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20 Places to Visit in LA That Locals Love

Updated September 17, 2023

Locals tell us you'll find a wonderful variety of places to visit in Los Angeles. The city is famous for its urban sprawl, which means it offers tons of distinct spots to explore. With some local insight, we created this list of 20 places to visit in Los Angeles. 

Why see Los Angeles like a tourist when you could see it like a local? Our trip planners are LA locals who will introduce you to a new side of their hometown. Learn more

#1: The Last Bookstore

Last Bookstore | Francisco Delgado/Unsplash

Book-loving locals tell us that the Last Bookstore is a can’t-miss LA destination. Housed in the shell of an old downtown bank, the cavernous first floor is filled with books and records. And every nook and cranny, including the bank’s original vault, is stuffed to the gills with books—some of which are arranged by color or stuck together to create whimsical arches. 

#2: Griffith Park / Griffith Observatory / The Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign | Pedro Marroquin/Unsplash

Griffith Park is home to two of the most recognizable LA landmarks: the Griffith Park Observatory and the Hollywood sign itself. See a different side of this popular attraction—our local trip planners tell us that the two landmarks are linked by miles of rugged hiking trails that will make you feel miles away from the city. You may even encounter some Los Angeles wildlife, including deer, coyotes, and hawks! 

Local Tip:

Don’t try to drive all the way up to the observatory; there’s rarely parking, but there is a $0.50 shuttle that departs from the base of the hill. Alternately, you can hike up using the steep (but enjoyable) Boy Scout Trail.

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#3: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

LACMA | Tyler Nix/Unsplash

LACMA (pronounced lack-ma) sits on a sprawling campus next to the La Brea Tar Pits and on what is known as Museum Row.

Locals tell us it's the largest art museum in the western United States and its varied collections provide a little something for everyone. Don’t miss “Urban Lights,” an enchanting outdoor installation of 202 antique cast iron street lamps open 24/7.

Local Tip:

You can get into LACMA for free on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. 

#4: Cole’s/Philippe’s (dueling inventors of the French dip sandwich)

Los Angeles claims to be the original home of the French dip sandwich, and two downtown restaurants are still duking it out for the title of who did it first.

Locals say the sandwiches themselves are delicious messes: French rolls stuffed with roast beef and dipped in a hearty jus. Philippe’s claims to have invented them in 1918; Cole’s claims to have done so 10 years earlier. There’s no solid proof either way, so you’ll just have to try them both. 

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#5: Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market | Jermaine Ee/Unsplash

If you’re downtown and need a bite to eat, locals suggest checking out Grand Central Market. Open since 1917, this open-air market is home to a wealth of dining options, from Filipino food to classic deli fare.

Get personalized recs to help navigate the food options here—our trip planners tell us that Eggslut, Golden Road Brewing, and Kismet Falafel are popular choices. They can suggest their favorite spots for you. 

#6: Echo Park / Silver Lake / Los Feliz

Echo Park | KE ATLAS/Unsplash

Stretching from Dodger Stadium all the way to Sunset Junction, the adjacent neighborhoods of Echo Park, Silver Lake, and Los Feliz offer a dynamic selection of boutiques, cafes, and trendy restaurants.

Well-loved by LA's hipster crowd, the area is experiencing an exciting renaissance which makes them a neat spot to explore—especially if you're looking to get off the beaten path. Our trip planners suggest eating noodles at We Have Noodles, some delicious Mediterranean food at Mh Zh, or delicious beef rolls at Pine & Crane.

Local Tip:

These days LA is very safe, and neighborhoods like Echo Park and Silver Lake are no exception.

"How did I ever not travel like this?! Ana’s local insight & planning was a game changer. It’s like having a digital concierge, travel agent, and local fixer all rolled into one!"
Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal
Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal

#7: Rose Bowl Flea

Flea market | Charisse Kenion/Unsplash

If you’re lucky enough to be in LA on the second Sunday of the month, locals suggest heading out to Pasadena’s famous Rose Bowl Stadium for the county’s premier flea market—locals say it's full of trendy treasures. 

The massive market encircles the famous stadium and spills out into its parking lots. From vintage clothing to quirky furniture to art and jewelry from local artists, Rose Bowl Flea is packed with gems.

#8: Venice Beach / The Venice Canals

Venice Beach | Matthew LeJune/Unsplash

The Venice Boardwalk is home to some wild shops—and wild characters. Performers and artists line the boardwalk vying for your attention, right across from a lively spread of surf and souvenir shops. 

The area can be touristy (and overwhelming—there's so much to see) so get local advice about where to start. Our trip planners recommend checking out the skatepark, "Muscle Beach", and the beautiful homes along the Venice Canals

#9: The Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1)

The world-famous ocean views from the cliff-hugging Pacific Coast Highway are incredible

Locals suggest stopping at Point Dume State Beach for a walk around the bluffs—they’ve made appearances in countless movies including The Big Lebowski (RIP, Donny). And don’t forget to look for dolphins, whales, and seals playing in the surf below!

#10: Angeles National Forest

Locals say that taking a hike in Angeles National Forest is a cool, unexpected activity in Los Angeles. It requires some planning to get there (that's what our trip planners are for!) but any hassle is well worth the effort. This massive park is stunning

Our trip planners say the easiest way to explore the park is by driving up to Mount Wilson Observatory—even during the day, the site is impressive, and you can always venture out into the wilderness via several nearby hiking trails.  

Local Tip:

The Cosmic Cafe will also help you refuel before you head back down into civilization.

#11: The Original Pantry Cafe

Diner food | Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis/Unsplash

Los Angeles has a thing for old-school diners (we’ve all seen Pulp Fiction). Locals say that a great place to get a classic diner meal is at The Original Pantry Cafe, which has been open since the 1950s!

Locals note that you'll find a line out the door on weekend mornings, but that's ok—our trip planners say the food here is best enjoyed long after the sun sets (and after you’ve had more than a few of LA’s excellent craft beers).

Local Tip:

The Old Pantry Cafe is cash-only and open 24 hours a day. 

#12: The Hollywood Bowl

The iconic Hollywood Bowl is an incredible place to take in a show. Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, this giant amphitheater has great acoustics for an outdoor venue, and the events calendar has something for everyone. 

Local Tip:

Most events at the Hollywood Bowl allow you to bring in a cooler full of food and alcohol to stuff under your seat and enjoy during the show, but check the website first. Some shows have restrictions.

#13: Tiki Ti Tiki Bar

Los Angeles is one of several cities on the West Coast we can thank for (re)popularizing the tiki bar over the past decade or so. Nestled into a tiny plot of land next to the Church of Scientology’s production studio, Tiki Ti is perhaps LA’s most iconic tiki spot. Family-run, this place serves up fruity, boozy classics from Wednesday–Saturday.

Local Tip:

Order a “Uga Booga” and watch what happens.

#14: Koreatown

Unsurprisingly, you'll find some fantastic Korean BBQ places here. A lot of them! So get some local tips about where to go. Our trip planners will recommend their faves. 

And Koreatown never seems to sleep! When you’re done eating, locals suggest burning off a few calories at Shatto 39 Lanes (an old-school bowling alley that’s open until 3 AM on the weekends) or at one of the neighborhood’s innumerable karaoke spots.

#15: The Groundlings Theater / Melrose Avenue

Performer on stage | Antonio Molinari/Unsplash

While Second City Comedy Club and UCB Los Angeles might be the most widely-known comedy theaters in LA, locals tell us that The Groundlings Theater is perhaps the most underrated.

You can catch a show any night of the week! Afterward, our trip planners suggest wandering west down Melrose Avenue for some of the best vintage shops in the city.

#16: Highland Park Brewery

Beers | Julianna Arjes/Unsplash

Locals tell us you'll find tons of great breweries in Los Angeles, but Highland Park Brewery in The Hermosillo comes highly recommended. For a chill night, enjoy some local ales here! You'll also find tons of food trucks along York Boulevard and Figueroa Street. 

Local Tip:

Try Tacos La Estrella before tucking into your beer!

#17: Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook / Culver City

LA’s west side is very flat (whereas the east side is super hilly)—so finding a great view here can be a challenge. Locals say that the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook offers a solution. If you’re willing to walk 282 stairs up a hill, you’ll be treated to a view of everything from the ocean to downtown LA, and all the way to the San Gabriel Mountains (on a clear day, that is). 

Local Tip:

After all that exercise, head into downtown Culver City: a surprisingly walkable part of town with plenty of outdoor seating.

#18: Dockweiler Beach

Locals tell us that Dockweiler State Beach is famous for being the only place in LA County where it’s legal to have a bonfire.

Translation: it’s the place for a beach party, LA style! The beach is home to 70 fire pits; they’re first-come, first-serve—locals suggest getting there early and bringing lots of wood / s’mores ingredients.

#19: The San Gabriel Valley

The San Gabriel Valley, just east of the city itself, is famous for its absolutely delicious Chinese food.

Locals say that if you only have time for one restaurant, though, make it Chengdu Taste in Alhambra, and dig into the huge menu of Sichuan classics—all packed with the mouth-numbing peppercorns the cuisine is famous for.

#20: Sushi Row

Sushi Row is a stretch of Ventura Blvd in the San Fernando Valley famous for its high concentration of delicious sushi restaurants.

The options are endless, so see what locals say about a place that will fit your style and budget. Our trip planners say that LA’s travel prices aren’t too bad, and you can find surprisingly affordable quality sushi. 

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