TOP 15 Best Things to do in Los Angeles

Best Things to do in Los Angeles

If you are looking for the best things to do in Los Angeles to complete your Los Angeles itinerary, I got you covered!

This blog post is all about the TOP 15 best things to do in Los Angeles for first time visitors, and even for non-first timers!

Today you are going to find the best things to do in Los Angeles, discover the best museums in Los Angeles, and just get to know to coolest Los Angeles activities!

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best things to do in los angeles


1. Visit The Santa Monica Pier

One of the best things about Los Angeles is that you can go to the beach any time of the year.

The weather never gets too cold that you can comfortably go out and still enjoy yourself even in the dead of winter!

Santa Monica Pier is one of those iconic places to visit in Los Angeles. For sure you’ve seen it in movies and TV shows that are set in the City of Angels.

The Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier is full of amusement park rides and games.

You could even try your hand at a trapeze school and spend an afternoon learning how to soar through the air.

There are also a lot of restaurants to enjoy a good burger while watching a spectacular sunset. It is even fun to just walk the length of the pier and people watch.

Usually, there are street vendors with interesting tchotchkes or artists that can whip up a portrait in minutes.

The pier is officially the end of Route66, the interstate highway, so make sure to take a picture of it, and if you can swing a selfie with you in it too!

Recommended by Bernadette,

Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles

2. Hollywood Sign Hike

One of the quintessential things to do in LA is take photos in front of the Hollywood Sign.

To get the best photos and full experience of the sign, take a morning to hike up behind the sign.

There are a handful of different little trails and hikes around and near the sign that claim they have the best views of the sign, but there’s only one trail that gets you up behind it (the closest you can get) and it’s purposefully very hard to find online.

This trail is the best Hollywood Sign hike: Hollywood Sign via Innsdale Trail and Mt. Lee Drive Hike. 

The trail is about 4 miles and is not too tough or steep but go early in the day and bring plenty of water because there’s not much shade.

As you walk to the top, you will get amazing views of the sign along the way and have plenty of opportunity for the best photo with the sign in the background.

Parking is another perk of this hike. Most of the more popular hikes either have paid parking or are always packed full.

For this trail, you will park in the neighborhoods so parking is free, though you may have to walk a bit to get to the trailhead depending on availability of spaces.

Recommended by Janelle,

Hollywood sign hike

3. Griffith Observatory

One of the best things to do on your “Los Angeles itinerary” is to visit the Griffith Observatory! It opened in 1935 and was the country’s 3 observatory to experience.

This building has also been declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural monument! The observatory is also completely free to visit!

The best time to visit is right before sunset! You will see tons of people watching the sun fade down over the downtown skyline of Los Angeles.

Then at night, the Griffith Observatory really shines if you want to take a peek into our solar system.

Before sunset, there are tons of hiking trails around Griffith Park. One of the most popular hikes people enjoy is the hike to the Hollywood sign.

You can find paid parking near the observatory entrance and free parking down the hill.

To get the free parking, I would suggest getting there early! The inside of the observatory has lots of exhibits to explore along with the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. They also host daily events.

One of the most popular is being able to look into high-quality telescopes. This is available each evening at the Observatory starting at 7:00 P.M. – 9:30 P.M. on a first come first serve basis.

Recommended by Sam,

Griffith Observatory

4. Huntington Beach

If you’re planning a visit to Los Angeles, taking a day trip to Huntington Beach should undoubtedly be on your itinerary!

Huntington Beach is just a short 36-mile drive from Downtown Los Angeles, but the laid-back surfing culture at Huntington Beach offers the perfect escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Huntington City Beach is known as “Surf City USA” for its popularity as a surfing destination, so you can rent a board and “shred the gnar” during your day trip.

You can also rent beach cruisers and bike along the beach to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

However, if you’re looking for a more relaxed vacation, there’s plenty of shopping at dining to enjoy in Huntington Beach.

You can enjoy tacos and a margarita from Fred’s Mexican Café and Cantina, explore the unique shops and restaurants at Pacific City, and check out the surf shops at Downtown Huntington Beach.

Before you head back to Los Angeles, don’t forget to watch the spectacular sunset on Huntington Beach Pier!

Recommended by Brittany,

Huntington Beach

5. Go on a Road Trip to Orange County

road trip from Los Angeles to Orange County is one of the best weekend getaways if want to enjoy some of the best beaches in California without driving too far.

Although many know Orange County because of Disney, it’s actually a perfect spot to recharge and enjoy the nature.

Orange County boasts 42 miles of stunning coastline with secluded beaches, gorgeous coves, and many hidden spots that are perfect if you need a break from the busy Los Angeles.

Orange County is home to many coastal towns, each with its unique identity and great things to do, from culture to outdoors.

For example Dana Point, a small sea side town that has been dubbed “the whale capital of the west” that offers daily boat tours if you want to see these iconic animals.

Another spot that is worth your attention is Laguna Beach, home to the stunning Crystal Cove State Park with unspoiled beauty and rich marine wildlife. And what about taking a boat ride to Santa Catalina Island where you can enjoy the beauty of the rugged landscapes.

While a weekend in Orange County probably will not be enough to cover everything, it will give you an amazing opportunities to enjoy one of the best places in SoCal.

Recommended by Daria,

orange county california

6. Malibu Wine Tasting

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend the day in LA, head for the Santa Monica Mountains for wine tasting in Malibu! 

It’s one of the smallest wine regions in California, but definitely worth a visit.

Malibu wine country is one of the most picturesque places in Los Angeles. Windy canyon roads dotted with grapevines lead to the Pacific Ocean at the Malibu Coast.

Start at Cornell Winery and Tasting Room on Mulholland Hwy. Cornell offers flights, glasses, and bottles of local wines on their outside patio.

Enjoy some music, get tips from the knowledgeable staff, and grab a wine map. For the best vistas, put Cielo Winery on your list and book a reservation ahead of time.

Visitors are limited which means you can usually find a table with a panoramic view of the vineyards.

One of the most unique tasting rooms in Malibu is located right on the Pacific Coast Highway.

The Rosenthal vineyards, the first vineyards in Malibu, are hidden in the hills, but their tasting room can be found across from the beach.

Enjoy the lively atmosphere while sipping one of their estate wines or a glass of bubbly under their Surfrider label.

Recommended by Denise,

wine tasting in malibu

7. Visit The Famous Hannah Montana Beach House!

If you are a 2000’s kid, and grew up with Hannah Montana, you have to visit the Hannah Montana beach house in Malibu!

The house is private property, so you can’t go inside or enter the back yard, but you can see it from the outside and be nostalgic!

As for the address – Broad Beach Rd, Malibu, California

You won’t see the house from the street, you need to walk by the beach and see the house from the beach as seen in the picture below.

Hannah montana house malibu

8. Visit Malibu Beach

Malibu has some of the prettiest beaches in California, and if you are spending a hot spring/summer day in Malibu, don’t miss out on visiting the famous Malibu Beach!

9. Visit The Broad Museum

The contemporary art museum, The Broad, entices passersby with its unique architectural design before seeing a single piece of Basquiat or Andy Warhol.

Situated in downtown Los Angeles, The Broad’s architecture complements Frank Gehry’s iconic Walt Disney Music Hall right next door.

Not just beautiful on the outside, The Broad houses nearly 2,000 contemporary art pieces from over 200 artists.

Unlike the more classic art museums, The Broad features many giant multimedia pieces, a nine-screen film installation, giant sculptures, and much more. New exciting exhibits are constantly being rotated in.

Notable Exhibit: Yayoi Kusama, an artist who plays with light and reflections, has two masterpieces in The Broad.

One such piece, named “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Million of Light Years Away, is a 45-second must-visit viewing if you can secure a reservation. “Longing for Eternity” is another similarly mesmerizing piece.

Entrance Fee: Free, but a reservation is required. Note: Kusama’s Yayoi’s “Infinity Mirrored Room” requires a separate reservation.

Recommended by Catherine Xu,

the broad museum

10. Visit The Petersen Automotive Museum

If you are a cars lover, and even if you are not, but you like seeing interesting cars from all decades, I highly recommend visiting the Petersen Automotive Museum!

This museum has original cars from the 1800s, 1900s, and of course from the 2000’s. You will also find original cars from famous movies such as James Bond cars.

The entry fee is $17 if you buy tickets through this website, and opening hours are between 10:00-17:00.


Petersen Automotive Museum

11. Visit The Grammy Museum

Another one of the best things to do in Los Angeles is to visit the Grammy Museum!

If you are a fashion lover, or just interested in all-thing-celebrities/Grammy related stuff, you’ll definitely enjoy the Grammy Museum!

The museum is open between 11:00-17:00, and the entry fee if $18 for adults.

In the Grammy Museum you will find all kinds of famous celebrities Grammy outfits such as Taylor Swift’s flower dress and outfit, Michael Jackson’s Grammy outfits, and more!

grammy museum

grammy museum

12. Spend a Day at Disneyland

One of the best things to do while in Los Angeles is to take an entire day to go back to your childhood at Disneyland. Disneyland is located in Anaheim, about 40 minutes south of Los Angeles.

Disneyland is perfect for families, but it’s also a great place to visit for adults. It’s the first theme park in the Disney empire Disneyland is a famous theme park, so it gets crowded.

Make sure to arrive early in the morning to have time to enjoy all the rides and attractions.

There are two parks in the resort: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. It would be best if you planned for at least a full day per park.

If it’s your first visit to a Disney park, visit Disneyland Park where you’ll find all the Disney movie attractions and rides such as the Sleeping Beauty Castle, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventures, and so many more.

If you decide to sleep in Anaheim near Disneyland, try to find a hotel outside the resort, but one that offers a complimentary shuttle to and from Disneyland. The Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel is a great pick.

Recommended by Emilie,

disneyland california

13. Spend a Day at Universal Studios

If you have an extra day, or if you are not into Disney, but still looking for a fun amusement park, consider spending a fun day at Universal Studios!

Age doesn’t matter in these parks, you can enjoy it at any age! I specifically loved the Harry Potter world, and especially the Hogwarts roller coaster which was INSANE. Highly recommended!

universal studios california

14. Have a Sunset Cocktail in Los Angeles

Santa Monica is my favorite Los Angeles city for a number of reasons (I’m looking at you 3rd Street shopping and epic food scene), but it’s the breathtaking sunsets that’ll have you scampering west.

This beachside city is dotted with several outdoor lounges and rooftop bars to ogle the sun as it slips under the sea somewhere over Hawaii.

I have two favorites in Santa Monica, and a third at Venice beach, just two miles south.

Start by wetting your lips at Loews Santa Monica. To get outdoors, walk through the lobby and head to the pool, then down in the front you’ll find fire pits to sit around beside views of Santa Monica Pier with bottle service.

I also love Onyx, the rooftop at Hotel Shangri La, along Ocean Ave. Get your chic on here with the views sweep from Malibu to Venice Beach and the décor that is lux.

For a more relaxed beach vibe, you can’t beat High on the rooftop of Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach.

This bar is completely open air with gas fire heaters and views all the way down the LAX flight path to the south, and Santa Monica Pier to the north.


loews santa monica pool bar

15. Drive Around Bel Air & Beverly Hills Villas

I don’t know if this option is everyone’s cup of tea, but my boyfriend and I love seeing beautiful houses.

Last time we visited Los Angeles, we rented a car and drove around the expensive streets of Bel Air and Beverly Hills.

There are also fun celebrities homes tours, but we decided to look up online what streets look the best and has the craziest houses and went for a drive by ourselves.


bel air homes

And that’s it for today! These were the best things to do in Los Angeles!

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