Los Angeles is a massive city and one that people come from all over the world to visit. For this post, I wanted to cover the Los Angeles area from Malibu to Burbank and show some of the area’s best attractions. I decided to focus on a more substantial area so that tourists would have a good understanding of what LA had to do if they visited. Here is the full list; let me know what I left off in the comments.
Here is a video I made on these spots in 2020, or you can read about all of them below as well.
Downtown LA often gets a bad rap, and while it does have its share of problems, there are still a lot of great places to explore there. My favorites are the Broad Museum for its modern art, Skyspace for its glass slide and impressive views, and Grand Central Market for all of its fun restaurants. Here is a post I made on all of my favorite spots in Downtown LA.
Hollywood Boulevard is a place pretty much every tourist wants to see when they visit Los Angeles. I suggest making your way to Hollywood and Highland, where you can park in the mall structure and explore the surrounding area. Here you will see the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the TCL Chinese Theater with its hand and footprints, and many museums from Ripleys Believe it to not to the wax museum. It’s a fun thing to do for a couple of hours in Los Angeles. You can see more of my favorite spots in Hollywood here.
Griffith Observatory is probably my favorite place in LA. The views from the observatory are amazing with the Hollywood Sign one way and Downtown LA the other. Of course, the observatory is also amazing to explore as it is free to enter and has a lot of fun exhibits. I have been here dozens of times to watch the sunset and explore, and I always love going back.
The Hollywood Sign is probably the most iconic part of Los Angeles and something that everyone loves to see when they visit. There are many great spots to view the sign from like Lake Hollywood Park, but if you really want to experience it, then considering hiking up to it. The hike is steep if you take the Wisdom Tree Trail, but it gives you some great views of LA and lets you get as close to the sign as you are allowed.
California Science Center in Exposition Park
Exposition Park is most known as the home of the Coliseum, where many football games and concerts are held, but it also has the impressive California Science Center. The center is free to enter, and it has many impressive exhibits on its three floors. However, the main reason to go there is to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor, which made its way here in 2012 and has been a popular tourist attraction since. It is incredible to see this thing up close, and it is worth the visit even if you don’t do anything else at the museum.
As one of the most historic districts in Los Angeles, Olvera Street was founded in 1781 and is a great spot to explore. It has some good restaurants and a fun central shopping area, but the main reasons to come is for the Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival every October. The festival has been happening for over 30 years, and it is a celebration of life with murals, dancers, a procession, and face painting. Amie and I have been a few times and always really enjoy visiting and experiencing it.
The Echo Park area of LA is an up and coming place with great restaurants, shops, and a decent-sized lake right in the middle. It’s a fun spot to hang out on a warm day, and you can get out on the water by renting a swan boat if you want to peddle around. The area also has the Time Travel Mart, which is one of my favorite stores and great food like the pizza at Masa and their fantastic Croissant bread pudding. It is one of those areas I keep coming back to explore more.
The Hollywood Bowl is LA’s famous amphitheater, which has hosted basically every renowned artist since it opened in 1922. While going to a concert there is something you really should experience; you can also walk around the park and visit the bowl during the day as well. This public park is fun to explore, and it has some great views of the Hollywood Sign when you walk to the top. Plus, there is a small museum which is free to visit as well.
Like the Hollywood Bowl, seeing a Dodger game is a must-do attraction in Los Angeles. Just driving through the parking lot to the stadium gives you some iconic views of Downtown Los Angeles and the historic stadium has been there for almost 60 years. If you come during off-season, you can pay to take a tour of the stadium, or you can visit the store and walk out to look over the upper deck. It is a lot of fun, even for non-baseball fans.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood is Los Angeles main amusement park. What’s so fun about it though is that it also has a working backlot, which you can see on the backlot tour ride with your admission as well. I love going to the park, seeing the Waterworld show, eating a donut in Springfield, and visiting for their Christmas festivities. It really is an entertaining place to explore in the city.
LA is the home of the movies, and one of the best ways to experience this history is to take a studio tour. There are four studios you can tour, if you count the Universal ride. I have done the Paramount and the Warner Brothers tours as well but not Sony. Each of the tours provide a great way to understand better how movies are made, see props, and maybe even visit a sound stage. I enjoyed these a lot more then I thought I would, and if you like movies, you should check out of them out.
Rodeo Drive / Beverly Hills
While I am not much of a shopper, it is still fun to go to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive since they are so iconic. The Beverly Hills sign is right next to a large fountain, and it is a popular spot for photos. A few blocks away is Sprinkles, which has a cupcake ATM that is a favorite for many people. After another few blocks, you will see Rodeo Drive, made famous by the movie Pretty Women. It has a bunch of high-end shops where I can’t afford anything, but its still fun to window shop, especially when it is decorated for Christmas.
La Brea Tar Pits / LACMA
The La Brea Tar Pits are a unique part of the history of this area and well worth the visit. The tar pits captured many historic mammoths and other creatures, preserving their bones for display at museums around the world. You can still see the bubbling tar pits, and you can visit the museum, which has many entire fossils on display to see. Plus, it shares a block with LACMA, another premier Los Angeles museum, and home to the Urban Lights, which is a favorite spot for tourist photos.
Getty Center & Villa
The two Getty locations are two of the country’s best museums to visit. The Getty Center, near UCLA, has weeks worth of exhibits to explore with amazing gardens, famous art from Monet and Van Gough, and beautiful views of downtown Los Angeles. Then the Getty Villa, in Malibu, has many Greek and Roman sculptures with a stunning central pool and immaculate gardens. I love both of these museums, and they are worth a visit during your time in Los Angeles.
Before heading out a little from the central Los Angeles area, I wanted to spotlight a few movie locations you can see, which are always popular for visitors to LA. Of course, you will see many locations on the studio tours but you can also visit Union Station, the Bradbury Building, Randy’s Donuts, and Angels Flight, just to name a few, and there are hundreds of other places where movies have been filmed all over the city.
Venice Beach is a lively city right on the ocean, west of Los Angeles. The city has street performers, a skatepark, street art, the beach, and the Venice Canals. The canals are one of my favorite spots to visit as you can walk up and down them and cross over the many bridges. Something you would not expect to see in Los Angeles.
Santa Monica Pier
Right next to Venice Beach is the Santa Monica Pier. This iconic spot is the end of Route 66 and features a sign that is often photographed. It also has an amusement park on the pier with a Ferris wheel and roller coaster. It is an excellent spot for a day at the beach and sunset photography as well. Plus, you can visit 3rd Street Promenade, which has tons of fashionable shops and restaurants while you are there.
Continuing just a little further, I also wanted to recommend Malibu. Many people don’t get all the way out to Malibu on their visit to LA, but they really should as it is beautiful. I recommend visiting Point Dume for incredible coastal views, stopping for seafood at one of the many restaurants, or hiking to Escondido Falls or Sandstone Peak. You could spend a whole week just exploring Malibu.
For my second to last recommendation, I simply wanted to call out the Los Angeles food scene. LA has some of the best restaurants in the United States, and hopefully, I can make a video just on food one of these days. A few of my favorites spots are Phillippe’s for a french dip, Diakokuya for ramen, Guisados for tacos, Langer’s for a pastrami sandwich, Mozza for pizza, and Randys for donuts, just to name a few.
In and Out LAX
If you are visiting California, then you can’t leave without trying one of its most famous fast food joints, in and out. The best one to visit though is the one next to LAX. Sure it will be busy, but you can watch all of the planes land as you eat your burger and it is an entertaining way to spend 45 minutes. Of course, there are many other locations for this burger as well, if you don’t want to make it all the way to LAX.
So there you have it, my list of spots to explore in Los Angeles. Let me know what I left off in the comments.