There are so many things worth visiting in Los Angeles that it’s sometimes hard to know where to start.
Here is advice on the top must-see attractions for a first visit to the City of Angels so you don’t miss out on anything.
Venice Beach and Santa Monica
One of the most famous and photogenic waterfronts, the Venice Boardwalk is a hangout for skaters, walkers and bodybuilders. Venice Beach is more free spirited than Santa Monica and its authentic and quirky side is much more LA!
Downtown LA and Arts District
Downtown Los Angeles has changed a lot since the early 2000s. This business district used to be a ghostown once the offices closed for the evening. Now, Downtown LA has been given a new lease of life and today attracts a young and trendy crowd to its restaurants, bars and stunning architecture.
Our pick: Behind the Walt Disney Concert Hall is The Blue Ribbon Garden – a green, lush garden that’s in bloom the whole year round. One of the garden’s highlights is A Rose for Lilly, a fountain designed by Frank Gehry.
Among the areas that have been radically transformed is the Arts District. It has shaken off its former image as an industrial zone to become the capital of Californian street art. Today this Brooklyn of the West Coast is a trendy and arty spot!
Melrose Avenue is a shopping mecca in the trendy area of West Hollywood. From designer boutiques to funkier, more eclectic stores, you’ll be able to find any style of clothing. All along the boulevard are some of the most famous street art murals in Los Angeles. You won’t be able to resist this ‘insta-ready’ destination!
Our pick: On Sunday, swing by the Melrose Trading Post Flea Market at the corner of Melrose and Fairfax.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Built next door to the Universal Studios – a real film studio set – is Universal Studios Hollywood, « Cinema’s Disneyland ». Packed full of thrilling rides inspired by famous films, you’ll experience the special effects, sets, animations, etc. You’ll also get a behind-the-scenes look at old movie sets on a tram ride through the studios. New features include Harry Potter at Hogwarts!
Les lettres HOLLYWOOD
A legendary sight! Who doesn’t want to see those famous letters with their own eyes? The sign was originally put up as a billboard to promote a real estate development called Hollywoodland. It went through many ups and downs before being saved from ruin and then renovated and protected along with the park around it.
Our pick: Park at Lake Hollywood Park to start your hike up to the letters! Park near to the intersection of Lake Hollywood Drive and Wonder View Drive, then take the Wonder View Trail Head, climb up to Wisdom Tree and continue up the hill to the Hollywood Sign.
Good idea! After working up the sweat take some time to unwind with lunch or brunch at the Beachwood Cafe !
On the hills overlooking the city stands one of the most important American museums. The Getty Center houses an impressive art collection in a building famed for its avant-garde architecture and beautiful gardens. Most visitors spend as much time walking through the gardens with their 500 plants as they do admiring the museum’s collections.
Our pick: Take a coffee break in the Garden Terrace Cafe which features an incredible view of the city. A moment of peaceful reflection at outstanding venue.
Good idea! Continue your visit to the Getty Villa in Malibu on the same day. Enjoy free parking and an exhibition of beautiful Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiques collected by J. Paul Getty.
Perched on Mount Hollywood at an altitude of 300m, the observatory has breathtaking views of Los Angeles and gives you the chance to view the celestial sky thanks to the most advanced planetarium in the world.
This starry spectacle has featured in many films, including most recently La La Land, and is a must-see on any visit to LA.
Our pick: Watch the sunset from the observatory! Be careful though, because parking is charged at $10/hour after noon and it’s often crowded. Park in the free lot at the bottom of the hill and take the shuttle bus up.
Good idea! Visitors can look through the telescope on the east side of the roof and in the evenings, observatory staff set up other telescopes on the lawn for stargazing.
Walk of Fame
The « Walk of Fame » is made up of 2,500 stars spread along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. It was started in 1960 with the idea of cheering up Hollywood’s historic center, an area that had been neglected by the studios and stars. The Walk of Fame immortalizes celebrities hailing from the worlds of film, radio, theater, comedy and music. The next lucky celebrity that’s chosen is announced on the official website.
Note that the stars make up the wide sidewalks and extend over a part of the boulevard that isn’t exactly the most interesting. There’s no map – it’s up to you to find the stars you’re interested in!
Our pick: carry on along to the Chinese Theater where the stars’ footprints are moulded into the sidewalk. It’s just as cliched as it sounds…