By Connor Brown
Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula
[3.5 minute read]
Popularity is an interesting concept. Some people see popular things as good, assuming that if many people enjoy something, it must have value. Others see popular things as bad, assuming that if a ton of people like something, it must be “basic” or overhyped. Los Angeles is home to both opinions, and as a capital of both trends and hipsters, the nuance between these two stances emerges. Many of the most popular, touristy things to do in Los Angeles are fun, others not as much. From my experience as an Angeleno, here are the five best touristy things to do in Los Angeles — all popular, pleasant, and picturesque!
1. Santa Monica
First on our list is arguably LA’s most famous beach, the iconic Santa Monica, brimming with sight seers, seagulls, and sunshine. Santa Monica is a fairly large city within LA, and offers more than just an endless, wide beach. The boardwalk is a popular tourist attraction, and while it’s not my personal favorite, many enjoy it. The Promenade along Third Street is a great shopping center, and the surrounding area is full of intriguing stores and sights. Ocean Avenue offers a great walking path, and leads right into the iconic Pacific Palisades. Best of all, Santa Monica is easily accessible via public transit, as the Metro Expo Line ends in the heart of downtown Santa Monica, blocks from both the beach and the Promenade.
2. Griffith Park
My personal favorite on this list, Griffith Park is a must-visit destination for anyone who’s been to LA. The park itself is massive, covering a large swath of the LA hills, and includes a number of great hiking paths. It is also home to one of LA’s most famous landmarks, the Griffith Observatory. If you go to the Observatory on a clear night, you can see the most spectacular views of the city. While the view is the main attraction, the Observatory is a destination in and of itself, offering fun astronomical and scientific displays, planetarium shows, and telescope viewing opportunities!
3. Downtown Art Museums
One of the best aspects of USC, in my opinion, is its proximity to downtown Los Angeles. Downtown LA is an enigma — there are times when it is bustling, with restaurants overflowing, rooftops full, and clubs thumping, and times when it is so empty you expect to see a tumbleweed roll across the street (Sunday afternoons). The one constant is the tranquility of the art museums. I find few things to be more relaxing than wandering around a quiet, curated space dedicated to the great artists of our time, being able to just pause and stare at some often-unintelligible expression of the human spirit. The Broad and The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) are two of the best modern art museums in the country, and are barely two miles from campus. Hop in a bus, Lyft, Metro, or Bird scooter, head up Figueroa and unwind in the sterile vibrance of a modern art museum.
4. Abbot Kinney
Venice Beach is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Los Angeles, but I think the best part of Venice is a few blocks further inland. Abbot Kinney Boulevard screams LA. From fancy restaurants to fashionable boutiques, all influenced by the sea breeze minutes to the west, Abbot Kinney is an almost cinematic encapsulation of LA vibes. It’s not the longest street, and you’re unlikely to spend more than an hour or two perusing its offerings, but if you’re in the area you should definitely check it out — maybe after visiting the number one spot on this list, Venice’s next-door neighbor Santa Monica!
5. Melrose Avenue
I conclude this sampling platter of touristy yet worthwhile locations by heading to the heart of West Hollywood, Melrose Avenue. Melrose is a lengthy street, so I’d recommend checking out the portion between La Cienega Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, the most well-known and upscale stretch. On the La Cienega side, you can find high-end restaurants, artsy coffee and tea houses (such as Alfred’s Coffee and Alfred’s Tea), and massive pink walls you might recognize from Instagram. Towards Fairfax, there’s the iconic Melrose Trading Post, a flea market open on Sundays, and further down the street there are other famous restaurants like Pink’s Hot Dogs. It’s quite simply a vibe, and to be honest, that’s what Los Angeles is all about.
Featured Image by Luis Santoyo on Unsplash
Connor is a senior majoring in History and Italian at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. Born and raised in
California, in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, he has long been interested in experiencing diverse cultures and learning new languages. He is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Italian, drawn to both by his love of history and cuisine. He enjoys adventuring in both the urban and natural landscapes of California, as well as playing and listening to music, and is always happy to recommend the best taco spot to eat at, beach to walk along, or album to listen to. He is a huge sports fan and loves to chat about everything from the Lakers to soccer.