This ultimate LA bucket list is packed with unique experiences you won’t want to miss, whether you’re a tourist or a local! From the classic must-dos to the hidden gems, this guide is here to help you craft the perfect Los Angeles bucket list.
Explore The World’s Largest Independent Record Store
If you collect vinyl, CDs, cassettes, movies, posters, or band t-shirts, you’re gonna want to take a trip to Amoeba Music. I guarantee you will not find another store like this, where there’s truly something for everyone. With so much variety, you could spend hours combing through their collection. Oh, did I mention that the prices are great too?
Spend The Day In Santa Monica
The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most iconic piers in the US, and definitely the most iconic in LA. This pier is home to Pacific Park, an amusement park featuring rides, carnival food, and all kinds of games. If nothing else, you’ll want to ride the Ferris wheel for a beautiful 360-degree view of the Southern California coastline. If theme parks aren’t quite your style, you can still stroll along the pier and enjoy the beautiful ocean view! But there’s more to Santa Monica than just the pier! There are restaurants, shopping malls, museums, and more! Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy some sand and sun on the beautiful beach, of course!
Go Star-Spotting… In A Cemetery
Who doesn’t dream of running into their favorite Hollywood icons while visiting Los Angeles? Well, one surefire way to cross “seeing a celebrity” off your LA bucket list is by visiting the one place you can always find a plethora of famous people. That’s right, I’m talking about the cemetery!
This might sound morbid to some, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful spot for a stroll in LA than Hollywood Forever Cemetery. There are other cemeteries packed with stars as well, so if there’s someone specific in mind you’d like to pay your respects to, check out my post on celebrity gravesites – a guide to visiting LA’s most famous graves.
See A Movie In The City Where They’re Filmed
Los Angeles is the movie-making capital not only of the United States but the entire world! Naturally, seeing a movie in the place where it all happens is a must-do. I’m not talking about seeing a movie at the nearest AMC Theater. LA has so many unique movie theaters, probably more than any city in the world. There’s Grauman’s Chinese Theater, of course, and the lesser-known Grauman’s Egyptian Theater, both of which offer a unique and festive setting, but it doesn’t end there.
Quentin Tarantino fans will want to check out New Beverly Cinema. Tarantino has owned this historic theater since 2007, and he hand-picks most of the programming, so you always know they’re screening something good. If you’re looking for a more unique setting, Hollywood Forever Cemetery screens movies on the Fairbanks Lawn during the summer (concerts too!). For a nostalgic moviegoing experience, LA is home to several drive-in movie theaters that are worth visiting!
Take A Hike To The Hollywood Sign
It’s a classic Los Angeles bucket list item for a reason! If you’re up for a good hike, the iconic view from above the Holywood Sign is well worth the effort. If you’re not a hiker, you can still get a great view of the sign by taking the DASH Bus to the Griffith Observatory where you can get a great view of the sign.
Shop For Vintage Treasures On Magnolia Blvd
Burbank is easily my favorite city in Los Angeles County, but not for the reasons you’d probably assume. Magnolia Boulevard, an eclectic street packed with awesome boutiques, is a paradise for anyone with a love for all things vintage. You can find a good combination of authentic vintage pieces as well as new clothes inspired by vintage styles at boutiques like Unique Vintage, Audrey K, What Katie Did, Best Friend Central, Junk For Joy. There are also many great antique shops, cafes, and specialty stores to check out as well!
Go Back In Time At The Echo Park Time Travel Mart
Another unique experience to cross off your LA bucket list is a visit to the Time Travel Mart. This quirky store sells everything you’d need for traveling through time, from primordial soup to emergency mummy kits, to Michael Jordan pogs. All their proceeds go to 826LA, a non-profit that promotes literacy and teaches creative writing to students between the ages of 6-18. Take a quick trip to the Time Travel Mart, then explore all the historic Echo Park neighborhood has to offer!
Read Up At LA’s Best Bookstores
Los Angeles is home to some truly bucket list-worthy bookstores. The Last Bookstore in downtown LA is the largest used & new bookstore in California, and probably the most unique as well. This massive bookstore is housed in an abandoned bank and is filled with sculptures made of books and art by local artists. Some other great bookstores worth checking out in LA are Skylight Books and the Iliad Bookshop.
Explore A Bohemian Paradise In Venice Beach
Venice beach is LA’s most eclectic beachfront neighborhood with a boardwalk perfect for biking and walking, skate parks, and a vibrant art scene. You could spend all day exploring their funky stores, rooftop bars, and trendy restaurants. But the Venice canals are the real gem at the heart of this bohemian paradise. These canals are part of a relatively quiet upscale residential area, but anyone can stroll down the scenic waterways. It’s like being in Italy without having to leave the US!
Visit The Hollywood Heritage Museum
If you’re interested in the history of filmmaking in LA, look no further! The Hollywood Heritage Museum commemorates the early days of Hollywood when filmmaking was still in its infancy. The museum’s collection consists mostly of props, costumes, photographs, and other memorabilia dating all the way back to the silent movie days. The docents are very knowledgeable and informative, and you can expect to spend about 30-60 minutes here!
See The Velaslavasay Panorama
So what exactly is the Velaslavasay Panorama? Well, it’s a bit hard to explain. It’s basically part theater, part museum, and part gardens. Before the advent of filmmaking, panoramas were a popular form of entertainment in the 18th and 19th centuries. Now, they’re a dying art form.
The current exhibit, the Shengjing Panorama, is a 360-degree work of art that combines 2-D and 3-D elements (imagine a large painting with sculptures and miniature scenes that all contribute to the experience). The scene also incorporates lighting and audio to make it appear as though the scene is changing from night to day. There’s a painstaking amount of detail that goes into creating these panoramic exhibitions, which you can only truly appreciate in person.
Get Cultured At One Of LA’s Many Fine Museums
Visiting some culturally-enriching museums is a great bucket list experience in a city like Los Angeles. There are many excellent art galleries and science centers to explore around the city. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few of the most renowned:
- The Getty: A jaw-droppingly beautiful visual arts museum. Don’t skip the breathtaking Getty Villa!
- The Broad: This contemporary art museum allows free admission to all of its permanent exhibits. But their special exhibitions tend to be worth the cost!
- LACMA: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the Western United States!
- California Science Center: This hands-on science museum is a great activity for the kids!
- Griffith Park: I recommend coming at night so you can enjoy a view of the night sky at the Griffith Observatory.
Stroll Along The Walk Of Fame
Doing the Hollywood Walk of Fame may as well be a right of passage. One approach is to set aside a couple of hours to look for all your favorite big stars, take photos, and stop by Grauman’s Chinese Theater. If that’s not your idea of fun, you can casually take them all in as you enjoy all that Downtown Hollywood has to offer. If you’re looking for a specific person’s star, check out this Hollywood Walk of Fame star map.
See A Live Taping / Studio Tour
No Los Angeles bucket list would be complete without a live studio taping! You could be one of the live audience members on tv shows like The Price Is Right, The Late Late Show, Jeopardy, and more! Getting tickets works differently depending on the show you want to see, so check out this article about how to attend live TV tapings in Los Angeles.
Visit A Nearby Theme Park
There are quite a few excellent amusement parks within driving distance of LA, all of which are bucket list-worthy! To name a few:
- Universal Studios Hollywood is home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Super Nintendo World, A Simpsons-themed Springfield, and more! They have a wide variety of restaurants, shops, rides, and studio tours!
- Disneyland needs no introduction, but don’t forget Disney’s California Adventure Park! While Disneyland is a classic experience for all ages, California Adventure offers much of the same, with the addition of many more thrill rides!
- Knott’s Berry Farm is by far my favorite theme park in California. This huge theme park offers a good balance of kid-friendly attractions as well as rides and experiences that are more geared toward adults. The wait times for rides tend to be much shorter than Disneyland (especially on weekdays), and the tickets are a lot cheaper too!
See The Fossils At The La Brea Tar Pits
If you’ve never been in the presence of a mammoth skeleton, you’re in luck! You can see many skeletons and fossils dating back to the Ice Age at the La Brea Tar Pits. They also have shows and events where you can learn more about the Ice Age, and about the excavation procedures that take place at the tar pits to this day!
Enjoy A Taste Of Little Tokyo
If you’re a foodie, Little Tokyo has so much to offer your LA bucket list! There’s Kura, a revolving sushi bar where freshly made sushi is brought to you on a conveyor belt. If you want a more traditional sushi experience, it doesn’t get any more traditional than Hama Sushi, where simple sushi and sashimi are the only things on the menu. If you’re not a sushi fan, Marugame Monzo serves handmade udon noodles that are absolutely to die for! Stop by Fugetsu-Do Bakery for mochi, dango, and other Japanese desserts!
Grab A Drink On Hollywood Blvd
If you’re in search of adult beverages you won’t have to look far when you’re in Hollywood. The thing I love most about going out for drinks in Hollywood is all the really cool themed bars in the area.
The Tim Burton-inspired Beetlehouse is definitely my favorite bar in Downtown Hollywood. In addition to the delightfully spooky ambiance, they have some really great drinks and food all inspired by the movies. Another great one is the Scum & Villainy Cantina, which is a Star Wars-themed bar, and the stuff of dreams for every self-proclaimed nerd.
Window Shop on Rodeo Drive
Rodeo Drive is home to more than 100 high-end designer shops spanning the length of two miles! This street is the pinnacle of Beverly Hills luxury shopping with stores such as Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, and many more. Rodeo Drive also features gorgeous architecture, restaurants, and tons of great spots to snap insta-worthy selfies! Whether you plan to spend some major cash or just prefer to window shop, Rodeo Drive should be on everyone’s Los Angeles bucket list!
Explore Huntington Library
Exploring California’s most beautiful library might sound very enticing to you, but if it doesn’t, don’t worry! There’s much more to be explored here than books! The botanical gardens are second to none, and they have a vast collection of British, European, American, and Asian art on display in their museum. You can also find many cultural events and exhibitions on a rotational basis at Huntington Library.
Catch A Ferry To Catalina Island
The idyllic Catalina Island is the perfect getaway to wrap up this LA bucket list. You’ll need to take the ferry from either Long Beach or San Pedro, then it’s just a 1-hour ride to paradise! Enjoy cabanas on the beach, restaurants, zip lining, museums, casinos, and more! Here’s a link to the Catalina ferry schedule & fares to help you plan your trip.
Amoeba Music closed their famed Sunset Boulevard location in 2020 but reopened shortly after at their new location, 6200 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028, just half a mile away.
The Last Bookstore is free to visit, no tickets are required!
Yes, you can dress up at Beetle House! They have no dress code, and although casual wear is most commonly worn, many guests come in costume!
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