Los Angeles is one of the most populous cities in the United States and a common vacation destination for people of all types worldwide. Whether you come to LA for the sunny beaches or the celebrity sightings, the City of Angels has a lot to offer visitors.
18 Best Things to Do in Los Angeles
People around the world know Los Angeles for its glamorous movie and music scenes, but this Southern California city has much more to it than that and is home to millions of people who have nothing to do with these industries.
If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles, make sure to check out at least one of these experiences if you want to take in all that this beautiful and vibrant city has to offer.
1. Catch a Game at Dodger Stadium
Dodger Stadium is up there with Wrigley Field in Yankee Stadium for some of the most iconic baseball stadiums in the country, and if you have a chance to see an LA Dodgers game while you’re in town, you’re sure to have a fantastic time.
Even those who aren’t a fan of baseball won’t want to pass up an opportunity to eat an overpriced hot dog, drink a cold beer and stare at the gorgeous views of the San Gabriel Mountains.
If there aren’t any games while you’re in town, you can still enjoy a 90-minute guided tour of the famous stadium.
2. Get a Better View of the Hollywood Sign
Tourists worldwide come to Los Angeles trying to find the best way to get a photo under the iconic Hollywood Sign. Several common hikes around the city promise decent views of the sign, but by far, the best view and most ideal for photo ops are at Lake Hollywood Park.
Arrive at the park prepared to be in the company of other tourists, and take the short hike to the viewpoint for the Hollywood Sign! Alternatively, if you’re just looking for a nice walk, you can take the second path and stroll around the park reservoir.
3. Go for a Dip at Zuma Beach
Zuma Beach is a favorite among tourists and locals alike due to the sparkling blue of the water and seemingly endless sandy white coastline. Zuma Beach is also significantly cleaner than other famous beaches in the Los Angeles area, like Venice beach.
Located in Malibu, Zuma Beach is the perfect spot for families, thanks to the on-duty lifeguards and multiple parking lots with roughly 2,000 spots.
Best of all, Zuma Beach is a county beach, which means it’s free to enjoy; just bring a picnic and pay for parking. Prepare for crowds, especially on the weekends and holidays, as this beach can get especially busy.
4. Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame (and the TCL Chinese Theater)
Many visitors to Los Angeles have the Hollywood Walk of Fame high on their list of must-sees.
This iconic landmark features the handprints of some of Hollywood’s most influential movie stars (and characters) in the courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theater.
The theater itself is still operational and is a hub for Los Angeles movie premieres; if you’re fortunate enough for the theater to be playing a feature film while in town, you can catch a movie, and if not, you can enjoy a guided tour.
5. Go for a Hike in Runyon Canyon Park
Movies and TV shows based in LA feature many of the city’s best parks and outlooks, and you may have seen Runyon Canyon in some of your favorite flicks.
If you want to experience Los Angeles like a local, a casual hike in Runyon Canyon Park is a must, and you’ll get the chance to see incredible views of the city once you reach the top.
If you’re a yoga nut, you can enjoy Daniel Overberger’s donation-based yoga classes in the park every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at 10:30 a.m.
6. Take the Family to the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum
The La Brea Tar Pits & Museum is the perfect activity for families traveling to Los Angeles looking to learn while experiencing something uniquely LA.
The Tar Pits are naturally occurring asphalt pits that date back to the Ice Age and contain hundreds of fossils, most of which are displayed at the museum. In fact, the La Brea Tar Pits are the only archeological site in an urban area that groups are actively excavating.
Your kids and you will enjoy viewing the tar pits, learning about all of the findings and the site’s history, and can then enjoy a picnic in Hancock Park.
7. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
One of the best things about Los Angeles is how much the city revolves around the arts. While it may be tempting to catch a movie or go to a show, LA has some incredible, world-renowned museums, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is no exception.
What makes the museum such a beloved landmark is the “Urban Light” installation situated outside the museum, which features more than 200 lamp posts that artist Chris Burden gathered from around the city and restored.
Snap a photo by the familiar attraction, then make your way inside to enjoy all that the LACMA has to offer.
8. Visit the Famous Santa Monica Farmers Market
If you’ve ever visited the city before, you know that Los Angeles is synonymous with good food. Not only are some of the world’s best restaurants located there, but locals and tourists can cook up the freshest veggies and seafood at home if they know where to look.
There are dozens of farmers’ markets scattered around the city, and there are typically multiple farmers’ markets per day.
Perhaps the most famous farmers market in the LA area, beloved by locals and some of the city’s top chefs, is the Santa Monica Farmers Market that occurs every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday morning.
The farmers market is a must for foodies visiting the area, and even if you don’t have a kitchen where you’re staying, you can pick up some freshly baked treats and enjoy the scene!
9. Venice Beach and Boardwalk
If you’ve come to Los Angeles hoping to catch a glimpse of areas you’ve seen in movies and TV shows, then a trip to Venice Beach and the Venice Boardwalk is essential.
The boardwalk features fun snacks, arcades and quirky locals, giving you an authentic Southern California coastal experience. The beach itself is a lovely stretch of sandy coastline with a view of the Santa Monica pier, perfect for viewing a sunset.
However, be prepared for a busy scene and the dirtiness that accompanies crowded areas; if you’re looking for a pristine beach, you may have better luck elsewhere.
10. Visit the Happiest Place on Earth
Disneyland. It’s hard to imagine making your way to Los Angeles and not spending at least a day at the theme park.
Although technically not located in Los Angeles, the Anaheim-based theme park is only about 30 miles away from LA’s city center, making it easy to include in any vacation to the city.
However, because of the famous fireworks shows that happen at Disneyland once the sun goes down, many parkgoers opt for getting a hotel in Anaheim for the night (or nights) that they visit the theme park, as the local hotels offer shuttles that pick you up consistently during park hours.
11. Appreciate Art at the Broad
Another transcendent experience for those who appreciate the Los Angeles art scene is the Broad. This famous museum is not only an architectural masterpiece, but it features rotating exhibits from the world’s most famous artists and is completely free to the public.
Perhaps the biggest draw to the museum is the two Yayoi Kusama Infinity Rooms that are permanently on display at the Broad. The infinity rooms are immersive experiences, and people travel from around the world for the chance to view them.
While the Longing for Eternity room is available the day of, reservations are required to view “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” and are released on a monthly ticketing schedule.
12. See a Show at the Greek Theatre
The Greek Theatre is a Los Angeles landmark, and many musical artists and guests perform at the venue year-round.
Located in Griffith Park, the Greek Theatre has events multiple nights a week, and you can check the performance schedule to see if there are any shows you find appealing while you’re in town.
The Greek Theatre is also a beloved spot among locals, and outside of being a famous outdoor amphitheater, the theatre hosts private events, including weddings.
13. Visit Universal Studios Hollywood
If a day trip to Disneyland feels too challenging to work in your trip, you may have better luck with a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood.
Located in Universal City in the Hollywood Hills, the theme park is much easier to access than Disneyland (especially if you didn’t rent a car on your trip), and the cost makes it more accessible for a single day.
Enjoy attractions like the Jurassic Park Ride (get ready to get wet!) and a guided tour through the actual Universal Studios, where you can see famous movie sets and the shark from “Jaws.”
Universal Studios Hollywood is a great way to spend a day in LA; whether you’re a movie buff, a theme park fanatic or you came to the city with your kids, don’t leave Los Angeles without visiting.
14. Go to the Getty Center
Another one of Los Angeles’ prized art museums, the Getty Center, is an absolute must for art lovers visiting the city. Like the Broad, the Getty Center is free to the public and sits atop a hill with expansive views of Los Angeles, the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding mountains.
Be prepared to make a day of a visit to the Getty Center, as you have to ride the Getty tram to get to the museum; reservations are also required in advance.
Note: there is both a Getty Center and a Getty Villa; both are incredible art museums, but make sure you’re making reservations and travel plans to the correct location.
15. Watch Some Stand Up at the Comedy Store
Los Angeles is known for being the birthplace of many stand-up comedians, and there are countless comedy venues scattered around the city that you can wander into.
However, if you’re a particular fan of comedy, and are hoping to get a truly authentic LA comedy experience, then the Comedy Store is the spot for you.
Located on one of LA’s most quintessential streets, Sunset Boulevard, the Comedy Store has offered audience members the chance to see greats like Andy Kaufman and Richard Pryor.
While they won’t be performing the night you attend, you may get the chance to watch a seasoned professional or the next up-and-coming comedy star at the store.
16. Hike to Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory is a beloved landmark nestled at a viewpoint high in Mount Hollywood that offers gorgeous views of the city both during the day and at night.
Visitors go to the observatory for the planetarium’s exhibits, the onsite Tesla coil and the stargazing through the regular telescopes or the foot-wide refracting Zeiss telescope.
Many visitors access Griffith Observatory via car and park at the free parking lot (attendance at the Observatory is also free), but be aware that the free parking fills up quickly. In that case, you will have to pay $10 per hour for parking.
You can take a beautiful hike through Griffith Park to the Observatory or take a DASH bus to avoid extra fees.
17. Take a Ride on the Angel’s Flight Railway
You may already be familiar with San Francisco’s cable cars, but chances are you haven’t heard of LA’s Angel’s Flight Railway. This historic landmark is located on Bunker Hill and takes passengers the short distance between Hill Street and Grand Avenue.
You can ride on Angel’s Flight for only a dollar and experience a real piece of Los Angeles history. So if you find yourself in the area of this cable car, don’t make the mistake of passing it up.
18. Spend a Day at the Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is arguably one of the most famous places in the Los Angeles area, and it appeals to pretty much everyone, regardless of age.
For kids, there are endless opportunities to play arcade games, ride the Ferris wheel, or hop on a rollercoaster. Adults will love the gorgeous views and expansive coastline along this pristine and iconic stretch of coastline.
As you walk along the Santa Monica Pier, you’ll notice the bike (or walking) path that runs parallel to the beach, which is a 22-mile path that runs along the coastline, through which you can go from Santa Monica to Venice Beach and beyond.
Things to Consider
Any time you travel, it’s crucial to consider basic safety needs and prepare for your vacation. However, when traveling to a city like Los Angeles, there is less of a need to prepare ahead of time because of the high likelihood that you’ll be able to purchase anything you forgot to bring with you.
Here are some basic travel aspects to consider and mentally prepare for when planning your upcoming vacation to LA.
- If you’re not a U.S Citizen, don’t forget to bring a copy of your passport with you. While you may not feel comfortable carrying your passport with you, a copy is essential if you face legal trouble as a form of identification. American bars and restaurants require proof that patrons are over the age of 21 to serve them alcohol, and a passport is the only valid form of identification for non-U.S. citizens.
- Los Angeles is known for its terrible traffic, so if you’re planning on getting around by car, prepare for long wait times and do your best to avoid commuter hours. Renting a car is a handy way of getting around the city, but you can also use Los Angeles’s public transportation or ride-sharing apps.
- People know the city for its beautiful, sunny weather, regardless of the time of year. So even if you’re planning a trip in winter, be prepared for sunshine and warmer weather and pack sunscreen and clothes appropriate for a mild climate.
- Despite the sunny weather, Los Angeles has considerable smog, so plan for some days that may feel a little hazy, and bring an N-95 mask if you’re concerned about the city’s poor air quality.
- If you live on a coastline, you’re probably already aware of basic safety precautions regarding swimming in the ocean. However, it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with beach and ocean safety before entering the water of any LA beaches.
- While there’s no need to be alarmed by Los Angeles’s crime rates, it’s still best to take basic safety precautions regarding letting people know where you’re going, bringing your phone with you and being mindful when walking around alone after dark.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the frequently asked questions people have when visiting Los Angeles:
Is Los Angeles worth visiting?
While determining whether or not a city is worth visiting is entirely subjective, Los Angeles has a lot to offer potential visitors.
Between the world-renowned food scene, access to beautiful hiking trails in and around the city and vibrant culture, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll find something you like about Los Angeles.
To make the most of your vacation to the City of Angels, think about what you want to explore while you’re there and tailor your trip around the type of experiences you’ll most enjoy.
What is the most famous street in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles has many iconic streets, some especially beloved by specific communities within the city and beyond. Streets like Sunset Boulevard and Melrose Avenue have been featured in countless movies and songs, but the most famous street in Los Angeles is Hollywood Boulevard.
Los Angeles is synonymous with Hollywood, and Hollywood Boulevard features the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame, attracting tourists year-round.
Is Los Angeles safe?
Like any city, Los Angeles has some areas with higher crime rates and other areas with lower rates. But, overall, the city is relatively safe so long as you take basic safety precautions.
In addition to crime rates, Los Angeles is at risk for certain national disasters such as fires, earthquakes and mudslides. Research is the best way to be mindful of any catastrophic events.
Is there a Disney in Los Angeles?
There is a Disneyland in Anaheim, roughly a 30-minute to hour-long drive from Los Angeles’ city center, although it can take even longer with traffic.
What is Los Angeles famous for?
Los Angeles is famous for a variety of things, including its vibrant culinary, film, music and stand-up comedy scenes.
But perhaps what it’s best known for is being the hub for some of the most famous celebrities in the world, who own property and live in Los Angeles at least part-time. It’s common for people to spot celebrities when out and about in Los Angeles.
Your Turn — Book Your LA Trip Today!
Whether you come to Los Angeles for the theme parks or the museums, this huge Californian city truly has something that everyone can enjoy. With great food and endless live music, you can make any night an event.
The Broad, Venice Beach and Disneyland are all excellent destinations, and the best way to experience city life is to seek out the unique opportunities discussed above. Any vacation to LA can be a memorable one. Happy travels!