15 Once in a Lifetime Things to Do in Los Angeles

Step into the realm of dreams and let your wanderlust guide you through the vibrant tapestry of Los Angeles. Los Angeles, often referred to as the “City of Angels,” is renowned for its diverse and vibrant cultural scene, entertainment industry, iconic landmarks, and pleasant climate.

Los Angeles is considered the global capital of the entertainment industry. It is home to Hollywood, the center of the American film and television industry, where many major studios, production companies, and talented actors and filmmakers reside. The city hosts the annual Academy Awards (the Oscars) and attracts aspiring artists from around the world.

As you venture into this city of stars, embrace the 15 once-in-a-lifetime experiences in LA that await, creating memories to be etched upon your soul!

Once in a Lifetime Things to Do in Los Angeles

1. Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Begin your visit to the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. Each step unveils a constellation of celebrities, their names immortalized in glittering stars beneath your feet.

It all started in 1953 when the president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce proposed the idea of creating a “walk of fame” to honor notable personalities in the entertainment industry. The concept was inspired by the success of the “Sidewalk of Stars” in Palm Springs, California.

Stretching along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street and featuring over 2,690 stars, today this iconic place is always full of tourists. So, find your celebrity star and take a photo to remember the moment and share it with your friends.

2. Embark on a pilgrimage to the iconic Hollywood Sign

Hollywood sign

Can you count the number of movie scenes you have seen with the iconic Hollywood Sign? Probably not, because they are countless.

But did you know that the sign had nothing to do with the cinema industry at the beginning? In 1923, a real estate developer named Harry Chandler wanted to promote his house development and called it “Hollywoodland”.

Soon after, it became a landmark overlooking the bustling film studios and serving as a symbol of the emerging entertainment industry and stayed this way until today.

Now it is your turn to be part of that scene. With each step, the city reveals itself in all its sprawling majesty, and as you stand before those colossal letters, you become part of the grand cinematic tableau.

3. Unleash your inner child at Universal Studios

Universal Studios Hollywood

What better way to entertain yourself than spending one day at Universal Studios Hollywood?

Universal Studios Hollywood features all the exciting rides and attractions based on popular films and TV shows. “Jurassic World – The Ride,” “Transformers: The Ride 3D,” “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” or the “The Simpsons Ride”, which one was your favorite?

Feel your heart race as you plunge into adrenaline-pumping rides, witness the magic of behind-the-scenes glimpses, and step onto sets that have transported you to distant worlds.

4. Surrender to the allure of the Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway

Rent a car for a day and enjoy the serpentine ribbon winds its way along the azure embrace of the ocean. Let the salty breeze caress your face as you cruise amidst coastal splendor. Feel the sun’s golden rays dance upon your skin, illuminating the breathtaking vistas that unfold before your eyes.

This is a journey of awe and wonder, where land and sea unite in a harmonious symphony. Make sure you stop along the way.

5. Discover the Getty Center

Getty Center hollywood

This is one of the world-renowned art museums and research institutions that opened in 1997. Getty Center has become an iconic cultural landmark in Los Angeles attracting millions of visitors each year who come to admire its art, architecture, gardens, and breathtaking views, making it one of the most popular destinations in the city.

The museum houses an extensive collection of European paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, photographs spanning from the Middle Ages to the present, and works by renowned artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, and many others.

The museum’s stunning architecture was designed by architect Richard Meier, and the beautiful gardens are located atop a hill in the Santa Monica Mountains and offer breathtaking panoramic views of Los Angeles. From above, you can admire the Pacific Ocean, and the surrounding hillsides from various vantage points throughout the campus.

6. Relax at Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Another historical landmark in LA is located in the coastal city of Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Pier is a historic place that opened in 1909 and has since become an iconic symbol of California beach culture.

This vibrant amusement park features a variety of rides, including the famous Ferris wheel, roller coasters, and a carousel. For those seeking a touch of nostalgia, the Looff Hippodrome Carousel is a must-visit.

This historic carousel built in 1922, showcases beautifully crafted wooden horses and ornate detailing. Taking a ride on this whimsical carousel is like stepping back in time and creates lasting memories for both children and adults.

7. Explore Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

While this is not the most popular destination for most tourists visiting Los Angeles, the observatory provides a unique opportunity to delve into the wonders of the universe while enjoying panoramic views of Los Angeles.

The good part is that admission to the Griffith Observatory is free, including entry to the building and access to most exhibits. However, there may be fees for certain special shows or events. Keep in mind that the observatory can get crowded, particularly on weekends and holidays, so there may be queues to enter the building or access specific exhibits.

8. Wander through The Broad

The Broad

The Broad is a contemporary art museum located in downtown Los Angeles. Opened its doors recently in 2015 and it houses a vast collection of modern and contemporary artworks, including pieces by artists such as Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The highlight of the museum is the collection of Pop Art, which reflects the influence of popular culture on contemporary society. Most people come here for the iconic imagery of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans.

The Broad’s distinctive building itself is a work of art, featuring a striking white honeycomb-like exterior that has become an iconic part of the downtown Los Angeles skyline. Plus, the free admission and engaging exhibitions have made it a popular destination for art lovers.

9. Spend a day at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Flamingos at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

This zoo is not like any other regular zoo you have been to. Covering an area of approximately 133 acres (54 hectares), the zoo is divided into different themed areas and exhibits, allowing people to explore over 1,400 animals representing more than 270 species and animal species from around the world.

The areas of the zoo that attracts most of the people, especially the kids are the Rainforest of the Americas, which showcases the biodiversity of Central and South American rainforests, and the Campo Gorilla Reserve, a naturalistic habitat for western lowland gorillas.

The general admission price is $22 for an adult and $17 for children between the age of 2 and 12 years old.

10. Experience the bustling atmosphere of Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Its historical significance and connection to popular culture have contributed to its fame by attracting thousands of artists, filmmakers, and creative individuals over the years.

Venice Beach has been featured in numerous movies and TV shows, showcasing its iconic boardwalk, beachfront, and lively ambiance. Some of the well-known movie scenes include Venice Beach.

My favorite is the “Point Break” from 1991 starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze engaging in a high-speed chase through Venice Beach’s boardwalk, capturing the energy and unique atmosphere of the neighborhood.

Taking a walk at different hours of the day and the beach will have a different vibe each time. You cannot visit LA without spending some time at Venice Beach.

11. Visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Maybe you are wondering why should I visit another art museum. Well, this museum is different than the Getty Center I talked about at the beginning of the article. All artist lovers make a stop when they come to Los Angeles.

LACMA is the largest art museum in the Western United States and houses an extensive collection of art spanning thousands of years. The museum’s permanent collection encompasses ancient Egyptian artifacts or contemporary masterpieces giving a comprehensive exploration of global artistic traditions.

Have you heard about the iconic “Urban Light” installation by artist Chris Burden? You can find the 202 restored vintage street lamps collection at LACMA.

12. Catch the sunrise at the Runyon Canyon Park

What better way to end your Los Angeles trip than catching the magical sunrise at Runyon Canyon Park? Witnessing the transformation of the Los Angeles skyline as the sun paints the sky with vibrant colors and the quiet vibe of the morning, will create a long-lasting memory.

The best viewpoint to catch the sunrise here is from the West Ridge Trail, providing a panoramic view of the city as the sun rises. But, as you hike up, you will find various vantage points along the trail that offer stunning views of the sunrise and the city below. The West Ridge Trail is accessible from the Fuller Avenue entrance of the park.

13. Explore the historic and cultural district of Olvera Street

Olvera Street

Olvera Street is a historic and cultural district located in downtown Los Angeles that is often referred to as the “birthplace of Los Angeles” because it was the site where the city was founded in 1781.

This vibrant and colorful street is a popular tourist destination known for its rich Mexican-American heritage and charming atmosphere.

Exploring Olvera Street offers a unique opportunity to experience the cultural heritage of Los Angeles, learn about its history, indulge in delicious Mexican cuisine, and shop for authentic Mexican crafts and souvenirs.

14. Catch a game at Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium

If you come to Los Angeles you must go for a match at the Dodger Stadium. This stadium is iconic and considered one of the most beautiful ballparks in baseball.

Opened in 1962 it has a seating capacity of over 56,000, making it the largest stadium in MLB. Its picturesque setting, nestled in Chavez Ravine, and its unique features, like the palm trees and the famous Dodger Stadium view, contribute to its allure.

Go on their website and search for your preferred team and buy your ticket fast as they are selling fast!

15. Spend a day out at the Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Spending a day out at Joshua Tree National Park in Los Angeles is a wonderful way to experience the natural beauty of the desert landscape of southeastern California.

Joshua Tree National Park is renowned for its unique geological features, breathtaking vistas, and iconic Joshua Trees that dot the landscape.

One of the park’s most distinguishing features is its namesake Joshua Trees, a type of yucca plant that thrives in the desert environment. These unusual trees, with their spiky branches and distinctive shape, create a surreal and otherworldly atmosphere, especially during sunrise and sunset when the golden light bathes the landscape.

Best time to visit Los Angeles

The best time to visit Los Angeles is during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November).

These seasons offer pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and a great opportunity to explore the city’s attractions comfortably.

Spring showcases blooming flowers, and fall features cooler temperatures, making outdoor activities enjoyable.

However, Los Angeles has a mild climate year-round, so it’s possible to visit at any time.

How to get around Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a sprawling city, so getting around efficiently requires planning. Here are transportation options:

  1. Car Rental: Renting a car provides flexibility to explore the city and nearby areas. Be prepared for traffic, especially during peak hours.
  2. Metro System: The Los Angeles Metro offers buses and subway trains that connect different parts of the city. The Metro Rail is a convenient option for reaching popular areas.
  3. Ride-Sharing: Services like Uber and Lyft are widely available and provide a hassle-free way to get around without parking concerns.
  4. Biking and Walking: Some neighborhoods are bike-friendly, and walking can be a pleasant way to explore specific areas like Santa Monica or Venice Beach.
  5. Metro Bikes and Scooters: Bike-sharing and scooter-sharing services are available in certain parts of the city, offering a fun and eco-friendly way to move around.
  6. Taxis and Shuttles: Traditional taxis and shuttle services can take you to popular destinations and airports.
  7. Metrolink: Metrolink offers regional rail services connecting Los Angeles with surrounding counties, making it useful for day trips.
  8. Tour Buses: Hop-on-hop-off tour buses provide a guided tour of key attractions, allowing you to explore at your own pace.

Consider your itinerary, location, and preferences when choosing transportation methods in Los Angeles to make the most of your visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do in LA in 10 hours?

Visit a landmark like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, explore Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach, take a quick drive through Beverly Hills, and enjoy a meal at a local eatery.

How long do you need to spend in LA?

The ideal duration varies, but spending 3-5 days allows you to cover major attractions, experience the culture, and explore different neighborhoods.

Is there a lot of stuff to do in LA?

Yes, Los Angeles offers a vast range of activities, from iconic attractions and cultural sites to dining, shopping, and outdoor adventures.

What are the best things to do in Los Angeles?

Explore iconic landmarks like Hollywood, visit museums, enjoy the beaches, and savor diverse cuisine.

What are the top beaches in Los Angeles?

Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Malibu are popular beach destinations in the area.

What attractions are near Universal Studios Hollywood?

The Universal CityWalk and Warner Bros. Studio Tour are nearby attractions.

Where is the Hollywood Walk of Fame located?

The Hollywood Walk of Fame lines Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.

How can I get to the Griffith Observatory?

Drive or take a shuttle to the Griffith Observatory for stunning city views and astronomy exhibits.

Can I hike to the Hollywood Sign?

Yes, you can hike to the Hollywood Sign through designated trails in Griffith Park.

What is the best time to visit Los Angeles?

Spring and fall offer pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and ideal conditions for outdoor activities.

Where can I see celebrities in Los Angeles?

Visit celebrity-frequented areas like Beverly Hills or attend entertainment events.

How bad is the traffic in Los Angeles?

Traffic can be congested, especially during rush hours, so plan travel accordingly.

Where can I find good Mexican food in Los Angeles?

Explore neighborhoods like Boyle Heights or East LA for authentic Mexican cuisine.

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