Visiting Los Angeles on a Budget
Los Angeles has long had a reputation as a land of glamour and wealth, a place filled with movie stars, Hollywood mansions, and sun kissed beaches. And sure, we’ve got our fair share of all those things, but L.A. has so much more to offer. The city is a melting pot of art, culture, and natural beauty and there’s plenty to see and do no matter how small your budget is. We’ve rounded-up some ideas on how to make the most of your Los Angeles experience and your travel budget.
You can really get to know a city and its people by experiencing the local flavor, and if you can think of a cuisine, L.A.’s got it. There are so many options to choose from it can be hard to know where to begin so here’s a few budget-friendly ideas to get you started:
These mobile restaurants are almost everywhere these days but they really got their start in L.A. You’ll see them all over the place in almost ever neighborhood in L.A. and they run the gamut from tacos to sushi to bar-b-que.
Many trucks post their daily location to Twitter, including the popular Koji Truck and Border Grill.
L.A. boasts some of the best tacos this side of the border and are often just a couple of bucks each. You’ll find plenty of street taco options at food trucks (see above) but there are plenty of restaurants with permanent locations serving them up, too. Check out the best fish tacos in town at Tacos Baja (for just 99 cents on Wednesdays), Tito’s famous crispy tacos in Culver City, or Mariscos Jalisco on Olympic Blvd.
Pink’s has been serving their famous dogs Hollywood since 1939. There’s usually a line but that’s part of the experience. Most dogs are around $5 each and there’s a wide variety to choose from, many named after Hollywood stars.
Some of the finer dining establishments offer great happy hour deals during their off-peak hours between lunch and dinner. It’s a great way to experience the surroundings and flavors without blowing your whole budget on one meal. And of course the cocktails, beer and wine offerings are usually a great deal. You can’t go wrong with Otoño in Highland Park, Connie and Ted’s in West Hollywood, and Chaya in Venice and DTLA (that’s Angeleno-speak for ‘Downtown Los Angeles’).
Twice a year restaurants all over town offer special menus with prices starting as low as $15 for a 2-course meal. Check their site for dates, and menus of participating restaurants.
Some of the best things in life are free, including a day at the beach in Venice. Bring your beach towel and enjoy the sun, surf and sand, or walk around the Venice Boardwalk and the enjoy free entertainment of people-watching at Muscle Beach, and the nearby skate park and graffiti walls.
Santa Monica Pier
You could easily drop a lot of bills here, but you don’t have to. There’s no admission charge to walk around the pier, and the people watching and street performers offer plenty of free entertainment.
A ride on the Pacific Wheel costs $7 per person and you’ll get to take in a view of the whole Santa Monica Bay. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Hollywood sign.
The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is FREE for kids 12 and under, and just $5 per person for everyone 13 and up. You can learn about the local marine life and immerse yourself in viewing over 100 local species as well as fun activities and educational programs thanks to nonprofit Heal the Bay.
The Getty Museum
Take in world-class art exhibits inside the museum, or peruse the grounds to enjoy botanic gardens and 360-degree views of the city. The best part? Admission is FREE. (If you drive there’s a parking fee of $15 per car.)
This iconic building is a favorite for photo ops and offers panoramic views of Los Angeles. Check out the giant telescope inside or take a nature walk on one of Griffith Park’s hiking trails. Admission to the building grounds and telescopes is always FREE.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
Located on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame, the theatre and area around it are some of the most recognizable destinations. They are also the most popular. Prepare for crowds of tourists, street performers in superhero costumes, and lots of cheap tchotchkes. You won’t want to stay here all day but it’s fun to find your favorite actor’s star on the walk of fame, or put your hands in the cement impressions of stars on the sidewalk.
Rent a room in a host’s home, or rent an entire apartment or house for yourself. Prices are often well below the cost of hotels and you get to “live like a local”. Most Air BNBs have a kitchen so you can save even more by getting a few groceries at the corner store and making your own breakfast in the morning before you head out sightseeing.
If you’re willing to share a bathroom and/or sleeping quarters with strangers, you can find lodging at one of several local hostels for a fraction of the cost of most hotels. Many include free breakfast and Wi-Fi, too. Samesun in Venice and USA Hostels in Hollywood both have reputations for being safe and clean places to stay.
One of the most challenging things about visiting Los Angeles is that the city is spread out across a large area, and parking can be expensive and hard to find. A tour company like A Day in LA can take the hassle and guess work out of getting around and allow you to enjoy the scenery on your way from one destination to the next. It’s a great value and one of the best ways to maximize your vacation time and your budget, if we do say so ourselves.
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Los Angeles is a melting pot of art, culture, and natural beauty and there’s plenty to see and do no matter how small your budget is. We’ve rounded-up some ideas on how to make the most of your Los Angeles experience and your travel budget.
What’s New at Disneyland and Universal Studios
With its beaches and mountains, world-class entertainment and nightlife, and Hollywood star sightings, Los Angeles can feel like a playground all on its own. Two of its theme parks, Disneyland Resort (in nearby Anaheim) and Universal Studios Hollywood, dial up the fun factor and keep visitors and locals alike coming back to visit year after year. Each park has tried and true favorites that visitors love whether experiencing them for the first time or the hundredth, but if you think you’ve seen all there is to see, think again. Each park is rolling out new and exciting attractions that take things to a whole new level.
A New Land in the Disney Galaxy
In 2015, Disney Parks announced they would be creating a new Star Wars Land at their Disneyland and Disneyworld Resorts, and fans have been eager for details while awaiting the grand opening in 2019. Disney Imagineers have been working closely with Lucasfilm to create a land they promise to be the most impressive the park has ever created. In Star Wars Land, or its official name, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll be able to live out your own Star Wars story in a galaxy far, far away.
Disney Parks recently revealed the two main attractions that will be part of the much-anticipated new land:
The first is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, where you’ll get behind the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy in one of three unique flight crew roles.
The second is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, where you’ll be put in the middle of an epic battle between the Resistance and the First Order.
Upon entering Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you will find yourself on the planet Batuu, where you can explore the Black Spire Outpost, stop in for other-worldly refreshments at Oga’s Cantina, and even download an app for an optional interactive experience.
As if that weren’t enough, John Williams, the Oscar-winning composer of the iconic Star Wars themes, is creating new and original music exclusively for the new land. The new themes are being recorded by the London Symphony at Abbey Road Studios.
Galaxy’s Edge promises to be a legendary experience from start to finish.
If Summer 2019 sounds like too long to wait, you don’t have to wait for tomorrow to visit Tomorrowland and experience the Disneyland’s original Star Wars attractions that have delighted park visitors for years. Follow in the steps of a Jedi Master at the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple and prepare for the ultimate encounter with the Dark Side of the Force, and hang on tight on Star Tours – The Adventures Continue as C-3P0 accidentally jettisons you into a battle with the Empire. Featuring multiple storylines and destinations, it’s an unforgettable space flight almost every time.
Mickey and Minnie Take Center Stage
While Star Wars may be getting a lot of attention these days, it’s not the only thing Disney Imagineers have been dreaming up. Beginning in January of 2019, you’ll get to enjoy exciting new Mickey Mouse offerings at Disneyland with Get Your Ears On — A Mickey and Minnie Celebration, which will feature new entertainment, food and merchandise.
On January 18, “Mickey’s Mix Magic” will light up the night at Disneyland Park with all-new music, projections and lasers that set the scene for an epic dance party that takes over almost the entire park. The party will get even bigger when the fan-favorite Mickey’s Soundsational Parade returns to the resort in January 2019 featuring a new float with Mickey himself, who will lead the celebration down Main Street, U.S.A.
Bring your ears and get ready to party with the mouse that started it all.
- Wear comfortable footwear. It’s not unusual to clock six or seven miles on your pedometer during a day at the park. (There are ample accommodations for those with mobility issues.)
- Visit during the week, or in the winter. There are more visitors and longer lines for attractions on weekends, during the summer, and around national holidays.
- Get there early. You probably won’t have the park to yourself but the crowds get bigger as the day goes on. Pick the two or three attractions you want to see most and go there first before everyone else does.
- Plan your visit. Look at the map and have some idea of where you want to go so you’re not going back and forth from one side of the park to the other, taking up valuable time you could be riding rides instead.
More information is available at disneyland.disney.go.com
Universal Studios Hollywood Gets a Makeover
Just over five years ago, movie-themed Universal Studios Hollywood embarked on a journey to completely transform and update the park. With new attractions based on popular movies and TV shows such as “Harry Potter”, “The Walking Dead”, and “Kung Fu Panda”, the creative team designing the new features aimed to create an entirely new and revitalized experience for visitors.
“With over 75 percent completely reimagined, Universal Studios Hollywood is an entirely new theme park destination and we look forward to sharing everything that the Entertainment Capital of L.A. has to offer with visitors from around the world,” Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood, said in a press statement.
Hogwarts Comes to Hollywood
In 2016 “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” opened its gates at Universal Studios Hollywood. More than five years in the making, and inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” has been masterfully recreated with impeccable detail as a real-world interpretation at Universal Studios Hollywood. If you’re a fan of the fiction and films, you’ll instantly recognize the landscape including Hogwarts castle, which serves as its iconic focal point.
From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the whimsical look and feel of the land, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will transport you to the very places you’ve read about in the stories or watched on the silver screen. Even if you haven’t kept up with the books and films, you can easily get swept away in this masterfully designed fantasyland.
Upon entering the land through the archway, Hogsmeade bustles to life with the same vitality of a quaint local village: merchants hard at work, a train conductor welcoming new arrivals and a pub packed to the gills with hungry patrons. Of course there are the added elements of the land’s signature ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” and the family outdoor coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff™.”
“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” resonates with immense detail, inviting guests to revel in Harry Potter’s world with the opportunity to enjoy authentic food and beverage at multiple locations, including Three Broomsticks, and Hog’s Head pub, as well as the Magic Neep and Butterbeer carts.
An Immersive Kung Fu Quest
Inspired by the global blockbuster franchise, the attraction will take guests on a thrilling journey that fuses captivating storytelling with state-of-the art visual effects for a highly engaging experience.
“Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest” recounts a plot-filled story in which the dragon warrior Po embarks on a wild and perilous mission while enlisting guests to join him on the exciting adventure filled with raging rapids, river pirates, awesome magic and Kung Fu.
Stunning visual projections and 360 degree surround sound audio, sweeping physical effects from water to wind will empower guests to feel more like participants than spectators in the adrenaline-spiked adventure.
With cutting-edge technology at the forefront of the multi-sensory attraction, “Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest” will introduce the first-ever integration of interior projection mapping designed to engulf guests in 180 degrees of immersive adventure. This never-before-adapted technique will make it nearly impossible to realize the projected imagery is a mere illusion.
While You’re There
Don’t miss the renowned, behind-the-scenes Studio Tour featuring the intense “King Kong 360 3-D” attraction and the “Fast & Furious—Supercharged” thrill ride. Other popular rides include the 3D-HD adventure, “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem,” “Transformers,” “Revenge of the Mummy” and “Jurassic Park,” “Springfield,” hometown of America’s favorite TV family, the award-winning “The Simpsons Ride”, and “The Walking Dead” attraction.
Universal Studios Tips:
- Plan to spend a full day at the park. Maybe two. Between the rides, attractions, and Studio Tour, there’s a lot to take in.
- With so much to see and do, it might be worth spending a little extra on Universal Express passes so you can skip the lines and see more of the park.
- Studio Tours are usually more exciting during the week as most filming happens on weekdays. If you go on the weekend you’ll still see the sets and recreated city streets where real TV shows and movies are filmed, but you’re unlikely to see filming in action.
More information is available at UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.
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Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood dial up the fun, rolling out new and exciting attractions that that will inspire the imaginations of visitors of all ages. Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a Mickey and Minnie Celebration and Kung Fu Panda are just a few of the new experiences…
Top Los Angeles Attractions
A trip to the City of Angels is a top on many travel wish lists. If you’re among the fortunate planning a trip to LA, you’ll want to make sure you include the following 14 Los Angeles attractions on your list of things to see, do and experience during your stay.
1. Join in the Activity at Venice Beach
Originally designed to measure up to its Italian namesake, Venice Beach developed an identity all its own offering broad appeal to visitors who enjoy the funky open-air vibe of the beach and quirky boutiques and restaurants.
The boardwalk is the main attraction for visitors to Venice Beach and comprises a pedestrian-only two-and-a-half mile promenade.
Here you’ll find a variety of shops, activities and attractions to enjoy. Top attractions in the area include:
- The skate park
- The beach
- The boardwalk
- Street performers
- Fortune tellers
- Muscle Beach
More than a location, some view Venice Beach as a state of mind. Some consider it a bohemian sort of spirit permeating the area, making it one of the best things Los Angeles has to offer visitors looking for something a bit out of the ordinary.
2. Take a Walk on the Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is an attraction worth visiting in its own right. It is a trendy destination for surfers, skateboarders and even yoga practitioners. The iconic locale is a favorite attraction day and night and boasts the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel.
You’ll find a wide range of shops to meet all kinds of tastes and budgets through the vintage stores, quirky little shops and high-end boutiques. Some people go just for the shopping while others go to people watch. From musicians and tourists to locals offering their wares, there are plenty of people to watch in this delightful little corner of LA.
Still, others walk the length of the pier to sit at the end and take in the ocean breezes.
The pier, which is more than 100 years old, is also home to an outstanding nightlife along the shore. A short walk just east of the pier lies the Third Street Promenade, a lively section with shops, restaurants, entertainment and more.
The fact that the Santa Monica area of the city is very walkable makes it an excellent choice for tourists on an LA bus tour who want to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere that is so prevalent here.
3. Take a Bite out of Beverly Hills
One of the iconic attractions in Beverly Hills today is the Beverly Hills’ Sprinkles bakery where you can buy cupcakes through an ATM at any time of the day or night. It’s going to be hard to top that anywhere in the city, especially after you’ve tried one of these delectable goodies.
Fortunately for your waistline, it’s not the only attraction Beverly Hills has to offer — though it may be the tastiest. Other Beverly Hills attractions you’ll surely want to include on your list of places to visit in LA are:
- Beverly Gardens Park
- Greystone Mansion and Gardens
- Rodeo Drive
- Spadena House
- The Saban Theatre
- Virginia Robinson Gardens
- Will Rogers Memorial Park
Don’t forget to take in a tour of The Beverly Hills Hotel, located in the coveted 90210 ZIP code, where you can walk in the footsteps of the rich and famous.
4. Shop ‘til You Drop on Rodeo Drive
Perhaps the most famous nearly two-mile strip of real estate in the U.S. for exclusive boutique shopping — like Giorgio Armani, Versace and Valentino — is Rodeo Drive. Whether you’re there to make purchases or just want to window shop and take in the fashions and styles the wealthy wear, it won’t take long to realize why the three blocks between 200 and 500 of North Rodeo Drive top almost every list of what to see in LA.
5. Snap a Pic of the Hollywood Sign
While one favorite access point to the Hollywood Sign is closed, there are ways to hike to it and several other places you can go to get a fantastic photo of the sign.
For many, the Hollywood sign is one of the quintessential “musts” of a trip to LA, and it remains one of the top Los Angeles attractions in the hearts and minds of visitors from around the world. The sign is so famous it has its own website, complete with tips on how to hike to the sign and information about its history.
6. Marvel at the Wonders of Universal Studios
Los Angeles is where movie magic happens, and there is no place where it happens bigger, better and bolder than at Universal Studios. The theme park is one of the most popular Los Angeles tourist attractions.
From behind the scenes tours of your favorite television shows and films to thrills and chills of midway rides, there’s plenty to do at Universal Studios. You may even get to meet some of your family’s favorite characters. Top attractions include:
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
- The Walking Dead Attraction
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Grinchmas — during the holidays
- Fast & Furious: Supercharged
There are plenty of rides, shows and attractions to delight people of all ages at Universal Studios. Of course, you can’t forget the world-famous tram tour, which introduces you to dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, allows you to witness the parting of the Red Sea and lets you experience the adrenaline surge of being attacked by the shark from Jaws. Who could ask for more?
7. Find Your Favorite Movie and Film Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame tops many lists of things to see in Los Angeles. The walk now contains the stars of more than 2400 Hollywood legends and runs one-mile along Hollywood Boulevard.
You can walk along the path for hours exploring beloved icons of film, past and present. It’s a great way to spend your time in LA — especially if you consider yourself a fan of the film industry.
8. Watch a Premier at TCL Chinese Theatre
Perhaps the most iconic movie palace around the world, the TCL Chinese Theatre is home to more than 50 events each year including movie premieres, film festivals and imprint ceremonies.
As an icon in Hollywood since 1927, the theatre is home to many of the most prominent film and movie debuts and premiers. Plus, it’s a wonderful place to visit while exploring the Walk of Fame.
Another claim to fame for the TCL Chinese Theatre is the fact it’s home to the largest IMAX auditorium in the world, which makes watching movies here a memorable event. Not only can you watch a blockbuster film at TCL Chines Theatre, but you can also purchase a VIP tour ticket for a behind-the-scenes look at the theatre and its history.
Of course, you don’t have to watch a premiere to enjoy the experience of the TCL Chinese Theatre, on a huge IMAX screen — any film will be a fantastic treat to the senses when viewed here.
9. Pay Your Respects to Movie History at Dolby Theatre
Of all the LA attractions available, many people believe the Dolby Theatre to be one of the most essential for their Hollywood experience. The theatre is home to live performances throughout the year, as well as dozens of other events.
What it is most famous for, though, is the star-studded red-carpet event you know and love as the Oscars. Other significant events taking place at more than 640,000 square feet Dolby Theatre include:
- Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
- The American Idol Finals
- The ESPY Awards
- The Star Wars: The Force Awakens World Premiere
- The AFI Life Achievement Ceremony
This doesn’t even include the many concerts held each year by some of the biggest names and talents in the music industry. Guided tours are available to allow you to see an Oscar statuette and view images from previous Academy Awards ceremonies held at the Dolby Theatre.
10. Check out the Action on the Sunset Strip
From its gangster past during the heart of the Roaring ’20s to the playground for Hollywood royalty, the Sunset Strip is a can’t miss nighttime hotspot for LA visitors over the age of 21. Here you’ll find cutting-edge attractions and the hippest nightlife LA has to offer. You may even rub elbows with rising stars on the Hollywood scene while you roam the streets or check out the various clubs, restaurants and boutiques.
Though any time is perfect for taking a drive on the Sunset Strip, the best time to explore it in-depth is after the sun goes down when the streets fill up with partiers strolling from one venue to the next amidst a sea of neon signs.
Sunset Strip attractions you might want to check out during your stay include the following:
- The Laugh Factory
- Chateau Marmont
- Carney’s — a giant yellow train car restaurant and a favorite of Andrew McCarthy and Cuba Gooding Jr.
- House of Blues
- Sky Bar — at Mondrian Hotel
- The Whisky
- The Roxy
- The Rainbow Bar & Grill
The real estate may be small, only occupying 1.5 miles of Sunset Blvd, but the legends are large. This is the place LA visitors to go to walk in their footprints — especially if you’re walking along the pavement outside Kenneth Cole Shoes at 8752 Sunset.
11. Experience Architecture and Art at the Getty Center
This spectacular museum is home to works of art crafted by some of the world’s most exceptional talents. Among the displays at The Getty Center include works from:
- Van Gogh
The center continuously adds new exhibitions, so you can enjoy a unique experience even after visiting several times.
In addition to the incredible works of art you’ll find displayed at Getty Center, you will also appreciate the stunning architecture. The style manages to incorporate thoroughly modern architecture with the gorgeous open spaces, gardens and LA city views.
Some visitors refer to the Central Garden as a work of art in itself. It features more than 500 plant varieties in the landscaping, as well as various fountains and gardens, so you can enjoy a feast of sight, sound, and scent while exploring.
Consider a private LA tour that allows up to one and one-half hours in Getty Center.
12. Explore History at The Grove and Original Farmers Market
One of the most beloved landmarks by LA locals, The Original Farmers Market traces its origins to 1934. Today, the facility attracts locals and tourists alike to enjoy shopping. Come hungry, though, as there are plenty of tasty dishes available for you to enjoy while exploring the stalls and vendors throughout the building.
The Grove is a separate entity from the farmers market. While the Original Farmers Market is quaint and charming, The Grove is a thoroughly modern mega-mall featuring many of your favorite shops and restaurants, along with several high-end mall stores.
Visiting The Grove and Original Farmers Market is an experience you can savor. In fact, The Original Farmers Market and The Grove make a great lunch stop on a full-day bus tour of LA.
13. See the Stars and an Amazing View of the City at Griffith Park Observatory
More than just a park, Griffith Observatory allows visitors to enjoy stunning views of the Los Angeles basin while offering informative exhibitions and an excellent planetarium with top notch shows. The observatory also offers a gift shop and café for your convenience.
There is an impressive park here, as well. Offering 4210 acres, Griffin Park is the largest urban park in the United States. It features more than 50 miles of trails for hiking and biking, as well as various lagoons and waterfalls.
Other attractions in the park include:
- Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens
- The Hollywood Sign
- Autry Museum of the American West
- Train Rides
- Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round
- Greek Theatre Los Angeles
In other words, Griffith Park is another LA attraction you can build an entire day of your travels around — or more.
14. Hit the Winding Road With Legends on Mulholland Drive
Mulholland Drive is the drive all drives wish they could be. You will find few better opportunities to enjoy the scenery of LA in a car than on this 24-mile drive. In fact, this drive almost makes dealing with LA traffic entirely worthwhile.
Unfortunately, you have to keep your eyes on the road while making this drive — it isn’t a straight shot, but instead is filled with twists and turns. Consider taking turns driving, so everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the views. Be sure to stop at one — or all — of the seven scenic overlooks.
Many movies feature the road, including one of the street’s namesake.
Take in Top LA Attractions in Comfort With a Bus Tour
A Day in LA Tours allows you to explore many of the best things Los Angeles has to offer from the comfort of a bus without fighting traffic, worrying about getting lost or missing all the attractions because your eyes are on the road.
As a five-star-rated Yelp and five-star-rated TripAdvisor LA bus tour, we take the hassle out of getting around Los Angeles, so you can relax and enjoy every attraction. We provide personalized, safe and fun tours, so you’re sure to have a great time seeing the sights.
Choose the option that works best for you and your group.
Book your full LA day tour here — approximately 7 hours
Have questions? Reach us at 818-538-6287 or email@example.com.
Best Places to Stay in LA
There are a few things that are essential to any trip, no matter where you’re traveling and how you’re getting there. You need modes of transportation. You need good food. You need music for the road. And of course, you need a place to stay once you get there.
A trip to Los Angeles is no different. Whether you’re traveling there for a weekend, a week, a month or longer, you’ll need to know the best location to stay in LA. We’ve put together this guide to help you get the real scoop on where to stay in Los Angeles.
Here, we’ll walk you through not only hotels in Los Angeles but also different areas to stay in LA. We hope that after reading through this guide, you feel confident in booking your Los Angeles trip, knowing you’ll have a place to stay that’s comfortable, safe and provides everything you need.
Neighborhoods of Los Angeles
Like any other city, Los Angeles is loosely broken up into many different neighborhoods, each of which has a unique atmosphere and charm. Any of these different neighborhoods will offer plenty of hotels, and each neighborhood has its own list of pros and cons that make it worth your consideration.
As you plan your trip to LA, however, it’s a good idea to spend a little bit of time familiarizing yourself with the different neighborhoods and learning what you can expect from them.
Let’s review the major areas now, as well as what the benefits and drawbacks of staying in each of them would be.
While you might initially expect the Downtown neighborhood to be the bustling, modern heart of the city, Downtown is actually the historic neighborhood. This neighborhood is dominated by old buildings like banks, hotels and high-rises.
Despite the fact that many of the buildings and streets are old, however, this neighborhood has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity and development, lately. Many of the old and classic buildings are being converted and re-designed as apartments. New shopping centers, movie theaters, restaurants, hotels and clubs are moving into the area.
One of the hallmarks of this neighborhood is its diversity. When you’re downtown, you can easily encounter corporate skyscrapers, Mexican market stalls and modern art galleries.
Staying in the Downtown area presents the advantage of being close to all major hubs of transportation, as well as being fairly central to many of the city’s attractions. If you’re interested in visiting the beaches, however, you’ll be in for a bit of a commute.
Hollywood barely needs an introduction. The very name has a life of its own, immediately conjuring up images of glamorous parties, starlets, red carpet events and movie stars on every corner. Of course, not every bit of the neighborhood is quite this glamorous in real life, but the image still persists.
The reality is that not many celebrities live here anymore. The Hollywood district, as a whole, tends to be overcrowded and relatively low-income as tourists and aspiring performers from all around the country have crowded into the relatively small geographic area.
Don’t let this deter you, however, as things have begun to look up for this neighborhood in recent years. New tourist attractions have been built and modern shopping malls and spaces added in. This brilliant combination of an older and more tired neighborhood with fresh, fashionable new attractions makes for an incredible, eclectic mix of sights, sounds and smells to enjoy.
If you want to stay in Hollywood, you’ll have the huge advantage of being close to lots of great bars and clubs for a fun night out. The disadvantage will be that the neighborhood will tend to be one of the less upscale ones in the city. If you’re looking for the best and the brightest, you might not find it here. If you’re interested in the colorful and the memorable, however, this is a great place to look.
3. West Hollywood
Remember all that glitz and glamour you expected to find in Hollywood? Hollywood itself may not be able to deliver too much of that anymore, but West Hollywood has all the razzle-dazzle you could ever ask for, and then some. West Hollywood is known far and wide for beautiful, wide tree-lined streets, huge high-rises, flashy billboards, high-end shopping centers and all the great restaurants, clubs and nightlife you might imagine of Hollywood.
In particular, West Hollywood is known for being central to the LGBT communities in the city, meaning that if you’re looking for a great gay bar or nightclub to visit, this is the perfect destination. Additionally, you’ll find this neighborhood is a hotbed of shopping, restaurants and more. If you choose to visit the iconic Sunset Strip after dark, you’ll have a nightlife experience you won’t soon forget thanks to all the fantastic entertainment, clubs and food options.
There are plenty of advantages to staying here. The restaurant scene is off-the-charts, second only to what you might find in the Downtown area. It’s also not far from the beach, meaning you could easily head there for the afternoon. The nightlife is spectacular as well.
West Hollywood isn’t without its downsides, however. Lodgings here will likely be quite expensive. In addition to this, public transportation in this neighborhood is slightly lacking, and you’ll have to rely on cars to get around. Given the level of traffic, this can result in a real headache as you form your travel plans.
If you’re not from California and not familiar with the layout of LA, you might be surprised to learn that Venice isn’t just a beautiful city in Italy. It’s also a bustling neighborhood in LA. Like its Italian counterpart, however, it’s set on the water and has plenty of canals running through the city, making for beautiful and scenic walking destinations.
Venice is a wonderful hodgepodge of different things all jumbled together to make an exciting neighborhood well worth the visit. It’s long been established as a neighborhood that’s a little bit worse for the wear, but still has an undeniable stream of bohemian-chic charm to it. For those looking for character, you’ll definitely find it here.
This neighborhood’s had a bit of a facelift in recent years, as big companies have started to move into the area and transform it into a more high-end place. Expensive restaurants, charming boutiques and many other attractions have begun to pop up, particularly along the boardwalk and waterfront, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of affordable options in the neighborhood.
The benefits of staying in Venice are obvious. In addition to being close to the water, you also get to enjoy all the character, culture and color that these streets have to offer. One of the major disadvantages is that transportation is slightly more difficult, as there are no rail lines in Venice. There is a bike sharing program that you may want to take advantage of, however.
This might not be one of the neighborhoods you hear talked about the most, but with its exciting restaurant scene, it’s well worth the visit. The area is extremely densely populated, meaning that you’ll always be part of a pulsing, living crowd no matter where you go. And while the area hasn’t always been as popular as it is now, it’s recently experienced a renewed interest from the public and undergone a building boom that has really placed this neighborhood on the map.
You’ll find something exciting to do no matter where in the neighborhood you roam, but you’ll have especially good luck if you stick along Wilshire Blvd. Here, the bars and other eateries are densely backed together to make for a fun and exciting night of bar hopping with friends.
The food and excitement are two great reasons to stay in Koreatown, as well as the multiple Metro stops in the area. If you want to be right in the center of the city, or close to the beaches, however, you might want to choose another neighborhood.
6. Los Feliz
While some of us are all about the hustle and bustle of the big city and love nothing more than chasing the best nightlife in town, that isn’t for everyone. Some of us would much prefer quieter streets, more casual eateries and a pace that feels slightly less frantic. If that resonates with you, Los Feliz might be a neighborhood worth checking out.
Here, the streets are more casual and quiet. The area is less busy and feels more relaxed overall. At the same time, however, it manages to avoid feeling too cool or contrived, like other neighborhoods might. It feels laid-back and authentic, making it a great place to shop, eat or spend the night.
The pros of Los Feliz include the vast number of public transportation options available to you. In addition to this, you also have the advantage of the more casual and calm atmosphere. A con, however, is that you’ll be further from the main action of the city.
7. The Arts District
Do you see yourself as the artsy type? Then you probably don’t need to know much more than the name of the Arts District to convince you that this is a place worth visiting.
Like any good arts district, this area is home to cute coffee shops, outdoor dining, beautiful murals and walkable streets. There is a strong warehouse aesthetic that permeates the entire district, lending it a quaint and unique vibe that offers tons of character.
Although this area is becoming more mainstream all the time, it still manages to maintain a feeling of being slightly under-the-radar. When you hang out here, you can feel a little more relaxed, knowing you’re off the beaten path. There are plenty of unknown gems you might stumble across here, from shops and restaurants to bars and cafes.
The advantage here is the great atmosphere. This is a great place to stay that’s far enough away from the action that you can feel relaxed at nights, while still being close enough that you can travel to the center of the city when you want. A disadvantage to be aware of, however, is that the Metro does not reach into this district. This isn’t a bad thing if you like walking, however, as the streets are great for walking, sightseeing and people-watching.
8. Santa Monica
For many people, Santa Monica conjures up a gorgeous image of pristine beaches, absolute relaxation and life in the lap of luxury. And while there’s a bit more to it than that, this isn’t far from the truth. Santa Monica is gorgeous and a place that everyone should visit if they’re in LA.
Between the white-sand beaches and the laid-back beachside resort-town feeling, it isn’t hard to understand why this is the dream for so many individuals when they come to visit Santa Monica. This town isn’t just about the beach, however. There are also some of the city’s finest restaurants, stores and attractions all within the limits of this neighborhood. The area is friendly, open-minded and liberal, making it a great place to hang out.
We hardly need to point out the advantages of this neighborhood. It’s beautiful, relaxing, convenient and home to some of the greatest places to eat and shop in the entire city. There isn’t much to say regarding disadvantages, except to point out that the prices are likely to be high. You may also find that you’re a bit far from the downtown hub of traffic. If you’re looking to be close to that, realize that Santa Monica is a bit farther out than you might initially think.
If you’re looking for that authentic Los Angeles beach experience that you’ve seen immortalized in so many movies, TV shows and commercials, you couldn’t find a better place to be than Malibu. This stunning beach town is far enough away from the heart of the city that you don’t feel overwhelmed by all the hustle and bustle, but still close enough that you can head into the city for a night on the town if you like.
The views in Malibu range from wide, flat beaches to secluded sections of coastline, tall cliffs and jagged rock formations, making it a photographer’s dream. If you’re worried about being too far from civilization, however, don’t be. There are still plenty of fantastic eateries and shops to visit out here, and you can do it all without the insanity of the downtown area.
The pros of staying in Malibu are apparent. You’ll be right next to the water and removed from the craziness at the heart of the city. The cons are that you’re less central to most of the city’s attractions, and lodgings are likely to be expensive as well.
Travel the City in Style and Comfort
Finding a place to stay is the first part of planning your trip. The second and most crucial step is figuring out how you’re going to get around once you’ve arrived in LA. If you’re wondering how you can see as much of the city as possible without having to deal with all the traffic yourself, then we’d like to invite you to experience a bus tour with A Day in LA Tours. We offer full-day tours, celebrity home tours and private tours of LA.
Book your tour with us today and get busy planning to make your trip to LA one you’ll never forget.
Best Los Angeles Restaurants
Planning a trip to Los Angeles? Or maybe you’re getting ready to make a move there in the near future? Whatever your reason for traveling to LA, one thing’s for sure. There’s a lot to learn about any new city, and LA is no exception. You’ll have to learn the public transportation routes, the best shopping centers and all the greatest places to catch a movie, game or performance. Most fun and exciting of all? You’ll have to learn all the best restaurants in LA.
Finding all the best restaurants is an important thing in any city, but it’s especially important in a city like LA. After all, when you’re surrounded by some of the best and most fun restaurants in the country, it’s essential to learn where they are and take full advantage of their proximity.
To help you out in your quest to find all the best Los Angeles restaurants, we’ve put together this quick and easy reference list for you. Work your way down the list, checking off each place as you visit it. When you’ve tried them all, don’t forget to stop back and tell us which ones you think are the top restaurants in LA!
Best Restaurants in Los Angeles
Ready to hit up all the most iconic and delicious LA restaurants? Don’t miss a single one when you follow this list.
1. Michael’s Restaurant
Don’t be shocked if this name sounds familiar. Michael’s Restaurant has been around for years, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. Plenty of famous chefs got their start working at this very restaurant. Here, you’ll find traditional dishes and eclectic new combinations, meaning there’s always something for everyone.
Eat indoors, or dine on the beautiful leafy patio when the weather is nice. Either way, your time at Michael’s Restaurant will be an experience to remember. If you make your way out to Santa Monica, this is one restaurant you can’t miss.
Another restaurant located out in Santa Monica, Cassia brings a versatility that makes it appealing no matter what meal you’re looking for or what time of day it is. Stop by for a long sit-down dinner with colleagues, or have a quick brunch with friends. The atmosphere is a perfect blend of casual yet classy and combines flavors and styles from Asia along with a heavy emphasis on seafood and classic cooking techniques from France.
3. Scratch/Bar & Kitchen
You’ll have to get a reservation to make it in the doors of this next place, but the foods served up at Scratch/Bar & Kitchen make it worth the hassle. Make a point of putting in your reservation, and head up to the Valley for a flavor experience like no other. Here at this tasting restaurant, you can enjoy the unique flavor combinations and creative dishes that you might have never dreamed of otherwise. Don’t forget that reservation though, as walk-ins are not allowed.
4. Rose Café/Restaurant
Whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch or a formal sit-down dinner experience, you’ll find it here at Rose Café/Restaurant. Sit at the bar, the tables or even out on the patio in the summer. Best of all? You’ll find pasta to be a heavy focus of the menu, meaning if you’re looking to get your carb fix, this is the place to be. The interior of this restaurant has also recently been entirely made-over — even if it’s a place you’ve visited in the past, it’s worth making a second trip.
Looking for a bite to eat on your lunch break or for brunch on the weekend? Gjusta is the place for you. You won’t find much seating here, but the food more than makes up for it. Enjoy pastries and breads as some of this kitchen’s finest staples, but don’t stop there. If you’re here for more of a sit-down meal than a quick stop-in, try flatbread pizzas, prime ribs, smoked fish and so much more.
Love pasta and traditional Italian cuisine? If so, you can’t afford to pass up the opportunity to stop by Felix in Venice. Good Italian cooking is paramount here as you enjoy exquisite handmade pastas of all kinds in a variety of different sauces and dishes. Pasta isn’t the only thing on the menu either, although it is their specialty. You can enjoy salads, bread, fine wines and more.
When you think of pizza, the cities that probably come to mind first are Chicago and New York. LA might not be on your shortlist of top pizza cities in the U.S., but you might have to re-write that list, because it’s time to include Los Angeles.
Pizzana has crafted a traditional Neapolitan pizza that’s absolutely delectable, and they aren’t about to stop there. They’re always mixing flavors and styles to create new and delicious pizzas for your eating pleasure. Stop by and see if this isn’t one of the best pizzas you’ve ever had.
Do you love Japanese food? If you’ve never had it before, are you adventurous enough to give it a try? Whether you’re a longtime fan of this cuisine or you’re just tasting it for the first time, there’s plenty to love about n/naka. Here, you can enjoy delicious seafood and wine combinations like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. You’ll need to make a reservation, however, and for the best results, you might even want to make that reservation several weeks in advance. This restaurant is that popular.
9. Manhattan Beach Post
Sometimes, you’re just looking for good, simple food perfected with a chef’s careful touch. For just such occasions, we’d recommend a visit to Manhattan Beach Post on Manhattan Beach. This restaurant is mere steps from the beach, making it the perfect spot to eat dinner and then follow it up with a walk on the beach at sunset.
Plates here are small and designed to be shared with one another as you sample multiple dishes, making this a perfect place for a date. This restaurant is always hopping, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time on your visit here.
10. The Exchange
Have you ever wanted to travel the world without ever leaving your city? Food is a great way to do that, and when you visit The Exchange, you can travel all the way to Israel without ever once leaving Los Angeles. This restaurant is on the small side, so you might want to keep your group small. Between the delicious Israeli cuisine and the stylish wood-based and plant-bedecked interior, however, it’s well worth the trip.
When you’re right in the heart of Los Angeles, you won’t want to miss grabbing lunch or dinner at this classic restaurant. The patio dining space is one of the best in the city, although you’ll be comfortable if you sit inside too. Enjoy traditional American cuisine, all cooked with a chef’s perfect extra touch. The fried chicken is especially good, but you can’t go wrong no matter what you order off this menu. No matter what you like, you’ll find that there’s something for everyone at A.O.C.
Sometimes, the best restaurants are the ones where the menu is constantly in flux, where there are new and exciting dishes to try every time you visit. With Lukshon, that’s exactly what you get. This Asian-inspired restaurant is continually remixing its own menu, pulling off old dishes and putting together new creations for you to try. Here, you’ll taste things that remind you of common Asian dishes but that are presented in a way that’s unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before.
13. E.P. & L.P.
Located in West Hollywood, E.P. & L.P. is one of the most glamorous restaurants the city has to offer, with all the glitz, glamour and excitement you would expect out of a Hollywood restaurant. Don’t be fooled by the showiness, however. The food has got it where it counts. Enjoy Asian-inspired cuisine in the dining room, or relax with a cocktail and a few small bites to eat on the rooftop, where you’ll find a spectacular view of the city.
14. Jon & Vinny’s
Love pasta, pizza, salads and other delicious Italian meals? If you do, Jon & Vinny’s is one place you won’t want to miss out on. This shiny new restaurant is located right in the heart of Los Angeles, making it an easy and central destination no matter where in the city you’re coming from. For any meal of the day, you can find great comfort food, all while enjoying the sleek, modern design of this wood-based interior.
The interior design of this restaurant is likely to be the first thing to catch your eye as you walk through the doors. You’ll be greeted with striking blue accents and a nearly 100-year-old design built by Charlie Chaplin himself. Republique is more than just looks, however, as the food here is French and designed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No matter what time of day it is, you’ll find something here to fill your classic French-food cravings.
16. Chi Spacca
If you’re wondering where you can find the best steak in all of Los Angeles, there’s no place better than Chi Spacca. It’s a small restaurant, but don’t be fooled. The steaks and other meals that come out of this small and open kitchen are second to none. It’s also located right in the heart of LA, making for a convenient destination that you’ll want to make sure to include on your LA visit.
17. Petit Trois
Petit Trois is a classic Parisian bistro designed to transport you all the way across the Atlantic and into the streets of Paris, all without you ever having to leave Los Angeles. The food served here is French food in its most traditional form, with a few slight variations.
The menu is fairly small, but don’t let that serve as a turn-off, as everything on it is delicious and worth ordering. Whether you’re looking for a perfect French omelet, escargot or French onion soup, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for and more. The restaurant also has two locations, making it easy to find one close to you.
18. Luv2eat Thai Bistro
If you’re looking for more spices than you can handle, it’s time to head to the Luv2eat Thai Bistro located on Sunset Boulevard. This restaurant may be only a few years old, but it’s already making an enormous splash. Here you can find some of the best Thai food in the city. Be cautious when ordering, however. Unless you’re prepared for some of the spiciest food you’ve ever tasted in your life, order the mild dishes. If you’re up for the challenge though, we say go for it!
Curious about Middle Eastern cuisine but never had the opportunity to try it before? Kismet is the perfect place to start. It’s a small yet modern restaurant that’s open all day, breakfast to dinner. You can sample a variety of dishes from the Middle East, all while relaxing in an airy and sleekly designed space. It’s also fairly new, having just opened in 2017. In other words, you’ll get to be one of the trendsetters currently making this restaurant a popular new spot.
20. Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant
There’s no better place in the entire city to sit down and have a good sandwich. Do you love pastrami? Corned beef? Roast beef? No matter what type of sandwich you love, you’ll find that there’s something at Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant to tempt you.
Take special note of this restaurant’s hours, as they’re strictly a daytime operation. This spot is a great choice for brunch, lunch or even an early dinner. They close at 4 p.m., however, so if you’re looking for a late-night dining option, you’ll be better off choosing somewhere else.
Tour Los Angeles in Style Today
Are you planning your upcoming trip to Los Angeles? Wondering what the best way to see the city is? Trying to figure out the easiest way to swing past all the best places to eat in Los Angeles? We’ve got a suggestion for you. Why not book a trip with A Day in LA Tours?
We offer full-day bus tours of the city. Our tours give you the chance to see all these nice restaurants in LA and so much more. We understand that driving and trying to navigate the city for yourself can be stressful and hectic. We also know that you want your trip to be stress-free. That’s why we invite you to sit back, relax and let us take the wheel as we guide you through this beautiful city.
When you ride with us, we’ll help you experience the very best that Los Angeles has to offer. Our tour takes guests through iconic locations like Venice Beach, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. Best of all, we offer it all at a reasonable price designed to fit neatly in your travel budget.
Learn more about how you can get started with booking your tour with us today.
Karla Around the World – ADayInLA Tour Write Up
Here’s an excellent overview of the tour from our friend Karla Around the World describing her experience on the tour and what you can expect to see and do yourself on the best tour of Los Angeles! Please note that some of the information has changed since she wrote this. If you have any questions you can check out our FAQ Page, send us your questions on our contact form, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
2018 Best Local Tours of Los Angeles by Expertise
We never started giving the best tours of Los Angeles for the accolades. Our main gratification is the feedback we receive from our guests telling us that they had an amazing #dayinla. But it doesn’t hurt when others recognize it too! On that note, thanks to Expertise for awarding us the Best Local Tour of Los Angeles 2018!
Expertise uses a 5 element test to determine the best of the best: (1) Reputation, (2) Credibility, (3) Experience, (4) Availability, and (5) Professionalism. Based on those criteria, they hand select the best in the biz. Here’s what they have to say:
“A small Los Angeles-based company built by travelers, A Day in LA Tours focuses on bringing 100 percent customer satisfaction. Founded in 2011, their famous buses and excellent guides also focus on keeping each guest entertained throughout the day while also seeing the most notable sights in Los Angeles. They offer public and private tours that cruise through to see famous sights including the Hollywood Sign, Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and more.”
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Rodeo Drive – Beverly Hills
Rodeo Drive is the world famous 2-mile stretch of road that is known for its high-end retail shops that are frequented by the rich and famous. The area was developed in 1906 and plots of land were being sold by 1907 for ~$1,000 per parcel. While the area gradually became more popular over the proceeding years, it did not become the iconic symbol of wealth it is today until the 1960s.
In 1967, Fred Hayman – called the “father of Rodeo Drive” – opened Giorgio Beverly Hills. Shortly thereafter, Aldo Gucci opened his west coast location on Rodeo. By the early 1970s, Rodeo Drive had been transformed into the international center of glamour in Los Angeles.
The image of Rodeo Drive as the shopping street for celebrities and the rich and famous was spread in part by advertising campaigns by the Rodeo Drive Committee and the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. By the early 1980s, the City of Beverly Hills stated that the street accounted for 25% of its sales tax revenues.
In 2015, Chanel purchased the building it had been leasing on Rodeo for a record breaking $152 million – over $13,000 sq/ft. Chanel also owns the building located next door giving them the largest footprint on the street. But records are made to be broken and it was surpassed less than a year later when Bijan purchased their property for $122 million – a staggering $19,000 sq/ft!
If you want to experience the best of Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles, make sure to join us on our world famous tour of Los Angeles!
Griffith Park and Observatory
While well known by locals, Griffith Park is not always high on the list of tourists visiting Los Angeles. But it should be! High above the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, the park offers a relatively quiet respite from the chaos below. It also provides the opportunity for the best views of the city and an excellent shot of the Hollywood sign. Griffith Park is a uniquely Los Angeles icon where you can not just see, but experience, the diversity of topography and landscape that makes LA so unique among major world cities. Join us on the best tour of Los Angeles and see why Griffith Park is one of our favorite stops!
The park is named after Griffith J. Griffith (seriously!). He donated the original 3,000 acres to the city in 1896 which eventually would grow to encompass 4,300 acres, making it one of the largest public parks in North America. On the grounds, Griffith built an amphitheater (now known as the Greek) and the Observatory. From 1912 to 1966 it was also home to the Griffith Zoo – the remnants of which can still be found in the park.
The Griffith Observatory sits atop Mount Hollywood looking down on the city and the sprawl below. Opening to the public in 1935, the Observatory quickly became an LA landmark. It was also the backdrop for numerous famous movies, including The Terminator, The Rocketeer, and of course La La Land. But the Observatory was built for scientific and educational purposes. Mr. Griffith specified that the building would be open to the public free of charge and that it would serve to educate the citizens of Los Angeles and any visitors from around the world. That remains the case today.