Los Angeles’ glitz has long conjured up thoughts up sun, surf, celebrity and cinema. But a city of 4 million people is bound to have more to offer than mere silver-screen enticements — from Venice Beach’s boardwalk to a baseball game, the City of Angels has plenty of nooks and crannies worth exploring. These are our top picks for where to go and what to do in your next visit to Tinseltown.
Visit The Walt Disney Concert Hall
Classical culture can be found in spades at Los Angeles’ one-of-a-kind concert venue. From the outside, marvel at the building’s otherworldly design by legendary architect Frank Gehry. Inside, you can listen to exquisite performances by the L.A. Philharmonic and L.A. Master Chorale throughout the year.
Next door to The Walt Disney Concert Hall is The Broad, the city’s newest modern art museum with free admission. Peruse the gallery’s immense collection before having an early dinner at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Patina (located within the music venue) and ending your evening with a classical concert — it’s the ideal day for art lovers.
Drive the PCH
There’s no stretch of road more iconic in California than the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1). For a quick scenic road trip, head north along the PCH to Malibu for a taste of SoCal living.
Not only are there beautiful beaches and trails to discover along the route, such as those within Leo Carrillo State Park, but you can also delve into the city’s history with a stop at the Adamson House, a stunning Spanish Revival home belonging to one of the town’s original founders.
If retail therapy and noshing are more your speed, don’t miss the Malibu Country Mart, an outdoor space that’s home to a lively kids’ playground, high-end shops and delectable dining.
Go shopping on Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive is a luxury shopper’s dream. With dozens of upscale stores concentrated within a few blocks — including Jimmy Choo, Cartier, Prada, Van Cleef and Louis Vuitton — you can spend a whole day enjoying the spectacle, be it for the glittering goods or people watching.
Lights, camera, action
If you want the ultimate behind-the-scenes movie experience, book a spot on the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour. You’ll witness Jaws in action, explore Psycho‘s Bates Motel, experience King Kong in 3-D and participate in many other memorable movie moments the whole family will laugh about long after the credits have run.
Another entertaining option is to take a movie star home tour — you’ll see gorgeous neighborhoods, celebrities’ houses and pick up some cinema history trivia.
Channel your inner child
Opened in 1909, the Santa Monica Pier is teeming with old-fashioned amusement park fun — perfect for the whole group or a romantic date night. The highlight is a ride on the solar-powered Ferris wheel for incredible views of the two-mile-long Santa Monica Beach.
For a posh spot to watch the sun set over the ocean, head to the Four-Star Casa del Mar hotel — a few minutes’ walk south from the pier — for cocktails and live music in the Terrazza Lounge.
Thrill seekers wanted
OUE Skyspace LA, located inside the U.S. Bank Tower, is California’s tallest open-air observation deck. Not only does the attraction afford incredible panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles, it features an adventure component called Skyslide, a unique 45-foot-long glass ride attached to the exterior of the building. Who needs an elevator when you can glide from the 70th story to the 69th floor with amazing vistas to boot? Don’t worry; it’s a short and safe (but crazy) ride.
Revel in nature
L.A. is a unique city. You can take a meeting with an agent one minute and then go hiking in the wilderness the next. Runyon Canyon Park, which sits in the heart of Hollywood, and Silver Lake’s Griffith Park both provide a respite from the concrete jungle with plenty of trails to get a workout in right in the middle of the city.
And keep your eyes peeled during your trek; many celebrities frequent these hills, too.
Take me out to the ballgame
A number of popular professional teams keep things interesting for those who’d rather take in a ballgame than visit a movie studio. Between the Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, Kings, Galaxy, Chargers and Rams, there’s rarely a dull sports moment (or game-free evening) in the city.
Thanks to a 2017 World Series appearance and Kobe Bryant’s hoops legacy, baseball and basketball tend to reign supreme here. Get tickets to either a Dodgers or Lakers game and you’ll rub elbows with plenty of Angelenos. If you go the baseball route, make sure to wear all blue and order a classic 10-inch Dodger dog while you’re cheering.
Bike on the beach
The Marvin Braude Bike Trail (more commonly known as “The Strand”) is a seaside path that runs along the Pacific Ocean for 22 miles. It’s wonderful for people watching and sightseeing (the volleyball scene in Manhattan Beach is worth a stop alone). Should you go, the easiest starting point, with plenty of bike rental options, is the Venice Beach Boardwalk.
Explore the local food scene
Because of L.A.’s year-round sunshine, the city’s food is rife with plenty of seasonal goodness. The two most iconic (and largest) spots to sample the local scene are the Santa Monica Farmers Market (Wednesday and Saturday mornings on the Promenade) and Hollywood Farmers Market (Sundays on Ivar Avenue). Both stops have plenty to try, be it fresh produce or artisan goods.
Another place you can tour the city’s diverse food scene is the Grand Central Market in L.A.’s revitalized downtown. There, you’ll find dozens of vendors offering tastes that range from cult favorites (like Eggslut) to celebrity chef stands (Mark Peel’s seafood-centric Prawn). No matter what time you go, it’s always busy with hungry locals and visitors alike.