Los Angeles is unlike any other major city. Hollywood alone offers the Walk of Fame and iconic theaters — as well as horseback riding and relaxing hikes. But if you're an Angeleno, you already know this. The real question is: How do we show our holiday visitors this harmonious mix of nightlife, culture and nature in just a few days?
That's why we asked you, our listeners: What are the best places to take tourists in L.A.? Your feedback ranged from favorite food spots to hidden museums and well-known landmarks. And the best part: You offered a slew of tips for navigating our sprawling landscape.
Here's everything you need to know to show your visiting friends and family a fantastic time. (Click on the map links to plan your trip.) And if we missed a good one, or you have another tip to share, please let us know on our Facebook page, on Twitter ("@" mention @KPCC) or in the comments below!
"You will see the most interesting private contemporary art collection in Weisman's own home," Veronica Peinado told KPCC about this museum, which pays tribute to the late artist and philanthropist Frederick R. Weisman. Rely on the docents to bring you up to speed on the history of the art and Weisman's life. Admission is free, but you'll need to make a reservation for a guided tour. Schedule one here.
2. Tide pools and marine life | MAP
(Photo: Denny Smith)
The tide pools in Rancho Palos Verdes are a must-see, said Denny Smith. He suggested two access spots: Trump National Golf Club and Abalone Cove Shoreline Park. The latter offers short hikes, two beaches and a State Ecological Preserve. This followed by a trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach makes for the perfect combination of nature and marine life.
3. Hollywood | MAP
"I know that it's cliché and ridiculous, but I love taking people to Hollywood," Sabba Rahbar told KPCC. "The atmosphere you get there — especially from Highland to Vine — is unlike anything else I have ever experienced ... It's funny, weird, overpriced, super cheap and truly a little piece of history."
(Photo: Razak Abu Bakar/Flickr)
Brett Padelford suggests walking Hollywood Boulevard and checking out its famous theaters, including the TCL Chinese Theatre, El Capitan, Dolby and Pantages. As you're perusing the stars along the Walk of Fame, stop to eat at Musso and Frank and indulge in Old Hollywood fine dining.
4. Dine outdoors among the mountains | MAP
John Lackner recommends two outdoor dining spots — both in the mountains but each with a completely different ambience.
You can expect good food, great scenery and even better company at Newcomb's Ranch located in La Cañada in Angeles National Forest. It's a reasonably priced biker bar nestled in the mountains that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
(Photo: Ben Y./Yelp)
But if you're looking for something fancier, consider Inn of the Seventh Ray for a lovely brunch experience that'll transport you to another land. "Magical doesn't even begin to describe this place. The atmosphere is so romantic and beautiful," said Britanni J. on Yelp. It's pricey but all reviews point to Inn of the Seventh Ray being worth it.
(Photo: Maegan Tintari/Flickr)
(Photo: Rebecca Hill/KPCC)
This popular hiking spot and science museum is a no-brainer because of its fabulous vantage points, interesting architecture, educational exhibits and free entrance — that's why so many folks suggested it via our Public Insight Network. Pack some food for a relaxing picnic and stop by the Dresden afterwards for a cocktail at the place where Swingers was filmed. Click here for a calendar of events, including live planetarium shows. Go here for a hiking guide.
While the Getty Center's art reaches across history, the Getty Villa specializes in ancient art, from the end of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire. Both are known for their beautiful architecture and serene gardens. Admission is free at both.
(Photo: Getty Villa — Timmy S./Yelp)
"The Getty Villa overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is located right off PCH. With its amazing architecture designed after Villa of Papyri, the overall ambience provides a great sense of what life was like in Rome," writes Iris B. on Yelp. "The hallways are beautifully covered with frescos. If you are a column lover, such as myself, you will certainly appreciate the details of the Ionic and Corinthian columns."
(Photo: Louie P./Yelp)
At this small cemetery near UCLA, you'll find the final resting places of some of the most famous stars in Hollywood including Marilyn Monroe and and Truman Capote. "It never fails to impress people when they come to L.A." Chip Bolcik told KPCC. Stop at Native Foods Cafe before or after for a delicious vegan experience.
(Photo: Todd Johnson/KPCC)
Expect to see "fascinating, hands-on exhibits including our very own Space Shuttle Endeavor," Marea Bacin-Perez told KPCC. "As a volunteer diver in the Ecosystems exhibit, I never get tired of visiting CSC and sharing it with all my friends and family. It's been several years and it still thrills me!" Take the EXPO train to save money on parking; admission is free.
This trendy ice cream shop was recommended because of its made-to-order "Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream." You guessed it: The shop uses liquid nitrogen to whip up ice cream in just seconds. Current flavors include watermelonade and Basilberry. Take your visitors for a drive down down Mulholland Road afterwards for spectacular views of the entire city.
10. Downtown — including Skid Row | MAP
"Nothing beats a tour of downtown with mandatory stops for dim sum in Chinatown, tacos from Olvera Street, a ride up and down Bunker Hill on Angels Flight, topped with a brief (free) visit to the top of City Hall to take in the stunning view of Los Angeles from all sides," John Araujo told KPCC.
Plus, there's Union Station, Disney Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady, Grand Central Market and the Bradbury Building. Oh and Omar Rios suggests ramen at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo. "My buddy and his wife were impressed at how authentic the place was and how great the food was," he said.
Lastly, consider a drive down Skid Row — drop off some food and/or stop by a local shelter, suggests Liliana Perez. Click here to volunteer for Los Angeles Mission's Christmas Eve event.
(Photo: Travis S./Flickr)
Most importantly, don't miss the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits. "It's a wonderful piece of history not only geologically but it offers a chance to give new people a little L.A. history," Dan Jenkins told KPCC of the fossil excavation site. "Rancho La Brea offers a great starting point in a conversation that can really challenge ... assumptions about ... Southern California." Click here for a list of all the museums, and plan your trip.
This hike along the coast of Malibu offers a great workout with a bit of history. You'll catch a glimpse of the oldest existing stone cottage in Malibu, which dates back to early 20th century. This site also has one of the only year-round waterfalls in the mountains. "It's never crowded, it's gorgeous, and it has the added surprised of a historic, burnt-down house at the bottom of the canyon," Erin Lyall told KPCC. For directions and more history, click here. Pro tip: Arrive before 9 a.m. for optimal parking.
13. Sailing | MAP
(Photo: Kyle H./Yelp)
Experience SoCal's beautiful year-round weather from the water. Free Spirit Sailing Adventures offers daysailing trips where patrons can picnic while watching dolphins. A bit pricey — but worth it with a group. Here's a list of other local boat rentals. Another option is to check with your local yacht club.
14. Venice Beach | MAP
There's no better place to people watch than the Venice Boardwalk. "It is so fun, alive and interesting," Jeanine Hull told KPCC. After perusing the many street vendors and witnessing a few odd performances along the way, escape to the beach to unwind. Before you go, be sure to check out Muscle Beach and gymnasts at the nearby park.
(Photo: Cydney M./Yelp )
This hike is perfect for newbies and families with kids, Beth Campbell told KPCC. Three trail heads lead to the year-round Monrovia Falls. Start at the Ranger Station parking lot for a 1.5-mile hike with excellent views of the Sawpit Dam. Watch out for deer, mountain lions and bears! Stop by downtown Monrovia for a bite to eat afterwards.
TIPS FOR TOURISTS:
- Don't go to Hollywood or Sunset Boulevard during the day. Go to the beach during the day and the Boulevards at night. —Omar Masry
- Be patient with traffic. —Ed Kociela
- Say "like" like, always. —Luis Aranda IV
- Expect to pay for parking everywhere. Find a central location, and walk as much as possible. You'll soak in more local flavors (and smog) by walking around as opposed to being tucked away in the shell of a car from point A to point B all day. —John Araujo
- Learn to travel around the city during the off-hours. —Sabba Rahbar
- Plan ahead. There is a lot to see, but places are usually far from each other. So it's good to maximize your time by looking at a map to get a feel for distances. —Veronica Peinado
- Avoid tourist traps like Ripleys and focus on the real Hollywood history. —Brett Padelford
- Take the Metro. (Plan your trip here.) —Elson Trinidad
Native Angeleno Will Coley created this printable checklist to help out-of-towners discover the city. "I don't think L.A. is very good at marketing itself. You have to discover L.A. yourself," Coley said.
MAP WITH EVEN MORE SPOTS:
Map created by Nuran Alteir.