If you’re looking for nonstop fun and excitement, a vacation to Los Angeles, California should definitely be on your radar. As the second largest city in the United States, LA recently ranked #20 as the most popular city in the world to visit. In fact, it welcomed a record 47 million visitors in 2016 – a nearly 5 percent increase from the year before. Of course, we can’t really say we’re surprised by that number. After all, Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world. So, if you’re looking for fun things to do in LA, the “City of Angels” is your ultimate destination for iconic landmarks, celebrity sightings, and epic attractions.
1. Hollywood Studio Tours
Many of your favorite TV shows and movies are filmed right here in Tinseltown. While some of the studios are closed to the public, there are several major studios that do offer a unique, behind-the-scenes look at what really goes on when the cameras are rolling:
Universal Studios Hollywood Tour: Probably best known today for its theme park, Universal Pictures is home to the largest film and television studio in the world. Included with theme park admission, the studio tour lets visitors explore Hollywood’s most famous backlot. There, guests will encounter the eerie crash site from War of the Worlds, the infamous Wisteria Lane from Desperate House Wives, the blood-thirsty shark from Jaws and the spooky Bates Motel from Psycho.
Paramount Pictures Tour: Paramount Studios is responsible for such cult classics like Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Godfather, King Kong and the original Star Trek During this 2-hour studio tour, you’ll visit iconic locations like the Bronson Gate, New York Street Backlot, and the Prop Warehouse. Each step of the way, you’ll learn how Paramount’s more than century-old legacy influenced the entertainment world as we know it today.
Sony Pictures Studio Tour: Formerly MGM studio, this walking tour includes stops to famous soundstages that were once home to hit films like The Wizard of Oz, Men in Black and Spider-Man. Guests may also catch a glimpse of the infamous RV from the hit TV show Breaking Bad or the set from the hit comedy, The Goldbergs. The guided tour lasts two hours.
Warner Bros. Studios Tour: Deemed the “best studio tour in Hollywood,” you’ll explore several outdoor sets and soundstages used to create major productions like the Gilmore Girls, The Big Bang Theory, and Argo. Each tour, which lasts about three hours, also includes exclusive access to original props, costumes, picture cars, and sets used from Batman to Friends.
With this tour, you don’t feel like just another tourist. Instead, you get fully immersed in the making of these shows.
While most tours of famous places will only let the public into museum style exhibits, the Warner Bros. Studio tour will take you to the actual stages where many shows, such as Ellen, The Fosters, and Big Bang Theory are still filmed and produced. You’ll get a backstage look at how scenes are filmed and sets created.
You’ll then be taken to the Prop Department where you will see some of the most famous film memorabilia in the world. This included props from recent hits like “Wonder Woman” and other Marvel movies. As if that’s not enough, you’ll also get access to props from the Harry Potter Movies, including being sorted into “Hogwarts houses” by the sorting hat.
Once the tour of the actual studios is completed, you’ll then have the ability to take a two-hour tour of other LA sites and celebrity homes. The difference in this tour when compared to others offered? During this tour, you are riding on a small minibus that is able to gain access to many of the neighborhoods and side streets that the larger coach-style buses aren’t able to access.
While the mini-bus allows for this access, it also allows for a more intimate tour. The tour guides are able to converse more easily and personable to you and your group. You’ll see the grandeur of the city like never before.
Often referred to as “Third Street Promenade,” here you can experience world-class shopping, dining and entertainment just steps away from the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. Stroll leisurely down the street as you explore the many clothing and specialty shops. From Greek cuisine to country cooking, there’s no shortage of yummy food either. The area boasts more than 100+ restaurants to suit your palate.
Sharks, turtles, squids, OH MY! With over 100 local sea creatures on display, hands-on activities for the kids, and daily educational programs, SMPA is the perfect place to “dive” into marine science without actually getting your feet wet.
Home to Mickey, Donald, Goofy and the rest of the gang! Since first opening its doors for business in 1955, more than 650 million guests have visited the most magical place on earth. Whether you like to go fast or slow, trust us, there’s a ride here for everyone. If you’re feeling brave, visit the ghosts at the Haunted Mansion. If you’re a little more adventurous, take a fun boat ride with the Pirates from the Caribbean. You can even have tea with Alice or explore space with Buzz Lightyear. From the many rides, yummy restaurants, and unique stores, you won’t be bored here.
This famous, winding road is located in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains and offers a stunning, relaxing view of one of LA’s most scenic drives. It’s also one of the most densely celebrity-populated roads in the City of Angels. Best of all, it won’t cost you a penny to explore.
For nearly a century now, this historic sign, The Hollywood Sign, has become the global symbol of the entertainment industry. Situated on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains, the sign was originally created for a local real estate development in 1923. However, it was such a hit with the public, the sign was permanently left up. The sign is visible from all over the city, and you’re free to take as many photos of the sign as you’d like. However, make sure you don’t get too close—as in touching distance. That could actually cost you jail time.
Want to become one with nature? This is the perfect place to do it. Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the United States. It offers numerous family attractions, miles of hiking and horseback riding trails. The park is also home to its very own observatory. Since 1935, more people have looked through Griffith Observatory’s telescope than any other telescope on Earth. This landmark boasts over a million visitors a year.
This is the place to go if you are looking for the most exquisite view of the literal stars. No, not the movie stars you may see on some of the beaches or on the tours. Instead, the Griffith Observatory offers an unparalleled view of the cosmos.
When you visit the observatory with your kids, you can enjoy all of their attractions for free, with the exception being programs that take place in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. The free admission, however, does include the observatory building, telescopes, and the entire grounds.
Because the roads leading to the Observatory can get crowded rather quickly, especially on the weekends and on holidays, parking can be extremely hectic. This can be easily remedied by taking the Metro Red Line to the Vermont/Sunset stop and then taking the DASH Observatory public bus to the Observatory. Considering the DASH Observatory bus only cost $0.50 per adult, and children under age riding free, this is a low-cost way to solve your parking troubles. OR you can just Uber. Let’s be honest…it’s easier than public transportation.
While at the observatory, you will have a spectacular view of many LA landmarks. This included the famed Hollywood Sign and the Los Angeles skyline. Over all, this is the excellent answer to the question of what to do in LA today with kids; the children love coming to the Observatory.
8. Getty Center
Located in Brentwood, the Getty Center houses a collection of European and American paintings, drawings, sculptures, decorative arts, and photography from the Middle Ages to the present. After exploring the museum, make sure you explore the center’s beautiful gardens and water fountains. Here, you’ll also get an excellent view of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Pacific Ocean, and Los Angeles.
With more than 25 acres to explore, this gorgeous park sits adjacent to the Pacific coastline for a beautiful, relaxing view of the ocean. Located along Ocean Avenue, guests can enjoy a nice picnic, tour the park’s rose garden or admire the park’s wood and concrete sculptures. You can also stop by and snap a photo of the park’s only totem pole!
10. Chinese Theatre
Since 1927, the Chinese Theatre has served as the main hub for some of the biggest red carpet movie premieres of all time. This is where Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars come to watch their movies. The iconic movie palace on the famous Hollywood Boulevard also boasts more than 50 events a year including imprint ceremonies and film festivals. The theater also offers a daily walking tour that includes a stroll through Hollywood movie history.
11. Hollywood Bowl
If you’re a big fan of good music, you’ll find it here. The historic amphitheater has been entertaining the masses since 1922. The Beatles, Louis Armstrong, and The Beach Boys are just a few of the great acts that have performed here. If you plan a visit, don’t forget to stop by the free Hollywood Bowl Museum! It’s open every night before concerts as well as daytime all year round.
You can find the beginning of this top visitor attraction on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Ave in Hollywood. The five-point stars that you see embedded in the sidewalks serve as permanent monuments to actors, producers, singers, directors and others who’ve made a memorable impact in the entertainment industry. The Walk of Fame is free to admire and open to the public.
Forever enshrined in Terrazzo and brass are the names of some of the greatest personas Hollywood has ever produced. Some mistakenly believe that the honor of being chosen for a star is solely that of an actor or actress. In fact, it is open to any artist that falls into one of the five categories of nomination.
Those categories include:
- Motion Pictures
- Live Performance/Theater
Finding the famed sidewalk isn’t difficult. If you go to the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, you will actually be right in the middle of the Walk of Fame. If an address is what you are looking for, the closest address would be 6801 Hollywood Blvd. You may not want to drive yourself, though. There is parking at the Hollywood and Highland Center, but traffic in Hollywood can be crazy Instead, the Metro Red Line has two stops for the walk; one is at Highland and the other at Vine.
In fact, what most people don’t realize is that the Hollywood Walk of Fame is an actual public sidewalk. It should be on anyone’s list of what to do in Los Angeles!
If you and your family want to easily see the top places in LA without having to worry about negotiating the traffic yourself, this is the attraction for you. During the 6-hour tour of the city, put on by LA City Tours, you will see every major landmark, including the famous Venice Beach. More importantly, you’ll get to spend time outside of the bus at each stop, allowing you the chance to snap pictures and take in the attractions.
The starting location of this particular tour is in front of the LA City Tours location, just a short walk from the Walk of Fame. With it starting on Hollywood Boulevard, you’ll get to see Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, the Dolby Theatre, and the LA Hard Rock Café.
Is taking a picture with the Hollywood Sign a must for your LA trip? This tour stops at Griffith Park and allows you to spend ample time taking in the breathtaking views of the city, along with the famous sign.
Perhaps the desire of yours is to see what could possibly be the most expensive, and most famous, road in the world, Rodeo Drive. If so, this tour will take you right to it. Though you may not have time to do any shopping, you will get to see some of the most expensive stores around. Also, on this same part of town, you’ll take a ride through Beverly Hills, and Bel-Air, though it’s unlikely you’ll see any fresh princes. However, you will see many celebrity mansions and the Sunset Strip.
This tour will also take you through Downtown LA, with views of the Disney Concert Hall, Staples Center, and Nokia LA Live. To top it all off, you’ll get to see some of the most beautiful coastlines California has to offer, including Venice Beach.
The great thing about the 6-hour tour from LA City Tours is its price, especially when you consider everything you will see. For adults, the rates start at $79; for children, it is $55. Laura M. reviewed the tour on TripAdvisor and said it was a “Great overview of Los Angeles from Downtown to Venice Beach and Santa Monica to the homes of the stars on Rodeo Drive. Our tour guide made it a great day-so knowledgeable, fun, and thoughtful of all on the tour!”
14. TMZ Tour LA
The TMZ Celebrity Tour is a must. Though it’s not guaranteed, many have been able to spot some of the biggest celebrities in LA, hence why it has a 4-star rating on TripAdvisor.
The TMZ Tour in LA is the go to tour for people who are looking to see what the Hollywood life of a celebrity is all about. The tour takes you throughout Beverly Hills, Hollywood, West Hollywood, and the Sunset Strip where celebrities eat, work, shop, party, and play.
Hear stories from people in the know about some of the worst behavior of celebrities, the fanciest celebrity homes, and the stories that celebrities definitely don’t want you to know about. All of these stories come from real life sources and they are bound to make you laugh, cry, and gasp in amazement.
Tour guides that lead you around are the ones you see directly from TMZ on television – and that means that they know where to catch celebrities in the act – have your phone ready to catch Justin Bieber or a Kardashian around town.
When you get to the Hollywood and Highland Center for the tour, you can park there for only $2 for the length of the tour, up to two hours, and then $1 per 15 minutes after that. You can also pay a daily flat fee on certain days.
The TMZ Tour LA costs $54 for people over 12 years old and $44 for those aged 2- 12.
The tour is not recommended for anyone under two years of age. On weekdays, the TMZ Tour in LA departs at 1 PM and 3:30 PM, on weekends the tour leaves at 1 PM, 3:30 PM, and 6 PM. It is recommended that you purchase your tickets beforehand if you can because the tours often sell out. It is a little easier to get into the tour on weekdays.
Likewise, going on a celebrity tour during the week is actually more advisable because celebrities are more likely to be shopping and out-and-about during the week than they are on the weekends. Alternatively, the Saturday night tours often have the most success with actually finding celebrities.
The tour starts at either the Hollywood or the LA departure zone, but they cover the same areas. It then hits all of the Beverly Hills hotspots, where you are most likely to see a celebrity. The tour begins and ends at the same place, the Hard Rock Cafe, Hollywood or The Grove L.A.
The Hard Rock Cafe is located at 6801 Hollywood Blvd #105, Hollywood, CA 90028. The Grove is located at 189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90036. You will receive detailed location instructions and check-in information when you book your Tour. However, they do not guarantee that you will see a celebrity.
The guide (who is also your bus driver) takes you around to the different locations. You can pick up a packet that will tell you the secrets, gossip, and history behind the buildings. The tour does not stop, so you should be prepared to be on a bus without a bathroom for two hours.
The buses are quite nice and do have air conditioning. If you need a wheelchair accessible LA tour, the TMZ Tour may fit your needs, you just need to give them 72-hour notice. All tours are performed in English, though much of the tour is visual so people from all over the world can enjoy it. Things like celebrity hot spots, shopping, and clubs don’t need additional explanation.
If you are headed to LA anytime soon, the TMZ Tour LA is a fantastic celebrity tour that will help you to see the ways that celebrities live in Beverly Hills, and beyond. There are very few places that have the access to celebrities like TMZ does, so the TMZ tour is the perfect fit for anyone looking to catch Rihanna, Brad Pitt, or Justin Timberlake. Very few celebrity tours have the insider information and keen eye that this one does.
If you are searching for ideas on what to do in downtown Los Angeles, the options are sort of slim. Until recently, Downtown was a place to stay away from. The city has been pouring money into it and it’s working.
We have a few suggestions! Angel City Brewery is a cool, hip place to grab a beer and a bite to eat from a food truck. There’s also Philipe The Original – the original french dip sandwich joint! While you’re downtown, you should also check out Olvera Street, the first ever and oldest street in Los Angeles – it’s full of cute shops and eateries!
Whether you want to gawk over a beautiful celebrity home or spot one of your favorite stars at LA’s trendiest hot spots, Velvet Ropes has you covered. Download our app today on Google Play and soon the Apple Store to get real-time notifications when your favorite stars are spotted!