

Though it’s comprised of nearly 300 sprawling acres, Ernest E. Debs Regional Park is one of those underappreciated gems that tends to get overlooked by harried tourists.

The park’s attractions include a lake, lots of treed areas, an Audubon Center, and miles of trails perfect for a relaxing morning or afternoon hike.

For those looking for interactive activities, the park’s staff offer nature-related programs appropriate for visitors of all ages. There are shaded tables and lots of grassy areas that make great picnic spots.

The park’s main entrance is on Monterey Road, about 20 kilometers northeast of Koreatown.

13. The Getty Center

The Getty CenterSource: Ken Wolter / shutterstock
The Getty Center

Located in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles about 15 kilometers west of Koreatown, The Getty Center is one of the area’s premier art and cultural attractions.

The center was completed in late 1997 and was largely funded by the philanthropic arm of the immensely wealthy Getty family.

It’s most well-known for its majestic architecture, stunning gardens, and a world-class collection of American and European art that includes paintings, sculptures, and drawings from all over the globe.

Guests can ride a small train to the center’s highest point, from which they’ll be able to see nearby Topanga State Park and downtown LA when the weather is clear.

14. Griffith Observatory

Griffith ObservatorySource: photo.ua / shutterstock
Griffith Observatory

Whether you’re a seasoned stargazer or a relaxed tourist just looking to spend a few hours at a unique LA attraction, you’ll probably be glad you decided to visit the Griffith Observatory.

The facility is owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles. It’s about eight kilometers north of Koreatown between the downtown area and Burbank.

The observatory features a planetarium, museum, café, and gift shop. Its ground are open to those who’ve signed up for an activity as well as those who’d just like to show themselves around at their own pace.

The observatory is a popular spot to catch an iconic California sunset due to its location and elevation. It’s close to other attractions like the famous Hollywood sign and the TCL Chinese Theatre.

15. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Los Angeles County Museum of ArtSource: Ken Wolter / shutterstock
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Since its opening more than five decades ago, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has become one of LA’s most prominent attractions.

It’s conveniently located just five miles west of Koreatown, between downtown LA and Beverly Hills. In addition to its permanent collection of art displayed in multiple galleries, its grounds comprise nearly 20 acres that include gardens, walking paths, natural environments, and shaded seating areas.

Though many of the museum’s works are contemporary, there are a number of historical pieces from countries around the world.

Additional amenities include interactive exhibits and year-round staff-led art programs aimed at visitors of all ages.

15 Things to Do in Koreatown, LA (CA):

  • Koreatown Plaza
  • Korean Pavilion Garden
  • Park’s BBQ
  • Korean Cultural Center
  • Soop Sok Karaoke
  • Alchemist Coffee Project
  • Wiltern Theater
  • Anko
  • Cassell’s Hamburgers
  • Aroma Golf Range
  • Hyesung Noodle House
  • Ernest E. Debs Regional Park
  • The Getty Center
  • Griffith Observatory
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art