Los Angeles is one of those places you’ve simply got to visit once in your life. See the Hollywood sign. Find your fave star on the Walk of Fame. Pull out your credit card on Rodeo Drive. Live it up like a tourist, then dig deeper.
While it’s easy to get lost in tourist traps, this city is so much more than you think. LA is brimming with fun things to do — you’ve just to know where to look.
Whether it’s just a quick stop on a road trip across California or you’re planning a long weekend in the city, La-La Land will steal your heart.
Ready to see the real LA? Here are ten things to do in Los Angeles that aren’t the Hollywood sign.
The Last Bookstore
In the heart of downtown Los Angeles, you’ll find the biggest new and used bookstore in the state. This independent bookstore covers a whopping 22,000 square feet.
It’s the perfect place to get lost in the mountains of stories and to find your perfect LA souvenir.
Fun fact: There’s a 2016 documentary about the place called Welcome to The Last Bookstore. It tells the interesting story of the store’s owner who re-thinks his life after an injury. And, tiny spoiler, he’s inspired to open a bookstore.
If you have seen The Artist, Blade Runner, or 500 Days of Summer, you will probably recognize the Bradbury Building. This landmark building was built back in 1893 and is the oldest landmarked building in LA.
Built by a 19th-century millionaire in an Italian Renaissance Revival style, the Bradbury Building is open for tours daily. Explore the Parisian-inspired interior and soak in the rich history. This gorgeous spot is a design lover’s dream and a great pitstop for any traveler.
Grand Central Market
If you’re looking for what to do in Los Angles and want something tasty, Grand Central Market definitely deserves a spot on your list.
Since 1917, this emporium has been home to the best food vendors and florists in the city.
From Thai comfort food to oysters to currywurst, Grand Central Market is an epicenter of flavors from the heart of Los Angeles. Sip Asian tea blends, browse the fresh international markets and stop to smell the roses.
Be sure to check the events calendar before you go. Try your luck at a game night, take in a film, or treat yourself on National Cheese Day… or National Pie Day… or National Pizza Day.
Basically, any night of the week at the central market is an excuse to treat yourself.
On Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park (on the south-facing slope), you’ll find the world-famous Griffith Observatory. More than just a gateway to the cosmos, you’ll find the best view in town here. You’ll have a sweeping view of downtown, Hollywood, and the Pacific Ocean.
Snap the perfect LA selfie, look into the free public telescopes, and soak in the beauty in every direction. You can easily make an afternoon here learning, exploring, and, of course, ogling the Hollywood sign!
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Arguably one of the coolest things to do in Los Angeles is seeing a movie in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery!
Just beside the Paramount Pictures studios, you can pay your respects to some of the biggest actors in the world. Stop by the flower shop when you’re arriving to get a map of celebrities’ gravesites and walk through a piece of Hollywood history.
Before you go, check the events calendar. Catching a movie here is a highlight of summer and it’s just one of many activities they have got going throughout the year.
Mosaic Tile House
You’ve never seen a place quite like this wonder from the 1940s. This beautiful art gallery is unlike anywhere you’ve ever been.
Explore the colorful tiles and gorgeous glass mosaics. If you’re lucky, you might even get a chance to chat with the owners of this wonderland.
You won’t find the Mosaic House on most lists, it’s definitely a unique place to visit while in the Los Angeles area.
Above is Gonzalo, the husband of the artistic duo that created the mosaic kingdom. The whole wall is a painted mural, depicting the events that led up to him meeting his wife and scenes from their life. He’s so excited to share his journey and inspire others to live passionately creative lives.
For a dream afternoon shopping and digging into amazing food, Chinatown in LA is my go-to destination. Wander the groceries stores and gift shops tucked away inside of the pagoda-style buildings. Sample dim sum under the red lanterns.
Once you’re filled up, explore the Taoist Thien Hau Temple then continue on to the tucked-away galleries and dark bars dotting the winding roads.
Founded in 1781, Olvera Street is the heart of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. This vibrant cultural center offers a taste of Mexican culture as the chance to explore the oldest area of Los Angeles.
Wander the pedestrian street as you admire the historic spaces and leafy streets until you reach Cesar Chavez Avenue.
Greystone Mansion and Park
Greystone Mansion, or Doheny Mansion as it’s sometimes called, is a famous Tudor Revival mansion in the Trousdale Estates of Beverly Hills.
You’ll recognize this place as soon as you arrive. Famous flicks like The Bodyguard, Big Lebowski, The Prestige, The Social Network, and X-Men were all filmed here.
This funicular railway is a much-loved landmark in Downtown Los Angeles. Two cars, Olivet and Sinai, will take you up and down the Bunker Hill neighborhoods on a nearly 300-foot incline.
Not only is the ride up Angel’s Flight only $1 but it’ll give you a beautiful view while you bypass the long hike up the stairs.
Bonus: Santa Monica & Venice Beach
A trip to LA wouldn’t be complete without a beach day in Santa Monica and Venice.
The two areas are close together so you can easily hit them both in one day. Best of all, even if it’s not warm enough to work on your tan, there is plenty to do around town.
My top spot to start any beach day is Abbot Kinney Blvd. This hip area is jam-packed with cool boutiques. Grab a coffee from Tom’s flagship store or Intelligentsia Coffee then start exploring.
When dinner time rolls around, there is no place in town like Gjelina. This place can book up well in advance so grab a table online before you.
Feeling inspired? Keep on reading my Ultimate 4-Day Los Angeles Itinerary for more inspiration.