Hollywood movies and TV shows; movie stars and pop culture icons shopping along Rodeo Drive; beautiful people sunning themselves on one of the city’s many iconic beaches; streets lined with boutiques, five star restaurants, and face-lift clinics—these are all images that probably come to mind when most people hear the name Los Angeles.
But this infamous city isn’t all stardom and sand. In fact, Los Angeles is full of so much nature and culture, it won’t be difficult for you to find activities to suit your tastes—the problem is deciding which things to do in Los Angeles!
Here’s the ultimate list of activities and attractions that you can’t miss on your next trip to the City of Angels.
1. Get a Feel for the City on a Sightseeing Tour
One of the best ways to take in some of the more famous spots in Los Angeles is on a sightseeing tour. You’ll find no shortage of companies that offer sightseeing tours in a range of styles, prices, and lengths.
Enjoy an hour-long walking tour of some of the city’s famous streets, or hop on a bus tour for a half day’s worth of views that are sure to enhance your L.A. experience. Join fellow beer connoisseurs on a tour of the city’s bars and pubs; meet other foodies on a food and restaurant tour; or learn more about the city’s cultural history on a heritage sightseeing tour.
Plus, one of the benefits of doing a sightseeing tour earlier on in your vacation is that you can orient yourself to some of the other activities, landmarks, and attractions that Los Angeles has to offer.
Because there is such a huge range of tours and companies available, it helps to read about your options to decide which fits your interests and budget.
2. Walk along the Venice Beach Boardwalk
Even if you haven’t been to Italy, you’ll realize instantly that Venice Beach doesn’t live up to the namesake city it was modeled after. But it’s the lack of pizzerias, towering church spires, and intimate alleyways that give Venice Beach its distinctly Californian allure.
The neighborhood’s infamous boardwalk, trendy boutiques, funky restaurants, and waterfront mansions lend an air of weird, wealthy charm to any visit that travelers either love or hate. The boardwalk is the neighborhood’s claim to fame, and even if all-day sunbathing and sampling quirky delicacies isn’t your thing, most visitors agree that the boardwalk offers prime people watching for hours of entertainment.
There’s no charge to stroll through Venice Beach and its boardwalk, but be prepared to pay at the establishments that line the canal and its streets.
3. Go Gourmet at the Original Farmers Market
Situated at the corner of Third St. and Fairfax in the heart of downtown L.A., the Original Farmers Market is an expansive historic marketplace featuring more than 100 gourmet restaurants, grocers, and shops from across the globe.
Unlike other farmers markets, the Original Farmers Market is open year-round, 7 days a week, and has become an iconic L.A. landmark and tourist attraction.
The Original Farmers Market is a destination for hungry shoppers and foodies alike who want to sample the wide variety of local American and ethnic foods that Los Angeles has to offer.
The Original Farmers Market website provides an extensive list of vendors, shops, and other attractions that you’ll find on your trip to the market.
4. Pump Iron at Muscle Beach
Work off some of those goodies you ate at the Farmers Market with a trip to Muscle Beach. Founded in 1933 on the beach south of Santa Monica Pier, Muscle Beach brought together the talented athletes, gymnasts, and acrobats who started the Physical Fitness Movement of the 20th Century.
Muscle Beach soon became—and remains today—the most popular and famous outdoor gym in the world.
Today, visitors can watch bodybuilders and fitness gurus working out on the outdoor equipment, or even test out some of the weightlifting, gymnastic, and acrobatic equipment for themselves.
5. Admire the Art at the Getty Center
When you’re looking for a break from the sun and sand, one of the more impressive and low-key things to do in Los Angeles is to take a trip to the Getty Center. World renowned architect Richard Meier designed the circular structure of concrete and steel, which is not only an architectural statement, but also a world class art museum.
Inside the Getty Center you’ll find Renaissance paintings, medieval illuminated manuscripts, and 20th century American photography all housed in one spectacular venue—along with much more.
While parking costs $10 to $15 depending on the time you go, admission to the Getty Center is absolutely free.
6. Explore Automobile History at the Petersen Automotive Museum
There’s no doubt about the impact that the automobile industry has had, and continues to have, on American life, culture, and economy.
Los Angeles is a prime example of a city where cars and motorcycles aren’t just tools for transportation, they’re ways of life.
Experience years of life-shaping history in the museum’s 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, featuring 25 new exhibits and over 300 vehicles. Admissions fees are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $7 for children.
7. Get Yours Hands on Technology at the California Science Museum
Visitors of all ages will learn something new at the California Science Museum, which features hundreds fun, informative exhibits through interactive worlds. Many of the museum’s exhibits are hands-on, making it an excellent destination for families with children.
In addition to interactive exhibits, the museum also offers live demonstrations of interesting science concepts and technology in action, as well as films in its IMAX Theater and a variety of onsite and offsite science programs to inspire learning and curiosity.
Reasonable ticket prices ($8.50 for adults, $5.25 for children, and $6.25 for students and seniors) make the museum an affordable all day activity for families and groups.
8. Find Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood
For another family-friendly Los Angeles experience, take a day to explore Universal Studios Hollywood. From the number one rated show WaterWorld, to the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, to the new post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead attraction, this film studio and theme park offers a wide assortment of attractions and activities for guests of all ages.
Grab a drink or bite to eat in one of the many bars and clubs in CityWalk after exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The possibilities are so endless, you just might need an extra day to take advantage of all Universal Studios Hollywood has to offer! Admissions fees vary depending on the day and package option you choose; all ticket pricing can be found on the Universal Studios Hollywood ticketing website.
9. Wine and Dine at Universal CityWalk
Though it’s next door neighbor to Universal Studios Hollywood, CityWalk is a world all its own.
This 3-block shopping, dining, and entertainment district features more than 60 shops, restaurants, and nightclubs, not to mention a 19-screen IMAX Theater, making CityWalk the perfect place to relax after a day of fun in the theme park.
Take a walk over after a day out in Universal Studios Hollywood, or use CityWalk’s event calendar to plan your trip around the events, specials, and even TV filming that the district regularly features.
10. Dance the Night Away at L.A. Live
Nestled in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, L.A. Live is the city’s premier destination for music, movies, sports, entertainment, and nightlife.
You name it, this expansive sports and entertainment district—with its extensive list of music and sports venues, nightclubs, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, museum, and even bowling alley—has it!
The GRAMMY Museum will entice music aficionados with its collection of artifacts that pay tribute to the impact all forms of music, creativity, and the recording process have had on the culture and history of the U.S. The TEAM LA Store offers guests the chance to purchase officially licensed merchandise and apparel featuring players and teams from their favorite national sports leagues.
Take in a film at one of L.A. Live’s many movie theaters, or stop in at a bar or nightclub for happy hour specials. The only problem you’ll have on your visit to L.A. Live is deciding which of the dozens of restaurants you’re going to try!
One visit to Los Angeles makes it clear that the City of Angeles is so much more the sun, sand, and superstars strolling the streets.
While you’re sure to encounter such Los Angeles icons during your stay, there are so many more things to do in Los Angeles that will make you want to visit the city again and again.
In fact, with such an abundance of museums, galleries, shops, beaches, and natural areas to visit, it would be no surprise if you made Los Angeles your go-to travel and vacation destination for years to come!