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



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Griffith Park

  • Free

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.

  1. 4730 Crystal Springs Dr
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Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits

  • Price band: 1/4

Back in 1875, a group of amateur paleontologists discovered animal remains in the pits at Rancho La Brea, which bubbled with asphalt from a petroleum lake under what is now Hancock Park. Some 140 years later, the pros are still at work here, having dragged more than 3.5 million fossils from the mire in the intervening years. Many of these specimens are now on display in this delightfully old-fashioned museum. Outside, the pits still bubble with black goo—in summer, you can watch paleontologists at work in the excavation of Pit 91 and inhale the nasty tang of tar in the air.

  1. 5801 Wilshire Blvd
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Sunset Strip

Just below the star-studded Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood’s mile-and-a-half stretch of Sunset Boulevard has long been the epicenter of a unique mix of sleaze and glam. It’s nearly impossible to miss the building-sized billboards, kitsch—Mel’s, Pink Dot, Carney’s, Saddle Ranch—and legendary clubs—Whiskey A Go-Gothe Roxythe Viper RoomHouse of Blues—that line the famous street. Though the music scene has mostly fled east, you’ll still find industry types mingling in Sunset Plaza’s high-end restaurants and boutiques.

  1. Sunset Blvd, (between Sierra Dr and Havenhurst Dr)
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Heritage Square Museum

  • Price band: 1/4

Step back in time with this living history museum, which allows visitors to experience Southern California life during the Victorian Era. Heritage Square is a collection of eight structures, including a railroad station from Century City, a church from Pasadena, and a variety of formerly private residences from across the city—each of which were constructed during the mid-to-late 1800s. All of them were saved from demolition, lifted off their foundations and trucked to this central spot where some have been restored and others are still in process. A real treat is the guided tour led by a well-taught (and sometimes hilarious) staff member dressed in period costume.

  1. 3800 Homer St
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El Capitan

  • Price band: 3/4

Yearning to relive your childhood and indulge in a Disney flick? El Capitan's your spot—the lavish 1926-built theater screens Disney's most current feature along with classics in between releases. Tickets are indeed pricier than other nearby cinemas, but then again, where else do you get to order an ice cream sundae and see a 2,500-pipe organ be played before the show?

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  1. 6838 Hollywood Blvd
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Richard Simmons’ Slimmons Studio

  • Price band: 2/4

This is fitness class as interactive performance art. Richard Simmons—yes, we’re talking Simmons of Sweatin’ to the Oldies—shows up as anything from the fifth member of KISS to a glam aerobics version of Black Swan and greets each and every devotee of his crazy-haired genius with an individual smile, hug, pat on the ass or wickedly inappropriate comment. The ready-to-sweat audience—who lines up an hour before class to ensure a spot in the packed studio—encompasses all types, from super-fit college students to gray-haired grannies to chair-sitting regulars who punch and shimmy with the best of them! Slimmons is open all week, but Simmons himself teaches on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays when he’s in town. Call the studio to confirm the week of.

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  1. 9306 Civic Center Dr
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Olvera Street

  • Price band: 2/4

Walk through old-world Mexico at Downtown's historic site where tourists and locals alike roam the promenade dotted with restaurants and stores. Don't leave without picking up Mexican candies and souvenirs and sampling various tacos and huaraches.

  1. 125 Paseo De La Plz #400
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Richard J Riordan Central Library (LA Central Library)

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Designed by Bertram Goodhue, completed in 1926 and renamed after the city's former mayor in 2001, the city's main library is worth a look even if you've no interest in borrowing books. The exterior is a beauty, topped with a dramatic, tiled pyramid tower and decorated with bas-reliefs by Lee Lawrie. The main lobby features an unexpectedly colorful ceiling mural by Venice artist Renée Petropoulos; other highlights include a frieze that retells Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (International Languages Department) and a series of murals dedicated to California history (Children's Literature Department). There's also a fine program of lectures and discussions in the Mark Taper Auditorium.

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  1. 630 W 5th Street, between S Grand Avenue and S Flower Street
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Philippe the Original

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

In business since 1908, Philippe the Original claims to have invented the French dip sandwich ($7). Savvy customers select the traditional lamb or lighter turkey filling, then ask the server to double-dip the bread in the meaty juice; a French dip sandwich is also incomplete without some of the sinus-clearing house mustard. The wines by the glass aren't bad, a concession to the lunch trade from nearby food desert City Hall.

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  1. 1001 N Alameda St
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Queen Mary

  • Price band: 2/4

This grand cruise ship hasn't sailed since the 1960s; these days, it multitasks as a rather muddled tourist attraction, several eating and drinking spots (the bar is a wonderful Art Deco glory) and, of course, a hotel. Unsurprisingly, given the boat's age (it was built in 1936), the guest cabins aren't huge. Still, that's hardly the point: they're handsome, historic and nicely maintained.

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  1. 1126 Queens Hwy
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