CALLING ALL CULTURE VULTURES, FOODIES AND OUTDOORSY TYPES
If you find yourself in Los Angeles on a business trip or if you plan a vacation to the city of angels, you’ll find an exhaustive array of things to do. Whether you’re a culture vulture, outdoorsy type or simply a lover of this fine city, there’s more than enough here to keep you busy. Even lifelong Angelenos will find something new to add to their to-do list, between the city’s landmark attractions, ever-changing inventory of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, essential L.A. museums and even some off-the-beaten path secrets.
At more than 500 square miles, Los Angeles is massive and touring it can be exhausting – but that doesn’t deter visitors. The area is one of the most visited in the country, especially between June and October when thousands of travelers use their summer vacations to experience as many LA attractions as possible. But the key to a successful LA vacation is simple: Plan ahead. Pick a few areas that best suit your interests and needs, or take a guided tour if you want a little more assistance. Then all that’s left to do is explore, explore, explore.
La-La Land is filled to the brim with the glamour of chic Hollywood name brands and movie set backdrops. The town is known as the world’s visual entertainment empire, offering tourists behind-the-scenes looks into the world of film making and television broadcasting at studios like Warner Bros. What’s more, the City of Angels features some of the country’s most eclectic cuisine and dozens of highly acclaimed restaurants.
If you’re a film buff, vintage Hollywood is a must-see. Some classic attractions in the area include TCL Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Paramount Pictures Studios, the only television and film studio left in Hollywood. For a taste of stardom, window-shop along Rodeo Drive or cruise Sunset Boulevard.
Away from the revitalized downtown area, the Malibu and Santa Monica beaches provide sun, sand and surfing, while Venice Beach offers close-ups of the city’s most unique residents. Active visitors can bike or hike to the famous Hollywood Sign. Summit Mount Hollywood on this 2 1/2-hour hiking trip. The tour starts in Griffith Park where you will see its Greek theater, observatory and bird sanctuary before hiking up the mountain to see the famous Hollywood sign and panoramic vistas of the city. Be ready for a workout: You’ll hike approximately 4 miles round-trip. While praising the excellent guides and overall experience, reviewers say tours may run long and require a fairly high level of fitness, so future tourgoers should keep that in mind. The tour starts at around $30 per person (6 or older); for $95 more, book a private tour to hike at your own pace. Tours are offered daily year-round and depart at 10 a.m. and in the late afternoon for a sunset tour. The company also offers an early morning Hollywood Hills hike and several bike tours of LA.
Malibu has a reputation for excessive wealth and exclusivity, yet all of the town’s beaches are public – everyone’s welcome. If you’re seeking an LA beach spot for sunbathing and swimming, look no further than this part of town.
Malibu’s Zuma Beach is considered one of the finest beaches in the Los Angeles area. Locals and tourists laud Zuma for its awesome waves, ample parking and easy access to beach-side snacks. Plus, there are a plethora of lifeguard stations and bathroom facilities.
The city of Malibu is northwest of the central LA area. The trip from downtown to Zuma is about 36 miles long, but keep in mind that traffic can quickly build up along the Pacific Coast Highway. Sights like the Getty Villa and the Adamson House are located about 10 to 15 miles east, and the restaurant filled Trancas Country Market sits within walking distance of the beach’s north end. Zuma Beach is open daily from sunrise to sunset and is free to visit.
If you’re looking to spend some time outdoors (without fighting traffic to get to the beaches), Griffith Park is the place to be. Encompassing over 4,210 acres, the park features more than 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, horseback riding trails, campgrounds for families with young kids and more. If you don’t want to venture out on your own, several companies offer guided hikes. You will also find a variety of attractions here, including the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens, the Hollywood Sign, the Autry Museum of the American West and, of course, the observatory.
LA Food Scene
Diversity is the key to LA’s cuisine. It’s also no surprise that LA is the birthplace of the celebrity chef phenomenon, with big names like Wolfgang Puck and Gino Angelini at the forefront of the city’s premier kitchens. Diners especially enjoy the exquisite (albeit expensive) Italian options at Osteria Mozza in Hollywood. Travelers may also opt for certain restaurants based on who might be sitting at the next table. Those looking for a star-studded meal might try Palm Restaurant or The Ivy in or near Beverly Hills, Fig & Olive in West Hollywood, or The Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles boasts a more than 130-year-old Little Tokyo and has been a sushi town ever since the California roll hit LA restaurants in the 1960s – there’s even an area along Ventura Boulevard in Studio City dubbed “Sushi Row.” To satisfy a craving for raw fish and rice, many suggest Katsu-ya, Sushi Gen and SUGARFISH by Sushi Nozawa.
But you can’t say you’ve truly had the Los Angeles food experience until you’ve consumed your weight in Mexican fare. Try El Compadre Restaurant for flaming margaritas, enchiladas and live mariachi music nightly. If you’re feeling adventurous, order some tacos de lengua (beef tongue tacos) from a taco truck.
Food trucks serving up everything from loaded hot dogs and barbecue to sushi burritos (large sushi rolls eaten like a burrito) and gourmet quinoa bowls are popular in Santa Monica and Venice, perfect for a quick bite before heading back to the sand. For an overview of the city’s eclectic dining scene, sign up for a guided foodie tour listed below.
And while Los Angeles may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of a burgeoning brewery culture, it is certainly home to some top-notch breweries beer lovers will enjoy. Those interested in a swankier scene can head to one of the city’s best cocktail bars, including The Varnish and ETA.
TOURific Escapes – Hollywood Sites & Bites Food Tour
Eat and sightsee while touring the Hollywood neighborhood on this walking and driving tour from TOURific Escapes. The four-hour program is offered daily for up to seven people and includes five food tastings, a walking tour of film-related attractions and a drive past local landmarks, including the Sunset Strip and Paramount Pictures Studios. Travelers say this tour is worthwhile because of the guide’s insights and commentary about the area’s history and foods sampled, and the warm welcome from each restaurant. Tickets cost around $100 for participants 6 and older, and about $80 for children 5 and younger. TOURific Escapes also offers a Celebrity Insider Movie Locations tour and a Chocolate Indulgence tour.
Arts lovers will want to see a show at Walt Disney Concert Hall or swing by Los Angeles County Museum of Art to admire its collection. The Getty Center is one of the most impressive architectural achievements in the United States – and it also contains some of the finest works of art in the world. The circular concrete-and-steel structure was designed by renowned architect Richard Meier, and it houses an abundance of art from various ages and nations. Here you’ll find Renaissance paintings, 20th-century American photography, Baroque sculptures, historic manuscripts and more, all housed inside a sprawling, modern campus amid the Santa Monica Mountains. The museum also offers spectacular views of Los Angeles on clear days.
Don’t miss the Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park that sits on the south face of Mount Hollywood and overlooks the Los Angeles basin. Its location gives visitors impressive views of the surrounding area, which many rave about. But there’s more than just a pretty photo-op here. The observatory hosts fascinating exhibitions and features a top-notch planetarium.
Special Los Angeles Tours
If you aren’t sure where to start, a daylong guided tour of the city is a great way to orient yourself. And after exploring all LA has to offer, consider taking a day trip south to Anaheim to play at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. Boston Coach has put together info on some of our favorites:
LA City Tours – LA City Tour, Celebrity Homes & Beaches
See Los Angeles comprehensively and efficiently with L.A. City Tours’ six-hour minibus tour of the city’s top architectural, cultural and entertainment venues. Several 20-minute stops are scheduled during the drive across the city: Hollywood Walk of Fame, Santa Monica, Griffith Park Observatory and Beverly Hills are a few spots you’ll see. Your fifth stop, which doubles as a lunch break, will be at either the Original Farmers Market (for morning tours) or in Venice Beach (for noon tours). Some reviewers wish they could have spent more time at each stop, though others say this tour helped them determine where to return during their trip. Many also agree that the guides’ senses of humor and trivia knowledge add to the entertainment value. Tickets start at $84 for adults and $60 for children ages 3 to 11. Ticket prices include a map, bottled water and pickup and drop-off at most Los Angeles hotels. LA City Tours also offers cruise and plane layover tours.
Melting Pot Tours – The Original Farmers Market Food & History Tour
Join foodie guides for an up-close and personal tour of the Original Farmers Market, a historic family-owned covered market with more than 100 vendors and stories to tell. There’s not much walking as most of the 2 1/2-hour tour is spent sampling doughnuts, candy, cheeses, ethnic specialties and more while hearing culinary details and market folklore. Guides also share the personal stories of the vendors behind the eight to 10 independent stalls selected for the tour. Tour-takers rave about the tour and the delicious food samples guides select. Tickets cost approximately $65 for adults and $50 for children 5 to 12. Guides can accommodate special diets with advance notice. Farmers Market tours are held Thursday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Melting Pot Tours hosts other outings in Pasadena and East LA as well.
Open Bus Tours – Star Homes Tours
Open Bus Tours whisks you through Hollywood and Beverly Hills in an open-top Mercedes van to show you the places where the rich and famous play. The guide will point out landmarks associated with past and current celebrities, contemporary sports figures and YouTube stars, plus drive past famous movie studios and filming locations, if available. You can snap photos of mansions, the Hollywood Sign, the Sunset Strip, the Dolby Theatre and more. Visitors say they like leaving the LA driving to fun, knowledgeable guides who entertain them with gossip, history and local legend as they point out A-lister hot spots. The two-hour guided tours depart from the Hollywood Walk of Fame up to four times daily. Tickets cost approximately $35 for adults, $30 for children 3 to 10 and $20 for infants 2 and younger. The company also offers a Best of Los Angeles tour.
Starline Tours – Grand Tour of Los Angeles
Patrons praise the convenient hotel pickup, efficient sightseeing and knowledgeable guides on this tour from Starline Tours. On the 5 1/2-hour bus tour, you’ll see major sights, including the TCL Chinese Theatre, Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive and more. Note that the bus only stops for photos at the lunch stop: the Original Farmers Market. Tickets start at $64 for adults and $49 for children 3 to 11. Hotel pickup is an additional fee. Starline also offers a selection of celebrity-themed tours.
TMZ Celebrity Tour
Gossip, secrets and buzz-worthy club names come with this popular Hollywood Celebrity Hot Spot Tour from TMZ, the famous celebrity news website. The two-hour, guided bus tour departs several times daily from Hollywood and makes no stops. Instead, the entertaining guides show video clips, share stories, do giveaways and manage a remote studio on wheels in case wandering celebrities want to stop for an interview. Recent tour-takers who love celebrity gossip and pop culture offer very positive reviews of the outing, while some complain about not seeing enough stars’ homes, specific sites or celebrities during their tour. Tickets cost approximately $50 for adults and $32 for children 2 to 12.
The best way to get around Los Angeles is by car. That’s why we suggest you reserve one of our clean and safe vehicles from Boston Corporate Coach™. Please allow the friendly chauffeurs from Boston Coach to do the driving for you while you’re in the City of Angeles. Just call us at +1 (800) 664-4480 or visit https://bostoncorporatecoach.com/reservations/. You can also download the Boston Corporate Coach™ app on Apple or GooglePlay.