The 44 Best Things to Do in LA

Los Angeles is known as the center of Hollywood and often gets a bad rap as a superficial, sprawling, smog-filled city, but LA has so much more to offer. It’s a culinary and cultural center. It’s a beautiful chaotic city surrounded by mountains and ocean. People famously say it’s the only place you can ski and surf on the same day.

As you explore, you’ll find the varied neighborhoods and 10.1 million Angelenos fascinating. Experience Hollywood by taking a tour of a movie studio, take in the city’s breathtaking views on a hike, shop among celebrities on Rodeo Drive, learn about the dinosaurs at the La Brea Tar Pits, and enjoy a Ferris wheel ride on the Santa Monica Pier.

I’ve sorted the activities into the following categories:

  • Attractions: These activities are the most “touristy” ones on this list.
  • Museums: I’ve included the must-see museums that are unique to Los Angeles.
  • Hikes: LA is a city with great weather and gorgeous vistas. If you like the outdoors, then you should get out and enjoy. I’ve included my favorite day hikes.
  • Shopping: I’ve included great shopping spots for travelers on every budget.
  • Food: I’m a major foodie, and these are my favorite Los Angeles haunts.

The most notable activities are sorted and have blurbs. If you need help filling up your itinerary, or are looking for some unique things to do, I’ve listed more things to do in LA in the other activities section.

I’ve rated the activities in terms of quality on a 1-5 scale, and I’ve rated them for price:

$ = the activity is relatively inexpensive ($0-19 per person)

$$ = it’s about average ($20-40 per person)

$$$ = it’s expensive ($40+ per person)


Things to Do in LA: Table of Contents


Los Angeles Attractions

Anywhere you travel there are the typical tourist spots, and if you’re looking for those in LA, look no further.




Price: $$$

Quality: 4 out of 5

“The Happiest Place on Earth” continues to be a delightful spot for people of all ages. Disneyland has two parks—Disneyland and California Adventure. Disneyland sports Cinderella’s castle as well as the more traditional Disney rides; California Adventure showcases newer Disney characters and newer, more innovative rides such as Soarin’ Over California. If you or your children have never been to Disney, you must go to Disneyland, but if you’ve been before, I’d recommend trying out California Adventure.


Universal Studios Hollywood


Price: $$$

Quality: 4 out of 5

Home to the brand new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood is a great place for families. It has got fun for all ages with a tour of the Universal Studios backlot and tons of 3D rides including the recently added Minion Mayhem.


Hollywood Walk of Fame

Flickr/Christian Haugen

Price: $ – FREE

Quality: 3 out of 5

This is another good spot for families and those on a tight budget. It’s free. Simply take a stroll along Hollywood Boulevard near the Chinese Theatre, and you’ll see the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame stars lining the sidewalks. Go to the front of the Chinese Theatre to see the famous celebrity handprints in cement. See how you match up.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame continues to be a staple for tourists and as such is very crowded. I’d recommend going on a weekday if possible to avoid the weekend crowd. It’s not in the greatest neighborhood, so if you choose to go, keep an eye on your wallet.


Warner Brothers Studio Tour


Price: $$$

Quality: 4.5 out of 5

This is a fantastic option for families and those with big budgets. I’ve personally done this tour three times, and I always enjoy it. If you love movies and television and want to learn what goes on behind the scenes (and potentially see one of your favorite actors), then this tour is an absolute must.

Even if you’re on a tight budget, you might want to consider splurging on this one activity. They take reservations on their website; I’d recommend booking a few days ahead of time as the tours tend to fill up.


Santa Monica Pier

Wikimedia/Laura Choate

Price: $ – FREE

Quality: 4 out of 5

This Santa Monica Pier is essentially an amusement park on the ocean, which makes it a great spot to bring kids. It’s also a fun spot for travelers on a budget who’d like to indulge their inner child. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel and/or roller coaster. Line your pocket with quarters so that you can play skeeball or air hockey.

It’s better to visit on a weekday if your trip allows it since it tends to be very crowded on the weekends. Parking can also be nasty so consider taking public transit such as the new Metro Expo Line, which will drop you off just a few blocks from the pier.


Walt Disney Concert Hall

Wikimedia/Antoine Taveneaux

Price: $ – FREE

Quality: 4 out of 5

Designed by the incredible Frank Gehry, this stainless steel behemoth is a must-see for architecture lovers. You can walk around the exterior for free, or you can pay for a self-guided tour (with headphones) or a group tour.


The Hollywood Bowl

Flickr/Steve Devol

Price: $$-$$$ (varies by event)

Quality: 4.5 out of 5

The Hollywood Bowl is a classic outdoor venue with great sight lines, good acoustics, and a fun atmosphere. Check out the schedule and see if any of the upcoming events interest you. If you go, consider packing a picnic dinner to enjoy while at the concert. It’s a great spot for families and travelers on any budget. Parking at the Bowl is not great; consider parking in a lot a few blocks away and walking up to the bowl.


Venice Beach Boardwalk

Flickr/Jon Rawlinson

Price: $ – FREE

Quality: 3.5 out of 5

The boardwalk continues to a be a staple of any touristy Los Angeles vacation. Fortune-tellers, cheesy t-shirt stores, ice cream shops, tattoo parlors, and skateboarders thrive here. Take in the ocean views and people watch. Although Venice is in the process of gentrifying, this boardwalk area can be sketchy during off hours. I’d only recommend going on Saturday or Sunday.


Los Angeles Museums

Looking to learn while on vacation? Stop by one of LA’s numerous museums to get an education on art, science, history, and more.


The Getty Center


Price: $

Quality: 4.5 out of 5

If you want to enjoy breathtaking Los Angeles views without breaking a sweat, then you should definitely take a trip up to the Getty Center. In addition to the vistas, the museum offers a diverse collection of unique art. They’ve got something for every palate—modern photography to ancient artifacts.The museum itself is a stunning piece of architecture; made entirely of limestone, it’s reminiscent of the buildings in Jerusalem.  

The spot is good for families with children ages 11+ (younger children might be somewhat bored) and for travelers on all budgets. Like most museums, it’s closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly.


California Science Center


Price: $

Quality: 4 out of 5

Home to the Endeavor Space Shuttle, the California Science Center is a hands-on museum that’s fun for kids and adults. You can catch an IMAX screening on an educational topic such as the National Parks or the Planet.

IMAX tickets can be purchased at the museum. Tickets are free for the main exhibits. However, the Endeavor exhibit requires an advance reservation, which can be done online; reservations are free but have a $2 service charge.




Price: $

Quality: 4 out of 5

Known for its famed street light display, LACMA is an interactive and innovative modern art museum with something for everyone. It’s a great spot for families; kids will love the Metropolis II piece (which is basically a gigantic hot wheels set).

You can purchase tickets at LACMA, but most special exhibits such as the rain room require advance reservation. Reservations sell out early (the rain room is sold out for the next month) so book early.


La Brea Tar Pits Museum


Price: $

Quality: 4.5 out of 5

Los Angeles is home to one of the most famous ice age fossil excavations sites, the La Brea Tar Pits. This is a must-see for dinosaur lovers and a great place for kids. The museum and grounds are pretty small; you can cover it all in an hour or two.

For those on a tight budget, you can walk around the grounds for free and still see the tar pits and excavations in progress. The museum has educational videos and skeletal displays of each animal type found at the site including wooly mammoths and sloths.


Griffith Observatory

Flickr/Justin Vidamo

Price: $ – FREE

Quality: 4.5 out of 5

The Griffith Observatory provides stunning views of Los Angeles. You can hike or drive up to the observatory. The museum has wonderful interactive exhibits and educational films. It’s free, but doesn’t open until noon on weekdays (closed on Mondays) and 10 am on weekends; it’s open until 10 pm, so you can stay late and take a look at the stars. It’s a great place for people of all ages.


The Broad

Flickr/Eric Garcetti

Price: $

Quality: 4.5 out of 5

Created by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad to showcase their private contemporary art collection, the Broad is a must-see for modern art lovers—2,000 pieces by more than 200 artists. It’s a good spot for travelers on a budget and those who love art.

As with everything new in Los Angeles (it only opened in fall 2015), it’s hard to get in. Tickets are free to the main collection, but special exhibits typically cost about $12. You can make advance reservations online—try to book about a month in advance, if possible. There is a standby line at the museum, but some people have reported waiting for 2 hours or more, so I wouldn’t recommend it.


Los Angeles Hikes

If you like more adventurous vacations, LA will not disappoint. Get out and explore the beautiful outdoors!


Hollywood Sign

Flickr/The City Project

Price: $ – FREE

Quality: 4 out of 5

While you can’t actually walk right up to the iconic Hollywood sign, this hike gets you pretty close. It also provides gorgeous views of the city. It’s a relatively easy hike at only 3.3 miles round trip which should take about 2 hours.

This is a great option for active families and travelers on a budget. I’d recommend hiking on a weekday morning as the trail tends to get pretty crowded on the weekends.


Parker Mesa Overlook

Andy Sternberg/Flickr

Price: $ – FREE

Quality: 4.5 out of 5

This is a slightly more challenging hike for the adventurous traveler in search of the best vista. It’s a 7.28-mile round trip hike with a little over 1,200 feet of elevation gain—I promise the view is worth it. On a clear day, from the top, you can see nearly the entire city from Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles. It’s also a relatively quiet trail; however, I’d suggest hiking it on a weekday since the parking can get crowded on the weekends.


Los Angeles Shopping

Looking to update your wardrobe while on vacay? You’re in luck; LA is arguably one of the best shopping cities in the world.


The Grove and Farmers Market


Price: $$

Quality: 4 out of 5

The Grove is a gorgeous outdoor mall with a lawn for picnics, a musical fountain, and a free trolley which will take you from one end to another. It has traditional mall stores such as Nordstrom, Gap, and Anthropologie and some specialty stores such as Topshop and Dylan’s Candy Bar. The Farmers Market (which is at the very end of the mall) has tons of tasty food stands offering flavors from around the globe: Brazilian BBQ, Italian pizza, French crepes, and more.

It’s a perfect place for families. Parking is pretty easy, but expensive; the Grove has a large multi-level parking structure for guests.


Melrose Trading Post


Price: $

Quality: 4 out of 5

The Melrose Trading Post is a hip weekly flea market perfect for travelers on a budget. It’s a fun place to roam around looking at antique furniture, clothing, vinyls, and art. It’s only open on Sunday so make sure to plan accordingly. There is a $2 entrance fee that’s cash only.

It’s located in the parking lot of Fairfax High School, which is right at the corner of Fairfax and Melrose. If you have extra time, you can take a walk along the neighboring Melrose shops.


Rodeo Drive


Price: $$$

Quality: 4 out of 5

This famous shopping street in Beverly Hills is lined with top designer storefronts. Even though it’s in the shopping category, for most tourists, this will be an attraction. However, it’s still worth the visit to people watch and to see the high-end cars lining the street. Parking is easy and inexpensive in the neighboring public lots.


Third Street Promenade

Wikimedia/Balazs Barnucz

Price: $-$$

Quality: 4 out of 5

A stone’s throw away from the Santa Monica Pier is the Third Street Promenade, a pedestrian street lined with mall-type stores—Forever21, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, Nike. There’s also tons of outdoor dining options along the street and side streets. On the Third Street Promenade, you’ll see all types of street performers—singers, dancers, magicians, musicians—as well as some homeless people. However, it’s still a great spot for the whole family. There is easy parking in public lots on the side streets.


Los Angeles Events

LA is known for its entertainment; experience it for yourself at a sporting event, concert, or comedy show.


Dodgers Game


Price: $-$$$ (varies by game and where you sit)

Quality: 4 out of 5

If you like baseball, then you should grab a famous Dodger dog and enjoy a ball game. The stadium is nothing special, but the team and the fans are great. Depending on the opponent, you can also typically get pretty good seats for a reasonable price. Parking can be a hassle, so consider taking the free shuttle from Union Station if that’s convenient for you.


UCB Comedy Show

Flickr/Travis Wise

Price: $

Quality: 4 out of 5

Made famous by Amy Poehler, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater is the center of LA’s improv comedy scene. Many of your favorite comedians got their start at UCB including the Broad City girls and most of the Silicon Valley cast.  

If you go to a show, you’re guaranteed to laugh. I wouldn’t recommend it for families since the comedy can be a little racy. The shows range from $0-10; be sure to buy tickets in advance online. The theater is small, and shows often sell out.


Los Angeles Food

LA is a culinary center with foods for all palates from fast food to fancy eats.




Price: $

Quality: 3 out of 5

Most Californians will tell you a trip to In-N-Out is a must. It’s a fast-food joint known for freshness and quality. If you’re looking for the best fast food burger, In-N-Out has it. If you go, you must know the secret menu, which includes “animal-style” fries (pictured above) that come with cheese, grilled onions, and their famous special sauce. Another personal favorite of mine is a Neopolitan shake—chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry mixed together, YUM. Vegetarians don’t fret! You can grab a delicious grilled cheese. They’re located all over the L.A. area.


Food Trucks

Wikimedia/Ricardo Diaz

Price: $

Quality: 3-4 out of 5

Food trucks are a fun and delicious way to experience Los Angeles. Some of the tastiest and well-known include Kogi, the Grilled Cheese Truck, Coolhaus, the Lobos Truck, Urban Oven, and El Chato. Follow them on Twitter to track them down. If you visit LACMA, there are usually a line-up of food trucks across the street at lunchtime.


Mendocino Farms

Flickr/Kelly Bone

Price: $

Quality: 4.5 out of 5

A Los Angeles chain that serves unique, farm-fresh sandwiches and salads fast. My absolute favorite sandwich is the not-so-fried chicken. Mendocino Farms is a great spot for families, and it has vegan and vegetarian options. It’s a great place to grab a quick, delicious lunch or to pick up food to-go for a picnic at the Hollywood Bowl or the beach. There are several locations throughout L.A. from Marina Del Rey to Miracle Mile/the Grove area.


Grand Central Market


Price: $

Quality: 3-4 out of 5

Grand Central Market has been around for decades but gained new-found notoriety when one of its tenants Eggslut was featured on the Food Network. The market features tons of different food options from Mexican to Chinese, pizza to deli sandwiches. I do highly recommend Eggslut—it deserves its fame; the egg sandwiches are irresistible. If you’re only going for Eggslut, you should know they are going to be opening locations in Venice and Glendale very soon.




Price: $$

Quality: 5 out of 5

If you love sushi, you MUST go to Sugarfish, trust me. Trust me also happens to be the name of the price-fixe menu that I’d suggest you order. The fish and rice melt in your mouth. It’s also fairly reasonable for such high-quality sushi at about $25-30 per person for the price-fixe menu.




Price: $$$

Quality: 5 out of 5

If you’re looking to splurge on one fancy meal, Wolfgang Puck’s Beverly Hills steakhouse, CUT, is the place to do it. The steaks are incredible. Also, do yourself a favor and order the mac and cheese. It’s the best I’ve ever had.


Other Activities

If you’re looking for more unique activities, check out this list of even more things to do in LA.


Venice Canals Walkways

Price: $ – FREE

Quality: my review 4 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4.5 out of 5

Walking along the canals and ogling the gorgeous homes, you’ll feel as if you were transported to Europe.


Olvera Street

Price: $ – FREE

Quality: my review 3.5 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4 out of 5

A historic street that has been a part of California since before it became a part of the U.S. As you walk along the street, you’ll get a taste of California’s Mexican culture.


The Nethercutt Collection

Price: $

Quality: my review 4.5 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 5 out of 5

This is a must-see for car enthusiasts. The collection has 264 restored cars; some which are over 100 years old.


Battleship USS Iowa BB-61

Price: $

Quality: my review 4.5 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4.5 out of 5

For history buffs, the trip down to Long Beach is worth it to see this piece of Naval history and to board the ship.


Petersen Automotive Museum

Price: $-$$

Quality: my review 4 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4.5 out of 5

This is another must-see for car enthusiasts. It’s got hundreds of cars and motorized bikes on display.


The Grammy Museum

Price: $

Quality: my review 3.5 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4.5 out of 5

This is a great spot for kids and music-lovers. There are interactive exhibits where you can experience recording and mixing a song or playing instruments.


Annenberg Space for Photography

Price: $ – FREE

Quality: my review 4 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4.5 out of 5

Located on the campus of the Creative Artists Agency, this gallery alway showcases incredible exhibits. It’s very small—you can easily cover the entire space in an hour. As an added bonus, on your walk through CAA to the exhibit, you’re likely to see a celebrity on their way to meet their agent.  


Museum of Tolerance

Price: $

Quality: my review 4 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4 out of 5

A thoughtful museum that covers tough topics such as the Holocaust and Genocide. Make an advance reservation if possible; it’s often crowded with students on field trips.


Japanese American National Museum

Price: $

Quality: my review 4.5 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4.5 out of 5

It’s a wonderful museum that discusses the history of Japanese Americans covering topics such as internment during WWII.


Museum of Jurassic Technology

Price: $

Quality: my review 3 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4 out of 5

For those who enjoy oddities or for those who would like to see what a museum created by David Lynch would look like, the Museum of Jurassic Technology is a fun, weird stop.


Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens

Price: $

Quality: my review 5 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 5 out of 5

Located in Pasadena, this gorgeous campus boasts stunning gardens and great artwork.


The Getty Villa

Price: $

Quality: my review 4 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4.5 out of 5

This sister-museum to the Getty offers stunning views of the ocean as well as incredible Greek sculptures and gardens.


Abbot Kinney Shops & Restaurants

Price: $

Quality: my review 4 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4.5 out of 5

Located in Venice, this eclectic, hipster shopping street is filled with unique shops and delicious restaurants.


The Beverly Center and Beverly Connection

Price: $

Quality: my review 4.5 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4 out of 5

If you’re looking to shop outlets and mall stores, the Beverly Center and Beverly Connection (across the street) is the spot for you. They have almost every store you could want to visit — Macy’s, Sephora, Nordstrom Rack, Target, Sak’s Off Fifth, and much more.


Laugh Factory

Price: $$

Quality: my review 3.5 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4 out of 5

Many famous comics have done sets on this stage and still do. Stop by for a chance to catch Tim Allen, Chris D’Elia, Daniel Tosh, Dane Cook, and many others.


Malibu Family Wines

Price: $-$$$

Quality: my review 4 out of 5, TripAdvisor review 4.5 out of 5

Take in the gorgeous Malibu views while sipping on some vino. Make an advance reservation online and bring your own picnic. The wines are relatively inexpensive and tasty.


How to Plan Your Los Angeles Itinerary: Two Key Tips

I have two key tips to making a flawless L.A. itinerary.


Tip #1: Consider Location

Because L.A. is a sprawling metropolis, when planning, you’ll want to try to group your activities by neighborhood. You don’t want to waste your precious vacation time sitting in traffic. It doesn’t make sense to try to go to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Burbank and the Santa Monica Pier on the same day. Without traffic, that drive would take at least 45 minutes. Instead, you should probably do the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, the California Science Center and a Dodger’s Game on the same day, since all of those activities are located on the east side of Los Angeles.

To give you an idea of how spread out everything is, I have a map marking all of the main things to do in LA outlined above (minus Disneyland which couldn’t fit on the map since it’s south of L.A. in Anaheim).


Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 4.10.25 PM
For full interactive map, click here


Red marks are attractions:

  1. Santa Monica Pier
  2. Venice Boardwalk
  3. Hollywood Walk of Fame
  4. Hollywood Bowl
  5. Universal Studios Hollywood
  6. Warner Brothers Studio Tour
  7. Walt Disney Concert Hall


Green marks are museums:

  1. The Getty Villa
  2. The Getty
  3. La Brea Tar Pits
  4. LACMA
  5. California Science Center
  6. The Broad


Blue marks are hikes:

  1. Parker Mesa Overlook
  2. Hollywood Sign hike


Purple marks are shopping locations:

  1. Third Street Promenade
  2. Rodeo Drive
  3. Melrose Trading Post
  4. The Grove and Farmers Market


Yellow marks are event locations:

  1. UCB Theatre
  2. Dodger Stadium


Tip #2: Think About Transit

Again, Los Angeles is sprawling and traffic-ridden. When creating your itinerary, consider what form of transit you’ll use. If you’re renting a car, make sure you know the cost of parking at each spot. Some places including your hotel might charge $10-20 for parking; it may be prohibitively expensive.

Consider using Lyft, Uber or even public transit. Also, think about when you will be in the car. Try to avoid driving or using Lyft/Uber in the direction of traffic during rush hour (which is generally in the Westward direction from 8-10 am and in the Eastward from 3-6 pm).


Sample Itinerary for Young Travelers: Three Days

If you’re in your 20s or 30s and looking to have some fun without breaking the bank, check out these exciting things to do in LA.


Day 1 – Hollywood

  • Morning: Hike up to the Hollywood sign.
  • Afternoon: Go for a walk along Hollywood Boulevard or check out the Griffith Observatory.
  • Night: Go to a UCB show.


Day 2 – Mid-City

  • Morning: Stop by the Melrose Trading Post, if you have time take a stroll along Melrose shops.
  • Afternoon: Check out the artwork at LACMA.
  • Night: Check out a show at the Laugh Factory.


Day 3 – Santa Monica

  • Morning: Walk along the beach from the Venice Boardwalk to the Santa Monica Pier (or consider renting Citybikes).
  • Afternoon: Shop the Third Street Promenade.
  • Night: Walk, shop, and grab dinner on Abbott Kinney or go to Malibu Wines.


Sample Itinerary for Families: Three Days

This itinerary will ensure fun for the whole family.


Day 1 – Santa Monica

  • Morning: Walk along the beach from the Venice Boardwalk to the Santa Monica Pier (or consider renting Citybikes).
  • Afternoon: Shop the Third Street Promenade.
  • Night: Hang out on the Santa Monica Pier, take a nighttime Ferris wheel ride and play carnival games.


Day 2 – Hollywood

  • Morning: Do a Warner Brothers Studio Tour.
  • Afternoon: Go to Universal Studios Hollywood.
  • Night: See a movie at Universal CityWalk or take a walk along Hollywood Boulevard.


Day 3 – Mid-City/Downtown

  • Morning: Explore the La Brea Tar Pits.
  • Afternoon: Check out the California Science Center and Grammy Museum.
  • Night: Go to a Dodgers game.


Sample Itinerary for Art-Lovers: Three Days

This itinerary incorporates all of the best art museums to make sure you don’t miss a thing.


Day 1 – Downtown

  • Morning: Take a tour of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. 
  • Afternoon: Visit the Broad Museum.
  • Night: Go to UCB Comedy show.


Day 2 – Mid-City

  • Morning: Check out LACMA.
  • Afternoon: Explore the Getty.
  • Night: Go to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl.


Day 3 – Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu

  • Morning: Take a walk or bike ride along Abbott Kinney and the Santa Monica beach.
  • Afternoon: Explore the Getty Villa.
  • Night: Enjoy a picnic and drinks at Malibu Wines.