Los Angeles Travel Guide

USA  #5 in Best Nightlife Scenes in the USA
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1-day Itinerary in Los Angeles

Explore the best things to do in Paris in 1 day based on recommendations from local experts.

Day 1

  • 1
    #10
    Runyon Canyon Park
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    #10 in Los Angeles
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    Travelers say that the canyon is reminiscent of Old Hollywood with several old mansions and estates scattered throughout the park – keep your eyes peeled as you follow the trail. Because of the hot, dry climate, the hike can be rough (even for those in great physical condition), so bring plenty of water.

    Runyon Canyon is free to visit every day from dawn to dusk; however, there is no staff to enforce these hours or to rush to your aid. If you are hiking alone, make sure someone knows you're out in the park and when you expect to return. In addition to the park's trails, you'll find a nature center, picnic tables, a children's play area and limited (but free) parking. To learn more about the park's flora and fauna, trails and history, visit the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's website.

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    10-15 minutes by car
  • 2
    #20
    Universal Studios Hollywood
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    #20 in Los Angeles
    Amusement Parks
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Amusement Parks
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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).

    Universal Studios welcomes hoards of tourists each day; to forgo the long waits, travelers suggest purchasing the Front of Line passes, which cost $179, online. This brings up another pain point: the price. At $99 to $116 for one-day general admission for adults and $93 to $110 for little ones ages 3 to 9, a family excursion to Universal Studios doesn't come cheap.

    Universal Studios Hollywood is located in Universal City, just northwest of Hollywood and the Hollywood Bowl. Driving is the easiest way to get there, and on-site parking is available for $10 to $40 per vehicle, depending on what time of day you visit and where you park. The Metro's Red Line also stops by the property at Universal City/Studio City station. The amusement park is open daily; hours most days are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., though the park sometimes opens at 9 a.m. and extends its hours until 10 p.m. Facilities found inside include restrooms, food and beverage concessions, gift shops and the WaterWorld stage. For more information on attractions, tickets and opening times, consult the Universal Studios Hollywood website.

    ...Read More »
    15-30 minutes by car
  • 3
    #1
    Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park
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    #1 in Los Angeles
    Hiking, Museums, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Museums, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    Most recent visitors cited the beautiful setting as Griffith Observatory's main draw, though the free entry was certainly a bonus. However, you will have to pay between $3 and $7 to see the planetarium shows. Griffith Observatory is open from noon to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, with extended hours on weekends. Free but limited parking is available along the winding roads leading up to the property, or visitors can park in the small lot by the observatory for $4 per hour. A gift shop and cafe can be found on-site as well. For more information, check out Griffith Observatory's website.

    If you're looking to spend some time outdoors (without fighting traffic to get to the beaches), Griffith Park is the place to be. This 4,210-acre stretch is the largest urban park in the country. It features more than 50 miles of hiking and biking trails and numerous waterfalls and lagoons. You will also find a variety of attractions here, including the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens, the Hollywood Sign, the Autry Museum of the American West and, of course, the observatory.

    Past travelers enjoyed taking in the park's views, especially those provided during their hikes to the Hollywood Sign. Griffith Park is open to the public seven days a week from sunrise to 10 p.m. Admission is free, but individual attractions and facilities (such as sports courts and some of the park's museums) may charge entry fees. Limited complimentary parking is provided throughout the property. Visit Griffith Park's website to find out more.

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    15-20 minutes by car
  • 4
    #4
    Hollywood Walk of Fame and TCL Chinese Theatre
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    #4 in Los Angeles
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    Overall, previous travelers said the tour guides' passion for the subject was evident, making their experiences special. However, some wished the area offered a glitzier atmosphere. Parking can also be challenging to find in Hollywood. Additional information about the attraction's tours and movie showtimes can be found on the TCL Chinese Theatre website.

    While you're here, take a stroll along the free-to-enjoy Hollywood Walk of Fame, where hundreds of movie stars have left their handprints and signatures along the sidewalk. The attraction is open to the public 24 hours a day, and most of its activity and notable names are located between the 6800 and 6900 block of Hollywood Boulevard (which, luckily, is directly in front of the theater).

    As one of the most famous and recognized sites in all of Hollywood, the theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame are really a must-see. But it seems like a lot of people have the same idea – recent visitors said the sidewalk gets packed with camera-wielding tourists photographing the ground. Plus, parking is limited along Hollywood Boulevard. Some, however, said the hustle and bustle was part of the quirky allure of the area. To learn more about the stars and their stars, visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame website.

    ...Read More »
    10-20 minutes by car
  • 5
    #12
    Hollywood Bowl
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    #12 in Los Angeles
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    Many travelers praise the Hollywood Bowl, touting everything from the sound quality to the scenic overlook. Several also add that all of the seats offer great views and suggest arriving early with a bottle of wine and a picnic basket. Also, save time for the on-site Hollywood Bowl Museum and the Hall of Fame. The museum highlights Hollywood Bowl history with special exhibits showcasing artists who have put on shows at the venue, while the Hall of Fame celebrates performers who embody the meaning of being a "true superstar," according to its website. Inductees range from Stevie Wonder to Frank Sinatra to Gloria Estefan. Admission to both venues is free.

    The Hollywood Bowl Museum's summer hours are from 10 a.m. to showtime Tuesday through Saturday and between 4 p.m. and showtime on Sundays; offseason hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Available facilities include 14 picnic grounds, a gift shop, two restaurants, restrooms and multiple food and beverage concessions. Parking here is notoriously limited and pricey (fees range from $18 to $50 per vehicle), so consider arriving early and buying your parking space in advance for a discounted rate. Bus services are also available from several park and ride spots throughout the city, or you can park for free at a nearby shuttle lot and take the $6 round-trip shuttle. Tickets, meanwhile, cost $1 to $100 each and are sold at the box office and through Ticketmaster's website.

    ...Read More »

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