1. See the Hollywood sign from Griffith Observatory
The Griffith observatory is one of my favorite attractions in Los Angeles because it gives an amazing view of the iconic Hollywood sign during the day and a beautiful view of the Los Angeles city during the night. The observatory is split into six sections and has numerous cool exhibits.
The Ahmanson Hall of the Sky, in the west wing, focuses on objects that are generally found in the sky, like the Sun and Moon. Some of my favorite exhibits in this sections were the periodic table of elements, the paths of the Sun and stars, the seasons, the phases of the Moon, tides, and eclipses. If you’re a chemistry nerd like me you would find the periodic table of elements exhibit particularly exciting because it displays most of the 118 elements with examples of them in little boxes, in their designated spot on the table. Another unique thing about the other exhibits in this section is that there is always staff that explains all the phenomenons mentioned in the exhibits and answers any questions related to them.
The Gunther Depths of Space Hall is the lower level of the observatory and it incorporates scale models of the Solar System. The planets in this exhibit are shown relative to the size of the sun. Several facts are listed beneath a planet and there are scales indicating a person’s weight on each planet having a solid surface. I had a lot of fun measuring my weight on different planets like Mars (38 pounds) and Jupiter (253 pounds). Through this exhibit I learnt that nobody is too fat or too thin, we’re just born on the wrong planet.
I would advice you to keep your friends and family close when visiting the Griffith Observatory because the service is bad in the area. It can be very hard to find someone in the premises if they get lost. Another tip, the best time to visit the observatory would be in the evening as that will allow you to get a glimpse of both the day and the night view.
PS- if this amazing picture and introduction did not convince you to visit the Griffith observatory, maybe its free admission to all its intriguing exhibits will persuade you!
2. Bike from Santa Monica Pier to Venice Canals
The Santa Monica Pier contains a small amusement park with a solar paneled Ferris wheel, concession stands, and areas for views and fishing. It has an original carousel hippodrome from the 1920’s, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium operated by Heal the Bay, shops, entertainers, a video arcade, a trapeze school, pubs, and restaurants. The location always has entertainers and artists who try their best to keep the pier lively through their music.
The Pier has been used as a filming location for many decades and featured in one of the most famous movies of all time: Forrest Gump. There is a Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co. on the pier that is a must visit if you’re a Forrest Gump fan. As Bubba told Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, they’ve got every kind of shrimp you could ever imagine on the menu as well as other seafood choices. The food is really good, the prices are very reasonable and the servers will do their very best to make sure that you leave the restaurant with a big smile on your face.
Another cool experience is biking from the Santa Monica Pier to the Venice canals. Bikes are available to rent from numerous places on the Santa Monica beach. The bike lanes make it very convenient to bike to Venice canals while enjoying the beautiful view of the Santa Monica beach during the ride. Interesting story, I did not know how to ride a bike when my friends and I decided to do this activity. I rented out a tricycle because I wanted to join my friends in this endeavor. I rode 2.8 miles (back and forth) on my tricycle within the city and it turned out to be one of my best experiences. Don’t be afraid to rent out a tricycle to do this activity if you don’t know how to bike.
The Venice Canals are a human-made waterway excavated in 1905 by Abbot Kinney, a developer and conservationist who sought to create a replica of Venice, Italy. I personally found this area intriguing because of the beautiful houses that overlook the canals. There are numerous fancy houses in the neighborhood and each house has a unique aesthetic.
PS- I learnt how to ride a bike after this incident and use it daily to go to the beach now.
3. Take a picture at Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills is famous for being one of the most fashionable places to shop in the world because it consists of everything from world-renowned fashion houses to one of a kind local boutiques. Rodeo Drive sits in the heart of Beverly Hills and it is one of the most famous streets on the globe.
You can shop from famous international fashion brands like Prada, Gucci, Valentino, Armani, Dior, Cartier, Versace, Lanvin, Jimmy Choo and Tiffany. There are also numerous local boutiques, unique luxury shops, fantastic Beverly Hills restaurants and open-air cafés in the blocks east of Rodeo. I am sure this place is already on your bucket list if you have seen the classic “Pretty Woman” by Garry Marshall. Though some of us might not have the luxury to shop from these famous international brands, it feels good to visit these stores to check out the latest trends.
It might seem overwhelming to visit bourgeois shops, but having all these brands within a small perimeter is once in a lifetime opportunity. Don’t be afraid to explore the stores. If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to the stores, you could check out the open-air cafés in the area. They offer great coffee and an absolutely stunning view of the palm trees lined perfectly along the streets. If you’re lucky you might be able to spot Jennifer Anniston on her shopping spree.
PS- don’t forgot to take a picture for your Instagram while you’re there.
4. Stop by the Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame stretches along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. The sidewalk consists of more than 2,600 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars. These stars are permanent public monuments and represent achievements in the entertainment industry, bearing the names of a mix of musicians, actors, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters, and others.
Some of the most well-known stars at the Hollywood Walk of Fame are David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, Sandra Bullock, John Wayne, Mohammad Ali, Elton John, Kate Winslet, Ryan Reynolds, and Anne Hathaway. The walk also has stars for some fictional characters like Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Snow White, Woody Woodpecker, The Simpsons, Kermit the Frog, Godzilla, Winnie the Pooh, The Munchkins, and Shrek.
When I visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017, I did not know who Ice Cube was. I wanted to take a picture with that particular star because I found the name hilarious. As a kid, I always ate ice cubes out of the freezer and gave some to my dog as well. My dog would bite the ice cubes and then she would look for them all day after they had melted. I really like telling this story because it shows how travel helps expand our horizons and gain deeper insights into different cultures. After looking at the numerous stars, I became more familiar with Hollywood. Through this experience, I learnt more about the people in the entertainment industry who are extremely talented but not as well-known around the globe.
PS- try to spot stars that have more than 1 star when you visit this street.
5. Eat mind-blowing Mexican food from taco trucks
A taco is a traditional Mexican dish consisting of a small hand-sized corn or wheat tortilla topped with a filling. Fillings like beef, pork, chicken, seafood, vegetables, and cheese, are usually added onto the tortilla to make a taco. The tortilla is then folded around the filling and eaten by hand. Tacos are often garnished with various condiments, such as salsa, guacamole, or sour cream, and vegetables, such as lettuce, onion, tomatoes, and chilies for enhanced flavor.
Tacos are a common form of Mexican street food, which have spread around the world. Taco trucks are one of the most common and popular food trucks in LA. They are open till 2:00 am and can always satisfy your late night cravings. The tacos from these trucks are always cooked and prepared to perfection. The meat is juicy and the salsa is freshly prepared. I personally really like drinking Hibiscus Tea (Agua De Jamaica) with my tacos as its sweet tangy flavor balances the spicy salsa in the tacos.
There is usually a long line to order your food at taco trucks, but once the order is placed it only takes around 10 minutes to get your food. There are plenty of vegetarian options available as well. If you love Mexican food, a trip to Los Angeles would not be complete without trying these delicious tacos. And the best part about these taco trucks: no other Mexican restaurant in the city could never beat their price.
PS- add lemon and hot sauce to your tacos to make them even more delicious.
6. Explore the Arts District
The Arts District in Los Angeles is an industrial area of former warehouses and factories in Downtown LA that has been home to artist studios since the 1970’s. There are numerous open studios and galleries in the neighborhood. However, the Arts District became popular because of the murals, street art, maker co-ops and an influx of trendy eating establishments.
I think this neighborhood is one of the hidden gems of Los Angeles. It consists of beautiful artwork and cute roadside cafes you could get your morning coffee at. There is a unique mural in every block and even the entire day wouldn’t be enough to explore the area if you are an art lover. The quotes used in the murals get you thinking and usually signify something greater than us. The neighborhood is unique and inspires creativity among all of us.
Since Arts District is so spread out and consists of numerous artworks, I would suggest you to start from The American Hotel and pick a path of your choice to explore from there. I am confident that you will be able to find something worthwhile in whichever path you choose.
PS- if you’re looking for that perfect Instagram photo spot, this attraction is for you.
7. Enjoy the Nightlife by visiting a club
Los Angeles is the Entertainment capital of the world and it has one of the best nightlife all across the globe. The city consists of numerous world-class venues and nightclubs. It has nightclubs with great music and drinks to cocktail lounges, sports bars and comedy clubs. Vibrant themes and decor, renowned musicians, DJ’s and performers set the party scene every night in this city.
Some great clubs you could check out if you visit Los Angeles are Avalon Hollywood, Sound nightclub, Mayan theater, Skybar, and Rooftop at The Standard Downtown L.A. If clubbing is not really your scene you could always head over to the Comedy Store to have a great night. The Comedy Store has three really cool stages and a relaxed atmosphere. The nightclub often stages young comedians to showcase their talent and the choice of drinks in this club is diverse.
I recommend choosing a designated driver at the beginning of the night and heading out a little early to avoid the long wait lines. The list of places to enjoy after-dark excitement in Los Angeles is endless, so head out and experience the best of L.A. nightlife! Maybe you will even find that special someone you have been looking for such a long time if you decide to say yes to this experience.
PS- let loose for a night and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.
8. Devour the delicious chocolate hazelnut cake at Urth Caffé
Urth Caffé is a European-style café and has casual, comfortable vibe. It roasts its’ own exclusively heirloom, organic coffee and sources and blends its’ unique, fine teas. Urth Cuisine focuses on sustainable and local ingredients – organic whenever possible. Urth exquisite pastries, desserts & breads are made using the finest ingredients such as imported French butter, organic flour, ancient grains, and local family-farm eggs.
I ordered the classic Egg Salmone, Spanish Latté and the scrumptious Chocolate hazelnut sponge cake layered with Nutella and hazelnut icing, covered in chocolate hazelnut ganache. The eggs were cooked perfectly and the salmon was amazing. The coffee was freshly brewed and tasted almost like the coffee available in Barcelona. The hazelnut cake was definitely the highlight of my meal. The cake was really soft and the chocolate used in the cake flowed perfectly with its layers and the hazelnuts.
The Caffé is one of the most popular eating spots in LA and could be crowded during the day. I would recommend you to go a little early if you do not want to spend too long waiting in the line. Though the wait times are high, the food makes the wait completely worth the time.
PS- if you have a sweet tooth like me, you should definitely try this cake at least once in your life.
9. Tour the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, popularly known by its abbreviation LACMA, is the largest art museum in the western United States. It holds more than 150,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present. And in addition to art exhibits, the museum features film and concert series.
There are numerous exhibits related to Modern or contemporary art and feature work dating from antiquity, including pre-Columbian, Assyrian and Egyptian art through contemporary art. The museum also features artwork from Korea, Japan, India, Greece and Rome. I would recommend you to check their official website before deciding to visit the museum because recently they have closed their main galleries for renovation.
One of my favorite artworks was the Urban Light, a large-scale assemblage sculpture by Chris Burden, outside LACMA. It is composed of 202 street lamps arranged in a near grid. The lamps came from various streets of Southern California, including Hollywood, Glendale, and Anaheim, with some from Portland, Oregon. Urban Light has become an extremely popular attraction and it is the most photographed public artwork in Southern California. It is extremely hard to click a picture without someone getting in your shot, but visiting the artwork late at night helps reduce the chances of photo-bombing.
PS- Urban Light artwork is open 24/7 and everyone is free to visit them.
10. Shop at the Grove
The Grove is a retail and entertainment complex in Los Angeles and it features a large central park with an animated fountain designed by WET, the same firm that designed the fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas. The music-fountain show plays every hour, though the feature has a non-musical program in between shows. The statue featured in the image above is commonly known as “The Spirit of Los Angeles”.
Spending your night shopping and dining at the Grove is ideal. You could do plenty of things like getting appealing wine and cocktails from The Fountain Bar, visiting a picturesque Apple store, shopping from Nordstrom or just sitting by the fountain around the park. I recommend you to not wander off too far away from your group during your shopping spree, as the service is bad in the area. It can be hard to locate your friends or family if you are not familiar with the area without cell reception.
PS- relive your childhood again by riding the train at the Grove.