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Check Out Some Of The Best Places To Visit In Los Angeles!

Thinking about visiting Los Angeles? You are not alone! This sprawling city – home to Hollywood, movie stars, and famous beachside areas – always draws a crowd. And whether you are looking for things to do in Los Angeles today, this weekend, day or at night – we’ve got you covered!

It’s funny, we’ve both been to Los Angeles  – but well before we were together. Naturally, we did lots of fun activities (like hike to Griffith) and enjoyed great entertainment (like Universal Studios) – but didn’t think to write any of it down at the time!

So, to help you trip plan we asked our good buddy Greg (who has written on P&P before) to bring you his thoughts about what do to in Los Angeles. Eric met Greg years ago while travelling and as a California native, Greg knows a thing or two about his home state. So, if you are looking for the top attractions, grab an attractions map, this blog post, and off we go!

Oh, and if you are heading to the West Coast (or the USA in general), here are a few great posts to help you trip plan:

Things to Consider When Visiting Los Angeles

white hollywood sign through brush in setting sun
The one, the only – the Hollywood Sign. // Photo: Greg D.

Before you start to trip plan for Los Angeles, there are a few things that you should consider. These will differ for everyone depending on where you are travelling from. So, from currency to visas – here are some things you should think about!

General Information About Los Angeles

Located in the state of California, Los Angeles is the second largest city in the whole of the United States. With a population of over 4 million, the city has become a collection of neighbourhoods, cultures, food, and ideals. Being on the West Coast, the Pacific Ocean offers surfing and other great sea activities all along the coast!

If you are travelling to the USA, depending on the passport you hold, you might be able to enter Visa-free or you might need an ESTA – or another form of visa. The ESTA is a form of electronic travel visa that is linked to your passport upon entry. The currency used in the US is – of course – the US Dollar, but the States (and especially the big cities) are very card-friendly and accept both credit and debit cards.

As for the best time to visit Los Angeles, it really does depend on what you are travelling there for. If you are in search of lots of time walking the piers and on the beach, then the heat of July or August is the best time to visit (but potentially the busiest).

If you want warm weather for city hopping that’s not the busiest time of the year to visit, then the shoulder season of April/May or September/October might be for you. The winter months aren’t overly cold – but it’s certainly cold enough to stop you from heading to the beach.

Getting Around Los Angeles

If you’re looking to explore the city and cover lots of different areas, how you will get around is definitely something you should consider. Since the city is so sprawled out, you can’t just walk between your destinations (usually). Realistically, LA is a car-friendly city – meaning if you have a car at your disposal getting around is loads easier. If you are visiting LA, renting a car might be a great option for you.

The LA transportation system makes use of buses, light rail, and a subway system. You can learn more and plan a trip at the LA Metro website. You could also hop on a Smart Metro bike which you can rent around the city.

If you have far to go, you can also rely on a taxi or Uber. You can hail an Uber with your phone for quick service across the city. Eric did that a few times from the airport and even with friends to go from their home base out to the bars and then home again. 

You might also consider a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour to get around since they stop at all the top attractions AND you’d learn about the city as you went along. Just an idea – but you’d kill two birds with one stone!

Safety When Visiting Los Angeles

Los Angeles, like many cities around the world, has its safe areas and its not so safe areas. The number one way to avoid problems, not just in Los Angeles, is to stay aware of your surrounding at all times. Sticking to the list below will keep you out of the problem spots.

Pickpocketing is not a big issue in LA, but where there are tourists there can be pickpockets. Some problems spots like Skid Row or South Central are located not far from tourist destinations like the Arts District, so be sure to know the general area you’re headed to before wandering around the city. There is no reason to be overly worried about visiting Los Angeles, just keep the above tips in mind!

Accommodations In Los Angeles

If you are looking for places to stay while in Los Angeles, this is no easy task. The city is so spread out and has so many different areas. As a result, choosing a great area to stay in Los Angeles for you can be tough. That said, the city has a healthy mix of hotels, guesthouses, apartments or Airbnbs, hostels, seaside villas, and more. It really depends on where you are looking to stay, length of stay, and activities, and budget.

You can check here for accommodations all over Los Angeles or start by having a look at specific great areas to stay in Los Angeles. Areas like Hollywood, Downtown LA, Venice Beach/Marina Del Ray, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, Westwood, and Beverly Hills are all very popular! If you want a specific option, check out Hotel Erwin for a bright stay overlooking the water at Venice Beach. 

Another popular way to stay is finding a hostel. There are lots of great boutique hostels in Los Angeles – many in very central locations. Check out USA Hostels in Hollywood for a stay among the top attractions.

Top Places To Visit In Los Angeles

Okay, so now it’s on to what you’re looking for – the best things to do and places to visit in the city. Honestly, there are so many things that cater to all different interests – from moviegoers to beach seekers. So, beyond the list below, if you’re looking for once in a lifetime experiences in Los Angeles, you might find one or two in the form of a studio tour to a scenic flight over the Hollywood Sign!

 

Smorgasburg

open air market with skyscrapers behind best places to visit in los angeles
The tents are all food – food for you to try! // Photo: Greg D.

Welcome to Smorgasburg, one of the most quintessentially LA things that one can experience in this great city. A collection of small food vendors, born from the streets. A melting pot of cultures and ethnicities that represent the diversity that makes Los Angeles the city that it is today.

Smorgasburg is an open-air food market that can be found in ROW DTLA, a newly developed industrial area filled with independent coffee shops and boutique retailers. It takes place every Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.

Free to enter, Smorgasburg entertains upwards of 50,000 visitors every weekend and offers unique eats from one hundred different vendors. Whether you’re looking for Asian fusion or a Cubano, this market will satisfy! This is a family-friendly event, but be sure to leave fido behind, they do not allow animals. Seating can often be hard to come by, thankfully most of the food options can be eaten standing up.

After you’ve had your fill, wander into ROW DTLA. This spot is still being developed but has enough to keep it interesting with independently owned clothing stores and art studios alike. Check this place out and get a small taste of what makes Los Angeles so unique!

Address: 777 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90021, USA

Arts District

The Arts District is a suburb of Downtown Los Angeles filled with fine art, good beer, and unique eats. It was first popularized in the 70’s when artists began taking over this industrial area and turning old factories into studio spaces.

Wander down one of the many streets and observe the endless amount of graffiti and murals covering nearly every inch of this area. Whether you’re looking to experience rattlesnake sausage at Wurstkuche or grab a cold pint at Boomtown Brewery and watch the Dodgers play, the Arts District has it.

Full of unique residential lofts and office spaces, the Arts District has been able to preserve the old buildings and incorporate them into what makes this area such a cool place to be. Pop-up art exhibits are a common occurrence here, so be sure to check what is in town and plan accordingly.

The Arts District offers uniquely different yet enjoyable experiences whether you go during the day or night. Check out some art exhibits, wander the streets, and grab a slice of pizza from Pizzanista.

Prefer to get a little wild? Head over at night and make your way to each of the breweries. No need to Uber, just grab a citi bike and mob through the quiet city. This is one of the few times you can get a glimpse of Downtown LA from the streets without getting run over.

Nothing finishes off a night in the Arts District better than a bowl of Ramen. For that head over just a few streets to Little Tokyo and put your name in for Daikokuya. There’s usually a wait and this place is cash only. The line out the door is a good representation of just how good this spot is!

Location: Downtown LA

Griffith Observatory

white observatory with domes on top of hill Griffith los angeles
Griffith Observatory shining in the California sunshine.

The Griffith Observatory is easily one of the most popular tourist attractions that LA has to offer, but for good reason. It’s hard to catch a better view of the Los Angeles skyline. Located on the south side of Mount Hollywood, it’s just east of the Hollywood sign.

Free to enter, Griffith first opened its doors in 1935. Head inside and take a look through the telescope, or find a nice spot on the lawn in front and watch the sunset. During the summer months and weekends, this place can get crowded. Parking can be a pain, so be ready to walk or just take an Uber up.

los angeles lit up at night over Griffith observatory
The city at night is a sight to see as well! // Photo: Greg D.

Open until 10 pm, there is almost never a bad time to go. At night you get a peaceful birds-eye-view of the busy city below. Located just next to the observatory are hiking trails that lead up the mountain and boast an almost better view of the city. Be sure to bring plenty of water – it can get very hot during the summer. Most people enjoy a late afternoon hike up the mountain, just in time to catch the sunset and watch the city light up as the sun drops below the horizon.

Finish off your day or night and check out the little neighbourhood called Los Feliz, located just down the mountain from Griffith. It is full of fun restaurants and unique bars alike. Make sure to hit Spitz, a Turkish style doner kebab restaurant located in the neighbourhood.

Address: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA

Grand Central Market

neon lights at indoor food market grand central market los angeles
More amazing food options for you to check out! // Photo: Greg D.

First opening in 1917, this indoor market has always been a representation of the current ethnic mix that makes up Los Angeles. Home to some staples like Golden Road Brewing and Egg Slut, Grand Central Market is worth a visit during the day or night. With almost 40 different vendors you will be sure to find one that satisfies your craving.

Parking can be a bit difficult in the area around Grand Central. Head over near Grand or Olive to park and take the trolley down. Angels Flight is an inclined 300-foot rail car that costs fifty cents to ride. This is a Los Angeles landmark you don’t want to miss!

Grand Central is a great place to end your day or begin your night. Located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, you’re surrounded by restaurants and rooftop bars alike. It is open from 8 am to 10 pm and is a family friendly venue. Many vendors close far before 10 pm, so if you have a certain spot in mind, be sure to check their operating hours beforehand. Full of colorful neon signs that beckon you in, Grand Central is worth the visit!

Address: 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013, USA

Venice/Abbot Kinney

hanging sign over street in venice beach los angeles places to visit
The colours of Venice Beach // Photo: Greg D.

Most people have heard of Venice Beach at one point or another – whether you’re an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan or followed the Z-boys back in the 70’s.

The Venice Beach boardwalk has turned into an overly crowded tourist trap that often leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But don’t let that scare you away, this area still has a lot to offer! By all means, check out Muscle Beach or the skatepark, just be ready for the crowds of people and tacky beach stalls selling overpriced sunglasses.

If you’re looking for some refuge from the crowds, check out the rooftop bar at Hotel Erwin. Located almost right on the strip, this rooftop looks down onto the beach and is a great place to grab a drink and watch the sunset.

graffiti on wall in venice beach los angeles
Art in Venice Beach around every corner. // Photo: Greg D.

What makes Venice worth visiting is the unique and eclectic collection of people and art. It is a totally different demographic than the more ritzy and upscale Santa Monica. Take a walk down the Venice canals or grab a Bird scooter and cruise down the streets. Be sure to pass by the CVS with the giant clown above it.

A bit further inland you will find a street called Abbot Kinney. This area is full of unique shops and eateries alike. Grab a coffee at Intelligentsia or stop into one of the many vegan-friendly restaurants that line the streets. On the weekends this street can become quite busy. Grab a slice at Abbot’s Pizza Company, a beer from the liquor store and head over to the beach to people watch. Drinking in public is not legal, so keep that in mind.

The Broad/The Getty

metallic museum building in downtown city centre los angeles with sunset behind
The Broad making a bold statement downtown // Photo: Greg D.

The art scene in Los Angeles is more popular than ever. The city is home to the Getty, an art museum whose architecture rivals the works within. This museum sits upon a hill in the Brentwood area and first opened its doors in 1997.

The Getty houses pieces from the likes of Vincent van Gogh and Pontormo. Admission is free but you will need to pay for parking. Boasting an impressive collection, the Getty also offers a panoramic view of the Los Angeles Basin that many people often remember more than the art within.

If contemporary art is more your scene, then be sure to check out the Broad. This museum was first opened at the end of 2015. Located in the heart of downtown, general admission is free to enter. It is a hard building to miss as it’s covered in small uniform cutouts that span the face of the building.

This museum is known for pop-up exhibits that often require a special ticket or fee to view, so be sure to research beforehand. With works from Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Broad is a must!

Address for The Broad: 221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA
Address for The Getty: 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA

Fairfax

cars on road with palm trees overhead places to visit in los angeles fairfax
Take a stroll down Fairfax Avenue // Photo: Greg D.

Fairfax was originally known for its large Jewish community, which can be seen in its delis and community centers. In recent years, it has turned into an upscale retail hot spot. One of the more popular shopping areas in Los Angeles resides here, it’s called the Grove.

Known for its high-end shopping and moviesque architecture, the Grove is a shopper’s dream. Parking here can be tricky, but the shops will validate so hold on to your ticket.

Also located in the Fairfax area is a Los Angeles original, the LA Farmers’ Market. Open almost every day, this market is full of hundreds of gourmet grocers and food stalls alike. The market has been around for almost 100 years and is definitely worth a visit, just be ready for the crowds on the weekends.

Also located in the Fairfax area is a strip of streetwear heavyweights lining Fairfax Avenue. What is now known as the epicenter of streetwear culture in Los Angeles and maybe even the US, Fairfax houses brands like Supreme and The Hundreds. Lines can be seen outside of these retail shops all weekend long as “Hype Beasts” try to cop the most recent drop.

Address of LA Farmers’ Market: 6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036, USA

Mulholland Drive

long highway snaking through city with hill in front los angeles
The Overlook at Jerome C. Daniel // Photo: Greg D.

Los Angeles can be an overwhelming city, from the vast area it covers to the hectic traffic that seems to never die. It is easy to get sucked into the consumerist lifestyle that presents itself. Mulholland Drive is a good place to step back and take a look at the bigger picture.

This area doesn’t initially sound any better, but definitely give it a chance. Nestled up in the Hollywood Hills, Mulholland Drive is a long sweeping road that runs for 21 miles from Santa Monica to the Hollywood Hills. This is home to many celebrities and some of the most expensive houses in the world.

What makes this road so special is the vast number of scenic outlooks, presenting some of the best views of the city. These vistas are spread far enough apart that you’re usually able to take in breathtaking views without the unruly crowds that are found at many of the other viewpoints around the city.

Cruise down the beautiful road without a destination in mind and stop when you feel life calling your name. Jerome C. Daniel is a very popular spot, and at times can get a bit crowded. Be sure to observe the parking signs and respect the homeowners’ privacy, as many of us wouldn’t appreciate random strangers encroaching on our personal lives.

Address of Jerome C. Daniel Overlook: 7036 Mulholland Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068, USA

Larchmont

Part of what makes Los Angeles so great is the vast number of neighbourhoods that make up this city. Larchmont is no different. Each neighbourhood seems oddly familiar yet completely different from the next.

Located right next to Fairfax, this quiet and clean neighbourhood offers that small town feel amidst the chaos that this city is so commonly known for. Take a walk downtown and grab a coffee and some food from Go Get Em Tiger.

If you’re in the mood for brunch, check out Cafe Gratitude which has some great vegetarian options. On the weekends, Larchmont has a local farmers market. Open only on Sunday’s from 10-2, this market is much lower key than the Los Angeles Farmers market and offers that small town feel that encompasses Larchmont. Some celebrities have been known to frequent this area, so if that is your motivation for visiting Los Angeles then be sure to put this on your list.

Larchmont is also located right next to Hollywood and is a good place to stay if wanting to explore without having to constantly experience this overly touristy and slightly tacky neighborhood. Check out some of the awesome speakeasies that can be found around this area. Good Times at Davey Wayne’s is a neat one that has been built into an old house. Grab a drink in the living room and head out to the backyard. This laid-back speakeasy is a fun place to start your night off.

Address: 1611 N El Centro Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA

Head over to No Vacancy after for one of the best live entertainment experiences in the area. This bar is also located in an old house, but this one dates back to the early 1900’s. Be sure to stay long enough for the show, it’s worth the wait. No Vacancy can get very crowded on the weekends, so head over on the earlier side or prepare to wait in line.

Address: 1727 N Hudson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA

And there you have it – amazing sights, attractions, areas, and vibrant places for food and drinks all over Los Angeles! Thinking about planning a trip to Los Angeles might feel even more overwhelming now that you have so many options. Just keep in mind your interests, your timeline, and your budget and we have no doubt that you will plan out a Los Angeles rip that works perfectly for you!

As always, a huge, HUGE thank you to Greg for sharing his knowledge – he’s a true ally to Penguin and Pia! Remember, he wanders the globe too – and you can follow his adventures @greg_always. As always, Happy LA Waddlin’,
-L&E

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Best Places to visit in Los Angeles

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