Los Angeles has been called many things, but boring is definitely not one of them. While it is true that LA holds some impressive records for the worst traffic in the United States, it’s also one of the most exciting and diverse places to visit on the West Coast.
Blessed with sun and great weather all year round, You can easily find yourself exploring LA comfortably at any time of the year. From strolling the world-class beaches like Huntington Beach, to getting your shopping fix at the sprawling shopping destinations like the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade, you are sure to find many things to pack into each sunny LA day LA. Got kids? Check our list of the 15 best things to do with kids in LA. Or, if you are downtown and looking for the top destinations, our list of the 10 best things to do in downtown Los Angeles will be a helpful guide.
If you’re wondering what there is to do in the evenings, then browse our list of things to do in Los Angeles at night to make sure you see all the most interesting and popular destinations in LA.
1. Griffith Park
If you are looking for the absolute best view of LA on a clear day or night, this is your spot. At the main lookout point, you can start to take in the massive sprawl of the city. With seemingly endless hiking trails, this park may deceive you with its sheer size. It is so close to downtown LA but when you venture further in, you can feel lost in the wilderness! This should definitely be on your todo list if you want the quintessential city view.
2. The Getty Museum
The J. Paul Getty Museum sits prominently on a steep hilltop overlooking Los Angeles. With sweeping views from the terraces and gardens, visitors are treated to one of the premier collections of art known to man. With exhibits ranging from rare European sculpture, paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, photographs, and other decorative arts. Even if you are not interested in art, The Getty should still be on your todo list, with its restaurants, coffee shops, and other amenities that go along with the epic views and architecture that this amazing museum offers.
What can we say? Does “The Happiest Place On Earth” sound like a place that you’d want to visit? When it comes to fun for the whole family, Disneyland and their adjacent park, California Adventure, can literally take multiple days to fully explore if you have the time. If you are just going for the day, bring your best pair of walking shoes as you will probably cover lots of ground. From all the themed rides, to the various mini-productions throughout the day and into the daily nighttime fireworks display, there are non-stop activities. And, with Disneyland’s new “Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge” area open, there are even more areas of the park take in.
4. Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier should be on everyone’s LA bucket-list. This pier is like a mini amusement park sitting out over the Pacific Ocean featuring restaurants, a Ferris wheel, and a roller coaster. Positioned close to the downtown Santa Monica shopping, it’s a convenient spot to add to your Santa Monica day trip.
Originally built in 1909, The Santa Monica Pier has shown up frequently over the years in popular tv shows and many hit movies, such as Iron Man and Forest Gump.
5. The Last Bookstore
If you like books, or maybe you like seeing the unusual side of LA, you should check out the Last Bookstore. This cavernous 22,000 square foot bookstore is known for its creative sculptures and partitions made entirely from books. The Last Bookstore is built inside of an old bank building and features books on 2 levels and also in the old bank vault. Opened in 2005, this space is somewhat of a museum dedicated to the dying art of spending hours browsing through stacks of books.
6. Third Street Promenade
If shopping is your thing, then the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade will be the place you’ll want to spend some time. This broad street stretches many blocks and is closed to vehicle traffic, so it feels very open and inviting. The Promenade attracts many street performers of all types, so between stores, you can be sure to see something interesting, and sometimes, amazing.
Being close to Downtown LA and right next to the Santa Monica Pier, this outdoor mall is a very popular shopping destination for tourists and locals alike. With many popular and up-and-coming shops along the promenade, there is sure to be something for just about everyone during your shopping trip.
7. Hollywood Boulevard
If you want to dive deep into Hollywood culture, then Hollywood Boulevard is a great destination. Featuring many famous hotels, and the popular Hollywood Walk of Fame, this street is a lively mix of entertainment and commerce.
There are many notable destinations along Hollywood Boulevard including the Capitol Records Tower, The Hollywood Sign, Madame Tussauds Museum, the Pantages Theatre, and many more.
8. Neptune’s Net
If you are looking for a scenic sunset drive and a seafood dinner with a great view, the Neptune’s Net is a great option. A drive north from Santa Monica along the coast takes you along the Malibu portion of the Pacific Coast Highway and to this now legendary spot. While it’s not a fancy establishment by any means, you’ll definitely enjoy a beautiful ocean view and some of the freshest seafood around.
9. Universal Studios Hollywood
If you like movies, then you’ll probably like Universal Studios. Founded in 1910 in Los Angeles as a tourist attraction where visitors could get an “inside look” what went into filming their favorite movies. It has grown significantly throughout the years and in addition to still operating movie studios, it offers amazing rides, shows, and live entertainment based on popular movies and tv shows. In fact, Universal Studios Theme Parks is the 3rd largest theme park operator in the world based on visits per year. If you are looking for a fun day for the entire family, Universal Studios Theme Park is an truly entertaining option.
10. Zuma Beach
Though this beach stretches literally for miles of coastline, it can be hard to find a good spot to lay down a towel on warm summer days. Zuma Beach is a great option if you want to see some of the pristine Malibu coastline and get a taste for a beach that’s frequented by thousands of locals every day in the peak summer months. You’ll see thousands of sunbathers, and the dozens of lifeguards that are working hard to keep everyone safe in the water.
11. Hollywood Sign
There is probably no other sign in the world more recognized than the Hollywood Sign. The sign is made up of tall white letters that are 45 ft tall and was originally set up as an advertisement by a local real estate company in 1923. The sign worked so well, that they kept it up as it gained a kind of legendary status. The sign is accessible to anyone and you can hike a trail that starts in Bronson Park and with a bit of exercise, you can reach the sign and be rewarded with a great view of Hollywood below.
12. The Queen Mary
The Queen Mary, an impressively large passenger cruise liner that first sailed her weekly transatlantic voyages starting in 1936 between England and New York. This ship now rests in a permanent berth in the Long Beach Harbor, not far from downtown LA. Extravagant for its time, passengers could enjoy one of the 2 indoor swimming pools, beauty salons, paddleball courts, multiple libraries, and a music studio. You can take a tour of this impressive antique ship and even book a room to stay onboard to get the full experience.
13. IN-N-Out Burger
A Classic West Coast favorite, In-N-Out Burger stands alone at the top of the fast-food food chain. Unlike other fast-food restaurants, here you are presented with a purposefully sparse and easy-to-read menu that only serves a few main items, but has these few things perfected. No frozen food to be found here – everything is fresh, and you can even watch as they smash the freshly peeled potatoes through a cutter and into the oil to become the golden brown french-fries that you are eating minutes later. There is probably no other restaurant that typifies the California lifestyle better than In-N-Out, so you’d better add this to your LA todo list pronto!
14. SkySlide at Skyspace LA
If you’re afraid of heights, or don’t like the feeling of falling from 1000 feet up, then you probably should stay away from Skyslide in downtown LA. This 45-foot all-glass slide is part of OUE Skyspace, a fun destination downtown that features a 360-degree view deck where you can take in all of LA from a bird’s eye perspective. With a full-service bar, you can sip a creative cocktail or enjoy a local LA microbrew from way up high.
15. Grand Central Market
Located in the beating heart of downtown Los Angeles, Grand Central Market is in the ground floor of the iconic Homer Laughlin Building and is the largest and oldest public market in LA. Here, you’ll find a colorful assortment of fresh produce and a multitude of food vendors and restaurants where you can enjoy a unique meal in an even more unique atmosphere. The Grand Central Market is renowned by foodies everywhere to be one of LA’s culinary gems.
16. Big Bear Lake
If you are longing for the mountains, fresh air, and pine trees, then you might want to consider a trip to Big Bear Lake. Located 2 hours from LA, you can discover this rustic get-away from the hustle and bustle of city life. With great boating, fishing and other water activities in the summer, and 2 great ski resorts to enjoy skiing and snowboarding in the winter, Big Bear Lake has plenty of outdoor adventure any time of the year.
17. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
This scenic overlook and the impressive stairway leading up to it can be a fun little adventure if you want a short hike with a great view. Also called the “Culver City Stairs”, this destination is located adjacent to Culver City and climbs 282 stairs through a California State Park to look out over the greater Los Angeles basin. Bring your best walking shoes and some extra water – it could take you longer than you might expect.
18. Warner Brothers Studios
The Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, California has been one of Hollywood’s premier filmmaking facilities since it opened in 1926. Set on 62 acres, you can take a 2 hour guided tour of the most famous portions of the studio that showcase many familiar scenes that you are sure to remember from some of your favorite films. Film lovers everywhere should not miss the opportunity to visit this great piece of film history.
19. Catalina Island
If you want to get off the mainland and experience the ocean and island life, you are in luck. Catalina Island is a beautiful destination – Just 29 miles off the coast of LA. We suggest making a day trip of it by taking the 1-hour ferry ride from Long Beach harbor. Catalina is a hilly island with the main town, Avalon, situated above a gorgeous cove and harbor with aqua blue water. There are many great restaurants, bars, and shopping along the waterfront, and many hotel options if you want to stay for an extended visit. Here, there are water activities everywhere: You can go snorkeling or scuba diving, take a speed boat tour, or just relax on the sandy beach of the Avalon cove after a great meal. A trip out to Catalina island will be well worth it, so book your ferry ride today!
20. Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is a true masterpiece of architectural design and a must-see for any who appreciates modern design and the arts in general. Opened in 2003, there is seating for 2,265 people and is the home to multiple popular classical music groups, such as the LA Philharmonic Orchestra. Check out the lineup of shows here.
21. Sunset Boulevard
Sunset Boulevard is one of the main LA thoroughfares, winding all the way from the coast, through Beverly Hills and West Hollywood and into downtown. One particular portion of Sunset Boulevard, known as the “Sunset Strip”, is a 1.5-mile stretch and is home to many popular restaurants, rock clubs, and night clubs. This area is also famous for its many colorful advertising billboards that fill both sides of the boulevard.
22. Santa Monica Camera Obscura
The Camera Obscura installation in Santa Monica is an interesting destination if you like photography or public art installations in general. This peculiar installation mimics the inner workings of a traditional pinhole camera and features a darkened room that shows a projected image of the outside world. This camera was created in 1955 in sits in Palisades Park, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and very close to the downtown Santa Monica shopping.
23. Universal CityWalk Hollywood
Universal Citywalk Hollywood is a fun nighttime destination that is adjacent to the Universal Studios theme park. This 3 block shopping and dining destination covers 3 whole blocks and features many popular restaurants, stores, a 19 screen movie theatre, indoor skydiving and much more. The Citywalk is styled after the traditional Hollywood architecture and mimics various sites from around Los Angeles. If you are looking for an exciting nighttime adventure, we definitely recommend Universal Citywalk.
24. The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
The La Brea Tar Pits are a group of naturally occurring tar seepages where natural asphalt has been seeping through the ground for tens of thousands of years. Throughout the millennia, various animals have gotten trapped in the tar and become preserved, leaving a trail of animal bones for archeologists to discover and study. The Museum showcases many of the dinosaurs and animals that have been recovered from the tar and is a really interesting and educational activity. The tar pits and museum are surrounded by a large park, so it makes for a great destination if you have children.
25. Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney is a shopping and dining destination directly outside the Disneyland theme parks and connects the parks directly to the popular Disney Hotels. This destination is bustling with activity, with street musicians and performers providing entertainment, and featuring many popular themed stores and restaurants. Even if you aren’t planning on visiting Disneyland, downtown Disney is still worth a visit if you are looking for a fun and entertaining evening out.
26. Angels Flight Railway
The Angels Flight Railway is a historic railway in downtown Los Angeles Bunker Hill district which features a short 298-foot inclined railway. There are 2 cable-supported cars that pull these rail cars up and then down, connecting the historic downtown area up to Bunker Hill. If you like to experience historical points of interest, We would recommend taking one of these antique cable cars for a ride.
27. Los Angeles Zoo
If you have kids, then you should definitely consider visiting the sprawling Los Angeles Zoo. This massive zoo, operating completely by the city of LA, was originally opened in 1912 and sits on 133 acres. Compared to the naturally dry surroundings of LA, Zoo visitors are treated to surprisingly lush landscaping throughout the grounds and the Zoo has been designated as a certified botanical garden. So, for a refreshing break from the busy cityscape, try taking a stroll through the LA Zoo to cool off and recharge!
28. Venice Beach Boardwalk
Venice Beach and the colorful Venice Beach Boardwalk are both extremely popular destinations, seeing millions of new visitors each year. The boardwalk features hundreds of street vendors, performers, and colorful activities going on at all times of the day and you are sure to have an interesting experience or two. In addition to the shopping, there are also many outdoor activity spots along the boardwalk and beach, including paddleball courts, a large skateboard park, numerous volleyball courts, and the legendary Muscle Beach outdoor gym.
29. Bronson Caves
The Bronson Caves are located in a remote section of Griffith Park that has been used extensively in old films, due to it’s craggy and desolate surroundings. The caves were originally created in the 1920s by a rock quarry company that was excavating the rock to use to pave the streets of Los Angeles It’s a fun place to explore and hike around, so we’d recommend it if you are looking for a fun hiking destination that’s close to Hollywood and Downtown.
30. Echo Park Lake
Echo Park Lake sits within view of the Downtown LA and is part of the densely populated Echo Park community. Designed as a reservoir in 1868, the water quality has been historically poor, but recently a large-scale rehabilitation project has turned the lake into a beautiful and fun recreation area for the whole community, complete with swan paddle boats you can rent, and running and walking paths. If you are exploring downtown LA, Echo Park Lake is definitely worth experiencing.
31. The Huntington Library & Gardens
The Huntington Library is a fascinating destination not far from downtown Los Angeles and features a museum, research institute, and a world-class class series of specialized botanical gardens. Created by the wealthy Huntington Family in the early 1900s, this 120-acre grounds is famous for its collection of European and American art and it’s themed gardens. The Japanese garden is especially beautiful and we would definitely recommend taking part of your day to explore this amazing location.
32. Madame Tussauds Hollywood
Madame Tussauds Hollywood is part of a series of famous wax museums and features a changing mix of famous celebrities recreated as impressively real wax sculptures. A popular tourist destination, you can experience being up-close-and-personal with your favorite celebrities. If you’ve ever wanted to take a selfie with a celebrity, this might your best opportunity you get in LA.
33. Huntington Beach
As far as LA beaches go, Huntington beach is right up there at the top of the list of top beaches to visit. This beach is very broad with an impressive 10 miles of sand, volleyball courts and a prominent pier that takes you out over the water. Known for its consistent waves, you are sure to see some great surfing here, and this is home to one of the largest annual surf competitions in the world. If you are looking for a classic LA beach with lots to do, be sure to check out Huntington.
34. Aquarium of the Pacific
If you want to experience the sea like never before, you need to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific. This impressive aquarium is located in Long Beach along the harbor and is visited by nearly 2 million people each year. With many amazing exhibits, you will be immersed in the ocean and sea life like never before. For example, one of the most popular exhibits is the “Shark Lagoon” that features a 10,000-foot tank with hundreds of sharks and rays. Another great spot if you have kids, we would highly recommend this aquarium as a top destination in LA.
35. Petersen Automotive Museum
Car lovers, you’re going to love the Peterson Automotive Museum. This artistically designed museum features hundreds of incredible cars on display within 25 distinct galleries. There is also a special “premium” area of the museum that is housed in a vault underneath the main museum floor. There are multiple exhibits that detail periods in automotive history and are very educational. In addition to classic cars, there are many experimental cars and one-of-a-kind vehicles here that make this a must-do activity for car lovers everywhere.
36. Griffith Observatory
Sitting on top of a hill in Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory has arguably the best view of Los Angeles of any building you can visit. With a close view of the Hollywood sign, the observatory is a popular tourist destination and can be visited most times of the day. Along with a large park area for relaxing, the observatory has multiple displays and space-related exhibits and has been free to the public since it opened in 1935. If you visit at night, you’ll be treated to the opportunity to look through the main refraction telescope. If you do, you’ll be in good company, as over 7 million people have viewed the stars through this particular telescope, making the most viewed telescope in the world.
37. Rodeo Drive
If shopping is your thing, then you need to check out Rodeo Drive. This is a three-block shopping district in the famous Beverly Hills part of LA and features high-end retailers and many luxury goods stores. With European architecture and styling, this pedestrian-heavy shopping district is also famous for spotting luxury cars, whose owners are out shopping, and even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a fun place to visit and look around.
38. Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl is known as the premier outdoor Amphitheater in Los Angeles, and the lineup of artists each year is packed with the biggest acts, bands, and orchestras from around the world. Sitting in hills directly above LA, it is a magical location, and It was even voted by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top 10 music venues in America. If you know when you’re visiting LA, make sure to check out the upcoming lineup of artists here. If you enjoy live shows, then we would recommend adding the Hollywood Bowl to the top of your todo list in LA. – You won’t be disappointed.
39. Paramount Pictures Studios
The Paramount Pictures studio is another famous film studio in Hollywood that features many film sets and sound stages where countless movies and tv shows have been filmed. You can buy tickets for a 2-hour studio tour and depending on if you choose the day tour or the nighttime tour, you will see different film locations and see some of the most classic sets from the Paramount Studios history. This is another strong recommendation for any film lovers who are visiting LA.
40. Rose Bowl Flea Market
The legendary Rose Bowl Flea Market is a large outdoor swap meet that happens every second Sunday of each month and is a popular destination to find antiques and one-of-a-kind clothing and housewares. At each event, the Swap Meet hosts thousands of individual vendors and sees tens of thousands of visitors, so it’s definitely going to be one of the largest outdoor flea markets in the country. If you are into finding rare furniture and clothes, you definitely need to add the Rose Bowl flea market to your trip todo list.
41. Amoeba Music
Like the Last Bookstore, Amoeba music is a classic independent music store in LA, with 2 other stores in Berkeley, and San Francisco. Here, you can browse through thousands of stocked CD’s, Cassette tapes, and Vinyl Records from the most popular artists in the world. Even in our digital music age, a visit to Amoeba can be a fun and nostalgic trip down memory lane.
42. Wayfarers Chapel
This destination is a beautifully serene chapel that’s also known as the “Glass Church” is a uniquely designed chapel that sits on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. It was designed by Lloyd Wright and built in 1949, the Glass, Metal, and wood structure is surrounded by lush landscaping and is now officially on the National Historic Places list. Because of its breathtaking location and unique architecture, the Waferers Chapel is a popular wedding venue. It’s definitely worth visiting if you want to see something very unique and beautiful. You will definitely come away refreshed.
43. Mount Wilson Observatory
The Mount Wilson Observatory is home to a famous telescope and sits 1 mile above sea level and far above the busy streets of Los Angeles. This observatory sits in the hills above Pasadena in the San Gabriel Mountains and features two specialized & high-powered telescopes. You can purchase tickets for a guided tour, or download the visitor’s guide and do your own self-guided tour.
44. The Broad Museum
The Broad Museum is located in downtown LA and is itself a work of modern art. Open to the general public, you can visit the museum’s permanent collection of modern art from over 200 individual artists. Unlike other art destinations throughout LA, this museum’s 2000+ piece collection really pushes the boundaries of the general conception of art. So, we’d really recommend the Broad museum for those who have an open mind and who want a unique art experience.
45. The Staples Center
If you’re in LA and want to experience a Laker Game, or see one of the many top music acts that come through town, you’ll most likely be visiting the Staples Center. This huge facility is located in downtown LA right next to the LA Convention Center and is home to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Los Angeles Clippers among other professional sports teams. If you are a sports fan, then, we’d highly recommend catching a game if you can. Check out the Staples Center schedule here to see what’s coming up and if it could fit into your visit to LA.
The town of Malibu is located on the coast just a short drive north of Los Angeles. This legendary beach town is home to many celebrities and is a popular surf destination for surfers all over Los Angeles due to it’s many great surfing beaches such as Surfrider Beach, and Zuma Beach.. The town itself has a small but well-designed shopping area with some popular brands, and there are many great places to eat along the waterfront. If you are looking for a nice day at the beach, the short drive up to Malibu will be well worth it.
47. Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast Highway, also known simply as PCH is a highway that goes along the coast through many portions of the entire west coast of the United States. With many gorgeous sections on this famous highway, the section just North of Los Angeles is one of the most scenic. If you head north on PCH you will be taken through the amazing beaches of Malibu and some of the most iconic stretches of coastland. There are multiple stretches of this highway that literally hang over the pacific ocean, so it’s no wonder that this stretch of highway has been used to film more car commercials than any other in LA. If you continue north, you will eventually reach the city of Oxnard where PCH once again turns inland. If you have rented a car and want to experience the most scenic drive offered in LA, make the trip north – You won’t be disappointed.
48. Hollyhock House
If you are a fans of modern architecture, then the Hollyhock House should be on your LA todo list. Design and built by the famous Frank Lloyd Wright in 1919, this home was originally built for an oil heiress. It is now part of LA’s beautiful Barnsdall Art Park. If you are a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, or modern home design in general, then you should definitely make a point of visiting the Hollyhock House.
49. Malibu Creek State Park
Just inland from the city of Malibu, the Malibu Creek State Park seems a world away from Los Angeles. Feature miles of hiking trails, swimming holes, and multiple camping sites, this wilderness area is a great escape from the hustle of the big city and not too far away. This area is also a popular spot for rock climbers and there are many remote and popular walls to climb. If you are craving some outdoor time, then head up to this amazing state park for the day, or make it a camping trip for the weekend. You might find yourself refreshed and rejuvenated.
50. Marina Del Rey
If you want to visit one of LA’s ocean harbors, then we’d recommend visiting Marina Del Rey, a huge and popular boating and water recreation destination for LA residents. With more than 5000 boats, this harbor is full of fun water activities, and you want a good place to kayak or paddleboard, this is a great option. You can also easily buy tickets for a relaxing dinner or sunset cruise out of the harbor where you’ll enjoy a different perspective of LA from the water. We’d highly recommend Marina Del Rey if you are interested in partaking in some water-related activities.