I did not have a Los Angeles trip on my must-see list, but a family wedding took The Gardener and I to California. There are so many things to do in Los Angeles, and it’s lovely and fun!
Attractions: Things to do in Los Angeles
Hollywood and West Hollywood in Los Angeles are iconic in film history and much of the art deco from the 20th century still exists. The Hollywood Bowl is a historic venue for visiting or a performance. Across the street is the Hollywood Heritage Museum. Located in the historic Lasky-DeMille barn, it has wonderful artifacts from the beginnings of Hollywood. Pioneers such as Jesse Lasky, Samuel Goldwyn, and Cecil B. DeMille helped build the film industry.
The Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard has been a must-stop since Sid Grauman opened it in 1927. The forecourt is where the tradition of stars leaving their signatures and handprints in the cement began. Of course, I had to find Betty Grable! This is a very busy Los Angeles spot, especially on the day of a movie premiere. Just be prepared for crowds, noise, and jostling!
Along with checking out Hollywood, Vine, Highland, and Sunset, we had a good time walking on the western part of Sunset. We went into the famous Chateau Marmont to see the bar and garden terrace and other public spaces. What a lovely, elegant place! Walking further west (yes, we were actually walking in Los Angeles!) we came to Sunset Plaza, a beautiful little shopping district with charming small-scale buildings and flowers everywhere. Even further west is Whisky-a-Go-Go, a 1960s music venue that featured The Doors, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, and so many more.
Beverly Hills is a beautiful planned community. The streets have beautiful homes. Each street has its own distinctive tree planting. There is a 2-mile long park with a fountain and a gorgeous Italianate city hall. Rodeo Drive is the renowned upscale shopping district of Los Angeles.
California Science Center is in Exposition Park near Inglewood. This is a giant outdoor and indoor complex. The center is the home of the space shuttle Endeavour. All areas of science are here, along with art, live demonstrations, and IMAX. It’s a great place for families. We loved the dive show in the Kelp Forest section of Ecosystem’s Forest Zone. The divers are equipped with microphones and headphones. The visitors can ask questions in real time as the diver swims through the huge tank!
Page Museum and La Brea tar pits are in Hancock Park on Wilshire Boulevard, a really interesting section of the city of Los Angeles. The tar pits are near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the original Farmers Market, and the Grove shopping complex. I recommend allowing lots of time for this area. The La Brea tar pits contain fossils from the Pleistocene era. The site is set up so you can walk around the lake and see many of the excavation sites. Excavation has been going on here since 1905! The Page Museum is a wonderful example of architecture. A very well designed museum, it includes interactive exhibits which children and adults really enjoy. The museum also includes the labs of working scientists that are glassed-in for viewing. Exhibits also include the ancient peoples who lived in the area and the story of G. Allan Hancock and his family (owner of Rancho La Brea).
We chose to use Starline Tours Hop On Hop Off tours to do much of our getting around. Just the trip from the airport to the hotel showed us that we were not really comfortable with driving around in the city, much less look for parking. You can purchase a 24-, 48-, or 72-hour ticket good for 6 different routes through the area and 70 stops. We enjoyed riding in the top of the double-decker buses (be sure to bring hats and sunscreen!). Bring your earbuds to listen to the pre-recorded tour info.
We got on Santa Monica Boulevard and took it all the way to Ocean Boulevard in Santa Monica. This charming beach town has a long history (the pier was built in 1909!). There is lots of shopping, fantastic coffee and food, and art everywhere. I can see why people want to live here! We took a little side trip to see Malibu going west on the Pacific Coast Highway.
We headed to Pasadena because we LOVE ❤ the Tournament of Roses Parade! The town was developed in the 1870s, partly as place for rest cure for asthmatics from Indiana. The architecture throughout the town is great and you can see Craftsman bungalows from the early 20th century. We had a lovely tour of the Gamble House designed by Greene and Greene.
Nearby is Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. If you like art and gardens, reserve plenty of time for this visit. There is art to see in 5 different buildings. There are ten different gardens, including roses, herbs, and Shakespeare. Be prepared to walk! We enjoyed seeing Gainsborough and Mary Cassatt paintings. It’s a fabulous place, all begun by industrialist Henry Huntington.
Next time, I’d like to see The Getty Villa, Grey Stone Mansion, Griffith Observatory, Paley Center for Media, and Olvera Street.
Los Angeles map
See Part 2 for where to eat, where to stay, and resource links!
Affiliate links: if you make a purchase using these links, I’ll receive a small compensation towards maintaining this blog, at no extra cost to you.