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Destination guides > North America > USA > West Coast > California > Los Angeles > Sightseeing, museums & tourist attractions

Los Angeles

Sightseeing, museums & tourist attractions

Because LA sprawls over such a large area it is best to break your sightseeing down to different parts of the city.

DOWNTOWN LA

Los Angeles is largely a sprawl of suburbs and most people – including many locals – forget that it has a downtown core of highrise towers. This modern area is the oldest part of the city and is surprisingly interesting with a fringe of ethnic neighbourhoods such as Chinatown and Little Tokyo.

California Science Center

This science museum in Exposition Park has lots of interactive hands-on exhibits. There are some excellent biology exhibits in the World of Life gallery including the popular Bodyworks Theater; however the star attraction is the space shuttle Endeavour.

700 State Drive, Los Angeles
Metro Expo Park / USC (Expo line) Bus 81, 200 (MTA; stop: Figueroa/State)
Tel 323 SCIENCE
Website www.californiasciencecenter.org
Admission free; IMAX cinema $8.25
Open 10am–5pm daily

City Hall

LA’s 28-storey City Hall was built in 1928 in a mismatch of architectural styles ranging from Byzantine and Romanesque to Art Deco. It has featured prominently in early television shows like Dragnet and Superman.

200 N Spring Street, Los Angeles
Metro Civic Center (Red line, Purple line) Bus 30, 31, 40, 42, 42A, 68, 84, 92 (MTA; stop: First/Main)
Tel 213 485 6984
Website www.lacityhall.org

El Pueblo de Los Angeles

This park near Union Station in the northeastern part of downtown LA marks the spot where the city was founded. The park’s main attractions are clustered along the narrow Olvera Street and Avila Adobe – the oldest house in LA. Sepulveda House (125 Paseo De La Plaza, Los Angeles; metro Union Station (Gold line, Red line, Purple line) bus 68, 84 (MTA; stop: Main/Paseo de la Plaza); DASH B (LADOT; stop: Union Station); tel 213 625 3800; website www.cityofla.org/ELP/; open Mon–Sat 11am-2pm) houses the visitor information centre plus an exhibition and screens a free film on the city’s history.

Grammy Museum

The Grammy Museum at the LA Live complex features four floors of displays devoted to music including memorabilia and interactive exhibits where you can learn about the recording process and the history of the Grammy Awards.

800 W Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles
Metro Pico (Blue line, Expo line), Seventh Street/Metro Center (Blue line, Expo line, Purple line, Red line) Bus 28, 81, 439, 460, 701, 721, 728 (MTA; stop: Figueroa/Olympic)
Tel 213 765 6800
Website www.grammymuseum.org
Admission $12.95, $8 after 6pm; students $11.95
Open Mon–Fri 11.30am–7.30pm, Sat–Sun 10am–7.30pm

Japanese-American National Museum

This museum in Little Tokyo is housed in a building that originally served as a Buddhist temple. It has exhibits detailing the history or Japanese-Americans including displays on internment camps that held Japanese-Americans during World War II.

369 E First Street, Los Angeles
Metro Little Tokyo/Arts District (Gold line)
Tel 213 625 0414
Website www.janm.org
Admission $9; students $5
Open Wed 11am–5pm, Thu noon–8pm, Fri–Sun 11am–5pm

MOCA Geffen Contemporary

This branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Little Tokyo was designed by Frank Gehry and held the museum’s collection while the MOCA’s main museum was being constructed. It is now used for large temporary exhibitions.

152 N Central Avenue, Los Angeles
Metro Little Tokyo/Arts District (Gold line) Bus DASH A (LADOT; stop: First/Central)
Tel 213 626 6222
Website www.moca.org
Admission $12; students $7 ; free Thu 5pm–8pm
Open Mon 11am–5pm, Thu 11am–8pm, Fri 11am–5pm, Sat-Sun 11am–6pm

MOCA Grand Avenue

The modern Museum of Contemporary Art showcases an excellent collection of modern art representing abstract expressionism and pop art. It features work by Jackson Pollack and Andy Warhol.

250 S Grand Avenue, Los Angeles
Metro Civic Center, Pershing Square Bus 14, 37, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 96, 378, 442, 485, 487, 489, 714, 770 (MTA; stop: Grand/Third); DASH B (LADOT; stop: Grand/Third))
Tel 213 626 6222
Website www.moca.org
Admission $12; students $7; free Thu 5pm–8pm
Open Mon 11am–5pm, Thu 11am–8pm, Fri 11am–5pm, Sat–Sun 11am–6pm

Natural History Museum of LA County

This large natural history museum at Exposition Park, southwest of downtown LA, has an expansive collection of African and American animals plus a popular dinosaur display.

900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles
Metro Expo/Vermont, Expo Park/USC (Exposition line) Bus 102, 550 (MTA; stop: Exposition/USC Watt Way); DASH Downtown, DASH Southeast (LADOT; stop: Exposition/USC Watt Way)
Tel 213 763 3466
Website www.nhm.org
Admission $12 ($9 students)
Open 9.30am–5pm daily

Wells Fargo History Museum

This small museum traces the history of the Well Fargo Company, which has its roots in the California gold rush with its stagecoaches conjuring images of the Wild West.

333 S Grand Avenue, Los Angeles
Metro Civic Center, Pershing Square (Purple line, Red line) Bus 14, 37, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 96, 378, 442, 485, 487, 489, 714, 770 (MTA; stop: Grand/Third); DASH B (LADOT; stop: Grand/Third))
Tel 213 253 7166
Website www.wellsfargohistory.com/museums/museum_losAngeles.html
Admission free
Open Mon–Fri 9am–5pm

GRIFFITH PARK

This area north of Downtown LA and Hollywood is comprises mostly the huge Griffith Park. It is the site of LA’s zoo and the Griffith Observatory.

Autry Museum of the American West

This excellent museum tells the history of America’s west through 10 galleries. Topics covered by the museum’s displays include cowboys and Indians, General Custer’s Last Stand at Little Bighorn, the lawlessness of the Wild West and its portrayal in film and television.

4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles
Bus 96 (MTA; stop: Western Heritage/Gene Autry Museum)
Tel 323 667 2000
Website www.autrynationalcenter.org
Admission $10; students $6
Open Tue–Fri 10am–4pm, Sat–Sun 10am–5pm

Griffith Observatory

This landmark building was the setting of the James Dean film, Rebel without a Cause and it offers brilliant views of Los Angeles’ sprawl. Please note that the bus to Griffith Observatory only operates on weekends.

2800 E Observatory Road, Los Angeles
Metro Vermont/Sunset, then bus Observatory Shuttle (LADOT; stop: Griffith Observatory; Sat–Sun only)
Tel 1 888 695 0888
Website www.griffithobservatory.org
Admission free
Open Tue–Fri noon–10am, Sat–Sun 10am–10pm

Hollywood Sign

Mount Lax in Griffith Park is the home of the world-famous Hollywood sign, consisting of 15m-tall sheet metal letters, originally built in 1923 to advertise a real estate development. Some of the best spots to see the sign include the Hollywood & Highland Center (6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood; metro Hollywood/Highland bus 212, 213, 217, 780 (MTA; stop: Hollywood/Highland)), N Beachwood Drive aka Beachwood Canyon Drive (metro Hollywood/Vine, then bus DASH Beachwood Canyon (LADOT)), Lake Hollywood (3202 Canyon Lake Drive, Los Angeles) and Griffith Observatory (2800 E Observatory Road, Los Angeles; metro Vermont/Sunset, then bus Observatory Shuttle (LADOT; stop: Griffith Observatory)).

Website www.hollywoodsign.org

Los Angeles Zoo

This large zoo is home to around 1200 animals. It is noted for its California Condor breeding programme as well as its chimpanzee, koala, komodo dragon and orangutan enclosures.

5333 W Zoo Drive, Los Angeles
Tel 323 644 6400
Bus 96 (MTA; stop: Crystal Springs/Griffith Park)
Website www.lazoo.org
Admission $18
Open 10am–5pm daily

Travel Town Museum

This transport museum is geared mostly to railroad enthusiasts and includes 14 steam locomotives plus a large collection of freight and passenger cars.

5200 W Zoo Drive, Los Angeles
Bus 96 (MTA; stop: Crystal Springs/Griffith Park)
Tel 323 662 5874
Website www.traveltown.org
Admission free
Open Mon–Fri 10am–4pm, Sat–Sun 10am–6pm

HOLLYWOOD

LA’s most famous suburb is renowned as the home of show business. As the studios moved out of Hollywood it became a seedy neighbourhood but new development has seen the area start to make a comeback.

Guinness World of Records Museum

The Guinness World of Records Museum competes with Ripley’s Believe it or Not! for the title of the tackiest attraction on Hollywood Boulevard. The museum has exhibits dedicated to the biggest, longest and most bizarre things in the world.

6764 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood
Metro Hollywood/Highland (Red line) Bus 212, 217, 222, 312, 780 (MTA; stop: Hollywood/Highland); DASH Hollywood, DASH Hollywood/West Hollywood (LADOT; stop: Hollywood/Highland)
Tel 323 462 8860

Website www.guinnessmuseumhollywood.com
Admission $15.95, combined entry to Guinness World of Records Museum, Ripley's Believe it or Not! Odditorium and Hollywood Wax Museum $33.99
Open 10am–midnight

Hollywood Walk of Fame

One of Hollywood’s most famous attractions is the pavement on Vine Street and Hollywood Boulevard where around 2000 marble and bronze stars commemorate film stars and other celebrities. The entire walk down both sides of the street along the full length of the Walk of Fame is 5.6km (3½ miles).

Hollywood Boulevard (between N La Brea Avenue and Gower Avenue), Hollywood
Metro Hollywood/Highland, Hollywood/Vine (Red line) Bus 212, 217, 222, 312, 780 (MTA; stop: Hollywood/Highland); DASH Hollywood, DASH Hollywood/West Hollywood (LADOT; stop: Hollywood/Highland)

Hollywood Wax Museum

This was museum features wax models of famous film stars, sports stars and American presidents.

6767 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood
Metro Hollywood/Highland (Red line) Bus 212, 217, 222, 312, 780 (MTA; stop: Hollywood/Highland); DASH Hollywood, DASH Hollywood/West Hollywood (LADOT; stop: Hollywood/Highland)
Tel 323 462 5991
Website www.hollywoodwax.com
Admission $16.99; combined entry to Guinness World of Records Museum, Ripley's Believe it or Not! Odditorium and Hollywood Wax Museum $29.99
Open 10am–midnight daily

Mann’s (Grauman's) Chinese Theatre

This opulent cinema is the most famous of Hollywood’s theatres and is the site of many major film premieres. More than 180 stars have left their handprints on the forecourt outside the theatre.

6925 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood
Metro Hollywood/Highland Bus 212, 217, 312 (MTA; stop: Hollywood/Orange); DASH Hollywood, DASH Hollywood/West Hollywood (LADOT; stop: Hollywood/Highland)
Tel 323 464 8111
Website www.manntheatres.com/chinese/

Paramount Studios

This Hollywood-based movie studio is home to the original Star Trek television series plus movies that include Forrest Gump and the Indiana Jones films. Two-hour guided tours let you see behind the scenes and occasionally even let you see a working film set.

5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood
Bus 10, 48 (MTA; stop: Melrose/Windsor)
Tel 323 956 1777 (reservations essential)
Website www.paramountstudios.com
Tours cost $48 standard studio tour (2 hours); $165 VIP studio tour (4½ hours including lunch)
Tours depart every half hour, 9.30am–2pm daily (standard studio tour); Mon–Fri 9.30am (VIP studio tour)

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium

One of the more fascinating of Hollywood’s tacky tourist traps is this collection of oddities that includes a six-legged cow and a two-headed goat.

6780 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood
Metro Hollywood/Highland (Red line) Bus 212, 217, 312 (MTA; stop: Hollywood/Orange); DASH Hollywood, DASH Hollywood/West Hollywood (LADOT; stop: Hollywood/Highland)
Tel 323 466 6335
Website www.ripleys.com
Admission $16.99; combined entry to Guinness World of Records Museum, Ripley's Believe it or Not! Odditorium and Hollywood Wax Museum $29.99
Open 10am–midnight daily

MIRACLE MILE DISTRICT/MID CITY

This area between Beverley Hills and Downtown Los Angeles is known for its collection of important museums and the La Brea Tar Pits.

La Brea Tar Pits & Page Museum at La Brea Discoveries

This important site consists of asphalt that had risen from an underground oil field to the surface over the past 40,000 years trapping and preserving life from the Pleistocene Ice Age. Over one million fossilised bones have been excavated here with an important collection exhibited at the adjacent Page Museum at La Brea Discoveries.

5801 Wiltshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
Bus 20 (MTA; stop: Wilshire/Curson); DASH Fairfax (LADOT; stop: Wilshire/Curson)
Tel 323 934 7243
Website www.tarpits.org
Admission $12; students $9
Open 9.30am–5pm daily

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

This leading art museum houses an expansive collection that includes around 150,000 pieces of art including works by Edgar Degas, Paul Gaugin, René Magritte, Rembrandt and Diego Rivera. The museum’s most famous paintings include René Magritte’s Treachery of Images.

5905 Wiltshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
Bus 20 (MTA; stop: Wilshire/Spaulding); DASH Fairfax (LADOT; stop: Wilshire/Spaulding)
Tel 323 857 6000
Website www.lacma.org
Admission $15; students $10; free second Tue of each month
Open Mon–Tue 11am–5pm, Thu 11am–5pm, Fri 11am–8pm, Sat–Sun 10am–7pm

Petersen Automotive Museum

This museum features exhibits detailing the intertwined history of Los Angeles and the automobile.

6060 Wiltshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
Bus 20, 720, 920 (MTA; stop: Wilshire/Fairfax); DASH (LADOT; stop: Wilshire/Fairfax)
Tel 323 930 2277
Website www.petersen.org
Admission $15; students $10
Open Tue–Sun 10am–6pm

WESTWOOD

This suburban area in western Los Angeles is home to UCLA and the Westwood Village shopping district. The stretch of Wilshire Boulevard that passes through Westwood is relatively densely built-up and suffers from traffic congestion, fortunately it is a walkable neighbourhood by LA standards.

Hammer Museum

The Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center in Westwood has a large collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art including the largest collection of Honoré Daumier works outside Paris. The museum also houses paintings by Chardin, Rembrandt and Titian.

10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
Bus 20, 233, 720, 761, 920 (MTA; stop: Wilshire/Westwood); 1, 2, 3, 8, 11, 12 (Big Blue Bus; stop: Wilshire/Westwood); 6 (Culver City Bus; stop: Wilshire/Westwood)
Tel 310 443 7000
Website http://hammer.ucla.edu/
Admission $10; Thu free
Open Tue–Fri 11am–8pm, Sat–Sat 11am-5pm

BEVERLEY HILLS & BEL AIR

Los Angeles’ most upmarket suburbs are home to the opulent mansions of the rich and famous and the swanky boutiques of Rodeo Drive. Although it doesn’t have many big attractions, thousands of tourists visit Beverley Hills to gawk at the movie stars’ homes.

J Paul Getty Center & Museum

This impressive art museum is a striking building that is home to one of the city’s most important art collections. The museum's most popular painting is Irises by Vincent van Gogh.

1200 Getty Center Drive, Bel Air
Bus 761 (MTA; stop: Sepulveda/Getty Center)
Tel 310 440 7300
Website www.getty.edu
Admission free; parking $15
Open Tue–Fri 10am–5.30pm, Sat 10am–9pm, Sun 10am–5.30pm

CENTURY CITY & CULVER CITY

These two suburbs south of Beverley Hills are home to several film studios including Century Fox, Sony Pictures Studios (formerly MGM) and Culver Studios.

Museum of Jurassic Technology

This interesting museum has an eclectic collection of exhibits that include a gallery on trailer park culture, microscopic collages made from the scales of butterfly wings and an exhibit on household myths.

9341 Venice Boulevard, Culver City
Metro Culver City (Exposition line) Bus 33, 333 (MTA; stop: Venice/Bagley); 12 (Big Blue Bus; stop: Venice/Bagley); 7 (Culver City Bus; stop: Culver/Main)
Tel 310 287 2267
Website www.mjt.org
Admission $8; students $5
Open Thu 2pm–8pm, Fri–Sun noon–6pm

Museum of Tolerance

This excellent museum has deeply moving exhibits on racism and prejudice. The museum’s overwhelming focus is on the Holocaust when millions of Jews were persecuted at the hands of Nazi Germany.

9786 W Pico Boulevard, Century City
Bus 7, 13 (Big Blue Bus; stop: Pico/Roxbury)
Tel 310 553 8403
Website www.museumoftolerance.com
Admission $15.50; students $11.50
Open Jan–Mar Mon–Thu 10am–5pm, Fri 10am–3.30pm, Sun 11am–5pm; Apr–Oct Mon–Fri 10am–5pm, Sun 11am–5pm; Nov–Dec Mon–Thu 10am–5pm, Fri 10am–3.30pm, Sun 11am–5pm

Sony Pictures Studios

This massive studio complex was originally the home of MGM although nowadays Sony Pictures’ subsidiaries Columbia and Tristar use the studios to film movies and television programmes.

10202 W Washington Boulevard, Culver City
Bus 33, 333 (MTA; stop: Venice/Jasmine); 5, 7 (Culver City Bus, stop: Culver/Madison)
Tel (310) 244 8687
Website www.sonypicturesstudios.com
Tours cost $38
Tours depart Mon–Fri 9.30am, 10.30am, 1.30pm, 2.30pm

SANTA MONICA & VENICE

This beachside area north of LAX airport and west of Downtown LA is one of the more popular spots with backpackers due to cheap accommodation, great beaches and a hip Californian vibe.

California Heritage Museum

This small museum in one of Santa Monica's earliest homes has a variety of exhibits about Southern Californian culture.

2612 Main Street, Santa Monica
Bus 1, 8, 10, tideride (Big Blue Bus; stop: Main/Ocean Park); R3 (MTA; stop: Main/Ocean Park)
Tel 310 392 8537
Website www.californiaheritagemuseum.org
Admission $8; students $5
Open Wed–Sun 11am–4pm

Getty Villa

This branch of the J Paul Getty Museum is a classical-style building with a large courtyard garden. It has exhibits on the arts and culture of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria. Although the museum advertises itself as being in Malibu, it is actually in Pacific Palisades just north of Santa Monica. Admission is free but you need to book your museum entry ticket online (at www.getty.edu or www.mtn.museumtix.com). If you arrive by public transport you will need to get your ticket hole-punched by the bus driver to gain entry.

17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades
Bus 534 (MTA; stop: Pacific Coast/Coastline)
Tel 310 440 7300
Website www.getty.edu/visit/
Admission free; parking $15
Open Mon 10am–5pm, Wed–Sun 10am–5pm

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica’s iconic pier is a great place to hang out and it features Pacific Park – a mini-amusement park with a Ferris wheel and a small roller coaster – and the UCLA Ocean Discovery Center, an aquarium featuring local marine life.

Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica
Bus 20, 33, 333, 534, 720, 920 (MTA; stop: Ocean/Colorado); 1, 7, 8, 10, tide (Big Blue Bus; stop: Santa Monica Pier)
Tel 310 458 8900
Website www.santamonicapier.org
Admission free
Pacific Park: Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica
Tel 310 260 8744
Website www.pacpark.com
Rides $3-5; unlimited rides $19.50
Open Jan-May Mon-Thu noon-6pm, Fri noon-midnight, Sat 11am-midnight, Sun 11am-9pm; Jun-Aug Mon-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-12.30am, Sun 11am-11pm; Sep-Dec Mon-Thu noon-6pm, Fri noon-midnight, Sat 11am-midnight, Sun 11am-9pm

Santa Monica & Venice Beaches

Both Santa Monica Beach and neighbouring Venice Beach have pristine white sand and offer the quintessential Southern California beach experience. Santa Monica is the cleaner and better-maintained of the two, but Venice Beach has a more interesting alternative subculture including street performers and body builders working out at Muscle Beach. One of the better ways to explore Santa Monica and Venice is to rent a Segway personal transporter from Segway LA (1660 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica; bus 1, 7, 20, tideride (Big Blue Bus; stop: Ocean/Colorado); tel 310 395 1395; website www.segway.la; $84 for two hours; open 10am–7pm daily).

Third Street Promenade

Third Street Promenade (website www.downtownsm.com) in Santa Monica is one of the most pedestrian-friendly areas in Los Angeles. Although essentially a shopping street, it is a nice place to wander down and there are often street performers particularly during busier periods.

Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade is one of the most walkable areas in Los Angeles.

Third Street Promenade is one of the most walkable areas of Los Angeles

PASADENA

Pasadena is located inland, northeast of Downtown LA and is known mostly as the home of the Rose Bowl – a massive 90,000 seat stadium that hosts American football. The out-of-the-way location means that not many travellers make it to Pasadena, but it does boast an attractive city centre and it is home to the impressive Norton Simon Museum of Art.

Bunny Museum

This unique museum is home to the world's largest collection of bunny collectables with more than 24,000 items.

1933 Jefferson Drive, Pasadena
Bus 268, 686, 687 (MTA; stop: Washington/Allen)
Tel 626 798 8848
Website www.thebunnymuseum.com
Admission $5, vegetables for the bunnies (no carrots or apples) are welcome
Open by appointment

The Huntington Library

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens is an important art museum in a spacious setting in San Marino, just east of Pasadena. The museum has a strong focus on English portraits with a collection that includes the Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough and Thomas Lawrence's Pinkie. The botanical gardens feature North America's best collection of cycads.

1151 Oxford Road, San Marino
Bus 78, 79, 378 (MTA; stop: Huntington/San Marino)
Tel 626 405 2100
Website www.huntington.org
Admission $20 Mon–Fri, $23 Sat–Sun; students $12 Mon–Fri, $13 Sat–Sun
Open Mon noon–4.30pm, Wed–Fri noon–4.30pm, Sat–Sun 10.30am–4.30pm

Norton Simon Museum of Art

This excellent art museum has a world-class collection of art that includes works by Goya, Monet, Picasso, Raphael and Rembrandt.

411 W Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena
Bus 180, 181, 780 (MTA; stop: Colorado/Orange Grove)
Tel 626 449 6840
Website www.nortonsimon.org
Admission $10; students free
Open Mon noon–6pm, Wed–Thu noon–6pm, Fri noon–9pm, Sat–Sun noon–6pm

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY & BURBANK

The vast San Fernando Valley is located northwest of Downtown LA. The Valley is home to many of the major film and television studios including Disney, NBC, Universal and Warner Brothers.

Mission San Fernando Rey de España

California’s largest adobe building dates from 1797 and provides a refreshing contrast to the suburbia of the San Fernando Valley.

15101 San Fernando Mission Boulevard, Mission Hills
Bus 234 (MTA; Brand/Columbus)
Tel 818 361 0186
Open 9am–4.30pm daily

Six Flags Magic Mountain & Hurricane Harbor

These two neighbouring theme parks in Valencia, about a 40-minute drive north of Downtown LA, make for a fun day out. Magic Mountain is heaven for fans of roller coasters boasting a floorless roller coaster where your feet hang in the air. After the thrills of Magic Mountain’s roller coasters head next door to cool off at Hurricane Harbor, a water theme park with waterslides galore.

Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia
Bus 3, 7, 501 (Santa Clarita Transit; stop: Magic Mountain)
Tel Magic Mountain 661 255 4100; Hurricane Harbor 661 255 4527
Website www.sixflags.com/magicMountain/ & www.sixflags.com/hurricaneHarborLA/
Admission Magic Mountain $67.99, advance purchase online $42.99; Hurricane Harbor $38.99, advance purchase online $28.99
Open Magic Mountain Jan–Mar Sat-Sun; Apr–Aug daily; Sep–Dec Sat–Sun; Hurricane Harbor May–Sep

Universal Studios

Part film and television studio and part theme park, Universal Studios is one of LA’s biggest attractions. A visit to Universal Studios lets you see film sets from many of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and it also features plenty of action packed rides and live shows where scenes and special effects from motion pictures are recreated every day.

100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City
Metro Universal City Bus 96, 155, 224 (MTA; stop: Lankershim/Universal Hollywood)
Tel 800 UNIVERSAL
Website www.universalstudioshollywood.com
Admission $84
Open Jan–Jun Mon–Fri 10am–6pm, Sat–Sun 10am–7pm; Jul–Aug Mon–Fri 9am–9pm, Sat–Sun 9am–10pm; Sep–Dec Mon–Fri 10am–6pm, Sat–Sun 10am–7pm

SAN PEDRO

San Pedro is a suburb on the South Bay not far from Long Beach. There's not a lot to see here, but if you're staying in the summer-only HI hostel you may want to look at the local sights.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

This aquarium in the South Bay suburb of San Pedro focuses mainly on marine life in Southern California.

3720 Stephen M White Drive, San Pedro
Bus 246, 247 (MTA; stop: 36th/Pacific); 3 (MAX; stop: 36th/Pacific)
Tel 310 548 7562
Website www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
Admission $5 donation
Open Tue–Fri noon–5pm, Sat–Sun 10am–5pm

Korean Bell of Friendship

This bell in Angel's Gate Park was a gift to the United States by South Korea to honour American veterans of the Korean War. It is one of the world's largest bells, weighing 15.4 tonnes (17 tons), and is housed in an ornate Korean pavillion.

Angel's Gate Park (near corner of Gaffey Street and 37th Street), San Pedro
Bus 246, 247 (MTA; stop: Shepard/Gaffey)
Website www.belloffriendship.org
Admission free

LONG BEACH

This suburb, 30km south of downtown Los Angeles, has a population of almost half a million people making it the largest suburb (and the 34th largest city) in the United States. Because of its size, Long Beach has a busy downtown area and its own vibrant inner city neighbourhoods. Attractions in Long Beach include the RMS Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Aquarium of the Pacific

The Aquarium of the Pacific is home to over 12,500 animals featuring marine life from 13 habitats in the Pacific Ocean’s three main regions: Southern & Baja California, the Northern Pacific and the Tropical Pacific.

100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach
Bus C (Long Beach Transit; stop: Aquarium of the Pacific) Ferry AquaLink Metro Long Beach Transit Mall
Tel 562 590 3100
Website www.aquariumofpacific.org
Admission $25.95; including behind-the-scenes tour $39.95; including whale watch cruise $59.95; including harbour tour $36.95
Open 9am–6pm daily

Queen Mary

The RMS Queen Mary is an ocean liner that sailed the North Atlantic between 1936 and 1967. After retiring in 1967, the 311m-long 81,000 tonne ship as been docked at Long Beach where it houses a hotel and museum.

1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach
Bus C (Long Beach Transit; stop: Queen Mary London Town) Ferry AquaLink
Tel 562 455 3511
Website www.queenmary.com
Admission $24.95–29.95; $42 combined ticket including admission to the Aquarium of the Pacific
Open 10am–6.30pm daily

ORANGE COUNTY

Orange County refers to the suburban area between Los Angeles County and San Diego. Many of Southern California’s best beaches are in Orange County and it is also home to two of the biggest theme parks: Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm.

Disneyland

The original Disneyland is a huge attraction that most tourists with kids in tow wouldn’t dream of missing out on; however the long lines and high prices mean that it isn’t on the agenda for most backpackers. The Magic Kingdom features dozens of attractions grouped into themed areas such as Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland and Tomorrowland. Disneyland features plenty of rides including roller coasters and rides themed on major motion pictures like Indiana Jones and Star Wars.
1313 S Harbor Boulevard, Anaheim
Train Anaheim (Metrolink), then bus 430 (OCTA; stop: Disneyland)
Tel 714 781 4565
Website www.disneyland.com
Admission $92; multi-day passes also available
Open Mon–Thu 8am–11pm, Fri–Sat 8am–midnight, Sun 8am–11pm

Knott’s Berry Farm

This alternative to Disneyland features a bunch of awesome roller coasters and thrilling rides including Boomerang, Ghostrider, Montezooma’s Revenge and Xcelerator.

8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park
Bus 29 (OCTA; stop: Beach/Crescent)
Tel 714 220 5200
Website www.knotts.com
Admission $62, advance purchase online $36.99–39.99
Open Mon–Thu 9am–10pm, Fri–Sat 9am–midnight, Sun 9am–10pm

Soak City USA

This water themed park next to Knott’s Berry Farm is a good spot to cool down with loads of waterslides and water themed attractions.

8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park, CA 90620
Bus 29 (OCTA; stop: Beach/Crescent)
Tel 714 220 5200
Website www.knotts.com/soakcity/
Admission $34.99 advance purchase online $25.99–28.99
Open Mon–Thu 10am–6pm, Fri–Sat 10am–8pm, Sun 10am–6pm

 


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