Are you planning a trip to Los Angeles and want to know all of LA’s must-sees and things to do? If so, this blog post is for you! I just got back from California last week for my college graduation trip and had the absolute BEST time. LA really is such a special place full of so many fun things to do and see, it really is hard to get bored there!
In this blog post, I’ll be sharing popular things to do in LA, must-sees, recommendations of how to get around the city, where to stay, Instagram-worthy photo locations, and even a list of the places that I missed that I am saving for my next visit.
Things To Do:
1. Spend a day in the beach towns
While I have been to LA a couple times now, my favorite places to visit each time are the beaches, specifically, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach. All of these beaches connect with each other and are all walking distance between each other which is super convenient. (Side note: If you’re looking just to take a walk to each one, it takes about an hour to hit all three.) One thing I love about each of these beaches and their towns is that they all have such a great vibe. They are all friendly towns on the water and the beaches are so great! I’d say it’s a fairly less busy part of LA, but of course, it is still LA and most places usually are busy!
What I love about each town is that while they are all so similar, they actually are also so different. Each beach’s pier is different, the towns are different, but all with the same great vibe. For instance, the Manhattan Beach Pier has a small aquarium at the end, while Hermosa does not. Redondo Beach also has a lot of seafood restaurants as they have a large boat marina on the water next to the pier and has the fishing/boating vibe. And Hermosa Beach has a nice little central part of town full of shops, restaurants, and happy hour spots and is such a cute town! Out of the three, Hermosa is probably my favorite!
2. Spend a day in Santa Monica and Venice
If you don’t already know, Santa Monica is one of the most iconic spots in LA and is definitely worth the visit. The Santa Monica Pier, in particular, is awesome! The pier is full of gift shops and vendors, carnival rides, an arcade, restaurants, a lot of people, and more! It really is a fun place to be. The town also has a lot of great shopping and restaurant options, there’s so much to choose from! My boyfriend and I ate at North Italia in downtown Santa Monica for dinner on our first night there and it was SO good, highly recommend.
Venice Beach is very walkable from Santa Monica as it is another connecting beach and is also worth the visit as well. The boardwalk is full of gift shops and other stores, and small restaurants for a quick meal. Venice Beach is also heavily skater, so prepare for that haha! Venice Beach has its own skate park and there are a lot of people skateboarding through. My favorite part about Venice, in particular, was the Venice sign above the town, one of the most iconic Instagram-worthy photo locations in LA.
I also recommend taking a short walk through the Venice Canals as well. I know I’ve seen the canals in a couple movies I’ve watched and really wanted to check it out for myself. It’s such a cute residential area of town and located right near the Venice sign!
After walking through the Venice Canals, we walked over to Abbot Kinney Boulevard to Lemonade LA which I was dying to try, it was SO good! The Lemonade restaurants in LA are obviously well known for their different flavors of lemonade, and if you know me, you know that is one of my favorite drinks ever and had to stop by. Abbot Kinney is also a very cool place worth checking out as well. It is a mile-long boulevard of shops and restaurants definitely worth seeing!
3. Spend a day in Hollywood
Visiting the Hollywood area was one of the coolest parts of the trip, there’s SO much to see!
- Hollywood Walk of Fame (The Stars)
- Dolby Theatre
- TCL Chinese Theatre
- Hollywood Boulevard shops & restaurants
- Melrose Ave.
- Paramount Studios
My boyfriend and I actually saw all of the above while in Hollywood and it was so much fun, especially Paramount Studios! Walking through the Dolby Theatre was especially cool as well as that is where the Oscar’s are held each year, and we even got to see a movie premiere being set up at the TCL Chinese Theatre while walking by as well.
I definitely recommend checking out Melrose Ave. as well as it is very similar to Abbot Kinney where it is a very long stretch of shops and restaurants (and residential areas) and is where Paramount Studios is located! We took a Paramount Studios tour and it was super cool. Some things in our tour included: seeing their prop warehouse where they keep a lot of their props for movies and TV shows (including Bumblebee from the Transformers Bumble Bee movie), visiting the iconic Forrest Gump bench from the movie, and walking on the set of Dr. Phil and the Netflix show Grace and Frankie!
4. Griffith Observatory & Hollywood Sign Hike
Two other must-see spots in LA. I absolutely LOVED this part of the trip. Not only does the Griffith Observatory have some of the best views of all of LA, but it also is a super cool place to visit for learning more about astrology and viewing through the telescopes. We went during the daytime, and I would love to visit at night next time for the amazing city views and seeing constellations through the telescopes. While the Griffith Observatory is free, I highly highly, highly recommend taking an Uber to the observatory as it is extremely crowded, and honestly, the parking situation sucks. Unless you want to hike up a hill for a mile or two and pay for roadside parking, definitely Uber.
One thing I also wanted to note about hiking the Hollywood Sign is that for no reason it is a confusing process. The hike has so many different trailheads and it can be very overwhelming and confusing. We technically didn’t do the official Hollywood Sign hike, but instead took the trailhead that started right outside of the Griffith Observatory and hiked a short hike to the top of that specific trailhead, which still had views of the sign (and even the observatory!) I honestly couldn’t really give you the best advice on figuring out the Hollywood Sign hike as I am still confused about it myself.
Disneyland is definitely a must when in LA! I actually don’t like carnival rides that much, but still had such a fun time at the park! So if you’re on the same boat as me, you can definitely find something you like at Disneyland. We rode a couple different rides including the teacups (my favorite), the smaller roller coaster in Mickey and Minnie Mouse’s world, and more. After we were done with the rides we walked through Downtown Disney which is also a must, full of a lot of great shops and restaurants to choose from.
How To Get Around the City and Where to Stay:
Since both my boyfriend and I are not yet 25, we were not able to get a rental car for the week during our trip, which actually worked out for the better and saved us a lot of money in the long run. Our transportation was either walking or taking Uber’s and this worked out just fine.
We stayed at an Airbnb in El Segundo which is right next to LAX airport and Manhattan Beach and this was the perfect central location to stay. On day trips we would pack backpacks for the day to avoid taking more Uber’s than necessary and would spend the whole day out focusing on one part of town each day. For example, we took an Uber from El Segundo to Manhattan Beach and then were able to walk to each town from there and spent a couple hours at the beaches and walking through town, and then eventually taking an Uber back to El Segundo. On another day, we would take an Uber to Santa Monica and then walk all around Santa Monica, Venice, and Abbot Kinney, then eventually Uber back to our Airbnb. Spending one day in the Hollywood Area and walking from there, spending one day in Anaheim at Disneyland, and so forth. It is also a great way to get your steps in and exercise! Just after the first day I actually got skinnier haha, even though by the end of each day my feet were always killing me (partially my fault for not bringing the proper walking shoes!)
Our El Segundo Airbnb was also so cute and we loved staying here (also much cheaper than a hotel)! This was actually my first Airbnb experience and it was SO worth it to enjoy our trip and also save money by not staying at a hotel (all the hotels we had found were so expensive!)
Places in LA I Missed and Want to Visit Next Time:
Some places I still have not yet been to and cannot wait to visit next time include:
- Malibu (El Matador State Beach)
- Echo Park in Downtown LA
- Dodger Stadium for a Dodgers game
- Warner Brothers Studios
Instagram-Worthy Photo Locations:
Another great thing about LA is that basically, the entire city is Instagram worthy! There are amazing photo locations just about everywhere you go! To name a few:
- The Pink Wall Mural on Melrose
- The Venice Sign
- Santa Monica Pier
- Underneath the piers at the beaches
- Abbot Kinney Blvd
- The Beaches & Lifeguard Towers
- Downtown LA
- Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills
- Griffith Observatory
- Hollywood Sign
- Warner Brothers Studios
If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading! I know that was quite a long post, but hope that it was super helpful and gives you all the information you need for your trip to LA!
If you’ve been to LA already, what are some of your favorite places to visit?