Top 10 Once in a Lifetime Things to Do in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is one of the most iconic cities in the world, known for its sunny beaches, Hollywood glamour, and endless entertainment options. With so many sights to see, experiences to be had, and hidden gems to discover, planning the perfect LA vacation can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve rounded up the top 10 once-in-a-lifetime things you absolutely must do on your next trip to LA. From quintessential Hollywood activities to beautiful ocean views, this list has something for every type of traveler. Here are the top once in a lifetime things to do in Los Angeles!
01 – Hike to the Hollywood Sign
Hollywood, a place synonymous with glitz, glamour, and the world-renowned film industry, is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Los Angeles. There are plenty of things to do in Hollywood, but no trip to this part of town is complete without seeing the world-famous Hollywood Sign up close and personal.
The Hollywood Sign is an iconic landmark that stands tall and proud on Mount Lee, overlooking the bustling city below. For many visitors, trekking up Mount Lee to see the sign in person is a rite of passage and an unforgettable experience that they will remember for a lifetime. The hike up Mount Lee offers stunning panoramic views of Los Angeles, making it a must-do activity for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike.
The hike to the Hollywood Sign is a 3-mile round trip that takes approximately 2 hours to complete. Along the way, you’ll encounter steep inclines, rocky terrain, and narrow paths, so it’s important to wear sturdy shoes and pack plenty of water to stay hydrated. The trail can be challenging at times, so it’s crucial to watch your step and take breaks as needed to catch your breath and rest your legs.
Despite the physical exertion required to reach the top of Mount Lee, the reward is well worth the effort. Once you make it to the summit, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking views of Los Angeles and its surrounding areas. You’ll also have an opportunity to stand in front of the iconic white letters and snap a photo to commemorate your journey to the Hollywood Sign.
Taking a photo in front of the Hollywood Sign has become a classic must-do activity for visitors to Los Angeles. It’s a great way to show off your travels to your friends and family and prove that you’ve really experienced Hollywood. Whether you’re an avid hiker or just looking for an unforgettable adventure, trekking up Mount Lee to see the Hollywood Sign up close and personal should be on your “once in a lifetime things to do in Los Angeles”.
02 – Visit the Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is a popular tourist destination that perfectly encompasses the laidback beach lifestyle for which Los Angeles is renowned. This iconic landmark, first opened in 1909, offers visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the vibrant culture of Southern California.
One of the most notable features of the Santa Monica Pier is its rustic wooden boardwalk stretching out into the Pacific Ocean. The sight of this pier alone is enough to transport visitors to a bygone era, and they can’t help but marvel at the beauty of the ocean as it stretches out before them endlessly.
The amusement park on the pier, Pacific Park, provides an array of activities for visitors of all ages. Here, visitors can play games, ride the roller coaster, or even enjoy the iconic Ferris wheel. It’s an ideal place to spend time with family or friends while enjoying the fresh sea breeze.
In addition, the Santa Monica Pier has multiple restaurants and food stands offering a range of cuisines from seafood to pizza and everything in between. Visitors can indulge in tasty treats and meals while enjoying the stunning views of the ocean. The Pier also hosts free live music performances, adding more entertainment value to visitors’ experience.
One of the highlights of the Santa Monica Pier is taking a walk to the very end of the pier to take in the sweeping ocean views. The breathtaking views are a sight to behold, and visitors are sure to be mesmerized by the beauty of the ocean. At night, the Ferris wheel illumination adds to the magical atmosphere and makes for amazing photo ops.
03 – Take a Studio Tour
Are you ready to experience the magic of Hollywood? One of the best ways to get an inside look at the entertainment industry is by taking a studio tour. Major studios like Paramount, Warner Brothers, and Universal all offer tours that allow you to explore their real working lots.
When you take a studio tour, you’ll see iconic sets and sound stages from your favorite movies and TV shows. You might even recognize some of the places where your favorite scenes were shot! As you walk through the lots, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how films and TV shows are made. You might see cameras and lighting equipment, soundstages and green screens – all the things that go into making movie magic.
Many tours also allow visitors to explore real props and costumes used in productions. This is a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with the items that helped bring your favorite stories to life. You might see costumes worn by your favorite actors or props that played important roles in the storyline.
If you’re interested in celebrity sightings, many studio tours also include a celebrity home tour of the star-studded neighborhoods around LA. You can see where some of your favorite stars live and get an idea of what it’s like to be a Hollywood A-lister.
In addition to all of this, some studio tours also offer front-of-the-line access to the adjacent theme parks. For example, if you take the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Burbank, you’ll have access to the rides and attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood – without having to wait in long lines. This is a great way to make the most of your time in LA and experience all the city has to offer.
Taking a studio tour is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown. You’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the hard work and creativity that goes into making movies and TV shows, and you’ll come away with a new understanding of the entertainment industry.
04 – Explore the Getty Center
Perched high in the Santa Monica mountains, the Getty Center is a world-class art museum that offers visitors an unparalleled experience. With breathtaking city views and an impressive collection of art from some of history’s greatest artists such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Monet, it is a must-see for anyone interested in the arts.
The museum itself is a work of art, with its modern design and stunning architecture. Each gallery is thoughtfully curated, providing a unique viewing experience that transports visitors to different eras and cultures. Exploring the many galleries can take an entire afternoon, and visitors are encouraged to take their time to appreciate each piece.
In addition to the art, the Getty Center boasts an abundance of manicured gardens that offer a peaceful respite from the bustle of Los Angeles. Visitors can stroll through the gardens, admiring the beautiful sculptures and fountains, while taking in panoramic views of the city below.
One of the highlights of the Getty Center is the Central Garden, an unexpected urban oasis that features stunning designs centered around water elements. The garden was designed by artist Robert Irwin and features winding paths and hidden nooks, making it a favorite spot for visitors to relax and reflect.
Admission to the Getty Center is free, although parking reservations are recommended due to the high volume of visitors. Art lovers and architecture enthusiasts alike will appreciate this modern cultural gem, which seamlessly blends art, architecture, and nature into a one-of-a-kind experience and this is should be once in a lifetime things to do in Los Angeles
05- Walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame
If you’re looking for a quintessential Los Angeles experience, searching for your favorite celebrity’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is definitely an activity you won’t want to miss. This iconic attraction spans 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and is home to over 2,700 bronze stars that honor some of the most legendary musicians, actors, directors, and other entertainment icons.
As soon as you set foot on the Walk of Fame, you’ll be surrounded by a sea of names that will likely make you feel like a kid in a candy store. From Michael Jackson to Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, you’ll find all of your favorite celebrities represented here. But it’s not just the old legends you’ll discover. The Walk of Fame also features newly inducted stars, so you never know who you might stumble upon during your visit.
One of the best things about this attraction is that it’s easily walkable. You can take your time strolling along the sidewalk, taking photos and admiring the stars. As you go, you might even start to feel like a bit of a celebrity yourself!
The Hollywood Walk of Fame perfectly embodies the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of this famous stretch of sidewalk, especially when you start envisioning your own walk of fame ceremony someday.
06 – See a Show at the Hollywood Bowl
Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, the Hollywood Bowl is an iconic amphitheater that has hosted legendary concerts under the stars since 1922. This outdoor venue has been a popular summer destination for music lovers, who come from all over the world to experience its unparalleled ambiance and acoustics.
Throughout its more than 100-year history, the Hollywood Bowl has played host to some of the most famous names in music, from classical composers to rock legends. It serves as the summer home of the LA Philharmonic, which performs here annually as part of its orchestral series. The Hollywood Bowl also attracts top pop, rock, and jazz artists, who grace the stage with their electrifying performances.
The design of the Hollywood Bowl is unique and memorable. Its curved shell shape delivers acoustics that rival indoor concert halls, making the sound quality of each performance exceptional. The stage is a massive platform that can accommodate large ensembles, including orchestras and choirs. The seating area consists of terraced benches that can hold up to 17,500 people, providing a spacious and comfortable environment for guests to enjoy the show.
One of the charms of attending a concert at the Hollywood Bowl is the opportunity to enjoy a picnic dinner while listening to incredible music under the stars. Guests are encouraged to bring their own meals or purchase food from onsite restaurants, which offer a variety of cuisine choices ranging from classic American fare to gourmet dishes.
As the sun sets behind the hills, the twinkling lights of the city skyline provide a stunning backdrop for the performers on stage. The atmosphere of the Hollywood Bowl is electric, with enthusiastic fans dancing and singing along to their favorite songs.
07 – Drive the Pacific Coast Highway
If you’re looking for a breathtaking adventure that combines the beauty of the ocean and scenic driving, look no further than the Pacific Coast Highway. This iconic roadway is an absolute must-visit for anyone traveling to Southern California. Spanning over 124 miles, this highway stretches from Malibu to Orange County and offers countless gorgeous overlooks and beaches along the way.
As you embark on your journey, be sure to stop frequently to snap photos and take in the stunning views. Pack a picnic and enjoy it at one of the many beautiful viewpoints or explore the charming coastal towns along the route. No matter what you decide to do, there’s always something new and exciting just around the corner.
Some of the top sights along the way include the Santa Monica Mountains, Leo Carrillo State Park’s sea caves, and the luxury mansions of Malibu. The Santa Monica Mountains are a true natural wonder, boasting incredible vistas and hiking trails that wind through the hills. Leo Carrillo State Park is another must-see destination, featuring magnificent sea caves that have been carved out by the pounding waves of the ocean. And of course, no trip to the PCH would be complete without stopping to marvel at the opulent mansions of Malibu.
08 – Go Shopping on Rodeo Drive
Rodeo Drive, located in Beverly Hills, is an iconic street that is synonymous with luxury shopping. A trip to LA is not complete without taking a stroll down this chic street and soaking up the posh atmosphere. Rodeo Drive boasts of some of the world’s most famous designer boutiques, including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Cartier.
While Rodeo Drive may be known for its extravagant shopping, it is also a prime destination for people watching. The over-the-top window displays are like works of art, drawing crowds from around the world who come to marvel at their beauty. The chic atmosphere of Rodeo Drive creates a unique vibe that can’t be found anywhere else.
No matter what your budget may be, there is always something to see and enjoy on Rodeo Drive. Even if you’re not planning on making any purchases, the experience of browsing the latest collections from the biggest names in fashion is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. You’ll feel like a celebrity just by being there, breathing in the air of glamour and sophistication.
If you’re looking for a little memorabilia to take home with you, stop by Tiffany’s for a photo opp with the iconic blue boxes. And if you’re feeling extra fancy, why not indulge in a cup of tea at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the setting of Pretty Woman? This iconic hotel has been the backdrop of many Hollywood films and offers a luxurious experience that is truly unforgettable.
09 – Visit Disneyland
Disneyland is an iconic theme park that truly lives up to its reputation as the happiest place on earth. Located in Anaheim, California, this magical wonderland was first opened in 1955 by Walt Disney himself and has since become a must-visit destination for people of all ages.
One of the most impressive features of Disneyland is the attention to detail throughout the park. Visitors are immediately transported into a world of fantasy with each step they take. The attractions, rides, and shows are all designed to bring the beloved stories and characters to life in a way that is both immersive and captivating.
For thrill-seekers, Disneyland offers a variety of exhilarating rides that are sure to get your heart racing. From classics like Space Mountain and Splash Mountain to newer attractions like Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. And for those who prefer a more laid-back experience, you can take a leisurely ride on the Disneyland Railroad or take in the stunning views from the Skyway.
But Disneyland isn’t just about the rides – it’s also about meeting your favorite characters and immersing yourself in their magical world. Younger guests will be delighted to meet princesses like Cinderella, Belle, and Ariel, while older visitors can catch up with classic characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. And don’t forget about the parades! Watching the colorful floats and characters pass by is a quintessential Disney experience that should not be missed.
As the day comes to a close, make sure to stick around for the grand finale – a spectacular fireworks show over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. This breathtaking display of lights and sounds is the perfect end to a magical day at Disneyland.
Overall, Disneyland truly is a fairytale come true and the one more “Once in a Lifetime Things to Do in Los Angeles” for everyone.
10 – Explore Venice Beach
For offbeat vibes unlike anywhere else in LA, spend a day soaking up the scene at Venice Beach. This vibrant, eccentric neighborhood along the ocean has a distinctly bohemian feel. Funky shops, unique street performers, and colorful murals line the oceanfront boardwalk. Hit Muscle Beach to check out the outdoor gym, then have your fortune told or get a henna tattoo. Rent a cruiser bike or inline skates to really experience the scene. People watching is also prime with an eclectic mix from surfers to artists to street performers. Embrace your free spirit and go with the flow through this one-of-a-kind locale.
From the Hollywood Hills to the shores of the Pacific, Los Angeles offers unlimited possibilities for once-in-a-lifetime memories. By mixing marquee attractions with local hidden gems, you’re sure to have an unforgettable trip. Live your Hollywood dreams, soak up the glorious SoCal sunshine, and embrace LA’s one-of-a-kind spirit with these top 10 experiences. The city of angels is ready to dazzle you with the vacation of a lifetime!
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Conclusion: Once in a Lifetime Things to Do in Los Angeles
There is so much to see and do in Los Angeles, it can be hard to decide where to begin. Whether you’re a fan of the movies looking for a pinch-me moment or an adventure seeker in search of the perfect thrill ride, LA offers something for everyone. From the world famous attractions like Disneyland and Hollywood Boulevard to offbeat gems like Venice Beach and the Griffith Observatory, LA truly has something for everyone. Don’t miss out on these once in a lifetime experiences! Take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer, no matter how long your stay may be.
Don’t forget to take lots of pictures along the way – the memories will last a lifetime! Visit iconic places, try new things, and soak up the Southern California sunshine. With its combination of bustling metropolis and laid-back beach vibes, Los Angeles is a city like no other.
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Hi, I’m Kemp Alexander and I’m an adventurous travel blogger. I’m a passionate explorer who loves discovering new cultures, experiencing unique customs, and capturing my journeys through stories. Whether it’s trekking through the mountains of Thailand or eating local delicacies in South America, every journey is an opportunity to uncover something new. I’m a vibrant traveler with a knack for capturing the beauty of each destination in all forms: visually, mentally, emotionally. Through my blog I take readers on unforgettable trips to far-off places around the world while providing helpful insight for their own journeys. Follow me on my incredible adventures!