84 Los Angeles attractions for tourists and natives alike
Visit these essential Los Angeles attractions, whether you're a tourist in for the weekend or a native looking to explore
Free attractions in LA
Make a pit-stop at these free attractions in LA—from wallet-friendly cultural centers to iconic sites in the city.
The 8 essential Disneyland tips
Whether you're a Disney parks veteran or a first timer, follow these eight tips to cut through the crowds and have a blast at Disneyland and California Adventure
101 things to do in Los Angeles
Your essential guide to the best things to do in LA this season, from stair hikes to welding workshops and more
Best parks in LA
Spanning an impressive 4,210 acres, it's easy to get lost in LA's largest public green space, much of which remains unchanged from the days when Native Americans settled here. For more activity-minded folks, there are myriad attractions (Griffith merry-go-round, LA Zoo, the Observatory), plus hiking routes, horseback riding trails and three sets of tennis courts.
Parking lots turned into parks—it's the latest transformation sweeping LA, and who could complain after setting eyes on Santa Monica's Tongva Park? This idyllic and well-designed ocean-adjacent oasis harbors a playground, meadows, waterfalls, walking paths and a conch-like, wireframe lookout to the Pacific. Artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle's kinetic sculpture Weather Field anchors the park as a minimal, serene and instantly memorable landmark.
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Griffith may get all of the attention, but Kenneth Hahn is impressive in both size and topography for a park in the middle of the Westside. On top of the usual list of amenities, the Culver City park contains a lotus pond, fishing lake and sand volleyball court. But the urban oasis really establishes itself with over seven miles of walking and hiking trails through the Baldwin Hills, with views of almost every corner of the LA—from the South Bay and the Pacific Ocean to Downtown and the San Gabriels.
Best museums in LA
11 essential museums
Don't leave LA—whether you're a resident or a tourist—without seeing these truly great LA attractions.
Natural History Museum
The NHM's original Beaux Arts structure was the first museum building in Los Angeles, opening with Exposition Park itself back in 1913. Its massive collection spans more than 35 million objects and specimens (not all of them are on display at any one time), making it second in size only to the Smithsonian's. It's an immense place, so it's well worth planning your visit. Those with only a little time to spare should head directly to the truly dazzling collections in the Gem & Mineral Hall, where the exhibits include a 4,644-carat topaz, a 2,200-carat opal sphere and a quartz crystal ball which, with a diameter of 10.9 in and a weight of 65lb, is one of the biggest on earth. A six-year, $135-million program of renovations wrapped up in 2013, including the addition of 108,000 square feet of indoor space. The Otis Booth Pavilion now welcomes visitors into the museum from the north with a six-story light-filled glass entrance, featuring a stunning, 63-foot-long fin whale skeleton. Twelve new galleries and five exhibits have opened, including "Becoming L.A.: Stories of Nature and Culture," which examines the Los Angeles region's history from Native Americans to the Catholic missions, the Industrial Revolution and the World Wars, to the present day. Outdoors, the Nature Gardens features 3.5-acre urban wilderness with a pond, dry creek bed, beautiful landscaping and other features that attract local critters. The Nature Lab features interactive multimedia and live animal habitats, t
MOCA Grand Ave
The main branch of LA's Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) houses thousands of artworks crafted from 1940 until now. Spend half an hour or an entire afternoon absorbing contemporary pieces from lesser known artists, punctuated by sightings of Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock works. For just $12 ($7 students and seniors), you can have your run of the place, including a free audio tour and access to outdoor installations. If you plan your visit for a Thursday night between 5pm and 8pm, admission to MOCA Grand Ave is on the house.
Best gardens in LA
This delightful tribute to the horticultural magic of Southern California includes more than 600 varieties of camellia (these are best seen between the middle of February and early May, when there are around 34,000 of the plants in bloom) and some five acres of roses. There are also lilac, orchid, fern and California native plant areas, as well as a tea house donated by the Japanese-American community.
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden
These gorgeous grounds in Arcadia, very close to the Santa Anita racetrack, have been designed as an educational facility (the plants are mostly arranged by region, and tours are available), but many people simply come here for a little peace and quiet. You could wander these gardens for hours, taking in tropical forests and waterfalls, trees and fish. Plus, be on the lookout for wild peacocks.
More attractions in LA
The longstanding Disneyland resort isn't just a set of theme parks: it's a spectacular piece of pop art that's as bright or as dark as you'd like it to be. Incorporating two parks—the 50-year-old, near-mythic Disneyland, plus the younger and less-celebrated Disney's California Adventure—the resort calls itself "The Happiest Place on Earth." And if you bring the right mood with you, it'll likely live up to its nickname.Certainly, Disney does all it can to get you in the right mood. Disneyland isn't so much a park as its own separate world; there are even three Disney-operated hotels in the resort, so you need not have the illusion shattered at the end of the day. The hotels, though, do bring to attention the main drawback to spending time here: the sheer expense. You can save hundreds of dollars staying at one of the non-Disney hotels just outside the property, and you may need to do so in order to afford the steep prices of food, drink and admission. It's worth noting, though, that ticket prices drop if you visit for multiple days, recommended if you want to get a real feel for the place and enjoy all the rides.Both parks boast dozens of dining spots, with cuisine ranging from burgers and pizza to pastas and seafood. Still, you may want to dine at Downtown Disney, a pedestrian-only avenue of nightclubs (including a House of Blues) and restaurants between the two parks. It's not that the food is that much better, but if you're going to be paying Disney's high prices, you might
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
Run by environmental charity Heal the Bay and located underneath the pier, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium takes an educational tack; indeed, it's closed during the morning to allow for school field trips. It's a low-key place, a galaxy away from the likes of SeaWorld, but there's fun here for youngsters in the form of touch tanks full of crabs, snails and the like. A good option for parents who can't bear the raucous atmosphere on the pier.
In a town where most malls are housed inside bland, air-conditioned structures, this upscale open-air center has been a hit. There are only around 50 retailers, but the selection is strong (an Apple Store, Barneys New York Co-Op, Crate & Barrel, Lucky Brand, the West Coast's flagship Abercrombie & Fitch) and there's also a decent movie theater. Fears that it would kill the adjacent Farmers Market have, happily, proven groundless.