Cultural Hot Spots!

Griffith Observatory is a wonderful free attraction located on Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. The planetarium itself is great, however, the real reason you come is for the incredible views of Los Angeles (especially at night!). Griffith is also the best place in town for dramatic views of the Hollywood sign (I don’t think you can get any closer!). The on-site hiking trails are short, yet provide some of the best views the city has to offer.

Griffith Observatory - Los Angeles, CA

Long Beach Museum of Art is a hidden gem located on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The museum is small, yet interesting and never overwhelming. There is a beautiful outdoor restaurant situated on a patio overlooking the ocean.

A view of the Long Beach artificial islands

Views from Long Beach (artificial islands)

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, located at California State University Long Beach, is an oasis in hectic Long Beach. This beautiful hidden gem includes dozens of bonsai trees and a koi pond. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, and  regrettably do not have any pictures to share.

Take my word for it, this garden is absolutely stunning. Everyone needs a little quiet reflection time – this Japanese garden is the ultimate place to rejuvenate while enjoying nature.

TV show tapings

Attending a live taping of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno was a blast. After watching the show for all those years, it was interesting to see some behind the scenes action. The studio is pretty small, enabling everyone in the studio audience the same fantastic view. The taping was quick, fun, and the live music performance was fantastic (we got to see The Script (famous for “Hall of Fame” before they became famous!).

NBC taping of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Extra! with Mario Lopez was another fantastic studio audience experience. I appreciated the quick filming as opposed to sitting through an 8 hour sitcom taping. Great opportunity for those interested in what goes on behind the scenes of popular news entertainment shows. Staff was friendly and even handed out free Polaroid cameras to the public. We saw a taping at The Grove shopping center, although taping has moved on to Universal Studios.

Misc. Entertainment

A trip to Hollywood would not be complete without looking for your favorite stars at the iconic Walk of Fame. Although I probably wouldn’t go back (extremely crowded even on weekdays), it is just one of those things that every entertainment buff needs to check off their bucket list!

Grauman's Chinese Theater at the Walk of Fame in Holllywood, CA

I wouldn’t make a special trip just to walk around, however, shopping at Hollywood and Highland and dining at Hard Rock Cafe are fun add on activities, as are special events such as movie premieres and Nokia Theater performances.  Tip: skip the overrated Hollywood Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not attractions.

As you can see, there is a little bit of everything in Los Angeles. No matter what your interests are, you are sure to find plenty of activities to keep yourself more than occupied. Too many tourists head right over to Hollywood and forget about the wonderful natural attractions in the city. Feel free to comment below on some of your favorite Los Angeles area attractions!

FAQ

Where is the Beverly Hills sign located?

You can find the famous sign at 2 different locations. One is located at W. Sunset Blvd and N. Sierra St.  and another is found at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Moreno Drive.

Do I have to pay to park at the beach?

It depends on what time/day you visit. During the busiest parts of the day you will need to find a parking meter. If you get there early enough you may be able to find street parking (make sure to check the signs for street cleaning!).

Where do I find studio audience tickets to my favorite shows?

Check TV Tix and Audiences Unlimited.

Is there a charge to attend TV show tapings?

No, they are completely free! Some even give out freebies, especially for longer sitcom tapings. Parking is free as well.

Where does the Marvin Braude bike path start and end?

You can park in the parking lots or on the side streets near Torrance State Beach (387 Paseo de la Playa in Torrance) or Will Rogers State Beach (Pacific Coast Highway & Temescal Canyon Rd in Pacific Palisades).

Where’s the best spot to see celebrities?

Your chances of actually bumping into a celebrity are slim to none. Your best bet is attending star ceremonies at the Walk of Fame or watching stars walk the red carpet for movie premieres at Grauman’s Chinese theater. On the odd occasion, most sightings have occurred at everyday locales like Whole Foods and Starbucks, strangely enough!

Where can I take the best picture of the Hollywood sign?

Head over to the Griffith Observatory and hike the on-site trails early in the morning. You will be able to take fantastic up close pictures without any hoards of people around.