Los Angeles, California is what vacation destination dreams are made of. The sunny Southern California city by the sea has something for just about every type of traveler to enjoy. From gorgeous sugar-sand beaches to stunning mountains offering vistas that will take your breath away, to the best shopping streets in the world and some of the most revered museums around, the City of Angels has got it all. Heading there for a trip? Here are 23 of the best things to do in LA.
Related: Los Angeles Travel Guide
Hike Griffith Park to see the Hollywood sign
There’s perhaps nothing more iconic in Los Angeles than the famed Hollywood sign. Perched high above the Hollywood Hills, the sign has become a star attraction, making its way into countless T.V. shows and films. See it for yourself by making your way to Griffith Park and hiking up the trail toward the sign. Make sure to stop along the way to snap photos as the trail actually takes you to the top behind the sign, meaning you can’t see it in its full glory, but you’ll still get a great view.
Stop at the Griffith Observatory
While you’re in the area, make sure to also stop at the Griffith Observatory, a public astronomy space that also comes with an epic view of the Hollywood sign. You can take part in a tour at the observatory, check out the stars above via the public telescopes, and see live shows at the planetarium. See all event listings here.
See the art at The Getty Center
Soak in some stellar artworks and spectacular outdoor spaces all in one at The Getty Center. The center, located at the top of the Santa Monica mountains, is home to a rather impressive art collection, including sculptures, paintings, and mixed media. It’s a spot where you can also take in some of Mother Nature’s artwork by way of epic views outside the museum’s patios and garden spaces.
Stroll through Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens
Stop and smell the roses at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. The gorgeous space doubles as a garden and research center, with 120 acres of land to roam and art exhibitions, including American and European works. Guests can come to wander independently, take a guided tour, or take part in ongoing chats with experts.
See more modern art at The Broad
Contemporary art fans can see their favorite style by pursuing the works on display at The Broad. Named for philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, The Broad houses a massive rotating art collection by artists from around the globe. The museum also offers free admission to help make its works available to the widest possible audience. See what’s displayed right now on the museum’s website.
Take in more culture at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (otherwise known as LACMA) is a must-see cultural institution on any trip to the city. It is the largest art museum in the western United States and contains more than 147,000 objects, including art, mixed media, artifacts, and much more. Make sure to carve out at least a few hours — if not an entire day — for a visit.
See the skateboarders at Venice Beach
Make your way to the beach, Venice Beach to be exact, to see some of the best skateboarders on Earth take to the skatepark. Bring your camera to snap a few photos of the brave boarders who enter the park to show off their moves for the adoring crowd that gathers every day. (Just don’t drop in unless you’re really, really confident in your skills.)
And stay for the Venice Canals
While you’re on the Westside, stick around and walk over to the Venice Canals, a little slice of Europe right here in California. The neighborhood sits along the canals leading to the ocean and is lined with charming bungalows that will give you serious home envy.
Deep-dive into the industry with a Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Come on. This is Los Angeles. You’re obligated to pay homage to Hollywood when you’re in town — and there’s no better spot to do just that than a Warner Bros. Studio Tour. On the tour, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how some of your favorite movies were made, as well as an in-depth look at more than 100 years of movie-making history.
Check out the history at the La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum
More into natural history than movie history? That’s OK because just across town sits the La Brea Tar Pits, an “emerging cultural, educational, and entertainment hub in Hancock Park.” The site protects 35 million specimens and artifacts and shares them with the public to help them better understand both our past and how we can protect our future, together.
Find all your favorite celebs along the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Lace up your sneakers and head out for a walk down Hollywood Boulevard and Vine to see how many famous names you can spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With more than 2,600 stars to explore, you’re bound to find a favorite or two among the constellation.
Explore the Santa Monica Pier
Get in a little more beach time by heading to the Westside once again, specifically to the Santa Monica Pier. Sitting on one of the most pristine stretches of sand along the California coast, the pier stretches out into the sea and is filled with souvenir shops and cafes to explore, along with its very own amusement park for guests to enjoy.
Window shop on Rodeo Drive
Looking to drop some serious cash on a new bag? Or want to at least pretend you will? Make your way to Rodeo Drive, arguably the most famous shopping street in the world. Home to every high-end designer imaginable, Rodeo Drive is a spot to see and be seen. Shop until you drop, then shop some more.
Snag tickets to a show at the Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl has been the *it* place to catch a musical act since it opened in 1922. It plays regular host to acts like the L.A. Philharmonic, The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, as well as events like sing-a-longs to your favorite movies like the “The Sound of Music” and many more. See its entire concert calendar here.
Get a few laughs at The Comedy Store
Sometimes you need a good laugh, and there’s no better place to get it than at The Comedy Store. The comedy club, which opened in 1972, hosts both up-and-coming acts and established comics who are all there to make your cheeks hurt from giggling the night away. See The Comedy Store’s lineup of comedians and get tickets here.
Cheer on the home team at Dodger Stadium
Put on your blue and white, and take to the stands to root on the home team at Dodger Stadium. The 2020 World Series winners always put on a good show, especially for their hometown fans. Though the players are the star here, the stadium is also home to world-class baseball snacks, including the iconic “Dodger Dog.” The stadium even offers a vegan option so everyone can feel included.
Eat all the treats at Grand Central Market
Downtown Los Angeles is home to endless delicious restaurants, but if you’re hoping to get a little taste of everything, head to Grand Central Market. The market has been serving the public since 1917 and is now home to both food vendors selling produce and other locally-sourced goods, as well as restaurants like Clark Street Bread, Eggslut, Horse Thief BBQ, and more.
Or load up on groceries at The Original Farmer’s Market
Still feeling hungry? The Original Farmer’s Market is here to feed you. Like its Grand Central neighbor, The Original Famer’s Market has been offering local produce to Angelinos for decades and now also offers delicious bites from restaurants like Trejo’s Tacos and The Salad Bar. Want the goods without having to go to the market? Get it delivered here.
Take a free walking tour of the Arts District
Those on the hunt for more local culture can take in the scenes at the Arts District, a burgeoning neighborhood filled with public murals, galleries, and coffee shops galore. Make your exploration a bit easier by following the Visual Walking Tour map by Discover Los Angeles, which you can download for free.
Shop for unique goods at Melrose Trading Post
If you want to find a fantastic souvenir to remember your trip, make a weekend stop at Melrose Trading Post. The massive craft market features every type of vendor from vintage clothing sellers to furniture makers, jewelry stalls to textiles, and everything in between. The market is open every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and also has plenty of food stalls and trucks on hand if you need a snack in between all that shopping.
Learn a new skill with a surf lesson in Malibu
Did you really even visit if you didn’t surf while you were in Los Angeles? Hang 10 with the best of them by heading to Malibu for a lesson with Chris “Stingray” Stiegler, aka the Malibu Surf Coach. Stiegler is happy to tailor lessons to your ability level and will even take you to a few hidden, local-only gems so you can paddle out in peace and leave feeling like a real-deal surfer.
Pay respects to Golden Age greats at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Visiting a cemetery may not rank high on the list of “to-dos” in most places, but Los Angeles isn’t most places. Yes, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is an active, full-service funeral home and cemetery, but it also hosts regular cultural events and outdoor movie screenings. The cemetery is also the final resting place of people like Judy Garland, Cecil B. DeMille, Rudolph Valentino, and many more, all of which you can pay respects to on a visit. See its cultural events listings here.
Go for a bike ride down The Strand
Get in one more taste of the Southern California sunshine by taking a bike ride down The Strand, a bike path stretching from Roger Williams State Beach in Santa Monica straight past the Redondo Beach Pier. This could add up to a 40-mile round-trip bike and an all-day adventure if you make stops along the way. (Just make sure to pack some water and snacks for the journey.)