20 great things to do in Los Angeles for tourists

From spotting stars on Rodeo Drive to stargazing at the Griffith Observatory, plan ahead with these things to do in L.A.

Photograph: Courtesy LACMA

With so many world-famous sites and attractions, deciding on the best things to do in Los Angeles can be a bewildering task. If you’re only in town for a short time, you could spend all your trip wandering around LA’s essential museums without even making it to Hollywood. This city is big, so expect to put in the miles taking in everything it has to offer, from the beaches of Santa Monica to the vibrant historic streets of the Arts District and super-hip Silver Lake. There are so many great places to go and things to do, it can be hard knowing where to start and what to fit in. This list should help you decide and get the most from your L.A. getaway.

Start your visit in L.A. with these great things to do

1
Get active on Venice Beach

Get active on Venice Beach

Venice Beach has long been known as the bohemian epicenter of California, and while the area gets more plenty of mainstream tourists, it still boldly embraces its eccentric spirit. Abbot Kinney has transformed into a high-end ’hood over recent years, but the boardwalk is still a brilliant place for people watching, with radical pamphleteers, skateboarders and body builders all making their presence known. Grab lunch at the local Figtree’s Café before browsing the shelves at Small World Books. This vibrant district is welcoming to all walks of life.

Looking to relax by the ocean? Check out the best beaches in L.A..

2
Stroll along the stars in Hollywood

Stroll along the stars in Hollywood

You're never far from a Hollywood celebrity or two in L.A. For a glimpse of the stardust on which the city's built, stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where almost 2,500 of the entertainment world's most illustrious names are immortalized in pink terrazzo and gold lettering. For film fanatics, the famous hand and footprints at the Chinese Theatre are an essential stop. Countless galas, premiers and award ceremonies have passed through over the decades and although it may not all be quite as glitzy as you imagined, Hollywood still has its charms.

Thinking of making a day of it? Find our favorite things to do in Hollywood.

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3
Bow down to the masters

Bow down to the masters

The Getty Center is packed full of artistic masterpieces and enjoys on an awe-inspiring hilltop location with incredible views of L.A.. Sure, it might not have the rich collections of Old World galleries, but The Getty's impressive exhibits cover a broad sweep of history. Among the highlights hanging here are works by Rubens and Impressionists such as Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh and Cézanne. The French decorative arts get plenty of love and the growing photography collection is also well worth a look. The gardens are particularly impressive, with works by Miró and Moore to be found in the fine sculpture garden.


Make sure to see these seven must-see works at the Getty.

4
Shop in style on Rodeo Drive

Shop in style on Rodeo Drive

We've all dreamed of being Julia Roberts shopping on Rodeo Drive, but very few of us could actually afford to shop in the designer boutiques and flagship stores seen in the film Pretty Woman. Which means window-shopping is the order of the day. Along the $200-million ersatz European cobbled walkway Two Rodeo, browsing tourists mingle with serious spenders. A short journey away is Anderson Court, which is the only shopping mall designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Fulfill your fashion dreams at the best shops in L.A.

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5
Walk it off

Walk it off

Feast your eyes on Los Angeles’ urban architectural heritage from up close with a leisurely walking tour. The Los Angeles Conservancy walking tours take in the city’s top sights and most beautiful buildings, from Downtown’s historic theaters and Art Deco buildings (on a weekly basis) to the modern skyline tour (bi-monthly). These tours are extremely popular, so make sure you book a place in advance.

Thinking of exploring L.A.’s growing skyline? Here’s everything you need to know about Downtown Los Angeles.

6
Get curious with a Jurassic experience

Get curious with a Jurassic experience

Despite the name, this pseudo-scientific nook has nothing to do with Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park or any of its sequels. The Museum of Jurassic Technology is home to a repository of curiosities: from scientific wonders such as a bat that can fly through walls to impossibly tiny sculptures and other artistic marvels. The institute is an intriguing combination of fact and fiction, and much more exciting than chasing - or being chased by - CGI dinosaurs.

Get weird with a trip to some more off-the-beaten path museums.

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7
Museum hop

Museum hop

The collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA, are housed in a vast 20-acre complex of buildings, expertly renovated in 2008 with more redesigns on the way. The focal point is the BP Grand Entrance, which includes the stunning installation of Chris Burden’s Urban Light. The Broad Contemporary Art Museum is home to a dazzling selection of modern works. LACMA sits just across the street from the Petersen Automotive Museum and the Craft & Folk Art Museum, as well as the under-construction Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Make sure to check these 10 must-see works of art at LACMA.

8
Smarten up at the Griffith Observatory

Smarten up at the Griffith Observatory

Sure, you can’t see all that much through its enormous telescope, but you can still spend a few hours browsing around the Griffith Observatory quite happily. There’s the popular Hall of the Sky and Hall of the Eye, a pair of complementary displays that examines the interplay between people and space. The building itself is the star attraction though - and the stunning view of the city from Griffith Park makes it worthy of a visit whether you're a space buff or not.


Don’t miss out on these other essential Los Angeles attractions.

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9
Get animated with Mickey and Minnie

Get animated with Mickey and Minnie

You’re never too old for Disneyland. This legendary theme park overflows with brilliant things to do, spread over seven 'lands' and the adjacent California Adventure. After making sure you're up to speed with a few essential Disneyland tips, stroll down Main Street USA for a taste of early-19th century America, trek Westwards at Frontierland and soak up the music of New Orleans square. Of course, there are dozens of rides too, including the wonderfully wet Grizzly River Run and the epic Indiana Jones Adventure.

Make sure to get on the 25 best Disneyland rides while you’re there.

10
Be starstruck in seconds

Be starstruck in seconds

Whenever a new museum opens in Los Angeles, it’s a big deal. The arrival of The Broad has caused quite a stir in L.A. thanks to the museum’s distinctive design, free admission and post-war art collection. One Insta-friendly piece in particular has been pulling in the crowds: Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, which transports viewers into a twinkling, pulsating starfield of LEDs. It might only be a 45-second-experience, but the wait time is measured in hours, so to cut down on the entry line, make your way to the first-floor installation as soon as you step inside the museum and get to grips with the ticketing system.


Have time to kill before your Infinity Mirrored Room reservation? Explore the best things to do by the Broad.

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Comments

28 comments
Rosel A

check out www.escapetovirtualreality.com

I love this because it help me find some great location and places to have fun

Brian S

I agree with the Mulholland Dr drive, but why don't you let us do it and show you the houses of the biggest movie stars in the world.  We also can customize to celebrities that your group is excited about;)

Brian @ http://www.MovieStarHomeTours.com 

Lauren & Mikayla L

Hello everyone! If you have time you should check out our  LA/Adventure instagram @lapolarblood! We just started up so any like or follow would mean the world to us! Thank you and have a beautiful day! 


INSTAGRAM: @lapolarblood


johny g

Kapuskasing has the best roads, go there, its a total shit hole


David A

Getty Villa, in Pacific Palisades? Santa Monica Pier? La Brea Tar Pits? The Hollywood Bowl? Olvera Street? Chinatown? Autry Center of the American West in Griffith Park? Petersen Automotive Museum? The Skirball Center? Museum of Tolerance? Melrose? Third Street? Abbot Kinney? Staples Center? Dodger Stadium? Rose Bowl? Colosseum? Topanga Canyon? Homes of the Stars? Universal Studios? Warner Bros Tour? Paramount Studios Tour? Sony Pictures Tour? The Hollywood Sign? Space Shuttle Endeavor at the California Science Center, next to USC? The Beach?

Bob R

nice list :), not.

Shelli K

@Bob R This is pobably the least helpful comment on here! Do you have any suggestions of better things to do, or are you just trolling?

Lawrence A

.Ugh. Why you gotta be so naaasty!!?

Tourist

This list SUCKS; "power walk to conserve energy" - I have to come to LA to do that?! "Stock up on fresh produce" - that I can get from anywhere else? I'm a tourist, not grocery shopping! The whole list is obvious, weak and/or a not great idea.

tim

yay!

Jhoenna

I just posted a package deal to Los Angeles. I'll be sharing this post to our Facebook page for our readers' additional info about LA. http://bit.ly/186FaBH

Sara

Pretty much sums up the area :)

nullhogarth

"Relentless smog?" The author of this piece obviously does not live in Los Angeles. While technically there is more air pollution in the LA basin overall than in some other cities, on most days the air here is clear.

Alexandre

this is not a recomendation for a Toruist. What about Hollywood?? You are saing that I should go visit some CD store?? C´mon...

Thor

Los Angeles also has some great whale watching and it is year round. Summer and fall giant blue whales and winter and spring the gray whale migration. Great way to see amazing coastlines and these amazing mammals.

The One

wonderful stufff brozzzzz tots check itz outz manzzzz