With so many world-famous sites and attractions, deciding on the best things to do in Los Angeles can be a bewildering task. If you’re only in town for a short time, you could spend all your trip wandering around LA’s essential museums without even making it to Hollywood. This city is big, so expect to put in the miles taking in everything it has to offer, from the beaches of Santa Monica to the vibrant historic streets of the Arts District and super-hip Silver Lake. There are so many great places to go and things to do, it can be hard knowing where to start and what to fit in. This list should help you decide and get the most from your L.A. getaway.
Stretching from the bustle of downtown to glamorous Malibu, Sunset Boulevard stands out as the ultimate road to fame or fortune. Or at least that’s the dream. From scruffy clubs and neon to historic movie studios and beaches, this iconic street captures the very essence of L.A.—a clash of extremes all spread out beneath the California sun.
From the oldest part of Los Angeles near Olvera Street, the broad boulevard starts its path to the sea. Sunset Strip, the section between Havenhurst Drive and Doheny Drive, has a checkered history—it was the setting for counterculture protests in the 1960s, rock and roll decadence in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and has more recently undergone a chic renaissance, with luxury hotel towers and fine restaurants hidden behind ivy-covered walls. The boulevard then winds past the mansions of Beverly Hills and Bel Air, then heads west toward some of SoCal’s most famous beaches. Must-see stops along the way include the Guitar Center’s Hollywood RockWalk (a rock-star twist on the better-known Hollywood Walk of Fame), and the legendary Chateau Marmont, a castle-like luxury lodging that has housed its share of Hollywood indiscretions. Slip into the bar to have a drink, and see what celebrities might be hiding in dark corners.
Though it often gets lumped together with neighboring Silver Lake, there are enough unique things to do in Echo Parkto differentiate the two. The hilly ‘hood, centered around its namesake lake, is home to eclectic live music, art gallery and dining scenes that hold their own. Whether you’re looking for a drink near Dodger Stadium or to see upcoming concerts at one of the city’s best small live music venues, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Echo Park.ers.
The Hollywood Sign
During your visit to Hollywood, you will have various opportunities to view the Hollywood Sign, although most of the time the view is at least partially obstructed by power lines, buildings and palm trees. There are places that offer the optimal distance and angle, however those locations might not be ideal for tourists who have limited transportation options, do not know the neighborhoods, or simply don’t want to spend a long time just to get a picture. If you really want to save some time, you can download a free photo of the Hollywood Sign below.
Following are some locations you can view and photograph the Hollywood Sign, with a focus on areas of interest to tourists.
Hollywood and Highland
There are multiple viewpoints from which to view the Hollywood Sign at Hollywood and Highland. Two levels of observation decks near the back of the courtyard are open the general public (level numbers 3 and 4). On level 2 there is a California Pizza Kitchen restaurant which has outside seating where you can view the sign while you eat lunch. On the same level there’s a patio with a large bench where you can sit and have your photo taken with the Hollywood Sign in the background. If you have limited transportation then this could be one of your best options outside of a guided tour. Hollywoodand Highland is probably already on your itinerary, so while you’re there be sure to take plenty of photos of the sign.
- If the observation decks are too crowded, on level 4 go all the way to the east side of the structure, where the courtyard overlooks Highland Avenue.
- When a tour group comes through, the viewpoints can become extremely crowded. But don’t worry – they only have 15 minutes! Just browse a shop or two and when you come back out, the decks will have plenty of room.
The Sunset Strip, a stretch of Sunset Boulevard between Crescent Heights Boulevard and Doheny Drive, is one of L.A.’s most iconic neighborhoods. It was the setting for counterculture protests in the 1960s, rock and roll decadence in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and it exists today as a showcase for the good life, providing elegant hotel rooms, live music venues and fine restaurants.
LEGENDARY HOTELS REJUVENATED
In 2009, the former “Riot Hyatt” emerged from extensive renovations as the Andaz West Hollywoodand took its place among the Strip’s top hotels. Rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, bathrobes by Frette and complimentary minibars make the $48 million project anything but a hardcore rock and roll experience.
Another hotel that got a new lease on life is the London West Hollywood, located in the former site of the Wyndham Bel-Age hotel. The London opened in 2008 to critical acclaim, featuring rooms that are mini-suites with Waterworks bath products and design elements assembled by David Collins Studio. The hotel features a rooftop pool deck and most rooms provide views of LA or the Hollywood Hills.
THE STRIP’S HOTTEST LIVE MUSIC
The Sunset Strip has been a destination for music fans for more than four decades, boasting some of the area’s most well-known venues: Viper Room, The Roxyand the legendary Whisky A Go-Go.
SIZZLING STEAKS ON THE STRIP
BOA Steakhouseis a modern American steakhouse that serves beautiful cuts of prime, aged beef in a spectacular indoor/outdoor setting. If you’re looking for more of a high-energy experience to go with that steak, head to the Saddle Ranch Chop House, where “rock meets western” in a rustic setting complete with an oversized bar, outdoor fire pit and mechanical bull.
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