Where do you start when heading to Hollywood? Well, you can start with Hollywood's most iconic attraction; the Hollywood Sign, that has been perched upon Mount Lee in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking beautiful Los Angeles (L.A.) since 1923. One of Hollywood's most acclaimed and oldest must-visit attractions is the one and only Universal Studios Hollywood located in Universal City.
Inaugurated in 1915 as a movie studio and in 1964 as theme park too, Universal Studios is an entire world where you can meet and greet the most famous cartoon characters in Hollywood such as Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa Simpson, SpongeBob Squarepants, Shrek, Donkey, Gru, Frankenstein, Zorro, Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Beetlejuice, Woody Woodpecker (the attractions mascot), Optimus Prime and Count Dracula to name only a few. Apart from the movie studios and amazing rides, you will also find the Globe Theatre, Universal CityWalk as well as accommodation at the Universal Hilton & Towers plus the Sheraton Hotels and Resorts. One of the next biggest attractions everyone loves to see is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Paving the streets of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street are over 2500 pink and brass stars, each one with the name of acclaimed celebrities from across the globe including Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Bruce Lee and Elvis Presley.
The Art Deco Griffith Observatory which was first opened to the public in 1935 is a Los Angeles National Monument situated on Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. Griffith Observatory is a 2-in-1 attraction. Not only is it a huge hit because of its importance in bringing astronomy and science closer to the ordinary person absolutely free, its excellent location provides you with tremendous views over the Los Angeles Basin, Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and the iconic Hollywood Sign, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. This stimulating monument features a superb observatory with giant telescopes for you to try out and see further into space; an exhibit hall, planetarium and handsome green surroundings. Learn about the evolution of the astrological world from the Big Bang to present-day Space by making your way through the six different sections which make up the observatory – The Wilder Hall of the Eye, the Ahmanson Hall of the Sky, the W.M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda, the Cosmic Connection, the Gunther Depths of Space Hall, and the Edge of Space Mezzanine. There are number of intriguing Planetarium shows on store too, although an affordable admission fee is charged and worth every penny. The Griffith Observatory is set to keep you entertained for hours and will captivate people of all ages, even those that thought they never had an interest in astronomy. You won't be disappointed!
The Getty Center, in Brentwood, is Los Angeles' most important artistic and cultural gem. Perched upon a hill in the Santa Monica Mountains with outstanding views over the city and further out, the Getty Center is a fantastic way to spend at least half a day. From the tram ride you'll have to take up to the building to the amazing architecture and design of the premises inside and out, there is so much to see and do in this complex that it really will become a highlight of your time in glamorous L.A. The Getty Center's museum is divided into separate sections with each supplying a varied and impressive collection of art and exhibitions, ancient sculptures, statues, pottery, glass, ceramics and photos. Furthermore, it is also known for its enviable collection of paintings by respectable artists like Van Gogh, Cezanne and Monet among other recognised European artists. Once you have seen the inside of Getty Center and all its treasures, take the time to tour the complex's gorgeous gardens and breathtaking views. If you can, stay to watch the sun go down to complete your Getty experience in the best possible way.
Entertaining, educational, interactive and pure fun; this is the only way to describe the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles located in Exposition Park. As the largest natural and historical museums in the western United States, you can easily spend an entire day in this sensational hotspot which almost brings the extinct back to life. During your visit, attend a variety of shows on store including a popular dinosaur show; enjoy fascinating exhibits, for example the butterfly exhibit; be in awe at real sized animal, fossil and skeleton displays; and discover over 4.5 billion years of history! The museum's most esteemed section is that which focuses on Pleistocene palaeontology which is so developed thanks to the enormous collection of specimens obtained from the La Brea Tar Pits, another highly interesting tourist attraction in L.A. The Natural History Museum is the kind of place you'll want to visit time and time again. It's a captivating and informative attraction and especially great for a family day out.
Ranked high as one of Los Angeles' most popular attractions, even more so after it was chosen by NASA to house the notable Space Shuttle Endeavour, the California Science Center is an interactive center which consists of the IMAX Theatre, the Sketch Foundation Gallery – Air and Space Exhibits, in addition to the science center itself devoted to exploring ecosystems and includes some 400 plant and animal species. There is so much to see here with several stunning replicas of historical space shuttles, over 100 permanent interactive science exhibits spanned out among several galleries where admission is free, plus brilliant simulators like the "how a hurricane feels" for you to try out at a very low cost. The recent highlight of the California Science Center is of course the Endeavour Space Shuttle programme. This impressive exhibition will allow you to get up close and personal with the shuttle like never before whilst learning all about space missions from take-off to its arrival back on earth. If you love everything about space travel, this visit is guaranteed to stick with you for years to come.
For over a century, the celebrated Santa Monica Pier has been one of California's most iconic and attractive landmarks offering a little bit of everything for the wandering tourist. Made famous because of its appearance in dozens of movies and TV shows, this wooden wharf is one of those attractions you will want to cross off your bucket list even if it's just to say you've been there. Essentially made up of 2 adjoining piers (the Municipal Pier and Pleasure Pier) you will find plenty of exciting attractions for children and adults to help pass the time including small but great eateries, plenty of shops, a high-tech video arcade, an aquarium, roller coaster, a legendary merry-go-round, giant Ferris wheel, exciting rides and panoramic views towards Santa Monica beach, the Pacific Ocean and the surroundings. This is a splendid seaside promenade where you can relax and watch the world go by as people love to head down to the pier to cycle, rollerblade, jog, and do some fishing. Make sure to stick around until sunset and watch the pier light up the skyline. It's a perfect ending to a great day in Santa Monica.
A historical and natural landmark, La Brea Tar Pits may not sound like an attractive place to visit when in glamorous Los Angeles but once you get there, you will not be disappointed! Seeping up from the earth below over tens of thousands of years in urban L.A. is crude oil. It is as much of a strange happening as it is a mystery and you'll be absolutely intrigued! Hancock Park is today known for its huge groups of bubbling tar pits which for centuries trapped wandering animals that eventually died from being stuck in its thick glue-like texture. Thanks to human excavation and great preservation due to the protective layer created by the tar, large mammal bones as well as insects, wood and plant remnants have been recovered from over 100 pits. Some of the greatest findings include the remains of a saber-toothed cat, dire wolves, short-faced bears, bison, horses, ground sloths, turtles, snails, clams, millipedes, fish, gophers, an American Lion and an almost intact mammoth skeleton from the last Ice Age! You can see for yourself these magnificent findings in the Page Museum found adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits as well as watching archaeologists performing live excavations before your very eyes. Whilst strolling past the tar pits, enjoy the grounds which are beautifully-kept and take pictures of the animal replicas found inside and around the pits. La Brea Tar Pits and Museum is an inexpensive attraction close to many other places of interest in the city, so don't go to L.A. without ticking this must-visit off your list!
If you love cars, you will just love the Nethercutt Collection and Museum located in Sylmar. Admission is absolutely free so even if you're not a huge fan of cars it is certainly worth taking the time to visit. With the Nethercutt Collection on one side of the street and the Museum on the other, don't forget to explore both so you don't miss a thing! This amazing attraction offers the chance to walk through opulent salons with marble floors, crystal chandeliers and elegant mirrors where a more than pleasing variety of automobiles from the Antique Era to the Vintage Era, Classic Era and Post-War Era are showcased. There are some 250 shiny automobiles to wow you during your tour with the majority being fully restored cars, all in working order. The automobiles are either American or European and feature some of the finest and rarest collectibles in the world. Besides cars, you will encounter an original Royal Canadian Train behind the building which you can step inside and marvel at, as well as fine collections of furniture, clocks, watches, dolls, automobile mascots, an old cinema organ, mechanical musical instruments and music boxes. It's a step through time and guaranteed to entertain!
When you arrive in Los Angeles, "the city of entertainment", the tendency is to start scrambling around trying to check off as many must-see attractions on your bucket list as possible because let's face it, there are hundreds! With so little time and so much to see, and worrying about how to get from A to B to C and so forth, in addition to worrying about your budget, you may end up not appreciating attractions as much as you should which is disappointing after all the anticipation and excitement you felt beforehand. So, the best way to tour lovely L.A. is to let someone that knows the city's every nook and cranny show you around. Taking a professional guided tour and customizing your tour to suit your timeframe and interests is the best way to cram in as many fabulous destinations as possible with no stress at all. Check out some of California's most incredible golden beaches; high-class districts like Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard; see A-list celebrity homes; iconic landmarks, monuments, streets and just so much more. Every corner in L.A. has a story to tell so make sure you explore the city to the fullest and make your visit an unforgettable one!
We've all seen Staples Center in the movies or TV shows more than once, much like many of California's other iconic landmarks. Its most memorable feature is its gigantic 360º scoreboard located at the centre of the arena's ceiling. It is not an open arena for tourists to visit but if you've always wanted to watch an American basketball or Ice Hockey game, this is the place to fulfil your dream! Located along Figueroa Street across the street from L.A. Live, the Staples Center is a hugely eye-catching 950,000 sq ft multi-purpose sports arena which is particularly stunning at night with its characteristic purple illuminations. It is here where top Basketball games, Ice Hockey games, Arena Football and Boxing tournaments are hosted in addition to high attendance concerts. Staples is home to two NBA teams known as the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers; the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA; and the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL. The venue has hosted concerts by Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Depeche Mode and Taylor Swift in the past and was also the arena where Michael Jackson rehearsed for his This Is It tour before his death. Even if you don't intend on purchasing tickets to watch a game or even a concert, make sure to stop outside this visually impressive building and check out the Star Plaza in front which has several interesting features for you to see. Here you can take pictures next to statues of all time sports legends like Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Oscar De La Hoya, Chick Hearn, Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Don't miss it!