Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Los Angeles County, CA

  • Published 2023/03/16

Los Angeles is a big county in Southern California and the core of the nation’s film and TV industry.

It contains the film industry, national amusement parks and centers, great food, fantastic beaches, and a wide diversity of flora and fauna.

The county borders 70 miles of coast on the Pacific Ocean and surrounds mountain ranges, islands, lakes, forests, rivers, deserts, and valleys.

The name “Los Angeles” comes from an abridgment of its original name Pueblo del Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula (the Town of the River of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels).

Officially named the County of Los Angeles and sometimes abbreviated as L.A. County, Los Angeles County is the most populous county in America.

Check out the best things to do in Los Angeles County, California!

Visit the J. Paul Getty Museum

Exterior of the J. Paul Getty Museum

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Along the Getty Center Drive sits the J. Paul Getty Museum, which inspires curiosity, enjoyment, and perception of visual arts.

It collects, conserves, exhibits, and interprets works of art with excellent quality and historical significance.

Oil tycoon J. Paul Getty established the museum and the research center to house his collection of artworks in two locations, the Getty Villa and the Getty Center.

The Getty Museum accommodates European paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, and photography.

Interior of the J. Paul Getty Museum

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At the same time, the Getty Villa houses the collection of antiquities.

The Museum continues to purchase works and develops programs for exhibits, scholarly research, publications, and performing arts that encourage locals and visitors alike.

The J. Paul Getty Museum also houses the Getty Foundation, Getty Research Institute, and the Getty Conservation Institute.

Exhibit in the J. Paul Getty Museum

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Enjoy Universal Stud ios Hollywood

Iconic globe of Universal Studios Hollywood

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One of the best places you must not miss in Los Angeles is Universal Studios Hollywood, which offers adventures and activities for the whole family.

You’ll meet characters like Scooby-Doo & Shaggy, Optimus Prime, Bumble Bee, Megatron, Raptors, and the Minions, among others.

Your kids will love the interactive DinoPlay Kids area, where they can unearth massive dinosaur fossils at the discovery dig site.

They can also check out a full-size Tyrannosaurus Rex skull and dinosaur eggs, cross the rope plank bridge, play on the jungle climber, and more.

Hollywood plaza at Universal Studios Hollywood

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Brace yourself for a different experience when you take the Jurassic World Ride and personally meet Blue at the Raptor Encounter.

Explore the Mushroom Kingdom, play exciting interactive games throughout the domain, and meet Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach.

Drop by Universal Studios Hollywood to experience the best entertainment of your life.

Hogwarts castle at Universal Studios Hollywood

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Explore the Universe at Griffith Observatory

Exterior of Griffith Observatory

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Located on East Observatory Road, the Griffith Observatory enables you to see the limits of outer space.

See live shows at the Planetarium’s theater that will engross you, especially your kids.

The observatory has an incredible Zeiss star projector and an advanced digital projection system.

Zeiss telescope in Griffith Observatory

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The theater has a state-of-the-art aluminum dome, an incredible sound system, and 290 comfy seats.

A fascinating storyteller hosts each show, presented every 60 to 90 minutes daily.

Every central exhibit area in the Griffith Observatory emphasizes a special aspect of monitoring the cosmos.

Far view of Griffith Observatory

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Discover a Portal to the Ice Age at La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

Sculptures in front of La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

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See scientists excavate fossils right before your eyes at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum located on Wilshire Boulevard.

Check out fossils dug out of the tar pits, including mammoths, saber-toothed cats, giant sloths, dire wolves, and other animals that once roamed Los Angeles during the Ice Age.

Catch the performance in the Ice Age Encounters Shows and see a life-size adult saber-toothed tiger puppet, film projections, and a live performance.

Travel back in time in a 3D Theater featuring the “Titans of the Ice Age.”

Exterior of La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

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Let your kids join boot camps where they can meet other kids and train and play next to enormous Ice Age animals.

There’s also a shop where you can buy souvenirs to keep or to give as presents to friends or loved ones.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum also features paths around active excavation spots, not to mention the symbolic Lake Pit, along with its mammoth and mastodon models.

Exhibit in La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

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Appreciate Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Exterior of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), located on Wilshire Boulevard, is the biggest art museum in western America.

The museum has a collection of almost 149,000 objects that highlight 6,000 years of art history worldwide.

LACMA showcases works of art from new and unforeseen points of view, infused by the region’s abundant cultural heritage and varied population.

The iconic lamps of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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You’ll notice that the museum’s spirit of experimentation is mirrored in its work with different people, such as technologists, artists, and pioneers, to involve new audiences.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art commits to serving the public by converting its collections into relevant, informative, knowledgeable, and cultural experiences for the broadest range of audiences.

String exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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Catch the Beautiful Sunset at Santa Monica Beach

Gorgeous sunset at Santa Monica Beach

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Los Angeles is well-known for its perfect beaches.

Santa Monica Beach is one of them, situated west of Downtown Los Angeles.

This wonderful beach has everything you’re looking for, stretching 3.5 miles long with soft sandy shores that would make your little ones run and play in the sand.

Chill at the Annenberg Community Beach House to catch the beautiful Santa Monica sunset.

Aerial view of Santa Monica Beach

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The North Beach Playground, on the other hand, is generally accessible with barrier-free equipment for additional maneuvering space, including convenient surfaces and paths.

The Playground likewise offers sensory play elements while slides, swings, and climbing equipment encourage agility, creativity, and activity.

Santa Monica Beach is a family-friendly beach but not for dogs, which are only allowed along the boardwalk.

Lifeguard station at Santa Monica Beach

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Spend Time with the Family at Lake Hollywood Park

Welcome sign of Lake Hollywood Park

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If you want to spend quality time with your family, why not take them to Lake Hollywood Park, located along Canyon Drive Lake?

This community gem offers a large grassy field with many trees that line the park’s edges.

It’s a perfect place for yoga, picture-taking with the Hollywood Sign as the backdrop, and having a great picnic.

People at Lake Hollywood Park

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There are water fountains and a jungle gym where your kids can stay busy.

Lake Hollywood Park also commands a nice view of Lake Hollywood, sometimes known as Hollywood Reservoir.

The grounds of Lake Hollywood Park

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Explore the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Exterior of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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The Natural History Museum (NHM) is one of Los Angeles’ oldest cultural and educational institutions where it integrates nature and culture.

Stroll in the Nature Gardens, where you’ll find more than 600 plant species.

See California native plants and those from around the world.

It is also a refuge for butterflies, birds, and other animals.

Dinosaur skeleton in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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Discover dinosaur fossils in the Jane G. Pisano Dinosaur Hall, showcasing over 300 fossils and 20 mounted skeletons.

It has a collection of almost 35 million specimens and relics and encompasses 4.5 billion years of history.

Located on Exposition Boulevard, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is the biggest natural and historical museum in the Western United States.

Interior of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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See Greek and Roman Art in the Getty Villa

Exterior of the Getty Villa

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You might not be an art fan, but wait until you see Greek and Roman antiquities in the Getty Villa on East Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades.

It’s a unique destination that offers ancient Greek and Roman works of art, serene gardens, and ocean breezes, as well as free admission.

You’ll also explore 4,000 years of prehistoric art from the Stone Age to the Roman Empire’s final days.

A hallway in the Getty Villa

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The villa boasts the largest garden with a reflecting pool, covered walkways, and magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean.

Getty Villa has the Getty Store, where you can find accessories to jewelry, postcards, and a vast selection of books.

Garden of the Getty Villa

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Get Closer to Nature at Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Exterior of Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

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As a refuge for over 2,100 animals, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens also represent over 270 species, including 58 endangered animal species.

Additionally, the Zoo’s botanical collection contains plenty of planted gardens and over 800 various types of plants, with around 7,000 individual plants.

The entire family can partake in different programs that camps and classes provide, allowing you to get a deeper connection with the Zoo and wildlife.

Chimpanzees at Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

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Don’t forget to visit the exhibits that showcase the Elephants of Asia, the Rainforest of the Americas, and the LAIR.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens also offer a wide selection of delicious food and thirst-quenching beverages sourced locally.

Hippos at Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

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Hike the Lood Trails at Runyon Canyon Park

The summit of Runyon Canyon Park

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Spanning 160 acres, Runyon Canyon Park lies at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Typically a moderately challenging route, the 4.3-km loop trail near West Hollywood takes an average of an hour and 33 minutes to finish.

You can also walk, jog, or run on the trail open all year round and meet other people.

Hikers at Runyon Canyon Park

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Most of the trails in the park are wide dirt and paved fire roads.

However, there are also single-track trails.

Smoking is prohibited in Runyon Canyon Park and dogs can walk off-leash in designated areas only.

Aerial view of Runyon Canyon Park's trail

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Visit the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Daytime view of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

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Despite its popularity, Hollywood Forever Cemetery remains an active funeral home and cemetery on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Nevertheless, it welcomes the public to explore and see the final resting place of famous Hollywood actors.

The cemetery also hosts live events and special summer film viewings.

Graves at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

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You can stroll across acres of open-air green space while looking for gravesites of famous Hollywood actors and actresses like Judy Garland and Burt Reynolds.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A pond at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

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Learn Local History at Los Angeles State Historic Park

Aerial view of Los Angeles State Historic Park

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Situated along North Spring Street, Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP) is a California State Park in the Chinatown neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Otherwise known as Cornfield, this former industrial site allows you to run, ride a bike, jog, walk, and even fly a kite.

You’ll also have the opportunity to watch wildlife as you explore the park while traversing the Pacific Flyway.,

See the various signs, sculptures, and monuments in the park, including A Park is by the People, Endless Orchard, Origins, and Psychic Body Grotto.

The Los Angeles State Historic Park lets the public learn about and recognize Los Angeles’ diverse history and cultural heritage.

Tour the Battleship USS Iowa Museum

Exterior of Battleship USS Iowa Museum

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The Battleship USS Iowa Museum is a significant ship that served California during WWII, Korea, and the Cold War.

It’s now a symbolic and historic landmark in Los Angeles and one of the best family and visitor-friendly outdoor museums in the region.

The ship museum collects related artifacts to help convey the ship’s story, including the Surface Navy, to a broad audience.

Details of Battleship USS Iowa Museum

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It started serving the country during World War II following its construction at New York Navy Ship Yard.

Take advantage of the behind-the-scenes guided tour and make unforgettable memories while exploring the Battleship USS Iowa Museum.

Aerial view of Battleship USS Iowa Museum

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Enjoy Family Day at the Pacific Park

Rollercoaster and ferris wheel of Pacific Park

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There’s no need for any special occasion to go to Pacific Park in Santa Monica Pier to make your family happy.

This captivating park is the only amusement park on West Coast nestled on a pier.

Each family member has countless options for rides and games.

People at Pacific Park

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The park features a nine-story Pacific Plunge tower ride, a five-story West Coaster roller coaster, a nine-story Pacific Wheel Ferris wheel, and many more!

Your loved ones will surely enjoy everything about Pacific Park.

Aerial view of Pacific Park

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Final Thoughts

Escape the commotion and worries of a busy life and try to relax.

Plan your trip wisely and discover the best things to do in Los Angeles County, California.

Start planning your vacation today!

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