19 Must-See Attractions in Los Angeles, California
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.
La Brea Tar Pits
Museum, Natural Feature
Whether the La Brea Tar Pits are an archaeological marvel or simply an oddity of nature is up to interpretation, but whichever you think, they are a unique, and free, place to take a date. You’ll get to see asphalt seep and bubble up through cracks in the earth, as it has been doing for 65 million years, and watch a team of archaeologists at work excavating fossils. If you’re lucky, they’ll discover the remains of a wooly mammoth while you’re there, like they did in 2006. Afterward, you can grab dinner at one of the famed food trucks lining Wilshire Boulevard—El Chato Taco Truck draws crowds in from near and far for their award-winning tacos, quesadillas, and burritos.
Soaring 69 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, sunset and sunrise yoga, and a variety of holiday parties.
Natural History Museum
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.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)is the largest art museum in the western US. With holdings of Islamic, Asian and Latin art, LACMA also arguably boasts one of the most diverse art collections around. Outside, visitors will also the infamous Urban Lightinstallation – 202 cast iron antique street lamps that have been restored and light up Wilshire Boulevard. Centrally located between the beach and downtown Los Angeles, LACMA is among LA’s most popular tourist attractions.
Hiking Trail, Natural Feature
Any trip to LA should include a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway that 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 sun-bathing sea lions and whale spouts off in the distance. The Point is also next Zuma Beach, which is the ideal tanning and chilling spot that makes the busy streets of LA feel thousands of miles away.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
In 1953, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president E.M. Stuart came up with an idea that would culminate in one of the world’s most famous sidewalks: The Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1961, after numerous heated debates over which celebrities should have a star, construction ended on the Walk. Back then, there were 1,558 stars; today, there are over 2,600, with more added every year. You can find the Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard between Gower Street and La Brea Avenue; Vine Street between Yucca Street and Sunset Boulevard; and Marshfield Way between Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue. Along the route, guests will also encounter the historic Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, as well as the legendary TLC Chinese Theater, host of numerous notable film premieres and, at least for three years, the Academy Awards. Pause at Sunset Boulevard and Bronson Avenue to get a clear view of the distant Hollywood Sign. Expect these streets to be packed with tourists, as well as street performers vying for attention and tips.
The most obvious choice, Disneyland and its sister park, California Adventure, are pretty self-explanatory, and their princess castles and magical land filled with fairytale characters are universally known. The lesser known secret is that discounted tickets are available through many organizations for Southern California residents, and those who live nearby can also purchase a season pass to come whenever they want for only $30 per month.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, commonly referred to as the Getty, is an art museum spread across two campuses: the Getty Center and Getty Villa. The Getty Center, opened in 1997, is breathtaking in many ways. Architect Richard Meier is behind its modern design, and its position on a hill in the Santa Monica Mountains offers incredible views. Thoughtful exhibits, spectacular gardens and a restaurant and café stand to keep guests entertained for hours. The Getty Villa can be found towards the easterly end of the Malibu coast, and is dedicated to the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. Admission to both the Getty Villa and Getty Center is free, but parking is $15.