Sasha here. Being originally from Los Angeles, California and living there for the first 27 years of my life, I moved to Sacramento around the winter of last year and met the love of my life Troy. He has never been to LA, but I have been to all the tourist hot spots a multitude of times, so I have many suggestions and recommendations when visiting. When I brought my boyfriend Troy to visit my beloved hometown for his first time, I knew exactly where to take him, so he could look past all of the traffic, smog, and millions of people cramped up in one city, but instead see the beauty and greatness of the City of Angels.
Here is where I took Troy…
Santa Monica Pier/3rd Street Promenade: Here there are ocean views, gorgeous sunsets, shopping, rides, and games for the kids. There are also a variety of restaurants within a few blocks of each other. Another option is to visit the Venice Beach Boardwalk, which is about 2 miles down from the pier if you want to indulge in the beach bum-street performer-skate park-muscle gym type of culture.
Griffith Park Observatory: The observatory’s planetarium has 3 different shows, but the one that you can’t miss out on is Centered in the Universe. For less than $10/person you can relax while you travel through time and space. The observatory itself is free to visit and explore. It has several really awesome exhibits about space and the universe. You can also see stunning 365-degree views of Los Angeles from Downtown to Mid-Wilshire to the Hollywood sign and even down to the ocean on a clear day.
Hollywood Sign/Bronson Caves: The Hollywood Sign hike is the perfect place to get some exercise. There are different trails that range in a variety of distances that can all get you close to the Hollywood sign, ranging from 3 miles to 6 1/2 miles round-trip…or you can drive up into one of the surrounding neighborhoods and still get a pretty good photo without having to hike. The Bronson Caves is also an interesting and unique place to visit. It is only about a mile round-trip detour from the bottom of the Hollywood Sign hike. This was used as the Bat Cave in the classic Batman TV series and in several other Hollywood films.
Hollywood Walk of Fame/Grauman’s Chinese Theater/Dolby Theater/El Capitan Theatre: All around the Hollywood and Highland intersection, there is plenty to do and see. 15 blocks of sidewalks are embedded with brass stars dedicated to film, television, music, and radio celebrities. Grauman’s Chinese Theater is known for famous celebrities’ actual hand and footprints imprinted on the ground, including Robin Williams, Shirley Temple, Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, John Travolta, and Bing Crosby. Stop by the Dolby Theater (previously the Kodak Theater) where the Oscars and America’s Got Talent are hosted. If you have time, watch a movie at the El Capitan Theatre across the street. The movie usually consists of an entertaining pre-show related to the movie being shown. Other activities to do include visiting Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, and plenty of shopping.
J. Paul Getty Museum: This beautiful museum has spectacular architecture, art and gardens. It also has stunning views of Los Angeles. Admission is free, but there is a $15 parking fee.
Universal Studios Hollywood: It’s not ALWAYS sunny in LA, so when it isn’t, head to Universal Studios Hollywood (or Disneyland if you prefer)…NO LINES!!! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Jurassic Park ride, and the Studio Backlot Tour are the worthy highlights at Universal Studios. (Note: if you plan on visiting again, Costco has a 3-day pass or annual pass at almost the same price as a regular ticket.)
USC/Exposition Park: If you want to visit a college campus, take a tour around the beautiful campus of the University of Southern California (USC). Of course, I am biased since it is my Alma mater. Go Trojans! ✌️ Right next to the main campus are the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Exposition Park, which includes the Rose Garden, the Natural History Museum, the California Science Center, and the California African American Museum.
Downtown: Finally, you can’t miss out on Downtown. It has the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad Museum (free but you have to reserve in advance), Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Staples Center, LA Live, Little Tokyo, a glass slide at the top of the US Bank Tower, and delicious restaurants for any and every genre of food you can think of. You can also find bargain deals at Santee Alley and Chinatown, which have all kinds of knock-offs for cheaper prices, especially if you’re a pro-haggler.
This is just a small hint of what LA has to offer. As you can see, there is always something to do or see. LA is not just a place full of tourists, city life, and smog. Even though I have done everything there is to do there, I will never get tired of going back. The City of Angels is a mecca of different ethnicities, religions, and cultures so there is something for everyone.
Honorable food mentions: