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7 Tours Unique to Los Angeles
Discover the sights, sounds and specialties of the City of Angels.
Many of these tours will take you through the famous streets of Hollywood.(Getty Images)
The more than 100 distinct neighborhoods, vast freeway system and sprawling landscape of Los Angeles can be a little intimidating for visitors. Hopping on a guided or private tour of the city can help travelers get their bearings while introducing them to different aspects of the city's culture that make it one of a kind. We consulted some of the city's local experts – including hotel concierges, travel editors and tourism professionals – to identify the city's most unique tours.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood. "Every visitor should experience a studio tour because we are in Hollywood, right? It's part of our history, our lore," says Jamie Foley, vice president of global communications at the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.
Los Angeles insiders agree that Warner Bros. offers the best studio tour in the city. It lasts approximately three hours and takes visitors through stages where iconic movies like "Casablanca" were shot, onto the preserved stages of "Friends" and "Gilmore Girls," and inside the "Harry Potter" and DC Comics costume archives. At Stage 48, guests can interact with all aspects of film and television production, from screen test to green screen. Tours are $62 per person.
[Read: The Best Places to Visit in the USA.]
Glitterati Tours. Glitterati's private tours offer eight mix-and-match itineraries that cater to each group's needs. Create your own itinerary by matching popular sites, like Beverly Hills and the Sunset Strip, with personal interests like downtown, homes of Hollywood's Golden Age celebrities or morbid sites of celebrity scandal. Families traveling with kids can even include a scavenger hunt.
"They show up in a luxury SUV with water, refreshments and light snacks inside," says Ali McCormack, concierge at the W Hollywood. "The car has tinted windows, so no one even knows you're a tourist."
Tours are $149 per hour for up to two people; $179 per hour for up to four; and $209 per hour for up to seven.
TMZ Celebrity Tour. For guaranteed drama, there's the one and only TMZ tour. "It's definitely a fun one people should check out," says Irene Chen, concierge at The Ritz Carlton, Los Angeles. "They go all around Hollywood, West Hollywood and places that have been part of controversies with younger A-listers. These tours are full of fun, insider-Hollywood things."
TMZ lives up to its reputation for chasing down stars on the tour's trademark bright red bus – this is the legitimate paparazzi stalker tour. The tour costs $44 for children ages 2 to 12 and $54 for those ages 13 and up.
Bikes and Hikes LA. Sarah Dandashy, concierge at The London West Hollywood of Beverly Hills, loves helping visitors get their exercise. "In a city known for not walking, this is a tour company that specializes in biking and hiking. It's a true Los Angeles experience," she says.
The signature Bikes and Hikes tour, "LA in a Day," takes bikers across 32 miles of Los Angeles in seven hours, from the Sunset Strip to the Santa Monica Pier, from the Venice canals to celebrity homes. The cost of $162 per person includes a bike and safety gear. Tours stop for lunch and photo ops en route.
Get active with less time on the 2 1/2-hour Hollywood Hills Hiking Tour for great views of the Hollywood sign. You'll also see famous film locations and stars' homes. The easy trails make this a good tour for families. The tour costs $52 per person.
[Read: The Best Hollywood Tours.]
Downtown LA Graffiti/Mural Tour. Many tours leave out the dense, urban core of downtown Los Angeles, but to skip the central city would be to ignore a burgeoning cultural renaissance. For more than 20 years, the abandoned warehouses of the Arts District have been home to many of the city's up-and-coming artists. To fully experience the artistic side of downtown Los Angeles, Foley recommends LA Art Tours' street art guide to the Arts District. "It's a great walking tour of the graffiti and art galleries, which is very unique to LA," she says.
The tours are led by muralists and artists who guide visitors across nearly 2 miles of side streets, parking lots and alleyways to see ever-changing street art treasures. The tour costs $12 per person.
Architecture Tours L.A. An underrated treasure in Los Angeles is its unique architecture, from experimental Richard Neutra- and Frank Gehry-designed homes in hillside neighborhoods to the art deco and Spanish colonial revival landmarks of downtown.
"People always appreciate the palatial houses in Beverly Hills, but I like to send them to the unique homes in Franklin Hills and Silver Lake," says Casey Duggan, chief concierge at the Viceroy Santa Monica. "Architecture Tours L.A. covers these areas spectacularly." For two or more people, a three-hour guided tour from inside an air-conditioned minivan costs $75 per person; for solo travelers, the cost for the tour is $80.
Additionally, the Los Angeles Conservancy offers walking tours each weekend that visit cultural landmarks of a more commercial nature. The popular art deco tour looks at downtown buildings from the 1920s and '30s, walking about 2 miles in just under three hours for $15 per person.
Avital Food Tours. Foodies looking to explore the most experimental and cultural restaurants in downtown, Koreatown and Venice can take a four-course progressive food tour into the kitchens and around the tables of Angeleno chefs on Avital Food Tours.
Avital partners with multiple restaurants, so routes on the itinerary change frequently. In about three hours, diners walk a mile and a half between four restaurants and four local landmarks. "It's a great way to explore a neighborhood with a culinary twist," Dandashy says.
The base price is $76 per person, but you can upgrade to include two alcohol pairings for $16 more per person.
To experience more of what Los Angeles has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.
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