Welcome to the City of Angels!
If you love sunny weather, beautiful beaches, luxury shopping, film-making, and celeb spotting, you're going to love Los Angeles.
Just like we did!
Being the largest city in California, there are countless things to do in LA. In all honesty, it can actually be a little overwhelming.
Luckily for you, we've compiled a list of the BEST things to do in Los Angeles, so you can have the ultimate trip!
We've even included how to get around, where to stay, and some top tips for exploring the city.
A large portion of the visitors to LA will arrive at Los Angeles International Airport, which is more commonly known as LAX.
Being such a huge airport, LAX is a tourist attraction in itself and surprisingly very easy to navigate! The airport is home to nine terminals, two spas, loads of restaurants, some amazing art pieces, and tons of great shopping options!
If you're flying into LAX, it's super convenient to get into the city as the airport is located close to Santa Monica. From the airport, you can easily rent a car, catch the bus, or hail a cab to your hotel.
We recommend using Skyscanner to find the best deals on flights!
Whilst trains in California, and the United States more broadly, are yet to be fully utilized, there are still several Amtrak lines that can take you directly to Los Angeles. For example, it's easily accessible from along the Pacific Coast, Chicago, or even as far away as Texas and New Orleans.
As the Amtrak map outlines, it's very possible to get to LA from nearly every city in the US, although you may need to change once or twice.
For more information on routes, timings, and deals, check out the Amtrak website.
Flixbus runs a number of coaches in and out of Los Angeles. The popular routes are to and from neighboring cities such as San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Diego.
These bus journeys are all extremely affordable and definitely worth checking out. It's worth noting that whilst buses are cheaper than other options, your time spent traveling will vastly increase compared to alternatives.
If you have the time, we’d thoroughly recommend checking out Flixbus’ schedules and routes on the website.
Admittedly, Los Angeles doesn't have the best reputation as a city that's easy to get around. However, transport links have improved considerably in recent years.
To be honest, if you're staying in Los Angeles for longer than a day or two, you're ideally going to want a car or a motorhome. Most of the attractions are scattered around LA and can be some distance from each other as the city is huge!
There are so many car and RV rentals in LA that it's quite competitive. We would recommend checking out Motorhome Republic for RV rental and Rental Cars for smaller vehicles.
Or better yet, check out our guide on the best RV rentals in Los Angeles for more details.
The LA Metro System operates light rail, bus, bike share, and the subway meaning you can get to pretty much anywhere in Los Angeles via public transport.
We would recommend going to one of the many TAP machines located around the city and purchasing a TAP Card. You can also download the app where you can preload money and use it on the trains, buses, and subways throughout the city.
While using taxis is still a common way to get around Los Angeles, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to hail one unless you're outside a major attraction.
Luckily the majority of taxi companies are available to book via telephone or by downloading the app “Curb” which is the most commonly used metered taxi app in LA.
Being a big city, rideshare apps like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are all available in Los Angeles and these are often a great option for shorter rides around the city.
Bikes and e-scooters are an increasingly popular way in which locals use to move around. Many areas like Santa Monica Bay are littered with e-scooters so if you find one nearby, jump on and enjoy the great outdoors while still in the city.
Samesun Venice Beach is one of the best (and most beautiful) accommodation options in Los Angeles! They offer both private rooms and dormitory beds so there's something for every budget, and you'll have access to great facilities.
Hotel Ziggy is located in West Hollywood, on the famous sunset strip so it's in a great location for exploring the city. Boasting gorgeous rooms, fantastic facilities, and funky interior design, this place has so much to offer!
Last but certainly not least, you've got this 5* luxury hotel that's known for giving guests the 'celebrity treatment'. You'll walk into the hotel on a red carpet, and then you'll have access to a wide range of facilities including a swimming pool, a spa, and several dining options.
One of the best locations to see the pure size of Los Angeles as a city is the Griffith Observatory.
From here you can see the LA skyline, the famous Hollywood sign, Hollywood Hills, and out to sea on a clear day.
The observatory itself is an art-deco style building and has been seen in many famous movies.
It's still home to the original 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope that's open to the public every night when the observatory is open.
Inside the observatory building, there are multiple mind-blowing exhibits where you can learn all about the star cycle and the rest of the solar system.
Griffith Park is located in the eastern Santa Monica Mountain range and is a lovely area of greenery amongst the craziness that is LA.
It's a perfect area for a walk, run, or bike ride due to the miles of different trails.
Book this Griffith Park hiking tour, where you can hike with a guide to the highest point of Griffith Park.
You can also learn the history of the area, and take photos of the famous Hollywood sign before finishing your day at the observatory.
Apart from the observatory, highlights of Griffith Park include the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, The Greek Theater, Bronson Caves, and the Autry Museum of the American West.
Another place to get breathtaking views over the city would be the Getty Center.
This famous museum is a juxtaposition of modern architecture holding and hosting art from the middle ages.
Your experience of this museum starts before you even officially arrive, as you'll take the driverless tram up the hill to the Getty Center.
The gardens surrounding the Getty Center are specially arranged with geometric precision and are ever changing.
They're really an art exhibition within themselves, much like most of the exterior.
With all the famous art pieces inside, you'll be surprised to know that the Getty Center is actually completely free to enter; you just have to pay for parking!
The exhibits within the center are all equally as impressive.
Some include vintage French furniture, an original Van Gogh, and a collection of 19th to 20th-century European photographs.
Santa Monica Pier is an absolute must-visit for any trip to Los Angeles and it's actually one of the most photographed locations worldwide.
This lively pier has actually been open since 1909 and still to this day, makes a perfect day out in LA. Whether you visit to walk along the pier, ride the famous ferris wheel, go shopping at the street vendors, play carnival games or satisfy your sweet tooth, you'll undoubtedly enjoy your time at Santa Monica Pier.
While the pier is what brings most tourists to Santa Monica, the three and a half mile sandy beach is not one to be missed!
On a sunny day, this beach comes alive and if you can handle the chilly waters, a dip in the sea can be enjoyable!
If you also happen to be in the Santa Monica area on a Wednesday, Saturday, or Sunday, don't miss the infamous Santa Monica Farmers Market in order to sample some of LA’s amazing local produce.
To add a bit more thrill to your Santa Monica trip, why not book this segway tour or bike adventure tour!
The world's most famous sidewalk is definitely worth a visit for every first-timer's trip to LA.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is the famous street paved with thousands of pink stars made from brass and terrazzo with thousands of different celebrity names engraved into them.
Grab a star map and go hunting for your favorite celebrity’s star along the walk of fame or check the events schedule and you might even catch a celebrity unveiling their new one!
Located on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, you won't miss it as it's decorated to look like a huge Chinese pergola.
This huge theater regularly hosts premiers and has an extremely popular IMAX cinema.
Book a show or book a TCL Chinese Theatre VIP Tour to feel like a celebrity walking down the red carpet, learn the history of the famous theater, and view some famous historic props and costumes from film and television.
Knotts Berry Farm is one of the most fun things you can do in Los Angeles for families. This theme park is located in the heart of Orange County and is famous for being a great day out, all year around!
I would say it’s the least famous of the big theme parks in LA, but we LOVED it here!
It’s split into 4 main areas based on different themes of California throughout the ages, all hosting a range of different shows, attractions, and rides for all ages.
With the famous Ghost Town being in the center of the park, be sure to be in this section for the evening entertainment and to get involved in Ghost Town Live!
The park plays homage to the state's Hispanic history in Fiesta Village, has a section named Boardwalk, named after the obvious, and finally, the Snoopy section based on the popular children's character going on a Sierra Adventure.
Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel is a highly rated hotel based next to the park that's suitable for the whole family and is a great option if you're looking to stay nearby!
Venice is probably the coolest area in Los Angeles. Full of trendy cafes, tattoo parlors, street performers, and vendors, Venice Beach Boardwalk is world famous for good reason!
Venice Beach itself has over two miles of sandy beaches and is visited by over 10 million people per year.
On offer at the beach are skateparks, children's play areas, a fishing pier, bike paths, food vendors, a recreation center, and muscle beach, a beach famous for its bodybuilding!
Venice Canals are a not-so-hidden gem situated between Venice boardwalk and the upmarket Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
Back in 1905, a millionaire, made famous from tobacco, created his own version of Venice in Italy, in Los Angeles.
Today it's a beautiful walk for tourists and locals alike, over the bridges, around the colorful houses, and around the canals.
You'll struggle to find one of the day boat rentals around Venice Canals so if you're looking for a boat trip, book a private tour in advance and learn a bit more about the history of the area.
The Hollywood Bowl is an iconic landmark and one of the top 10 live music venues in the world, according to Rolling Stones.
This amphitheater has been hosting gigs and concerts since 1922 and since then it's been a favorite for music legends to perform at.
The Hollywood Bowl is now on its 5th outer shell since it opened. It's replaced regularly to make sure its acoustics are of the best quality.
Make sure to check their calendar to experience a live show at the Hollywood Bowl or if you visit when there are no events on, you can have a picnic on the grounds and visit the museum located in the old tea room.
If you're wondering what to do in Los Angeles, then make sure you head to this iconic attraction!
Probably THE most iconic landmark in Los Angeles is the Hollywood Sign!
Put up in 1923, this famous sign used to read Hollywoodland and was meant to only be kept up for a few months for real estate.
Thanks to the golden age of Hollywood and the rise in popularity of LA, the sign dropped the ‘Land’ in 1949.
Luckily it's easily spottable from many locations in the city so it's very unlikely you'll miss it.
However, some of the best vantage points to get the perfect ‘Instagram-worthy’ shot are Lake Hollywood Park, Griffith Park, and apparently on top of the Home Depot parking lot on Sunset Boulevard!
If you enjoy a hike and want to get up close and personal with the Hollywood Sign, this guided hiking tour takes you closer than any other!
If you're looking for things to do in Los Angeles for kids and the whole family, Universal Studios Hollywood is by far the best day out!
Universal Studios first opened its doors in 1964 in order to let guests see some of their famous movie and television sets and props, but today it's an extremely popular theme park!
The park has 21 main fully fledged attractions, predominantly based on productions by Universal Studios.
Apart from the attractions, there are also children's play areas, restaurants, shows, entertainment, shopping, and resort hotels!
Don't miss the special effects show, the studio tour, and the Jurassic World ride!
Top tip: Escape crowds by avoiding weekends and school holidays, and by booking your admission ticket in advance online!
Located in Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive is a two mile long street, famous for being the best designer shopping street in LA.
At the base of Rodeo Drive sits Two Rodeo Drive which is a European-styled shopping center with cobbled streets, world-famous brands, and al fresco dining spots!
Opposite Two Rodeo Drive is one of Beverly Hill's oldest and most luxurious hotels, Beverly Wilshire, which is a Four Seasons Hotel. If your budget stretches that far we would definitely recommend booking a stay!
More commonly today, the hotel is known as the ‘Pretty Woman Hotel’ as it was made famous by the movie and fans flock to enjoy a glass of champagne in The Nail Bar.
Rodeo Drive is one of the best places to visit in Los Angeles but you won't need a ton of time here unless you're looking to shop 'til you drop!
The iconic TV show Friends might have been set in New York City but like a lot of television, it was filmed in Los Angeles.
Whilst you won't get to see every set from the show, many have been preserved and are able to be viewed on the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Burbank.
You can book your studio tour here to go around on a set cart to see the ‘Central Park’ set and the famous fountain from Friends.
You also have the opportunity of viewing sets from The Big Bang Theory, DC Heroes, and some behind the scenes from Harry Potter!
After your studio tour, you'll be brought back to the tour center, and from there you can head to Stage 48. At Stage 48 is the Friends Boutique.
This boutique is only available after the studio tour and offers a wide range of Friends merchandise and is a must-stop for any fans of the show!
After the trip to the Friends Boutique, you can order a deli-style lunch from The Central Perk Cafe and then dine in recreated sets from the show including the characters' apartments and the Central Park set.
Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine by relaxing at Newport Beach which is just an hour's drive from LA’s city center.
This area is full to the brim with things to do and is definitely worth a day trip from Los Angeles or even a weekend break!
Newport Beach is known for its sandy coast, thrilling watersports, stunning sunsets, and having one of the largest recreational harbors on the west coast. Whether you're wanting to book a premier brunch cruise or a whale and dolphin spotting trip, Newport beach will have something for you!
It's also the perfect spot to try your hand at surfing!
The Bradbury Building is based in Downtown LA and is one of the city's oldest commercial buildings and is easily the most beautiful!
This 5-story building was built in 1893 and was commissioned by Lewis L Bradbury, a gold miner. While the Bradbury Building is quite nice from the outside, it doesn't look too special until you view the interior.
Inside the building lies a Victorian-style courtroom with a 50 ft high glass ceiling, marble staircases, and cage like elevators.
Most downtown LA walking tours will include the Bradbury Building but this Old and New Downtown Walking Tour in particular has an interior tour of the building within the tour.
Although the Bradbury Building isn't one of the most popular places in LA, it's definitely one of the most spectacular!
22 miles long, Sunset Boulevard begins near downtown LA and ends in a neighborhood north of Santa Monica.
This famous street passes by many famous landmarks and iconic attractions making it the perfect day trip or multiple day road trip depending on the number of neighborhoods you stop in!
The part of Sunset Boulevard located in West Hollywood is famous for its huge billboards, live music scene, and the neon glare from Sunset Strip.
Sunset Boulevard is a great strip for celebrity spotting as well as some famous bars, attractions, and clubs. It’s also a great place for visiting high-end restaurants like Tiki-Ti, Amoeba Music, Hollywood's RockWalk, and The Beverly Hills Hotel.
Most of the famous tour companies in Los Angeles will take you down Sunset Boulevard but we would recommend booking the City Sightseeing Hop on Hop Off Tour so you can take the street at your own place and stop at as many attractions as you want!
Another great thing to do in LA with kids would be to visit the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles Country.
Here you can learn all about the science and natural history of our planets through displays and interactive exhibits. The most popular being the largest, the dinosaur hall, home to the huge to-scale T-rex skeleton and the museum's Dinosaur Encounters Show.
Not only does this museum have the classic natural history museum exhibits of gems and minerals, skeletons, and around the world animals settings, but it also has one of California's top collections of fossils and an opportunity to learn about Los Angeles native plants and wildlife.
Book your tickets in advance to guarantee entrance and try to visit midweek to avoid the large crowds.
If you're a dinosaur lover like us then make sure you add Colorado to your bucket list, as there are plenty of awesome dino attractions!
Next to the Natural History Museum, you'll find the California Science Center and the California African American Museum if you're not quite done with learning yet!
Disney is always a great day out for the whole family and California Disneyland is no exception.
This attraction is split into two different sections, the original Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, these parks are connected by Downtown Disney, a Disney-themed shopping street.
This Disneyland Park has all of the fan favorites like Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain and It's a Small World. But the park is constantly updated to keep up to date so superhero fans can enjoy the new Avengers Campus, the brand new land at the theme park.
Be sure to buy your tickets in advance and download the Disneyland app to make the most of your day during your visit.
If you're looking for fun things to do in Los Angeles with kids then make sure this place is on your itinerary!
Situated on Arizona Avenue between 2nd and 4th streets is the famous Santa Monica Farmers Market which is open every Tuesday and Saturday from 8 am until 1 pm.
This market is full of the city’s highest quality local produce and it's actually where a lot of the top restaurants in Los Angeles get their fruit and vegetables.
If you're looking for a celebrity chef spot, they often go looking for ingredients for their menus around late morning on Wednesdays!
Wandering around this market is an experience for all the senses, so what are you waiting for? Make sure you add this place to your itinerary!
If you're a fan of markets, then make sure you visit Grand Central Market too which is located in Downtown Los Angeles...
Take a Paramount Pictures Studio tour and witness over a century of film history. Paramount is the longest major studio in Hollywood, dating back to 1912, meaning their tours can really give you a feel for that classic old school Hollywood flare.
If you book their classic studio tour, you'll get taken on a golf cart to several studios and stages including where they shot classics such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and to sets that are made to look like the streets of New York City and Chicago.
The trip to the prop room is a highlight for so many visitors as there are various props, some even interactive, all from different famous movies.
If your budget stretches far enough for the VIP tour, it's well worth the price. You get everything included in the studio tour but even more behind the scenes content!
The VIP tour includes exclusive access to Paramount’s archives and backlot with a tour from the people who work in that section, finishing with a gourmet lunch in the studios.
If you're wondering what to do in LA then why not try out one of these studio tours?
Also known as California surf city, Huntington Beach is famous for its southern California culture and is well worth a day trip or a weekend away from LA!
The city’s surf scene is the main reason you should visit Huntington Bay but there are still ample things to do. If you're looking for that perfect postcard picture that you see of the bay, the stunning sandy beaches are perfect for both beginner and expert surfers and it's also a popular spot for beach volleyball!
If you're wanting to learn to surf, book a surfing lesson here!
This area is much more laidback compared to Los Angeles, the locals seem to prioritize nature, outdoor activities, and the simple pleasures rather than the flashy materialistic classic city life.
After you've finished watching the surfers over the stunning sunset, be sure to head to the vibrant downtown area. Downtown has some amazing bars and restaurants that should not be missed!
Located within Universal Studios in Hollywood, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a must-visit for any Potterhead in LA.
Head to Olivanders to let your wizarding wand choose you, some of the areas are interactive so you'll be able to cast spells using your wand throughout Hogsmeade.
The area of Hogsmeade is full of shops where you can get some classic Harry Potter goodies! Visit Honeydukes to get your fill of chocolate frogs, Zonko’s Joke Shop to see some of the Weasley twin's funny inventions, and Gladrags Wizardwear to purchase your cloak after the sorting hat decides your chosen house!
After you're all shopped out, head to the three broomsticks to taste some British Classics like fish and chips, pasties, and shepherd's pie before going to the back of the pub to the Hog’s Head where you can sample some famous butterbeer!
Be sure to ride on the most popular attractions including 'Flight of the Hippogriff' and 'Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey' before eating your lunch!
With so much to offer, it's no wonder that this place is one of the most popular Los Angeles attractions!
Although this may be on the other side of the pond, Scotland has plenty of fantastic Harry Potter locations so we recommend adding them to your bucket list too...
There are plenty of places to go in Los Angeles but if you're looking to get out of the city then I've got the perfect idea for you...
Arguably one of the most famous drives and maybe road trips in the world, the Pacific Coast Highway, is a must do!
The highway began in the 1930s and covers over 600 miles of California's coastline.
If you weren't to stop along the way, the drive takes around 10 hours. However, we don't recommend you do this drive in one go!
Ideally, if you have the time, you should spend around a week doing this trip. Be sure to stop in areas such as San Diego, Laguna Beach, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Monterey, and San Francisco.
As it's such a popular route, the highway is full of tourist spots, restaurants, and hotels to stop off at during your journey!
Here's some more information on places to visit along the Pacific Coast Highway...
While California weather is known for being nice all year round, tourism still peaks during the summertime. If you're hoping to avoid the crowds but still enjoy the heat, anytime between March and May would be the best time to visit LA.
For an even quieter visit, September-November has much more manageable temperatures, without the rain that comes with the later winter months!
LA is a huge city so it's likely that you'll want to spend at least 5 days exploring everything the city and wider region has to offer.
There are plenty of 'once in a lifetime' things to do in Los Angeles so you don't want to rush your trip!
While Los Angeles might have a bit of a reputation for being an unsafe area, that's due to the big difference between rich and poor areas.
LA is a very safe and clean area for tourists to visit. That being said, it's important to still be city smart and to be cautious when out and about.
This means not flashing your valuables around and watching what neighborhoods you're visiting.
We’d recommend budgeting at least $150 per day for your visit. LA is quite an expensive tourist destination and even if you're being frugal, accommodation and food alone are quite pricey.
You'll find tons of unique things to do in Los Angeles too so you won't want to skimp out on activities or tours either!
Yes, there are so many tours of LA that you will have a lot to pick from!
Here are some of the best recommended tours of the city:
As you can tell, there are so many incredible things to do LA, California!
For that reason, we definitely haven't mentioned everything there is to see here.
Please feel free to leave in the comments anything of the things to do in Los Angeles that we might have missed!
Just don't forget to book your tours and attraction in advance, like this Griffith Park hiking tour as they can sell out quickly!
If you would like to continue traveling after your stop in LA, you're in a great place. LAX is the west coast's main airport with destinations all over Asia, South America, or the USA’s east coast.
Whereas, if you’re looking to continue traveling domestically, we’d recommend taking the Pacific Coast Highway to either South Francisco to the north or San Diego to the south. Then, continue your California road trip from there...
We've got plenty more travel guides if you're looking to plan the ultimate USA road trip:
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