Things To Do In Los Angeles, California
Sprawling and cosmopolitan, Los Angeles offers everything from beautiful beaches and canyons to world-class museums and cultural institutions.
Plus, there’s the glamour of Hollywood and a thriving culinary and entertainment scene. Whatever your interests, there is no shortage of things to do and places to see in the City of Angels.
To help you plan your trip, here are our recommendations for the 15 best things to do in Los Angeles.
1. Hollywood Sign
Nothing says Los Angeles more than the Hollywood Sign. Not surprisingly, getting a good photo of the sign is one of the top things to do in Los Angeles.
Originally built in 1923 as part of a real estate development, today it’s an iconic landmark. And although you can’t get close to the sign, you can find good vantage points to take photos from.
Some of the best spots include from Lake Hollywood Park, Griffith Observatory, Beachwood Canyon and the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In town, head to the intersection of Franklin and Gower or the Hollywood and Highland Center.
2. Griffith Observatory
Situated on top of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory is one the best places to visit in Los Angeles to enjoy stunning views. The art deco landmark is one of the most visited observatories in the world.
Visitors can look through the telescopes at the stars for free nearly every night the skies are clear. Enjoy star gazing parties with astronomers and multiple telescopes held once a month.
The observatory also offers a planetarium with interesting shows about the universe and several exhibit halls with many exhibits.
Don’t miss the Tesla coil and Foucault’s Pendulum exhibits. Before leaving, head out onto the observatory’s terraces for spectacular views of the city. Many LA sightseeing tours include a stop at Griffith Observatory.
3. Hollywood Walk of Fame
See Hollywood’s biggest stars immortalized on the sidewalks at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Since 1958, the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been honoring actors, directors, musicians and even fictional characters.
Today there are more than 2,600 brass and terrazzo stars set in the pavement. The Hollywood Walk of Fame can be found on both sides of Hollywood Boulevard (between Gower and La Brea) and both sides of Vine Street (from Yucca to Sunset).
Along the way, you will also pass by such landmarks as the TCL Chinese Theatre, the El Capitan Theatre and the historic Roosevelt Hotel. New stars are added every year at free public ceremonies. Join a guided walking tour to learn more about the walk and stars.
4. Santa Monica Pier
Enjoy some time on the beach, then head to the iconic Santa Monica Pier. It’s home to Pacific Park, the only amusement park on a pier on the west coast. The park offers 12 rides and is free to enter. You just pay for the rides you want to go on. Top choices include the steel roller coaster and the Pacific Wheel Ferris Wheel. Or play a few games in the arcade and grab some snacks.
Take a selfie with the Route 66 End of Trail sign. There’s also a small aquarium and a trapeze school. Afterwards, check out the Third Street Promenade.
The pedestrian-only area is home to lots of shops, restaurants and street performers. In the summer, enjoy free events such as twilight concerts.
Venice is one of the most eclectic neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and well worth a visit. It’s known for the Venice Boardwalk, or Ocean Front Walk. Stretching for 2.5 miles, it’s home to the world-famous Muscle Beach outdoor gym and the Venice Beach Skate Park.
You’ll find all sorts of interesting characters here, along with plenty of street performers and vendors.
Head away from the beach just a few blocks though and you will find the Venice Canals. Picturesque and quiet, you’ll find pretty bridges and all kinds of birds here.Then head over to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, where you’ll find an array of boutiques, shops, galleries and restaurants.
6. La Brea Tar Pits
The La Brea Tar Pits is one of the most unique and popular attractions in Los Angeles. For tens of thousands of years, hot tar has been bubbling up from the ground, trapping and preserving unsuspecting animals.
Hundreds of species have been found here, including extinct animals such as woolly mammoths, dire wolves and saber tooth cats. The best part is you can view the pits for free.
The adjacent Page museum, which houses some of the millions of fossils found, does charge a fee. The museum is worth a visit, as it has one of the largest Ice Age fossil collections in the world. Visitors can also tour the facility, including the fossil lab, observation pit and lake pit.
7. Studio Tours
Los Angeles is synonymous with the movies and television. And one of the best things to do in the city is to take a studio tour if you are a fan.
See where your favorite shows and movies are filmed. Studios that offer tours include Warner Bros. Studios, Sony Picture Studios, Paramount Studios and Universal Studios. Tours usually last from around one to three hours and offer a behind the scenes look at studio back lots. Visit sets and sound stages. See props and costumes.
If you’re lucky, you may even run into someone famous. The Universal Studios tour is included as part of the theme park. Some city sightseeing passes include free or discounted admission for studio tours.
8. Disneyland Resort
A trip to Disneyland is one of the best things to do in Los Angeles for families with kids and thrill seekers. The resort is made up of two theme parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure.
Downtown Disney, an outdoor dining, shopping and entertainment area, links the two parks. Enjoy a wide range of rides, from mild to wild, and many other attractions. Meet your favorite Disney stars.
Enjoy a live performance. Or watch a parade or two. In between, refuel at one of the many dining options available. Afterwards, stay and watch the fireworks if they are scheduled for your visit. Fast passes are available to minimize wait times for popular attractions.
Located along Miracle Mile, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA, is one of the largest museums in the world, and the largest in the western United States.
The campus spans seven buildings and 20 acres so expect to do a lot of walking. LACMA also has a really diverse holding, with permanent collections of American, Latin, Asian and Islamic and European art, from ancient to contemporary.
It also hosts numerous temporary exhibitions and intriguing installations. Two of the most popular installations, “Levitated Mass” and “Urban Light,” are located outdoors and can be viewed for free.
10. Rodeo Drive
See how the rich and famous shop at Rodeo Drive. Located in Beverly Hills, the pretty, palm-lined street stretches for 2 miles. But the section most visitors are interested in can be found in the section between Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard.
Find high-end stores such as Armani, Gucci and Louis Vuitton here, along with luxury cars such as Ferraris and Bugattis. Whatever your budget, it’s free to window shop and people watch.
As you walk along the street, look down and look for the plaques for the honorees on the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style. Fans of the movie Pretty Woman will also want to check out the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and the Boulmiche Luxury Fashion Store.
11. Sunset Boulevard
Stretching for 22 miles between glitzy Hollywood and the beaches of Malibu, Sunset Boulevard is one of the most famous roads in Los Angeles, particularly the 1.5-mile stretch in West Hollywood known as the Sunset Strip.
It’s most famous for being a nightlife hotspot. Catch a show at legendary rock clubs such as the Viper Room, the Roxy Theatre or Whiskey a Go Go. If comedy is more your thing, check out the Comedy Store or the Laugh Factory.
Afterwards, grab a drink at hot spots such as the SkyBar at the Mondrian or the Bar Marmont at the Chateau Marmont, where you may very well run into a celebrity. On Friday and Saturday nights, enjoy a free trolley service. To learn more about the area and history, join a guided tour.
12. The Getty
The J. Paul Getty Museum, also known as the Getty, is made up of the Getty Center and the Getty Villa. The Getty Center is situated on a hilltop in Brentwood.
While the Getty Villa is located at the eastern end of the Malibu Coast. Both offer stunning architecture and a remarkable art collection. While the Getty Center focuses more on American and European Art, the Getty Villa concentrates on ancient Greek, Roman and Etrurian Art.
The Getty Center also features spectacular gardens and sweeping hilltop views. Both the Getty Center and the Getty Villa are free to visit.
Book a timed slot online ahead of time to minimize time waiting in line. Guided tours are available and offer deeper insights into the art and history.
For culture and nightlife, head to Downtown Los Angeles, or DTLA. Newly revamped and hip, DTLA offers world class museums, great restaurants and trendy bars.
Head to OUE Skyspace for sweeping city views and slide down the all-glass Skyslide between floors. See amazing art at the Broad, the Museum of Contemporary Art or Hauser & Wirth.
Check out the oldest structure in LA, the Avila Adobe, on Olvera Street. Grab a bite to eat at Grand Central Market or ROW DTLA. Then catch a performance at the striking Walt Disney Concert Hall. Or watch a sporting game at the Staples Center. Afterwards, enjoy a drink with a view at the Rooftop Bar of the Standard Hotel.
14. Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens
See world-class art, ancient manuscripts, books and gorgeous plants at the Huntington.
A renowned research library, regular visitors can view a rotating exhibit of incredible works at the Library Galleries. Highlights include an original illuminated Gutenberg Bible and early editions of Shakespeare’s play, as well as personal letters from famous authors.
The art collection is focused on British and French artists. The highlight for many is the botanical gardens, considered to be the most beautiful in Los Angeles. Spanning 120 acres, there are 14 themed gardens and more than 14,000 plant varieties.
You can also enjoy high tea at the Rose Garden Tea Room.
15. Hollywood Forever Cemetery
The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place of many of the biggest names in Hollywood history. Located off Santa Monica Boulevard, behind Paramount Studios, it’s free to enter the cemetery.
To help find your way around, pick up a cemetery map from the flower shop at the front gate. Famous names buried here include Judy Garland, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino, Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Rooney.
The grounds are well-maintained and you can even spot peacocks in certain areas. The cemetery also hosts special events throughout the year, including movie screenings, literature events and live concerts.
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