Santa Monica Pier

Summer is near and most of us are making travel and vacation plans.  If Los Angeles is your vacation destination, here are some fun things to do while you are in the City of the Angels.

This is a rather unique list.  While it includes the typical LA tourist attractions, it also includes several of the cool things to do that you won’t find on any of the tourist websites.

By each of the videos, we have a link to the article we originally wrote to accompany the video.  In the articles you will find a lot more information on the travel hot spot along with how and when to see it.

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Fun Things to do in Los Angeles

1. Spend a weekend in Venice Beach

We say spend a weekend because there are that many things to do in Venice California.  Though geographically small, Venice is divided into several distinct sections, each of which has its own distinct personality.

On the world famous Venice Boardwalk, the area has a rather artsy albeit gritty feel. I’ve seen a few travel publications warn that it isn’t the safest neighborhood but I go there every chance I get and have never felt unsafe.  Then the are the fabulous Venice Canals, which is a peaceful, upscale neighborhood where the homes reflect in the beautiful canals.  The canals are lined with walking paths you can stroll on.  Down on the south end by the Venice Fishing Pier it tends to be much more manicured.

Watch the video and you can see what there is to see in all of the parts of Venice.  You can also find restaurants, murals, Bohemian hotels, and more to do in Venice by clicking this link.

Regardless of your tastes, you will find something for you in Venice.

2. Watch the World Famous Venice Electric Light Parade

If your LA travels put you in Venice Beach on a Sunday evening, then don’t miss the Venice Electric Light Parade.  It was started over three years ago by a man named Marcus Gladney and they haven’t missed a Sunday since.

This is a bicycle parade along the beach paths and some of the nearby streets.  The bikes and decked out in LED lights and some are quite elaborate.  It was started to promote bicycle safety at night and it caught on fast.

The event starts on Sunday’s right at sunset.  The bikers meet up in Windward Plaza and when they have all gathered they start the parade.  You might want to ask some of the guys what route the plan on taking so you can stake out a good spot.  It varies a bit each week.  Also, if you know the route, you can watch them depart and walk a block or so and see them all return.

Windward Plaza is located at 1 Windward Ave, Venice, CA.  It will pop right up if you type it into Google Maps.

3. Get a 360 degree birds eye view of downtown Los Angeles from the iconic City Hall Building.

City Hall was the tallest building in Los Angeles for a very long time.  The observation deck on the top floor is basically a large balcony surrounding the building.  You can walk around it and see all of Los Angeles.  It’s breathtaking up there.  And somehow the bustling city seems so peaceful when you are that far above it.  We haven’t create an overall downtown Los Angeles video yet, but this post we wrote about City Hall lists loads of things to do in downtown Los Angeles here.   Don’t forget to check out Grand Park right across the street (the fountain in the video below is in Grand Park).

City Hall is located at 200 N Spring Street.

3. Take a ride on the historic Angels Flight incline railway.

If there was just ONE thing I could recommend you do when visiting Los Angeles it would be to take a ride on Angels Flight.  I love it.  It’s a funicular (runs on a cable) incline railroad that takes you to the top of Bunker Hill. Considered the shortest railway in the world, it has two cars, Sinai and Olivet, running in opposite directions on a shared cable on the 298 feet long incline railway.

It was built in 1901 to take the rich and famous of the day up the steep hill to their homes after shopping on the streets below.  Now it takes you to an oasis surrounded by the city’s tallest skyscrapers called California Plaza.  Walk through the plaza to the street on the other side and you’ll find the Los Angeles Music Center, The Broad art museum, the Museum of Contemporary Modern Art and the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall.

When you have finished seeing the sights above, take Angels Flight back down and have lunch at Grand Central Market, LA’s oldest food court.  Then walk on over to the Bradbury Building and check it out.  The exterior is boring, but the interior is amazing and you have seen it in a movie or two or thirty.  It’s a very popular filming location.  They will let you into the Victorian atrium like lobby and up to the first level, but not higher than that.  Then directly across the street get an eyeful of the historic Million Dollar Theatre.  Take time to move in close and examine the extraordinary sculpture work on the exterior.

4. See the park that was made famous in a 1968 Richard Harris song.

MacArthur Park isn’t what it was in its glory days by a long shot, but it has come up a lot since the gang takeover a couple decades ago.  During the day it is quite safe.  I would avoid it at night.   I don’t put this high on a list of things to do in Los Angeles, but if you are passing by it on your way out of downtown LA, then check it out.  The views of LA from the park are stunning.  Just punch the name into Google Maps as you are leaving downtown and directions will come right up.


5. Enjoy the view of downtown Los Angeles from Elysian Park.

If you are into views, another stunning view of downtown Los Angeles can be seen from Angel’s Point in Elysian Park.  Click the link for directions to it.  You can also overlook Dodger Stadium from here.

6. See the stars and tourist attractions on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Okay, now we are into the very typical tourist attractions.  The most typical of them all in fact.  The Hollywood Walk of Fame.  There is so much to do there that I can’t possibly list them all here, but you can see a list of things to do on the Hollywood Walk of Fame here.

7. Check out the Four Ladies of Hollywood Gazebo

The Fours Ladies of Hollywood sits at the western entrance to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s a rather odd gazebo supported by the statues of four significant, multi-ethnic actresses in Hollywood that were sculpted by Harl West.  They are Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge, Anna May Wong and Dolores del Río.  The weather vane at the top is Marilyn Monroe in her iconic billowing skirt pose.

On its own it probably isn’t worth going to, but since you are on the Hollywood Walk of Fame anyway, check it out.  It’s on the corner of Hollywood Blvd and La Brea.

8. Take in some rock music history in Laurel Canyon

Laurel Canyon is where it seems most of the greats in music lived during the sixties and seventies.  The video shows you Jim Morrison’s house in Laurel Canyon and the place Mama Cass Elliot lived no one knew about… in the basement of the Canyon Country Store.  The street in front of Morrison’s house and the Canyon Country Store have signs designating the area as Love Street after the Doors song Morrison wrote about the area.

You’ll definitely feel you’ve stepped back into the era of peace and love here.  The store is located at 2108 Laurel Canyon Blvd.  It peels off of Sunset Strip out in West Hollywood/Beverly Hills and is just a little bit up the road.  From the store you will see Morrison’s house right behind it.


9. Take in the ocean views and the beauty of the Korean Bell of Friendship

It’s  bit of a drive down the Harbor Freeway to San Pedro to see the Korean Bell of Friendship, but you will enjoy it if you do. Though not as famous, the Korean Bell of Friendship is like LA’s own Statue of Liberty.  A gift between nations and a work of art.  When you are around the bell and intricate pagoda you can’t help but feel that sense of peace and friendship that was intended when it was created.

It probably helps that feeling that the bell sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Long Beach and Los Angeles Harbors.  The views are quite spectacular.

It’s located in Angel’s Gate Park in San Pedro.  Bring a basketball and you can play a game of basketball overlooking the Pacific (bring an extra ball, if one goes too far out of the court I doubt you’ll want to make the leap into the ocean to retrieve it).

3601 S Gaffey Street
San Pedro, CA 90731

10. Take selfies on the most Instagramed staircase in Los Angeles.

The Micheltorena Stairs with the rainbow colored heart painted on them are probably the most Instagrammed staircase in the world.  If not the world, then in Los Angeles.  They are located off Sunset Blvd in the artsy Echo Park/Silverlake area.  Within walking distance of them are  The Murray Stairs, aka The Piano Stairs and the famous Music Box Steps where Laurel and Hardy starred in the classic 1932 silent film (along with the staircase) The Music Box.  The Music Box Stairs don’t have art painted on them, but they do have a plaque commemorating their fame and a street sign stating Music Box Steps at their entrance making it the only staircase in the world designated with a street sign.

All three of these are in easy walking distance of each other.  Use the links for finding them as they are all tucked back a bit.  But they also come up on Google Maps.

11. Enjoy a picnic lunch in an active oil field.

I’m sure you think I’m joking, but it’s true. Almost. The picnic area is in Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area but the recreation area is in the Inglewood Oil Field, the largest oil field in Los Angeles!

Industry and nature seem to co-exist rather well here though.  With over 100 picnic tables, the park is a destination for picnics and family gatherings. It also has four playgrounds, a half basketball court, a multi-purpose field, and a sand volleyball court. Garden areas include a Japanese garden with a stream and waterfall.  There is a lake for fishing, stocked with trout or catfish, depending on the season.  You also have walking trails that take you where you can see the Hollywood Sign, Downtown LA, the Santa Monica Bay and even Los Angeles Harbor.

It’s a beautiful place and you won’t really realize you are playing in an oil field until you see the pump jacks working behind a fence.

This is probably not the most exciting thing to do in LA, but think of all the fun you will have showing your friends the picts of you having a picnic lunch with a pump jack working behind you!

Visit the park at 4100 South La Cienega Boulevard (Los Angeles, CA 90056) in Baldwin Hills.  There is an off ramp on La Cienega marked Kenneth Hahn Park.

12. Visit the Original Farmers Market in Beverly Hills

Speaking of oil fields, check out the Original Farmers Market in Beverly Hills.

The original Farmer’s Market is located on 3rd and Fairfax in Beverly Hills.  It dates back to 1880 when A. F. Gilmore started a dairy farm on the land.  In 1900, he was drilling a well for water and what came up was oil instead.  It became a thriving oil field and resulted in the Gilmore Oil Company.  You’ll see a replica of one of the old Gillmore Gas stations on the grounds.

The farmer’s market began on the property in the Thirties and it has currently taken over the land.  The vendors in it are permanent and open every day.  It’s a fun place to shop for gourmet delights and when you are finished you can walk over to The Grove, an outdoor shopping mall, and enjoy the dancing fountain and shopping in top stores.

13. Go bargain hunting in the Los Angeles Fashion District

I didn’t put this one and the next up in the things to do in downtown Los Angeles section for a reason.  The Los Angeles Fashion District isn’t really all that great of a place to see.  It’s in an old and crowded part of town and at 5:00 they roll up the sidewalk and shut down.  But it’s a great place to find bargains!

It has a retail section on the west end and a wholesale section on the east.  The wholesale section is much more upscale, but you can’t shop there.  Click the link for more information on how to find what in the district.  The video below should help you decide if you want to check it out.

The retail section is more like a flea market with both permanent stores and street vendors.  Most of the vendors have a large portion of their goods on the sidewalk in front of their stores  It feels a bit like you have left the USA and are shopping in Mexico, but the bargains can’t be beat.  If you go, wear comfortable walking shoes.  Be sure to check the Santee Alley and to find your way to the Fashion District just punch Santee Alley into Google Maps.

14. Visit the Los Angeles Flower District

The Los Angeles Flower District also isn’t all that worth seeing for the same reasons, unless you are really into flowers or need some.  But if you are at the Fashion District, then go ahead and check out the Flower District.  There are probably more flowers crammed into these few blocks than in all the rest of Los Angeles.

The Flower District is just northeast of the Fashion District.  It will come up on Google Maps.

15. Take your pick of fun things to do along the beaches.

Almost all of the beaches are a hit.  This little video shows some of the things along the coastline to do.  Favorites of mine are Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, the Santa Monica Pier and Malibu Pier.

We hope you find our little Los Angeles video vacation guide helpful in planning your trip to Los Angeles.  And we hope you have a great time while you are here.  Spend some time looking through our site.  We’ve listed tons of fun places to visit in our Los Angeles Tourist Attractions category so scroll through the posts and see what looks fun!

See more photos after the break…

Malibu Pier
Malibu Pier at Sunset

LA vacation guide