Maybe I’m biased, but I think Los Angeles is one of the greatest cities in the world. Despite living in the area for over thirty years, I still haven’t experienced all that this city has to offer. So if you’ve been thinking about a visit and just haven’t set the date yet, I hope to convince you to do so soon. I want to answer the question, “Why visit Los Angeles?”
The Weather is Awesome
Ok, so you probably knew that LA has great weather. But let me share how great; winter temperatures range from 49 to 68 degrees while summer months range from 63 to 85 degrees. Rainfall is fairly light with just under 15 inches a year and there are a total of 284 days of sunshine.
If you’re trying to decide when to visit, my advice is not to come during the summer. Higher heat combined with larger crowds make this a less ideal time to enjoy the city. Instead, come to LA during the winter, spring or fall.
LA Is the Film and Television Capital of the World
What do you think of when someone says ‘Los Angeles?’ Maybe movies, television shows and celebrities? Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about and experience the film capital of the world.
A highlight of any LA trip is to see the taping of a show. Interested in Ellen, Dr. Phil or Jeopardy? These and many more shows offer free tickets to their live tapings. But the most popular shows do require requesting tickets months in advance. I’ve had the chance to see a couple of shows and had a blast. Read this for more information about acquiring tickets to your favorite show.
Studio tours are definitely worth your time and money when visiting Los Angeles. I’m not talking about Universal Studios, which is really a theme park, but touring actual working studios. My first recommendation is Paramount Studios. This old school Hollywood setting will not disappoint. They offer either a two-hour tour, or a four-and-a-half-hour VIP tour. Both will offer you the chance to see famous sets and view the prop warehouse. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour is an excellent option for Harry Potter fans since you can see the real costumes and props from this popular movie series. Warner Bros. offers a basic, two-hour tour, a classics, three-hour tour, and a deluxe, five-hour tour.
Spotting a celebrity while visiting LA is always a thrill. During a recent lunch at Malibu Farm Cafe, my sister and I were seated at a table next to Pierce Bronson and his family. Yes, he is just as handsome in person as he is on screen! Here’s some tips for where to spot celebrities while you’re in town.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame and the footprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater are two well known and popular attractions in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, this is among my least favorite things to do. This stretch of Hollywood Blvd. is filled with men and women in bad costumes looking to make money from tourists wanting to take pictures. Add to that dozens of cheap souvenir shops and expensive parking. If your time and budget are limited, skip these attractions.
Our Museums Are World-Class
I bet museums are not what pops into your head when I say ‘Los Angeles.’ I’m on a personal mission to change that. This city is home to several world-class museums and I definitely encourage you to see at least one of them.
If time permits for just one museum, make it The Getty Center. Perched high on a hill overlooking West Los Angeles, this art museum is not only excellent, but it's free. (There are actually many free museums in LA). The artwork includes old masters paintings, photography and sculpture. Be sure to save time to explore the lovely gardens.
For car lovers, head to the Petersen Automotive Museum. Start on the third floor to enjoy all the cars and vehicles from famous movies like Thelma and Louise, Batman and Back to the Future. The first and second floor feature changing exhibits as well as a kids room.
Music lovers will appreciate the Grammy Museum. The top floor features memorabilia from our favorite performing artists like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston along with a listening bar of musical genres. The lower floors are for rotating exhibits.
I could go on and on about this topic, so instead I’ll just refer you to another post, Best Museums in Los Angeles.
We’ve Got Great Ethnic Food
Craving Mexican, Japanese, Thai, Korean, or Chinese food? What about Ethiopian, El Salvadoran or Taiwanese? This wonderfully diverse city has some seriously good ethnic food, with a particular emphasis on Asian and Central American cuisine. Jason and I have been on a mission for the past five years to try as many of the city’s ethnic restaurants as possible. We’ve only just scratched the surface, but I’ll share some of our favorites.
One of my favorite places that brings plenty of ethnic food together is the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles. This market has been around for over a 100 years, but in the last decade has been transformed into one of LA’s most popular food halls. Here you’ll find El Salvadoran pupusas, Mexican tacos, Filipino rice bowls, and darn good Thai food. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The other way to experience great food is to explore ethnic neighborhoods. Head to Koreatown (or K-Town) for traditional bbq, soups, stews and seafood. One of our favorites is Sun Nong Dan. Order their galbijjim topped with cheese and you’ll thank me.
I definitely recommend a visit to Olvera Street for great Mexican food. This is where Los Angeles started, and this historic, pedestrian street is so much fun to explore. La Golondrina is well known amongst locals, offering classic Mexican dishes.
A few other neighborhoods to consider for food are Little Tokyo, Little Ethiopia and Thai Town.
So Many Outdoor Activities
Good weather means it’s easy to get outdoors in LA. So act like a local and get outdoors to run, hike or bike.
One of my favorite spots to hike is Griffith Park, and specifically the hike to the Hollywood sign. You’ll find the trailhead after parking in the Griffith Park Observatory. This hike is fairly hilly, but the views of LA are totally worth it. And if that hike isn’t for you, don’t worry, there are an additional 46 trails in this park.
Runyon Canyon is very popular with locals looking to run or walk and has trails ranging in distance from 1.9 to 3.3 miles. This is a very busy area, but if you want to hang out with Angelenos (and possibly celebrities), this is the place to go.
If you’re looking for someplace a bit less crowded than Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon, head to Malibu. This wealthy oceanside community has some of LA’s most scenic trails including Malibu Creek State Park, Zuma Canyon Trail and Escondido Falls.
There are also miles of bike trails throughout Los Angeles. One of the most classic is the Marvin Braude Bike Trail--also known as The Strand--a paved path that runs along the Pacific Ocean shoreline. Rent a bike near the Santa Monica pier and head north or south to experience some of LA’s beach communities.
LA Has 11 Professional Sports Teams!
Do you love to watch a live game? Me too! Fortunately with 11 professional sports teams, we’ve got you covered. What’s even better is that several of these teams are among the best in their sport.
Here’s the teams you can choose from;
Men’s Basketball--Lakers and Clippers
Baseball--Dodgers and Angels
Hockey--Kings and Ducks
Soccer--FC and Galaxy
Football--Chargers and Rams
As a basketball loving family our favorite team is the Clippers. We enjoy watching them play in downtown LA at the Staples Center. Across the street is LA Live, an entertainment complex with restaurants, bars, cafes, a theater and even the Grammy Museum. You could easily spend several hours in this part of the city.
Plenty Of Beaches To Explore
Did you know that Los Angeles has 30 miles of beaches? If the weather permits (and it usually does), then hit the beach! You can lay-out on the sand, take a walk, play volleyball, or swim in the Pacific Ocean. But you could also surf or paddleboard. If you’ve never tried these activities before, then take some lessons.
Want to feel like you’re in a movie or television show? Then head to the beaches surrounding Santa Monica Pier. You’ve likely seen the pier and beaches in many movies and television shows including Iron Man, Her, and Beverly Hills Cop III.
A Few Tips For LA Visitors
Why visit Los Angeles? Because this city knows how to have fun! You could spend years exploring all that LA has to offer, but even a few days here will be a blast. But to make the most of your time, I have a few tips.
Los Angeles is a very large city, so planning is needed to make the most of your time and budget. Organize your days according to specific parts of the city so you don’t spend all of your time in traffic. And you won’t see everything on one trip, so set your priorities and stick to them. Allow yourself plenty of time at the museum or beach or game instead of cramming in too much which may result in hours in traffic.
LA is not known for its public transportation. It’s definitely improving, but if you’re coming from someplace with an extensive Metro system, you’ll be disappointed here. And since the city is so spread out, walking often isn’t practical. I recommend renting a car to get around Los Angeles. If renting a car isn’t an option for you, Uber and Lyft are readily available anywhere in the city.
There is both a city of Los Angeles and a county of Los Angeles, so the entire region is quite large. While planning your trip check out the distances between attractions before you arrive so you'll know if something is just too far away to bother. For example, the baseball team, the Los Angeles Angels, has their stadium in Anaheim which is over an hour south of the city. I can't emphasize enough that careful planning will make your trip far more enjoyabable.
Finally, look out for all the free things to do in Los Angeles. There are plenty of pricey things to do here, but they aren’t always the best.