8 Things to Do in Los Angeles
Featured destinations: Los Angeles
Published 16 June 2016
Rising steeply from the California haze, Los Angeles is a sprawling network of skyscrapers, trendy yet retro neighbourhoods and coastlines punctuated by pretty piers and beautiful people. Its size can seem daunting to the first-timer, but really all that means is there’s more to discover. Stuck on where to begin? Start with these eight things to do in Los Angeles:
Act like a big kid at Universal Studios Hollywood
Love movies? Love theme parks? Then this is the Holy Grail of Los Angeles attractions. Sample a cool frothy glass of Butterbeer at the brand-new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, go Back to the Future on the legendary Studio Tour, or come face-to-face with a 15-metre T-Rex on the Jurassic Park ride – to name just a few. When you’ve had your fill of log flumes and rollercoasters, step out onto the Universal CityWalk, where a hubbub of restaurants, shops and cinemas will keep you occupied well into the evening.
Stroll the Hollywood Walk of Fame
For an actor or musician to have own star on the Walk of Fame is to know they’ve made it big in Hollywood. So when you admire just a handful of the 2,500 plaques – each embedded into the terrazzo-encrusted sidewalks that run along Hollywood Boulevard between Gower Street and La Brea Avenue, and in Vine Street from Yucca Street to Sunset Boulevard – you know you’re setting foot where some of the most renowned celebrities have.
Top tip? Use the Hollywood Walk of Fame website to locate your favourite stars in advance.
Gaze up at the sky from Griffith Observatory
Los Angeles may be famed for its buzzing nightlife and bright city lights, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t pockets of seclusion to be found. The Griffith Observatory is case in point. Lovers of astronomy can gaze up at the stars from the southern slope of Mount Hollywood, identifying constellations and star signs. And here’s the best bit: admission to the building, grounds and parking is absolutely free.
Catch a movie at a landmark cinema
Known as much for its quirky design as it is for its abundant red carpet premieres, the TCL Chinese Theatre is a must-visit for movie buffs. Don’t just stare at its pretty façade though – step inside and experience it as it’s meant to be experienced: in full cinematic wonderment. As the world’s largest IMAX auditorium, you can watch this year’s blockbusters (Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War or Independence Day 2 (delete as applicable!)) in the sharpest digital quality on the planet. Throw in some sweet ‘n’ salty, and you’re onto a winner.
Walk along Santa Monica Pier
For those who prefer a more laid-back vibe, Santa Monica Pier is the place to hang out. Head for the southern end of Ocean Avenue to stroll along this 106-year-old jetty, home to a giant Ferris wheel, the amusement rides and games of Pacific Park, and the oft-photographed ‘End of Route 66’ sign. Venture beyond the pier too; with hundreds of shops, restaurants and bars to choose from, all within a handy eight square miles, the rest of this coastal suburb is definitely worth a look.
People-watch at Venice Beach
If you like to watch the world go by, Venice Beach is perfect for sampling street food and strolling down the promenade, or for sitting at a café and getting immersed in the passers-by. For a great view of the people on Venice Beach, grab a beer at the Venice Ale House, catch sunset and a BLT at The Sidewalk Café or opt for a pastry at The Cow’s End.
Shop in Rodeo Drive
Famous for its luxury brands and its starring role in eighties chick-flick Pretty Woman, Rodeo Drive is where Hollywood shopping is at its best. This Beverly Hills gem not only boasts a host of luxury flagship stores – from Burberry to Gucci – but the dining and hotel scene is great here too. So, after an indulgent day of hitting some of the most high-end retailers on the planet, you can rest you weary feet and sit down to delicious cuisine in Spaghettini or the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Explore Runyon Canyon
Stretching for 130 acres, Runyon Canyon is a pure urban wilderness. Its labyrinth of trails and evergreen flora and fauna make it a beloved spot for locals and tourists alike, many of whom visit in the summer when the region is in full bloom. This year though, the Canyon is closed between April and July 2016 for waterworks, so make sure you visit towards the end of summer to be able to make the most of the region.
Cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles on our Coastal California Journey, a tailor-made holiday through 'The Golden State'.