The second largest city in the United States, this place is home to virtually all the big time movie stars. Full of wannabe actors, musicians and surfers alike. It’s a place you’re either gonna love or hate. Los Angeles has many attractions to keep you busy, I’ve been here twice now over the years so I’ve picked out the best of what I’ve seen and done.
Update: 10th April 2023
- Added more: 360 and Standard images
Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, a cultural mecca boasting more than 100 museums, and a paradise of idyllic weather. With many attractions to keep you busy, I’ve been here twice now over the years so I’ve picked out the best of what I’ve seen and done. My favourite area is Santa Monica, wandering along the beach watching many artist, street performers, going on the Ferris wheel to see amazing views, walking the canals of Venice and taking it all in at your own leisurely pace. If you do find yourself short on time make sure you stop here.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
I had to check out Hollywood and walk the famous walk of fame, though there are now that many it would take you ages to do them all. I suggest if you want to see a specific star then look it up first so you can walk straight to it. In this neck of the woods things aren’t so casual and everyone seems to be in a rush, just get in see what you want and get out again. On my second visit here I found the prices have sky rocketed, tripling in price with the average price of a pint now $9 (2022), it was only $2-4 in 2017. Surprisingly it was here on the Boulevard that we found the cheapest beer at only $4 in the Frolic room and the gentleman behind the bar was very friendly and actually gave us the best service we had from any bar we visited this time around, so I would recommend here if you want a drink.
There’s a lot more to see in LA than Hollywood, none less then the Griffith Observatory or if it’s a nice day a hike to the Hollywood Sign. The first time here we were going to hike to the sign but it was raining so we didn’t get round to doing it. Thankfully second time here it was sunny, probably too hot and even though we started at 10am it was 32º when we got to the viewpoint under the sign. Even the bees were gathering on the water fountain for a drink, someone had placed a rock in the middle to help them escape from drowning. We decided in the midday heat not to carry on walking up to the above view and walked to the Observatory hoping to grab a drink, unfortunately it turned out to be closed. We ended up ordering an Uber and had to wait that little bit longer for an ice cold drink back down on Hollywood Boulevard.
Thankfully when I was here in 2017 it was open, Griffith Park Observatory is one of L.A’s greatest cultural attractions and best of all it’s admission free! Because of this it gets busy fast, so get here as early as possible. Timewise you can walk round in just a couple hours if your not all that interested, but if you are. Expect to spend hours if not the day wandering around it all.
My first visit we went on a tour taking us around Beverly Hills and all the famous houses. As interesting as it was to hear the famous names being spouted whom lives here or had lived where, you only get to see the front gate or driveway. They say you could be lucky and someone famous may appear, but it’s rare and very unlikely. As fun as it is to be driven around, I think it would be better to do your own research and drive yourself if you wanted to see a particular house for yourself. I wouldn’t recommend bothering with a tour again. Instead I would recommend the Big Bus Tour, something we did on our return, you can buy a day pass and you can jump on and off as much as you like as they take you around all the main tourist areas.
We bought the Hop On Hop Off day pass and the Warner Brothers tour tickets for the next day at the same time which came to $104.99 (2022) for both. There are two routes a red and a blue. The red takes you around Hollywood while the blue will take you to Santa Monica Beach. To do the blue you still need to jump on the red and then transfer when you get to Beverly Hills. We had already been to Santa Monica for the day before, so we got off at Beverly hills and wandered around. That’s when we stumbles upon Above Sixty with 360º views of the city. Ask the bartender if you can go up to the top level for the full view.
We did see a fair few vehicles with fully blacked out windows including the windscreen driving around and they say that the vehicle will more than likely have someone famous behind the wheel. You could be right next to someone famous and you’ll have no idea.
Beverly Hills is a stark contrast to Downtown LA with the neatly tended to grass verges and no rubbish and I saw only one homeless person here. I felt very comfortable and safe, where as in Downtown some may not feel so comfortable.
The first time here we only went out briefly one evening around the Grove and the atmosphere was electric. Certainly if I get the opportunity to return I ‘d like to see what a true night out in LA is like. Well this time in 2022 I did, staying longer we spent a night out in each Santa Monica, Downtown, Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard. We found some great little places some known and not so known. I was disappointed that Whiskey a go-go was closed considering the website said it’s always open, but we went into the Irish bar next door which had a free comedy night which was a good laugh, there were a couple of the acts that were just terrible though.
Warner Bros Studios
For our last day we went to Warner Bros Studios. The tour is well organized, you wait in a cinema style area for your designated time slot before beginning the tour. Watching a brief welcome movie introducing you to the day ahead, then you meet your guide and hitting the road. You will be transported around in a 9-10 seater electric power cart. You do stop and get out for a wander quite often though. You are not allowed to just wander off on your own on a mission to find famous people. The guides keep a very close eye on your group. There was only one place we were asked not to film or take pictures.
The most famous tv shows are probably Friends and Big Bang Theory. You do get to sit on the sofa by the fountain like the friends intro and when you get to Studio 48 the sets are fully made up so you can sit in Central Perc and Sheldon & Leonards apartment. Of course all the DC movie memorabilia is there too.
It is a working studio, which means there could be several tv shows and movies being filmed at the time of your tour. Correct etiquette is non-negotiable! The tour took 3 hours. 2 hours guided tour and 1 hour self guided at Studio 48 at the end of your tour.
If you’re in Downtown I would definitely recommend you head to the Smorgasbord, this place is full of great food stalls and some good beer, The Mango Hef was really nice so we decided to give the red a go next. Yeah bad choice, avoid a pint of the Mango Hef Red, this stuff was so spicy, it was overkill and disgusting, so much so I couldn’t drink it and I gave it away. We did get some free nachos as while we were there they set a new Guinness World record for the largest serving of nachos. I mean I’m glad they were free as to be honest they had been sat around a while and they didn’t taste great at all. It was cool to witness a new Guinness World record being set though.
The other place to go would be Nickel Diner for their bacon doughnut. This place has quite an old school character, the breakfast was good and the doughnut I’d have again so definitely recommend you give it a try.
If you wander away from the main touristy streets you will be met with pavements (sidewalks) lined with tents, so much so you have to walk in the road to get past. As glamorous as LA can be and what it is made out to be, there is definitely a sad side with many unfortunate people having to live rough. Many of which seem to be in the Downtown area, now there are some great eating and drinking establishments here, but watch where you walk as there was a lot of dog poo around and even some that was suspiciously human looking. We were sat in a Starbucks for a mango, dragon fruit and lemonade (so refreshing by the way), and a couple of the homeless come up to us asking for money or one guy randomly just wanted to show me his clothes and asked if he looked good.
Accommodation wise the first time we came here we used Airbnb between 3 of us and the second time 2 of us stayed at Freehand Hostel, which was more of a dorm room in a hotel. It didn’t have the usual hostel vibes atmosphere or the nights out you come to expect staying in a hostel. Personally I wouldn’t bother staying there again, not that it wasn’t any good, the facilities were fine, the pool was smaller than it looked in the pictures. It was comfortable and quiet so you could sleep easy, but the area it’s in isn’t the best.
Will I come back again, erm… unlikely I’m pretty much done with LA now to be honest, although I may one day do the Route 66 which of course starts in Chicago and ending here in LA. I wouldn’t mind visiting Santa Barbara, nor would I never say no to driving the coast through Big Sur again. That would probably be the only reasons if I were to return.
Los Angeles often referred as L.A is the largest city in the state of California and the second most populous city in the United States after New York City.
- It is the only city in North America to have hosted the Summer Olympics twice.
- Downtown L.A. is the largest government centre outside of Washington, D.C.
- Los Angeles has the only remaining wooden lighthouse in the state (located in San Pedro’s Fermin Park) and the largest historical theatre district on the National Register of Historic Places (located Downtown on Broadway).
- The Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises more than 2,600 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street. Gene Autry is the only honouree with stars in all five categories. Each star costs $50,000 (as of 2022), payable by the person or entity nominating the recipient.
- The discovery of oil in the 1890s brought rapid growth to the city.
- Los Angeles is subject to earthquakes because of its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire.
- The House of Bijan is the most expensive menswear store in the World with the average customer spending $100,000 each visit.
- In Beverly Hills all the fire hydrants are painted platinum as red wasn’t aesthetically pleasing enough.
- Mexican rule ended during the Mexican–American War: Americans took control from the Californios after a series of battles, culminating with the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga on January 13, 1847.
I’d recommend looking into Airbnb for this one. We rented an entire 4 bedroom house in Beverly Grove with a driveway. Between 3 of us, it worked out to be just over $50 a night each. If you’re on your own, then finding a shared room on Airbnb should start from $20 a night.
Second time here I thought I’d try a Hostel and stayed at Freehand. To be honest it’s a dorm room in a hotel, there’s no hostel vibe or atmosphere here, it was comfortable though. The roof top bar was over priced with ridiculous hidden fees added on with a service charge, health tax and city tax and then the expected tip and closed at 7pm. Two cocktails advertised at $18 each and two beers came to a total of $72. Needless to say we didn’t order cocktails again. In fact we just chilled for an hour at most by the small pool drinking the free water (if the chiller was on) to catch some sun each day and then left. The smell of green by the main door was so strong sometimes it almost brought tears to my eyes, only once in the 6 days I was there it didn’t smell.
- There are a couple other hostels around you could try, US Hostel Hollywood, Banana Bungalow both looked good. If booking a hostel go direct and not through sites like hostelworld, there are hidden fees plus the tax on top of the ‘Total’ that they said it would be when you paid. You’ll then have to pay the extra tax and fees upon arrival.
- Sometimes you just want that little luxury of a room to yourself, if I was to return I’d find an Airbnb or hotel.
- Get $30 (£25) off your first Airbnb trip of $70 (£55) or more click here.
One of the best meals we had was actually from one of the food trucks, so definitely give them a try. Much of the food that’s easily available is typically fast food, all deep fried and beige, unless you go to a proper sit down restaurant. Of coarse you’ll be paying a lot more doing this, not something everyone can afford everyday. We had to go looking for fresh fruit and veg. I even ordered a veggie omelette just because I was missing veg. If you have the facilities to cook yourself where you’re staying then go to the supermarkets and buy in your own fresh produce.
Having been here a couple times now I have tried each of the bigger chains, by far the best was Shack Shack, that burger was melt in your mouth and Denny’s Grandslamwich were my favourites.
I was disappointed with In n Out, one of the worst burgers I had and had I not known to order the animal fries I wouldn’t have eaten them either they were that bad. The worst breakfast we had was at Jinky’s Cafe in Santa Monica, after having to stand and wait, taking staff 10 minutes to acknowledge we were even there, a queue had formed behind us. Then it was a further 10 minutes before we were seated. We thought this better be good, unfortunately it was terrible, bland and greasy. I wouldn’t recommend going there. We also tried Popeye’s and I didn’t rate that much either.
- Try the food trucks, way better than the mass produced fast food chain rubbish.
- The average price of a pint $9-$14 (2022).
- So much food is served I usually only ate twice a day.
- Beverly Hills Sign
- Big Bus Tour, Hop On Hop Off, from $51.99 (2022, 1 day)
- Disney Adventure Park
- Hike around Griffith Park.
- Learn about the cosmos and marvel at the views of L.A at Griffith Observatory.
- Visit the lakes to get a great view of the Hollywood Sign.
- Hiking to the Hollywood sign is the only way to get up close.
- Hollywood Bowl Overlook. A great view, fingers crossed it won’t be raining like it was when I was there!
- Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame, find the marble slab of your favourite star.
- Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
- The Grove, day or night it always has something going on and places to eat, drink and shop.
- La Brea Tar Pits
- Long Beach
- Museum of Death
- Pacific Wheel
- Point Fermin Lighthouse, the only remaining wooden lighthouse in the state.
- Rodeo Drive is the epicentre of luxury and worth the stroll around, but don’t stay long. It will seriously put a dent in your wallet.
- Santa Monica Pier (& Beach).
The Skyslide, 14 metres long and 300 metres high, between the 69th and 70th floors of the US Bank Tower.– Sadly this is now permanently closed
- San Andreas Fault
- Santa Barbara
- Stroll down the Sunset Strip, if you want to see a celeb then this is your best bet. It’ll come at a price though, so you may not want to stay for too long and parking is insanely difficult to find.
- Take a trolley tour or I would suggest just drive around Beverly Hills and check out some of the properties of the famous.
- Universal Studios
- Urban Light, composed of 202 street lamps.
- Venice Beach (Boardwalk) So many street acts and a great place to sit & watch the world go by.
- Venice Canals, walk around a little piece of Italy.
- Warner Brothers Studio (Tour best on weekends, filming on weekdays, restricted)
- Above Sixty, Beverly Hills hotel with 360º views of the city. Ask the bartender if you can go up to the top level for the full view.
- Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, You’ll want to use the lift and head to the other tower block to get to the pool side bar.
- Cabo Cantina, sports bars with good food.
- If you want a good laugh head to The Comedy Store
- Big Dean’s Oceanfront Cafe 1902.
- Denny’s, the grand slamwich is one of the best breakfasts you can get.
- Ercoles Bar hasn’t changed since 1927.
Golden Gopher, a restored 1905 dive bar. Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was a rumored early owner of the bar and it appears in Taylor Swift’s “Delicate” music video.
- Frolic Room, Cheapest place for a beer on the Boulevard, even in LA $4 (2022).
- Harvelle’s Blues Club, Oldest live music venue 1931.
- Huckleberry Cafe & Bakery Damn good breakfast here. Its exceptionally busy though, so you may have to wait for a table. It’s well worth it.
- Karl Strauss Brewing Co, Lots of great beers on offer.
- The oldest still operating McDonald’s restaurant opened on August 18, 1953. It even has a museum.
- Head to Nick’s Cafe for an unmissable authentic American style diner, open since 1948 it’s a favourite with the L.A.P.D. for breakfast (cash only)
- The Original Pantry
- Red Maple Cafe, had a great breakfast here before going to the Warner Bros. Tour.
- Rock & Reilly’s Irish Pub
- Shake Shack, Out of all the fast food chains, this was by far the best burger I’ve had.
- Smorgasburg Beer Garden
- Nickel Diner, great place for breakfast, but famous for it’s bacon doughnut which was delicious.
- The place where it all began, Whisky a Go Go. The majority of the worlds best bands started out here.
- If you like your Rock and Metal music then the Viper Room is the place to be.
- Umami Burger. I know its a burger joint, but this was my first taste of Umami and i could not fault it. These burgers are like no other.
- Cook your own. Eating out can get expensive, so if you’ve got yourself an Airbnb, use the house’s kitchen.
- If you’re really feeling lazy then Ubereats will deliver virtually any restaurant takeaway straight to your door.
Everything in L.A is spread out, so I would suggest the best way to explore it and take in the sights is by car. Even though traffic can suck often, in your own car you can use the side streets to get as close to wherever as you can, park up and then walk the rest of the way. Best just to avoid peak times 07:00-09:00 & 17:30-19:30 on weekdays. The public transport is there, but its not great. Metro only stops in certain places and busses get stuck in all the traffic and can take forever to get anywhere. Failing that Uber and Lyft are both around. My second time here I thought I’d give the public transport a try and ended up using Uber more than anything. This can get expensive though.
- Bus, Big bus tours are a great way to get around, you can hop on and off whenever, wherever you want. We bought the Hop On Hop Off day pass, plus the Warner Brothers tour tickets for the next day at the same time which came to $104.99 (2022) for both.
- Car, LA is huge and if you don’t mind someone not drinking, then hiring a car is the best way to get around.
- E-Scooter/Bike, they are scattered around everywhere. Unlock them with an app on your phone.
- Uber, sign up here.
- Car, The first time I came here I drove from San Diego which was very easy using google maps.
- Fly, Second visit I flew into LAX and had no problems. As you come out of the main doors of the airport to your left there is a free bus that will take you to the taxi, Uber/lyft pick up point.
- Try the food trucks, way better than the mass produced fast food chain rubbish.
- Buy a Hop on and Off day pass to get around easily for the day.
- The average price of a pint $9 (2022)
- If booking a hostel go direct and not through sites like hostel world, there are hidden fees plus the tax on top of the ‘Total’ that they said it would be when you paid. You’ll then have to pay the extra tax and fees upon arrival.
- Many places still don’t have contactless payments or even chip and pin, so you’ll need a physical card to swipe. If like me you bank with Starling or the like, you’ll find swipe payments are turned off as default, you’ll have to go into the settings to turn it on.
- I would suggest always select no tip on the tablets and then tip with cash, that way the person serving you will actually get it.
- We did see a fair few vehicles with fully blacked out windows including the windscreen driving around and they say that the vehicle will more than likely have someone famous behind the wheel. You could be right next to someone famous and you’ll have no idea.
- In the Downtown area watch where you walk, there was lots of dog mess around some of which looked suspiciously human.
- As you come out of the main doors of the airport to your left there is a free bus that will take you to the taxi, Uber/lyft pick up point.
- Everything in L.A is spread out, so I would suggest to rent a car.
- Avoid driving at peak times 07:00-09:00 & 17:30-19:30 on weekdays
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