Whether you know it as the City of Dreams, La-La-Land, the City of Angels, or just LA everyone is familiar with the great city of Los Angeles. This west coast metropolis in southern California is beloved for its entertainment industry, high-profile residents, and sunny weather, among much more. Here are the best things to do in Los Angeles.
Most travelers will find themselves in the Los Angeles area at some point in their journeys. Besides being home to some major international and domestic airports, plenty of people visit Los Angeles because there are seemingly endless things to do there. Whether you’re young or old, a day person or a night person, a beach bum or a city explorer, there are Los Angeles things to do for you.
One of the major draws to LA is its position as the center of all things film. The Academy Awards are held here, nearly every production studio is based here, and the Golden Age of Hollywood took place here. But that’s not all the city has to offer – there are beautiful beaches, mountainous nature parks, interesting museums, and much more!
Whether you’re looking for things to do in LA for a day, a week, or on a long layover, we’ve got you covered here. Read on to see some of the most popular Los Angeles tourist attractions and what to know about them.
Looking to explore the famed city of Los Angeles? Then look no further than the LA Grand Tour! This amazing 7-hour tour will take you through all the major hotspots of LA, including Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica Beach. You'll get to experience the best of what the city has to offer, all from the comfort of an open-air tour bus. Plus, with 4 different stops along the way, you can explore each area in depth.
Looking to explore all the iconic sights that Los Angeles has to offer? Then this Full-Day Iconic Sights of LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Beaches and More tour is perfect for you! With a guided coach tour, you'll be able to see all the top attractions in the city without having to worry about missing anything. You'll start at Venice Beach before making your way to the world-famous Hollywood sign. From there, you'll see all the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills before heading to the beautiful Santa Monica beaches.
Looking for a private and romantic getaway? The Los Angeles Romantic Helicopter Tour with Mountain Landing is the perfect way to celebrate your special occasion! You and your loved one will enjoy breathtaking views of Los Angeles, including Universal Studios, Hollywood Sign, Celebrity Homes, Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Palisades. After landing on a private Malibu mountaintop, you can toast to your time together with a complimentary drink and dessert.
- Most significant landmark – The Hollywood Sign
- Best park – Griffith Park
- Best free activity – Santa Monica Pier
- Best activity for kids – Universal Studios Hollywood
- Best activity for adults – The Hollywood Walk of Fame
- Best food – Trejo’s Tacos
- Best nightlife – Sunset at the West Hollywood EDITION
- Best all-around accommodation – The Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel
Things to Do in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles has so many awesome things to do that it would take a very long trip to hit them all. Far too many tourists believe that it’s all about Hollywood hotspots, Beverly Hills glam, and expensive food, when in reality, there is a huge range of fun to be had in this area, often for free.
A lot of the time when people refer to visiting top spots in LA, they’re referring to places not just in the City of Los Angeles, but in the County of Los Angeles (aka Los Angeles County or just LA County) – and this list is no different! There’s a whole host of unmissable attractions to hit up in LA County, many of which you’ll find on this list.
With that in mind, below are some of the best things to do in LA, in no particular order, so you can decide which ones to include in your itinerary. We’ve also included some of the best tours and activities with tips on what to book in advance.
1. The Hollywood Sign
One of the most recognizable symbols of Los Angeles is also arguably its most famous attraction: the iconic Hollywood Sign. These massive letters sit atop Mount Lee above the Hollywood Hills neighborhood, and one of the favorite things to do in LA is to simply catch a glimpse of them.
Besides being an international icon, there is some interesting local history behind the sign. In the early 1900s, filmmakers from the eastern US came west in search of better filming weather conditions. One found Hollywood, and others immediately followed, establishing the glamorous entertainment capital that we know today.
In 1923, a real estate developer had the sign installed as an advertisement for his new development. It originally read “Hollywoodland,” but the “land” was dropped in 1949 to better reflect the entire neighborhood. Over the years, the sign grew into an important symbol and has continuously been fortified and protected to the present day.
If you want to get the best views of the sign, the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue provides a great line of sight amidst some of the nicest parts of the neighborhood. If you want to get up close, there are numerous points to hike to the sign. This guided hike will take you on one of the best.
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2. Hollywood Boulevard & The Walk of Fame
While we’re on the subject, don’t skip the main strip of the famous neighborhood: Hollywood Boulevard. The best portion to explore as a tourist is between Gower Street and La Brea Avenue, where the Walk of Fame is located.
You’ll find several theaters along the road, as well as plenty of dining and shopping. The Dolby Theater, home to the Academy Awards, and the TCL Chinese Theatre are two of the most famous. There’s also a Hollywood Museum showcasing a display of all-things showbiz.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame runs for more than a mile along the boulevard’s sidewalk and is the primary attraction bringing visitors to the street. There are more than 2,700 stars dedicated to various actors, directors, producers, musicians, and even fictional characters laid on the pavement. More than a million visitors come to the Walk of Fame each year to see the stars of their favorite stars.
A great way to make sure you see the best of Hollywood is to take a guided tour. Many of the experiences, like this open-air bus tour, combine Hollywood with Beverly Hills and include sightseeing visits to the homes of celebrities – a necessary thing to do while in Tinseltown.
Hollywood is an understandably popular place to stay during a trip to Los Angeles. The Hollywood Roosevelt is a historic hotel directly on Hollywood Boulevard and within steps of the Walk of Fame, beautifully appointed with fine decorations and amenities.
3. Walt Disney Concert Hall
Address: 111 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
One of the most popular places to see a classical music performance is at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. This venue, located in downtown LA, is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and hosts all kinds of performers from around the world.
The concert hall was completed in 2003 thanks to a gift to the city from Lillian Disney, an animator and the wife of the famous Walt Disney. Its architecture and acoustics were designed by some of the world’s brightest engineers, and its aesthetic beauty and acoustic qualities have been praised.
You can check out who will be playing throughout the season on the concert hall’s calendar. There are also tours of the venue available for those who are interested in behind-the-scenes operations and a gift shop to take home a souvenir.
Downtown LA has become a popular place to stay in the city in recent years. The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites is an upscale resort with a pool and panoramic views, and it’s just minutes away from the Walt Disney Concert Hall, making it a great choice for a night after seeing a performance.
See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit
4. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
While the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has an address in nearby Thousand Oaks, it is part of the greater Los Angeles area – making this preserve a great place to escape the city and get some fresh air. Day trippers make the short trip to a portion of the park for a full day or a quick hour of enjoying some Los Angeles nature and scenic hiking trails.
The preserve is administered by the National Park Service and comprises over 150,000 acres of the Santa Monica Mountains. The well-known beachside town of Malibu sits at the foot of this range in the coastal part of the park.
A range of outdoor activities is available in the many smaller parks and state parks within the preserve’s borders, such as hiking, biking, and camping. There are lakes, creeks, cliffs, forests, and lookout points, making this massive piece of nature packed with potential things to do.
One very fun and environmentally-friendly activity is to take an electric mountain bike tour from Malibu up the mountains. You won’t have to put in nearly as much effort on the way up, and you’ll simply glide back down, making it possible to enjoy the views and the tour at every moment.
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5. Universal Studios Hollywood
Address: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608
Anyone headed to the Los Angeles area and looking for some amusement park fun probably has Universal Studios Hollywood on their radar. This sprawling complex of rides, shows, and shops is located in the San Fernando Valley.
Universal Studios Hollywood is all about movies and entertainment. Besides being full of rides and experiences on this theme, the park is located in the very heart of the industry, surrounded by the film and sound stages of big names such as Warner Bros. Studio and Walt Disney Studios.
There are countless classics in Universal: Harry Potter World, the Revenge of the Mummy, The Simpsons Ride, The Jurassic Park River Adventure, and more. Some of the most thrilling rollercoasters are the Incredible Hulk and Jurassic World VelociCoaster. Whatever your comfort level with rides and whatever movies and TV shows you enjoy, you are bound to have fun at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Visiting Universal is one of the best things to do in LA with kids, but waiting in line for tickets is not. Be sure to book your park admission in advance and get mobile tickets to breeze through and avoid losing them.
As there is so much to do and see at Universal Studios Hollywood, many visitors prefer to spend one or more nights nearby to be sure that they experience it all. One of the closest options is the Hilton Los Angeles – Universal City, just 5 minutes away on foot and with incredibly comfortable rooms and amenities.
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6. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Address: 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 9036
If you’re wondering what to do in Los Angeles on a rainy day or you are an art lover in general, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is an excellent choice. The museum is located near the famous Beverly Hills neighborhood and very close to some other major LA attractions, such as the La Brea Tar Pits next door and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
And while it may be tempting to hit several of these stops in one day, do so with caution: the LACMA is home to a permanent collection of over 150,000 pieces, making it the largest art museum in the western US. Around one million people visit the museum each year.
The works here date from ancient times through to the modern day. Historic pre-Columbian, ancient Egyptian and Assyrian pieces are displayed alongside contemporary creations inspired by film and theater of the present day. Artists from nearly every corner of the world are represented in the museum.
Outside, the Urban Light sculpture installation by Chris Burden welcomes visitors to the LACMA. This assembly of 202 restored cast iron side-by-side street lamps, which work on solar power, is open around the clock and can be visited without any sort of ticket. It’s an iconic and unique exhibit to see and photograph while in LA.
7. Echo Park Lake
Address: 751 Echo Park Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90026
For an escape to an urban park just outside of downtown LA, head over to Echo Park Lake. Even if you aren’t looking for some lakeside relaxation, movie lovers will be thrilled to see the lagoon from Gilligan’s Island and the house of Dom from Fast and Furious.
The park is the space surrounding a historical reservoir, complete with walking trails around its edge. Picnic benches are available for sitting with a snack, and a few eateries surround the area. Tennis courts and a swimming pool are on-site as well.
One of the most popular activities at Echo Park Lake is to rent one of the iconic swan boats for a paddle around the lake. It can be a romantic retreat or simply a nice way to enjoy the LA skyline from the peaceful water. Be sure to book your boat in advance.
If the filming site is what’s bringing you to Echo Park Lake, consider a self-guided tour from your phone that will take you to various filming locations around the city. The park is one of the stops, and you will get some nice background and history on the location and its use in films.
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8. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Address: 900 W Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90007
If you love visiting natural history museums from different parts of the world, then don’t skip the one in LA. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is packed full of fun exhibits covering 4.5 billion years of history and is conveniently located in downtown LA.
This museum is another record breaker, holding the title of the largest natural and historical museum in the western US. With over 35 million items, including their famous T-Rex skeleton and rare gems, the exhibits here will interest just about anyone.
There are quite a few displays and areas of research that the museum is especially esteemed for, including paleontology, marine mammal science, pre-Columbian cultures, and many more. There is even a butterfly pavilion outside in the summer and a spider pavilion in the fall.
Several other museums and attractions surround the museum, such as the California Science Center and the California African American Museum, making it easy to spend a day seeing more than one place. To save time, buy an admission ticket in advance and download the audio guide on your phone.
9. Santa Monica Pier
Address: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Another icon of southern California and the Los Angeles area is the Santa Monica Pier. This large wooden walkway juts several hundred feet over the Pacific Ocean between Venice Beach and Santa Monica Beach.
While today it is a place for fun under the Los Angeles sun, the pier came to be for a very unrelated reason. There have been several throughout the seaside community’s history, but today’s pier was constructed over 100 years ago as support to carry sewer pipes a sufficient distance past the waves. The times have certainly changed!
The iconic pier is today home to a small amusement park, several eateries, souvenir and clothing shops, and fishing spots. It’s a place for good fun and admiration of the beautiful California coastline. In fact, it’s the end point of the famous Route 66.
Between fun games, sandy beaches, and exceptional dining, there’s plenty to do in Santa Monica and on the pier. A great way to see everything the neighborhood has to offer is to rent a bike and ride your way up and down the coast.
Do you wish you could take the beautiful pictures that you see on social media of places like this? There’s a fantastic Santa Monica walking photo class that will have you shooting like a pro since you’ll be taught by a pro. Plus, you’ll be practicing in one of the most picturesque locations in the state.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Venice, California
10. Griffith Park
Address: 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Up above the buildings and lights of Los Angeles is Griffith Park, covering more than 4,000 acres of green space in the Santa Monica Mountains. This large space encompasses several other Los Angeles attractions, such as the Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles Zoo, and Griffith Observatory, which we’ll cover more extensively in their own sections.
Aside from the places to visit within Griffith Park, the space is a wonderful getaway from the hustle and bustle of town and a great place to catch some of the best views. It’s packed full of hiking trails of all difficulties, plus picnic areas, caves, and peaks. The park is one of the closest outdoor activity spaces of its kind to the downtown Los Angeles area.
While it’s often called Los Angeles’ version of Central Park or Golden Gate Park, the area is much more rugged and contains more wilderness, which will be welcomed by hikers. Equestrians are able to use the access roads as one of the few places to ride horses in Los Angeles.
In fact, a horseback tour is an incredibly unique way to experience Griffith Park and catch views of the Los Angeles skyline, including the Hollywood Sign. Hop on for a two-hour ride to the top of Mount Hollywood, and see LA in a way that few tourists get the chance to.
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11. San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
While in Los Angeles, take a day to visit one of the United States’ newest additions to federally protected forests and lands, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. President Obama designated the nearly 350,000 acres of this expanse as a part of the US Forest Service system in 2014.
This massive, mountainous area is just northwest of central Los Angeles and is accessible via several entry points. Some of the most prominent peaks are Mount San Antonio and San Gabriel Peak, among others.
In the warmer seasons, there are dozens of trails for exploring the cliffs and valleys of the San Gabriel Mountains. If you are looking for views, Sunset Peak is accessible via a few different trails to the panoramic viewpoint. If you want to cool off, Stoddard Canyon Falls will reward you with a rushing waterfall that you can actually ride like a waterslide into the pool below.
But, the mountains don’t hibernate when it gets cold out – the San Gabriel Mountains are one of the most popular ski destinations close to Los Angeles. Mount Baldy is home to some of the top slopes, and there are facilities to rent ski and snowboard equipment.
If you’re a frequent ViaTravelers reader, then you know we always recommend heading to mountain trails, ski slopes, or other sporty destinations with a proper travel insurance plan. Use TravelInsurance.com to find a package that protects you in case things go wrong – we like what SafetyWing offers for most types of trips.
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12. Beverly Hills
Many visitors to Los Angeles are interested in getting a close-up look at one of the most coveted zip codes in the state and even the entire country: Beverly Hills. Known for being home to the rich and famous, Beverly Hills has been featured in film, television, songs, and other media as a symbol of Californian success.
Beverly Hills actually had an unlikely beginning. A group of investors from an oil company came to the area in the very early 1900s in search of sites to drill. While they didn’t find much oil, they did find water and decided to refocus their efforts on developing real estate there.
It wasn’t initially a successful development, but after a few high-profile locals built mansions there, the neighborhood became a booming success for actors, musicians, and other rich Angelenos.
We couldn’t possibly list all of the recognizable people who call Beverly Hills home today, but a few include Nicholas Cage, Katy Perry, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and Jay Leno. They love the exclusivity, luxury, and privacy afforded by the mansions here.
There are plenty of online resources that can help you plan a self-guided drive through the neighborhood to get a look at the homes of celebrities, like this one, which includes sites for the best photo ops. However, most visitors like to take a short guided tour with a professional who can point out the best features and fun facts along the way.
Thanks to its luxurious environment, high-end shopping and dining, and exclusive environment, Beverly Hills is a top place to stay in LA. You won’t find a ton of budget options here, so for mid-range pricing, look to the Beverly Hills Marriott. For all-out luxury and true Beverly Hills living, the top choice is The Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel.
13. Venice Beach
One of the most famous beaches in Los Angeles is Venice Beach. Just south of Santa Monica and north of the Los Angeles International Airport, the neighborhood offers about a mile of golden sand shoreline, which most of the attractions revolve around.
The neighborhood was created over 100 years ago as the Venice of America, based on canals dug to drain the area sufficiently for development. Walking paths and bridges cross them just as they do in Italy, and you may even catch a gondola or two paddling around, but you won’t find many similarities in terms of architecture or other aspects.
This is a great place to have a beach day in the LA area, as the conditions for swimming are usually good, and the water is a refreshing temperature. The beach is nice and wide, making it easy to find a spot to yourself. Venice is also a great place to try surfing, as this is one of the most famous breaks in California – take a group lesson if it’s your first time and you need some guidance.
Behind the sand is the Venice Beach Boardwalk, running all the way from Marina del Ray and through nearby Santa Monica. Besides being a lovely seaside walk, this is a great place to catch a glimpse of local life here, with local street performers, skaters in the famous skate park, and bodybuilders using the iconic beachside gym equipment.
Many visitors like to enhance their time in Venice Beach and be guided by a local. Consider booking this full Venice Beach experience to see the best spots on the Venice canals, get local history, and overall see the best of the neighborhood.
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14. California Science Center
Address: 700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037
Another one of the best attractions within Exposition Park is the California Science Center, located just beside the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. This science center explores all kinds of technology and life with hands-on and immersive experiences for all ages.
One of the biggest draws of the museum is its large aerospace exhibit. The cornerstone of this sector is the Space Shuttle Endeavor, which was retired in its own pavilion after completing the final shuttle missions. There are also space shuttle fuel tanks and rocket capsules, various fighter jets and historic aircraft, and even a Douglas DC-8 jetliner, making the museum a top destination for avgeeks.
Besides outer space and flight exhibits, the museum also has massive displays of ecosystems and organisms. Their wildlife habitats include live animals and their adaptation to river, polar, desert, island, and ocean environments, with each ecosystem partly recreated. This is also one of the places to successfully host a corpse flower, and you just may be lucky (or unlucky) enough to be there when it blooms and stinks up the room.
Another thing that visitors love about the California Science Center is that admission to permanent exhibits is free! There is a fee to see visiting exhibits, as well as activities like IMAX films. Purchase an audio guide before you go to get the full experience out of every attraction.
15. West Hollywood & Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, or WeHo, is a distinct neighborhood between Hollywood and Beverly Hills that is best known for the Sunset Strip. This is where some of the best Los Angeles food, nightlife, and trendy entertainment can be found.
The clubbing culture of the neighborhood partly comes from its history as a place for gambling when the city of Los Angeles had outlawed it, but before West Hollywood was a part of Los Angeles. It has retained its music venues, trendy bars, street art, and lively nightlife that only grew as the area adopted the hippie lifestyle in the 60s.
Today, West Hollywood is also a prominent place for the gay community, with a high population of the LGBT community as well as bars and clubs that cater to them. It is also one of America’s highest concentration areas of Russian speakers, as there was a major migration wave to the neighborhood in the 1990s.
As mentioned, this is a neighborhood with great food, and you can taste the best of it by taking a West Hollywood food tour. You’ll get to try the famous and trendy Trejo’s Tacos, because when in LA, don’t skip Mexican food. When night falls, Sunset nightclub at the West Hollywood EDITION hotel is a great place to party until the sun comes up.
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16. Santa Monica Beach
If beaches are high on your list, your trip should include a day at Santa Monica Beach. It’s just beside the previously-mentioned Venice Beach and is where the iconic Santa Monica Pier is located, although many beach bums prefer to spend time on the sand and in the water apart from the pier’s activities.
Santa Monica Beach is operated by the state and is staffed by lifeguards, and has facilities like bathrooms and showers. A coastal walkway runs the length of the shoreline, connecting with the Venice Boardwalk further south.
This is a fantastic beach for swimming, surfing, body boarding, and stand-up paddling. Laying out on the sand is, of course, a southern California favorite as well. Beach volleyball courts and open-air exercise equipment are available for the sportier visitors, as are chess tables for a less-tiring game.
Santa Monica Beach is where the beach volleyball and surfing portions of the 2028 Olympic Games will be held in Los Angeles, which should give you a good idea of the quality of this piece of coastline. If you’re looking to stay by the beach, Santa Monica is home to some great hotels, unlike nearby Venice Beach. The Viceroy Santa Monica is a luxurious option just steps from the beach and pier.
17. Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Address: 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Are you surprised to see that a graveyard has made it onto our list? The Hollywood Forever Cemetery might sound like a creepy attraction, but it actually attracts a number of visitors who want to see the final resting place of some of Hollywood’s most well-known figures.
The cemetery is a full-service funeral home and crematory as well that has existed for over 100 years. It is the burial site of some of the entertainment industry’s most prominent figures, as well as of important people in Los Angeles’ history.
Some graves you might recognize are those of Johnny Ramone, guitarist of the Ramones, Estelle Getty, the actress best known for her role in Golden Girls, and, as a more recent example, Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer tragically killed when she was accidentally shot by Alec Baldwin while filming. There are hundreds of others in the graves, crypts, and mausoleums.
Interestingly, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a popular venue for live music and summer movie screenings. The Masonic Lodge on-site often hosts these events in nice weather. Check out their event calendar to see if anything interesting is happening during your stay.
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18. Runyon Canyon Park
Address: 2000 North Fuller Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046
If you’re in search of some outdoor space near the Beverly Hills and Hollywood neighborhoods, Runyon Canyon Park is a convenient spot to hit some trails and get some sweeping city views. At 160 acres, there is more than enough room to escape town and get high above it on the mountaintops.
You can access the park from the south side just a few blocks from Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame or from the northern side in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood. From both sides, a network of trails is available to take you across the park or in a smaller loop of your choosing.
The southern end of the park is home to a dog park, making it a great place to bring your furry friend for some exercise and socialization. There’s also an event venue, the Runyon Ranch, on the Hollywood Hills side. Other than that, the space is packed with scenic points and trails for wandering.
Due to its close proximity to Hollywood and its great views of the city, Runyon Canyon Park is a popular place to take a guided hiking tour. An even more unique experience is to do it at night and see La-La-Land and Tinseltown light up from above.
19. TCL Chinese Theatre
Address: 6925 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028
A timeless symbol of Hollywood and entertainment industry events, the TCL Chinese Theatre is an essential stop on any Hollywood Boulevard visit. It sits on the heart of the Walk of Fame, and its opulent, Chinese-style architecture is unmissable.
The theater was originally called Grauman’s Chinese Theatre after it was imagined and created by Sid Grauman in 1922, but its name was changed in 2013 when the Chinese electronics company TCL Corporation purchased the rights to it. Grauman commissioned it after the success of his nearby Egyptian Theatre, and it quickly became a prime choice for hosting movie premieres, Academy Awards ceremonies, and high-profile birthday parties and corporate events.
It is still known as such a venue today, often hosting the first showings of top movies. The theater was recently renovated to include a massive IMAX display, which can be converted to a standard screen as well. With 932 seats and a 94-foot-long screen, this is one of the largest theaters in the country.
Besides its iconic history, what draws visitors to the TCL Chinese Theatre are the handprints and footprints of stars on the concrete outside. More than 200 celebrities have imprinted their hands, feet, and autographs into the theater’s permanent history, and certain unique variations such as Whoopi Goldberg’s dreadlock and Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter wand are there as well.
Movie lovers and Hollywood history buffs might be interested in taking a VIP tour of the theater. You’ll get an up-close look at the costumes and props housed in its exhibits, as well as the famous screen and the various concrete prints the place is known for.
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20. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway
California has a beautiful coastline composed of sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, and jagged rocks against backdrops of mountains, vineyards, and picturesque beach towns. That’s why the Pacific Coast Highway, which runs much of its length of it, has been designated an All-American Road and driving it has become a top thing to do in California.
The southern terminus of the highway is near Dana Point, just over an hour from downtown Los Angeles. While the northern endpoint is all the way up in Mendocino County, well north of San Francisco, a wonderfully scenic portion of the route is within reach of LA.
The most scenic parts of the route in this area are southbound from Long Beach and northbound from Santa Monica where the road hugs the coast. Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach are some of the well-known icons you’ll pass south of LA, while the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu, and Santa Barbara are on the northbound route.
Download an audio tour for these portions and connect it to your car’s radio to learn local history, get tips on where to stop, and hear fun facts about California’s most famous road. While you could technically make it to the Big Sur area and San Francisco in a day, you’ll probably want to take this road slowly, making stops at the beautiful seaside towns and scenic points along the way.
See Related: Best Things to Do in San Francisco
21. Los Angeles State Historic Park
Address: 1245 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
The main park in Chinatown is also a historic one, as well as one of the newest in LA. Los Angeles State Historic Park is a 32-acre space that was once considered the Ellis Island of Los Angeles, opening as a park in 2001.
This space was colloquially known as “The Cornfield” because in the late 1800s when it was the site of River Station on the railroad, corn would leak out of rail cars and later grow all over the field. This station was also where immigrants from the east would first disembark in Los Angeles.
Today, it has been turned into a grassy space with picnic benches, monuments, and some architectural features. It offers great views of the Los Angeles skyline from the north and is a popular place for locals to enjoy some Chinatown food in the fresh air.
Events, such as live music and community fairs, often take place on the grass here. Check out the weekly farmer’s market on the southern side, as well as the street and public art around the space.
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22. Japanese American National Museum
Address: 100 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
And now for some cultures. In the neighborhood of Little Tokyo, just minutes from downtown LA, the Japanese American National Museum exists to preserve and tell the stories of the immigrants to the United States from Japan.
Besides being an interesting look into the history of one of America’s largest ethnic groups, the museum is in a part of town packed full of wonderful sushi and Japanese restaurants. Arrive hungry!
The museum covers the entire history of Japanese to US immigration, starting with the first generation (Issei) more than 130 years ago and including their descendants. Artifacts displayed are clothing, art, photographs, and movies, with more than 100,000 feet of the film made by or about Japanese families being stored in the museum.
The beginnings of the museum came from the unity the Japanese American people developed during World War II when they suffered injustices from the US government. This organization brought them together to create something that conveyed the more positive aspects of their American experience, and the museum was born.
Exhibits in the Japanese American National Museum range widely. There have been special exhibitions on origami, Japanese photography, labor camp history, and even a Hello Kitty display. The diverse range of topics makes for an interesting experience not only for Japanese American visitors but anyone who is interested in learning something new.
23. Los Angeles Zoo
Address: 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Who doesn’t love seeing animals? Luckily, Los Angeles has a fantastic zoo! A famous zoo! Located in the northeastern part of Griffith Park, the Los Angeles Zoo is home to more than 1,400 animals of 250 species, as well as botanical gardens with more than 800 plant species.
The zoo was known for being underfunded and in a state of disrepair for some years until the early 1990s, when the city stepped up work on it and transformed it into a true masterpiece. Today, it is a well-equipped facility fully owned by the state that takes great care of its animals and serves as a rescue center for some.
Some of the most popular exhibits at the zoo are their chimpanzees, gorillas, and red apes. It’s always interesting to get a close-up look at the closest cousins of humans. There is also an Asian elephant habitat and a Komodo dragon exhibit, exotics which always draw interest from visitors from near and far.
Kids of all ages love visiting the zoo. Special activities for the little ones include the World of Birds show, in which birds put on a performance, and the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo, where goats and sheep are available for petting.
24. La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
Address: 5801 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036
This has to be one of the coolest natural phenomena in Los Angeles and even all of California. The slightly stinky La Brea Tar Pits are pools of natural tar which have been seeping up from the depths of the earth for tens of thousands of years; which is now an active paleontological research center and home to an on-site museum.
Natural asphalt (called “brea” in Spanish – see where we’re going?) comes from heavy crude oil that travels from fields deep below the surface slowly. It emerges here, forming pools that slowly bubble due to tiny organisms living inside. The tar is thick and sticky and, for thousands of years, has trapped animals, preserving their remains exceptionally well.
Some animal bones that have been recovered here came from prehistoric mammoths, wolves, and saber-toothed cats. The George C. Page Museum houses some of the discoveries, of which there have been several hundred thousand, as well as life-sized models and information about them.
Visitors can walk around and view some of the tar pits and even see Pit 91, which is still being excavated by researchers. It’s exciting to see where some of the earth’s secrets are still hidden and potentially soon to be discovered.
This is a unique activity that an expert guide can enhance for visitors. Adding even more fun is seeing it by Segway – and both are available on this La Brea Tar Pits Segway Tour.
25. The Hollywood Bowl
Address: 2301 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Another place to catch a concert in Los Angeles is at the one and only Hollywood Bowl, the famous event stage at the foot of the Hollywood Hills. Seeing live music with a picnic and bottle of wine is one of the best things to do in LA at night.
The legendary amphitheater gets its name from the distinctive bowl shape of the mountainside it sits in, which also happens to provide a beautiful backdrop for shows that includes the Hollywood Sign. It can seat over 17,000 people and has been named among the best live music venues in the US.
It is home to the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra but hosts countless performances by some of the most famous musicians in the world each year. The Beatles, The Jackson 5, and Kanye West are just a few of the big names who have put on shows at the Hollywood Bowl. It’s also where Dave Chapelle was attacked while on stage at a recent show!
For big fans of music, the Hollywood Bowl Museum hosts memorabilia, photographs, sound equipment, and other artifacts from past performances. It’s also free to enter, and when it’s closed, a section called The Bowl Walk containing historic photographs can be visited.
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26. Will Rogers State Historic Park
Address: 1501 Will Rogers State Park Road, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Famous actor and humorist Will Rogers settled on a large ranch following his Hollywood success, and the property is now a state park and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in the hills of Pacific Palisades, the unique location of the park gives it both mountain and sea views, making for a lovely day to enjoy the outdoors as well as some early American entertainment history.
Will Rogers had traveled the world developing his performing skills before being discovered by Hollywood. He built this massive estate, which boasts 31 rooms, after becoming the highest-paid actor in town in the 1930s, which he settled in with his wife and family.
After Rogers and his wife passed, the state took over the property in order to preserve the home of one of the era’s most beloved entertainers. The house has undergone some minor renovations but is largely exactly how the family left it. The surrounding polo field, hiking and riding trails, stable, and roping area are some of the other surviving features.
Visitors come here to see the life of an American icon, hike the scenic trails, or both. The most determined hikers can continue on connections into Topanga State Park and throughout the surrounding mountains. The ranch also attracts movie fans, as many pictures use it as a set, including Star Trek.
27. Getty Center
Address: 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049
One of the two components of the J. Paul Getty Museum is the Getty Center, also simply referred to as The Getty. Most art lovers will already recognize it as one of the world’s most extensive and well-known art collections.
For those who aren’t familiar, J. Paul Getty was an oil businessman who became one of the richest people in the world during the 1950s. He was an avid art collector who dedicated a massive portion of his fortune to the preservation and growth of his collection after his death, which is how The Getty came to be.
The Getty Center houses a wide range of American and European 19th and 20th Century paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures, and other pieces. This collection of art dates from the 1830s to the present day, while its sister museum, the Getty Villa, contains some much older work.
The building and grounds are absolutely stunning, estimated to cost over $1 billion to build, with architecture that exploits the natural surroundings and extensive gardens. A sculpture garden and the Getty Research Institute are also on site.
Some of the most renowned pieces in the Getty Center are Arii Matamoe by Paul Gaugin and Irises by Vincent van Gogh. These, along with all the other amazing works in the collection, can be viewed by visitors for a great deal – the museum is completely free.
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28. Marina del Rey
The largest man-made small-craft harbor in North America is Marina del Rey, tucked behind Venice Beach in coastal Los Angeles. The massive harbor is home to more than 5,000 boats and constitutes a community of its own that’s worth a visit.
On land, visitors can enjoy the many paths for biking and walking along the waterfront. The marina is also a great place to watch for wildlife such as birds, sea lions, seals, and even dolphins and whales that sometimes enter the deeper parts.
Marina del Rey is also the main point of departure for many water activities in Los Angeles. Yacht charters are available, as well as a variety of day cruises. If you’d like to enjoy LA from the sea, you can take a champagne brunch cruise, a wine and cheese luxury cruise, or a nighttime dinner cruise from the marina, for example.
One of the most fun activities for active travelers is a kayak or paddleboard tour. You’ll see the secret spots of Marina del Rey, get insight from a local, and, best of all, see where the sea lions hang out!
29. Hollywood Wax Museum
Address: 6767 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028
For some classic Hollywood fun, add a stop at the Hollywood Wax Museum to any day on the boulevard. Located on the corner of Hollywood and Highland, this museum sits in the former location of the Embassy Club, one of the most exclusive places to be in the neighborhood.
There are few more appropriate places to pose with ridiculously life-like statues of celebrities, although the museum does have locations in places like Tennessee and South Carolina. Dedicated solely to wax replicas of celebrities, including singers, actors, and similar A-listers, the museum makes it possible to pose with your favorites – even if you didn’t catch them in Beverly Hills.
You’ll find them within recreated movie sets, cocktail parties, and other scenes made with impressive detail. Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, and Leonardo DiCaprio are just some of the stars waiting inside to greet visitors from 9:00 am to midnight every day of the year.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the World of Illusions are right on the same block and make for appropriate additions to a visit to the wax museum. Attractions like these can be a ton of fun after having some drinks on nearby Sunset Boulevard, as they are open rather late.
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30. Griffith Observatory
Address: 2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Within Griffith Park, you’ll find the Griffith Observatory, which well-deserves its own entry on our list of things to do in LA. This is an astronomy observation center and museum that allows visitors to not only look at the stars through high-tech telescopes but also observe some of the best mountain, city, and sea views in town.
A wealthy businessman, Griffith J. Griffith (yes, really), donated 3,000 acres of his land to the city in 1896, along with funding for the creation of an observatory. He wanted astronomy to be accessible to the public and not just in complex laboratories on the top of mountains for scientists. The city followed through with his wishes, and Griffith Park and the observatory were built.
The architecturally beautiful building houses several real, working telescopes as powerful as those found in research labs. One of the most popular is the Zeiss refracting telescope, which more than 7 million people have looked through – the most of any telescope in history. There is also a planetarium, immersive films, and expert demonstrations available.
Astronomy and space enthusiasts might benefit from a guided tour around this massive museum, or a self-guided audio tour is available for those who prefer to go at their own pace. Don’t forget to enjoy the views of the earth from this mountaintop location as well, as it is a panoramic spot to view the LA area from.
31. Civic Center
The Los Angeles Civic Center neighborhood centers around City Hall and is home to many of the city’s most historic buildings. The neighborhood is part of Downtown LA and is where you can find many of the administrative offices in the city.
This neighborhood is located where the early business district once stood during the late 1800s, though most of the original buildings have been demolished. It borders the Bunker Hill, Little Tokyo, and Chinatown neighborhoods and has recently seen an explosion of new cafes and interesting restaurants.
Besides the amazing bar and restaurant scene, the most fascinating thing about this area is its history and architecture. While most of Los Angeles is known for its modernity, pop culture, and innovation, this area is rich with history and offers a unique feel.
Check out this history and architecture tour, which will take you around the Civic Center and Historic Core areas of Downtown LA. You’ll also make a stop in Little Tokyo to try some treats made by a family-owned candy shop that has been around since 1903!
If your interest leans more towards the history of Los Angeles, this Downtown Los Angeles arts and culture walking tour will do the trick. Your knowledgeable guide will talk about the Spanish settlers that first colonized the area and how gentrification has affected the city more recently.
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32. Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach is another one of Los Angeles’ coastal neighborhoods that has a more laid-back vibe than Santa Monica and Venice Beach. It has a long, wide, sandy beach, large coastal mansions, and great weather – much different from the Manhattan you’ll find on the other side of the country.
There’s a long pier stretching into the sea on this beach as well, but you won’t find rollercoasters or shopping on it. It’s a quiet place to watch the surfers or learn about local marine life at the small aquarium at the end. The pier is also a great place to watch the sunset, popular with couples.
Bikers and active people might enjoy a ride on the Strand, a shoreline bike path that runs all the way to Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach further south. Renting a bike and coasting down the coast is a lovely way to see locals surfing, playing beach volleyball, and enjoying some of the most expensive real estate in the country.
The quaint downtown area has some cute local boutiques and eateries that serve cuisines of all kinds. Many tourists prefer the environment of Manhattan Beach and choose to stay here during their Los Angeles vacation. The Westdrift Manhattan Beach is a popular hotel for its trendy atmosphere and on-site gold.
33. The Original Farmers Market
Address: 6333 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90036
My wife and I love to check out the farmer’s markets of any new city we visit. It’s a great way to get to know the local culture and people.
Along with fresh produce, you can often find foods and products that you just can’t get anywhere else in the world. Los Angeles’ Original Farmers Market is no different.
The idea of opening a farmer’s market here dates all the way back to 1934, when two entrepreneurs, Fred Beck and Roger Dahlhjelm, thought of opening a “village” where local farmers could sell their fresh produce from the back of their trucks. The market quickly expanded within the first few months when more merchants and restaurants set up permanent stalls to sell their offerings. It quickly became one of Los Angeles’ favorite places to shop for groceries.
Today, the market features over 100 vendors offering products such as fresh produce, gourmet groceries, clothing, jewelry, and specialty services. No matter your taste, you’re bound to find something that sparks your interest here. Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts is a local favorite for some sweet treats, and Farm Boy Produce offers some of the most delectable in-season fruit you’ll ever see.
I recommend planning a day to take this Grand City Tour of Los Angeles, which offers an in-depth tour of the city’s greatest gems, including The Original Farmers Market. The tour lasts approximately five hours and has time built-in for shopping and meals.
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34. The Broad
Address: 221 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
One of Los Angeles’ newest art museums is The Broad, having just opened in 2015. The museum is housed in a futuristic-looking building in downtown Los Angeles, just across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
There are nearly 2,000 pieces of modern art by around 200 artists on display at The Broad. The collection is made up of postwar and contemporary art, featuring work from the most recent decades, as well as from some of the latest up-and-coming artists. The founders, Eli and Edythe Broad, believe that the best time to collect art is when it’s being made.
Visitors to The Broad especially love the Mirror Rooms by Yayoi Kusama, which puts you in the center of what feels like a million stars in outer space. Some of the other high-profile artists featured are Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol.
Art lovers will be pleased to know that the permanent collection at The Broad is free to visit, but visitors are required to reserve timed tickets online. If you’d like to be guided through the exhibits with more information as you view the art, download a self-guided audio tour.
35. The Grove
Address: 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Los Angeles has no shortage of shopping, but The Grove is a good spot for a day of retail therapy. In fact, even if you don’t have any room in your luggage to shop, this is a great place to hang out, grab some food or drinks, or see a movie.
The Grove is located in La Brea and just next to The Original Farmers Market, which is connected by a classic street-car trolley. It’s a chic, high-end shopping center with familiar favorites as well as local boutiques. It almost possesses a sort of European feel to it, with trendy cafés and all kinds of cuisines available in the mall.
If you are in LA around the holidays, The Grove becomes spectacularly decorated, complete with a giant tree inaugurated each year with a lighting ceremony. You can also catch a Bellagio-style fountain show, complete with lights and music, year-round.
36. Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Address: 6067 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036
If you’re interested in the inner workings of the film industry or simply just a movie buff, I recommend checking out the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The museum features a permanent collection of artifacts from the history of motion pictures along with temporary featured exhibitions.
The permanent collection features items such as cameras, typewriters of famous screenwriters, scripts, props, and costumes. It’s really so fascinating to see how far technology within the motion picture industry has come and where it’s going in the future.
In addition to the collection of amazing artifacts, the museum also offers film screenings, which would be such a fun thing to experience while in Los Angeles. The museum is open daily from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm on Sunday through Thursday and until 8:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
The movie screenings happen after hours. Tickets for all experiences must be booked in advance.
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37. Rodeo Drive
Rodeo Drive is a two-mile-long road located in the Beverly Hills neighborhood. It is most famous for the three blocks of the street that are located just north of Wilshire Boulevard. Here, you will find glamorous high-end shops, specialty boutiques, and some pretty interesting people.
It is Los Angeles’ equivalent to Bond Street in London and Fifth Avenue in New York. With over 100 shops and amazing cafes and restaurants, you can easily get lost in the charm of Rodeo Drive. It’s definitely a sight to see while visiting LA and is especially great if you’re a shopaholic.
I recommend heading over to Two Rodeo Drive, a small open-air shopping area that is reminiscent of a lovely European cobblestone street. It’s also home to some big-name brands, including Versace, Carolina Herrera, and Jimmy Choo.
There are so many spots to explore in this small area, so I recommend downloading this self-guided tour. It’ll point out all the best restaurants and best photo ops, along with some interesting facts about the history of the area and a detailed itinerary to maximize your time.
38. Grand Central Market
Address: 317 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Hopefully, you plan to try some of the world-class food Los Angeles is known for. A huge selection can be found at the Grand Central Market, a massive emporium of food vendors in the heart of downtown.
There are about 40 stalls in the market, ranging from fresh coffee to Chinese treats. Since 1917, it has been blending the ethnic foods that immigrants brought with them to Los Angeles under one roof and springboarding successful chefs and restauranteurs. This is a fantastic place to turn to on a night that you didn’t make dinner plans for.
Many food tours of Los Angeles will include a stop at Grand Central Market, such as this one. Check out some of my favorites, such as Ana Maria tacos shop, Knead pasta, and Fat & Flour pie and cookie shop.
39. The Last Bookstore
Address: 453 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Whether you’re an avid reader or not, The Last Bookstore is an interesting place to explore and photograph. It’s located in the heart of downtown LA in a former bank – the vault is even used as retail space.
The Last Bookstore sells both new and used books on two floors. Its name comes from the sad truth about the dwindling number of bookstores remaining in existence. The store is California’s largest of its kind, with over 250,000 books, plus vinyl records.
Locals and visitors alike visit the bookstore to browse, sit, and read, but also to take pictures. The design of the store is extremely photogenic, with unique sculptures like a book tunnel. It’s all part of the store’s strategy: they are happy to have Instagrammers come in for pictures, with the goal of hopefully turning them into a customer.
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40. Angels Flight Railway
Address: 351 South Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Railway enthusiasts and history buffs will appreciate the Angels Flight Railway, the world’s shortest railway that began serving Los Angeles over a hundred years ago! You can take a ride on it between Hill Street and the California Plaza mall.
The original railway was actually half of a block north of its current location, which was in operation from 1901 to 1969 but was dismantled and rebuilt in 1996. The two rail cars, named Olivet and Sinai, are the originals, while the track is new.
A ride on the Angels Flight will take you up about one hundred feet in elevation, over about 300 feet in distance. The railway is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a fun way to experience a piece of LA history that still has significance today. Prices have gone up a bit since the early 1900s when a ride cost 50 cents – but don’t worry, it’s now just $1.
41. GRAMMY Museum
Address: 800 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90015
If you’re a big music fan, this is one spot in Los Angeles that you won’t want to miss. The Grammy Museum (often styled as the GRAMMY Museum – like it’s shouting at you) is dedicated to the winners of the Grammy Awards and the history of the award.
On the first floor of the museum, you can learn about the history of the Grammy Awards intertwined with the history of music and those who have made their mark on the industry. The second floor features temporary exhibits and the museum’s 200-seat Clive Davis Theater, which is used for live performances and screenings. The third and fourth floors of the museum are where you’ll find the museum’s permanent collection of artifacts, along with several interactive exhibits.
Plan to spend around 90 minutes at the GRAMMY Museum in order to fully enjoy all the temporary and permanent exhibits. You can also check out the museum’s program calendar, which features the series “A Conversation with…,” which allows visitors to be in an intimate setting with some of their favorite musicians.
42. El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument
Address: 125 Paseo De La Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Since we talk so much about the Golden Age of Los Angeles and all that has come of it in the most recent decades, it’s easy to forget that this area had a long history well before movies. Besides the Native Americans who were there originally, the Spanish had claims to Los Angeles in the 1700s and 1800s. During this time, the city center was the area that is now El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.
This small district is just across the street from Union Station and is mostly centered around Olvera Street. It was first colonized in 1781 on behalf of King Carlos III by just 11 families.
Over the next 150 years or so, the population boomed, shifting the commercial center south. Many historic buildings and churches remain in El Pueblo today, providing a unique look back in time.
Some of the top sights to see here are the main Plaza, the Old Firehouse, Sepulveda House, and Pico House, among many more. Several have been turned into museums preserving artifacts and stories from their times.
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43. Barnsdall Art Park
Address: 4800 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027
We cover quite a few art museums on this list, but the Barnsdall Art Park is unique in that it is where art can be made. It’s also a great place to view special exhibitions, see a National Historic Landmark and World Heritage Site, and simply enjoy a picnic or walk with a view.
Aline Barnsdall, a wealthy oil heiress, owned the property from the early 1900s. She came to LA because she wanted to bring her love for theater and art to the west coast and commissioned renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to build a number of houses and buildings for it.
The most significant was the Hollyhock House, where Barnsdall lived. Other buildings on the property include the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, which hosts special exhibitions often and draws tens of thousands of visitors, and the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, which is used to put on performances and host courses.
44. Warner Bros. Studio
Address: 3400 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91505
Movie and television fanatics will love a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes at one of LA’s most prominent film studios. Luckily, Warner Bros. Studios offers an exciting backlot tour that puts you directly on the set of some of America’s favorite productions.
The large studio is in Burbank and just at the foot of the Hollywood Sign’s mountain, Mount Lee. The complex is where the actual magic happens during TV and movie-making – various sets, sound stages, engineering shops, and support offices are all here. It’s an active production center, meaning future works may be being shot every day.
Warner Bros. Studios offers a wonderful studio tour for visitors who want to get behind the cameras and into the scenes. Lasting about one hour with a guide followed by two hours on your own, you’ll be led through the 110-acre backlot and see the sets where Friends and other huge hits were made. You’ll see museum-like displays of props, costumes, and other pieces of Hollywood history as well.
The studio is also conveniently located very close to Universal Studios Hollywood. While you should probably dedicate a full day to the theme park, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is an easy addition to a stay in the area.
45. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Address: 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108
Founded in 1919, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens really has it all. It’s more commonly referred to simply as The Huntington and is primarily an educational and research institute.
The library houses over 11 million items, with some dating all the way back to the 11th Century. It began as the founder’s personal library, including several rare books and other artifacts. Researchers from all over the world visit the library to study these remarkable works.
The art museum at The Huntington is home to a permanent collection of 45,000 works of art. Most of the art is from Europe, the Americas, and Asia, with some pieces that are over 500 years old. Some notable pieces include Hu Zhengyan’s Pine in Round Design from 1633 and Rogier van der Weyden’s Virgin and Child from 1460.
The Huntington’s garden spans 130 acres and includes over 83,000 individual plants, including several rare species. It’s a lovely place to spend a warm spring day in the Los Angeles area. Don’t forget your camera!
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Address: 1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, CA 92802
Come on! You didn’t really think we were going to leave Disneyland off the list, did you? The happiest place on earth is less than 30 minutes southeast of downtown LA in Anaheim and commands a day of any southern California trip for a Disney fanatic. Or anyone, really. It is impossible not to enjoy Disneyland.
There are technically two Disney parks in Anaheim: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, with the former being the original Disney park and the only one built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney himself. Both contain all the Disney classic characters, rides, and shows you would expect, with some California specialties unique to the region. It’s especially cool to experience the fun of the park in the same place where Disney productions are created (or “imagineered”).
The centerpiece castle here is Sleeping Beauty’s, and some of my favorite rides are the exciting Incredicoaster (formerly known as California Screamin’) and Soarin’ Over California. At the end of the day, stop by Downtown Disney for some great food and shopping.
Getting to the Disneyland area is relatively easy, even without a car, and private transfers from LA are actually affordable. Disney can be a multi-day experience, and many visitors like to stay the night at one of their amazing hotels. However, they can be very expensive – I like to stay off-property at The Westin Anaheim Resort to save a bit but still be nice and close to the parks.
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47. Aquarium of the Pacific
Address: 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802
If you’re traveling to Los Angeles with kids, the Aquarium of the Pacific makes for a wonderful place to visit. The whole family is sure to enjoy the aquarium’s residents, which include sharks, jellyfish, sea otters, reptiles, and more.
The aquarium features many exhibits, including exhibits of marine life that are native to southern California and the Baja area. In addition to sea animals, you can also find a frog exhibit and the Lorikeet Forest exhibit, a 5,400-square-foot aviary.
The Babies! exhibit features the aquarium’s newest residents, often including adorable sea otter pups. The June Keyes Penguin Exhibit is also a popular crowd-pleaser. When you’re all done inside, the ShoreLine Aquatic Park and Seashell Park are lovely green spaces outside along the bay, great for a picnic or coastal stroll.
It’s worth noting that if you plan to visit on a weekend or holiday, you must make reservations online in advance. Long Beach is a popular place to stay in LA, especially to save money in comparison to other neighborhoods. I’ve always enjoyed The Westin Long Beach for its upscale and luxurious feel in a great location.
48. Whale Watching
California is one of the best states in the US for whale watching. There is an incredible variety of these giant marine animals that live or migrate along the California coast, and year-round, there’s a species to be seen.
A familiar favorite is the humpback whale, which travels up the coast from Mexico and is present between May and November. You can also catch the blue whale, the largest animal on earth, during the peak of summer between July and October.
The winter and early spring bring the finback, minke, and grey whales. Killer whales, an exciting site to see, can be found any time of year but are most frequent in April and May and August through October.
Newport Beach, just a quick drive from LA and the Disneyland areas, has a great year-round whale-watching tour. You’ve also got a good chance of seeing dolphins and seals. If you choose to stay in this fun, seaside town for a portion of your trip, the VEA Newport Beach has a wonderful pool and spa.
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49. Paramount Pictures Studio
Address: 5515 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038
You can’t visit Los Angeles (especially for the first time) without doing a movie and television studio tour. It’s one of the most fun experiences and easily one of the top things to do in Los Angeles. Paramount Pictures Studio is another great place to tour Hollywood’s backlots and prop warehouses.
Visiting the studio will really make you feel like part of the action. The studio offers two tour options: a basic tour and a VIP tour. On both tours, you will be taken around the studio on a cart to optimize your time.
The basic tour includes a tour of filming locations, sound stages, and a prop warehouse. You’ll even be able to get a glimpse of industry talent and crew as they are at work. This tour is two hours long and happens daily, starting every half hour from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm.
The VIP tour includes all the same great things as the basic tour but also includes access to Paramount’s archives and more backlots, a meeting with archivists and backlot crew, and a private gourmet lunch on the property. This tour is just over four hours and is only offered on weekdays.
50. Helicopter Tours
Finally, one of the best ways to enjoy a destination is to see it from above. It’s especially true in Los Angeles, where a bird’s eye view reveals a panorama of dreamy beaches, rolling mountains, and an enchanting city.
Besides, when in La-La-Land, shouldn’t you do as the rich and famous do and ride in a helicopter high above the people? There are opportunities to take helicopter tours or private charters all over the Los Angeles area, many of them personalizable to your liking.
If you want to see the best of Beverly Hills and Hollywood away from the crowds and peek into the grounds of celebrity estates, this helicopter tour will take you to the appropriate skies. For more natural scenery and beaches, go with the California coastline tour.
Trying to impress your significant other with something more? A private helicopter tour should do the trick, as should one with a romantic mountain landing. A nighttime tour to see the lights of the city is also a beautiful way to end (or start) your night.
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What are the most popular places to visit in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles is known for Universal Studios Hollywood, the famous Beverly Hills Neighborhood, the iconic Hollywood Sign, and much more. Santa Monica Beach and its pier and the Hollywood Walk of Fame come in as favorites as well.
Are there any free things to do in Los Angeles?
While it doesn’t have a reputation as a cheap destination, there are definitely free things to do in LA. Museums like The Broad and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art have free days at least once a month, while The Getty is always free. Exploring places like Venice Beach and a self-guided tour of the Hollywood Walk of Fame doesn’t cost anything.
What are some things to do in Los Angeles for adults?
There is no shortage of adult things to do in Los Angeles. While the Hollywood Sign and Santa Monica Pier are iconic favorites, try to do some other things like hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains, driving on the Pacific Coast Highway, or going out for a cruise or paddle from Marina del Rey.
How many days do you need in Los Angeles?
With endless things to do, you couldn’t possibly see it all in Los Angeles, even on a long trip. Assuming you want to hit one of the theme parks, some of the Hollywood attractions, the iconic seaside destinations, and a few top museums, four or five days could be enough – but an LA trip can involve as much or as little as you want.
What are some good places for photography in LA?
Los Angeles is an incredibly photogenic city beloved by professional photographers and amateur Instagrammers alike. Favorite places to shoot include the Venice Canals and Skate Park, The Last Book Store, Griffith Observatory and Park, and Santa Monica, although there are many more.