20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Los Angeles
Explore the biggest city in the world and the most populated in the United States of America with our guide to the top attractions in Los Angeles, a fascinating city of superlatives. Be dazzled by the world's biggest and best movie and TV studios, the United States' commercial capital, the U.S. National Zoo, and some of America's best art and music museums.
Los Angeles is also home to a sprawling metropolitan area teeming with upscale shopping, dining, and nightlife options. This is where you'll find the greatest number of famous people and celebrity-worthy places.
Expect this city to entice you to take some fun shortcuts through its neighborhoods, where you'll find yourself stumbling upon entertainment, eating, and activity goldmines. Forget visiting the city like a tourist; we're here to help you spend more time relaxing and less time planning, so this is the handbook for an awesome and easy time in this most intriguing American city. Get an insider's guide to the best places to see and things to do in Los Angeles.
Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier is a historic seaside amusement park in the central section of Santa Monica. It's full of nostalgia, cheap thrills, and Hollywood history. Thousands of people descend on the pier each year to enjoy the atmosphere, which is reminiscent of a big-city fair. With a number of rides, including a Ferris wheel and the iconic steel, wooden and glass Boomerang, visitors can be treated to stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The star attraction of the park is the historic Wonder Wheel, which is a 16,500-ton steel spinning machine that was built in 1929. Others attractions include the Pier Theater, a restored Edwardian Victorian-style playhouse; the three-deck, 60-foot Globe Trotter; a miniature railroad; and boardwalk tours of the city that take you to the historic Belmont Theatre. The attraction is situated on the west coast of the city on the Santa Monica Bay. It has an observation deck on the 12th floor where visitors can enjoy superb views.
Home to "Harry Potter," "Shrek," "Back to the Future," and "Indiana Jones" at one time, the Universal Studios is a Western-themed theme park that opened in 1955. The park has always been associated with movies but other attractions like the "Harry Potter" Ride and "X-Men" Superhero Exposed have put Universal on the world-wide map. Don't miss "The Simpsons Ride," a Harry Potter-themed roller coaster. Designed to recreate the major scenes from the movies, this ride features animatronics and special effects. The theater that shows the movie, Universal Studios Spectacolum, is a 15-minute, 3D ride through a city setting with notable figures from Universal's film collection. Don't Miss
Dazzling Venice Beach in Los Angeles is a haven for both surfers and teenagers with skateboards. Once-derelict wasteland when it was opened to the public as a park in the 1920s, Venice Beach is now home to small businesses, bistros and cafés along with art galleries, shops and street performers. Just to the west of the beach is Los Angeles's oldest amusement park, Venice Beach Amusement Park. The beach itself is small but is enclosed on one side by the Venice Beach pier, a structure that houses a number of bars and restaurants.
Built in 1922 by the Olmstead Brothers firm, this beautiful outdoor concert hall on the slopes of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles was one of the first of its kind to open to the public. Hollywood Bowl offers several distinctive advantages, including the superb acoustics of its Italian Renaissance design and a reputation for setting the standard for American musical theater. In the fall of 1925, the Bowl premiered the first American production of the operas in question here. For those who do not wish to venture to Hollywood during the Christmas holidays or perhaps to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Bowl offers several other classical performances.
The Getty Center
The Getty Center is housed in a modern building in the Santa Monica Mountains, a 19-minute drive from Los Angeles International Airport. The impressive structure was designed by Richard Meier and is arranged around a series of themed buildings and gardens. Explore the exhibitions across the four main sites, which can be visited independently. The Broad Contemporary Art Museum is home to over 12,000 paintings, including masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, and Matisse. The Getty Villa, a Roman-Italian style site, is a fascinating interpretation of an ancient villa, focusing on 500 years of Roman civilization. Modern art is showcased at the J. Paul Getty Museum, a soaring structure that is currently home to one of the largest art collections in the world. Also found here is the Steve Martin Center for Self-Expression, a center for the psychology of creativity. While in Los Angeles, visit also the Santa Monica Pier, the largest collection of wooden boats in the world and the Abbot Kinney Boulevard Beach, a charming seaside thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants. The Getty Center is free to enter and is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Some parking is available, but a fair amount is limited.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre
It was at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard that the great Chinese movie star, William "The Ox-Bow" Kwan, began to work for the U.S. military during World War II. A tribute to his star quality was the new Chinese Theatre, which opened on Hollywood Boulevard in 1929. The building is an exciting affair: a rust-colored marquee, a film-strip archway (on Sunset Boulevard) that frames the entrance, and a colossal lobby, which has towering columns and a hardwood floor with gleaming bronze sculptures. Hollywood has had its share of movie palaces: the Trocadero was demolished, the Paladium was demolished, and now the Chinese is no longer a movie palace but a Chinese palace, having opened in 1953 as an exhibit of the famous Chinese collection, amassed by Chinese immigrant Charles "Charley" Woo. The palace's theme is China, with gilt dragons, friezes, and other touches inspired by traditional Chinese decor. The grand theater itself is impressive. The floor has green-gold carpets that have survived hundreds of movies and musical shows, including a famous visit by Charlie Chaplin in 1931. There are more than 200 statues in the lobby, including General Douglas MacArthur, Claudette Colbert, and Marilyn Monroe.
Of all the major cities in America, Beverly Hills stands out as the most prestigious and glamorous. The city is famous for having Hollywood's two biggest names, famous individuals, and even a president reside within its borders. Whether you're here to find stars on Hollywood Boulevard or enjoy the amazing mansions that sit on top of the best streets in the area, these places are worth seeing. Be sure to stop in the many different shops that are peppered throughout the area and go for an afternoon of retail therapy. If you'd like to see and do more, the best way to see the area is by taking the TWA tours available at various points throughout Beverly Hills. Take a stroll down the residential streets and visit the small cafes that are dispersed throughout the area.
La Brea Tar Pits
Probably the oldest site in Los Angeles, the La Brea Tar Pits (sometimes called the La Brea tar seeps) have been in continuous operation for more than 25 million years. Throughout history, Native Americans and early Spanish and Mexican explorers used these deposits to process the naturally occurring tar, which had been popular for thousands of years in cosmetics and for a wide variety of artistic applications. They even used it in gunpowder and as a binder for leather. Today, the site is a California State Park and the remains of some of these pre-historic animals are still here, carefully preserved by the rain, the birds, the lightning, and time. Among these are a dog, a mastodon, horses, a bison, and an American lion. You can see some of these artifacts in the La Brea Tar Pits Gallery.
California Science Center
One of the world's best science museums, the California Science Center in Los Angeles is unlike any other science museum. From the outset, the layout is quirky, merging into the scale of the earth and the universe through a series of awe-inspiring exhibitions, state-of-the-art technology, an extraordinary interactive digital experience, and beautiful, contemporary design. Notable features include the two-story-high cast iron Titan III moon rocket, the Central Station, an original Bat Cave, an Atmospheric Physics Theater, an Exobiology Theater, a state-of-the-art planetarium, and the chance to ride on a moon buggy.
The Rodeo Drive is a symbol of the modern high-end shopping experience in Los Angeles. Also known as the Chateau Marmont, it is located on the western side of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. With its modern white exterior, its signage is bright pink, yellow, and gold and houses some of the city's hottest shopping destinations. To find the Chateau Marmont, follow Sunset Boulevard north past The Grove, which is located on Robertson Boulevard, and look for the big pink sign with the word "Chateau" in the middle. Other shops on the block include the top-end Apple Store, the J. Crew flagship store, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Tiffany's, the world's most expensive jeweler. Look for signs for fashion designers such as Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, and Jean Paul Gaultier. Rodeo Drive is open Monday through Saturday 10 am to 9 pm and Sunday 11 am to 9 pm. Most stores are open from 10 am to 8 pm.
Griffith Park Observatory was established in 1911 by inventor, businessman and avid astronomer Leland Griffith, to conduct research into the study of the sun, planets, the moon and stars. It is considered one of the first observatories in the United States and is noted for its spectacular view of the Los Angeles Basin, which it shares with the adjacent Los Angeles Zoo. The observatory is surrounded by hundreds of trees, many of which were planted by Griffith himself, which are among the largest trees in Los Angeles. The observatory is popular for its free lectures and planetarium shows, which are always well attended.
The 'Hollywood Hills' are a 40-mile stretch of land in the southeast of the greater Los Angeles area, in Southern California. Because of its proximity to Hollywood and its natural beauty, the area is home to Hollywood's elite and the rich and famous. Surrounded by lush residential communities, the name 'Hollywood Hills' has come to signify everything from the luxurious to the trashy and the obscene. In contrast to the more expensive enclaves such as Beverly Hills and Malibu, the area is known for its unique physical landscape. The area's streets are filled with houses and estates adorned with landscaping, pools, and beautiful views of the Hollywood Hills. One of the area's most famous residential estates is that of Richard Nixon, who purchased 17 acres of property in this area and lived there for years. While there, he commissioned the creation of this majestic home that overlooks Los Angeles. The mansion was designed by the French architect Richard Meier, who reportedly said "if I had designed a home for the rich, I would have designed it this way." Today, the Hollywood Hills are one of the most expensive places in Los Angeles County to live.
Chinatown in Los Angeles, California, USA, is one of the largest and most famous in the world. Comprising over 300 restaurants, including the famous Rose Theater, the area has all the usual Chinese staples, but is also home to some decidedly non-Chinese restaurants that have been brought in to attract the tastes of the ethnic crowd. There are numerous spots in Chinatown to get a feel for its distinctive culture. Hiring a tuk-tuk tour, as in Bangkok, and stopping for a quick beer at one of the many bars and restaurants is a great way to spend some time in this colorful and culturally rich area.
Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica Beach is a picturesque stretch of sand on the Pacific Coast in the city of Los Angeles, between Santa Monica Boulevard and the ocean. The central portion is about half a mile long and is reached by Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica Boulevard (a major thoroughfare). The California State Park at Santa Monica, with a marina, an educational center, and a pier, is located here. Surrounding the area is a thin residential strip that separates the beach from the sidewalk along the Pacific Ocean. While the stretch of sand in front of Santa Monica pier is fairly touristy, it is a major surfing spot. The surf is strong and breaks along the beach tend to be steady.
Pasadena's headwaters is a century-old arroyo that is now filled with pools and urban sprawl, but is still home to the Rose Bowl, on whose grounds you'll find the California Institute of the Arts, a museum of modern art, the Hotel Green, and the 405 Freeway (US 91), all worth seeing. A few miles north of the Rose Bowl is Pasadena's premier attraction, the Colorado Street Bridge (Pasadena) Museum, which displays the early Pasadena art scene from the turn of the century to 1930. The original Parisian department store Les Batignolles, destroyed during World War I, is today one of the city's top galleries. A good base is the stylish, Hilton Park Lane. It has great restaurants and shops, and the five-minute walk to the train station takes you right to Old Town Pasadena.
L.A. Live is an entertainment district with an array of performance venues, trendy restaurants and bars, and a large shopping center. As the home of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, it has undergone numerous changes. In 2011, the Staples Center, a retractable roof, part indoor arena and part outdoor stadium, was built. As a result, the building next to it, the Los Angeles Convention Center, was replaced with a new structure. The surrounding neighborhoods are undergoing an ongoing renewal, with many street names changing from their traditional names of Bunker Hill or Figueroa to addresses such as 1st Street or N. Main. This makes it easier for visitors to find their way around. The Los Angeles Convention Center is America's third-largest convention center. The National Football League is headquartered here. L.A. Live is also home to the Forum, Staples Center and the Pauley Pavilion.
Considered as a tourist hot spot, Los Angeles, California is one of the most attractive cities for tourists to visit. Besides, there are many famous attractions in Los Angeles, such as Disneyland and Hollywood, which is considered the center of entertainment industry. Here, we will introduce one of Los Angeles' attractions – Universal CityWalk.
Santa Monica Pier and Coastal Highway
Santa Monica Pier is one of the most popular attractions in the Los Angeles area. A 16-block-long stretch along the Pacific Ocean, the pier is divided into five sections and has restaurants, shops, and facilities like the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, the Santa Monica Pier Carousel, and the Santa Monica Pier Hotel and Beach Club. Also of interest is the Ocean Front Walk, which stretches nearly three miles along the coast, featuring numerous places to shop, eat, and watch the world go by. Along the beaches fronting Santa Monica Pier is the famed redwood forest of Los Angeles, the Pacific Ocean Park.
The beach-lined Pacific coast of Malibu, one of the area's eight cities, is known for its world-famous beaches such as Malibu Colony. Located east of Santa Monica, the city extends inland along the Pacific Coast Highway. Among the best are the scenic pedestrian walkway and park along the shore. In addition to the world-famous beaches, Malibu is known as a tourist destination, thanks to its celebrity-packed environs. In fact, many of its ZIP codes have addresses that read, for example, "Heavenly Malibu." Malibu also is home to many exclusive and expensive hotels. Malibu Colony, for example, a popular residential neighborhood and home to Leo DiCaprio, has some of the city's most well-known inns and restaurants, while neighboring Palm Springs has many hotels and restaurants. Malibu is also home to the Santa Monica Pier, which has a popular boardwalk that includes amusements, rides and restaurants.
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Built for the 1932 Olympics, the Los Angeles Coliseum is one of the most famous sports venues in the world and still serves as the home stadium of the USC Trojans and the Los Angeles Rams. Entering the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the field is much smaller than it appears on television, and the 20,000-seat arena gives the illusion of being a football stadium with its stands rising along a steeply sloped hillside. A new expansive seating and concourse system was installed in 2007 for the opening of the Coliseum's USC-USC games.