1. Grand Central Market 

Featured Image: People at Grand Central Market. Photo: Thrillist.

Grand Central Market, located in downtown Los Angeles, has been a staple since 1917. The market offers a variety of food options from local vendors, including Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, vegetarian, and more.

In addition to the variety of food options, Grand Central Market is also home to several artisans selling everything from jewelry to pottery.

Since 1917, the vast Grand Central Market has occupied the main level of the famous Homer Laughlin Building, making it an excellent site to start your experience in Downtown Los Angeles. This is without a doubt the city’s largest and oldest public market. 

With a revitalization effort and the addition of a cosmopolitan line-up of new vendors in the 2010s, the market transformed itself into a fashionable eating destination. 

There’s falafel, Nashville chicken, wood-fired pizza, an oyster bar, ramen, Salvadorian street food, tacos, tortas, tostadas, currywurst, burritos, bento, and BBQ, as well as specialty food vendors selling fresh bread, cheese, spices, Latin dry goods, herbs, fruit, and veggies to entice you.

Insider Tip: Come with an empty stomach and be prepared to spend some time walking around because there’s a lot to see. Also, keep in mind that the market can get crowded, so come early if you want to avoid crowds.

2. Pacific Coast Highway

Featured Image: Pacific Coast Highway. Photo: 710 Vacation Rentals.

The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most scenic drives in the United States. The highway runs along the coast of California for nearly 650 miles, from Monterey to Dana Point.

This drive takes you past some of California’s most beautiful coastline, including Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Malibu.

The north-south route, which follows California’s coastline for more than 660 miles and maybe joined from Santa Monica for a gorgeous trip to Malibu, has been made famous by decades of popular culture. 

At high tide, you’ll witness sleek villas perched high on the cliffs, surf towns, and hundreds of beaches, many of which are lined by magnificent homes and have only a sliver of light sand. 

When you’re hungry, there’s no shortage of seafood-focused restaurants to choose from, many with breathtaking views. Malibu Seafood is a combination fish shop and patio cafe, while Neptune’s Net is a legendary seafood establishment that has been attracting bikers since 1956.

Insider Tip: The drive can be crowded, especially on weekends and during the summer. To avoid traffic, plan to start your drive early in the morning or later in the evening.

3. Sunset Boulevard

Featured Image: Sunset Boulevard. Photo: The Moment Hotel

Sunset Boulevard is a nice cross-section of the metropolis, stretching 22 miles from Downtown Los Angeles to luxurious Malibu.  The drive takes you past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Hollywood Sign, Beverly Hills, and Rodeo Drive.

This is one of the most famous streets in the world, made even more popular by movies and TV shows set in Los Angeles. The boulevard runs from Downtown LA all the way to the Pacific Coast Highway, making it the perfect road to take if you want to see the city’s best landmarks. 

Some of the highlights along the way include the Hollywood Sign, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Beverly Hills. For a truly unique experience, detour up Mulholland Drive for some of LA’s best views.

Every rock scene, from folk rock to punk to hair metal, had its day on Sunset Strip in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The alternative music scene has expanded to the Arts District, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park as the area has become more upscale.

Insider Tip: If you’re driving during rush hour, be prepared for traffic. The best time to avoid traffic is early in the morning or later at night.

4. Paramount Pictures Studio Tour

Featured Image: Paramount Studios Entrance. Photo: Easter Los Angeles

The firm that became Paramount Pictures relocated to this 26-acre land at 5555 Melrose Avenue in 1926, with origins dating back to 1912. Sunset Boulevard, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Rear Window, and Sabrina were all filmed on sets that are still in use today. 

For a behind-the-scenes look at one of the oldest and most famous movie studios in Hollywood, take the Paramount Pictures Studio Tour.

The tour includes a visit to the backlot, where you’ll see some of the most iconic sets in movie history, including the New York Street set and the Central Park set from Forrest Gump.

You’ll also get to see the soundstages where some of Hollywood’s most famous movies were filmed, including The Ten Commandments, Titanic, and Braveheart.

The tour also includes a visit to the Paramount Archive, where you can see props, costumes, and memorabilia from some of the studio’s most famous films.

Insider Tip: Tours sell out quickly, so book your tickets in advance. Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes as the tour involves a lot of walking.

5. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Featured Image: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Photo: Dinosaur Hall

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is one of the largest museums in the Western United States. The museum has a collection of more than 35 million specimens and artifacts, making it one of the most extensive collections in the world.

The museum really has three sites, including the La Brea Tar Pits, but we’re talking about the Exposition Park centerpiece, a Renaissance Revival structure with beautiful terracotta molding and a colonnaded rotunda. 

Some of the crowd-pleasers include Becoming Los Angeles, which shows how a tiny hamlet grew into an unending metropolis, and Dinosaur Hall, which reopened in 2013 with quadruple the capacity and has the only T. rex on exhibit. 

Insider Tip: The museum is free on the first Tuesday of every month.

6. Santa Monica State Beach

Featured Image: Santa Monica Pier. Photo: Pacific Park

This is the spot for beach volleyball, a classic California pastime. The sands here have hosted Olympic trials and professional tournaments, but on any given day you’ll see locals playing a friendly game.

There are also three Regulation Volleyball Courts available first-come, first-served basis at Santa Monica Beach. If you’re looking for a more laid-back experience, enjoy the sun on one of the two miles of sandy beach.

Don’t forget to stop by the Santa Monica Pier, where you can ride the historic carousel or take a spin on the solar-powered Ferris wheel. If you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at parasailing or jet skiing.

Insider Tip: If you’re driving, be aware that parking can be difficult to find and expensive. There are several public parking lots in the area, or you can take the Metro Rail to the Downtown Santa Monica station.

Featured Image: Unsplash