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Places to visit in Los Angeles: Best Attractions and Things to Do

June 29, 2021 /
Best Things to Do in Los Angeles

Warning: Due to COVID 19 some information in this article (e.g. operating hours) may not be up-to-date.

Los Angeles is the city of a thousand faces and attractions; it is both exciting and a bit intimidating at the same time. We are talking about one of the most lively cities to visit with many places of interest, but it is such a huge city that without some tips, you risk missing the best attractions. For this reason, I’ve drawn up a list of the main attractions, hoping it will help you choose what places you will visit in Los Angeles.

Map of  the Places to Visit in Los Angeles

Here are all the things to see in and around L.A. on an interactive map.

Venice Beach

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Venice Beach has long been known as California‘s eccentric Mecca. Skateboarders, young radical artists, and bodybuilders will form crowds before your eyes on the spur-of-the-moment. The area was designed in 1905 by a developer (Abbot Kinney) who wanted to recreate a sort of new Venice, with almost 20 miles of canals.

It can be very pleasant to walk on the Venice Boardwalk, a wide promenade from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of L.A. and where you will find many street artists and souvenir vendors. After sunset, however, it is not very safe, so you should leave Venice Beach and head somewhere else!

Do you want to know where to grab a quick snack? I recommend the Figtree Café, located right next to the impressive “Small World Books” library.

For more detailed information, read our article entirely dedicated to what to do in Venice Beach.

Hollywood Boulevard: A Walk among the Stars

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Hollywood celebrities are never far from Los Angeles. To catch a handful of stardust, take a stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where more than 2,400 characters and celebrities from the entertainment world are immortalized on a sidewalk with symbolic stars.

If you are a movie fan, make sure you go see the most famous hands and footprints near Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, a bizarre place where you can watch interesting screenings and meet many showbiz stars. This is the venue of countless premieres and galas.

The Getty Museum

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Among all the things to do in Los Angeles, you must definitely visit the Getty Center, which is the envy of museums around the world because of the generous donations received. It houses rich collections and has some impressive works that span over many centuries, from the Renaissance to the present day.

These include some paintings by Rubens, a couple by Gainsborough, and some by Impressionists, including Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, and Van Gogh. The French decorative arts and a photographic collection are definitely worth seeing. And don’t forget to look for Miró’s and Moore’s artwork in the beautiful sculpture garden.

Our tip:

Mulholland Drive

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Yes, we’re talking about Mulholland Drive, the most impressive scenic road in all of Los Angeles. Driving at least a stretch of Mulholland Drive is an experience that all lovers of director David Lynch – but not only them – should have. Hidden along this winding uphill road, among parks and viewpoints, are the opulent villas of the Hollywood stars and the most elite VIPs in Los Angeles. In our article dedicated to Mulholland Drive, we tried to map out the must-see attractions on this road.

Shops and Socialites on Rodeo Drive

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Many women dream of strolling on Rodeo Drive like Julia Roberts did in Pretty Woman and go on a shopping spree, but few can afford to buy the unique clothes by the most famous designers on this street. A walk on this famous street can still be an interesting option even without shopping. Also, visit the shops in Anderson Court, a mall designed by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright in 1952. We talked about this famous street in our article: Rodeo Drive Los Angeles.

Strolling in L.A.: Olvera Street in El Pueblo and Much More

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Those who say you can’t get around Los Angeles without a car are not wrong, and yet there are some nice places to take walks, which, if you plan well, can prove to be enjoyable. Go to Olvera Street, located in the oldest area of Los Angeles, where you can stroll around the stalls of a colorful Mexican market and eat typical dishes accompanied by live music (the area is part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument).

For more information about walking tours, you can contact the Los Angeles Conservancy, which organizes tours of the city’s main tourist attractions, from the historic theaters downtown to the many examples of Art Deco and even modern architecture  (Modern Skyline Walking Tour). Be sure to book well in advance, because these tours are incredibly popular.

Watch an NBA Game

must see los angelesIf you are a fan of American basketball, you may already know that Los Angeles is one of the best cities to attend an NBA game. Whether you’re a Lakers fan, a Clippers fan, or just a curious onlooker who doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to experience a unique atmosphere, consider spending an evening in the Staples Center.

If you want to find out more about attending a game and maybe save some money to attend this event, you can read our guide on how to buy NBA tickets in Los Angeles.

Museum of Jurassic Technology

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The name can be misleading, since this science museum has nothing to do with Steven Spielberg and Jurassic Park. The Jurassic Museum is in fact the home of the most curious and unusual technology. The scientific wonders that can be seen in the museum include a bat that can fly through walls, microscopic sculptures, and unique permanent exhibits. At the museum, visitors will experience an intriguing combination of reality and fiction unlike anything else.

Night-time Visit to Chris Burden’s Urban Light

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The collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA, are housed in a vast 20-acre complex of buildings that were masterfully renovated in 2008. Right in front of the museum, at the BP Grand Entrance, you will find Chris Burden‘s stunning Urban Light, an installation of 202 restored 1920s and 1930s streetlights, which is particularly impressive when viewed at night.

Griffith Observatory

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Griffith Observatory is an observatory, a planetarium, and an astronomy museum located in Griffith Park, where you can enjoy a wonderful view of downtown Los Angeles and the famous Hollywood sign. Admission is free, but if you want to take a look at the night sky, especially in summer, get in line before nightfall. The Griffith Observatory closes the line after a certain number of people. However, it is worth it to go there to see the building itself and the magnificent view.

Watts Towers

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Simon Rodia started building Watts Towers in 1920 using nothing but scrap metal. Gradually, he raised the structure, strengthening it with steel and concrete to avoid instability. In total, there are 17 towers and the two main ones are almost 100 ft tall.

The materials used include everyday objects, such as the green glass of 7-Up bottles or ceramic tiles, as well as jewelry, marble, and shells. The view of this complex gives visitors a sort of eerie feeling.

Disneyland

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If you are visiting Los Angeles with your children, you can’t avoid a trip to Disneyland, one of the most famous theme parks in the world, where all the main cartoon characters will come to life in fantastic settings. You can enter the wooded house of Winnie the Pooh in Critter Country, go behind the scenes of Disney movies in Fantasyland and even chase Mickey Mouse!

The park (which in turn consists of 2 parks: California Adventure and Disneyland Park) is actually located in Anaheim, Orange County, 25 miles south of LA, and can be a fascinating experience for young and old. Among the most important attractions are Star Tours, Indiana Jones Adventure, Space Mountain, and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Read our guide to Disneyland to discover all the details about this park.

Universal Studios

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This is the theme park Hollywood movie fans will love, where you have access to the most famous movie sets and can relive the most important scenes with special effects. The quality level is so high that it competes with Disneyland for the title of the best theme park in California.

Walking around the movie sets is only part of the fun, as you’ll also find lots of rides, shows, and themed attractions here. I’ve already talked about this in my article on Universal Studios Los Angeles, you can find all the information you need to plan a visit.

Santa Monica

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Among the places to visit  in Los Angeles, Santa Monica is another attraction that is hard to overlook. What makes this place famous is, of course, the renowned amusement park on the pier, with its characteristic Ferris wheel, but Santa Monica is also a charming and very fun city with various restaurants, shops, and street artists, as well as a beautiful view of the ocean. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that it is one of the most famous beaches in Los Angeles.

Besides all the iconic elements of beach life in California, you’ll find one of the most famous road signs in America: the end (or start depending on your route) of the legendary Route 66. In addition to the pier (Santa Monica Pier), the other main areas to visit are the bustling Third Street Promenade and Main Street.

For a detailed guide to Santa Monica, make sure you read our article on the things to do in Santa Monica.

Warner Bros. Studios

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If you’ve always wanted to see how Hollywood’s greatest film and television hits are made, a visit to Warner Bros. Studios is definitely for you. You can explore the behind-the-scenes of the major hit shows that are made there and learn the secrets behind a Hollywood production.

Unlike Universal Studios, you won’t find rides here. This is not an amusement park.

Beverly Hills

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Beverly Hills is the neighborhood of the rich that has been immortalized by hundreds of movies and shows (Pretty Woman, Beverly Hills 90210, and Beverly Hills Cop to name just a few…). Rodeo Drive, which was mentioned earlier, is in Beverly Hills, but there is also more to see (houses of famous people, important streets, museums, parks, colonial-style buildings …). Moreover, it is a green and very pleasant neighborhood to visit.

If you want to get an idea of the various places of interest in the area, take a look at our article about the things to do in Beverly Hills and get ready to see a one-of-a-kind lifestyle!

Bel Air

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Less than 20 minutes by car from the upscale Los Angeles (Beverly Hills) neighborhood, you’ll find Bel Air, a luxurious area of star residences, a hill that not only lists some of the city’s most expensive properties, but also a place where you can enjoy a nice drive. You can get a map of the villas and proceed on your own, or, if you are interested in learning more about the villas, stories, and anecdotes about them, you can book an organized tour.

More information can be found in our article on visiting Bel Air.

Sunset Strip

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The part of Sunset Boulevard that connects Hollywood to Beverly Hills is called the Sunset Strip, a 1.5-mile stretch where West Hollywood’s social life converges, including VIPs, trendy boutiques, historic clubs, nightclubs, and exclusive hotels.

You can see the Sunset Strip as you drive by, or you may choose to stop at a coffee shop to catch a glimpse of some movie stars going shopping or go to see a concert or a play in some of the clubs that have made entertainment history. All the tips to discover the secrets of this famous street can be found in our article on visiting the Sunset Strip.

What Else Is There? Here’s Something you Might Not Have Thought about…

You may feel discouraged after reading this list: so many things to see in Los Angeles! Will I make it in time? Won’t I spend a little too much money?

There are 2 solutions that could simplify the planning of your visit and save you a lot of money. The first one is to buy a Los Angeles Pass, while the second one is to take advantage of the organized tours, which we talked about extensively in our article about tours in Los Angeles.

If you prefer to travel in complete autonomy, do not forget to take a look at our tips on how to get around Los Angeles and how to rent a car in Los Angeles.

Lodging near Places of Interest in Los Angeles

In order to choose the area that best suits your needs, I refer you to our in-depth analysis of where to stay in Los Angeles, with recommendations for accommodations in different areas, and our selection of apartments in Los Angeles. If your plane lands in the city, instead of booking the hotel and plane separately, it may be more convenient to opt for the flight + hotel solution, which usually results in significant savings. To check the prices of the packages, take a look at this page.

Our tips for lodging in Los Angeles


Our Tip:
Looking for accommodations for your trip from California to other parts of the Southwest? Read our guide that contains reviews of hotels and strategic tips for finding accommodations near major attractions: Where to Stay: Our Tips for the SouthWest Area

lorenzo puliti

I am fascinated by the wonders of the world I never tire of going in search of them.

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