Los Angeles is a thriving city that offers something for everyone. Delicious fresh food, sunny weather year round, beautiful Spanish architecture and plenty of active and cultural attractions. Here are our ten must-have experiences for your next escapade in the glittering city of angels.
1. Sunset at Santa Monica Pier
Nothing says LA must-have experience like seeing the sun set over Santa Monica Pier. Image: Getty
Watching the sun set over the Pacific ocean, as the pier and Ferris wheel silhouette the beach... Now is that a quintessential LA image or what?! While you can picnic on the beach, drinking alcohol is generally prohibited in public save a few very specific beaches.
2. Visit Disneyland: The Happiest Place On The Earth
The magical gates of Disneyland are ones that simply must be entered for the ultimate Californian experience. From the magical atmosphere and the inspirational live shows, the wild rides to the tame ones or the pirates and princesses you can pose with on the street, there is something in this charming land for everyone.
3. Runyon Canyon Hike, Hollywood Hills
LA's popular Runyon Canyon is perfect for a moderate hike or run, with stunning city views at the end. Image: Getty
Californians love getting outdoors and one of LA’s biggest perks is the accessibility of the surrounding hills. Runyon Canyon is a moderate and very popular hike that will take you through the back hills, finishing up with an amazing view over the city. The 160-acre dog-friendly park has a few trails and entry points, so you’re best off heading to the top of Fuller Avenue. This is the southern entrance, just two blocks north of Hollywood Boulevard.
4. Cycle from Santa Monica to Venice Beach
Hit the Venice Pier Trail between to see Venice Beach from two wheels.
If you’re wanting a slower pace but still want to move those legs, LA also has some fantastic bike paths. Following the Pacific Ocean shoreline, the Venice Pier Trail runs from Will Rogers Beach to the Venice Pier, offering a very enjoyable and visually pleasing half hour ride. Or you could kick off in Santa Monica, where bike rentals are aplenty, and cruise up towards Venice checking out the quirky characters and crowds along the way.
Hot Tip: If you’re landing in LA early morning and can’t check into your hotel, this is a great way to get some fresh air, the blood pumping and see the sights on day one. Expect crowds and a little bike path congestion (after all this is one of the most Instagrammed destinations in the world).
This concert hall become an LA icon from the moment the doors opened in 2003. It has received worldwide critical acclaim thanks to its stunning architecture and extraordinary sound quality. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, the space seats 2,265 and is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Definitely worth a visit, even just to admire the striking design.
If you’re looking for some antique finds, LA has some of the best flea markets around and the Rose Bowl Flea Market is definitely one worth checking out. Opening on the second Sunday of each month, this expansive bazaar is popular with local fashion designers and celebs because of its huge collection of furniture and clothing. They are separated into their own sections and take it from us, you need to be savvy in here; it hosts 2,500 vendors and welcomes more than 20,000 shoppers and browsers every month.
7. Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Boulevard
This truly is the home of the stars, with more than 2,600 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalk along this iconic strip. From movie stars to pop singers, directors to rock’n’roll legends, it is certainly worth a stroll. Taking up 15 blocks along Hollywood Boulevard, and three blocks of Vine Street, means there are several points for you to access it. We recommend researching any particular stars you admire and pinpointing their locations prior to your visit.
The Broad is one of the US's most impressive galleries and museums featuring more than 2,000 works of art. Image: Wikimedia Commons
The Broad is one of America’s most impressive contemporary art museums, and to make it just that little bit more inviting, general admission is free. Founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, it features 2,000 works of art in the Broad collection, which is among the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide. It also has a fantastic app that will guide you through your visit, plus, it’s just around the corner from the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
9. Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour - Hear us out!
Kicking off your time in the city of angels with a tour on a hop on hop off bus is the ideal way to get your bearings and take in the highlights of this expansive city. Always run by enthusiastic characters, the tours are sure to entertain and teach you a few fun and historical facts about the city. It’s a great way to see LA without the stress of navigating the roads, while ticking some of those iconic locations.
10. Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory is one of LA's most popular attractions for good reason – and it's free! Image: Getty
Griffith Observatory is one of the top free activities to do in LA – who doesn’t love that! Located on fabulous Mount Hollywood it boasts views out to the Los Angeles Basin, Downtown LA, Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean. As well as that, it makes a great start to multiple hiking trails throughout Griffith Park. And then, of course, there is the Observatory itself. Visitors can explore exhibits, stare into space through the telescopes or enjoy live shows and presentations. Be sure to check their opening hours and calendar prior to your visit.
Jess Holmes refers to herself as a walking contradiction, yearning for life's little (or large) luxuries one minute, eat-drink-treking her way through offbeat destinations another. She's just as happy exploring the street(food)s of Oaxaca, putting her body through its paces atop Peruvian mountains, and sunning herself on Sri Lanka's secluded beaches as she is wandering through Napa Valley vineyards, indulging in NYC's best spa treatments or sipping Chianti on the Amalfi Coast.