California Dreaming: Top 25 Things To Do In Los Angeles, USA - Updated 2024

California Dreaming: Top 25 Things To Do In Los Angeles, USA - Updated 2024
| 18 min read

Los Angeles, with its iconic Hollywood sign, is a popular destination among tourists visiting the west coast of the USA. This sprawling Southern Californian city is famous as the center of the USA’s film and television industry but there is more to Los Angeles than just star-spotting on Rodeo Drive or museum hopping between the Getty and LACMA.

Los Angeles as a destination offers endless options for a memorable holiday for everyone. Whether it’s visiting the Griffith Observatory or attending a boisterous ball game, whether it is a behind-the-scenes tour at one of the famous studios or relaxing at Venice Beach, there are plenty of interesting attractions throughout Los Angeles.

Read on to know more about the top 25 must-dos when you are in Los Angeles.

1. Griffith Observatory

Griffith observatory 2006
Source: Photo by user Matthew Field used under CC BY 2.5

The Griffith Observatory is a public astronomy observatory situated on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park.

The ground floor of the observatory is home to the Hall of the Sky and Hall of the Eye, a Foucault pendulum, and the handsome, high-tech Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Downstairs, accessible via the displays of space-slanted jewelry in the Cosmic Connection Corridor, you’ll find a number of other new exhibits. This observatory has also appeared in a couple of Hollywood movies.

Visit the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater, where you can watch a short film about the history of the observatory. Watch Pieces of the Sky to learn more about the impact made on Earth by meteorites and other falling debris. The Gunther Depths of Space contains a bronze figure of Albert Einstein and you can also see a huge, 2.46-gigapixel image of the night sky. This was taken at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego County.

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2. Hollywood Walk of Fame

Walk of fame
Source: Photo by user BenSherman used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of the world’s most famous sidewalks, and it boasts more than 2,500 bronze five-pointed-star plaques, set into squares of pink and charcoal. The sidewalk stretches along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street.

On each star, below the name of each celebrity, is a small, round emblem. This shows what each celebrity is most well-known for, by using one of five symbols. The symbols are a motion picture camera (for movie stars and directors), a television set (for people in the television industry), the twin masks of comedy and tragedy (for stage performers), a radio microphone (for radio personalities), and a record (for singers and recording artists).

The iconic “stars” pay homage to the celebrities who made Hollywood great, from the silent movie stars of yesteryear to the modern-day action heroes and heroines. Rather surprisingly though, some big names like Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson still don’t have stars on the boulevard.

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3. Disneyland

TDL Peter Pan's Flight
Source: Photo by user Photo by ARICAD used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Disneyland is packed with attractions for people of all ages. Attractions include Main Street USA, which encapsulates the spirit of America at the start of the 19th century, Adventureland, where you can experience all the excitement of the jungle, and Tomorrowland, which offers a glimpse into the future. Disney’s animated films really spring to life in Fantasyland, and New Orleans Square allows you to soak up the vibe of its namesake city. Critter Country is home to Winnie the Pooh and Brer Rabbit, and you’ll find the iconic character of Mickey Mouse in Mickey’s Toontown.

Among Disneyland’s popular rides are Space Mountain (located in Tomorrowland), which offers a thrilling indoor rollercoaster ride through ‘deep space’, while the epic Indiana Jones Adventure is based on the Spielberg adventure movies and is located in Adventureland. Pirates of the Caribbean (located in New Orleans Square), is one of the most detail-packed rides in the park, and the Matterhorn, located in Fantasyland, is a break-neck bobsled ride around and through a scaled-down replica of the famous Swiss peak.

The best time to visit Disneyland is mid-week during the off-season when tickets are discounted and the queues are much shorter.

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4. Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney concert hall in Los Angeles
Source: Photo by user Jon Sullivan used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Walt Disney Concert Hall (WDCH) is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center, and is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. They present the best in a range of music, including classical, contemporary, jazz, and world music. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, WDCH is one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world. It is also an internationally-recognized architectural landmark too.

From its striking stainless steel curves on the outside to the state-of-the-art acoustics of the hardwood-paneled main auditorium, this 3.6-acre (1.5-hectare) complex hosts the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and visiting artists and orchestras from around the world.

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5. La Brea Tar Pits (from USD 199.0)

La Brea Tar Pits is a National Landmark in the middle of Los Angeles. The foundation for the Page Museum was setup in 1975, when many specimens were found in the area. You can even see some of what was excavated back in 1975.

You can watch as scientists dig for fossils in the tar, and also watch the paleontologists and volunteers at work in the fossil lab. A screen has been setup to show what the volunteers see through their microscopes as they separate microfossils found in the tar. You can have your picture taken with the giant sculptures of the animals found by the scientists and take a walk on the guided tour, where you can see tar still emerging out of the ground.

You can also watch a brief history in 3D in the two theatres. The interactive museum is great for both young and old alike.

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La Brea Tar Pits Tour by Segway

Duration: 2 hours

6 reviews

6. Dodger’s Stadium

california dreaming: top 25 things to do in los angeles, usa | dodger’s stadium
Source: Photo by user

For a true baseball experience in and around Los Angeles, this is the place to go. Dodger’s Stadium is over 50 years old and it is interesting to see a stadium preserved exactly as it was built.

A tour of the stadium takes you onto the field, into the press box, and into the clubhouse where various keepsakes are kept. It gives you access to areas that are generally off limits during the game. You can enter the grounds to go to the gift shop after the tour hours to buy souvenirs to take back with you. There are some great views of the city from the hilltop entrances. Large replicas of championship rings are present around the stadium, which make for a great backdrop.

If you are in Los Angeles while the Dodgers are playing, make sure you catch a game; you don’t need to be a Dodger’s fan to love the experience.

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7. Petersen Automotive Museum

california dreaming: top 25 things to do in los angeles, usa | petersen automotive museum
Source: Photo by user

If you are in Los Angeles and you are a car-lover, Petersen Automotive Museum is a must-see. It is home to a lot of interesting cars, including some that are vintage. It is a beautifully laid-out car museum where each car is treated as a piece of art. Even if you’ve been before it is still worth a visit because of the rotating displays of classic cars, vehicles from movies, and 19th-century cars. You can take the Vault tour if you are interested in seeing 100 cars displayed in their garage.

This place is excellent for auto-enthusiasts; the thrill of seeing, or getting close to, these types of fantastic vehicles is close to none. Many of the classic cars are one of a kind. The exhibits are well-presented, with multimedia displays to bring the stories associated with the cars to life .

This is not just a car museum, rather, you can get information about things associated with cars and how the industry evolved, including things like gas stations, car rentals, shopping malls, roadside advertising, and more, all complete with pictures and artifacts to really help you understand more.

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8. The Grammy Museum

Grammy Museum front-2009
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user biofriendly used under CC BY 2.0

Paying tribute to music’s rich cultural history, this museum celebrates the legacies of all forms of music, the processes, the art and technology of the recording, and the history of the premier recognition of the excellence in music, the GRAMMY award. This multi-story museum is dedicated to everything related to the Grammy. They make use of technology to make exhibits interactive and entertaining. The engaging and interactive booths allow you to experience how the music industry creates an album. You’ll find the wardrobes and instruments from some of the most iconic performers, including the original clothes of the Supremes, Jimi Hendrix’s guitars, and the letterman jacket from Michael Jackson.

The Taylor Swift experience and Frank Sinatra exhibits are amazing! The museum has 3 floors of fascinating memorabilia from all types of music. An entire floor is devoted to the history of American music, with some of the coolest interactive displays ever.

The Grammy Museum is highly recommended for lovers of all genres of music.

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9. Dolby Theatre

Dolby Theatre v2
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user File:Dolby_Theatr... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Dolby Theatre was designed specifically with the Oscar ceremonies in mind. Best-known for its association with the Oscars, the theater is rented to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for weeks before Oscar night. Designed by David Rockwell, the theater has hosted the awards each year for more than ten years.

The stage at the Dolby Theatre is one of the largest in the USA. You can look around the theater and hear stories about the Oscars. You can walk the same red carpet location and setup, stroll the same areas as the stars, and stand on the prestigious presentation stage of the premier movie-awards event.You can experience all this and be a part of history. You can take tours to listen to fascinating anecdotes and stories about the Oscars. Don’t miss the massive foyer and the the marble staircase. There is a direct view to the nearby famous “Hollywood” sign from the theater’s balconies.

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10. Runyon Canyon Park

Downtown LA from Runyon Canyon Park
Source: Photo by user 3Jo7 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Runyon Canyon Park is managed by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation. The highest point in the park is known as Indian Rock, which is at an elevation of 1,320 feet (402.3 meters). Since it is within close proximity of the residential areas of Hollywood, celebrity sightings are fairly common in this area.

If you love hiking, there are different trails of varying difficulty levels within the park. You can either take the easy route, which has multiple photo opportunities with the Hollywood sign in the background, or you can take the more rigid path, which is not for the inexperienced, where the views from the top are picture-perfect.

While up at the top, the view is absolutely gorgeous and you should see the sun go down and the city lights come on. It sure feels awesome to see Los Angeles at that moment.

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11. Bradbury Building

Bradbury Building, 304 S. Broadway Downtown Los Angeles 20
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user MikeJiroch used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Bradbury Building is an architectural masterpiece located in Los Angeles. It has been used as a location for many movie and television scenes.

It is the city’s oldest landmarked building. Whilst it may look very nondescript and fairly typical on the outside, inside it is delightfully old with very ornate wrought iron and beautiful glass ceilings. Natural light floods in through the windows in the high ceiling, bathing the stairs in a beautiful glow. The elevators give it an elegant olde-worlde charm. The building exudes a feeling of elegance and dated luxury combined with a fresh open-air atmosphere.

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12. Hollywood Wax Museum

Hollywood Wax Museum Aug 2008
Source: Photo by Flickr user jondoeforty1 used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Hollywood Wax Museum is located on Hollywood Boulevard. It features detailed wax replicas of celebrities.

Some of the wax figures are quite impressive, with plenty of opportunities to take the perfect selfie with a waxwork. The wax figures are setup so perfectly that the entire background looks like a scene from the movies, so if you stand at the correct spot and angle your camera just right, you can make it look like the real deal. It is lovely that you can get up close and personal and take photos.

The horror chamber is very entertaining as you can really feel the really scary moments inside.They have a horror movie exhibit and the new zombie feature is awesome. There is an ongoing TV that shows how the figures are made.

You can consider Hollywood Wax Museum a good alternative to the more well-known Madame Tussauds. It is home to some new wax statues that you will not see in other wax museums. There are also props along the way for posing for photos with your favorite characters, making it interactive and lots of fun. The people in wax look so real that it sometimes seems unbelievable. Indeed, some of the stars from the past and the present look so perfect that they could pass as real people. The sets are awesome and you can sit next to a character and be a part of the scene for a great photo.

This museum offers a perfect escape off the boulevard for kids and adults alike.

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13. Pantages Theatre

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Hollywood Pantages Theatre, which was formerly known as RKO Pantages Theatre, is located at Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. The Hollywood Pantages Theatre is a popular location for the filming of movies, TV shows, and music videos. The Hollywood Pantages is still one of Los Angeles’ leading venues for live theater.

The 1920s art-deco architecture makes a musical or play executed here feel as though you are elegantly stepping back in time. The acoustics are great and it is worth spending extra for orchestra seating. The Pantages speaks of olde-worlde charm and the time when theater was highly valued and television did not exist. The red drapes, comfortable red velvet chairs, and gold overlay sets the mood for the show that is to take place. The restoration job on this theater is fantastic. It feels like a classic every time you walk in. This theater is just beautiful to visit just by itself even if there is no show on!

Simply said, this venue is beautiful and well-maintained. If you like live performances, history, and architecture, this is your kind of place. It is truly elegant, and the architecture and decor are as enjoyable as what’s showing on the stage. It is great to have a venue that actually shows the true charm and nostalgia of Los Angeles.

Take your time walking to the venue on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. Read all the names written on the stars, take the experience all in, and appreciate being in the city that people around the world dream about.

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14. Travel Town Museum

'Travel Town Museum' 49
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user NearEMPTiness used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Travel Town Museum is a real treat for travel and transportation enthusiasts. You’ll find it within the popular Griffith Park.

The museum largely focuses on the history of railroad transportation in the western parts of the United States. There is a particularly strong emphasis on train travel in Southern California and the local Los Angeles area.

The park is perfect for a stroll while looking at the trains. Why not pack a picnic to enjoy outdoors? You can also visit the small museum and learn a little bit about the history of trains.

The museum boasts more than 40 full-scale railroad engines, cars, steam locomotives, and other rolling stock. There are great hands-on displays for kids and adults to enjoy and there is also a small locomotive for fun rides around park, which is particularly popular with younger visitors.

So, next time you are on a short visit to Los Angeles or wandering through Griffith Park, don’t miss this cool and, perhaps more importantly, free attraction.

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15. Venice Beach

Venice Beach promenade
Source: Photo by user Mr Bullitt used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Venice Beach is an LA neighborhood, a place where you’ll find residential areas, commercial outlets, and a lovely recreational beach. Filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, clothing stores, tattoo parlors, piercing joints, massage parlors, medical marijuana clinics, and street shows, there’s always something going on at Venice Beach. If you just want to chill out and take it easy, you can relax on the soft sandy beach and enjoy the blue skies and ocean waves.

You can watch people skating at the skate park, go to Muscle Beach, enjoy a picnic on the sand, buy some cheap souvenirs, or relax in the many restaurants or bars in the area. It is a nice neighborhood with a clean beach. Additionally, you can enjoy beautiful sunsets from Venice Beach.

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16. Rodeo Drive

Via Rodeo, Beverly Hills
Source: Photo by user Kjetil Ree used under CC BY-SA 2.5

Rodeo Drive stretches for a couple of miles and it is primarily in Beverly Hills. The road is full of expensive shopping, so you can have a nice opportunity to see where and how the elite crowd shops.

Rodeo Drive is recommended for anyone who wants to see or buy famous brands from all over the world. It is always fun to see places in person that are historic and legendary in movies. It is a beautiful street that offers wonderful photo and memory opportunities. There is also an official town greeter here; the guy is dressed in a top hat and red coat and can apparently say hello in over 100 languages! The town greeter asks people where they are from and says hello to them in their language.

This area is a must-see for anyone traveling to the Los Angeles area for the first time.

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17. Museum of Jurassic Technology

Outside Museum of Jurassic Technology Los Angeles
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tore Danielsson used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is an educational museum located at Venice Boulevard. It is also an institution that is dedicated to advancing knowledge of, and appreciation of, the Lower Jurassic. The museum maintains over 30 permanent exhibits.

As you move through the museum, you will wonder what is real and what is not; is it a hoax, an art installation, or a genuine museum of quirky artifacts? It is full of exhibits that are at once witty and unexplainable, with many seeming too odd to be true. It is a good place to see what has passed for truth throughout history.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is sometimes creates a sense of disbelief, and it certainly ignites a lot of curiosity! It is a must-visit if you have a few days in Los Angeles.

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18. Nethercutt Collection

The Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ, Nethercutt Collection
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Konrad Summers used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Nethercutt Collection is a hidden gem for lovers of all things vintage. A highlight is its huge collection of vintage luxury cars and ornaments. Indeed, Autoweek has called the Nethercutt Collection one of America’s five greatest automobile museums.

From the priceless Bugatti, stately old Lincolns, and the stunning Rolls-Royce Phantoms, these cars were rare and special creations even when new. Now, they are timeless classics. Many of the rare and significant models on display have now been carefully restored by artisans and craftsmen to a showroom-like condition and as if they are new. You might even recognize some of the vehicles as lots of Hollywood movies have featured the automobiles showcased here.

The Nethercutt Collection also houses collections of mechanical and musical instruments, including pianos and music boxes, and antique furniture.

You’ll find cars on the first floor, music boxes and hood ornaments on the second floor, and the fascinating music display on the third floor.

If you have the time and have any interest in cars or music, definitely check it out.

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19. California Science Center

California Science Center January 2013 002
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user King of Hearts used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A real Air Force plane greets you at the entrance of the California Science Center. There are displays about life in space, and exhibits related to ecosystems. The collection of special exhibits changes every so often so you have something new to see each time you visit. Enjoy interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, innovative programs, and amazing films.

Space shuttle Endeavour is the true star of any visit. The sight of a spaceship in real life is really quite breathtaking. The scale of the innovation and nature of the center makes it a perfect place for families with older kids. Young kids probably will not totally get the science part, but they may still appreciate the interactive displays.

There is a beautiful 188,000-gallon tank aquarium and a kelp forest in the ecosystem room, and you can walk through the tunnel and watch trained divers feed the fish and sharks twice a day.

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20. Madame Tussauds (from USD 36.0)

Madame Tussauds is a wax museum and popular tourist attraction located on Hollywood Boulevard.

Multiple floors in the museum have wax statues of celebrities of all genres, like pop icons, sports icons, western figures, faces from the Hollywood of old, modern legends, and superheroes. Wax statues of celebrities like Brad Pitt, Marlon Brando, Wolverine, and Audrey Hepburn are part of this great place.

The first section, “A List Party” features the currently popular celebrities. “Spirit of Hollywood” features Hollywood icons such as Charlie Chaplin and Audrey Hepburn. The “Westerns” section is self-explanatory - you can find Clint Eastwood here! “Crime” features characters from The Godfather and Scarface, among others, and “Making Movies” contains wax figures of famous directors and Hollywood legends. The next section is of “Pop Icons”, where you can find stars like Elton John and Michael Jackson. The last section is “Sports”.

There is a behind-the-stage area where staff explain how they create the statues. The tour is self-guided so you can enjoy a leisurely visit. Besides the wax statues, visitors can also enjoy the 4D Theatre Experience.

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Madame Tussauds Hollywood Admission Ticket

Duration: 1 to 3 hours

192 reviews

21. Annenberg Space For Photography

A Visual History of Hip Hop exhibit at The Annenberg Space For Photography
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user IthakaDarinPappas used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Annenberg Space for Photography does an incredible job of showing the beauty and power of photography. The exhibits change every few months so it is worth multiple visits if you are in the city for a long time. All the exhibits are of great quality, highlighting the best and the latest by world-famous photographers. Skylight Studios is a related space on the grounds, and provides a venue for special events and presentations associated with photography. They even have live cams of Antarctica! In the dark, they switch to highlight shots. The exhibits tell a great story and always help to bring awareness to burning global issues through visually stunning pictures.

Also, there is a reading room adjacent to the main gallery where you can browse photography books and magazines.

This is definitely one of the special places to see in Los Angeles, especially if you are a camera and photography enthusiast.

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22. The Broad

MSU Broad Art Museum exterior 3
Source: Photo by user Dj1997 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Broad is a new contemporary art museum located in Los Angeles. Every surface of the excellent museum is a piece of art, and it contains around 2,000 interesting pieces of art. The outer part of the museum is called the “veil”, and the collection is within the “vault” section. Works range from the end of the 20th century to the start of the 21st century, and pieces provide a keen perspective on the modern day and the current society in which we live.

The Infinity Room is the highlight of the Broad’s collection. An art space filled with colorful lights and mirrors, it’s sure to impress. Admire the 82-foot-long (25-meter-long) painting by Takashi Murakami and Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow next.

You can buy souvenirs from the gift lobby.

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23. Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive at night
Source: Photo by user Peetlesnumber1 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Mulholland Drive is a historic road that overlooks the Hollywood Hills and into the Santa Monica Mountains. There are various scenic overlooks from where you can soak up the views, but one of the best is the Hollywood Bowl Overlook.

Driving at night along Mulholland Drive is nothing short of breathtaking. Enjoy some fun driving along well-maintained sections of a winding road. The early mornings provide terrific views, especially after a windy night. Stop at some of the many viewpoints along the drive to take in the views of the valley and cities below.

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24. Getty Center (from USD 375.0)

getty center

The Getty Center is within the campus of the Getty Museum and related to programs of the Getty Trust. The center is famous for its architecture, gardens, and views overlooking Los Angeles.

The building is beautiful and impressive, the gardens are well-kept and well-manicured, and the exhibits are extremely well-curated and organized. The four main galleries, also called pavilions, are organized chronologically. The buildings are connected, making getting around easy.

The museum has a great collection, especially of European art from the 14th to the 19th century. Paintings are housed on the top floor and non-paintings, such as sculptures, furniture, stained glass, tapestries, and manuscripts, can be found on the ground level.

You can also step outside and enjoy the art walk in the gardens and the magical views of the skyline.

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Los Angeles: Private Getty Museum Tour with Expert Guide

Duration: 1.5 hour

4 reviews

25. Universal Studios, Hollywood (from USD 180.0)

Universal Studios, Hollywood is a theme park that combines the quintessential Hollywood movie experience with theme park attractions and shows, along with a backstage pass, which allows you a tour of familiar TV and movie sets, the most recent ones being Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Transformers.

The most sought-after attraction is the tram tour, which lets you see the airplane wreckage of War of the Worlds, visit Dr. Seuss’s Whoville, experience the parting of the Red Sea, duck from dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, see the still-creepy house from Psycho; and be attacked by the killer shark of Jaws fame.

The rides guaranteed to generate some screams include the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster, the 3-D transformer ride, and, of course, the House of Horrors. CityWalk, with its array of restaurants, night clubs, movie theaters, and shops, is a popular choice for grownups looking for some entertainment other than what is typically found inside a theme park.

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Universal Studios Hollywood with Transport

Duration: 8 hours

10 reviews

Ultimate things to do in Los Angeles

The list of things to do in Los Angeles is as long as the city is vast. If your time in town is limited, you could spend days in the museums alone and never even make your way to places such as Hollywood. Expect to put in a few miles between hitting up Venice Beach and exploring a hip Eastside ‘hood. But that’s the great thing about this city: there are so many things to do and see to get the most from your LA getaway.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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