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Los Angeles is the beating heart of the American film industry and it won’t take long for you to become fully immersed in the disarming allure of Hollywood. Just a short drive will lead you past famous Blockbuster film sets and studios, record-breaking theme parks and attractions, and multi-millionaire celebrity homes.
But while the City of Angel’s glitz and glamour is certainly fascinating to discover, it does make the city rather an expensive one to explore for first-time visitors. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of some of the best things to do in Los Angeles to suit any type of budget.
Whether you’re travelling with friends, your partner or your family, here are the best things to do in Los Angeles, California that won’t break the bank:
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With thrilling attractions, memorable tours and famous celebrity hangouts, there are countless fun things to do in Los Angeles. Need a few recommendations? Here are some epic things to do in the City of Angels:
Taking a peek inside Universal Studios Hollywood is pretty much a rite of passage in Los Angeles. And with this early access ticket, you’ll get in early and skip the queues at this film studio and theme park that’s been combined into one of Hollywood’s most popular attractions.
Enjoy top-notch entertainment with a plethora of thrilling rides, animated live shows and record-topping attractions at one of LA’s most iconic tourist spots.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood’s film studios as you fight zombies on the set of the Walking Dead, visit the set of the Simpsons in downtown Springfield, and fight off the dark arts at Hogwarts Castle inside the mind-blowing Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Other highlights include the King Kong 360 3D experience, Despicable Me Minion ride, and the thrills and spills of WaterWorld.
Insider tip – Use our expert guide to see when the best time to visit Los Angeles is!
The city of Los Angeles is filled with iconic landmarks, buildings, and natural scenery and there’s no better way to admire the city than from the two observation decks at OUE Skyspace in the US Bank Tower. At 300 meters above the ground, they are the tallest open-air observation decks in California.
Not only are the views across the Hollywood Sign, Dodger Stadium, and the San Gabriel Mountains phenomenal but you will also learn some fascinating facts about Los Angeles along the way through various story-telling touch points.
And for something even more memorable, you can slide down the incredible Skyslide – this 45-foot enclosed glass slide is the first of its kind in the world!
Need more specifics? Find out where to stay in Los Angeles based on what you want to do there!
See how the other half live as you cycle past celeb home after celeb home on this two-hour sightseeing tour by bike. Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are home to some astonishingly luxurious villas and mansions, where Hollywood’s most famous celebrities reside.
On your own bicycle, you’ll get up close to over 30 homes of legendary Hollywood actors, actresses and musicians, glide through the streets of Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, and stroll along the world-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Keep your eyes peeled as you may spot some of Hollywood’s rich and famous while you’re out and about in celebrity central! A bike, helmet, safety vest and a bottle of water is included in this exciting three-hour tour.
Insider Guide! These are the absolute BEST times of the year to visit San Francisco, California!
The sparkling City of Angels is filled with romance around every corner. Looking for something to do with your significant other? From sunset views to world-class dining experiences, there are so many romantic things to do in Los Angeles:
Enjoy a romantic brunch cruise on board a luxury yacht in Los Angeles’ Marina Del Rey. You’ll have a table reserved just for two and enjoy a leisurely two-hour buffet brunch as you depart from Los Angeles’ scenic harbour front.
The buffet brunch includes a selection of dishes made with fresh seasonal ingredients. Highlights on the menu include mini bagels, fresh pastries, bacon and eggs, and even a chocolate fountain. But the best part? The brunch includes unlimited champagne and sparkling cider!
One of the most romantic things to do in Los Angeles, this morning harbour cruise offers some exceptional coastal views and is a great way to start any day in the City of Angels. Don’t forget to dress up – the dress code is listed as ‘upscale casual’!
Hiking the Hollywood hills at sunset is one of the most romantic things to do in Los Angeles. Perfectly placed for a starry-eyed stroll, Mount Hollywood, the highest point in the Hollywood Hills, offers 360-degree views of the City of Angels.
Start your hike in the late afternoon and watch the sun slowly set behind the ocean as the lights sparkle on in the city below. You’ll pass by the film sets of famous movies like ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ and ‘La La Land’ and learn some interesting facts about the city and the Hollywood Sign before ending with a stroll through Griffith Park.
Hikes are available at sunset as well as mid-morning. While you’re in the area, you should take advantage of free entry into the Griffith Observatory where you can admire the stars of the night sky.
Enjoy some quality time together while soaking in the enchanting Beverly Hot Springs just outside of Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.
The options for pampering at this one of a kind therapeutic spa are seemingly endless. Indulge in a wide range of indulging Balneotherapy treatments, treat yourself to a rejuvenating massage session, and embrace the healing power of mineral water-based remedies.
Surrounded by the beauty of nature in a quiet and peaceful cave-like setting, the hot pools are set amongst waterfalls and pretty flowers in the heart of the city.
As one of the city’s best kept secrets, it’s no surprise that this natural hot spring spa is one of the most romantic things to do in Los Angeles – perfect for celebrating a special occasion like an anniversary or milestone birthday!
Excited to visit Los Angeles? Get excited to take an amazing day trip too!
Jam-packed with amusement parks, theme parks and play centres, there are endless things to do in Los Angeles with kids. Looking for a few ideas? Here are our favourite activities and attractions for families:
Nicknamed the ‘thrill capital of the world’, Six Flags Magic Mountain is one of the most famous theme parks on the planet. With epic roller coasters and over 100 rides, slides and attractions it is sure to satisfy even the most courageous of thrill seekers!
Open every day of the year, the 260-acre Six Flags theme park is a fantastic family attraction all year round. Kids of all ages will love exploring the interactive wonderland of Bugs Bunny World, zipping around on bumper cars and meeting their favourite Looney Tunes characters.
Adrenalin junkies are sure to have their socks knocked off with the 17-storey CraZanity ride and Full Throttle, a 160-foot-hight unique triple-launch coaster. Whether you’re visiting with kids young or old, there’s something for everyone!
Los Angeles is a sprawling city and a hop on, hop off sightseeing bus tour is the best way to see it all, especially for little feet. Covering 100 of the city’s highlights, you’ll be able to see most of them in one go, from the Hollywood Sign to Beverly Hills and Santa Monica Pier with audio commentary provided in nine languages.
The open-top bus is a fun way to see the city in a short amount of time and kids will love seeing the sights of the city whizz by from the top of the double-decker bus.
You can enjoy drive-by views or get off wherever and whenever you choose to do some exploring at the places that take your fancy. Hang out on family-friendly Venice Beach, explore Universal City, or even grab the bus to the LAX airport on your last day.
With a brochure and easy to use mobile app, the hop on, hop off bus is one of the most convenient ways to plan your own LA itinerary.
Is your trip getting close? Jump over to our hotels in Los Angeles guide so you’re sure to get great accommodation!
The picturesque Descanso Gardens offer a peaceful day out for families with kids of all ages. Surrounded by 150 acres of lush greenery, flower-filled gardens and tranquil lily ponds, there’s plenty of space for little ones to run around and have fun.
What makes the gardens extra special though is its Enchanted Railroad that’s always popular with older children. The train runs every day except Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays so plan your visit accordingly. The nature-themed story time sessions held every day is also very popular with kids over two years old.
Visiting LA over the summer months? The family-friendly concerts are one of the best things to do in Los Angeles with kids. Keep an eye on the schedule on the Descanso Gardens’ website. The gardens are open every day of the year except Christmas Day.
Short on time? One of these tours in Los Angeles is the best way to see the most!
The fun doesn’t stop when the sun sets in Los Angeles. Looking for something to do in the evening, from late-night strolls to flashy helicopter rides? Here are some popular things to do in Los Angeles at night:
Los Angeles is a city that’s beautiful by day but even more extraordinary by night when the city buildings and famous landmarks are lit up spectacularly with neon lights.
As the city is so large, a helicopter ride is one of the best things to do in Los Angeles at night because it offers a view over the downtown LA skyline, the illuminated Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, Staples Center, and other famous city buildings in just 30 minutes.
Short and sweet, this half-hour helicopter ride promises the opportunity for endless photographs and Instagram envy. The helicopter rides depart and end at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. This activity is not to be missed!
The CityWalk is a popular retail and dining promenade that spreads three blocks from the parking lot to Universal Studios Hollywood.
With its 30 plus restaurants, 30 plus shops, concert venues, and dancing fountains, the walkway is a hive of activity, making it one of the best things to do in Los Angeles at night. Watch a movie at the 19-screen IMAX 3D cinema, grab a bite to eat at one of many eateries or simply sit back and watch the street performers.
Located at Universal City Plaza, you can grab the free Universal Studios shuttle bus from the subway station to CityWalk Hollywood and Universal Studios Hollywood. The shuttle runs every day of the week with pick-ups every 10 to 15 minutes.
Editor’s Note: One of the best ways to get to know Los Angeles is through its museums.
This haunted ghost bus itinerary travels past 13 well-known spooky spots from Union Station to North Hollywood in Los Angeles. Unlike the other ghost tours run by tour companies, this one is instead run by the Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles (GHOULA) who offer this tour itinerary as a social event for those interested in the paranormal.
The three-hour self-run tour begins at 18h00 and reveals all the ghostly secrets about this famous city. One of the most affordable things to do in Los Angeles at night, there is no charge for the tour – it simply runs off donations – but you will require a Metro day pass to ride on this line.
Prefer to do this ghost tour on your own? Check out the GHOULA website for the best haunted hotspots around LA!
Los Angeles may be known as one of the most expensive cities in the United States, but visiting here doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg if you do your research. Want to save a few pennies? Here are some of the best free things to do in Los Angeles:
One of the city’s best tourist destinations is the City Hall observation deck. Located on the 27th floor, it offers a captivating view of the City of Angels – and you don’t have to pay a thing to enter! All you have to do is check in and obtain a visitor’s badge and you can explore the City Hall with its impressive domes and Bridge Gallery artwork during business hours.
From the observation deck, you’ll have a panoramic view of the city, including iconic landmarks like the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Park and the Disney Music Hall.
If you’re looking for one of the best free things to do in LA then make sure you get here by public transport as you’ll have to pay for parking if you have your own vehicle.
Los Angeles has two remarkable libraries that are worth visiting even if just to admire their architecture alone.
Designed by architect Betram Goodhue, the Los Angeles Central Library is the third largest public library in the United States and holds more than 10 million noteworthy volumes. This impressive eight-story building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and its extraordinary rotunda is well worth a visit!
Another historic LA landmark is the West Hollywood Library which has some spectacular artwork, including a moulded wooden ceiling installation and a series of famous murals. Check out the event schedule as many musical, literary and theatrical events are hosted here.
One of Los Angeles’ most famous tourist icons is the Santa Monica Pier and its always-sunny beach that reportedly gets 340 days of sunshine a year. Located west of downtown LA, you may recognise it from the set of Baywatch!
Spending the day here is one of the best free things to do in Los Angeles, and you can spend as little or as much money as you like while you do. Take a stroll along the pier with an ice cream in hand, people watch along the scenic promenade, ride the famous Ferris wheel, or cycle along the 26-mile cycle path – the longest of its kind in the world!
As you’ve just read, Los Angeles is a city filled with activity and you can enjoy as active or leisurely a holiday as you like. Whether you’re looking for a way to entertain the kids for the day or some free things to do in Los Angeles, you’ll find everything you could want right here – and more.
The best thing to do in Los Angeles is getting a view of the Hollywood Sign which you can enjoy with a hike up Mount Hollywood or from one of the city’s many observation decks. We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the best things to do in Los Angeles. Happy exploring!
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Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.