Planning a trip to the City of Angels? Give in to the siren call of LA’s most famous neighborhood and dig into all of the best things to do in Hollywood, California.
Set against the foothills of the majestic Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California, Hollywood is the historic heart of the American entertainment industry. But there’s far more to this town than that. Nearly every traveler has dreamed of strutting down Sunset Strip or sliding their feet along the famous prints on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But factor in amazing museums and galleries, high-end shopping, and world-class cuisine, and you’ve got yourself an award-winning destination.
Ready for your star turn? Pack this complete guide to the top tourist attractions in Hollywood, California, and head for the Hills!
Best places to visit in Hollywood, CA
Hollywood Walk of Fame
No trip to Hollywood would be complete without a promenade down what is probably the most famous sidewalk in the world: the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Set along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, the Walk is one of the most popular places to visit in Hollywood, CA.
Half a century old, this iconic stretch of pavement covers a total of 18 blocks, so put on your walking shoes! Stroll atop 2,700 terrazzo and brass stars immortalizing silver screen stars ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Johnny Depp. Slip your hands or feet into the imprints of your favorite stars and see how you measure up.
You’re not likely to come face-to-face with a “real” celeb, but this area happens to be a magnet for impersonators – so you might be able to grab a selfie with Elvis.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Ever dream of getting a behind-the-scenes peek at movie-making magic? Universal Studios Hollywood is the place to live your dream. Carve out some time to visit this landmark of American cinema and take an amazing tour behind the cameras.
At Universal Studios Hollywood, you’ll discover the movie sets and backlots of classic films like Psycho and War of the Worlds. You’ll see the largest street movie set ever created in Hollywood, along with some of the film industry’s most famous costumes and props. Even better, you’ll get to see a working film set in action.
Ready for more? Hit up the theme park. You can indulge your need for speed with a Fast and Furious ride, or take a walk on the mild side with some adorable Minions.
Make magic in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can fly with a hippogriff! Then cool off and quench your thirst with a butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks tavern.
Looking for Hollywood’s version of Central Park? You’ll find it in Griffith Park, a sprawling 4,200 site that’s chock-full of activities and attractions. Home to the Griffith Observatory and the iconic Hollywood sign, this is a great spot for a family day out.
Explore the park’s trails on foot or horseback and enjoy spectacular views of the LA basin. Drop into the Observatory for some sky-gazing, or check out the Autry Museum of the American West for a dose of true grit. Feeling adventurous? Venture into the Bronson Caves, a man-made tunnel that’s been used as the backdrop for Western and Sci-Fi films.
If you’ve got youngsters in tow, pay a visit to the park’s kid-friendly zoo. Be sure to check out a real gem, the 90-year-old Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round. This icon is said to have inspired Walt Disney to create Disneyland. Saddle up!
Up for some star-gazing that doesn’t involve celebrities? Get the big picture at the Griffith Observatory. Set on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, this site is one of the most popular public observatories in the world and one of the top Hollywood attractions.
The planetarium and exhibit halls offer a wide range of presentations and educational programs throughout the year, including night sky shows and exhibits about space exploration. Sit back in the planetarium and gaze out into the cosmos, or take a look through one of the site’s several telescopes for stunning views of local stars and solar flares.
Be sure to check out this crowning jewel of the Griffith Observatory: the iconic 16-foot-long Zeiss telescope that made its debut when the planetarium opened in 1935. Put your eye to this world-famous lens and marvel at awe-inspiring views of the world beyond.
Barnsdall Art Park
Craving an eyeful of art? Then you’ll want to check out what’s on display at Barnsdall Art Park. Set on a hilltop with superb views of Downtown LA, this top Hollywood, CA, destination offers plenty of visual treats. It’s home to the historic Hollyhock House, the Barnsdall Gallery Theater, the LA Municipal Art Gallery, and a boatload of alfresco exhibits.
You can thank Aline Barnsdall for this bounty. She was a wealthy heiress who was Frank Lloyd Wright’s patron and created this beautiful community space, a haven for artists and art lovers alike.
You’ll want to take your time to browse the exhibits. You’re welcome to get involved with some hands-on activities, including taking art classes and creating your own works of art!
Check out the Barnsdall Art Park calendar to enjoy special events like wine tastings and alfresco movie nights under the stars.
Want to explore a stunning piece of American architectural history? Then pay a visit to Hollyhock House, a century-old gem created by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Set in beautiful Barnsdall Art Park on the quiet eastern side of Hollywood Boulevard, Hollyhock House is a rare example of Wright’s early work.
Wright’s bold design was a forerunner of the modern California architectural style. Hollyhock House was Barnsdall’s favorite flower, so you’ll discover the motif in everything you see, from the grand fireplace to art deco stone to stunning stained glass.
Step outside and stroll through the magnificent courtyard surrounded by soaring roof terraces, and savor the work of an American Master.
Hollywood Wax Museum
Chances are, you won’t have an up-close and personal encounter with a living, breathing celeb, but you can zip over to the Hollywood Wax Museum for the next best thing. The oldest wax museum in the US, the Tinseltown version of Tussauds Wax Museum will send you home with a camera full of post-worthy pics.
Get nose-to-nose with the likenesses of stars like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Angelina Jolie. Check out the placards featuring fun facts and trivia about your favorite stars. Watch a demo from one of the museum’s artists to see how the figures are created.
At the Hollywood Wax Museum, you can even get in on the act. Slip on a costume, grab some props, and enact a favorite movie scene. Alternatively, treat yourself to a virtual reality experience and actually put yourself in the scene of your choice. A star is born!
Runyon Canyon Park
Speaking of celebrity encounters, you might actually have one in Runyon Canyon Park. This 160-acre park, set in the heart of Hollywood at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, is hugely popular with celebs and civilians alike.
When it comes to hiking trails, you can take your pick of rugged or relaxed. Runyon Canyon Road is smooth, wide, and easy on the legs. Up for more of a challenge? Check out the Star Trail.
Got energy to burn? Test yourself on the Hero Trail, a rugged trail along the park’s outer border that leads to the park’s highest point at Indian Rock. On a clear day – meaning winter or spring – you might just be able to see all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Don’t forget Fido! Runyon Canyon Park features several off-leash parks where pooches can get a workout too.
Nothing says “Hollywood” like – you guessed it – the Hollywood Sign. Spelled out in huge white letters, stretching nearly 45 feet tall, this iconic landmark is one of the most carefully guarded sites in Southern California.
Fun fact: first built in the 1920s, the sign spelled out “HOLLYWOODLAND” and was meant to be a temporary advertisement for a residential development. It didn’t age well but was rebuilt in 1978, with the wording changed to say simply “Hollywood.” Decades later, it’s become a cultural treasure and a recognized symbol of the city.
You’ll see this colossal sign wherever you are in LA. Want a close-up view? Just head over to Griffith Park and take a short hike to stand at its foot.
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If you want the big picture, head up into the Hollywood Hills on foot or horseback to discover the perfect setting for post-worthy pics.
Paramount Pictures Studio Tour
Ever wondered what goes on behind those iconic Paramount Pictures gates? Then you’ll want to check out the Paramount Pictures Studio Tour. Now a 110-year-old cinematic icon, Paramount Pictures has a long legacy and a fascinating story to tell.
Book yourself onto a two-hour tour to discover the backstory of Hollywood’s first major movie studio. Visit iconic sites like the New York Street Backlot, the Bronson Gate, and the prop warehouse.
If you’re a cinephile, you’ll want to take the VIP route for a truly unique experience. You’ll get exclusive access to private areas like sound stages and archives, where you can get a hands-on look at props and sets from past productions.
You’ll also have the chance to interact with movie pros, offering fascinating insights into the workings of this legendary Hollywood movie-maker.
TCL Chinese Theatre
Want to sample a slice of cinema history? Then head over to the TCL Chinese Theater, home of the original “Red Carpet”. First opened in 1927 by promoter Sid Grauman as “Grauman’s Chinese Theater”, this iconic venue is considered to be the most spectacular movie house in the world. Where else would you see pagodas and temple bells?
Stroll through its Forecourt of the Stars and view the imprints and signatures left by over 200 stars ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Tom Hanks. Step through the golden doors and take a guided tour to learn about the intriguing history behind this theatre, now listed as a historic-cultural landmark.
In the mood to take in a flick? Sit back in the beautifully refurbished and custom-designed IMAX theater. Want to catch a show outside? This original Red Carpet site still hosts plenty of star-powered events, so check out their calendar.!
Sunset Ranch Hollywood
If enjoying amazing views from horseback is your dream, then you’ll want to saddle up and hit the trail at Sunset Ranch Hollywood. A favorite of visitors and locals alike, the Ranch’s trail rides offer a unique way to savor the area’s gorgeous vistas.
Gentle, well-trained horses and engaging guides take you on a memorable journey on trails that wind through Griffith Park, along rocky hills to the top of the mountain. You’ll want keepsakes of this one-of-a-kind journey, so pack your camera on your trip to Sunset Ranch.
Take your pick of equine experiences. Short on time? Opt for a one-hour day tour. Interested in lingering on the trail? Stretch it out to two.
If you’ve got the time, take the Evening Tour, where you can tuck into a BBQ dinner along the way. If you really want to prolong your cowpoke time, stay overnight at the ranch’s bed and breakfast. Happy trails!
Lake Hollywood Park
Ready for some time away from the downtown din? Make a beeline for Lake Hollywood Park for some easy-going downtime. Set on the edge of Mulholland Drive, this green spot is a great place to while away an afternoon in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Take a stroll, bike, or jog along the trails that wind around the Hollywood Reservoir. This is a kid-and-dog-friendly haven, so bring the whole gang along for some fresh air and exercise.
Find some open space for a round of Frisbee. Spread out a blanket, unpack a hamper, and recharge. No matter how you spend your time in Lake Hollywood Park, just tilt your head back and look skyward for a fantastic view of the iconic Hollywood Sign. Just in case you forgot where you are…
Hollywood & Highland
Want to zero in on a Hollywood hub? Then zip over to the iconic intersection known as Hollywood & Highland. Located smack-dab in the middle of town, this spot is home to the Dolby Theater, where a little thing known as the Academy Awards is held each year.
Sitting next door to the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theater, it’s also the site of one of LA’s most popular tourist attractions, the Hollywood & Highland Center. This huge, multi-tasking complex is one of Tinseltown’s major magnets.
You can browse over 60 upscale boutiques, savor a meal at one of LA’s finest restaurants, or cut loose at one of the popular nightclubs just a heartbeat away from historic Hollywood Boulevard.
Want to experience the funky side of Hollywood? Grab your shades and head over to Sunset Strip, the world-famous stretch of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Set between Tinseltown and chi-chi Beverly Hills, the Strip is guaranteed to inject you with a whopping shot of adrenaline.
A popular hangout for both the famous and the wannabes, the Sunset Strip is one of the top places to see and be seen in Hollywood. It vibrates with an eclectic array of eateries, retailers, and entertainment venues, and it’s all dwarfed by those gigantic, iconic billboards advertising everything under the sun.
Take a stroll, do some shopping, and grab a bite. The Sunset Strip may not have the glam of its golden years, but it’s still loaded with a charisma that makes it one of Hollywood’s most popular destinations.
Ready for a stroll through Hollywood’s rich past? Put on your walking shoes and step inside the Hollywood Museum. If you’re looking for movie memorabilia, you’ve hit the motherlode: This museum is home to the largest collection in the world.
A striking example of Hollywood Art Deco architecture, the Hollywood Museum once housed the legendary Max Factor studios. That’s the company that made stars “beautiful” for their on-screen appearances. Step back in time and explore four floors of exhibits highlighting Hollywood’s early years and golden age.
Browse through a wide array of photographs, costumes, props, and memorabilia. Visit Hannibal Lecter’s cell from “Silence of the Lambs” or get a close-up look at Marilyn Monroe’s Million Dollar Dress. Check out the fascinating exhibits that highlight individual actors, directors, and filmmaking trends.
Hollywood Heritage Museum
If you’re a fan of old Hollywood movies, the Hollywood Heritage Museum is a must-visit. Sitting adjacent to the Hollywood Bowl, this little gem is a California State Historic Landmark. Why? It’s where the Hollywood motion picture industry was born.
This unassuming structure (c. 1895) was used to make Hollywood’s first feature film, 1913’s “The Squaw Man”. Relocated from its original site, this beautifully restored historic building houses director Cecil B. Demille’s original office. The Hollywood Heritage Museum offers fascinating insights into the earliest days of filmmaking.
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One of the best things to do in Hollywood, CA, is to browse the amazing exhibits, including some of the original movie props, archival photographs from the days of “talkies”, and other historic movie memorabilia. Check out the historic photos, along with vintage postcards of buildings and residences in Hollywood during its golden days.