Check out this guide for all the places to visit in Los Angeles you need to add to your list!
Los Angeles – LA, the city of angels, La La Land – whatever you call it, there’s no area in the country quite like it. The buzzy energy of outdoor activities like running along the ocean or watching surfers catch waves, the hopeful optimism of seeing someone famous, the knowledge that all the up-and-coming trends are unfolding right in front of your eyes (before they hit the rest of the country – or at least, the middle), the art, the culture, the glamour and most of all, SUNSHINE. Check out this guide for where to eat, frolic and shop the next time you head to the west coast.
Note: this is an ever-growing list of places to visit in Los Angeles, so if you see your favorite spot missing hit us up on Instagram at @moderatelyexcited and let us know!
Places to Visit in Los Angeles – #1: Venice Beach
Left: skater catches some air at the Venice Beach Skate Park; right: Venice of America – aka Venice Canals
First on the list of places to visit in Los Angeles because it’s one of our all-time favorite spots – you can’t beat the people watching and the Venice Beach Skate Park should have its own zip code because it is TOTALLY a destination worth checking out, even if you don’t ride. Abbot Kinney is a mecca for shopping and dining (named after the architect and developer who brought Venice of America to life – yes, the Venice Canals).
Where to Shop in Venice Beach
- Skylark – rock n roll vibes, basic pieces and vintage Ts
- Nati Boutique – creature comforts and lots of great basics
- Principessa – vintage Ts, unique statement pieces and great accessories
- Ananada – funky period pieces with a modern twist and lots of great jewelry
Where to Eat in Venice Beach
- Plancha Tacos – some of the best fish tacos probably EVER – the breading is light, flaky and a bit savory. Don’t miss them! Or the shrimp tacos.
- Gjelina – trendy spot with indoor seating as well as an outdoor patio in the back – killer brunch
- High Rooftop Bar @ Hotel Erwin – great spot to view the sunset, the ocean + waves and also muscle beach with a birds’ eye view
- La Tostaderia – maybe some of the best guac in VB – and the tacos are pretty darn great too
Things to Do in Venice Beach
- Rent bikes – head to one oof the many bike rental kiosks on the Strand or inland and take a leisurely roll next to the ocean
- People watch at the Venice Beach Skate Park – whether you skate or not, it’s always fun to watch the tricks these amazing skaters can pull!
- Check out the Venice Canals – developed by Abbot Kinney as the ‘Venice of America’, these storied canals are such a unique element of Venice Beach and will instantly transport you to another time and place
At one point, the north side of what is now known as Manhattan Beach was called Shore Acres by George Peck, who’d purchased it. In 1901, John Merrill bought a section of the south side and called it Manhattan, after his hometown in New York. The two couldn’t agree on a name and Manhattan won in a coin toss! Now a bustling city in South Bay, there’s a lot of reasons Manhattan Beach needs to be on your list of places to visit in Los Angeles.
Where to Shop in Manhattan Beach
- All Yoo – trendy pieces and accessories for awesome prices
- kalihi – Hawaiian island vibes
- Cami – high end clothes and accessories with an alt vibe
- The Beehive – cozy, comfy and eclectic statement pieces, staples and outerwear
- katwalk – of-the-moment trends, statement pieces and accessories
- Harper & Harlow – unique finds, accessories and statemen pieces at great prices
Where to Eat in Manhattan Beach
- Little Sister at The Point – Vietnamese small plates and cocktails
- Manhattan Beach Creamery – amazing frozen treats (don’t miss the ice cream sandos!)
- Sugarfish – upscale, beautifully presented maki, nigiri and sashimi
- Uncle Bill’s Pancake House – local breakfast spot with outdoor patio
- The Local Yolk – greasy spoon diner with amazing baked goods
- Baja Sharkeez – fun and atmospheric bar
- Gelato and Angels – frozen treat spot
- Ercoles 1101 – pub with draft brews, pool table and amazing burgers
- The Strand House – upscale eatery and cocktails near the Manhattan Beach Pier
- Sidecar Donuts – donut shop with multiple locations and sweet, savory and incredibly fresh donuts
- Two Guns Espresso – local coffee shop with multiple locations and a walkup window
Things to Do in Manhattan Beach
- Run the Ardmore Path – get on near the 1 and Rosencrans Ave and follow it southwest all the way to Redondo Beach! *note – you’ll have to run south along Valley when you get to 15th and pick up the trail again just off Manhattan Beach Blvd
- Visit Manhattan Beach Pier – standing since 1920, it’s officially the oldest concrete pier on the west coast. Worth a stroll above AND below – you’ll see what we mean!
- Check out the Roundhouse Aquarium – free (though you might need reservations, check their website!) and get as close to the water as possible!
- Watch the surfers near El Porto – an underwater canyon creates some of the largest swells in the surrounding area and a large parking lot make this ideal for surfing (or just watching!)
Hermosa Beach was originally part of a 1784 Spanish land grant and later settled as a town (one of three beach towns, the other two are in this post). The first pier was built in 1904 (and was partially washed away in 1913, after which another pier was erected). The beautiful weather and ideal location along the Strand, Pacific Coast Highway (the 1) and the ocean makes this one of many great places to visit in Los Angeles.
Where to Shop in Hermosa Beach
- Wicked+ LA – boutique for men’s goods and clothing, local artisan goods and eco-friendly brands
- Beach & Beverly – trendy boutique with cozy comfort and statement pieces
- Spyder Surfboards – surf shop with boarding equipment plus men’s and women’s clothing
- The Gum Tree Boutique – cute boutique with jewelry, home goods and local items
Where to Eat in Hermosa Beach
- Palmilla Cocina y Tequila – some of the best fish tacos in the area, plus handmade, hand-pressed tortillas are served at every table (they do cost $1-3)
- The Gum Tree Café – cute café for coffee and treats with an outdoor patio
- The Bottle Inn – romantic sea cottage vibe with delicious Italian fare
- Brother’s Burritos – local breakfast/lunch spot with great burritos
Things to Do in Hermosa Beach
- Check out a farmers’ market – many other towns have them but you can’t miss a local farmers’ market for fresh fish, produce and goodies
- Play beach volleyball – similarly, other beaches have courts but it’s well worth it to spend the day bumping, setting and spiking on the beach! Hermosa Beach’s pier has pretty nice public facilities too.
- Watch fishing at the Hermosa Beach Pier – another great pier in the area, you’ll probably find a lot of fishing happening and plenty of people eager to chat about what they’re catching. You may also spot some dolphins!
Related: check out other California cities you need to visit like San Francisco – click here!
Back in 1890, Redondo Beach became the first port of Los Angeles County. In the same year, Hotel Redondo opened and was one of the major catalysts pulling tourists to the west coast at the time. During the Great Depression, it became a hotbed for gambling, mobsters and other nefarious practices. Today, it’s a beautiful beach city on the Los Angeles coast and certainly worth a visit.
Where to Shop in Redondo Beach
- Fernando’s – shop for eclectic, one-of-a-kind embellished denim jackets, clothes & accessories
- Alandrea – boutique with comfy clothes, statement pieces and accessories
- Lollipop Children’s Boutique – toys, games and clothes for newborns – 10-ish
- Fringe – California style home good store
- Papillion – women’s boutique with personal shopping style services
Where to Eat in Redondo Beach
- Yellow Vase – cheerful café with outdoor patio
- Hi-Fi Espresso – coffee shop for hot and cold drinks
- Turquoise – beautiful café with middle eastern fare
Things to Do in Redondo Beach
- Visit Miramar Park – gorgeous park right on the ocean with views, seating and facilities
- Check out the Redondo Beach Pier – lots of shopping, eating and walking to be had – plus you may even spot a sea lion!
- Take a dip in the seaside lagoon – exactly what it sounds like – swimming spot with beautiful ocean views
Hollywood + Surrounding Area
This area of Los Angeles needs little to no introduction! Playground of the glitzy, glamorous set, there are plenty of sights to see related to the movie biz as well as history, culture and art.
Where to Eat
- Cactus Taqueria #3 – local taco spot with street tacos and amazing guac
- Farmshop at Brentwood Country Mart – upscale market and eatery with small plates and hearty dishes
Things to Do
- Check out the Brady Bunch House – yes, THE Brady Bunch – while you can’t go inside, you can certainly stroll past, down memory lane!
- Walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame & see the TCL Chinese Theater – yes you’ve probably seen it on TV, but there’s nothing quite like putting your own feet in a celebrity’s shoes (er, a cement impression of them)
- Visit The Getty Museum – while you almost need more than one day to see everything the Getty has to offer, you can certainly see a good chunk in one. Be sure to make a reservation well in advance! ALSO they have an app that provides audio snippets on select works and makes the whole experience a lot more immersive. Be sure to download before you arrive!
Left: views of the Getty Museum from the plaza; right: a person takes advantage of the complimentary umbrellas
In the US (really, in the state of California), there are 4 official Japantowns recognized, and one just happens to be in West Los Angeles. First gen Japanese began settling in this area in the 1890s, unfortunately mostly due to racist prejudice that prevented them from settling elsewhere. Now, Sawtelle Japantown aims to preserve important history and culture for its communities.
Where to Eat in Sawtelle Japantown
Left: fried chicken skin dish at FuRaiBo; right: glazed mochi donut at Mochi Dochi
- Daikokuya – delicious spot known for octopus balls and a BBQ pork fried rice dish
- Tsujita LA – artisanal noodle shop with Tsukemen – or ‘dry ramen’
- FuRaiBo – great spot for fried chicken wings (and skins) and other Japanese tapas
- Mochi Dochi – mochi donuts. Need we say more?
Places to Get Active Outdoors in Los Angeles
- Runyon Canyon Park – purportedly one of the best places to try to spot a celeb. Get there early because there is only street parking in the area. Also, the east-west loop trail is VERY steep at times – especially the west side. If you want to do the whole thing, do it counter-clockwise so you only have to ascend the steep west side, rather than descend (it can be super slick, in wet conditions AND dry – lots of loose dirt). Also there is no shade or public restrooms so plan accordingly!
- Point Vincente Interpretive Center – a gorgeous spot for whale watching and learning about the local area
- Rancho Palos Verdes Scenic Turnout – beautiful sea cliffside walking paths with infinite views
- The Strand – a recreational path that runs all the way from essentially Pacific Palisades south to Redondo Beach that is perfect for walking, running, biking, skating and blading. You can rent bikes and skates many places, too!
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