Los Angeles Travel Guide

USA  #5 in Best Nightlife Cities in the U.S.
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1-day Itinerary in Los Angeles

Explore the best things to do in Los Angeles 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.

    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 Express pass (formerly Front of the Line passes), which cost $179 each, online. This brings up another pain point: the price. At $109 to $128 for one-day general admission for adults and $103 to $123 for little ones ages 3 to 9 (when purchased online), a family excursion to Universal Studios doesn't come cheap.

    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.

    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 $18 (kids tour tickets cost $8 and senior tickets are $14 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.

    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.

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