Visiting Los Angeles, California is definitely one of the highlights of a West Coast road trip. You won’t be surprised that many of the places you’ll see in Los Angeles will be very familiar as you’ve probably seen them in countless films, TV shows and even renamed as San Andreas in the video game Grand Theft Auto.
Tips For Visiting Los Angeles
Coming from Europe, what you will notice about LA is not only the size of the city but the apparent lack of centre. The Los Angeles referred to is actually a huge conglomeration of disparate areas linked by a busy network of highways and boulevards. You’ll find not only the city of Los Angeles but also many other cities including luxurious Beverly Hills and the beach city of Santa Monica. As the sights and neighbourhoods are so spread out, we highly recommend renting a car when you fly into LAX as it will be so much more convenient, LA is a ‘driving‘ city.
Where To Stay In Los Angeles
LA is not the cheapest city especially if you want to stay in a hotel overlooking the beach in Santa Monica or at the iconic Beverly Wilshire but there are slightly more reasonable areas further down the coast towards Venice and Marina Del Rey or trendy West Hollywood.
What To See And Do In Los Angeles
You can’t visit LA without seeing some of its most famous attractions. Although they may seem touristy these are the places that the city is famous for after all. So here are our 5 suggestions to help you plan your first trip to Los Angeles.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
While Hollywood Boulevard definitely lacks the cinematic glamour that you expect, just like Times Square in New York or Piccadilly Circus in London, it is a must see at least once. Just ignore the badly dressed characters touting for tips and the gift shops galore.
Stroll the Walk of Fame looking for your favourite actors past the instantly recognisable Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the not so recognisable Dolby Theatre, home to the Oscars.
Across the road is the restored El Capitan Theatre where all the Disney film premieres are held. Slightly further east along the Hollywood Boulevard is Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre.
Downtown Los Angeles
Until recently, the Downtown area of LA wasn’t really on any tourist list but in recent year it has seen a resurgence and surprisingly, the area has become very pedestrian friendly with museums, excellent restaurants and beautiful architecture.
Los Angeles does actually have a historic district, El Pueblo de Los Angeles is the oldest part of the city and a plaque commemorates its founding on September 4, 1781. Many of LA’s oldest surviving buildings are located in the area.
The narrow Olvera Street celebrates the city’s Mexican heritage with its traditional restaurants and craft shops.
One of the most interesting and architectural significant buildings in the central district of downtown Los Angeles is Union Station. Founded in 1939, it was the last major railway station built in the United States. The building is Spanish colonial in design and is surrounded by a garden area with large palm trees and other exotic plants.
In addition to visiting LA’s downtown and Hollywood on your trip to Los Angeles, you should also go to Santa Monica, see the iconic Santa Monica Pier as well as visiting the colourful Venice Beach area. It’s easier to get around if you have your own Los Angeles car rental, as these locations are a bit further out, but they are well worth visiting.
Santa Monica Pier is the end of Route 66, so see the sign, visit the fairground attractions and take in the restaurants. Venice Beach is full of larger than life and slightly bizarre characters selling their random wares, so have a browse, and then stop off at Muscle Beach for some people watching. This is where Arnold Schwarzenegger used to work out, you can too for $10.
f you are visiting LA and love theme parks don’t forget to check out Universal Studios Hollywood. This world-class theme park dedicated to film used to be a working studio. Take the famous Backlot Tour, see the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter and experience being up close and personal with King Kong in 3D, but watch out for the banana breath.
So these are out top 5 tourist spots in Los Angeles. Let me know, have you been to LA?