Like Mamas and Papas sang in the song California Dreamin back in 1965, most of us have wished for the warm California sunshine on a cold winter day! Each year over 50 million tourists come to Los Angeles. We thought we would show you why LA is such a popular travel destination in this short video highlighting the attractions in the City of Angeles. And we’re here to tell you that LA awaits you with open arms and plenty to see and do. You can also save on your LA travel arrangements with Trip.com
A city covering over 503 square miles, or 4850 square miles if the entire Los Angeles metropolitan area is taken into account, Los Angeles has a lot to see and do. There’s literally something for everyone in LA.
Los Angeles has a unique culture found no where else. Los Angeles isn’t the entertainment capitol of the world. It’s the creative capitol of the world. LA adores, creates and embraces the arts in all forms. From Hollywood and film making, to its huge music industry, the art galleries, concert halls, iconic live music clubs on Sunset Strip, to the murals on her buildings and the architecture itself LA is drenched in creativity.
What’s the best part of Los Angeles to visit? That depends on you. You could easily take a dozen vacations in Los Angeles and not see it all. We decided to write this overview on the fun things to do in Los Angeles to help you narrow down what you want to see during your LA vacation.
Downtown Los Angeles Attractions
Per statistics, 22 million visitors per year come to downtown Los Angeles making it the most popular travel destination in LA. I suspect most of those staying in DTLA are business travelers. But it’s also a very worthwhile vacation destination. The architecture is amazing: from the historic City Hall building overlooking Grand Park, the old movie palaces in the Broadway Theatre District, to the iconic and modern Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA has some of the most impressive architecture in the world. Downtown LA also has a number of art galleries including The Broad Contemporary Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s also home to the Convention Center, the fabulous LA Live Complex, the Staples Center and Microsoft Square together forming a sports and entertainment mecca.
One of my favorite things to do in DTLA is ride the Angels Flight. This is a short incline railway, one of the worlds steepest, and the shortest railway in the world. Angels Flight has existed since the early 1900’s and has been preserved to look just the same. It only costs a dollar to step back in time. It’s also well worth it to save the hike up to the top of Bunker Hill where the afore mentioned art galleries are.
Venice Beach Attractions
World Famous Venice Beach attracts 10 million tourists per year. It’s the second most popular tourist attraction in Southern California, second only to Disneyland. There’s simply no other place like it in the world! Famous for it’s funky boardwalk and free spirited lifestyle, it boasts Bohemian hotels on the waterfront, great food, trendy shopping on Abbot Kinney Blvd, a world famous skate park along with a huge outdoor recreation center with tennis courts, basketball courts, handball courts, and the world famous Muscle Beach. Surfing, bike riding, sun worshiping on the sand or fishing from the Venice Pier are activities.
Venice Beach has also become a canvas for artists and has more murals per building than anywhere else in the city. Take yourself on your own guided art tour along Abbot Kinney Blvd or along the Boardwalk for a rich art “gallery” experience. If you’re there on a Sunday, be sure to watch the world famous Venice Electric Light Parade that happens every Sunday at Sunset.
Hollywood with it’s Walk of Fame comes in right behind also attracting about 10 million visitors per year. The section of the Walk of Fame with the most to do is centered at the Hollywood Highland Mall. The mall also offers a unique view of the Hollywood Sign from it’s courtyard. In addition to finding your favorite stars on the Walk of Fame, there are wax museums, theatres and more. Down on the other end at the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine there is much less going on but the iconic Capitol Records building and the famed Pantages Theatre are there. The Walk of Fame also has two Metro Subway stops along the length if you prefer not to drive.
West Hollywood Landmarks
Adjacent to it is West Hollywood, or WeHo as it’s called by locals. WeHo is a very modern, well maintained area that connects to Beverly Hills on the west and it’s difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. An entertainment hub it’s home to the famous nightclubs on Sunset Strip where the legends of rock and roll were discovered: The Viper Room, Whisky a Go Go, The Roxy and more. Likewise with the comedy clubs, the Laugh Factory, the Comedy Store and more that have launched the careers of today’s top comedians. West Hollywood is the most gay friendly part of Los Angeles, in fact it celebrates the lifestyle. But it’s equally straight friendly.
Los Angeles is a very photogenic city, so be sure to bring good cameras and gear! The cameras I use are below.
Beverly Hills Landmarks
Just down the road you can shop along Rodeo Drive, the most expensive shopping district in the world. You’ll probably want to confine yourself to window shopping but it’s worth it to see it. You can find the famed Beverly Wilshire Hotel where Julia Roberts starred in Pretty Woman with Richard Gere where Rodeo Drive terminates at Wilshire Blvd. You can dine on the same patio the two stars did, or book the hotel’s “Pretty Woman Experience.”
Combined over 11 million people per year select either Beverly Hills or West Hollywood for their vacation playground. Celebrity spotting is also a popular activity here with the best places to see celebrities being Rodeo Drive, or The Ivy, Gracias Madre or Craig’s restaurants.
Santa Monica Attractions
Santa Monica draws 8.7 million travelers each year. This beachfront town is clean, modern and beautiful. The main attraction is the Santa Monica Pier with restaurants, vendors, and an amusement park with the world’s only solar powered ferris wheel. Beside the pier are the Aquarium, the International Chess Park with life sized chess pieces, and the Original Muscle Beach. Palisades Park runs north of the pier on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean with breathtaking views and across the street on Ocean Street are world class hotels and restaurants. As far as accommodations in Los Angeles, I think the nicest places to get a hotel is along Ocean Ave in Santa Monica. If you are also planning to spend time in Venice Beach or Marina del Rey, you can avoid traffic by renting a bike or e-scooter and zipping down the beach path for about a mile. Marina del Rey would also be one of my top choices for finding a hotel… but what can I say, I love the ocean!
There is world class shopping at the Third Street Promenade, an open air shopping mall running several blocks of Third Street that are closed to vehicular traffic.
Long Beach Attractions
Last but not least we come to Long Beach. It draws 6 million tourists each year with primary attractions being the Queen Mary, The Point Vicente Lighthouse and the Point Fermin Lighthouse. The LA Waterfront district offers shopping, arts and world class restaurants. In neighboring San Pedro is the Korean Bell of Friendship pavilion. This artistic monument is perched high atop a bluff giving unequaled views of the Pacific Ocean and the Long Beach and LA harbors.
If swimming in the ocean or surfing is high on your list, I don’t really recommend the beaches in the Long Beach area. Long Beach used to be a top surfing spot, but that changed when the breakwater was installed to protect the harbors. They are also somewhat polluted due to being just off the LA and Long Beach harbors and near the four manmade oil drilling islands. It isn’t horrible, there are just cleaner beaches. One fun thing to do is drive up the coast highway a bit to White Point Beach and go tide pooling. This is a rocky beach, not sandy, but surfers love it.
If your LA vacation includes a day at Disneyland down in Orange County, Long Beach is a good place to stay. Particularly if you also plan to visit landmarks and attractions up in Los Angeles. It splits the distance in half between the southern and northern attractions while providing enough fun things to do that you really never have to leave Long Beach to have an unforgettable vacation.
I think the best way to enjoy your vacation in Los Angeles is to simply drink in the city no matter where you are going. You may have a destination in mind, but don’t miss everything Los Angeles has to offer along the way! Browse our LA Tourist Attractions and LA Travel Guides categories for more detailed information on the fun things to do in Los Angeles.
The weather is almost always good in Los Angeles and it offers more days of sunshine than any other city in the United States. Regardless of what part of LA you decide to center you stay in, you’ll find hotels ranging from five star to budget. We’ve even found budget hotels on the ocean front in Santa Monica! Use our link to Hotels.com to find good hotels and enjoy considerable savings on your hotel rates.
Enjoy your visit to Los Angeles. Drop us a comment if you want more information on how to see any of the landmarks featured in the pictures we may not have mentioned.
More photos after the break…
Background Music: Panda Paws by Aaron Lieberman. YouTube Music Library https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNMISNiEA08dDonkvhbNRhA
This site does contain some affiliate ad links from various companies including Amazon and I do earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. I try to only recommend products and services I believe are of good value.