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Things to Do in Los Angeles

With a reputation for red-carpet glamour, year-round sunshine, and West Coast chill, California's City of Angels draws travelers from all over the world. Los Angeles is one of the most densely populated and diverse metropolitan areas in the US, and its 40+ distinct neighborhoods are connected by a maze of freeways, so it's best explored with a guide. But that's no reason to spend your time on a tour bus: Whether you want to walk, bike, or Segway around LA, there's a city tour for you. Hit Hollywood landmarks like the Walk of Fame, TCL Chinese Theatre (aka Grauman's), the iconic hilltop sign, and Sunset Strip. Celebrity-seekers can tour Warner Bros. Studios or Beverly Hills, home to Rodeo Drive and many movie stars' mansions. For taste of classic LA beach culture, head to Santa Monica or Venice Beach. Active travelers can hike or ride horseback through the Hollywood Hills, while true thrill-seekers can paraglide in Malibu, test-drive an exotic sports car, learn to rock climb, or sign up for surf camp. For family-style fun, some of California's top theme parks are within easy reach. Be sure to book VIP-access or skip-the-line tickets for Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland, and Disney's California Adventure. You could easily extend your LA vacation with a coastal escape to Santa Barbara, Solvang, or Hearst Castle—all north of the city. Or, make a like a movie star and head inland to Palm Springs, a Hollywood hideaway since the Rat Pack-era.
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Hollywood Sign
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One of LA's most distinguishing icons, the famous Hollywood Sign proudly stands on Mt. Lee (Mount Lee) in the Hollywood Hills, overlooking Los Angeles and the California movie industry it has come to symbolize. This LA landmark first appeared on its hillside perch in 1923 as an advertising gimmick for a real-estate development called Hollywoodland. Each letter stands 50 feet (15 meters) tall and is made of sheet metal painted white.

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Hollywood Walk of Fame
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Only in Los Angeles are stars so common that they can even be found on the sidewalk. Studded with more than 2,600 brass stars across 18 city blocks, the Hollywood Walk of Fame features names of celebrities in mini monuments. See if you can spot the stars of your favorite motion pictures, TV shows, live theater, and more.

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Sunset Strip
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The legendary 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) stretch of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood known as the Sunset Strip extends east–west from Beverly Hills to Hollywood, laid end to end with celebrity-studded music venues dating back to the heyday of rock and roll, comedy clubs, boutiques, restaurants, hotels, and cocktail bars with stellar views of the surrounding city.

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Venice Beach
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Known for its free-spirited vibe, Venice Beach is a happening, upscale outlier of Los Angeles, fronted by the iconic Venice Boardwalk, officially known as the Ocean Front Walk. Encounters with pickup basketball teams, fortune tellers, and roller skating sunseekers are pretty much guaranteed—especially on hot Southern California summer days. Beyond the sand, visit the skate park, the famous Muscle Beach outdoor gym, and Abbot Kinney Boulevard, featuring trendy restaurants, stylish boutiques, galleries, and cafés.

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TCL Chinese Theatre
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Peek into old Hollywood on a visit to the historic TCL Chinese Theatre. This quintessential California landmark, featured in movies since 1927, is still a favorite location for star-studded red-carpet premieres. A recent upgrade to the theater’s seats and IMAX 3D equipment enhances the experience while keeping the theater’s original charm.

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Griffith Park
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Griffith Park is one of the largest city parks in North America, covering a vast 4,310 acres (1,744 hectares). An oasis in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles, this green space caters to visitors of all ages and interests with attractions such as the Los Angeles City Zoo, the Griffith Observatory, and the iconic Hollywood sign.

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Rodeo Drive
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One of the most famous shopping districts in the world, Rodeo Drive attracts a well-heeled crowd of label lovers who exercise their credit cards at designer shops like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tiffany, and Gucci. Between the elegant storefronts, luxury cars, and swaying palm trees, it’s a Hollywood movie scene come to life.

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Santa Monica Beach and Pier
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Set along California’s Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica has two claims to fame: the Santa Monica Beach and pier. At Santa Monica Beach, miles of sand host playgrounds, parks, picnic areas, staffed lifeguard stations, and the original Muscle Beach. Nearly 8 million visitors frequent the area each year, most of whom follow the boardwalk to the Santa Monica Pier, whose neon-lit arch and ferris wheel are instantly recognizable from film and TV.

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Hollywood & Highland
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One of Los Angeles’ pre-eminent shopping and entertainment complexes, Hollywood & Highland boasts two heritage movie theaters—the TCL Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre—and dozens of shops and restaurants. It’s also located steps away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame and hosts the annual Academy Awards,

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Universal Studios Hollywood
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One of the world's oldest continuously operating movie studios, Universal® Studios Hollywood presents an entertaining mix of thrill rides and live action shows, plus a tram ride. The large California theme park cleverly integrates the shows and rides with behind-the-scenes presentations on movie-making.

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More Things to Do in Los Angeles

Los Angeles the Grove

Los Angeles the Grove

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One of Los Angeles’ most popular shopping destinations, The Grove is an open-air retail and entertainment complex. Stretching across 575,000 square feet (53,419 square meters), the mall hosts dozens of shops, restaurants, and even a movie theater. A trolley serves the complex—ride it for fun or to rest your feet.

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Dolby Theatre

Dolby Theatre

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Formerly known as the Kodak Theatre, the 180,000-square-foot, 3,400-seat Dolby Theatre now showcases Dolby Laboratories' state-of-the-art sound technologies. Situated in the popular Hollywood & Highland mall complex, the elegant Dolby Theatre hosts the famed Academy Awards.

Periodically, the Dolby also plays host to charity benefits, movie premieres, special events and other televised award shows. The theater's soaring stage, one of the largest in the United States, has featured the national premiere of Pixar's Brave, the American Idol finals, the Daytime Emmys, the American Ballet Theatre and even President Barack Obama, while out on the campaign trail.

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Los Angeles Original Farmers Market

Los Angeles Original Farmers Market

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Open since 1934, the Los Angeles Farmers Market, aka the Original Farmers Market, draws both locals and visitors to its 100-plus food stalls, grocers, eateries, and other vendors that sell everything from fruit, meat, and baked goods to skincare, candles, flowers, and housewares. You can easily spend a couple of hours here eating, browsing, and people-watching.

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Catalina Island

Catalina Island

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Santa Catalina—widely known as just Catalina—is a beautiful Southern California island just off the coast of Los Angeles. With rocky terrain, blue waters, and Mediterranean flair, it’s an idyllic escape from the City of Angels, and hard to believe that it’s only a 1-hour ferry ride away. Catalina’s only small town, Avalon, is home to boutique shopping, oceanfront dining, and harbor views. There are plenty of chances to get in or on the island’s stunning waters as well—if you can drag yourself of off the beach.

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Hollywood Hills

Hollywood Hills

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Whether it’s hiking or horseback riding, biking or busing, there are plenty of ways to explore the well-heeled neighborhood of Hollywood Hills. Its famous bright white Hollywood sign has become an iconic California image and its panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley have made it worth venturing outside the city for tourists hoping to capture the perfect sunset picture.

Travelers can climb to the top of Mt. Hollywood or wander through scenic Griffith Park. John Anson Ford Theater, the Hollywood Bowl, the Hollywood Reservoir and Forest Lawn Memorial Park are also popular sites on a visit to this famed high-rent neighborhood, but visitors would do just as well to drive around the quiet streets taking in some of the most classic (and impressive) residential architecture in California.

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Walt Disney® Concert Hall

Walt Disney® Concert Hall

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On a busy downtown street corner, the Walt Disney® Concert Hall's twisted-metal landmark building bursts from the Los Angeles cityscape. Designed by Frank Gehry and acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, the building’s interior features walls and a ceiling finished with Douglas fir and unparalleled sound, making it a must-see attraction for lovers of music and architecture.

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Madame Tussauds Hollywood

Madame Tussauds Hollywood

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One of the most-visited Madame Tussauds stands on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. The wax figures depicted at Madame Tussauds Hollywood include entertainment icons, film directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, and movie characters like E.T. and the X Men, as well as pop stars, infamous criminals, and athletes.

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Hollywood

Hollywood

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From the Hills to the Sign, the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood has become synonymous with the entertainment industry—and, often, its glamorous appeal. People come from all over the world with hopes of a favorite-celebrity sighting in Tinseltown, or simply to revel in the area’s history and legacy. On the legendary star-studded Hollywood Walk of Fame, you can actually match your handprints and footprints to those of Hollywood stars, embedded in cement. Famous theaters include the grand Grauman’s Chinese Theatre—now the TCL Chinese Theatre—and the Egyptian and El Capitan, both of which are flamboyant icons from Hollywood’s glitzy past.

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Capitol Records Building

Capitol Records Building

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The Capitol Records Building has been one of the most recognizable features of the Hollywood skyline since its construction in 1956. Distinguished by its cylindrical shape, the 13-story skyscraper hosts the Capitol Studios, where the likes of Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, and Nat King Cole have all recorded music.

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Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street (Hollywood and Vine)

Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street (Hollywood and Vine)

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One of Los Angeles’ most storied intersections, Hollywood and Vine has long been associated with silver-screen glitz and glamour. Once home to major movie studios as well as cinematic legends like Charlie Chaplin and Marlene Dietrich, the intersection now features on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is host to other historical landmarks.

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Venice Canals (Venice Canal Historic District)

Venice Canals (Venice Canal Historic District)

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Comprising a series of manmade canals located just steps from Venice Beach, the Venice Canals are one of LA’s loveliest attractions. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since the 1980s, the Venice Canal District dates to 1905 and was built by a local developer seeking to recreate the romantic ambiance of Italy.

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Annenberg Space for Photography

Annenberg Space for Photography

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Tucked into the plaza of a Century City office complex, this 10,000-square-foot streamlined building is the only museum in Los Angeles dedicated to both digital and traditional print photography. Run by the Annenberg Foundation, a longtime patron of American arts and culture, both admission and docent-led tours at the Space are free to the public.

Open since 2008, exhibits have included images from rock ’n’ roll history, dissertations on beauty culture, stories of war, and career retrospectives of famous photographers. Works are displayed on high-resolution, state-of-the-art glass screens, and table-mounted “surface” screen allow visitors to interact with photos, zoom in and out on their details.

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La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits

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Many a saber-toothed tiger, dire wolf, mammoth, and ground sloth had the misfortune of “discovering” the La Brea Tar Pits some 40,000 years ago. Excavation on the ice age fossil site—formerly the city’s natural history museum—began in 1915 and continues to this day right in the heart of Los Angeles.

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El Capitan Theatre

El Capitan Theatre

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Originally built as a theatrical venue in 1926, the El Capitan Theatre is one of Los Angeles’ most famous cinematic landmarks. Restored to its original splendor, the stately Hollywood theater now hosts Disney movie screenings and premieres, many of which are accompanied by performances, Q&As, and other special events.

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