Tips on What To Do in Los Angeles
Hollywood and Beverly Hills are key destinations for Los Angeles travelers, as well as the city's lengthy coastline and diverse neighborhoods. Tourists often overlook L.A.'s cultural sites, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall—designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry—and the expansive Getty Center, which houses great 19th and 20th century European and American art on a 24-acre campus in Brentwood. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the city is Universal Studios Hollywood, an amusement park based on your favorite motion pictures.
You should also take a tour through Hollywood's Forever Cemetery for a look at the final resting place of some of Old Hollywood's biggest stars . If you're looking to get out of town, Disneyland in Anaheim makes a great day trip, especially for families.
L.A. has an endless amount of sights and spectacles waiting to be explored. The city's innovative architecture is some of the most impressive in the United States, especially the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall or the expansive Getty Center, which contains a vast collection of art and several unique gardens, and also offers a great panoramic view of the city. For even more stunning scenery, head to the Griffith Observatory; while the observatory's museum and grounds are worth exploring, many agree that the main reason to come here is to check out the views of the famous Hollywood Sign.
L.A. also has several neighborhoods that are worth a peek. Pick up a map to the stars and check out the homes of some of your favorite celebs in Beverly Hills (don't miss the famous Greystone Mansion), or spend a day gawking at the brightly-costumed—and the scantily-clad—beachgoers at Venice Beach. Another authentic L.A. experience is a cruise down one of the city's famed streets like Sunset Boulevard or Mulholland Drive, which was once a renowned street racing venue.
Another way to experience the city is with help from a guide. Tours of all kinds are popular in Los Angeles, especially those featuring celebrities and movie-making. Several bus companies offer tours of Beverly Hills, while others offer daily sightseeing walking tours.
Los Angeles' most iconic neighborhood is also one of its most lively. It's also a great place to discover the city's starry identity. Although many of the city's movie and television studios have moved out (aside from Paramount Pictures), Hollywood still holds fast to its illustrious past. Here, you'll find some of Los Angeles' most popular attractions, including the Kodak Theatre (where the Academy Awards are held) and Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where you can place your hands in the imprints left by your favorite movie stars. Also, don't forget to pay your respects to some of Hollywood's VIPs at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the final resting place of such major stars as Cecil B. DeMille, Mel Blanc, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, and Rudolph Valentino.
However, if there's one sight that can't be missed, it's the famous Hollywood Sign. Although it can be seen from many different places throughout the city, experts and travelers agree that the best vantage point is from the Griffith Observatory.
Los Angeles' 72 miles of beaches are among the most diverse in the country, and—much like the city itself—cannot be experienced over the course of one or two days. A bit of advice: choose the beach that best suits the experience you're looking for. If you're looking to catch a wave, follow the surfing crowd to Zuma Beach in Malibu, while those looking to enjoy a waterfront stroll will find Manhattan Beach's views of the Santa Monica Bay the most appealing. For a taste of L.A.'s quirky culture, spend an afternoon in-line skating at Venice Beach, while families will enjoy the kid-friendly shore and entertainment found at the Santa Monica Beach and Pier.
Sports & Leisure
When you tire of driving around or lounging on the beach, there are plenty of greener places to stretch your legs. If you're looking to spend the day outside, there's no better place than Griffith Park. Covering 4,107 acres of L.A., this is one of the largest urban park in North America. Here, you'll find more than 50 miles of hiking trails and plenty of opportunities to bike, horseback ride and swim. There are also several attractions here, including the Griffith Observatory, which offers spectacular views of the city. Travelers also recommend Runyon Canyon, located just a few blocks from Hollywood Blvd.
If you're looking to hit the trails away from the city's smog and noise, head to Topanga Canyon (sandwiched between Santa Monica and Malibu along Rt. 27) or nearby Will Rogers State Historic Park. There are also plenty of places to fish, golf, surf and even hang glide scattered throughout the city.
Attractions for Kids
Although you might not consider Los Angeles to be the ideal family getaway, there are several attractions that your kids will go nuts for. For example, future scientists can brush up on their skills at the California Science Center while wild ones can hang out with their favorite furry friends at the Los Angeles Zoo. You should also introduce your kids to some of the attractions you can only find in this city, like the amusement rides and exhibits at Universal Studios Hollywood, the sidewalk stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame or the seaside snacks of the Santa Monica Pier.
There's one family-focused site that cannot be missed: La Brea Tar Pits. For more than 40,000 years, hot tar has been bubbling from the earth at what is now Museum Row, just east of Beverly Hills. Today, the adjoining Page Museum displays the remains of several hundred species of animals discovered in the pits, which is consequently the largest and most diverse grouping of Ice Age specimens in the world. According to travel writers, you'll have to pry your kids away from this attraction.
From designer boutiques to vintage stores, fruit stands to high-end art galleries, the City of Angels has it all. Not sure where to start? Head to Los Angeles' commercial epicenter: Rodeo Drive. This Beverly Hills street is known worldwide for its designer-laden storefronts. For a more down-to-earth souvenir, head to Venice Beach, where you'll find vendors along the boardwalk hawking used books, knock-off sunglasses, and tie-dyed everything. And for a bargain spree, you'll find your fair share of deals in West Hollywood boutiques. There are also a number of shopping malls and complexes scattered throughout the city.
A quick word on exercising your credit card here: be prepared for the monstrous sales tax (almost 10 percent).
When the sun sets on the City of Angels, L.A.'s notorious party side comes to life. This is a town of velvet ropes and swanky clubs, where looking suave may be your best chance at getting in.
Keep in mind that what was hot last night may not be tonight. However, travel writers say that you're guaranteed to find a party in Hollywood (namely the storied intersection of Hollywood and Vine) or along Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. For a more laid-back evening, check out the live music venues sandwiched between Downtown and Griffith Park, and you'll find the hottest LGBT venues clustered in Santa Monica.
Also be sure to check out the numerous performance venues in Hollywood and Downtown L.A. If you're looking for a laugh, head to the Strip section of Sunset Boulevard where comedy clubs flourish.