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20 Best Things to do in Los Angeles

Simon Heit

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Los Angeles. The city of angels, where dreams are made or crushed. Countless people move to this city from all over the country and the world, hoping to catch a glimpse at stardom or to snag their own slice of fame. From the top exporter of American culture, Hollywood, and the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills, to the gritty streets of Compton, and the chill beaches of Venice, we’ll examine some of the top 20 places that make this city unique, and if you happen to find yourself where the end of route 66 touches the Pacific Ocean, you ought to definitely consider some of these unforgettable locations. If you’re looking to save money, check out this article on the top free things to do in California

In no particular order, here are the top 20 best things to do in Los Angeles:

1. La Brea Tar Pits

5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

What better way to kick off this list, than with something prehistoric? Come to the La Brea Tar Pits in La Brea, just West of downtown to visit the incredible naturally occurring tar pits that have been in this area since the last Ice Age. Witness the fossilized remains of creatures that perished inside the pools of tar, forever sealing their fate. The skeletal remains of creatures that once roamed Los Angeles during that time can be found here: wooly mammoths, short-faced bears, dire wolves, and giant sloths to name a few. Scientists and archaeologists are still digging up bones from the pits to this day and you can even watch them do their work as they clean and classify bones!

2. Santa Monica Pier

200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401

The iconic route 66 that spans from Chicago, Illinois across the great American West actually ends at the Santa Monica pier. Grab a fishing pole and cast a line over the edge, marvel at the street art and performances. Choices for dining include restaurants with great views, such as the Iconic Bubba Gump’s, The Albright, or Pier Burger, for those looking for the classic American fare. Exhilarating rollercoasters and carnival games are there for the kids, or for those adults who are kids at heart!

3. Universal Studios Hollywood

100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608

Krustyland Simpsons Ride in Universal Studios Hollywood
The Simpsons Fans will love Krusty Land at Universal Studios Hollywood. Photo Credit: Christina Champlin / We Like L.A.

Home to the oldest and most famous movie studio in the world, Universal Studios Hollywood is visited by over 9 million guests each year, ranking it 15th in the world and 9th among North American parks. The world-famous ‘Studio Tour’ is a MUST see for any film buff, or even those remotely interested in cinema magic and history. UHS is home to the thrilling Jurassic Park ride, The Mummy Returns, and more. If you take your kids here, they will form memories that last a lifetime. The recently opened Harry Potter World will transport you into directly into Hogwarts!

4. Watts Towers Art Center

1727 E 107th St, Los Angeles, CA 90002

Created over the span of 33 years (1921-1954) by Italian American immigrant stone worker and tile mason Simon Rodia, Watts is a Historic landmark site featuring soaring steel towers adorned with glass, shells & colorful tiles. It was built within his residential property at the time. The tallest tower stands at 99.5 feet. If you’re a fan of quirky, off-beat outsider art, the Watts Towers is definitely a must-see!

5. Venice Beach Boardwalk

1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291

Full of eccentric characters, shoreside tattoo parlors, graffiti artists, street vendors, skateboarders, and electronic scooters, Venice Beach is a must for any bohemian indie-hippie type! If you’re keen to check out what gave Venice its name, scope out the Venice Canals, located at 2480 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA 90291. Inspired by the canals of Venice, Italy, this quaint neighborhood is sure to charm the pants off any visitor.

6. Runyon Canyon Hiking Trail

2000 N Fuller Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Runyon Canyon View
Photo: Grant

The most popular spot for spotting hiking celebrities, Runyon canyon is a huge hiking trail that is sure to tire out even the most seasoned hikers! It has great people watching, and an off-leash dog park.

7. The Huntington

1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108

Source: Kirk Wester / shutterstock
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, known as the Huntington for short, is a gorgeous and enriching attraction. Sitting on 120 acres in San Marino, Huntington is one of the world’s most extensive research libraries. Visitors can browse the Library Exhibition Hall and enjoy Medieval manuscripts, rare books, documents from Abraham Lincoln, and a wide range of other materials. In the Huntington Art Gallery, works by artists like Edward Hopper and Andy Warhol are on display. The surrounding botanical gardens and ponds are also breathtaking, and a fantastic place to spend the day in Los Angeles.

8. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Urban Light, an exhibit by Chris Burden, is one of the most famous pieces at LACMA composed of 202 old lampposts, many of them from the 1920s and 1930s collected from around Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Museum Associates/LACMA.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is an excellent destination for admiring beautiful masterpieces. This museum features more than 150,000 distinct, diverse pieces of artwork. Visitors can enjoy a variety of educational tours and interactive exhibits. Los Angeles residents, children, and guests who visit during the second Tuesday of each month are granted free admission into the museum.

9. Zuma Beach

30000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

Source: Sherry V Smith / shutterstock
Zuma Beach

Los Angeles is known for its beautiful beaches, and Zuma Beach is no exception. Located in Malibu and backed by the Santa Monica Mountains, this beach offers soft, sandy shores, refreshing water, and spectacular views. Whether you want to spend the day sunbathing or body surfing, this destination is a guaranteed good time. Grab a boogie board and catch some waves. 

10. Petersen Automotive Museum

6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Source: Fotos593 / shutterstock
Petersen Automotive Museum

If you love cars, architecture, or the culture of Los Angeles, you’ll definitely want to visit this unique museum. The Petersen Automotive Museum is housed inside a 100-ton stainless steel structure that has been formed into stunning, aerodynamic ribbons. The museum contains 25 galleries and hundreds of breathtaking automobiles. For guests who really love cars, a little extra money can grant you access to The Vault. This special section of the museum contains over 250 vehicles from a wide range of countries and time periods. Some of the most popular cars to admire include the 1915 Detroit Electric Model 61 Brougham, the solar-powered 1987 Mana La, and vehicles owned by Elvis Presley. 

11. Hollywood Sign

Innsdale Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068

Hollywood sign
Photo: Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Starting at a small hike at Innsdale Trail, this hike is the perfect vantage point if you want to get that famous selfie that you see everyone on social media having in front of the Hollywood sign. Make sure you get a ride-share or take public transit here. Parking can be a problem!

12. Escape Rooms – Fox in a Box LA

8255 Sunset Boulevard West Hollywood

cold war bunker escape room fox in a box la
Cold War Bunker Escape Room. Photo: Fox in a Box LA

Escape rooms are for those thrill-seekers with a taste of adventure! Get locked in to one of eight rooms with two to six people, and put your heads together in an effort to escape! The rooms they are titled: Dracula: The Final Hour, The Other Side, Cold War Bunker, Prison Break, Tesla’s Mystery, Zodiac Killer, Zombie Lab, and Cold War Bunker Head to Head. Only about 50-60% of groups make it out in time, Will yours be one of them?

13. Day Trip to Catalina – Catalina Express

320 Golden Shore, Long Beach, CA 90802

Catalina express trip to catalina island los angeles
Photo: Discover Los Angeles

Hop aboard the Catalina Express in either Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point and sail for one hour to Catalina Island. The Island is a quaint, cozy seaside community that’s similar to Los Angeles, only much slower, and calmer. There are more golf carts than cars, and you can even spot some unique wildlife here, such as Catalina Island Bison and the Catalina Island Fox, which is a subspecies of the foxes that originated in Southern California that evolved to be smaller on the Island since there is less sustenance for them to consume over time. There’s a famous Catalina Casino (Pictured above on the shore with a red, circular roof) that opened in 1929 that welcomes guests, but there is no gambling here!

Catalina Express Prices:

Adult Price: 73.50
Children Price: 58.00
Senior Price: 66.50

14. Sunset Boulevard

Doheny Drive to Vine Street, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

Source: Gabriele Maltinti / shutterstock
Sunset Boulevard

One of the most famous streets in the world, Sunset Boulevard is a must-see destination for any Los Angeles tourists. This scenic route links the lively streets of Hollywood to the affluent neighborhoods of Beverly Hills. Cruise down the iconic Sunset Strip and enjoy the sights and sounds of California’s electric nightlife scene. There are plenty of places to stop along the way to drink, dine, and be entertained. Sunset Plaza is a fantastic place for dining and nightlife.

15. Walt Disney Concert Hall

111 S Grand Ave, Inglewood, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Source: Kapi Ng / shutterstock
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Music Center, LA

The Walt Disney Concert Hall, located in Downtown Los Angeles, is an exceptional landmark to visit. This awe-inspiring architectural masterpiece is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Tickets to a wide range of spectacular shows are available for purchase. Visitors can also enjoy themselves by taking an interactive tour of the uniquely gorgeous concert hall and Ira Gershwin Gallery. Taking a selfie in front of this place is a must!

 16. Grand Central Market

317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Photo: BENJAMINDELL.COM

Grand Central Market is the best place to visit if you’re a foodie in Downtown Los Angeles. This destination is the oldest and largest public market in the city, occupying the entire ground floor of the iconic Homer Laughlin Building. The wide array of options to eat will have your mouth watering, from Japanese ramen to Salvadorian street food, and everything in between. Try a taste of falafel, southern BBQ, tacos, bento, pizza, fresh produce, oyster bars, and more.

17. Warner Bros. Studio Tour

3400 Warner Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505

Learn about the art of filmmaking and television show production on the incredible Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Located in Burbank, this tour will grant you access to the backlot and sound stages of your favorite movies and tv shows. Visit Central Perk from Friends and check out the set of the Big Bang Theory. Guests can also visit the Archive and Prop House, which contains props and costumes from Harry Potter, the DC Universe, and other fan favorites. Make sure you take a selfie in front of their iconic water-tower that can be seen in the intros to all their movies!

18. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

Photo: iStock

The exquisite Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is an iconic Hollywood symbol of fame, success, and opulence. Tourists visiting this landmark on the Walk of Fame will be blown away by the lovely Chinese inspired architecture. Inside, this theater contains one of the largest IMAX screens in North America. This is the world-famous location where celebrities put their footprints and handprints into cement!

19. Third Street Promenade

1351 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica is a lively open-air space perfect for shopping, eating, and entertainment. The promenade is three blocks of high-end stores, trendy restaurants, fun bars, and movie theaters. As you walk down the street, musicians and other street performers may catch your eye. This beautiful spot is a fantastic place to spend a sunny afternoon in Los Angeles. 

20. Dodger Stadium

1000 Vin Scully Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Dodger Stadium | Photo: Wonho Frank Lee

Whether you’re a sports fan or just someone who loves to have fun, Dodger Stadium is an exciting place to visit. With 56,000 seats, Dodger Stadium has the largest seating capacity of any baseball stadium in the world. Cheer on your favorite players while enjoying the famously indulgent Dodger Stadium food, including the 16.5 inches ‘Going Yard’ hot dog. For fans who want a closer look, 90-minute tours of the stadium, field, Dodger Dugout, and Lexus Dugout Club are available.

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