Whether it’s Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica or Malibu, Los Angeles is packed with things to see and do. So, if you’re planning your next trip, this is your go-to list to keep with you at all times.
Los Angeles is known for many things: the entertainment industry, expansive beaches, a great culinary scene and a renowned nightlife. But if you want to boil LA down to its most essential bits, it’s important to experience the attractions that make it the spectacular city that it is. On any given day, you can swim in the sea, hike up a mountain, see someone famous and shop until you drop. So, as you think about packing for the ultimate LA adventure, make sure your suitcase is filled with swimming suits, hiking boots and plenty of space for souvenirs.
The Warner Bros. Studio complex is one of the most bustling and exciting odes to old and new Hollywood. Get access to famous sound stages, interactive exhibits and the locations of some of your favorite films and TV shows. The two-hour tour includes a stop at Central Perk from Friends, the DC Universe: The Exhibit and an in-depth look at Batmobiles throughout the years.
Speaking of cars, the Petersen Automotive Museum is ground zero for motor enthusiasts of all ages. There are rotating exhibits that ensure no two trips will be the same, and there are numerous events to keep your interests piqued behind the wheel. One of the most interesting parts of the museum is The Vault, where an extra 250 rare and unique cars are on display.
Tourists might be surprised to find out that LA sits on fairly large oil fields, and right in the middle of the city is a fascinating tar pit that oozes history. Located on the Museum Row stretch of Miracle Mile, the La Brea Tar Pits give guests a unique look into history as millions of fossilized remains have been found inside the black goo. The museum tour takes you through the history of the pits, revealing unbelievable finds that include mammoths, dire wolves and saber-toothed tigers.
Soaring 70 floors above Downtown LA, the OUE Skyspace is the perfect way to get a handle on the size and scope of the entire city. Gain all-day access to the most epic views along with interactive displays, informational movies about the city and a bar with local beer and wine as well as snacks. The space also includes a glass slide that whips you down to a lower floor while helicopters buzz between the nearby skyscrapers. Throughout the year, OUE Skyspace holds events that include movie screenings, sunrise and sunset yoga, and a variety of holiday parties.
For dinosaur lovers, this classic Downtown LA museum is an absolute must-visit. Located in Exposition Park, the Natural History Museum opened in 1913. Today, it houses more than 35 million artefacts, including the Dinosaur Hall with a T-Rex trio and Triceratops fossil, the Age of Mammals with giant fossilized mammoths and Nature Gardens with more than 600 plant species.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the museum centerpiece of the entire city – literally and figuratively – as its location in Miracle Mile is incredibly central. All year round, rotating art exhibitions dazzle the eye while permanent collections include everything from Islamic art and Greek ceramics to contemporary jewelry. Every Friday at 6pm from April to November, the museum hosts jazz nights that are free and open to the public – BYOB for a fun way to start the weekend.
Any trip to LA should include a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, which carves through the mountains of Malibu on one side and hugs the bright blue ocean on the other. Heading deep into this urban oasis, you’ll find Point Dume, a promontory point with soaring cliffs, pristine beaches and wildlife that includes sunbathing sea lions and whale spouts off in the distance. It is also next to Zuma Beach, which is the ideal tanning and chilling spot that makes the busy streets of LA feel thousands of miles away.
Among the more famous symbols of Los Angeles are the engraved stars along Hollywood Boulevard. Celebrities from the stage, silver screen and TV litter the sidewalks of Hollywood, and it has been steadily growing in size from the 1950s. Today, there are more than 2,600 stars that include celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Dwyane ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Tom Cruise.
Opened in 1955, Disneyland is perhaps the most famous theme park in the entire world. Dubbed “The happiest place on Earth”, the park includes classic rides and areas such as Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, and new attractions like Star Wars: Galaxy Edge. In 2001 a second park, Disney California Adventure, opened to compete with Six Flags for rollercoaster supremacy and to add new themed areas such as Cars Land and Pixar Pier.
Sitting atop the hills of Brentwood, The Getty Center is a stunning museum that’s known just as much for its architectural design as it is for its art collection. The museum opened in 1997 and is famous for its meticulously designed gardens, stunning vistas and a calendar filled with rotating exhibits, lectures, screenings and musical performances. Views from the top extend from the ocean to downtown (on clear days).
The Griffith Observatory is so much more than just the famous backdrop from movies like Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and La La Land (2016). The observatory opened in 1935, and today, it is home to a cascade of events, including star parties, sunset walks and screenings. Every night there is access to free telescope viewings, where you can look up into the cosmos or out into the sprawling lights of LA. During the day, it is a great starting point for hikes in the park that take you right under the Hollywood Sign.
Though it’s known as the glitziest shopping street in LA, Rodeo Drive is actually a two-mile-long (3.2-kilometer-long) thoroughfare that stretches from Sunset Boulevard to Pico Boulevard. You’ll not only find sky-high-priced stores like Harry Winston, Tom Ford, Gucci and Prada but also mega-mansions as you travel north up the tree-lined streets. Movie buffs will recognize multiple landmarks, such as the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, which was famously featured in Pretty Woman (1990). If you’ve only got a few days in the city, then spend one of them touring all of the sights, including Beverly Hills. See all the top LA attractions and dig deeper into the culture of the biggest city in California.
The Santa Monica Pier, which opened in 1909, was once known as the final stop on the famed Route 66 that originally ran from Chicago to LA. Now, the pier is the most picturesque spot in Santa Monica and features a bevy of attractions, such as amusement park rides, kitschy restaurants and a calendar of events that includes big-name concerts, fireworks displays and huge holiday parties. Instagram-fanatics will find plenty of selfie spots for the maximum amount of likes on this Pacific Ocean point.
Venice Boardwalk is home to the weird, wonderful, wacky and wild. Along this famous stretch of seaside streets is the world-renowned Muscle Beach, hard-top basketball courts, a skate park and so much more. Buskers abound singing and dancing for dollars, while other merchants peddle their artistic and holistic wares along the way. Every bit of LA culture can be found on the boardwalk, and you’ll find yourself gawking at once-in-a-lifetime sights of pure zany humanity. If you fancy experiencing the area like a resident, hop on an electric bike and follow your guide through the sights of Venice Beach and Santa Monica. Enjoy the ocean breeze as you cruise along the boardwalk. If you have any questions, ask your native LA guide who’s on hand to answer anything you want to know.
Home to legendary music venues The Viper Room, Whisky a Go Go and The Roxy Theatre, the Sunset Strip has seen major performances from rock royalty since the 1960s. The Strip is also home to famous hotels, including The Standard, Chateau Marmont and Sunset Tower, as well as big-time comedy clubs, such as The Comedy Store and The Laugh Factory. On any given night, you could run into A-list celebs, music gods and comic legends while dining, drinking and just cruising this famous boulevard.
As one of the more unique attractions in Los Angeles, The Huntington features a library, art museum and some of the most stunning botanical gardens in the world. Highlights of the library include ancient manuscripts and first edition writings from Shakespeare and Chaucer, and one of only 12 surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible. The art galleries feature priceless works that span centuries, while the gardens are divided into large sections that run the gamut from Japanese, Chinese and Australian to desert landscapes, herb gardens and many others.
If you want to pay homage to some of Hollywood’s most famous stars of the stage and screen, head over to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where the graves of luminaries like Cecil B DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Mickey Rooney, Rudolph Valentino and many others rest in peace. As a place to celebrate and give tribute to the stars of the past, the cemetery also hosts cultural events like concerts and movie screenings.
The Santa Monica Mountains divide Los Angeles between the city and the San Fernando Valley, and driving along Mulholland Drive is one of the best ways to see all that LA has to offer. The long and winding road features scenic overpasses that give you bird’s-eye views of Downtown, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Warner Bros Studios, Universal Studios and the ocean. Mulholland Drive starts in Hollywood and extends west to Malibu until it connects with the Pacific Coast Highway.
Have you ever wanted to see a space shuttle up close and see how astronauts live and work in space? If you head over to the California Science Center, you’ll get the chance to explore every detail of the Space Shuttle Endeavour and learn about the history of air and space travel. Other exhibitions at the museum include an IMAX theater, the world’s largest display of LEGO art and interactive exhibits and attractions.