Visiting Los Angeles? This incredible city is filled with beautiful sights and there are many fun things to do. This is the ultimate Los Angeles bucket list.
About Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a city in southern California and one of the most famous cities in America. It is home to Hollywood, there are numerous beaches, and a wide variety of food, art, and culture. Whether you are a fan of film, or music, or just love the outdoors, there is something for everyone to see and do in this vibrant city.
Los Angeles is a great destination for everyone. It’s great for families (Disney!), and couples (check out those beautiful romantic sunsets) and it is also a perfect destination for a girls’ trip. What are you waiting for?
Los Angeles bucket list: the best things to do
What to do in Los Angeles? This is an overview of the best things to do and the most beautiful Los Angeles sights.
Santa Monica Pier
It is always crowded, but the Santa Monica Pier is a must-see in Los Angeles. It is a historic pier that has been around since 1909 and it is the endpoint of the historic Route 66! On this iconic pier, you’ll also find restaurants and a theme park and it’s a great viewpoint to watch the ocean and the beautiful beaches.
Do you like beautiful views? Make sure to visit the Griffith Observatory. This is a planetarium where you can learn more about astronomy. In addition, it is located on a hill, which gives you an amazing view of the city.
The Griffith Observatory stands in Griffith Park, a huge park in the middle of Los Angeles. If you feel like unwinding during your Los Angeles city break, this is the place to be. With more than 80 kilometers of biking and hiking trails, it is easy to stretch your legs here. Hiking the Mount Hollywood trail is highly recommended, as it is one of the best hikes in Los Angeles.
In addition, it is a great place for a picnic (with a view of the city!) and you can visit the Los Angeles Zoo, which is also located in the park.
Fun thing to do: hiking tour to Griffith Observatory.
Find your favorite star on the Walk of Fame
You have to be very lucky to run into your favorite actor, director, or singer when you’re walking around in Hollywood. Fortunately, you can always find them on the Walk of Fame. You can find these stars on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. There are endless stars, so you can have a great time here for a few hours trying to find your favorites.
Check out the famous TCL Chinese Theatre
The TCL Chinese Theatre is a historic theater in Hollywood and is located on the Walk of Fame. The theater opened in 1927 and this is where many famous movies had their premieres, including the legendary movie “Star Wars” in 1977. This is also the site of the annual presentation of the Acadamy Awards (the Oscars).
Find the Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood Sign is world-famous and you’ll probably the white-boarded letters during your Los Angeles city trip. The famous sign was originally built in 1923. Look carefully around you as you walk around the Walk of Fame, you can occasionally spot them on the hills between the buildings. In addition, you can also go for a walk to the letters, from here you have a beautiful view of the city.
Take a ride down Mulholland Drive
Mulholland Drive is a scenic road in the hills above Los Angeles and is known for its panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains. The road was the inspiration for David Lynch’s famous film of the same name, in addition to being featured in numerous other films and television series.
Go hiking in Runyon Canyon Park
Want to escape from the crowds and need some fresh air? Then head to Runyon Canyon Park in the Hollywood Hills. This is a park full of hiking trails and they lead you to several beautiful views. By the way, this park is very popular among locals, so you have a chance to spot a celebrity here!
Beverly Hills is one of Los Angeles’ most iconic and exclusive neighborhoods. It is known for its chic stores, high-end restaurants, and luxury accommodations. It is also a great place to spot celebrities and enjoy the neighborhood’s beautiful architecture and landscapes. It’s fun to go on a bus tour and discover the houses of some of the world’s most famous celebrities.
Watch this video for an atmospheric impression of Beverly Hills:
Rodeo Drive is a famous shopping street in Beverly Hills. It is known for its luxury stores and designer boutiques, such as Chanel, Gucci, and Prada. Even if you do not have enough budget to go shopping here, it is immense fun to walk around and see the beautiful window displays. And of course, make sure to check out the insanely expensive cars.
The Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl is a really cool outdoor amphitheater in Hollywood. It is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and is used for concerts and events throughout the year. It is best known for its summer concert series, which offers a mix of classical music, pop music, jazz, and more.
It is a unique experience to attend a concert here. Not only can you enjoy the music, but also a beautiful view of the city.
Search records in Amoeba Music
Are you a music lover? Then be sure to check out Amoeba Music. This is an iconic independent record store in Hollywood and is known for its huge collection. Amoeba Music has an impressive selection of vinyl, CDs, DVDs, and music merchandise. The store also has a stage that often hosts free live performances and book signings by well-known artists.
Do you like bright colors and street art? Then head to Melrose Avenue. This is a trendy shopping street with many designer boutiques, vintage clothing stores, and unusual restaurants. One of the most iconic spots on Melrose Avenue is the Pink Wall, a bright pink wall on the outside of the Paul Smith boutique. This wall is very popular on social media and attracts many visitors for a photo.
In addition to the Pink Wall, there is much more cool street art to be found along Melrose Avenue, making it a fun stop for art lovers and Instagram fans.
Chinatown is one of the coziest and most colorful neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Home to many Chinese immigrants and their descendants, the neighborhood consists of a mix of traditional and modern elements.
One of the best places to visit is Chinatown Central Plaza, an open-air shopping mall. Here you can find great souvenirs and special Chinese specialties.
Go shopping at The Grove
Feel like doing a little shopping? Then go to The Grove. This is an open-air mall in downtown Los Angeles. There are many (famous) stores, as well as nice coffee shops and restaurants where you can eat delicious food. A trolley rides around, transporting you from one place to another in the mall. Very interesting!
Visit The Original Farmers Market
Next to The Grove, you’ll find the Original Farmers Market. This historic market has been around since 1934. If you feel like cooking yourself something delicious, this is the place to shop. At the market, you will find many local dishes, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood is an amusement park and movie studio in one. Here you can look behind the scenes at the production of movies and TV shows as well as enjoy exciting attractions and shows. Part of the park is in the style of Harry Potter, so if you are a fan of the movies and the books, this is definitely a place you want to visit!
Stroll along Sunset Boulevard
Sunset Boulevard is an iconic street in Los Angeles full of colorful stores and tall palm trees. It is one of the main streets of the city, where you can enjoy shopping, fine dining, and nightlife. Who knows, you might spot a celebrity!
Check out cool artwork at The Broad
Do you like modern art? Then wander around The Broad for a few hours. This is a museum of modern and contemporary art with an extensive collection of works by famous artists, such as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. The sculpture of a giant balloon dog is one of the most famous works in the museum.
Admission to this museum is free! You do need to reserve a ticket on the official website.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Right next door to The Broad is the impressive Walt Disney Concert Hall. This concert hall is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and offers an array of concerts ranging from classical music to jazz and pop music. The building is famous for its unique architecture, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. He also designed the building for the world-famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
Visit Dodger Stadium
Dodger Stadium is the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a professional baseball team. The stadium is one of the oldest in Major League Baseball and has a capacity of more than 56,000 spectators. Watching a baseball game here is great fun, a quintessentially American experience!
Venice Beach is a famous Los Angeles beach known for its laid-back atmosphere, beautiful sunsets, and lively beachfront promenade. Here you will find many colorful buildings, and tall palm trees and you can watch skateboarders doing special tricks in the famous skate park.
Venice Beach is home to many colorful lifeguard houses, which you may know from the tv series Baywatch. In addition, it is a good place to go surfing. As you can see, you can easily entertain yourself for an afternoon here, there is plenty to see!
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a hip and trendy street in the Venice Beach neighborhood. The street has a unique atmosphere and is filled with boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and bars. There are regular (good) buskers performing and there is always a nice atmosphere.
Wandering along the canals of Venice
Tucked away in the Venice neighborhood, a few block’s walk from the beach, you’ll find the Venice Canal Historic District. This place has been widely used for film shoots and I can well understand why; walking around here you are completely unaware that you are in a huge metropolis. It is wonderful to stroll around here and unwind after a busy day in the crowded city.
The Getty Villa
The Getty Villa is a museum and educational center in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood at the west end of the city. The museum focuses on Greek and Roman art and culture, with an extensive collection of ancient sculptures, paintings, and mosaics. It is in a beautiful location in the hills and there are many fun hiking trails that you might like to explore.
The Getty Villa is free to visit. You do need to reserve a ticket for a specific time slot.
Although it has a similar name, the Getty Villa and the Getty Center are not next to each other. The Getty Center is a museum that focuses on the visual arts and culture of the world. The museum has an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and photography, as well as beautiful gardens and fountains.
The building of the museum is very impressive to see. The architect is Richard Meier, who also designed the city hall in The Hague (The Netherlands).
You can visit the Getty Center for free. Check the official website to reserve tickets.
Visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is one of the largest art museums in the western United States. The collection consists of more than 150,000 works of art, from medieval art to contemporary art.
The museum also has an impressive collection of outdoor artwork, including artist Chris Burden’s iconic Urban Light installation. This is a favorite photo location for locals and tourists alike.
Tickets are available through the official website and cost $25 (there are discounts available for youth and seniors).
Take a studio tour
Los Angeles, of course, is known for all the movies and television series that are shot here. At some of the major studios, you can take a special studio tour, where you will be taken around different studios and special filming locations.
I myself did the Warner Bros tour and I can really recommend it 100%. Among other things, I got to take a look at the sets of Big Bang Theory and Ellen. You also get to walk around the huge shed with props from various movies and television series (you’ll no doubt recognize a few).
To top it off, there is a large interactive section where you get to drink coffee in Central Perk (Friends) and fly on a broomstick like Harry Potter. An incredibly cool experience!
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (La Brea Tar Pits) is an outdoor museum focusing on the prehistoric history of Los Angeles. The pits contain fossils of prehistoric animals such as mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and dire wolves. Very nice if you want to visit something in the city that is not so well known.
The Bradbury Building
The Bradbury Building is a historic building in downtown Los Angeles. It was built in 1893, and it is famous for its beautiful architecture and glass-covered courtyard. If you are interested in the history and culture of Los Angeles, this is a very interesting place to visit.
Cycling along the beaches
As being from the Netherlands, I absolutely love cycling. On the beaches of Venice and Santa Monica, there is a beautiful bike path (the promenade), where you can cycle for miles along the beautiful beaches.
Make a stop at Muscle Beach (big muscular men who want to get even bigger and more muscular), spot the artistic murals in Venice, and marvel at the luxury hotels in Santa Monica. Relaxing is also possible at any time, as there is plenty of space on the huge beach.
If you would like tips and explanations during your bike tour, book this Santa Monica & Venice Beach Bicycle Adventure!
Visit the Queen Mary
The Queen Mary is a historic ship that has been converted into a hotel and attraction. As it was built in 1934, the ship has a rich history, including her time as a troop ship during World War II. Visitors can tour the ship, as well as stay overnight in one of its many rooms.
The ship is currently undergoing a major renovation and is therefore closed. It will reopen in 2023, an exact date is not yet known. Check the official website for the latest information.
Live it up at Disneyland Park
Disneyland Park in Los Angeles is the oldest Disney theme park in the world. The park opened its doors on July 17, 1955, making it one of the first theme parks in the world. Disneyland has several themed lands, each with unique attractions, shows, and restaurants.
At the park, you can enjoy classic Disney attractions such as “It’s a Small World” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” or thrilling roller coasters such as “Space Mountain” and “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.” A day of fun for all ages!
Check out the beautiful houses in Malibu
Malibu is a coastal city located in western Los Angeles, just a 20-minute drive from Santa Monica. It is known for its beautiful beaches, including Surfrider Beach and Zuma Beach, which are favorite destinations for surfers and sunbathers.
Malibu is also home to many celebrities and many luxury homes and villas can be found along the coast. In addition to beaches, Malibu also has many hiking trails and nature preserves, such as the Malibu Creek State Park and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, where you can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
Where to stay?
Los Angeles is a huge city and is always in traffic jams. So think about which places you want to visit in advance and find accommodation in that area. In terms of neighborhoods, I can definitely recommend Venice Beach and Santa Monica, these are really nice neighborhoods to wander around and are close to the beach. Don’t mind the crowds and looking for entertainment? Then I would look for accommodation in Hollywood. These are some of the best hotels in Los Angeles:
- Venice V Hotel (3⭐) – A very nice boutique hotel with unusual rooms on the beach.
- Shutters On The Beach (5⭐) – Tastefully decorated rooms with a hot tub. Very luxurious and fully equipped. You overlook the Santa Monica Pier.
- The Prospect Hollywood – An incredibly cute boutique hotel with colorful decor. It’s in the heart of Hollywood, so you can walk right to the Walk of Fame.
Check Booking.com for more options, prices, and availability.
How many days do you need in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles is a huge city with countless sights and activities, so it can easily take a week to see and do all the highlights.
If you have limited time and want to visit only the main attractions, I would recommend spending at least three to four days in Los Angeles. This would give you enough time to see the city’s major attractions, such as Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, Griffith Observatory, the Getty Center, the Universal Studios theme park, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Best travel time for Los Angeles
In general, Los Angeles has a mild climate with little precipitation throughout the year. Temperatures range between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 30 degrees Celsius), although it can be a bit warmer in the summer months, June through August.
If you want to visit Los Angeles beaches, summer is the best time to go. Temperatures are warmest then and the ocean is most comfortable for swimming. However, it can also get quite crowded during this period, especially around US holidays such as Memorial Day (the last Monday in May), Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day (the first Monday in September).
If you are interested in visiting attractions and sights in Los Angeles, spring and fall are good times to visit. Temperatures are pleasant then and there are fewer tourists than in the summer months. The winter months, December through February, are the least busy time to visit Los Angeles. It may be cooler and there is a slight chance of rain, but there are still plenty of indoor activities to enjoy.
Is Los Angeles safe?
In general, Los Angeles is a safe city to visit. However, as with all major cities in the world, there are certain areas of the city where crime can be higher than in other parts of the city.
For example, it is well known that some downtown Los Angeles neighborhoods, such as Skid Row, have more homelessness and a higher crime rate than other parts of the city. It is therefore important to exercise caution and remain vigilant when walking through these areas.
However, there are also many safe and fun neighborhoods in Los Angeles to visit, such as Beverly Hills, Westwood, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Silver Lake.
In general, it is important to take the usual precautions. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t wave your important personal belongings around too conspicuously.
If you just use your common sense, you can enjoy a safe and great time in Los Angeles just fine.
Book a trip to California
Do you enjoy visiting Los Angeles and touring California? Book your trip now! These are some helpful websites for booking your trip.
- Plane tickets – Los Angeles has a huge international airport (LAX) with great connections. Check WayAway to find the best deals on plane tickets.
- Rental car – Although you can get around Los Angeles by public transportation, having a car is so much easier! Check out Rental Cars to find the best deals on rental cars in Los Angeles.
- Travel insurance – Having good travel insurance will give you peace of mind. Check Insubuy (general) or Safetywing (for nomads) to find the best travel insurance that fits your needs.
- Tours & Activities – Use Get Your Guide or Viator to book the best guided tours and fun activities.
Read more about Los Angeles and California
I hope you liked this Los Angeles bucket list! Want to read more about a trip to Los Angeles and California? Here are some great travel guides full of tips:
Moon 52 Things to Do in Los Angeles: Local Spots, Outdoor Recreation, Getaways
I myself have visited the US numerous times, so you can read a lot about traveling in the United States on this website. You might also enjoy reading these articles:
- 33 fun activities for your San Francisco Bucket List
- Tips for visiting Joshua Tree National Park
- West Coast USA road trip: a spectacular itinerary
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This article was published in February 2018. Last update with more tips: February 2023.
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