You haven’t been to L.A. if you haven’t been to these iconic spots…
L.A. is filled with hidden gems to discover and explore, but we tend to overlook the obvious spots without realizing that some of the best things to see in the city are hiding in plain sight. These places are essential L.A. spots where you’ll find a diverse mix of both locals and tourists from all walks of life just going about their business. While they absolutely should be enjoyed for all they have to offer, they also hold some unique aspects that are worth experiencing.
1. Griffith Observatory
The Griffith Observatory is a must-see in L.A., which is why it’s number one on our list – what better way to get to know a city than to peer out at the fantastic views, including the famous Hollywood Sign? Come day or night, both experiences are different in their own right – telescopes are available to look at the starry sky and several exhibits can be found inside. Oh, and another added benefit is that it’s totally free – you just have to get yourself there. The easiest way is to take the DASH Observatory bus from Vermont / Sunset Metro Red Line Station, or alternatively, get an UBER.
Open times: Tues – Fri (12:00 – 22:00), Saturday & Sunday (10:00 – 22:00)
2. Santa Monica & Venice Beach
The good thing is that you can see Santa Monica and Venice in under an hour because they’re walking/biking distance apart. With the opening of the new Metro Rail Expo Line, there’s a direct route from Union Station in DTLA to Downtown Santa Monica. From there, it’s a 5-minute walk to the third street promenade, where you’ll find restaurants and all the biggest name brand shops. Look out for the giant Ferris wheel, located on the Santa Monica pier. From there you walk along the beach until you reach the Venice Boardwalk. During this walk, you’ll pass by Muscle Beach; aka the birthplace of the fitness boom in the US, where there are always people doing incredible gymnastics. You’ve reached the end of the walk once you get to the skate park, stick around for a bit and watch the talented skaters do their thing!
What’s more L.A., than spending the day shopping on Melrose Ave? Melrose is known for its cool wall art, funky/trendy shops and great cafes. It’s perfect for a stroll on a sunny day (which is pretty much every day), whether you’re there to go shopping, or just get a coffee. Check out Melrose trading post, a market that happens every Sunday where you can find vendors selling things like antiques and vintage clothes. You may also want to stop by the Insta-famous hot pink Paul Smith wall for that obligatory wall snap.
4. The Grove
The Grove is an outdoor open-plan shopping mall and is within walking distance from Melrose so you can easily combine both into a day’s activities. You can find more shops, several food vendors, places for drinks, a cinema and an overall cozy atmosphere. You should come just before sunset to get the best of both worlds because the vibe is completely different during the day and night. While the twinkling lights and rushing fountains are an experience on their own, you should head to the rooftop parking spot for epic views of the city too.
The Oue Skyspace is a one-of-a-kind experience, it’s California’s tallest observation deck that gives a full view of the city, as well as the unique option to have a go on the all-glass slide. The building has recently been taken over and there is no news as to whether it will reopen the slide and observation deck yet.
6. Laugh Factory [Temporarily Closed]
The Laugh Factory is a chain of comedy clubs that can be found in Chicago, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Reno, Scottsdale and of course, in Hollywood. It’s one of the most famous comedy clubs, home to some of the biggest names in stand up comedy today. We recommend going to the event “Chocolate Sundaes” which is held every Sunday. You can rsvp here and either choose the time slot between 19:00-21:00 or 21:00-23:00. The entry is free, with the only requirement being a two drink minimum per person.
7. Universal Studios
Does this really need any explanation? Universal Studios is quintessential Los Angeles, and it’s right in the heart of Hollywood so it’s easy to get to. You can get a guided tour of real-life movie lots and studios, see the re-imagining of Hogwarts where you can buy wands, Butter Beer, and anything else Harry Potter related and go on a bunch of thrilling rides! Get your tickets online here!
8. Getty Centre
You can’t forget to do something cultural, and what better place than the Getty Centre. In addition to the 19-20th century European art that can be found in the museum, the entire premises is an architectural treat to walk around in.
Open times: Tue–Fri, Sun 10:00 – 17:00. Saturday 10:00 – 21:00. Free admission.
9. Rodeo Drive
This street name must pop into your head right after Melrose when you think of L.A. right? Known for its luxury brand shops, you can find it in the heart of Beverly Hills, and although not everyone can afford to shop there- you can’t come to L.A. and not check out Beverly hills!
10. Arts District
With the current gentrification of Downtown L.A., the Arts District has become one of the most popular spots amongst locals and tourists. Its history began back in the 70s when artists started illegally occupying spaces for their studios, and has slowly developed as the place to be for creatives. You can find wall art, galleries, breweries, and much more!
featured image: Unsplash