Best Things to do in Los Angeles, California

The 15 Best Things to Do in Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles may be the City of Angels, but it’s also the city of stars and one of the biggest entertainment capitals of the world. When you visit Los Angeles, you may just rub elbows with your favorite celebrity! Here you’ll enjoy unique dining options, explore gorgeous locations built for outdoor adventures, and step into the history of the many movie studios that call this city home.

From one-of-a-kind theme parks to iconic beaches you’ve seen on the big screen, there’s so much to see and do in Los Angeles. So, where should you start?

Well, we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Los Angeles for you. Plan your perfect vacation in the sun with these fun and unique Los Angeles bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this star-studded California city.

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1. Study the Stars at Griffith Park

Cool Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Griffith Park

Griffith Park covers 4,210 acres and offers one of the best places for Los Angeles sightseeing. If you’re looking for the best view of the iconic Hollywood Sign, you’ll find it at Griffith Park. Hikers can enjoy a 53-mile network of trails that’ll let you really take in the magic of Los Angeles.

Inside Griffith Park, you’ll be able to see a show at the Greek Theatre, play a round on one of three golf courses, get up close to the animals at the Los Angeles Zoo, take a ride on the historic merry-go-round that Walt Disney credited as one of his inspirations for Disneyland, and so much more. But one the most beloved parts of Griffith Park is Griffith Observatory.

At Griffith Observatory, you’ll study the wonders of the cosmos. Learn about how the moon creates our restless tides, search the skies with the observatory’s incredible telescope, and travel to worlds beyond our own in the planetarium. The observatory offers daily live shows, like the demonstration of the Tesla Coil, as well as recurring and special events.

2. Go on a Studio Tour

Must Do Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Studio Tour

One of the most unique things to do in Los Angeles is to go on a studio tour. After all, Los Angeles is filled with studios making the world’s top films and TV shows. And many of these studio tours will take you up close to where the magic is made.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour walks you through famous Hollywood backlots where you’ll see landmarks you recognize from your favorite shows, like the facade of the Alibi Room from Shameless or Stars Hollow’s town square from Gilmore Girls.

If you’re a Friends fan, this studio tour should be on your Los Angeles bucket list, as you’ll see the real fountain from the show’s credits and even be able to take a photo on the Central Perk set. New exhibits are always being added, so you never know what Warner Bros. movie or show will be showcased during your tour.

The Paramount Studio Tour allows you to discover Hollywood’s first major movie studio. You’ll learn about Paramount’s 110-year legacy while you’re immersed in the worlds of its TV shows and movies. Movie lovers will especially appreciate being able to hold a real Oscar.

Over in Culver City, you can take the Sony Pictures Studio Tour, where you’ll walk through the famous Sony gates and onto some of the most historic studio lots in the world. You’ll visit soundstages for iconic films like The Wizard of Oz and Spider-Man. And game show fans will love stepping onto the sets of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.

3. Have a Magical Day at the Disney Parks

Best Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Disneyland

Since 1955, Disneyland has been delighting and enchanting visitors from around the world. The whole idea behind Disneyland was that it would be a place for families to have fun together. Instead of parents watching kids play, the entire family gets in on the magic! 

At Disneyland, located in nearby Anaheim, you’ll be dazzled by grim grinning ghosts at the Haunted Mansion, come face to face with the Yeti on the Matterhorn Bobsleds, live the pirate’s life on Pirates of the Caribbean, and so much more. And when the sun goes down, you’ll be able to watch Fantasmic!, a fantastic adventure filled with dreams and wishes, as well as an enchanting fireworks and projection show over Disneyland’s iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle.

And right across from Disneyland is its sister park, Disney’s California Adventure. Here you’ll go on a high-speed adventure with The Incredibles on the Incredicoaster, play interactive games with Andy’s toys on Toy Story Mania, and race along with Lightning McQueen and the gang on Radiator Springs Racers. 

4. Get Your Scream on at Universal Studios Hollywood

Best Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Universal Studios Hollywood

If you’re a thrill seeker, Universal Studios Hollywood should be on your list of things to do in Los Angeles. Universal Studios is filled with fun characters, new and classic rides, and an immersive look at Hollywood.

Meet terrifying prehistoric creatures on Jurassic World – The Ride, go on an adventure through Hogwarts and beyond in Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and escape the clutches of Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons Ride. You’ll also find the Universal Studios Backlot Tour here, where you may just see your favorite shows filming.

Universal Studios is launching a whole new area of the park dedicated to beloved video game characters with Super Nintendo World. Grab a Power-Up Band to keep track of your scores, collect coins and keys, and interact with special features around the land. Enter Bowser’s Castle to play a game of “Mario Kart” like never before with Mario Kart: Bowser’s Castle. Then, eat a meal served up by none other than Chef Toad himself at Toadstool Cafe!

If you’re a fan of frights, the best time to visit Universal Studios Hollywood is during the spooky season. Come fall, this theme park is decked out for Halloween and hosts Halloween Horror Nights. Enter, if you dare, incredible haunted mazes and scare zones themed to Universal’s most monstrous properties. Be prepared to come face to face with your biggest nightmares.

5. Explore the La Brea Tar Pits

Fun Things to do in Los Angeles, California: La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea is home to the famous La Brea Tar Pits, one of the most unique things to do in Los Angeles. The asphalt seeps here are the only active urban fossil dig site in the world. Each day, you can watch excavators carve out fossils. You never know what they might uncover during your visit. 

Inside the La Brea Tar Pits Museum, also known as the George C. Page Museum, you can journey through the Fossil Lab, where the staff prepares their discoveries for the public. Then, you’ll venture on to the exhibits that showcase previous findings. You’ll see everything from saber-toothed cats to dire wolves to mastodons. 

With live theater performances, you’ll watch these creatures come to life as you’re transported back to the Ice Age. You can also head to the 3D theater to learn more about these incredible creatures of the distant past.

6. Stroll Along the Walk of Fame

Best Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Walk of Fame

If you’ve never been to the City of Angels, visiting the Walk of Fame should definitely be on your Los Angeles bucket list. Located on both sides of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, the Walk of Fame honors the best and brightest of the Hollywood of today and its storied past. And with about 24 induction ceremonies happening every year, you just might arrive in time to go to your favorite star’s ceremony.

The Walk of Fame is world famous and one of the must-do things to do in Los Angeles if you’re a film fan. But it also happens to be located around many more of the city’s famous landmarks. While you stroll along the Walk of Fame, you can venture over to the famous TCL Chinese Theatre, formerly known as the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. This historic movie palace has been a part of Los Angeles’ history for over 75 years.

While you’re on Hollywood Boulevard, you can catch a show at the Pantages Theatre, which plays the best of Broadway all year round. It also hosted the Academy Awards in the 1950s. This stunning theater is a masterpiece of opulence and belongs on your list of things to do in Los Angeles.

Then, end your night at the famous Musso & Frank, which has been serving up fine dining fare to Hollywood stars since 1919. Hollywood stars like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall once considered this place their hangout spot, and today’s stars now continue the tradition.

7. Ride the Roller Coasters at Knott’s Berry Farm

Best Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Knott’s Berry Farm

While some argue over whether or not Universal or Disney has the best park in and around Los Angeles, many residents of the city consider Knott’s Berry Farm to be the actual best theme park in the area. This 57-acre park is located over in Buena Park and is operated by Cedar Fair.

This theme park offers thrills and delights at a fraction of the cost of its competitors. It’s been enthralling guests for over 100 years and offers fun for the whole family. Here you can go on adventures through the Old West in an authentic 1800s Ghost Town, explore California’s Hispanic roots at Fiesta Village, and venture through the High Sierras with Snoopy himself.

No matter when you visit, there will likely be a unique celebration going on. The start of the year brings about the Peanuts Celebration, where the Peanuts characters take over the park with special decor, themed treats, animated photo opportunities, playful shows, and more. Spring brings about the Boysenberry Festival, a food-inspired festival with offerings you can only find at Knott’s Berry Farm

Summer kicks off with Ghost Town Alive! This special event puts the focus on the park’s Ghost Town, with actors bringing this part of the park alive during the day and DJs and bands keeping the party going at night.

At night during the Halloween season, the park is host to Knott’s Scary Farm, filled with haunted mazes, spooktacular shows, and more than 1,000 terrifying creatures waiting around every turn to give you a fright. During the day, you’ll find Knott’s Spooky Farm, a more family-friendly event where little ones can trick-or-treat and dress up with their favorite characters.

The year comes to an end with Knott’s Merry Farm. The park is lit up with festive decor, while park-goers can watch the beloved ice show Snoopy’s Night Before Christmas, sing along with Christmas carolers, buy one-of-a-kind gifts at the Christmas Crafts Village, meet Santa at Santa’s Christmas Cabin, and so much more.

8. Sunbathe at Venice Beach

Must Do Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Venice Beach

Venice Beach is a recreation spot in Los Angeles like no other. Here you can get out on the water and surf, kayak, paddleboard, or just go for a swim in beautiful blue waters. Or you can lay out in the sun with a good book and a lot of sunscreen. 

You’ll also find the Venice Beach Boardwalk, known as the Ocean Front Walk, which stretches two miles and hosts hundreds of street vendors, performers, and fine dining venues. Over at the Venice Beach Recreation Center, you can take part in basketball, paddle tennis, and handball tournaments. Venice Beach frequently plays host to film sets, so you never know who or what you may see filming here when you visit.

Venice Beach is also known for its famous Muscle Beach Venice Outdoor Gym, where you can grab a pass to work out with some of the biggest names in bodybuilding. Lou Ferrigno, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and many more have called this place home. If you’re a bodybuilding enthusiast, this gym is one of the coolest can’t-miss Los Angeles attractions.

9. Spend a Day at the Santa Monica Pier

What to do in Los Angeles, California: Santa Monica Pier

Another beachside attraction, the Santa Monica Pier, has been offering family-friendly fun since 1909. Originally a public utility for the city of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pier is today a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of the best things to do in Los Angeles.

The Santa Monica Pier is home to Pacific Park, which features 12 thrilling rides, including the West Coaster and the first solar-powered Ferris wheel. You’ll also find the park’s historic merry-go-round here, as well as Playland Arcade, filled with classic, nostalgia-inducing games. For one of the most unique Los Angeles activities, you can also sign up to become an acrobatics master at the Trapeze School

This pier also has plenty of food options, from fine dining to quick service. Be transported back to the era of the classic soda fountain at Soda Jerks, or take in a breathtaking view from the rooftop lounge of Seaside on the Pier

10. Get Out on the Water at Marina del Rey

Best Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Marina del Rey

Over near Venice Beach and Santa Monica sits a waterfront community that’s a bit more laid back and offers outdoor adventures and upscale fun. Marina del Rey began as an estuary filled with fishermen and duck hunters. Today, it’s the largest manufactured, small-craft harbor in the country. Visitors come from all over for its relaxed atmosphere and year-round sunshine.

Visiting Marina del Rey is a perfect addition to your Los Angeles bucket list if you love the great outdoors and trying something new. As a part of the 22-mile Marvin Brauda Coastal Bike Trail, you’ll love going on a cycling adventure here. But the best thing to do in Marina del Rey is to get out on the water. You can try your hand at sailing or rent a kayak for some water excursions. 

And if you’re feeling brave, you can even soar above the water while parasailing. If you’re looking to try something new, Marina del Rey even has YOGAqua, a unique workout where you perform yoga moves on a stand-up paddleboard. But if you’re looking for a more relaxed time on the water, there are also dinner cruises and gondola rides available. 

11. Adventure through Topanga Canyon

Los Angeles, California Bucket List: Topanga Canyon

Featuring 36 miles of trails through open grassland and live oaks, a trip to Topanga Canyon is one of the coolest things to do in Los Angeles for those who love staying active on their vacations. Topanga Canyon is nestled in the cliffs of the Santa Monica Mountains and showcases spectacular views of the Pacific. Hikers are bound to come across unique geological formations, like earthquake faults, marine fossils, volcanic intrusions, and more.

The village of Topanga is a true bohemian paradise. You’ll be surrounded by untamed nature and laid-back creatives making beautiful art. One of the most unique things to do in the area is head to Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. Here the actor who played Grandpa on the beloved series The Waltons has built an outdoor theater surrounded by oak trees, offering theatrical performances of classic plays.

Fun Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Topanga Canyon

If you’re visiting over Memorial Day weekend, you’ll want to take part in the Topanga Day celebration. This three-day festival is a celebration of all things music and nature and leads up to a parade of singing and dancing on Memorial Day.

12. Visit the Getty

Los Angeles, California Things to do: Getty Center

The Getty museums have two locations, but both offer a spectacular look at art, architecture, and history. The Getty Center can be found in Brentwood and is likely the more well-known of the two.

You’ll take a tram to the top of the museum, providing some of the best Los Angeles sightseeing you’ll find. Inside, you’ll explore art from the Middle Ages all the way to today’s modern art. And in the center of it all is a living work of art, Robert Irwin’s Central Garden, filled with beautiful water features and plants that change with the seasons.

The Getty Villa Museum can be found closer to the coast at the Pacific Palisades. At this stunning location, you’ll find Greek and Roman antiquities set in a re-created Roman country home, making you feel like you’ve traveled across time and oceans.

You’ll explore 4,000 years of ancient art from the Stone Age to the final days of the Roman Empire, with one of the top attractions being Roman-era mummies. Outside, you’ll walk along a reflecting pool with a view of the Pacific in the Villa’s garden. If you’re visiting on Thursday or Saturday, be sure to participate in a Garden Tea featuring flavors inspired by the Villa’s Herb Garden.

13. Eat at the Original Farmers Market

Unique Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Original Farmers Market

The Grove is one of the best Los Angeles attractions if you’re looking for boutique shopping and fine dining. From boba to burgers and beyond, there’s a treat for everyone here. But right next door to The Grove sits another dining experience that’s especially great if your group can’t decide on just one place to eat: The Original Farmers Market.

Founded in 1934, this Los Angeles landmark offers fresh produce alongside ready-to-eat snacks from hundreds of vendors. Try some Cajun cooking at The Gumbo Pot, or indulge in some Brazilian fare at Pampas Grill.

Grab a sweet or savory crepe from The French Crepes, or pick up a gyro from Moishe’s Restaurant. Finish off your meal with a scoop from Bennett’s Ice Cream or Local Ice. Whatever you’re craving, you’re bound to find it here!

But it’s not just food at this market. You’ll also find beautiful blooms, candles, jewelry, toys, and so much more. This farmers market is one of the best things to do in Los Angeles if you want to explore all this great city has to offer.

14. See a Show at the Hollywood Bowl

Best Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Hollywood Bowl

Since its opening in 1922, the Hollywood Bowl has played host to iconic names in Hollywood, like Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland. Many of the biggest musicians in the world have played under its world-renowned arched band shell. From comedy shows to musicals to concerts and live performances of famous scores, there’s always something happening at the Hollywood Bowl! 

But this incredible venue is more than just a place to see outstanding performances. The Hollywood Bowl boasts food offerings courtesy of James Beard Award-winning Chef Suzanne Goin and famous Hollywood restauranteur Caroline Styne. All guests can pre-order their own Picnic Box for their show, but box seat holders can even have an award-winning meal served right in their box.

Cool Things to do in Los Angeles, California: Hollywood Bowl

While you’re there, check out the Hollywood Bowl Museum to learn more about this venue’s storied history. See artifacts from the most famous performances that the Hollywood Bowl was home to, and see how this stunning venue shaped the careers of so many of Los Angeles’s stars. If you’re looking for Los Angeles bucket list experiences, you’ll definitely want to catch a show at the Hollywood Bowl.

15. Learn About the World of Moviemaking at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Los Angeles, California Bucket List: Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Museum and Dolby Theatre

If you’re a movie lover, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is another one of the best things to do in Los Angeles. This museum is dedicated to the art and science behind making movies. Here you’ll step into immersive exhibits to wander through the world of cinema.

Explore a three-floor exhibition presenting international stories of moviemakers and the worlds they built in Stories of Cinema. Be transported to the stage at the Dolby Theatre on Oscar night in a simulation where you’re accepting your own award in The Oscars Experience.

With rotating exhibits throughout the year, you never know what you’ll discover about Hollywood and beyond here. Film screenings also occur after hours in the museum’s theaters.

There you have it—the 15 best things to do in Los Angeles. What’s your favorite thing to do in Los Angeles?

About the Author

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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