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Best Things To Do in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has an exhaustive array of things to do. If you're a film buff, vintage Hollywood is a must-see. Some classic attractions in the area include TCL Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Paramount Pictures Studios, the only television and film studio left in Hollywood. For a taste of stardom, window-shop along Rodeo Drive or cruise Sunset Boulevard. There are also a plethora of shorelines to choose from, including Venice Beach, Zuma Beach and the Santa Monica Pier and Beach. And after exploring all LA has to offer, consider taking a daytrip south to Anaheim-Disneyland.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Must-see ? Free
Griffith Observatory sits on the south face of Mount Hollywood and overlooks the Los Angeles basin. Its location gives visitors impressive views of the surrounding area. But there's more than just a pretty photo-op here. The observatory hosts fascinating exhibitions and features a top-notch planetarium.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park
Griffith Observatory sits on the south face of Mount Hollywood and overlooks the Los Angeles basin. Its location gives visitors impressive views of the surrounding area. But there's more than just a pretty photo-op here. The observatory hosts fascinating exhibitions and features a top-notch planetarium.
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#2

#2 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Must-see ? Free
Immortalized by Julia Robert's "Pretty Woman" shopping spree, Rodeo Drive is an upscale shopping street in Beverly Hills that features designer stores and small private boutiques. The area is popular with wealthy shoppers, sunglass-wearing celebrities and tourists hoping to see fashion icons.
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Rodeo Drive
Immortalized by Julia Robert's "Pretty Woman" shopping spree, Rodeo Drive is an upscale shopping street in Beverly Hills that features designer stores and small private boutiques. The area is popular with wealthy shoppers, sunglass-wearing celebrities and tourists hoping to see fashion icons.
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#3

#3 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Must-see ? Free
Just west of downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica contains one of the most legendary beach scenes in the United States. Santa Monica also boasts an abundance of great restaurants and excellent nightlife spots. The 3 miles of shoreline are renowned as some of the best in the area thanks to the soft sands, ideal weather and bevy of attractions. "State Beach," as its known, averages about 340 days of sunshine a year and acted as the backdrop for the popular television series "Baywatch."
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Santa Monica Pier and Beach
Just west of downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica contains one of the most legendary beach scenes in the United States. Santa Monica also boasts an abundance of great restaurants and excellent nightlife spots. The 3 miles of shoreline are renowned as some of the best in the area thanks to the soft sands, ideal weather and bevy of attractions. "State Beach," as its known, averages about 340 days of sunshine a year and acted as the backdrop for the popular television series "Baywatch."
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#4

#4 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Must-see ?
One of the most popular attractions in the Los Angeles area, Universal Studios Hollywood features rides and amusements based on some of the most popular scenes and characters from film and television. You can take the famous tram tour through Wisteria Lane, the setting for the TV show "Desperate Housewives," and past the creepy Bates Motel from "Psycho." Kids can shake hands with cartoon favorites like SpongeBob SquarePants and The Simpsons. If thrills are your thing, there are plenty of hair-raising coasters and rides. On Transformers: The Ride-3D, riders join Optimus Prime in his battle against the Decepticons; meanwhile, youngsters will love the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem 3-D motion-simulator (complete with a minion dance party).
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Amusement Parks Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Universal Studios Hollywood
One of the most popular attractions in the Los Angeles area, Universal Studios Hollywood features rides and amusements based on some of the most popular scenes and characters from film and television. You can take the famous tram tour through Wisteria Lane, the setting for the TV show "Desperate Housewives," and past the creepy Bates Motel from "Psycho." Kids can shake hands with cartoon favorites like SpongeBob SquarePants and The Simpsons. If thrills are your thing, there are plenty of hair-raising coasters and rides. On Transformers: The Ride-3D, riders join Optimus Prime in his battle against the Decepticons; meanwhile, youngsters will love the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem 3-D motion-simulator (complete with a minion dance party).
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#5

#5 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Must-see ? Free
If you can catch a gig at the Hollywood Bowl, LA's beautiful outdoor amphitheater, don't pass it up. Since its inaugural season in 1922, this unique stage, set in the Hollywood Hills, has entertained thousands of fans and hosted some of the biggest names in music, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Elton John and Tina Turner.
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Entertainment and Nightlife Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Hollywood Bowl
If you can catch a gig at the Hollywood Bowl, LA's beautiful outdoor amphitheater, don't pass it up. Since its inaugural season in 1922, this unique stage, set in the Hollywood Hills, has entertained thousands of fans and hosted some of the biggest names in music, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Elton John and Tina Turner.
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#6

#6 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Must-see ? Free
Developed in the early 20th century, Venice Beach is modeled – canals and all – after its namesake city in Italy. Admittedly, the experiment didn't live up to its Italian inspiration, but the neighborhood has become distinctly Californian, embodying the spirit of the wealthy, the alternative and the just plain bizarre. Rather than towering churches and intimate pizzerias, you'll find canalside mansions near funky boutiques and restaurants.
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Venice Beach
Developed in the early 20th century, Venice Beach is modeled – canals and all – after its namesake city in Italy. Admittedly, the experiment didn't live up to its Italian inspiration, but the neighborhood has become distinctly Californian, embodying the spirit of the wealthy, the alternative and the just plain bizarre. Rather than towering churches and intimate pizzerias, you'll find canalside mansions near funky boutiques and restaurants.
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#7

#7 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Recommended ? Free
One of Hollywood's most iconic and memorable sites, the TCL Chinese Theatre (originally Grauman's Chinese Theatre) opened in 1927 and represents the excess of Hollywood's Golden Age. You can tour the theater for $16 (kids tour tickets cost $8 and senior tickets are $13.50 each); tours are offered from 10 a.m. to 9, 9:30, 9:45 or 10 p.m. every day except Monday. Because of this attraction's popularity, it's best to reserve your spot online in advance. This working theater also shows various newly released films throughout the year.
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Entertainment and Nightlife Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Hollywood Walk of Fame and TCL Chinese Theatre
One of Hollywood's most iconic and memorable sites, the TCL Chinese Theatre (originally Grauman's Chinese Theatre) opened in 1927 and represents the excess of Hollywood's Golden Age. You can tour the theater for $16 (kids tour tickets cost $8 and senior tickets are $13.50 each); tours are offered from 10 a.m. to 9, 9:30, 9:45 or 10 p.m. every day except Monday. Because of this attraction's popularity, it's best to reserve your spot online in advance. This working theater also shows various newly released films throughout the year.
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#8

#8 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Recommended ? Free
The Getty Center is one of the most impressive architectural achievements in the United States – and it also contains some of the finest works of art in the world. The circular concrete-and-steel structure was designed by renowned architect Richard Meier, and it houses an abundance of art from various ages and nations. Here you'll find Renaissance paintings, 20th-century American photography, Baroque sculptures, historic manuscripts and more, all housed inside a sprawling, modern campus amid the Santa Monica Mountains. The museum also offers spectacular views of Los Angeles on clear days.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
The Getty Center
The Getty Center is one of the most impressive architectural achievements in the United States – and it also contains some of the finest works of art in the world. The circular concrete-and-steel structure was designed by renowned architect Richard Meier, and it houses an abundance of art from various ages and nations. Here you'll find Renaissance paintings, 20th-century American photography, Baroque sculptures, historic manuscripts and more, all housed inside a sprawling, modern campus amid the Santa Monica Mountains. The museum also offers spectacular views of Los Angeles on clear days.
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#9

#9 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Recommended ?
Next door to the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum sits the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the linchpin of the Los Angeles museum district. Since its 1965 opening, LACMA has showcased thousands of pieces, from Islamic artifacts to European impressionist paintings to modern art. With constantly shifting exhibitions and unique architecture stretched across more than 20 acres of land, LACMA offers a rewarding experience for both serious art buffs and casual travelers.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Next door to the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum sits the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the linchpin of the Los Angeles museum district. Since its 1965 opening, LACMA has showcased thousands of pieces, from Islamic artifacts to European impressionist paintings to modern art. With constantly shifting exhibitions and unique architecture stretched across more than 20 acres of land, LACMA offers a rewarding experience for both serious art buffs and casual travelers.
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#10

#10 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Recommended ? Free
Sitting south of West Hollywood is one of LA's most beloved landmarks: The Original Farmers Market. Founded in 1934, this cream-colored facility reels in both residents and tourists with the promise of fresh produce and the aroma of ready-to-eat snacks. You can visit throughout the week, although hours vary depending on the day. Entry is free, but you'll want to have some cash on hand should any of the treats whet your appetite. Complimentary parking (when a ticket is validated at the market) is also provided for up to 90 minutes of parking at the market's two lots.
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
The Original Farmers Market and The Grove
Sitting south of West Hollywood is one of LA's most beloved landmarks: The Original Farmers Market. Founded in 1934, this cream-colored facility reels in both residents and tourists with the promise of fresh produce and the aroma of ready-to-eat snacks. You can visit throughout the week, although hours vary depending on the day. Entry is free, but you'll want to have some cash on hand should any of the treats whet your appetite. Complimentary parking (when a ticket is validated at the market) is also provided for up to 90 minutes of parking at the market's two lots.
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#11

#11 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Recommended ? Free
Just two blocks from Hollywood Boulevard, Runyon Canyon Park is an often overlooked urban park that offers some great views. Atop the canyon, you can glimpse views of the San Fernando Valley and the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Hollywood Sign and Giffith Observatory. The park also boasts several hiking trails and is a popular spot for celebrities to exercise.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Runyon Canyon Park
Just two blocks from Hollywood Boulevard, Runyon Canyon Park is an often overlooked urban park that offers some great views. Atop the canyon, you can glimpse views of the San Fernando Valley and the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Hollywood Sign and Giffith Observatory. The park also boasts several hiking trails and is a popular spot for celebrities to exercise.
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#12

#12 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Recommended ? Free
This Frank Gehry-designed concert hall has helped revive downtown Los Angeles, which was once dominated by mundane office buildings and lackluster entertainment options. Now, nightlife and culture burgeon in the area, and the concert hall is at the forefront. The curvaceous, stainless steel exterior is worth a visit alone, but travelers will also want to catch one of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's performances at the hall. (For ticket and price information, visit the Los Angeles Philharmonic's website.)
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Entertainment and Nightlife Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Walt Disney Concert Hall
This Frank Gehry-designed concert hall has helped revive downtown Los Angeles, which was once dominated by mundane office buildings and lackluster entertainment options. Now, nightlife and culture burgeon in the area, and the concert hall is at the forefront. The curvaceous, stainless steel exterior is worth a visit alone, but travelers will also want to catch one of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's performances at the hall. (For ticket and price information, visit the Los Angeles Philharmonic's website.)
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#13

#13 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Recommended ? Free
One of the most iconic thoroughfares in the United States, Sunset Boulevard continues to live up to its legends. In the old days, it represented the classic and glamorous Hollywood lifestyle and became the setting of several famous films, including the obvious classic "Sunset Boulevard." Today, the palm-lined street (which connects downtown LA to Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the Pacific Coast Highway) retains its cinematic appeal, and the Sunset Strip portion has become a popular nightlife spot. The strip is also home to many classic music venues, including the Rainbow Bar & Grill and The Roxy Theatre.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Sunset Boulevard
One of the most iconic thoroughfares in the United States, Sunset Boulevard continues to live up to its legends. In the old days, it represented the classic and glamorous Hollywood lifestyle and became the setting of several famous films, including the obvious classic "Sunset Boulevard." Today, the palm-lined street (which connects downtown LA to Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the Pacific Coast Highway) retains its cinematic appeal, and the Sunset Strip portion has become a popular nightlife spot. The strip is also home to many classic music venues, including the Rainbow Bar & Grill and The Roxy Theatre.
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#14

#14 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Recommended ?
So you've seen where the stars shop, where they eat, where they surf and where they party. Now you want to see where they live. A variety of minibus tours provide ample opportunities to spot homes owned by the rich and famous. You probably won't see the celebs themselves, but you can snap pics of the homes affiliated with A-listers like Sandra Bullock, Tom Cruise, Bruno Mars and Halle Berry. Also, expect to see facades that once housed the likes of Lucille Ball, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. Along with the stars' abodes, buses usually make stops at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Sunset Strip and Rodeo Drive.
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Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Hollywood Homes Tours
So you've seen where the stars shop, where they eat, where they surf and where they party. Now you want to see where they live. A variety of minibus tours provide ample opportunities to spot homes owned by the rich and famous. You probably won't see the celebs themselves, but you can snap pics of the homes affiliated with A-listers like Sandra Bullock, Tom Cruise, Bruno Mars and Halle Berry. Also, expect to see facades that once housed the likes of Lucille Ball, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. Along with the stars' abodes, buses usually make stops at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Sunset Strip and Rodeo Drive.
... more

#15

#15 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: Recommended ?
If your kids go crazy for dinosaurs – and really, what kid doesn't? – then a visit to La Brea Tar Pits & Museum is sure to be the highlight of their trip. Although the pits look like the set of a cheesy PG movie, hot tar has been bubbling from the earth at this spot along Museum Row in the Miracle Mile for about 40,000 years. And from the gooiest part of LA, more than 1 million bones from 600-plus species have been discovered. The adjoining museum houses many of the artifacts found at the tar pits; consequently, it is home to one of the largest collections of Ice Age fossils in the world.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
La Brea Tar Pits & Museum
If your kids go crazy for dinosaurs – and really, what kid doesn't? – then a visit to La Brea Tar Pits & Museum is sure to be the highlight of their trip. Although the pits look like the set of a cheesy PG movie, hot tar has been bubbling from the earth at this spot along Museum Row in the Miracle Mile for about 40,000 years. And from the gooiest part of LA, more than 1 million bones from 600-plus species have been discovered. The adjoining museum houses many of the artifacts found at the tar pits; consequently, it is home to one of the largest collections of Ice Age fossils in the world.
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#16

#16 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: If Time Allows ? Free
As morbid as it may seem, your best chance of spotting a celebrity in LA is at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Here, you'll find the final resting places of Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Jayne Mansfield, Cecil B. DeMille and other stars who once worked at the adjacent Paramount Pictures Studios. You can pick up a free map at the entrance to the cemetery (where you'll also have a great view of the famous Hollywood Sign).
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
As morbid as it may seem, your best chance of spotting a celebrity in LA is at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Here, you'll find the final resting places of Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Jayne Mansfield, Cecil B. DeMille and other stars who once worked at the adjacent Paramount Pictures Studios. You can pick up a free map at the entrance to the cemetery (where you'll also have a great view of the famous Hollywood Sign).
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#17

#17 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: If Time Allows ? Free
The Third Street Promenade, popular with shopaholics, has an eclectic vibe similar to its Santa Monica locale. This open-air shopping mall is filled with major chain stores like Urban Outfitters and H&M, as well as more unique boutiques like the Kenneth Karmiole, Bookseller Inc. rare books shop and the toys-focused Puzzle Zoo. You'll also find that outdoor dining options – many of which use local ingredients – are plentiful. And if you're in the mood to cook your own meal, you can find fresh produce at the farmers market every Wednesday and Saturday morning, from 8 or 8:30 a.m. to 1 or 1:30 p.m.
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Shopping Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Third Street Promenade
The Third Street Promenade, popular with shopaholics, has an eclectic vibe similar to its Santa Monica locale. This open-air shopping mall is filled with major chain stores like Urban Outfitters and H&M, as well as more unique boutiques like the Kenneth Karmiole, Bookseller Inc. rare books shop and the toys-focused Puzzle Zoo. You'll also find that outdoor dining options – many of which use local ingredients – are plentiful. And if you're in the mood to cook your own meal, you can find fresh produce at the farmers market every Wednesday and Saturday morning, from 8 or 8:30 a.m. to 1 or 1:30 p.m.
... more

#18

#18 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: If Time Allows ? Free
Malibu has a reputation for excessive wealth and exclusivity, yet all of the town's beaches are public – everyone's welcome. If you're seeking an LA beach spot for sunbathing and swimming, look no further than this part of town. The beaches here are far cleaner than those at Santa Monica or Venice Beach.
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Zuma Beach
Malibu has a reputation for excessive wealth and exclusivity, yet all of the town's beaches are public – everyone's welcome. If you're seeking an LA beach spot for sunbathing and swimming, look no further than this part of town. The beaches here are far cleaner than those at Santa Monica or Venice Beach.
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#19

#19 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: If Time Allows ? Free
Greystone is one of the largest mansions in Beverly Hills and an important landmark for American cinema. Originally built by oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny in 1927 as a gift to his son, Ned, Greystone now represents a golden age in American cinema. Many films, including "The Big Lebowski" and "Ghostbusters," and television shows like "General Hospital" and "Gilmore Girls" have been shot on these gothic-inspired grounds.
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Historic Homes/Mansions Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Greystone Mansion and Park
Greystone is one of the largest mansions in Beverly Hills and an important landmark for American cinema. Originally built by oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny in 1927 as a gift to his son, Ned, Greystone now represents a golden age in American cinema. Many films, including "The Big Lebowski" and "Ghostbusters," and television shows like "General Hospital" and "Gilmore Girls" have been shot on these gothic-inspired grounds.
... more

#20

#20 in Los Angeles

Local Pick: If Time Allows ?
Since the 1910s, Paramount has showcased the talents of film's all-time heavyweights, including Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. The notable site has been home to everything from famous television shows like "I Love Lucy," "Cheers" and "The Brady Bunch" to box-office hits like "Mission: Impossible" and "Titanic." Today, Paramount Pictures is the only remaining film studio in the Hollywood area.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Paramount Pictures Studios
Since the 1910s, Paramount has showcased the talents of film's all-time heavyweights, including Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. The notable site has been home to everything from famous television shows like "I Love Lucy," "Cheers" and "The Brady Bunch" to box-office hits like "Mission: Impossible" and "Titanic." Today, Paramount Pictures is the only remaining film studio in the Hollywood area.
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Free
Grand Central Market, or foodie heaven according to visitors, is located in downtown Los Angeles by the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The venue features high ceilings and an open layout, with food vendor stalls offering different cuisines that represent cultures from the Los Angeles area and beyond. The market has been in operation since 1917 and serves everything from craft beer, coffee and pressed juices to deli fare, egg sandwiches, falafel, tacos and chow mein.
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Cafes Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market, or foodie heaven according to visitors, is located in downtown Los Angeles by the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The venue features high ceilings and an open layout, with food vendor stalls offering different cuisines that represent cultures from the Los Angeles area and beyond. The market has been in operation since 1917 and serves everything from craft beer, coffee and pressed juices to deli fare, egg sandwiches, falafel, tacos and chow mein.
... more

Located in Burbank, California – a city that sits just 5 miles north of Hollywood – Warner Bros. Studio gives visitors a close-up look at iconic movie and TV sets and props, such as the original Batmobiles, costumes from the "Harry Potter" movies and a replica of the cafe featured in "Friends." Travelers will also drive around the studio's 110-acre backlot, where 30 soundstages are used for producing shows like "The Big Bang Theory," "Fuller House," "2 Broke Girls" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Warner Bros. Studio
Located in Burbank, California – a city that sits just 5 miles north of Hollywood – Warner Bros. Studio gives visitors a close-up look at iconic movie and TV sets and props, such as the original Batmobiles, costumes from the "Harry Potter" movies and a replica of the cafe featured in "Friends." Travelers will also drive around the studio's 110-acre backlot, where 30 soundstages are used for producing shows like "The Big Bang Theory," "Fuller House," "2 Broke Girls" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
... more
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