Los Angeles is a major tourist hub and a great vacation spot. There’s so many different sites to check out, it can become overwhelming when booking a trip for the first time to know what’s actually worth seeing.
I’ve visited Los Angeles many times since I’m from the Vancouver area, and L.A. is the family vacation go-to with its cheap airfare.
I also had the opportunity to live in L.A. for around three months, which was a great chance to get to know the city a little better, and be able to sift out the hits from the misses.
Here’s what I consider to be the best tourist sites to see as a first time visitor to Los Angeles.
Griffith Park Observatory
Griffith Park instantly became my favourite place in the whole city the first time I visited. The only word I can use to describe it is dreamy.
Since the hit film La La Land has recently featured some extremely beautiful scenes in this park, I’m sure it’s popularity has only increased, but I assure you, you will not be disappointed.
Heading up to the observatory and seeing the sunset, along with the twinkling of hundreds of thousands of city lights and skyscrapers below is breath-taking and peaceful.
Definitely a must-see!
Chances are, when you think of L.A. you think of the beach. And yet, if I’m being completely honest, I found a lot of the beaches in Los Angeles to be slightly disappointing. (Aussie beaches are still in first place for me!)
If you’re looking for a great, all around beach day experience, I would recommend Huntington Beach. It has a good mix of everything which is ideal as a tourist who may not be able to hit up more than one.
For starters, there’s plenty of shops and cafes around, so if you’re bored with laying on the beach or swimming, it’s a great area to walk around. I especially enjoy the many surf shops around, it really captures the beachy “L.A.” feel.
There’s also a great, long pier, perfect to capture some beautiful views, or watch the surfers ride the waves. Endless entertainment, especially when there’s wipe outs 😉
Huntington Beach is also a favourite of mine as there are firepits available for the cool nights. There’s just something about roasting marshmallows with the sound of waves in the background – nothing beats that!
I know this one’s stereotypical, but if you ask me, it’s definitely worth visiting.
There’s an overwhelming amount of things happening on this little strip, yes some of them are cheesy and touristy, but to me that’s all part of the experience. Stop trying to be cool, just embrace it and put your hands in Marilyn Monroe’s handprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Go on, you know you want to. I won’t judge.
In all seriousness, besides Graumans, I find the Hollywood Boulevard area to be fascinating. The multitude of people, the Hollywood stars dotting the sidewalks, the silly souvenir shops, so sue me, I love it! This is a great spot to find hop-on/hop-off bus tours as well if you’re wanting to see more.
During my 3 month stay, we visited Hollywood every Friday evening, and somehow it never got old. The people watching and attractions are interesting and new everyday.
Warner Brothers Studio Tour
Another slightly cheesy tourist experience, but completely worth it in my opinion. If you love seeing filming locations, or just movies and TV shows in general, definitely hit this up.
There was something oddly exciting about driving through Stars Hollow, and sitting on THE Friends couch.
The tour itself gave some very interesting insight into the studio system as a whole, how it all works and how everything manages to run smoothly.
If you can, try to book ahead to be a live audience on one of the many shows they film there, I would imagine that to be a priceless experience. Who knows, maybe you’ll make it on the Ellen show and win some great prizes?
I hope this list will be of help to you as you plan your big trip to L.A.! Of course, there’s so many other sites to check out, but these are my personal “must-sees” and recommendations to visitors.
Those of you who know the city well, any other “musts” that I’ve missed? Would love to hear from you in the comments below about your favourite experiences!