Top things to do in Los Angeles
LA is one of our favorite places on earth. There really is something for everyone in Los Angeles and there’s always something yet to discover. We have spent so much time exploring SoCal’s capital city and we have managed to derive an extensive list of our favorite things to do in Los Angeles.
Venice/Santa Monica Beach
They say West is best and when it comes to beaches, we can’t say otherwise.
Two of the most popular beaches on the California Coast are Santa Monica and Venice. The neighboring beaches take up a 2 mile stretch of deep fluffy sand right by the Pacific Ocean.
Santa Monica beach is home to the famous Santa Monica Pier which is also the official end of Route 66.
The Pier has many gift shops, street performers and a fairground known as Pacific Park which has the world’s only solar powered Ferris Wheel.
Santa Monica Pier has been used in many movies and TV shows such as Prison Break, Forrest Gump and 2012. Santa Monica beach was also the filming location for long running TV show, Baywatch. Lifeguards here wear the signature red attire complete with the red floats.
A grassed area right by the pier of Santa Monica is home to the birthplace of the fitness movement. There is a historical photograph of the gymnasts from the 1950s which is displayed at the pier. Gymnasts gathered in the area with hundreds of spectators and it is said that this inspirational display was the start of the global fitness movement. The area still attracts gymnasts and athletes who practice their skills in public for all to see.
Sundays are the best day to see the gathering athletes, be sure to try the equipment out for yourself if you get chance.
Venice has often been referred to as Santa Monica’s quirky hipster cousin. If you’re looking for a good people watching spot, look no further than the Venice Boardwalk.
Venice Beach is the heart and home of creativity and expression. Locals and travelers alike congregate here to be whoever they want to be, dress how they want to dress and sell incredibly creative pieces of art and sound advice.
There is also a free Public Art Gallery right on the beach and a world renowned Skate Park that was made famous by the Z-Boys.
The Venice area was created by tobacco pioneer Abbott Kinney who wanted to replicate Italy’s canal ridden city. He built an extensive canal system and imported authentic gondolas (one of which can be found in Danny’s Restaurant).
Buy skateboards, slogan-rich attire and artwork from one of the many vendors and write your name in the sand at one of the world’s most famous beaches.
Probably the most famous feature of Venice Beach is Muscle Beach.
Arnold Swartzenegger used to publicly train here alongside the world’s best bodybuilders who went on to win Olympia and Universe titles.
One of the best spots in the world to watch the sun set is California.
Watch in awe as the sun disappears slowly to the west and admire the colours that are left behind.
Watch the sun slowly creep behind the silhouette of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Hollywood Boulevard is a super long street with so many attractions, bars, restaurants and famous sites to see.
It is most famous for the stars on the Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater which is home to the celebrity hand-prints. Hollywood Boulevard also has shopping malls, cinemas and some of Hollywood’s most famous night clubs.
Find your favorite star on the Walk of Fame. Not a lot of people know the Hollywood Walk of Fame is actually a pavement that everybody can walk on, we had always assumed it was a protected site.
If you want your very own star on the Walk of Fame, you can pay the city council a mere $20,000, just don’t expect the red carpet ceremony.
Try and time your stay with the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremonies that occur once a month.
You can also find the best view of the Hollywood sign at the Hollywood and Highland Center.
Hollywood HIgh School can be found just off the Boulevard on Highland. Lots of stars went to school here including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and John Archer.
Hike the Hollywood Sign
This is probably the most exhilarating activity of our top things to do in Los Angeles. A moderate 2-3 hour walk up hill will give you one of the most spectacular views in Los Angeles, if not, the world.
A simple hop on a DASH bus to North Beachwood Canyon will get you to the start of the public hiking trail. Just watch out for those mountain lions and rattlesnakes.
The hike can be done for a mere 0.50c, check out our in-depth Hike the Hollywood Sign blog here.
Warner Brothers Studio
Grab a coffee in Central Perk, appear in a scene of Friends or enjoy the 3D Harry Potter Broomstick experience. Warner Brothers Studios has is all.
Most people would agree that riding a real life Bat Mobile simulator on the grounds where the Batman franchise was filmed would be one of the top things to do in Los Angeles.
Or standing in front of an original space capsule from Sandra Bullock’s blockbuster, Gravity.
Stand in front of actual costumes and props from the Harry Potter films.
And Suicide Squad.
If you’re into screen writing or set design, learn how a production is made from start to finish in the Production exhibit.
Universal Studios is probably one of the most magical experiences you could have in Los Angeles.
From the famous Universal City walk, free to the public and l ines with quirky shops and restaurants.
To the Despicable Me themed Super Silly Fun Land water carnival, you won’t be short of entertainment.
There is a life sized replica of Springfield as featured in the Simpsons where you can sit in the outdoor Duff Beer Garden or grab a non-alcoholic Flaming Moe at Moe’s Tavern.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter recently opened its doors to the public making the whole park comparable to Universal Orlando.
The park is small enough to be discovered over two days and deals for cheap Universal Tickets in Los Angeles can be found at Attraction Tickets.
See our Universal Studios Hollywood Attractions and Tips blog for a detailed review of the park.
The Sunset Strip is hang out for celebrities, music fans and LA’s finest musicians.
Bars and clubs line the strip as well as famous hotels such as the Chateaux Marmot and The London.
Nightclubs such as Whiskey-a-go-go and the Viper Rooms have been on the strip since the 1950s and have spawned the birth of musical legends such as Linkin’ Park, Guns N’ Roses and Buffalo Springfield.
The Rainbow Bar and Grill is a hang out for rock-stars and their families.
Of course the famous Beverly Hills is one of the top things to do in Los Angeles. Beverly Hills is it’s own city in California and it is located in the Los Angeles County. This is an area where you will see how the other half live. Beverly Hills is home to beautiful houses, many owned by Hollywood stars, and the upscale shopping area of Rodeo Drive.
Tourists flock to the Beverly Gardens Park which has fountains, rose gardens and a large Beverly Hills sign.
Be sure to look out for the five Beverly Hills shields. They are exclusive to the Beverly Hills council and can not be used for commercial purposes unless a permit is obtained.
A notable site within Beverly Hills is the Beverly Wilshire Hotel which was the filming location of Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. It was also the hotel that hosted a Japanese emperor who demanded all of his grapes were peeled.
Enjoy the people watching, the expensive shops, the cosmetic surgeries and the flash cars that park anywhere and everywhere in the area.
Venice Drum Circle
Every Sunday at dusk, hundreds of people gather on Venice beach by Brooke’s Avenue to form what is locally known as the ‘Drum Circle’.
The tradition takes place every Sunday and people from all corners of the world bring their drums, percussion, shakers, and anything else that makes noise. They gather in a spot close to the sea and everybody dances, sings and expresses themselves however they wish.
The Venice Drum Circle is an incredibly overwhelming experience to be a part of. The positive energy is incredible and it’s hard not to smile and join in as you spectate.
Everyone and anyone is welcome to join in the Drum Circle completely free and after around 30 minutes, the LAPD calmly encourage people back onto the boardwalk.
Don’t miss the Venice Drum Circle, it’s one of our top things to do in Los Angeles.
Farmer’s Market and The Grove
The Farmers Market has been a significant landmark in Los Angeles since 1934. The market is home to many food stalls, sit-down eateries and organic produce.
There are over a hundred vendors at the Farmer’s Market, which is a permanent installation and is open 7 days a week. All corners of the world are represented in the Farmer’s Market and many vegan eateries can be found inside.
The Grove is a fairly modern installation and is located at the back of the Farmer’s Market.
The Grove is a retail and entertainment complex that even has it’s own train running through.
There are dancing fountains and a small park area that offer free picnic blankets should you wish to rest your feet after a long day of shopping.
Hop on Hop Off Bus
If you are short on time and wish to see the city over the course of 3 or 4 days, the Hop on Hop off bus is one of the top things to do in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Hop On Hop Off Bus has 5 significant loops covering the following areas:
Beverly Hills and Burbank
Universal/Warner Brothers Studios
You will see the highlights of Los Angeles from the comfort of your seat.
A pre recorded audio guide will take you through the sites of every area.
Check out our Hop On Hop Off Bus Los Angeles blog for a detailed review.
Marina Del Rey
Marina Del Ray is one of the top things to do in Los Angeles for fans of water sports. The Marina has its own beach where excursions are offered at very reasonable rates for paddle boarding, parasailing and water yoga.
The beach area is very peaceful and numerous restaurants line the area as well as many expensive sail boats and yachts.
There is a BBQ area that can be used free of charge should visitors wish to throw a summer party.