Welcome to the City of Angels, where sun-kissed shores meet star-studded boulevards in a dazzling display of glamour and culture. Whether you’re captivated by the city’s cinematic allure or the high-end boutiques of Beverly Hills, these are the top 10 best things to do in Los Angeles to experience it all.
From thrilling film studio tours to leisurely beach days under the warm California sun — not to mention visiting iconic landmarks like the Hollywood Sign and the Getty Centre — Los Angeles offers a tapestry of diverse attractions to inspire you.
Combine a few of these on your next whirlwind escape to the city of dreams to experience this West Coast gem in style.
1. VIP Experience at Universal Studios Hollywood
Experience the glitz and glamour of Hollywood like never before with the VIP Experience at Universal Studios Hollywood. This extraordinary day out offers a taste of Tinseltown’s magic and is one of the best studio tours in the City of Angels.
Granting you behind-the-scenes access and premium perks, leave your rental car with the valet before making your way to the private lounge, where you’ll receive a special welcome from your knowledgeable guide.
Then, embark on a personalised tour through the famous movie studio, getting unprecedented access to sets, soundstages and backlots where iconic films and TV shows were brought to life.
During your intimate tour, you’ll be invited to take a break to indulge in a delicious gourmet lunch in the private VIP dining room, prepared by Universal’s very own Executive Chef.
With A-lister status for the entire day, you’ll also benefit from unlimited Universal Express access on all the studio’s thrilling rides and attractions. Encounter dinosaurs and other prehistoric wonders on Jurassic World – The Ride or soar above the grounds of Hogwarts on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Plus, the VIP ticket is the only ticket that gives you express access to Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge, where you can zoom through courses on the ground, underwater and in the clouds collecting coins. Using cutting-edge technology and offering multiple outcomes, this 3D ride is a gamers’ dream!
Top Tip: If you’re a true movie buff, why not spend an afternoon at Paramount Pictures too? This historic studio is responsible for producing Oscar-winning classics like The Godfather, Forrest Gump and Titanic. It’s also the only film studio in the city to remain in its original lot!
2. Enjoy city views from Griffith Park
Nestled amidst the hazy sprawl of Los Angeles, Griffith Park stands as a verdant oasis and a cultural treasure trove all rolled into one.
Take a scenic bike ride through its lush centre or set off on a rejuvenating morning hike before the heat of the midday sun sets in. The park’s extensive hiking trails, including the beloved Griffith Park Trail, offer a wide range of challenges for both casual strollers and avid hikers, leading to hidden waterfalls and serene picnic spots.
While Griffith Park is a natural haven, it’s also a hub of culture and learning. The Griffith Observatory, perched atop a hill, is an architectural marvel, where you can gaze at the stars, explore interactive exhibitions and attend captivating planetarium shows.
From the iconic Griffith Observatory, you’ll also be treated to the most spectacular views of Los Angeles with the cityscape stretching to the horizon, which is especially enchanting at sunrise and sunset.
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, also located within the park, house a diverse array of animal species and plant life, making it a fantastic day out for families.
3. Share a picnic on Santa Monica beach
What better way to soak up the California sunshine than by hitting Santa Monica beach? With its sun-kissed shores, breathtaking ocean vistas and laid-back atmosphere, spending a day at this iconic stretch of sand is an absolute must during your visit to LA.
The allure of Santa Monica Beach lies in its unique beauty; it’s lined with towering palm trees with the sprawling city in its rear view. It also offers wonderful possibilities for leisure rarely seen in other major cities.
Picture yourself strolling along the world-famous Santa Monica Pier, where vintage amusement rides, eclectic street performers and delectable food vendors create an atmosphere of pure fun and nostalgia.
Or, combine a relaxing beach day with a gourmet picnic. Santa Monica Beach provides the ideal backdrop to enjoy a curated feast of California’s finest culinary delights.
Stay at one of several luxury beachfront properties during your holiday to Santa Monica — such as Casa del Mar Hotel by the Sea, Shutters on the Beach or Viceroy Santa Monica — and request a picnic to experience alfresco dining with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.
4. Watch athletes at the original Muscle Beach
When it comes to soaking up the sun and some heart-pounding athleticism, the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica is a spot that’s hard to beat.
Set right by the ocean, this iconic outdoor gym has a history that dates back to the 1930s. Considered the birthplace of the fitness boom in the US, it’s a place where you can still witness incredible feats of strength, gravity-defying gymnastics and jaw-dropping acrobatics, all set against the backdrop of the stunning California coast.
What makes Muscle Beach so special is the friendly and inclusive vibe here. You can chat with the athletes (maybe even try out a few moves yourself) or simply bask in the motivation that fills the air. It’s not just a show; it’s an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else.
A visit to Muscle Beach offers something a bit out of the ordinary in LA, whether you’re a fitness fanatic or a history buff. So, if you’re looking for a way to spend an afternoon that’s both awe-inspiring and quintessentially Californian, watching athletes at the original Muscle Beach should be right at the top of your list.
Can’t get enough of the muscle-pumping action? Head over to outdoor weightlifting platform at Venice Beach (known as Muscle Beach Venice) to watch more bodybuilding enthusiasts. Who knows…you may even run into Arnold Schwarzenegger himself!
5. Spend a Sunday at Smorgasburg LA
Spend a Sunday in LA indulging in the delectable delights of Smorgasburg LA. This open-air food market has become a serious foodie hot spot for locals and visitors alike.
On any given Sunday, the sprawling Alameda Produce Market transforms into a food-lover’s paradise, featuring over 100 carefully-curated food vendors, artisans and chefs from across Southern California.
The allure of Smorgasburg LA lies in its diverse culinary offerings, showcasing a myriad of global flavours under the California sun. From mouthwatering tacos to gourmet burgers, handcrafted ice creams to artisanal cheeses, you can embark on a gastronomic journey that spans the world.
But Smorgasburg is not just about food; it’s also a vibrant communal space where families, friends and visitors of the city come together to savour life’s simple pleasures. The energetic atmosphere is created by live music and local artists, so once you’ve finished satisfying your cravings, you can relax and enjoy the day here.
Spending a Sunday at Smorgasburg LA is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the authentic essence of Los Angeles. It’s an experience that both tantalises the taste buds and celebrates the city’s rich cultural tapestry.
6. Dinner at the Polo Lounge, The Beverly Hills Hotel
Once you’re finishing browsing the designer shops of Rodeo Drive, stroll up palm-lined streets to The Beverly Hills Hotel.
Immediately recognisable by its pink façade, this iconic hotel has been hosting Hollywood royalty for over a century. From Marilyn Monroe to Elizabeth Taylor, many household names have graced its luxurious suites and elegant dining spaces — and nowhere more so than the Polo Lounge.
Considered the epicentre of LA power dining, the Polo Lounge is still a hub for industry folk to secure their big break over an indulgent breakfast or make movie deals during a delicious dinner.
Reserve a table at this buzzing dining venue and enjoy American food with an Italian edge under the pretty candy-striped ceiling or on the lush patio.
Indulge amid familiar faces and tuck into perfectly-presented dishes to the soothing sound of live piano music, which flows through the lounge from lunch through dinner. Bon appétit!
7. Watch baseball at Dodger Stadium
Get a true taste of American culture; catch a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Downtown Los Angeles.
More than just a ballpark, this 56,000-seat stadium is a symbol of LA’s deep-rooted passion for sport and is the scene for countless fun nights out for fans and visitors alike.
Watch world-class players hit home runs against the inspiring backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains and the iconic palm trees that line the outfield. The atmosphere is electric with chanting fans, offering guests an immersive experience of LA culture.
Beyond the game, the stadium also offers a gastronomic adventure. From gourmet hot dogs to exotic fusion dishes, Dodger Stadium’s menu reflects the city’s culinary diversity. The legendary Dodger Dogs are a must-try, as well as the giant pretzels, which are served warm and encrusted with diamonds of salt.
Watching a Dodger game is not just a sporting event; it’s a cultural celebration. For those seeking an authentic American experience, an evening at the ballpark is perfect!
8. Enjoy a concert at The Hollywood Bowl
A natural amphitheatre with seating for over 17,000 guests, The Hollywood Bowl offers an unrivalled atmosphere for live performances. The stage, flanked by towering eucalyptus trees, provides a mesmerising setting, and as the sun sets behind the Hollywood Hills, the venue comes alive.
Renowned for hosting world-class artists and orchestras, The Bowl’s diverse line-up caters to a wide range of musical tastes. From classical symphonies to rock, pop and contemporary acts, there’s something for everyone!
Beyond the music, the open-air setting invites attendees to indulge in gourmet picnic spreads, fine wines and captivating conversations. With a legacy dating back nearly a century, attending a concert here is a quintessential Los Angeles experience.
Whether you’re a music aficionado or simply seeking an unforgettable night under the stars, snagging concert tickets here is a fantastic way to witness the top-notch entertainment that the city is known for.
9. Horse ride up to the Hollywood sign
Looking for a unique way to experience the LA landscape?
Mount your friendly steed and embark on an intrepid horse ride up to the iconic Hollywood Sign. Choose from several ranches in the heart of Hollywood, each offering different routes up to the beloved white letters.
Depending on your journey, you could find yourself surrounded by the tranquil beauty of Runyon Canyon Park — a hidden gem amidst the bustling city. The dense forest and winding trails provide a serene escape from the urban sprawl, allowing you to connect with nature as you climb the Hollywood Hills.
Continue your adventure along the world-famous Mulholland Drive, where you’ll be captivated by the crisp scent of eucalyptus trees. As you ascend, the Hollywood Sign gradually reveals itself — a symbol of cinematic dreams and star-studded aspirations the world over.
Along the way, savour panoramic views of Los Angeles; the dazzling cityscape stretching beneath you, as the Pacific Ocean glistens in the distance.
Offering a unique blend of adventure and sightseeing, riding up to the Hollywood Sign on horseback is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of California that coexists with the glamour of Tinseltown.
10. Take in inspiring art at the Getty Centre
Perched atop a hill, the Getty Centre is a world-renowned art museum and a must-do for culture buffs visiting the City of Angels. The architecture, designed by Richard Meier, is a work of art in itself, making it a spectacle and a beloved landmark by Angelenos.
Its permanent collection is a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces, spanning from ancient times to modern classics. It houses an impressive array of European paintings, decorative arts, sculptures and manuscripts, including ‘Irises’ by Vincent van Gogh and ‘The Abduction of Europa’ by Rembrandt.
The Getty also frequently hosts special exhibits that showcase remarkable works from around the world. These exhibits provide fresh perspectives on art and culture, making each visit a unique experience for returning art lovers.
Keep an eye out for the many cultural events hosted here too, from concerts in the Central Garden to lectures by renowned artists and scholars — there’s always something fascinating going on at the Getty!
Start planning your luxury holiday to Los Angeles
If you’re looking to enjoy some of these extraordinary experiences, browse our Luxury Holidays to Los Angeles to find some of the best hotels in the city.
Want to experience the magic of the Golden Coast with all the family? Enjoy a luxury family holiday to California with one of our tailor-made tours and have your dream escape in the USA.