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Best things to do in Los Angeles

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Where in the world: USA  /  California  /  Los Angeles
Although it's widely recognized as the center of the world's show business industry, things to do in Los Angeles include a range of activities suited to more than just movie buffs. You'll probably want to explore Universal Studios Hollywood, but when you're ready to divert your eyes from film stars and direct them to those glimmering in the night sky, be sure to visit Griffith Observatory. You can always surprise your kids with a trip to Disneyland Park, but if you're more interested in fine arts, don't miss the remarkable collection housed at Getty Center The Publications.

Los Angeles is best known for its Theme Parks, Specialty Museums, and Historic Walking Areas.

Top 15 things to do in Los Angeles

1. Universal Studios Hollywood

For an ultimate Hollywood experience, visit Universal Studios Hollywood, a film studio, theme park, and a self-contained city all its own. One of the oldest Hollywood studios still in use, this show business complex considers itself "the entertainment capital of Los Angeles." Originally created to offer tours of real film studios, sets, and sound stages, the complex now offers live shows, thrill rides, and behind-the-scenes presentations about the movie-making process. To see the highlights, take a tram tour of the sound stages and sets designed specifically for some of the studio's biggest blockbusters. You can also choose from indoor and outdoor roller-coaster rides that provide you the chance to face King Kong, a shark attack, dinosaurs, and a powerful earthquake.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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2. The Getty Center

Explore the impressive collection of pre-20th-century European art that fills the rooms of The Getty Center. Nestled in the hills overlooking Los Angeles, the six-building complex, notable for its new-age architecture and expanse of landscaped gardens, features exhibits of 19th- and 20th-century photographs, sculptures, and paintings. Take your time wandering through the museum’s sculpture garden, or have your picture taken with Van Gogh’s "Irises." Pack a picnic to have in the gardens while taking in a panoramic view of the city. While admission to the center is free, you must pay to park a car.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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3. Griffith Observatory

Explore the wonders of our solar system and the galaxy at Griffith Observatory. Donated to the city over a century ago, the observatory offers free admission to an array of space and science exhibits, including a nationally recognized planetarium and public telescopes. Situated high on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood, the complex offers views of downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, and the Pacific Ocean. Secure a spot outside after visiting the observatory to enjoy views of the Hollywood sign or the dramatic coastline.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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4. Disneyland Park, Anaheim

The "happiest place on earth," Disneyland Park consists of eight themed "lands" and a number of backstage areas. As you explore the 34 hectares (85 acres), you'll encounter roller coasters and boat rides, indoor and outdoor games, live shows, award-winning eateries, and a range of eclectic shops. If you'd rather not walk everywhere, stop at all eight lands via the narrow-gauge railroad that circumnavigates the park. As you travel through the magical worlds dreamed up by Disney, look for hidden representations of Mickey Mouse inserted subtly into the attractions' design and environmental decor. Conceived and built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney, this amusement park boasts the largest cumulative attendance of any theme park in the world--having welcomed more than 650 million visitors since it opened in 1955. It also gave rise to its relative, Disney World, in Florida.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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5. Disney California Adventure Park, Anaheim

Spend a day of thrill-seeking adventure at Disney California Adventure Park. Located adjacent to Disneyland Resort, the theme park offers over 29 hectares (72 acres) of attractions and entertainment dedicated to the history and culture of California. Fly high above the California orange groves and Napa Valley in the simulated Soarin’ Over California ride, or tear down the rushing rapids of the Grizzly River Run. To wind down, grab an ice cream and stroll down the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, or take a relaxing ride on the Ferris wheel, enjoying views of the entire park. Discount tickets are available online if purchasing more than a one-day pass.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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6. Hollywood Walk of Fame

Bask in Hollywood glamour at Hollywood Walk of Fame, made up of more than 2,500 five-pointed brass stars embedded in the sidewalks stretching along nearly 20 city blocks. A permanent public memorial to achievement in the entertainment industry, the stars bear the names of actors, musicians, directors, producers, and fictional characters who left an indelible mark on American and world culture. Nearly 10 million visitors come to see the stars placed here in honor of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, James Dean, Walt Disney, and thousands of others. To save time looking for your favorite celebrities, use the official website's search tool to find the exact address of their stars before you make the trip.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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7. Venice Beach and Boardwalk

The southern Californian community of Venice has for decades been famous for its vibrant subcultures and offbeat way of living, and Venice Beach and Boardwalk is no exception. One of Los Angeles’ most legendary spots, the beach is packed with people from all walks of life. Stroll along the boardwalk to pass numerous street performers, food stalls, and artists selling their wares. You can also watch anglers on the fishing pier, surfers battling the swell, and some of LA’s fittest residents working out at Muscle Beach. Make sure you leave enough time to sunbathe on the soft sand and dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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8. Balboa Park, San Diego

An urban park, Balboa Park is home to 490 hectares (1,200 acres) of landscaped gardens, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, recreational spaces, art studios, museums, and theaters. Stroll through the Desert Garden or Japanese Friendship Garden to admire the park's diverse plant and animal life, or tour the San Diego Museum of Art or the Natural History Museum. Take advantage of the park's free tram service to get around.
Suggested duration: 4h 30 min
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9. Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica

Experience the vibrant, timeless energy of southern California with a walk down Santa Monica Pier. The 100-year-old wooden wharf serves as the area's hub of entertainment and culture. This spot is home to the Pacific Park amusement park, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, an array of shops and eateries, and plenty of street artists. Rent bikes and spend the afternoon exploring the carnival-like atmosphere while enjoying the oceanside scenery. Kids love visiting the Playland Arcade, which has more than 200 games and attractions. The pier also is home to California's only over-water Ferris wheel.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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10. La Jolla Cove, La Jolla

Famous for its tide pools and sea lions, La Jolla Cove features a tiny beach surrounded by sandstone cliffs. Part of a protected reserve known for its rich marine life, this stretch of coastline counts among one of the most photographed sites in San Diego. You can swim, snorkel, or scuba dive here, taking advantage of the calm waters that provide an ecologically safe home for orange Garibaldi fish and several species of marine invertebrates. In order to protect all animals inside this area, lifeguards strictly enforce the rules forbidding surfboards, kayaks, boogie boards, and inflatable mattresses within the cove.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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11. USS Midway Museum, San Diego

An active naval aircraft carrier for nearly 50 years, USS Midway Museum now displays 29 restored planes and 60 interactive exhibits. You can see what the brig, engine room, pilots' ready rooms, and the crew's sleeping quarters looked like when the country's longest-serving carrier was on active duty. Explore the upper deck's bridge and the war room, or descend to the flight deck to discover the history behind some of the country's renowned military aircraft. Try out the flight simulators, or take a narrated audio tour. Be prepared to climb a lot of stairs.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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12. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Trace the history of the natural world and study Earth's biodiversity by learning about the 35 million specimens housed in Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Discover the dinosaur hall with the world's only Tyrannosaurus Rex growth series and watch scientists at work in the Dino Lab. You'll have the opportunity to explore over 240 specimens including whale skeletons and realistic animal dioramas. The museum also features a gem and mineral hall with over 2,000 specimens that is considered to be one of the finest exhibits of its kind in the world.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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13. Walt Disney Concert Hall

The Walt Disney Concert Hall at 111 South Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, California, is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center and was designed by Frank Gehry. It was opened on October 24, 2003. Bounded by Hope Street, Grand Avenue, and 1st and 2nd Streets, it seats 2,265 people and serves, among other purposes, as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The hall is a compromise between a vineyard-style seating configuration, like the Berliner Philharmonie by Hans Scharoun, and a classical shoebox design like the Vienna Musikverein or the Boston Symphony Hall.
Lillian Disney made an initial gift of $50 million in 1987 to build a performance venue as a gift to the people of Los Angeles and a tribute to Walt Disney's devotion to the arts and to the city. Both Gehry's architecture and the acoustics of the concert hall, designed by Minoru Nagata, the final completion supervised by Nagata's assistant and protege Yasuhisa Toyota, have been praised, in contrast to its predecessor, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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14. Topanga State Park

Roam the 45 sq km (17 sq mi) of Topanga State Park, where a range of microclimates supports a variety of plant and animal life. Hike, bike, or horseback ride along the state park's many trails, which can take you through woodlands of California oak and walnut, savannah grasslands, and ranch areas with large sandstone formations. The park shelters over 140 animal species, including many resident and migratory birds. A few historical buildings dot the grounds, and its nature center educates visitors about the biodiversity of the area.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The largest art museum in the western United States, Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses a diverse body of more than 120,000 works and hosts several beloved programs, including its film series, which began in the late 1960s. The museum's photography department has more than 15,000 works. The modern and contemporary art collections, along with the Latin American art galleries, were renovated in 2008. Beyond its exhibits, the museum offers interesting talks and courses, as well as renowned music and film programs. Between concerts, collaborations, traveling collections, and other events, this museum draws almost 1 million visitors annually.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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