Thursday 5 Feb, 2015

Los Angeles: Top 10 Things to See & Do

Los Angeles is a city full of energy, glamour, and an excitement that you can feel. Add in a vibrant mix of cultures and influences along with eye-popping landscapes, and you’ve got a place with a character all its own. Of course, the entertainment industry is king there—some of the best sightseeing revolves around that, but there’s much more to the city than celeb spotting and showbiz. Here are 10 things you have to see or do (or eat) while in L.A. on your EF student tour:

Los Angeles

1) The Hollywood Sign
It’s classic, it’s iconic, and it makes you feel like you’re among the stars just looking at the famous Hollywood Hills landmark. You can enjoy a good view of the sign from several vantage points around the city, but we recommend heading to Griffith Park for a closer look (not to mention a chance to snap an amazing pic to share online!). Fun fact: The sign originally said “HOLLYWOODLAND,” which was the name of a real estate development up in the Hills during the 1920s.

2) Griffith Observatory
Perched up on the side of the Hollywood Hills, the Griffith Observatory definitely earns its status among the most popular attractions in L.A. For starters, the panoramic view of the city from the observation deck will definitely be a highlight for you and your classmates. Inside the observatory itself, the expansive exhibits offer student travellers an enlightening perspective on the cosmos and their place in it.

3) Authentic Mexican Food
Los Angeles has a huge Mexican-American population, and the influence of the rich Mexican culture forms a major part of the city’s personality. Of course, that also means great, authentic Mexican food! There are countless unknown gems all over L.A. where you and your classmates can get a plate of tacos, a burrito, or some lesser-known traditional dish. All the sightseeing you’ll be doing on your L.A. student tour will be hungry work—when your stomach starts to grumble, you can’t go wrong with Mexican food.

4) Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame
One of the most iconic attractions in L.A. is the long stretch of Hollywood Boulevard famously decorated with stars in the sidewalk designed to commemorate famous showbiz personalities. It’s always fun to find your favorites among the stars spanning decades and decades of entertainers (and hey—there’s still some blank space too, for all you aspiring celebs out there!). If you and your friends look closely, you’ll also find some interesting surprises.

5) Venice Beach Boardwalk
The Venice Boardwalk is an experience you just have to see for yourself. With the beautiful Pacific Ocean and a sprawling sandy beach as the backdrop, this popular pedestrian-friendly area is filled with souvenir shops, craft vendors, artists, street musicians, skateboarders, tourists, cyclists and more. And don’t forget Muscle Beach, the famous outdoor gym where weightlifters get pumped up in front of the passing crowds.

6) Santa Monica Pier
Just up the beach from Venice, the Santa Monica Pier can be seen for miles around thanks to its large ferris wheel and carnival rides stretching out above the waves. Ride the rides, play the games, and maybe win a giant stuffed animal if you have the skills. There’s also a small aquarium, where you can learn about the local sea life and see some exotic creatures.

7) Warner Brothers VIP Studio Tour
This is your chance to really go behind the scenes and see how they make some of your favourite movies and TV shows. On the interactive Warner Brothers VIP Tour, you get to see real sets, costumes, props, scripts, and who knows—maybe, just maybe, you’ll see a star on their way to work.

8) Universal Studios
You’ve done one studio tour, so why do another? Well, because Universal isn’t just a studio, it’s a full-fledged theme park. Not only can you go on the famous studio lot bus tour (watch out for Jaws!), you also get your thrills on park rides like The Simpsons Ride, King Kong 360 3-D, and Transformers: The Ride 3-D.

9) Getty Center
For art lovers, you can’t beat the Getty Center, which exhibits some of the world’s best paintings, sculptures and photography. Even for those who don’t love art, the Getty is a must-see spot—set high up on a mountainside (you get there by riding a tram that rises dramatically above the freeway), the ocean views are amazing to see from the museum’s gardens and outlook points.

10) Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Admittedly, the chances of seeing a big-time movie star while you’re in L.A. are slim, but you’re guaranteed to see some of your favorites at Madame Tussauds. And unlike the actual celebrities, these incredibly life-like wax figures will let you take a selfie with them! Marilyn Monroe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Taylor Swift, Ryan Reynolds, Selena Gomez—the list goes on and on.

These are just 10 highlights in a city with a limitless number of things to see, do and experience. EF’s student trips to Los Angeles are a great way to get the full experience in one of America’s most unique cities!

Santa Monica

Santa Monica Pier



Photo credits
Hollywood sign: Tony Hoffarth via flickr
Santa Monica pier: red.dahlia via flickr