Welcome to the City of Angels, a dazzling metropolis filled with excitement, glamour, and adventure at every turn! In this guide, we’ll explore some once in a lifetime things to do in Los Angeles in 2023. From hiking to the iconic Hollywood Sign to strolling down Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles is sure to have something you’ll love.
Hiking to the Hollywood Sign
Imagine standing at the top of Mt. Hollywood, gazing up at the world-famous Hollywood Sign. A smile crosses your face, with the wind at your back and breathtaking views of Los Angeles and West Hollywood in the valley below.
You’ve done something that most people only dream of: you’ve hiked to one of the most historical landmarks in the United States.
And every step was worth it. So… how did you do it?
Best Trails for the Hike
Well, there are several trails to choose from when hiking to this iconic sign, but one of the most popular is the Innsdale Trail & Mount Lee Drive.
Though a moderate trek, this hike provides an exciting adventure for hikers of all skill levels. It offers awe-inspiring views of Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Hills neighborhood, and the sign itself.
And once you reach the top, it’s the perfect chance to snap some Instagram-worthy photos and create lasting memories of your visit to Tinseltown.
What to Bring
Bringing a few key items will ensure your hike is enjoyable and successful. Comfortable shoes are a must to provide support and cushioning for your feet during the trek.
Additionally, remember to pack plenty of water to stay hydrated, as well as sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. With these essentials in hand, you’ll be well-prepared for an amazing hiking experience!
Alternative to Hiking
If you’re not a fan of hiking but still want the perfect view of the iconic Hollywood sign, check out Lake Hollywood Park. This park is the best-kept secret of locals. It’s a public, dog-friendly park and the views of the sign are amazing.
Santa Monica Pier: A Classic Coastal Attraction
Nestled along the sun-kissed shores of Santa Monica Beach, the Santa Monica Pier offers fun, excitement, and relaxation. This iconic destination, which first opened in 1909, features the Pacific Park amusement park with thrilling rides, games, and breathtaking ocean views.
Stroll along the wooden boardwalk and soak up some chill West Coast vibes as you enjoy classic beach fare at the various eateries along the pier. They’ve got everything from hot dogs to cotton candy. And remember to snap a photo with the famous Santa Monica Pier sign, immortalizing your visit to this unforgettable Southern California landmark.
Pacific Park Highlights
Pacific Park offers a great selection of rides, games, and panoramic ocean views, making it a perfect attraction for visitors of all ages. Take the chance to soar above the waves on the iconic Ferris wheel, offering unique views of the Pacific coastline below.
For some extra fun, hop on the West Coaster — the pier’s steel roller coaster — or try your luck at one of the throw-back arcade games.
Beyond the Santa Monica Pier, there are plenty of other unique attractions to explore in the area.
Take a bike ride along the Ocean Front Walk, which stretches for nearly three miles and features a bustling boardwalk filled with vendors, performers, and colorful murals.
Also, no trip to Santa Monica is complete without a visit to the 3rd Street Promenade. It’s a bustling pedestrian-only zone where the scent of freshly baked pastries and the sound of talented street musicians fill the air. Here, you’ll discover a treasure trove of shops, from high-end stores like Apple and Tesla to quirky, one-of-a-kind stores offering everything from fashion and jewelry to unique trinkets.
Hungry? The Promenade has a ton of restaurants and cafes that will satisfy your taste buds. Whether you’re a shopping enthusiast, a foodie, or simply seeking a delightful stroll, the 3rd Street Promenade promises an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of Santa Monica’s coastal charm.
Starstruck in Beverly Hills: Celebrity Homes Tour
Get ready for “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” as you embark on a celebrity homes tour in the enclave of Beverly Hills. Here, you’ll glimpse into the glamour and opulence that defines Los Angeles. This guided tour takes you through luxurious neighborhoods where Hollywood’s elite reside and showcases stunning mansions and famous landmarks along the way.
Feel the excitement as you cruise past gated estates and get up-close-and-personal views of the lavish homes of your favorite stars. Who knows — you might even glimpse a celebrity or two as you explore the winding streets of these exclusive areas.
On your celebrity homes tour, don’t miss the chance to see several iconic homes and must-see mansions. Discover the Virginia Robinson Gardens. The Robinson Mansion is an incredible 6.5-acre estate boasting a rose garden, a Japanese garden, and a cactus garden. Other notable stops along the tour include the Spadena House, the Sheats-Goldstein House, and the O’Neill House. Each of these locations offers unique architectural styles and fascinating Hollywood history.
Tips for a Successful Tour
Join a guided tour, which offers expert commentary and insights into the history and architecture of Beverly Hills. This will improve your trip and allow you to encounter fellow travelers and share stories along the way. Additionally, be sure to bring your camera to capture the stunning sights. And to protect yourself from the sun, pack sunscreen and a hat. With these tips, you’ll be well-prepared for a memorable tour. You’re gonna have so much fun!
The Getty Villa
Immerse yourself in the ancient world at the Getty Villa. This is a stunning museum where you can step back in time to explore art and artifacts from places like Greece, Rome, Etruria, and Persia.
Located in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles, the Getty Villa is a true gem, offering an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Villa’s unique architectural design, inspired by ancient Greece and Rome, invokes nostalgia. That, mixed with the lush gardens, gorgeous ocean views, and the museum’s impressive collection, will transport you to a time long ago.
With its incredible collection of ancient art and artifacts, the Getty Villa is a true treasure trove. Some highlights include:
As you wander through the museum’s galleries, enjoy the intricate craftsmanship and beauty of these priceless treasures.
Enjoying the Villa’s Gardens
As you explore the Getty Villa, take some time to stroll through the enchanting gardens that surround the museum. Featuring Mediterranean plants such as olive trees, lavender, and rosemary — the gardens provide a tranquil oasis where you can relax and unwind.
Keep an eye out for the breathtaking water features and classical statues that adorn these lush spaces, adding to the Villa’s charm and allure.
Strolling Down Rodeo Drive: A Shopper’s Paradise
Welcome to Rodeo Drive, a shopper’s paradise located in the heart of Beverly Hills. This glamorous street is home to a collection of high-end boutiques and luxury brands, making it the perfect destination for fashionistas and shopaholics alike.
Whether you want to splurge on a fabulous outfit or simply window shop, Rodeo Drive is an incredible experience. You might even spot one of your favorite Hollywood stars browsing the designer racks alongside you!
Iconic Stores to Visit
Among the many luxury boutiques and designer stores that line Rodeo Drive, some stand out as particularly iconic. You’ll find famous fashion houses such as:
These stores offer the latest in designer apparel and accessories.
After a day of shopping on Rodeo Drive, you’ll likely have worked up an appetite. Luckily, the area has plenty of fantastic dining options, ranging from casual eateries to upscale restaurants. Savor delicious Italian cuisine at Il Fornaio, enjoy traditional California cuisine at 208 Rodeo, or treat yourself to a gourmet meal at CUT by Wolfgang Puck, one of Beverly Hills’ most renowned restaurants.
The Magic of Universal Studios Hollywood: A Dream Come True
Experience the magic of Universal Studios Hollywood, where the dreams of movie lovers and thrill-seekers come true. This action-packed theme park and studio offers a behind-the-scenes look at some of your favorite movies and TV series. It also has thrilling rides and attractions inspired by numerous films and popular television shows.
From the enchanting world of Harry Potter to the heart-pounding excitement of Jurassic World, there is something for everyone at this thrilling theme park. Whether you’re a fan of action-packed blockbusters or classic family films, this iconic destination offers an experience that’s sure to leave you starstruck.
Top Attractions and Experiences
Universal Studios boasts a fantastic selection of thrilling rides, spectacular shows, and incredible attractions. Explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, step into the action-packed world of Transformers: The Ride-3D, or peek into The Secret Life of Pets.
With so many unique experiences, Universal Studios Hollywood is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking excitement and entertainment.
Tips for Maximizing Your Visit
Purchasing a Universal Express Pass is a great way to maximize your time at Universal Studios Hollywood and skip the lines. Additionally, the park can get quite busy during peak hours. So, arriving early in the morning is an excellent way to beat the crowds.
And remember to bring a camera, sunscreen, and comfortable shoes to ensure an enjoyable and memorable experience.
Catching a Live Show at the Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl is a renowned outdoor amphitheater nestled amidst the Hollywood Hills. With its art deco-inspired shell and natural acoustics, the Hollywood Bowl offers an unparalleled concert experience, hosting performances from world-famous artists and orchestras in a unique and breathtaking setting.
Where else can you see Christina Aguilera perform live for $35? From classical symphonies to contemporary pop concerts, the Hollywood Bowl’s diverse lineup of events ensures that there’s always something exciting happening at this venue. Pack a picnic, grab a bottle of wine, and settle in for a night of unforgettable entertainment under the stars.
What to Bring
Bringing a few essentials will ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience at the Hollywood Bowl. Some important items to have on hand during your visit include:
A light jacket
Additionally, consider packing a picnic to enjoy on the venue’s grounds and a blanket or cushion for added comfort during the performance. With these items in tow, you’ll be well-prepared for an unforgettable night of music and entertainment.
Exploring the Venice Beach Boardwalk
On the Venice Beach Boardwalk, you’ll experience the eclectic spirit of Los Angeles. This lively stretch of sand and pavement showcases the city’s unique character and charm. From street performers to one-of-a-kind shops and beachside dining, there’s always something exciting happening along this bustling strip.
Along the boardwalk, you’ll find a variety of must-see attractions that showcase the area’s unique culture and atmosphere. Check out the famous Muscle Beach, where bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts flex their muscles under the sun. Or, visit the Venice Skatepark, a popular spot for skateboarders to showcase their skills and perform gravity-defying tricks.
When hunger strikes, Venice offers dining options to suit every palate. Feast on fresh seafood at The Waterfront Venice, sample delicious Latin cuisine at Fig Tree Café, or indulge in California fare at Great White Venice (the best breakfast burrito in LA).
For a more casual dining experience, grab a quick bite from one of the many food stands lining the promenade, offering everything from:
Driving the Pacific Coast Highway: A Scenic Adventure
Embarking on a journey along the Pacific Coast Highway — the PCH — is a genuinely scenic adventure. This breathtaking coastal route stretches over 600 miles from San Diego to Mendocino in Northern California. As you drive along this iconic highway, you’ll be treated to:
stunning ocean views
charming coastal towns
It’s a true feast for the senses.
Whether you’re planning a leisurely road trip or a whirlwind weekend getaway, the PCH offers a memorable journey through some of California’s most picturesque landscapes. So buckle up, hit the open road, and prepare to be blown away by the beauty of the Pacific Coast.
Notable Stops Along the Way
Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, with the wind in your hair and the salty scent of the ocean in the air, is a quintessential California experience. As you make your way up this scenic route, some must-visit stops are Point Dume and nearby El Matador State Beach.
The towering cliffs of Point Dume offer mesmerizing panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, making it a prime spot for whale watching and taking in the rugged coastal beauty.
A short drive from Point Dume is El Matador State Beach, known for its hidden sea caves and dramatic rock formations. As you descend to the shoreline, you’ll be captivated by the rhythmic crashing of waves against the sculpted cliffs, creating a scene from a dreamy coastal postcard. It’s an enchanting slice of California’s coastline that promises unforgettable memories of the Pacific’s grandeur.
Tips for a Successful Road Trip
Planning ahead, ensuring a full tank of gas, and having a reliable GPS or a good map is key to a successful road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway. Additionally, be aware of the weather and road conditions, and plan for plenty of rest stops to stretch your legs and soak in the scenery.
Avoid heavy traffic during peak hours by checking traffic reports and taking alternate routes if possible. Most importantly, drive cautiously, always keep your eyes on the road, and enjoy the stunning landscapes unfolding before you.
Griffith Observatory Stargazing
At Griffith Observatory, an iconic landmark perched atop the Hollywood Hills, you can:
Experience the wonders of the cosmos through breathtaking views of the night sky
Explore interactive astronomy exhibits
Gaze up at the stars and contemplate the mysteries of the universe
Whether you’re an amateur stargazer or a seasoned astronomer, the Griffith Observatory offers a humbling and awe-inspiring experience for all who visit. So, as the sun sets over Los Angeles, make your way to this enchanting observatory and prepare to be transported to a world of celestial beauty.
Outdoor Movie Screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
During the balmy summer nights, there’s a unique movie-watching experience as iconic as the Hollywood sign itself – Cinespia at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Picture this: under a starry sky, you’ll unfold your picnic blanket amidst the towering palm trees and decades-old graves of Hollywood legends.
As dusk falls, classic films come to life on a giant screen, casting their enchanting glow over this historic resting place. It’s a surreal collision of past and present — of film and history. So, grab your closest friends, some popcorn, and immerse yourself in the magic of Cinespia, a quintessential LA experience that seamlessly marries cinema, culture, and the allure of Tinseltown’s eternal stars.
What to Bring
It’s recommended to bring a few essentials: a blanket or low-back chairs for seating, picnic supplies (food and drinks), warm clothing or layers, and a flashlight for navigating the cemetery grounds after the film.
Do They Have Food?
Cinespia typically allows guests to bring their own food, but they also offer food and drink options for purchase on-site. These may include food trucks and vendors offering a variety of snacks and beverages.
When Does The Show Start?
The start times can vary depending on the time of year and the film length, but screenings typically begin at dusk. It’s a good idea to arrive early to secure a good spot and enjoy the pre-movie atmosphere.
Note: There’s parking available on-site, but it can fill up quickly. Using rideshare services is often recommended to avoid the hassles of parking.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is one of the largest and most prestigious art museums in the United States. It offers a wide range of activities and experiences for visitors.
The museum features beautiful outdoor spaces and sculptures that provide a peaceful environment for relaxation and reflection.
LACMA’s extensive collection spans thousands of years and includes art from diverse cultures and time periods. You can explore art from ancient civilizations, European paintings, American art, Asian art, Latin American art, and more.
The museum also hosts rotating special exhibitions featuring works from renowned artists and influential art movements. These exhibitions often require separate admission and provide a chance to see unique and temporary displays.
The Urban Light
One of LACMA’s most iconic installations is “Urban Light” by artist Chris Burden. This installation features 202 restored cast-iron street lamps and has become a popular photo spot.
Food and Gifts
Enjoy a meal or a drink at the museum’s Stark Bar, which offers a seasonal menu and a selection of cocktails. The outdoor patio is a lovely place to unwind. You can also explore the museum’s gift shop for unique art-inspired gifts, books, and jewelry.
Become Part of a Live Studio Audience
Becoming part of a live studio audience in Los Angeles is a thrilling behind-the-scenes look at television production. After securing tickets, you’ll join an energetic audience, enjoy warm-up acts, and witness the magic of your favorite shows firsthand. You’ll laugh, applaud, and be part of the action, making it a unique and memorable experience that offers a sneak peek into the entertainment world.
For instance, you can attend a live taping of the Jimmy Kimmel show at El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. And the best part is that tickets for studio audiences are usually free.
How to Get Tickets
Most shows offer tickets through their official websites or ticketing platforms. You can also check with local studios or audience ticketing services for availability.
Arriving well in advance is recommended, as studios often overbook to ensure a full audience. Plan to arrive at least an hour before the scheduled taping time.
The dress code varies, but wearing neat, casual attire is usually recommended. Avoid wearing clothing with logos, as they may not be suitable for television.
What to Bring
Cameras and smartphones are generally not allowed in the studio, and photos or recordings are prohibited during the show. However, there are designated times for taking pictures before or after the taping.
Some studios may offer concessions or refreshments, but having a meal or snack before attending a taping is a good idea, as food availability can vary.
Remember that specific policies and procedures can vary between shows and studios. So, checking the official website or contacting the studio for detailed information about attending a live TV show taping is a good idea.
From the vintage Hollywood Sign to the beautiful beaches of the westside, Los Angeles is a city brimming with excitement, adventure, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In this guide, we’ve explored the best things to do in Los Angeles in 2023, showcasing the city’s rich history, stunning landscapes, and diverse attractions. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned Angeleno, these experiences will leave a lasting impression and create memories you’ll cherish for years to come.
So pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready for a thrilling journey through the City of Angels. With so much to see, do, and discover, there’s no better time to experience the magic of Los Angeles and create unforgettable memories.
Once In A Lifetime Things to Do in Los Angeles – Frequently Asked Questions
How can I spend the perfect day in LA?
The perfect day in Los Angeles can vary widely depending on your interests and preferences, but here’s a sample itinerary that captures the essence of what an ideal day in LA might look like:
Breakfast at a Local Cafe: Start your day with a delicious breakfast at a local cafe. LA is known for its diverse culinary scene, so that you can choose from trendy brunch spots or classic diners.
I recommend Tiago Coffee Bar & Kitchen for its excellent location, great coffee, yummy food, and friendly staff.
Hike to the Hollywood Sign: After breakfast, head to Griffith Park and hike to the iconic Hollywood Sign. Enjoy panoramic views of the city and take some memorable photos.
Visit the Getty Center: Drive to the Getty Center and spend a few hours exploring its impressive art collections, stunning architecture, and beautiful gardens. Remember to take in the scenic views of Los Angeles from the museum’s vantage points.
Lunch On The Westside: Drive to Santa Monica and have lunch at a beachfront restaurant along Ocean Avenue. Enjoy fresh seafood or other California cuisine while gazing at the ocean.
I don’t usually recommend chain restaurants, but the Watergrill is the perfect spot for ocean views and delicious food.
Santa Monica Pier: After lunch, walk down to the iconic pier. Ride the Ferris wheel, explore Pacific Park, and stroll along the beach.
Shopping on 3rd Street Promenade: Spend some time shopping on the bustling 3rd Street Promenade, known for its shops, boutiques, and street musicians.
Venice Beach: Drive or bike to Venice Beach and soak up the eclectic atmosphere. Watch street performers, visit the Venice Canals, and take a leisurely walk along the boardwalk.
Dinner in Downtown LA: Head to Downtown Los Angeles for dinner. The Arts District and Little Tokyo offer a variety of dining options. Try a trendy restaurant or a hidden gem.
The Wolves DTLA is an absolute hidden gem. Some friends and I stumbled upon this place the other day, and I’ve been raving about it ever since. As the website says, it’s a “stunning Early 1900’s Parisian Salon-Styled Bar in the heart of Downtown LA.”
Entertainment: Depending on your interests, catch a live performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, attend a sporting event at Crypto.com Arena (home of the Lakers, Clippers, and Kings), or enjoy a live music show at one of downtown LA’s hip venues, like Rhythm Room LA.
Nightcap at a Rooftop Bar: Wrap up your perfect day by sipping a cocktail at one of LA’s rooftop bars with stunning views overlooking the glittering city lights.
My favorite rooftop bar is Perch, an excellent spot that offers outdoor patio dining on the 15th floor, great cocktails, and live music.
Los Angeles offers a wide range of activities and attractions, so feel free to customize your perfect day based on your interests, whether that’s exploring museums, hiking in nature, or experiencing the city’s vibrant nightlife.
How to spend two weeks in LA?
Spending two weeks in Los Angeles offers an incredible opportunity to explore this iconic city’s diverse and vibrant offerings. Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your time:
Week 1: Explore Los Angeles
Day 1-3: Discover Hollywood: Begin your trip in Hollywood, where you can visit the Walk of Fame, TCL Chinese Theatre, and the Hollywood Sign. Explore the Griffith Observatory and hike to the park’s summit for panoramic views of LA.
Day 4-6: Coastal Getaway: Head to the coastal neighborhoods of Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Enjoy the 3rd Street Promenade, bike along the beach path, and watch the sunset at the Santa Monica Pier.
Day 7-9: Arts and Culture: Explore LA’s art scene with visits to the Getty Center, LACMA, and The Broad in Downtown Los Angeles. Stroll through the vibrant Arts District and dine in trendy Downtown LA.
Week 2: Beyond the City
Day 10-12: Nature and Scenic Beauty: Escape the city to experience nature in Malibu. Hike in Malibu Creek State Park, relax on Zuma Beach, and explore the mountains.
Day 13-14: Day Trips: Take day trips to nearby attractions like Disneyland in Anaheim, Universal Studios — the iconic theme park in Universal City, or a scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway to see beautiful coastal vistas.
Throughout your two weeks in LA, remember to savor the city’s diverse culinary scene, from food trucks to fine dining. LA’s cultural diversity ensures there’s something for every palate.
How can I spend my day in LA without a car?
Los Angeles is a BIG city. That being said, you can still have a great day in LA without a car by utilizing the affordable and convenient public transit system. The Los Angeles Metro provides access to buses, DASH buses, and trains to get you around the city and to the top attractions.
Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are also readily available to take you anywhere you’d like to go.
What are some must-visit attractions in Los Angeles?
There’s a ton of cool stuff to see in LA! Here are some of the must-see spots:
Hollywood Walk of Fame: Stroll along Hollywood Boulevard to see the stars of iconic figures in the entertainment industry embedded in the sidewalk.
Griffith Observatory: Visit for breathtaking city views, engaging exhibits on space and astronomy, and hiking trails in Griffith Park.
Universal Studios Hollywood: Enjoy thrilling attractions, a behind-the-scenes studio tour ride, and entertainment based on your favorite movies and TV shows.
Getty Center: Admire world-class art collections, stunning architecture, and beautiful gardens at this renowned museum.
The Broad Museum: Immerse yourself in contemporary art with works by artists like Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and Yayoi Kusama.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA): Explore a large collection spanning various cultures and time periods, including the iconic “Urban Light” installation.
Venice Beach: Experience the eclectic boardwalk, street performers, Muscle Beach Gym, and the unique spirit of Venice.
Malibu: Enjoy this upscale coastal community’s stunning beaches, hiking trails, and beautiful coastal scenery.
Disneyland Resort: Visit the “Happiest Place on Earth” in nearby Anaheim for magical experiences, thrilling rides, and beloved characters from your favorite Disney movies.
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens: Discover a diverse array of animal species and lush gardens in Griffith Park.
The Hollywood Sign: Hike to the Hollywood Sign or view it from various vantage points for an iconic LA photo opportunity.
Rodeo Drive: Shop and people-watch in Beverly Hills along this famous luxury shopping street.
Dodger Stadium: Catch a baseball game at this historic stadium and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Chinatown: Explore vibrant neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little Tokyo, and Olvera Street to experience LA’s cultural diversity.
Walt Disney Concert Hall: Appreciate the stunning architecture of this Frank Gehry-designed concert hall and attend a performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The Queen Mary: Tour this historic “haunted” ocean liner docked in Long Beach, offering a glimpse into maritime history and paranormal tours.
These are just a few of the many attractions you can explore in Los Angeles, an incredible city rich in culture, entertainment, natural beauty, and iconic landmarks. Depending on your interests, you can create a personalized itinerary to make the most of your visit.
Residing in sunny Southern California alongside his beloved wife and loyal canine companion, Robert finds joy in exploring the world and writing about it on Travel Breakdown. His most cherished travel experiences in Italy, Ireland, and the vibrant streets of New York City have left an indelible mark on his heart. As an avid traveler, Robert now sets his sights on drinking sake during his next adventure in Japan.