Two days in L.A. - what to do?

I’m hopefully going to spend a couple of days in Los Angeles next month (August) to knock another item off my Bucket List (“Get my picture taken with the Hollywood sign behind me.”)

I’m a huge pop-culture junkie and already have a few things I’d like to do, but would love more suggestions.

Do any of the TV or movie studios have tours? I’m not interested in “Homes of the Stars”, that feels too paparazzi-like for my liking.

Will we need to rent a car at LAX or is the public transportation sufficient? We haven’t booked a hotel yet - what’s a fairly inexpensive one in a decent neighbourhood near all the touristy places?

Thanks in advance…

L.A. is a huge place, and public transportation isn’t great, although you can use it to get around if you don’t have a car, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Yes, movie and TV studios have tours. Check our Universal Studios and NBC for more details.

There are a countless number of things to do while you are there. I would google “things to do in Los Angeles” and be prepared for a lot of reading…

I’m doing that too, I was just hoping that you guys could tell me what’s worthwhile and what isn’t. :slight_smile:

If you do rent a car and like driving, drive Mulholland Drive. I don’t even generally like to drive and it was pretty much the only thing I did when I visited LA (which was also to cross off my bucket list.) ETA: plus you can overlook the city via its many overlooks. But unfortunately many (or all?) of them are closed at night time because they’re the prototypical “lover’s lane” city scape view.

It’s twisty and turny and it will feel like you’re in a race car even if you keep within the posted limits, and it’s pretty near Hollywood as far as the LA region goes.

Pop culture? Have a hot dog at Pink’s. Have a chiliburger at Tommy’s. Eat a chicken pot pie at Musso & Frank. Compare your feet to the prints of everybody at Mann’s Chinese.

Go see the new rock at LACMA.

Not “pop” culture, but… culture

If you can stand art museums, the Getty is a MUST SEE.

Museum of Science and Industry at Exposition Park. (One of the retired Space Shuttles is going there, but I think that will still be a while coming.)

Mulholland Drive ain’t what it used to be. Most of it is built up with big McMansions now. Used to have a somewhat out-on-the-edge-of-town ambience (even though it was right in the middle of things), and had that “Lover’s Lane” reputation.

Go surfing at Malibu. (Are there still two girls for every boy?)

Visit San Francisco and surrounding Bay Area on your way home. (We had a lengthy thread of things to see and do there several months ago.)

Old-classic car museums. There’s one called Peterson (I think) just a few blocks from La Brea Tar Pits, and another one in Sylmar (San Fernando Valley).

The touristy places are spread out all over the place with a LOT of driving in between. Perhaps if you told us what your must-see attractions are, we could suggest a base of operations.

I would NOT recommend trying to use public transit to get around. The bus system is labyrinthine. It’s okay for routine trips if you know your route, but horrible for sightseeing. And the subway still doesn’t go to much of the city.

Favorite things of mine:

The Getty. Amazing museum, beautiful views of the city.

Griffith Observatory. Also an amazing museum with different beautiful views of the city.

LACMA, the La Brea Tar Pits, and the Petersen Automotive Museum are all within walking distance of each other in the Miracle Mile.

And just up Fairfax from LACMA is The Los Angeles Farmer’s Market. Great for lunch.

The Santa Monica pier. Ride the Ferris wheel and check out the beach.

A short distance away is 4th Street in Santa Monica, a very nice pedestrian mall with lots of street performers and restaurants.

My wife and I were in the LA area over New Years. We went for the Rose Bowl Parade (a bucket list item of hers), but we did many other things.

I initially didn’t want to do it, but we took the Warner Bros. studio tour, and it was fantastic. It was a bit pricey, but I believe all the studio tours are around the same price. I didn’t really care for Hollywood Blvd; very tacky and cheap. And crowded. The quintessential tourist trap.

We managed to get fairly close to the Hollywood sign. The road went through a neighborhood and there are numerous twists and turns, but with directions you can find directions on line, getting there isn’t too hard.

Other highlights of the trip that we enjoyed:

[li]Touring the Queen Mary in Long Beach[/li][li]Going to Torrence High School (the stand-in for Sunnydale High on Buffy the Vampire Slayer)[/li][li]Going to Point Fermin and Point Vicente lighthouses (I’m a lighthouse collector)[/li][li]Going to Griffith Observatory and watching the sunset[/li][/ul]

Hope it helps!

If you like theme parks, there’s Universal Studios or Six Flags Magic Mountain. Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland are in Orange County, so they don’t count :stuck_out_tongue:

In 'N Out has fantastic burgers. Get them “animal style” for extra flavor

Small warning. The people living in the neighborhood with the best views of the Hollywood sign hate tourists.

Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens. I dunno if it has a library there, but it has the other two.

I’ve had a lot of fun riding bikes at the beach. Start in Redondo Beach, rent a bike from one of the many bike shops there, and ride north 20 miles then come back.

Drive the Pacific Coast Highway. Stop at any of the beach towns (Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, Long Beach) and walk around; look at all the bronzed bodies. Walk a pier.

Do the Universal Studios tour.

Do the theme park thing if that’s your thing. Educate yourself on the various tricks and traps for the parks you want to see as there’s a huge variation in the quality and cost of your experience, depending on how much “insider knowledge” you have.

Don’t neglect the cultural opportunities. The LA Symphony’s Disney Hall is an amazing place. There are, of course, myriad museums. Take in a concert at Hollywood bowl. Go see a Dodger game.

I concur with other responders on the necessity of having a car. LA was built on the assumption that everyone drives. The public transportation pretty much sucks.

San Francisco is a 6hr, 380mi drive from Los Angeles, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you have only two days here.

3rd Street Promenade. 4th Street is rather dull. :slight_smile:

While these kinds of questions, “Hey, I’m going to…xxxx-- what to do?” always get factual answers, they’re just personal opinions. MOved from General Questions to IMHO.

samclem, Moderator GQ

DO take very seriously the advice to rent a car. And more: Be aware that traffic in the entire L. A. area is beaucoup congested and slow, and you could well spend the greater part of any day just (trying) to get from Point A to Point B, even for Points A and B arbitrarily close together.

If you’re only there for 2 days, you should really plan to limit your sightseeing to several places nearby one another on Day 1, and several places nearby one another on Day 2, and that’s all.

If, for example, you try to get in Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, Santa Monica and Malibu, Getty, and Huntington and both of those classic car museums – all in different parts of the city – there’s no way possible you could do that. You’ll just spend your whole visit sitting in traffic (which, OTOH, will truly give you the most realistic L. A. experience)!

Consider, maybe, one day visiting all those places in the Miracle Mile area (tar pits, Petersen classic car museum, Exposition Park, whatever else is there), and one day visiting in and around the Valley (classic car museum in Sylmar, maybe Magic Mountain, maybe Getty). Or one day visiting stuff in and around Hollywood (Avenue of Stars, Chinese theater with the handprints, the Hollywood sign, Griffith Park).

Just don’t try to visit too many far-flung places because it won’t work.

The suckiness of public transportation and traffic congestion in Los Angeles is FACT! :mad:

I lived out there as a kid and I loved Olvera Street (may be really cheesy now, don’t know), La Brea Tar pits, museum of Science and Industry (is the robotic McDonald’s still there?). Knott’s Berry Farm was generally regarded as a better theme park than Disney, but both were great. The Hollywood Wax museum was OK, but I met Chuck Norris there, so I’ll always love that place, nice guy too.
Get a Pink’s dog if you really like dogs and can stand a wait. Eat a real street taco if that’s your thing. As lame as it sounds now, I really miss Del Taco and El Pollo Loco.

More pop culture than you can handle at

samclem Y U NO move this thread?!?

We did this tour when we were in LA a couple years ago:
(the “Tragical History” one although I don’t think that’s what they called it then.)

It covers mostly the same territory as one of those “stalk the stars” tours, but the actual content of the tour is much more geared towards old Hollywood gossip than new-- it’s mostly dead celebrities, although they do stop for a bathroom break at the public toilet where George Michael got arrested. It was great for me and the person I went with, since we couldn’t give two shits about the current crop of celebrities, but we were nevertheless definitely in Hollywood to gawk.

In n’ Out, Tommy’s, Pink’s, and street tacos have already been mentioned, so i’d like to throw in that Phillippe’s is not to be missed. It’s right in the heart of downtown, a stone’s throw away from Union Station and Chinatown. The French dip (which is generally agreed to have been invented there) is to die for, and the ambience is one-of-a-kind.

I’ll second absolutely not relying on public transportation. It’s hard enough to figure out if you’re a local and it’ll take you about three times as long to get anywhere as driving.

Check the weather report in detail before you go out. LA has the reputation of always being sunny and warm, but in southern CA there’s a lot of weather variation from place to place - it’s cooler and windier by the beach, warmer in the hills, etc.

Take a drive down Hollywood Blvd. just to marvel at the spectacle of it.

So far I want to see Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Paramount Studios Tour, Hard Rock Cafe, Rodeo Drive, and to drive along some of those famous streets.

We could always stay another day - the Warner Brothers studio tour would be great too. I forgot about the Queen Mary, thank you to the poster who mentioned that.

I mostly just want to see Hollywood-things. My husband wants to see an aircraft carrier there (I think that’s what it is, some kind of warship, sorry I can’t remember the name.)

That “dearly departed” tour sounds cool too. I can’t be arsed with the current stars either, it’s the old timey ones that interest me.

Thank you!

The warship your husband is thinking about is probably the USS Iowa. They just opened it up down in San Pedro.