10 Must-See Sights in Los Angeles for First-Time Visitors
Los Angeles is a gorgeous city, and first-time visitors may be overwhelmed by how much there is to do. Los Angeles has tons to offer, from natural landmarks like Griffith Park and the Angeles National Forest to Hollywood hallmarks like the Walk of Fame and, of course, the iconic Santa Monica Pier. Here, we cover the ten essential must-see locations in Los Angeles for first-time visitors, so let’s dive right in!
Griffith Park is a gorgeous municipal park with urban wilderness areas on every side, allowing for incredible views and amazing exploration. What better way to experience Los Angeles than from above, after all?
The Griffith Park Observatory is a must-visit spot in the park and well worth the trip. Other key activities at this park include the L.A. Zoo, hiking trails to the Hollywood sign, the historic Travel Town Museum, and much more. There’s so much to see at Griffith Park, so make sure to take your time when you visit and prepare to come back next time to visit to relive the wonder of the great outdoors.
Santa Monica Pier
Even if you’ve never been to Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Pier is easily recognizable as one of the city’s cultural touchstones. This iconic landmark has existed since 1909 and offers classic experiences like a giant Ferris Wheel, carnival food, games, and incredible coastal views.
Walking down the pier gives a sense of overwhelming history, offering a glimpse into L.A.’s past. Make sure to visit in the evening for an incredible sunset view and festive atmosphere that’s hard to beat. There’s always something new happening on the Pier, so check out their upcoming events for live music, seasonal celebrations, and so much more.
Venice, California, is well worth the visit, but if you want the true L.A. experience, you must visit Venice Beach. Venice Beach is home to shops, skate parks, sights, and more, making it an essential stop for any first-time visitor to Los Angeles. Whether you’re looking to walk along the shore or splash in the waves, you’re sure to gain an appreciation for the coast as you explore the “Venice of America.”
If you want to explore more of the West Coast and iconic Los Angeles locations, check out our Orange County Coastal Tour. This guided tour of the California coast takes you along some of the most unforgettable ocean views, all from the comfort of an air-conditioned van.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
An iconic tourist location, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a once-in-a-lifetime must-see sight. Take pictures with your favorite celebrity stars, or explore the various shops and stops; no matter how you explore this area, you will feel like a celebrity. If you’re lucky, you may even show up during a star dedication and catch a glimpse of a serious celeb.
As a bonus, the Walk of Fame is near countless other Los Angeles attractions, from the classic appeal of the TCL Chinese Theatres to nearby boat tours and shopping opportunities. Keep in mind the Walk of Fame welcomes 50 million visitors a year, so be prepared to deal with the crowds if you want to snag a pick with a popular star’s, well, star.
While only the truly ambitious choose to walk all 22 miles of Sunset Boulevard, this iconic roadway spans several historic districts throughout Los Angeles, including the famous Sunset Strip. This well-known stretch of road is home to clubs, shops, restaurants, and more, making it a great stop for anyone looking to get a feel for Los Angeles.
Even if you need more time to explore the full length of the Boulevard, a quick detour down this iconic roadway is a must-see part of Los Angeles. Since there’s a lot of Sunset Boulevard worth exploring, pick out some of your favorite stops along the way, and take pictures of iconic sights like the West Gate of Bel Air. No matter how you approach it, Sunset Boulevard is a must-see for first-time Los Angeles visitors.
Paramount Pictures Studio
What better way to experience Los Angeles than by touring one of the oldest studios in Hollywood? Paramount Studios offers incredible tours of their various sets and filming locations, allowing you to experience over 100 years of film history up close and personal. No matter your taste in movies, you’ll surely appreciate this dive into movie magic, including set tours and more.
Of course, for those more interested in film history in the making, Paramount Pictures Studios is home to countless modern masterpieces and T.V. shows, meaning you might even catch a behind-the-scenes look at some of your favorite mainstream shows during your tour. Check out their website to find out more or schedule a visit.
Hollywood Forever Cemetary
We know visiting Hollywood Forever Cemetary may seem like a bleak way to experience Los Angeles, but this star-studded final resting place is much more than just a graveyard. In an interesting turn of events, this cemetery, founded in 1899, also acts as a cultural events center for Los Angeles, hosting musical events and more.
From cinema screenings to a Dia de Los Muertos celebration that deserves a spot on your bucket list, visiting Hollywood Forever Cemetary is a great way to experience the history and culture that makes Los Angeles what it is today. Check out their website to find out if any fun events are happening at the cemetery, and get a map of some of the famous final resting places in this start-studded graveyard.
The Huntington Library
Combination library, museum, and botanical gardens, The Huntington Library is an important cultural touchstone for any first-time visitor to Los Angeles. Not only is visiting a library always a fun activity but with 130 acres of botanical gardens to explore, on top of thousands of pieces of fine art housed in the museum, you’re sure to be astounded by this library.
Libraries are all about sharing knowledge. The Huntington Library offers countless educational opportunities for guests, including information on flowers found in the gardens and key historical events in Los Angeles. So if you’re interested in learning about the history of Los Angeles or exploring some of the natural flora found in the area, plan your visit today.
Angeles National Forest
Another natural wonder in Los Angeles, Angeles National Forest, offers a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown L.A. With 700,000 acres of protected land to explore, this slice of wilderness is a playground for countless Los Angeles residents and visitors annually.
You will love these natural areas with campgrounds, hiking options, and more. Check the website for openings and hours of use, as some campground openings are weather-dependent and close based on the season. And, of course, follow all posted guidelines in the park and respect the local flora and fauna.
La Brea Tar Pits
While some items on our list deal with Los Angeles’s history, nothing goes as far back as the La Brea Tar Pits. Dive into the Ice Age with these incredible tar pits, where you can learn all about animals that roamed the Earth in years past. Thanks to Project 23, you can watch team members excavate fossils in real-time every day. This incredible spot allows you to learn about ancient history, and the combination of museum and natural landmarks is also great for families and history fans of all ages. To find out more, including admission fees and hours of operation, check out their website.
Of course, if you want to take some of the stress out of exploring Los Angeles, you can sign up for one of our guided L.A. Tours. Thanks to custom pickup locations, you can head out on your L.A. adventure from your hotel room. Our tours feature comfortable, air-conditioned vans and tours guided by local experts so you can learn about the historical sights along the way.
Our tour passes by sights like Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and more, meaning you can experience L.A. without the stress of planning each stop on your next trip. You can even reserve a private tour for you and your family or friends, so you get a personal guided tour of all the best places to be in L.A. Check out Best Coast Tours today to find out more or reserve a spot.