Los Angeles has earned its spot as one of the most glamorous cities in the United States. From the rolling estates of Beverly Hills to the high-end boutiques dotting Rodeo Drive, there won't be a dull moment on your trip to the City of Angels. Los Angeles' Hollywood is at the forefront of film and television production, and the city has the highest concentration of celebrities in the world. That means you may even spot a star as you dine at one of the chic restaurants in the Grove.
Aside from the grand Hollywood sign on the hills of Los Angeles, perhaps one of the most iconic images of the city is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The street is lined with over 2,600 five-point terrazzo and brass stars acting as monuments to the entertainment industry. It is estimated that over 10 million tourists visit this spot each year. Also, be sure to check out the TCL Chinese Theatre nearby, which plays IMAX movies daily.
West of downtown Los Angeles lies Santa Monica Beach and its famous Ferris wheel. The three miles of shoreline provide countless hours of entertainment for locals and tourists alike, with great shops and restaurants. The buzzing pier harbors a rollercoaster, food vendors, and arcade games that will keep the whole family entertained. And there's never a bad time to visit as the beach averages 340 days of sunshine per year.
Known for its bohemian spirit, Venice is a vibrant and eclectic area of Los Angeles. Founded in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney as a beachfront resort town, his vision was to create a cultural mecca. This walkable city is known for its boardwalk lined with cafes, restaurants, stylish boutiques, skateparks, and the world-famous outdoor gym Muscle Beach. The boardwalk attracts hundreds of visitors every day. It's easy to lose time while visiting funky shops or watching the street performers, including artists, magicians, and fortune-tellers. Bike, roller skate, or walk around this colorful city and explore this side of the beautiful Pacific Coast.
This large, municipal park is located at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains in the relaxed and creative Los Feliz neighborhood. Griffith Park spans 4,310 acres, making it one of the largest urban parks in North America and one of the most famous as it has been featured in many films, such as the first two Back to the Future movies and La La Land. The park is comprised of wild, rugged hiking trails that separate the park into many areas for activities, including a golf course, picnic grounds, and tennis courts. Some of the more popular tourist attractions include the Hollywood sign, Los Angeles Zoo, and the Griffith Observatory.
Universal Studios Hollywood is a great amusement park located in the Los Angeles area. The park's rides and entertainment are themed around the most beloved tv and movie characters from history. Certain spots are dedicated to recreating iconic scenes, such as the Bates Motel from Psycho and Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives. The park also features thrilling rides and costumed characters. To avoid wasting time in long lines, be sure to purchase a Front of Line pass online.
Tucked away in Hancock Park and registered as a National Natural Landmark, the tar pits were formed from natural asphalt that seeped up from the ground for tens of thousands of years, becoming thick enough to trap animals. The tar pits visible now were all created by human excavations, which began in 1913 in search of large fossils.
Runyon Canyon boasts one of the best hiking trails in Los Angeles with its three-mile loop and great views of the city. If you are traveling with your dogs, bring them along as the trail is dog-friendly and even contains several spots for the pups to play off-leash. And an added bonus is that Runyon Canyon is a surprisingly great location to spot a celeb. Justin Timberlake, Vanessa Hudgens, Gwen Stefani, and loads of other A-list celebrities are known to burn some calories on the trail.
Botanical Gardens? Yes. Art Museum? That, too, and more! The Huntington Library is one of the world's greatest independent research libraries and holds over 11 million items spanning from the 11th to 21st centuries. Some major library highlights include the Ellesmere manuscripts of Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales," first editions and manuscripts by authors such as Henry David Thoreau and Mark Twain, and literary archives of Octavia E. Butler and Charles Bukowski.
Many popular bus tours in Los Angeles will take you on a tour of celebrity homes. Hop on one of the buses to see the palatial estates of stars like Sandra Bullock, Tom Cruise, Bruno Mars, and Halle Berry. The tour guides will provide a continuing monologue as you zip along the streets of L.A., allowing you to learn a bit of Hollywood history as you view the homes. You can also expect to see the past residences of such classic stars like Elvis and Michael Jackson.
One of the great features of the studio lots in Los Angeles is that they are often open to the public for tours. Paramount Picture Studios is a historic location where films such as Titanic and Mission Impossible were filmed. Tours typically last about two hours, and a knowledgeable guide will drive you around the lot in a golf cart, allowing you to get out and explore at certain spots.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is located on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile area. Founded in 1961, this is the largest museum in the western United States and attracts almost a million visitors every year. Holding more than 150,000 works spanning from ancient times to the present, there are several enticing art collections to wander through. Some of these collections include modern and contemporary art pieces, including 20 works by Picasso.
Los Angeles takes the cake for the city with the most Instagram-famous foods. Grab a dozen wild donuts from California Donuts, including their famous Oreo donut that looks like a panda. Or pop into the Great White Hut for one of their dozens of crazy french fry combinations. And you can't leave without purchasing a Unicorn Melt at Chomp Eatery. The rainbow-colored grilled cheese is almost as beautiful as it is delicious.
Disneyland, built in Anaheim in 1955, is the only amusement park designed and fully completed under the supervision of the great Walt Disney himself. The park boasts Disney-themed rides, shows, and characters that will keep the family entertained all day. Disneyland is sectioned off into designated themed areas such as Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and Mickey's Toontown. Be sure to keep an eye out for the new Star Wars expansion set to open in the summer of 2019.
The California Science Center is a dynamic destination featuring interactive exhibits, films, live demonstrations, and unique ways to learn about science. Exhibits center around ecosystems, air and space, inventions and discovery, and the world of life. The permanent exhibit collections are absolutely free, but you may access IMAX films and special exhibits at an additional cost.
The Getty Center boasts both impressive architectural components on the outside and a museum on the inside. Architect Richard Meier designed the art museum, and it houses pieces ranging from the Renaissance sculptures to contemporary paintings. The museum also offers some of the best views of Los Angeles.
An oasis of lush greenery among the hustle of the city, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a unique spot. It's been the resting place of choice for various notable figures for over a century. Although it may seem a tad macabre to go on a cemetery tour, it seems almost inevitable, given its celebrity status. Admire the lavish decoration of the graves, tombs, and mausoleums, and enjoy some rare peace and quiet in L.A.
As the name suggests, the Venice Canals are quite reminiscent of their European counterparts — but conveniently, they're right here in the U.S. They're tucked away just off 25th street in Venice Beach, and you can easily miss them if you don't know what you're looking for. Go for a visit once you're tired of the busy city streets and start craving a relaxing stroll through the greenery.
What's a trip to L.A. without a visit to a studio tour? There are several options, but the Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood is by far the most popular. Choose one of the three tours on offer and get yourself immersed in the magic of cinema. This studio is the real deal — movies are still regularly being shot there, so you get to visit real movie and TV sets and learn some behind-the-scenes secrets.
Exposition Park encompasses several attractions: three museums, a coliseum, a rose garden, and even an IMAX cinema. All locations (apart from the IMAX and the National History Museum) are completely free, so they make for a fun, budget-friendly option if you need to cut down on expenses. Don't forget to check out the Endeavour Space Shuttle and go on a leisurely walk through the lush garden. If you opt to pay extra for the National History Museum, the dinosaur skeletons are a must.
The Watts Towers are one of the world's most notable examples of outsider art — art that's not produced by someone who considers themselves an artist. In fact, they were built by just one man, an Italian immigrant, using only the most basic of tools. Now, they're an indispensable part of the urban landscape. Book an inexpensive guided tour to learn more about the history of the center.