Looking for some epic things to do in Los Angeles? From those iconic experiences, hidden gems, trendy hotspots, and the best food, drink, beaches, and hikes, here are over 150 things to check off your LA bucket list!
Beaches. Palm trees. Hollywood and celebrity sightings. World-class museums. Trendy restaurants and cafes. There are so many amazing things to do in Los Angeles, making the city one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
I was born in and spent the first 23 of my life in the LA area, but I have to admit that I never fully took advantage of what it had to offer. Not only is Los Angeles the second largest city in the United States (by population – it is also 12th in terms of area), it is also notorious for nightmarish, bumper-to-bumper traffic. Because of this, I often hesitated to explore the area more, and definitely took my years in LA for granted!
After spending over a decade living in San Francisco, I am finally returning to Southern California, moving to neighboring Orange County. I am determined not to let my time in the area go to waste, and am excited to do, see, eat, and explore all the spots on my Los Angeles bucket list, no excuses!
There are sooooo many things to do in LA and so much that it has to offer – it’s insane! I am so excited to check off all the things on this Los Angeles bucket list.
From those iconic LA experiences (like Hollywood, and the boardwalk in Venice Beach), hidden gems, trendy hotspots, the best beaches, the most epic hikes, the most delicious food and drink, and more, here are over 150 (yes, I told you there was a lot that the area had to offer!) things to add to your Los Angeles bucket list!
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The Ultimate Los Angeles Bucket List: 150+ Epic Things to Do in LA
Hollywood + Burbank + Glendale
1. Hike to the Hollywood sign…ok, you can’t actually get up to the actual sign itself, but the hike will take you pretty close. Still a quintessential LA experience and a must on your Los Angeles bucket list. This has been one of my all-time favorite things to do in LA! ✓
2. Check out the stars of your favorite on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s super touristy but one of the most iconic things to do in LA! ✓
3. Hike to the top of Runyon Canyon and enjoy the view…and maybe spot a celebrity.
4. Drive on the movie-famous Mulholland Drive, the road of classic makeout scenes, car chases, and iconic LA scenery, a must on any Los Angeles bucket list.
5. Catch a movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
6. Enjoy some cocktails by the 60’s style pool at the Hotel Roosevelt.
7. Take a celebrity homes tour via Starline Tours.
8. Stay the night at the Chateau Marmont…or just have a drink at the bar (and maybe spot a celebrity!).
9. Sample some wines at the summertime Friday Night Wine Tasting at the Barnsdall Art Park.
11. Gaze at the stars from the Griffith Observatory and check out the view of the LA skyline. Also admire the Art Deco architecture (especially that beautiful dome), attend a star party, and go to a planetarium show. ✓
12. Go to a show at the Greek Theatre – the acoustics here are absolutely incredible! I’ve seen several shows here, including some of my all-time favorite shows! ✓
13. Visit the Stahl House – this is an iconic example of the Case Study Houses program, has incredible floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and has some epic views of the city.
15. Eat some sushi, surrounded by koi ponds and tranquil gardens at Yamashiro, the “mountaintop palace” overlooking the Hollywood Hills.
16. Go to a show at Hotel Cafe, and find the next up and coming singer-songwriters before they make it big! Many big names in the genre once played here, including John Mayer, Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, and even Katy Perry! One of the best things to do in Los Angeles for music fans.
17. Attend a live taping of a TV show – I’ve been to a few over the years, but I would looooove to go to a taping of the Ellen Show someday – definitely a Los Angeles bucket item for me! ✓
18. Visit the abandoned LA Zoo in Griffith Park…the site is covered in colorful graffiti and is kind of eerie, but has also been used as a filming location in several movies.
19. Take the Museum of Neon Art’s Neon Cruise and learn more about the neon signs in the city.
20. Attend a show at the Troubadour, one of the best live music venues in LA.
21. Pack a picnic and go see a concert at the Hollywood Bowl – bonus points if there are fireworks afterwards! This has always been one of my favorite things to do in LA over the years. ✓
22. See a movie at the Arclight Cinemas – it is especially designed to have the most optimum sound and screen quality! ✓
23. Find a magician friend to invite you to an evening at the Magic Castle.
24. Get a chicken shawarma at Zankou Chicken – be sure to ask for extra garlic sauce (that stuff is highly addicting)! ✓
25. Enjoy some laughs at a show at the Upright Citizens Brigade, known for launching many famous comedians’ careers.
26. Check out the Capitol Records Building, one of LA’s most iconic buildings. You can’t actually go inside it, but you can get a great view of it from the famed intersection of Hollywood and Vine. ✓
27. See a Broadway production at the Pantages Theatre.
28. Get some potato balls and cheese rolls at Porto’s Bakery & Cafe – and get lots of them as they are addicting! Also highly suggest eating in their cafe and ordering a Cuban sandwich. ✓
29. Drink some butterbeer, buy a wand, and fly through the halls of Hogwarts at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. Afterwards, go on the world-famous studio tour, ride the Revenge of the Mummy, meet the dinosaurs of Jurassic World, and more! ✓
30. Get a hot dog at Pink’s, a Hollywood institution since 1939. ✓
31. Go roller skating at the Moonlight Rollerway.
32. Hang out on the beach and enjoy the views from Point Dume, which is also a popular Hollywood filming location because of its iconic rock face. ✓
33. Have lunch at Malibu Farm, and enjoy the seaside breeze while sitting on the patio.
34. Spend the day on the beach in Malibu – some of the best ones include Zuma Beach (with wide, long sand), El Matador (which has sort of a hidden feel, with cool rock formations), and Leo Carrillo State Beach (with tide pools, sea caves).
35. Admire the Roman-style architecture of the Getty Villa.
36. Go on a wine safari in Malibu – you will ride in an open-air safari vehicle that takes you through the vineyards of Saddlerock Ranch, where you will have some up close and personal encounters with zebras, water buffalo, alpacas, bison, and even Stanley the Giraffe! This has been on my Los Angeles bucket list for so long!
37. Taste some wines and then have a picnic at Malibu Wines.
Santa Monica + Venice
38. Stroll through the iconic Santa Monica Pier, and go on one of the rides at the Pacific Park. Touristy, yes, but still one of the most quintessential things to do in LA! ✓
40. Visit the Mosaic Tile House, a unique house that once used to be a traditional 1940s house and has since been transformed over two decades to be covered completely in, you guessed it, super colorful mosaic tiles.
41. Spend a day browsing the trendy boutiques, cafe restaurants, Instagrammable street art, and art galleries on Abbott Kinney. This is one of my favorite streets in LA and spending an afternoon here is one of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles. ✓
42. Get your shop on, or just walk through and watch the street performers at the Third Street Promenade. ✓
43. Walk through the Venice Canals.
44. Grab some drinks at sunset on the Hotel Erwin rooftop.
45. Admire all the colorful murals of the Arts District. There are so many everywhere you look – one of the most Instagrammable things to do in Los Angeles! ✓
46. Sample some spirits and tour the Lost Spirits Distillery – it is nestled within a jungle that is only accessible by boat!
47. Check out the art at the DTLA Art Walk, held every second Thursday of the month
48. Attend a game at Dodger Stadium – be sure to eat a Dodger Dog! One of the must-do things in LA for baseball (and sports) fans! ✓
49. Grab some old-school cocktails at the classy Gallery Bar inside the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel. (it’s been named one of the best things to do in Los Angeles on a first date!) ✓
50. Play at the Two Bit Circus, an “unforgettable interactive digital playground of amusement for all ages.” ✓
51. Order the bartender’s choice at the Varnish speakeasy bar.
52. Have some cocktails at the Bona Vista Lounge on the 34th floor of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. The lounge slowly rotates so you eventually get a 360 view of the Downtown LA skyline while you sit with a drink in hand. ✓
53. Visit the California Science Center and stand underneath the Endeavor space shuttle, the final ship to be built in the NASA space shuttle program. It’s also one of the best museums for toddlers in Los Angeles! (Side note – my senior prom was held here!). ✓
55. Admire the wrought iron staircases of the Bradbury Building, most prominently featured in Blade Runner, among many other movies and TV shows.
57. Peruse the clothing and fabric selection at Santee Alley and the Fashion District. If you are in need of formal wear, this is the place to go. Be sure to also get a bacon wrapped hot dog from one of the street vendors (the smell is intoxicating)! ✓
58. Stroll through Olvera Street, known as the “birthplace of Los Angeles.” Today, it celebrates Mexican culture, and is filled with street vendors, merchants, and artisans. They also put on a big Dia de los Muertos celebration every year! ✓
60. Go outdoor ice skating in Pershing Square. ✓
62. Sample all the food at the Grand Central Market. One of the best things to do in LA for foodies! Be sure to grab a sandwich at Eggslut (well worth the giant line)! Definitely a top Los Angeles bucket list item for foodies! ✓
63. Take a ride on the historic Angels Flight funicular, known as the world’s shortest railway. ✓
64. Snap some photos of the view of the DTLA skyline from Vista Hermosa Park. ✓
65. Get some exotic sausages, fries, and beer at Wurstkuche. They have some super crazy sausages like Rattlesnake & Rabbit, and have an excellent selection of Belgian and German beers! ✓
66. Eat some high-quality, super authentic sushi at Sushi Gen.
67. Check out the shops and sample all the Japanese food in Little Tokyo. Be sure to grab some mochi at Mikawaya, an imagawayaki (a pancake with red bean inside) at Mitsuru Cafe, ramen at Shin-Sen-Gumi or Daikokuya, and an okonomiyaki at Chinchikurin! ✓
68. Find the secret swing in Elysian Park.
69. Attend a Lucha VaVOOM burlesque show, featuring Mexican lucha libre wrestlers, aerialists, dancers, and more.
70. Check out the view from the observation deck at City Hall (bonus points – it’s free!).
71. Admire your reflection inside Yayoi Kusama’s infinity mirror room at the Broad Museum. This LA bucket list experience is absolutely free, but you must line up and secure a timed entry ticket in order to see the exhibit. Make sure you check out all the modern art throughout the rest of the museum, though – one of the best things to do in Los Angeles for arts & culture lovers! ✓
72. Take a train from Union Station. You can take to Santa Barbara in the north, or San Diego in the south on the Pacific Surfliner. You can even take the Coast Starlight to Seattle, or the Southwest Chief all the way to Chicago! ✓
73. Tour, attend a performance at, and/or just admire the Frank Gehry designed architecture of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
74. Get brunch at Bottega Louie, and be sure to get a box of pretty macarons to go! ✓
75. Order the taco sampler at Guisado’s – perfect as a pre- or post-bar hopping snack in DTLA. ✓
76. Get some Nashville hot chicken at Howlin Rays. Just be prepared to wait – the line can be as long as 3 hours! You can bypass the line by ordering pickup, but you will need to order some time in advance.
77. Order the “Trust Me” at Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa.
78. Go back in time at the Museum of Jurassic Technology – LA’s strangest museum.
79. Find your new favorite book, and admire the Instagram-worthy displays at the Last Bookstore. ✓
80. Order a French Dip at Phillipe’s, an LA institution since 1918.
81. Get some Korean BBQ tacos at Kogi, known as one of the original fusion trucks as well as one of the first to utilize social media to spread the word about their locations and offerings.
82. Eat Korean fusion food at Majordomo, helmed by David Chang (of the Momofuku empire).
83. Grab some cocktails (and/or eat a romantic dinner) and gaze at the twinkling lights of the DTLA skyline at Perch. ✓
84. Go to a pool party on the rooftop of the Standard Hotel.
85. Eat innovative Italian food in an industrial chic setting at Bestia, consistently ranked as one of LA’s best restaurants. (Also grab cocktails at Bavel, their sister restaurant).
East LA + Silver Lake + Echo Park
86. Snap some photos with the colorful Micheltorena Stairs – one of the most Instagrammable things to do in LA! ✓
87. Step back in time and admire the Victorian houses at the Heritage Square Museum, a living history museum depicting life in Southern California during the Victorian era. ✓
88. Grab brunch at Sqirl – be sure to order some brioche toast and a rice bowl!
89. Rent a swan pedal boat at Echo Park lake.
90. Visit the Time Travel Mart, a “convenience store for time travelers” (and the headquarters of Barnacle & Barnacle Publishers).
91. But first, coffee…grab a cup of joe and take a photo of the Instagrammable sign at Alfred Coffee.
93. See all the latest exhibits at the Getty (and enjoy some amazing views of Los Angeles). ✓
94. Climb 282 steps to reach an epic viewpoint at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.
95. Grab a donut at Randy’s Donuts (and take a photo with the giant sign).
These photos from n/naka are by my friend Mel, who really, REALLY needs to start a blog. In the meantime, check out her IG feed of all her delicious foodie adventures (and go comment and bug her that you really think she should start a blog :P)
96. Experience an elaborate Japanese Kaiseki feast at the Michelin-starred n/naka, definitely a Los Angeles bucket list meal!
97. Grab an ice cream sandwich at Diddy Riese. There was a huge uproar when they raised the price from $1 to $1.50, but it’s still a great deal (and delicious)! ✓
98. Drink craft beer while eating a burger at Father’s Office – it’s been named one of the world’s best by Esquire magazine! ✓
99. Eat an inventive Scandinavian brunch in a minimalist setting at Destroyer (this one was a recommendation from my foodie friend Mel!).
Mid-City + Wilshire
100. Check out the modern art at the LACMA and admire the lamps (and snap some photos!) of the Urban Light installation. ✓
101. Check out the historic original Farmers Market, which has stood on the corner of 3rd & Fairfax since 1934.
102. Afterwards, get your shop on at the Grove! ✓
103. Check out the La Brea tar pits. The pits are a result of natural asphalt seeping up from the ground for tens of thousands of years, and has preserved the fossils of the animals trapped in the tar, and a unique Los Angeles bucket list experience. ✓
104. Eat delicious Cuban food at Versailles – order the famous garlic chicken! ✓
105. Eat some award-winning Italian food at Osteria Mozza, helmed by acclaimed chefs Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joe Bastianich, and consistently ranked as one of LA’s best restaurants.
106. Get some Korean BBQ in Koreatown. You can find tons of all-you-can eat joints (and they’re all pretty tasty and cheap!), but my absolute favorite (which is not AYCE) is Baekjeong. It is on the pricier side, but absolutely worth it. Also on my list is Quarters (but the wait there always seems to be upwards of 2 hours). After dinner, go karaoke! ✓
107. Go to a show at the historic Art Deco theater, the Wiltern – many of my favorite shows have been at this venue! ✓
108. Eat Korean comfort food and satisfy your sweet tooth with some mouth-watering desserts at Spoon by H.
109. Brunch at Republique – and be sure to order some pastries!
110. Get some ice cream treats at Milk – they are known for the macaron ice cream sandwiches, but my personal favorite thing here is the Strawberry Shortcake Bar. A definite Los Angeles bucket list item for those with a sweet tooth! ✓
111. Get a body scrub at a Korean spa – they are aggressive AF, but your butt will be as smooth as a baby’s butt! They have other spa treatments as well, and purchasing a service will also give you access to the hot tubs and saunas. They also have nap rooms and meals. Wi Spa is probably the most famous, but there are many others all over Koreatown. ✓
112. Go back in time at the Beverly Hills Hotel, a symbol of Hollywood glamour. ✓
113. Shop til you drop on Rodeo Drive…or, you know, just window shop til you drop as you ogle all the luxury merchandise. ✓
114. Grab a cupcake from the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM. There are multiple locations nowadays, but the one here is the original!
115. Take photos with all the Instagrammable walls on Melrose Avenue. ✓
116. Shop where all the cool kids shop at the Melrose Trading Post. ✓
117. Parade down the streets of Sunset Blvd. during the LA Pride Parade.
118. Say “Tea, yes. You, maybe” and “I love you so matcha” by grabbing a cup of tea at the super cute, super pink Alfred’s Tea Room. ✓
119. See a show at Whisky A Go-Go.
120. Eat giant pancakes (larger than your face) at the Griddle Cafe – try the red velvet! ✓
121. Eat organic food and drink organic coffee at Urth Caffe. They have a focus on using sustainable ingredients and developing relationships with small family farms. ✓
122. Eat vegan Mexican food and sip on some cocktails at Gracias Madre (if the cocktail has a popsicle or even a sno-cone in it – order it!). ✓
South Bay + Long Beach
123 . Step inside the glass Wayfarers Chapel, designed by Franklin Lloyd Wright. The light inside the church is stunning on a sunning day, and you can enjoy sweeping views of the coast from here. ✓
124. Enjoy some peace and quiet (and take some time to meditate) at Lake Shrine. ✓
125. Bike along the Strand, which goes from Manhattan to Redondo Beach.
126. Try stand-up paddleboarding in Marina del Rey.
127. Visit the Korean Friendship Bell, a gift from the South Korean government to celebrate the United States bicentennial. ✓
128. Tour the historic Queen Mary and learn why it’s known as one of the top 10 most haunted places in America. ✓
San Gabriel Valley
128. Eat dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley – it’s cheap and delicious (seriously, this is one of the things I miss most about LA). Favorite spots include Lunasia in Alhambra, NBC Seafood and Elite Restaurant in Monterey Park. ✓
130. And while you’re in the SGV, make sure you stop for some boba – there is no shortage of delicious boba spots in the area! (Favorites include Half & Half and Tea Brick in Monterey Park, Junbi in Rowland Heights, and Factory Tea Bar in San Gabriel). ✓
131. Walk or drive across the historic Colorado Street Bridge. The Beaux-Arts style bridge is an engineering marvel and was originally built in 1913 to ease the travel between Pasadena and Los Angeles. The bridge is and said to be haunted, but it is the highest standing concrete arch bridge in the world. It is also super photogenic! ✓
132. Hike to Eaton Canyon Falls, a 50-foot tall waterfall nestled in the San Gabriel Mountains and accessible by an easy hike.
133. Shop and dine in Old Town Pasadena. ✓
134. Get some donuts from the Donut Man – especially when the strawberry or peach is in season! ✓
135. Wander through the gardens at the Huntington Library – I especially love visiting the Japanese garden here during cherry blossom season. ✓
136. Search for treasures at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. ✓
137. Slurp on a bowl of comforting pho noodles at Golden Deli – this has always been my go-to. Just check to see if they are open, since they are known for taking vacations and are sometimes closed for weeks at a time. ✓
138. Put your pinkies in the air and enjoy the high tea service at the Langham Hotel.
139. Eat fried chicken and waffles at Roscoe’s – and get ready for the food coma afterwards. It has expanded to several locations all around Southern California, but the one in Pasadena is the original! ✓
140. Spend the day at the races at Santa Anita Park. ✓
141. Attend the Tournament of Roses Parade, held on New Years Day (unless it falls on a Sunday, then it takes place on the 2nd). ✓
142. Hike to the Bridge to Nowhere – this bridge was supposed to connect the San Gabriel Valley with Wrightwood, but construction was abandoned as a result of a flood. The bridge still sits in the middle of the San Gabriel Mountains, right outside of Azusa, and you can access it via a 10-mile (round trip) hike. This one is at the top of my Los Angeles bucket list hikes!
143. Drive through the San Gabriel Mountains along the scenic Angeles Crest Highway. ✓
144. Eat a pastrami dip sandwich and some chili cheese fries at the Hat. ✓
Other Los Angeles Bucket List Experiences
145. Get an In-n-Out burger (animal style, of course). Many arriving tourists flock to the one on Sepulveda, just outside LAX, but did you know that the first In-n-Out is in Baldwin Park? There is a replica of the original stand in the original location, with an actual restaurant along with In-n-Out University (where they train their managers) and company store just down the street. ✓
146. Run the LA Marathon (or just cheer for all the runners). This one is not only on my LA bucket list, but also my running bucket list!
147. Explore the LA River – either by biking, walking, or kayaking through it.
148. Get invited to take a ride on the Goodyear Blimp.
149. Check out the Watts Towers, 17 metal sculptures built between 1921-1954 by Italian artist Sabato (“Simon”) Rodia.
150. Get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Ok, the crazy traffic is one of my absolute least favorite things about LA…but like, you’ll never experience anything like it. ✓
152. Cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway – bonus points if done in an open-top convertible!
153. Spend the day at the LA County Fair. ✓
Best Day Trips to Add to Your Los Angeles Bucket List
154. Embrace your inner kid at Disneyland and California Adventure – go on all the rides, eat some Dole Whip and some Mickey-shaped beignets, and watch the magical fireworks display over the Sleeping Beauty castle. ✓
156. Tour the midcentury architecture, shop the stylish boutiques, go to a pool party, and enjoy the desert landscapes of Palm Springs. ✓
157. Enjoy the laid-back beaches and feast on Mexican food (seriously the best outside of Mexico) of San Diego. ✓
158. Check out the beach cities of Orange County – each of them has its own unique personality. You can ride the waves at “Surf City USA” in Huntington Beach, stroll through the art galleries and explore the hidden beaches of Laguna Beach, kayak through the Newport Harbor and spend an afternoon in the charming Balboa Island of Newport Beach, or watch the surfers (many pro surfers surf here) and explore the historic San Clemente. ✓
159. Admire the magical desert landscapes and unique rock formations of Joshua Tree National Park. More on what to do on a day trip to Joshua Tree here. ✓
160. Spend the day in Santa Barbara, often referred to as the “American Riviera.” You’ll find Spanish-style architecture, beautiful beaches, world-class wineries, and delicious restaurants here. ✓
161. Go wine-tasting in Temecula Valley (and take a hot air balloon ride!). ✓
163. Transport yourself to a mini Denmark in Solvang. You’ll find windmills, rural houses, and a replica of Copenhagen’s Round Tower. ✓
164. Admire California’s Superblooms – Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, and Chino HIlls State Park are all excellent places to see some breathtaking blooms. ✓
165. Discover world-class shopping, unique independent businesses, trendy foodie spots, and a cool arts scene in Costa Mesa, Orange County’s City of the Arts ✓
Where to Stay in LA
Here are some recommended places to stay in LA. I picked the areas that I mention on this Los Angeles bucket list, so that you have an easier time tackling this list! Just remember that LA is HUGE – so allow an extra bit of time if you are trying to move in between areas.
I’ve organized the best places to stay in Los Angeles based on price range below:
- HI Hostel Santa Monica/Los Angeles: My friend Jess stayed here on a long weekend in Santa Monica/LA and recommended it wholeheartedly! She says it’s clean, safe, and modern, and conveniently located steps from the Third Street Promenade and the beach!
- Freehand Los Angeles: You’ve got an array of options to suit your budget at the Freehand – this hip boutique hotel/hostel has shared rooms if you’re looking to save some cash, studio or king rooms if you’re looking for a bit more room and privacy, and even suites if you want to treat yo’ self! Plus, they have some super cool common areas, plus a rooftop pool – also home to the hip Broken Shaker cocktail lounge! It’s also conveniently located right in the middle of DTLA.
- The Kinney Venice: I stayed here once when I was in LA for a show and wanted to be closer to the venue than my parents’ house. I’m a sucker for cute, colorful hotels, and I knew I wanted to stay here when I saw someone post a photo of it on Instagram! The Kinney is located less than a mile from Abbott Kinney and the Venice Canals – and the beach/boardwalk + Santa Monica aren’t too far away, either. They have a cute pool area and a little BYOB bar area – I ended up making some friends here while sharing some drinks poolside!
- Hollywood Hotel: The Hollywood Hotel mixes the best of old Hollywood glamour with contemporary style. This boutique hotel is conveniently located near Hollywood, Silver Lake, and Los Feliz – Griffith Park is also super close! If you are taking the metro, there is a station across the street.
- The LINE Los Angeles: This boutique hotel is in the middle of Koreatown, in Midcity LA – I stayed here once after a show because it is right across from the Wiltern. The LINE has a super hip, trendy vibe and reflects the culturally rich neighborhood. A super cool place to stay!
- The Viceroy Santa Monica: This super trendy, luxury boutique hotel fuses classic sophistication with chic, contemporary accents. The entire property is decorated in high Italian style, and is located just one block from the beach.
- Chateau Marmont: If you want to treat yourself and stay at an iconic LA hotel, then the Chateau Marmont is it! The property is designed to evoke a feeling of a French chateau. This is where all the celebrities stay when they are in LA!
Los Angeles Travel Tips
When to Visit Los Angeles
Any time is a good year to visit Los Angeles (or California in general)! Temperatures are relatively mild year-round, and you will find plenty of sunny days.
Summer brings the longest days (the sun rises before 6am, and doesn’t set until 8pm), but the biggest crowds. “May Grey” and “June Gloom” are a thing in Los Angeles, and can bring overcast skies – but this usually burns off by the afternoon. July and August bring the hottest temperatures – up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit! However, the days are longer so that you have even more time to do all of the best things to do in Los Angeles!
Spring and fall are, well, pretty much like summer – California doesn’t get much in the way of seasons. It does sometimes rain in the winter, but temperatures stay relatively mild – highs usually stay in the 60s Fahrenheit, and lows rarely get below the 50s.
How to Get to LA
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the main international airport and it is MASSIVE. You’ll generally find flights to almost anywhere from LAX. It is one of the busiest airports in the US, and the traffic just within and just outside the airport can be an absolute NIGHTMARE (I knew my boyfriend was a keeper when he was willing to deal with having to pick me up from LAX every other weekend because, trust me, it is NOT fun).
Unfortunately, there is no great public transportation to get you in and out of LAX (this has been something that has been in the works for YEARS now but STILL hasn’t happened). You can technically take the Metro Rail, but you have to take a shuttle bus to the station – and then you will most likely have to transfer to get to where you need to go (assuming that you, as a tourist, will probably want to go to Downtown LA, Santa Monica, or Hollywood).
A better option is to take the FlyAway bus, which will drop you off in Downtown LA, Hollywood, Van Nuys, or Long Beach. Buses run every 15-30 minutes, and a one-way fare is $9.75. You can catch the FlyAway just outside baggage claim in front of each terminal – just look for the overhead signs above the islands. Double check that you are getting on the right bus!
Otherwise, you can rent a car – LAX is served by all the major car rental agencies. Just follow the overhead signs over the islands just outside baggage claim to wait for the rental car shuttles. Each company usually runs their own shuttles, so just look for the one which you’ve booked your reservation with.
Rideshare is also a great option for getting to and from LAX – you can catch your Uber or Lyft ride from the new LAX-it, just outside of Terminal 1. If you are flying into any other terminal, you can take a shuttle to LAX-it (but depending on where in the airport you are, and on the traffic conditions, walking might be faster). If you choose to take a traditional taxi cab, this is where you can hail one as well.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of any of the above options and just want a convenient way to get from the terminal to your accommodations, you can also consider booking a private transfer here.
A note of caution – when heading to LAX, allow plenty of extra time to get to the airport. Like, more than you think you will need! I’ve had instances where it’s taken me almost an hour just to move 5 miles.
You can also choose to fly into Burbank (BUR), which I much prefer because it is a smaller airport, there is far less traffic, and there is never a line to go through security. Long Beach Airport (LGB) is also a similar airport, and mostly serves JetBlue flights.
How to Get Around in LA
You’ve probably, at some point, heard that you NEED to have a car to get around in LA…and that traffic is bad. Like, real bad.
Yes, LA is HUGE (like, really massive) so having a car is definitely super helpful…but I don’t think it’s absolutely essential to have a car to get around LA.
Also, there is definitely a LOT of truth about the traffic part (see #150 on this Los Angeles bucket list), so if you drive, you’ll encounter a lot of it. At any time, on any day, for seemingly random reasons. It is a GIANT headache. Add to that the fact that parking can be a giant hassle, especially in the touristy areas, and well, driving kinda turns into a giant headache as well.
The stereotype about LA is that there is a dearth of public transportation options. Yes, it is much harder to get around in Los Angeles via public transit, especially compared to other major cities such as New York City and Chicago.
Public transportation in Los Angeles exists. It just might take you a lot longer to get there. For the most part, it is clean and efficient (meaning, buses and trains usually show up when they’re supposed to). Is it the fastest option? Usually not…unless you’re trying to get from, say, Santa Monica to DTLA during rush hour. But it does exist.
A much better option to get around is ridesharing. I’ve found that both Uber and Lyft fares in LA are CHEAP – much, much cheaper than in other major cities (like San Francisco). Yes, you’ll probably encounter traffic, butttt someone else will be doing the driving so it’s not nearly as annoying…and you don’t have to deal with finding parking afterwards!
Los Angeles Packing List
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: Converse Chucks or Vans Old Skool are local favorites.
- Flip Flops: A pair of Rainbows are basically a part of the local uniform here (and super comfy).
- Sunscreen: This one is my favorite and is reef-safe so ideal for using at the beach.
- Cardigan or light jacket: For overcast mornings or breezy evenings. I usually just throw on a denim jacket (or a hoodie). For winters, a packable puffer is ideal for chilly nights and early mornings.
- Battery pack: I never travel anywhere without this one. It can charge up to five times on one full charge!
- Reusable water bottle: I have this one on me at all times.
- Hat: The sun can get super bright during the summer, so I highly recommend having a hat. A straw hat like this one not only keeps the sun out of your eyes (and is perfect for the beach), but also looks cute in photos (this one is another favorite for photos!), but a standard baseball cap will also do.
- Beach Tote: like this one
Have you been to LA? What are some of the things on your Los Angeles bucket list?
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