Los Angeles is known as “The Entertainment Capital of the World”, and there’s no doubt it lives up to that hefty label. Theme parks, studios, luxurious malls, sandy beaches, celebrities – that’s Los Angeles.
But don’t be fooled, this many options isn’t necessarily a good thing. With that in mind, we’ve weeded out the tourist traps and created a list of must-dos just for you!
7. Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica
Sure, you could get a great view from the Hollywood Hills or by dining at a 5-star rooftop restaurant, but I prefer a more intimate approach. Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica is often overlooked, but the sprawling park along the oceanfront offers up one of the best views in the city. If you catch it at sundown the sky is gorgeous and the Santa Monica Pier is bustling with excitement. Near Ocean Avenue is also a ton of shopping, restaurants and great people watching on the 3rd Street Promenade. If you’re looking for cool places in Santa Monica, this is all you!
6. Celebrity Watching at Four Seasons Doheny
There are a handful of places in Los Angeles where you’re nearly guaranteed to see celebrities no matter when you go. Four Season Hotel on Doheny is arguably #1 on that list. If your things to do in LA list includes “see celebrities,” this is your spot, and it’s our little secret. Grab a drink in the lobby bar, check out all the fanciness, then hang out at valet. Yes, I said hang out at valet. It never fails, every time I’m there for a lunch meeting I see at least two celebrities. Last time it was Colin Firth and Dustin Hoffman!
5. Space Shuttle Endeavour
The California Science Center is now home to Space Shuttle Endeavour, and it’s quite the sight. There are tons of exhibits at the Science Center, but Endeavour is why people go. Believe it or not, the up-close experience with such a massive and iconic structure rivals the awe-inspiring nature of everything else in the city. For you more intellectual folks who need a break from the Hollywood nonsense, this is the perfect afternoon outing!
4. TV Show Taping
I’m always surprised by the number of people who visit LA, even people who live in LA, who have never been to a TV show taping. It’s crazy! In LA there are over 30 shows taping throughout the year with free tickets for fans. The two most reliable places for tickets is 1iota and On Camera Audiences, although some shows distribute tickets directly from their website, like Ellen. If you aren’t able to get tickets, check out some cool filming location, for example Pump Lounge, Sur Lounge, and Villa Blanca are all filming locations for Vanerpump Rules and The Housewives of Beverly Hills. They are all open to the public, so check them out!
3. Franklin Canyon
Hiking in LA is more like casually walking, but nevertheless, we call it hiking. Runyon Canyon is the most popular, but I personally hate it. It’s packed, the terrain is terrible, and there are way too many booshie people. Franklin Canyon, on the other hand, is one of the best-kept secrets in the city. My favorite part of Franklin Canyon is that it feels like you’re in the middle of Montana somewhere, not a huge metropolis. Lakes, picnic areas, tons of hundred-year-old trees, short hikes up to mountain-top views…it’s the perfect place to refresh yourself after the hustle and bustle of LA!
Winding roads, sweeping ocean views, unreal mansions…That’s Malibu. I demand that you hop in the car and cruise up Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. It’s arguably the most exclusive community in the country, and a simple drive through is an experience like no other. If you have the time, make the drive all the way up to Zuma Beach and check out Vintage Grocers, it’s where all the famous folks’ shop! If you’re into celebrity homes, you have to check out our post about Point Dume where you’ll find some jaw-dropping estates!
1. Craigs’ LA
I may be biased, but my #1 choice for things to do in LA is easily a night out at Craigs’ LA. Among the many celebrity restaurants in Los Angeles, this is my favorite to bring LA newbies to. Since it’s opening, Craigs’ has maintained an elite clientele of superstars that will blow your mind: Mariah Carey, Nick Jonas, every Kardashian, John Mayer, Kathy Griffin, George Clooney, Fergie, among hundred of others. Craigs’ is quintessential “Hollywood.” Great food, old-school Hollywood style, paparazzi everywhere and oodles of celebrities, all coming together on any given night. Reservations can be tough if you don’t snag one a week or so ahead of time, but plan ahead and you won’t regret it!
BONUS: Celebrity Homes & Hot Spots
If you’re looking for a comprehensive “celebrity guide” to tour Hollywood, Velvet Ropes has you covered. Velvet Ropes gives you access to hundreds of celebrity homes as well as every location in and around the city where celebrities go, and you can see what celebrities have visited which places! Velvet Ropes organizes extensive celebrity data and presents only the most accurate and verified information, so check it out if you’re want to experience the magic of celebrity. If you follow these rules, you may even land a selfie with a couple of your favorite stars!