There’s not much Los Angeles doesn’t have. The city itself is both flat and hilly, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on one side and mountains that climb as high as 10,000 feet on the others. L.A. has natural beauty, man-made beauty, history, high culture, celebrity culture and a lot in between.
For visitors, though, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the nation’s second biggest city. How do you decide what you have to do before you head back home? By reading on, of course…
Explore Rodeo Drive
Cutting between south Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, a drive or stroll down Rodeo Drive is a must at some point on your visit. The stretch is specifically known for its high-end shops and boutiques but the palm tree-lined streets and prime people watching is enough for a fun experience without dipping into your wallet. Chances are your rental car but won’t be among them, but car enthusiasts are also likely to see some of the fanciest and most expensive cars in any two-mile stretch in the U.S.
Situated on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Hollywood sign is without a doubt among the most photographed signs in the world. In today’s social media crazed age, can you even say you’ve been to L.A. without snapping a photo to put on Instagram or Twitter? While you can see it while coasting through town, the best way to soak it in may be by taking a hike. Numerous trails take you to the ridgeline of Mt. Lee and offer great views of the sprawl of the city, especially at dusk and dawn. Catch a clear day and you can glimpse the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Comprising about 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and another three of Vine Street, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is another obvious must-do on any L.A. venture. Stars commemorating stars from the worlds of film, music, television and other entertainment realms dot the stretch. The first eight names were laid down in 1958 and that number has since grown to over 2,500, with induction ceremonies held throughout the year.
Regardless of age, spending at least a few hours at Disneyland is wise. Since opening in 1955, the park has welcomed more than 650 million guests–the most of any theme park in the world. Consisting of eight different themed “lands,” Disneyland offers plenty of entertainment options for thrill-seeking ride lovers and less adventurous types alike. Main Street, U.S.A., much like the one found at Florida’s Walt Disney World, is likely the most iconic and picturesque part of the park. For those with children who can afford it, there are also plenty of fun on-site options for lodging.
Los Angeles Natural History Museum
Disneyland to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum may not seem like the most seamless transition but history buffs and regular folks can find something to enjoy here. Much of the building itself is architecturally stunning, particularly the famous rotunda pictured above. Once in the museum, patrons can explore over 4.5 billion years of history in the six-acre facility. It’s also a cool and relatively cheap location to spend several hours, with ticket prices ranging from just $7 to $15.
By David Leigh Ellis [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
Attend a Professional Sporting Event
Now that we’ve got a cultural experience out of the way, it’s time to get back to sports. With eight professional teams across the four major American sports, Los Angeles has something to offer for diehards and casual fans. A trip to Dodger Stadium and Chavez Ravine is option number one in our book, where the clean look of the classic, timeless Dodgers jerseys are surpassed only by majestic views beyond the outfield fence. If it’s basketball season, throw on your Lakers jersey and head to the Staples Center to watch some celebrities on and off the court. And while Clayton Kershaw and Kobe Bryant jerseys are much more common sights in the city, a Jared Goff Rams jersey may be one of the hottest newer items in the sports-loving town. Be part of the NFL’s return to L.A. by heading to the Los Angeles Coliseum, one of the more historic and legendary venues in all of sports. If hockey or soccer is more your cup of tea, the Kings, Ducks, Galaxy and Los Angeles FC have you covered as well.
Santa Monica Bay/Santa Monica Pier
The oft-photographed Santa Monica Pier is the centerpiece of beautiful Santa Monica Bay. Take a drive out from the city, park and stroll past the iconic entryway to the solar-paneled ferris wheel. Beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding mountains are complemented by an amusement park and the smell of your favorite carnival-type goodies. Television and movie lovers are also sure to have some memories flash into their minds, as the location has been a popular one of filming for many years.
Runyon Canyon Park
Outdoor enthusiasts will love soaking up the sun and sights offered by a sojourn to Runyon Canyon Park. Its location at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains offers sweeping views of the city. A number of hiking trails also present easy and more strenuous options to visitors.
The above restaurants don’t seem to go together but it’s good to have low and high-end options when it comes to food. In-N-Out is revered by many west coasters and ragged on as “overrated” by others so a quick trip through the drive-thru will give you a chance to decide which side of the fence you’re on. While the high-end options in L.A. are pretty much endless, we think Dan Tana’s is a good call. The landmark locale on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood offers atmosphere and plenty of pasta to help you load up on carbs for all the steps you’ll be getting in while exploring the city.