Embarking on a quest to uncover the best things to do in Universal City, California?
In this comprehensive guide, we've melded insights from locals and travelers to present you with a mosaic of experiences that define this remarkable place. While we've highlighted some must-visit spots, it's imperative to understand that these recommendations are shaped by personal opinions and experiences.
There are countless other wonderful places awaiting your discovery. Our goal isn't just to point you to the well-trodden paths, but to inspire you to explore and truly immerse yourself in the city's essence.
Experience the Magic at Universal City Plaza
There's something epic about living near the biggest office building in the valley - the Universal City Plaza.
It's a world of magic and marvel that unfolds with every step you take.
I still remember my first visit. It was like stepping onto the set of a blockbuster movie.
And why wouldn't it be? After all, it's the iconic home base of NBC Universal.
A trip to the plaza is like a sneak peek into glamorous entertainment.
You feel a sense of belonging, knowing that the incredible movies you watch are being masterminded in this building.
One of the things I love about the Universal City Plaza is that it's a rocking company that offers an unforgettable experience.
Not every day do you live a stone's throw away from a powerhouse of creativity and innovation.
Indeed, the Universal City Plaza is a testament to the indomitable spirit of entertainment right here in our valley!
Enjoy a Magical Day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
A kind of magic hangs in the air here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
This place has been meticulously crafted to bring the beloved world of Harry Potter to life.
Every detail is designed to transport you to your favorite magical universe, from the awe-inspiring sight of the castle to the thrilling, interactive rides.
Stepping into the park is like stepping into the movies.
The iconic Hogwarts Castle is a sight to behold with its towering spires and intricate details.
The ride inside the castle is an absolute must-do; it is enjoyable and interactive, and the line to get on is an experience.
You'll walk through various unique rooms, each more fascinating than the last.
Then, the memorable shows, unique shops, and themed restaurants add to the immersive experience.
I would recommend catching the light show if you can.
It's a visual treat that will leave you spellbound.
As for the shops, they sell everything from ornate wands to robes.
Now, let's talk about the food - especially the butter beer.
Whether you prefer the drink frozen or cold, with or without butterscotch cream, it's a delightful beverage that will make you feel like you've stepped straight into the pages of a Harry Potter book.
I must warn you, though, that the butter beer is quite sweet.
If you're not a fan of butterscotch, you might want to pass on it.
One last piece of advice: try to get there early in the morning.
The park can get quite crowded later in the day.
If you want to take pictures without crowds of people in the background, the early morning is the best time to do it.
If you're a Harry Potter fan visiting Universal Studios, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an absolute must-visit.
Even if you're not particularly into Harry Potter, I would recommend visiting for the sheer creativity and brilliance of the theme park.
Enjoy a Thrilling Adventure at Jurassic World – The Ride
There's a certain thrill in feeling the spray of water on your face as you plunge an 80-foot drop on a boat ride.
And where else can you experience this spine-chilling thrill if not at Jurassic World – The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood?
Here, you are transported to a world where dinosaurs roam free, and the jungle reigns.
This is not your typical leisurely boat ride.
As soon as you step on, the ride takes you on a tranquil journey into Jurassic Park, where animatronic dinosaurs greet you.
The realistic animation and immersive screens set the scene for the excitement that awaits.
But it's the calm before the storm.
As the ride gently ascends, the adrenaline rush builds up.
And then, before you know it, you are sent plummeting down a spine-chilling 80 feet drop.
Here is the point where you get completely soaked.
But the fun doesn't stop there.
A smaller drop follows, guaranteed to drench you even more.
Now, patience is essential when planning to conquer this ride.
It's common to find yourself waiting in line for around three hours, even on a weekday.
But trust me, the ride is worth every minute of the wait.
And if you find yourself getting a little hot under the collar, water mist sprays cool you off.
While you're waiting, you can enjoy some entertainment on the screens above.
Just be ready to see the same thing over and over again.
For a little extra fun, make sure you check out the Raptor show right next to the ride.
And let's not forget the thirty-minute wait for an ice cream.
But what's a little wait for a taste of creamy goodness, right?
I must say, Jurassic World – The Ride is one of the best Universal Studios Hollywood has to offer.
It's a unique blend of thrills and chills you won't find anywhere else.
So, this is the place to be if you're looking for a fun-filled day with a dash of adrenaline rush.
Just remember to bring a change of clothes. You're going to need it!
Enjoy a Hollywood Day Out at Universal Studio Tour
There's something truly magical about the Universal Studio Tour that keeps drawing me back in again and again.
This is an adventure, a step into the dazzling world of cinema, where I can relive my favorite moments from the silver screen.
Each visit feels like a whole new experience.
I've strolled through the familiar backlot neighborhoods and watched in awe as set pieces from television and movies stand tall and proud, ready for their next scene.
More often than not, these outdoor sets elicit a sense of nostalgia, sparking memories of the countless movie nights I've enjoyed over the years.
The studio tour is an immersive experience that makes you feel like you're part of the action.
Some parts of the tour, like the Fast and Furious section, may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's an exhilarating ride for a car enthusiast like me.
I've found that weekdays are the best time to visit, especially during school terms when there are fewer tourists.
You never know what surprises await you on the tour - once, a wild coyote showed up to greet us!
If you're planning a visit, I'd recommend going early in the day.
The place is beautiful in the morning light, and being an early bird helps avoid the long wait times.
Indeed, the Universal Studio Tour is a Hollywood gem that never loses its sparkle, no matter how many times you've been there before.
Spend the Day at the Universal Studio Store
As someone who lives here, I can tell you that Universal Studios is not just a theme park. It's an experience that is hard to forget.
It's where you get to feel the thrill of your favorite movies up close and personal.
I remember, just last month, I decided to spend a day there.
The joy started when I entered Universal Studios Hollywood's gates.
For instance, the Harry Potter ride was something out of this world.
You can't afford to miss it.
The Jurassic Park and Transformers rides were also a thrill.
Meanwhile, the Minions and Kung Fu Panda shows were more theater experiences than rides.
And let's not even get started on the food – the ice cream was a standout.
But what truly makes the place magical is the Universal Studio Store.
It's filled with items from all your favorite movies, like Harry Potter.
Although they can be expensive, the items are worth every penny.
So remember, whether you're a movie buff, an adventure enthusiast, or a parent with enthusiastic kids, Universal Studios Hollywood has something for everyone!
Check Out Universal Studios Hollywood
It's always a thrill visiting Universal Studios Hollywood.
Having the opportunity to enjoy this sprawling amusement park, themed after the magic of cinema, regularly is a privilege.
It's like living the real life in reality!
From the entrance, you're greeted with an array of shops, restaurants, and the exhilarating buzz of people from all walks of life.
One of the first things I usually do is head straight to the rides.
They are simply mind-blowing!
Whether it's the adrenaline rush from the Transformers ride or the sheer spectacle of the Mummy ride, there's never a dull moment.
However, it's not all about the rides.
The park is also home to fantastic show performances, which are equally captivating.
For example, the meet and greet with Bumblebee and Optimus Prime is a major highlight, especially for Transformers fans like myself.
The characters come to life in front of your eyes, making you feel like you're part of their world.
One cannot forget the Harry Potter 3D ride and the recently opened Super Mario World.
Harry Potter World is spellbinding, recreating the magic and mystique of the famous Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
And for Nintendo fans, Super Mario World is a dream come true!
It's like stepping into a video game with a Mario Kart ride.
However, it's not just fun and games at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The VIP experience offers an excellent opportunity to learn about the park's history and the various shows filmed there.
Seeing where some of your favorite movies and shows were brought to life is fascinating!
Universal Studios Hollywood has never failed to provide an exciting and unforgettable day out.
So, whether you're a ride enthusiast, a movie buff, or someone looking for a fun-filled day, Universal Studios Hollywood is the place to be!
Walk Down Universal CityWalk Hollywood
Stepping into Universal CityWalk Hollywood is like stepping into a bustling microcosm of global culture.
The first thing that hits you is the vibrant energy of the place - a pulsating mix of laughter, chatter, and the irresistible aroma of various eateries.
My favorite activity here is roaming around and soaking in the vibrant atmosphere.
Each time I step into this hub, I make it a point to visit a new shop.
And trust me, there are plenty to choose from.
The candy stores, in particular, are a delight to the senses.
I always find myself lost amidst many colors and flavors, emerging only when I have a bag of treats.
But the CityWalk isn't just about shopping.
There's a culinary world waiting to be explored here.
Every meal is an adventure from Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville to the surprise find of Voodoo donuts.
I've had some of the best evenings here, watching a game while munching on a delicious treat and sipping a cool drink.
For movie buffs like me, there's the 7-story IMAX theater.
Now and then, I treat myself to a movie in this magnificent theater.
And if the heat goes up, the kids can cool down in the water feature.
To me, Universal CityWalk Hollywood is more than just a place.
It's a kaleidoscope of experiences that always leaves me wanting more.
Take a Stroll Around The Hollywood Sign
No matter how the sky looks, the legendary Hollywood Sign always shines bright every morning.
It is a testament to the many dreams nurtured and realized here in Angels.
Overlooking Griffith Park Observatory is an emblem of the entertainment industry and the city many people dream of.
Every day, tourists flock to my town, drawn to this iconic landmark.
Some arrive by car, others on foot, yet the Hollywood Sign remains elusive.
Nestled high up on Mount Lee, its grand allure is shadowed by the steep, challenging trails leading up to it.
But let me tell you something - every bit of that climb is worth it.
Sure, it might be a little taxing, particularly in the summer when the sun is high and hot.
But the moment you reach the top, the entire city unfolds in a panorama of beauty and vastness.
You see, it's about feeling the pulse of Los Angeles and understanding the magic that this city holds.
I've seen many tourists make their way towards the top, some visibly struggling.
My advice is to park your car at the Hollywood Sign Viewpoint next to Lake Hollywood Park.
It's free and saves you the trouble of looking for a spot in the area.
From there, hike up via Mt. Lee Dr. and Hollywood Sign Vista.
There's a trail leading right up to the sign.
It's an adventure that gives you a taste of our local spirit.
I do understand the excitement of wanting to get close to this symbolic representation of Hollywood.
Remember, while it's a symbol for the world, it's home for us.
So, while you follow your star-studded dreams up to that sign, do remember to respect our privacy.
Hollywood is all about dreams, and we're all trying to live ours.
Enter the Heart of Universal's Super Silly Fun Land
There's always a sense of childlike wonder when I step into Super Silly Fun Land, a charming slice of Universal Studios that feels like a Minions-inspired dream.
The splash of vibrancy in every corner of the amusement park is truly a sight to behold.
For example, the rides have always been a personal favorite.
The sight of children's faces lighting up with joy as they run around the 80 water play features never fails to put a smile on my face.
Remember, the water games are strictly flip-flop or shoe territory - no barefoot adventures here!
Plus, if you're a fan of arcade games, don't miss out on the exciting range of games available.
It's easy to lose time when you're engrossed in a high-stakes pinball game or whack-a-mole.
The souvenir shop is one of Super Silly Fun Land's hidden gems.
It's the perfect place to pick up a souvenir from your visit.
I’ve found some of my all-time favorite Minions goodies here.
Despite the steep ticket prices, the heartwarming atmosphere and the joy that Super Silly Fun Land brings to families and children make it well worth the cost.
So, whether you're from colorful Colorado or a local like me, a trip to this wacky, wonderful world is sure to be a day well spent!
Feel the Thrill of Revenge of the Mummy - The Ride
"Are you ready for the ride of your life?" I asked myself as I stood in the queue for the Revenge of the Mummy - The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.
I'd heard a lot about this ride from friends, and today was the day to experience this thrill.
The queue was delightfully short, one of the perks of being a local and choosing the suitable days to visit.
Then, the anticipation only grew as I got closer to the entrance, a sense of excitement and just a bit of fear.
As the ride started, a sudden flash went off, capturing a moment of sheer surprise on my face.
These photos, a tangible memento of our adrenaline-fueled adventure, were available for purchase later.
I found the ride to be a thrilling blend of speed, special effects, and storytelling - quite similar to the iconic Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.
My heart pounded as the ride took sudden turns and even went backward.
One thing to remember for your visit is to use the lockers provided for your possessions before getting on the ride.
They are conveniently free unless you end up needing extra time.
The Revenge of the Mummy - The Ride remains one of my favorite ways to inject a dose of thrill and excitement into my routine life.
Meet Blue at the Raptor Encounter
There's something about living near Universal Studios Hollywood that never gets old.
Strolling around the park, I often find myself drawn to a corner near Jurassic World, an attraction that some might overlook - the Raptor Encounter.
It's a sneaky spot tucked away, almost hidden, but it's always worth a visit.
I stumbled upon it during one of my walks, which always stuck with me.
You'd expect it to be an imposing sight, but Blue, the 8-foot-tall female velociraptor, is quite a sight.
I've been told that she doesn't fancy hats, mainly black ball caps.
That's funny, considering her trainer is always sporting a hat.
It's the personal interaction that lights up this place.
You get to be up close with Blue, snap a photo, and if you're lucky, you might even find more of her prehistoric pals showing up.
This little corner of Universal Studios might not be as intriguing as the Megatron photo op nearby, but it's rarely about the must-sees.
It's the unexpected encounters that genuinely make your day.
And trust me, nothing quite compares to locking eyes with a velociraptor on a lazy afternoon.
Learn to Fly at iFLY Indoor Skydiving - Hollywood
The first time I walked into iFLY Indoor Skydiving in Hollywood, my heart was racing faster than a jet engine.
There's nothing quite like the anticipation of flying, even if it's just a few feet off the ground.
My son, a fearless 9-year-old, was bubbling over with excitement.
He couldn't wait to wear his suit and goggles and take on the wind tunnel.
Soaring in that controlled environment was an experience I wanted to repeat.
I've had my fair share of adventures, but the thrill of indoor skydiving is unique.
It gives you the exhilaration of free-falling without the fear of jumping from an aircraft.
iFLY also became the perfect celebration spot when my niece graduated from elementary school.
My brother, niece, and I had a blast flying, laughing, and creating unforgettable memories.
The joy on my niece's face as she floated in the air was priceless!
So, if you're looking for a thrilling experience that gets your adrenaline pumping, I highly recommend iFLY Indoor Skydiving in Hollywood.
It's an unforgettable adventure that brings smiles, laughter, and excitement you'll cherish forever.
Immerse Yourself at Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
The thrilling Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Hollywood is an adventure that brings out the child in you.
If you're a Minion fan, or even if you're not, this ride will surely captivate you with its charm.
The ride takes you on a whimsical journey into becoming a minion.
It's a hilarious and adorable experience that leaves you grinning from ear to ear.
But that's not all.
The best part about this ride is that the line moves fast; before you know it, you're strapped in and ready to go.
While the pre-show may feel a tad lengthy, it's a small price to pay for the fun that follows.
I went on a Monday, and to my surprise, the line wasn't too long.
My nephew and I ended up riding it three times back to back!
So, whether you're crazy for minions or just looking for a fun-filled experience, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem provides that and much more.
Visit Super Nintendo World
Every time I walk into Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood, it's like stepping into my childhood.
The place is a dream for video game enthusiasts and nostalgia seekers alike.
Just one glance at this fantastic attraction brings back the thrill of controlling Mario on my old Super Nintendo.
The park is a sensory overload, with familiar game elements delicately woven into the landscape.
The mini-games are fun, a playful nod to the classic games we all loved growing up.
One thing that adds to the fun is the bracelets.
They add a layer of interactivity that makes the experience more immersive.
Remember to be patient, especially if you see kids hovering around for a long time, just as engrossed in the world as you are.
And if you're a fan of the Super Mario Brothers, the park comes alive in a new way.
It's worth stopping at Toad's Cafe, but fair warning, it gets booked rather quickly.
Make your reservation through a QR code when you enter the park.
If Mario and his world were never your thing, you might be slightly less impressed.
But for those who spent childhood afternoons leaping across digital obstacles with Mario and Luigi, it's an experience worth reliving at least once.
Feel the Unforgettable Vibes at Hard Rock Cafe
The Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood is like stepping into a rock n' roll wonderland whenever I go in.
It is practically a museum of music history with memorabilia from rock stars plastered all over the walls.
The food here is classic American diner-style, tasty and comforting.
They serve some incredible burgers, and the Texan Pulled Pork Sandwich is worth trying.
Don’t forget to notify them if you’re celebrating a special day - they're known to give pleasant surprises!
If you order a shake or a beer, make sure you get it in a glass because you get to keep it!
You can collect a boxed one from the souvenir area as you leave.
The Hard Rock Cafe, despite its minor quirks, is a must-visit.
It's a great spot to soak in some rock 'n roll history with an all-American meal.
Grab a Taste of Hollywood at Pink's Hot Dogs
There's no place like Pink's Hot Dogs to get a taste of old Hollywood.
Nestled on the city walk, this charming little spot will transport you straight to Mulholland Drive or Sunset Boulevard with its Hollywood theming.
I make it a point to visit Pink's whenever possible, and each visit is an adventure.
The place might be small, but there's plenty of seating outside with a fantastic view of the city walk.
You can expect a feast for your palate, from the chili dogs to the pastrami burrito dogs.
The hot dogs have this unique, flavorsome bite that keeps you returning for more.
I tried the pastrami burrito dog on my last visit, and let me tell you, it was a revelation.
A flour tortilla wrapping two juicy hot dogs, grilled pastrami, Swiss cheese, chili, and onions was an absolute delight!
Some might find it a bit small, but it's just right for me.
The dogs were perfectly cooked - no rubbery texture whatsoever.
What sets Pink's apart is the secret menu for Pink's lovers.
If you want to avoid the hustling crowds and long lines of Hollywood, this is your haven.
You can get your favorite hot dogs here, although you might not find all the menu items from the Hollywood location.
The service is always excellent, adding to the overall experience.
Pink's Hot Dogs captures the essence of Hollywood in every bite.
It's worth a try, and I bet you'll be hooked, just like me.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Enjoy an Unforgettable Experience at the DreamWorks Theatre
Have you ever had one of those sweltering summer days at Universal Studios?
You know, the ones where you're dying to escape the heat for a while.
Let me tell you about my haven on such days: The DreamWorks Theatre.
This cozy little screening spot is perfect for a quick break.
I remember this one time they were showing Kung Fu Panda.
Of course, I couldn't resist.
Who isn't a fan of Po and his hilarious antics?
So, I decided to hop in line, the express line, sparing myself the wait.
You should know that it's not exactly a ride but more like an immersive film experience.
You sit in this chair that moves a tad, making you feel part of the action on screen.
Try to snag a spot near the front if you can. It truly enhances the overall experience.
The closer you are to the screen, the more you will enjoy the vibrant lights and lively animation.
It's like diving headfirst into a concise film experience.
The little ones, too, would have a great time here.
It's not too intense, just the right blend of fun and excitement.
Year after year, I find myself coming back.
Like a favorite book or a beloved coffee shop, The DreamWorks Theatre has this comforting familiarity.
But, each time, the excitement is just as fresh.
The crowd may have increased over the years, but the experience remains just as thrilling.
Unleash the inner child in you with a visit to DreamWorks Theatre.
It's truly a blast!
Visit The Rendition Room
It's a funny thing, living in the same town for so long, you'd think you've been everywhere.
But sometimes, there are places right under your nose that you've never set foot in.
That was me with The Rendition Room, right here in our town.
On a whim one evening, a friend and I decided to venture into this speakeasy-style bar, my first time in such a place!
The room had an intimate, cozy, stylish, and classy ambiance.
As we were new, we were given a list of rules to follow, a unique and charming touch that set the tone for our visit.
The food, too, was a delight - sweet potato fries, perfectly seasoned and cooked Brussels sprouts, and a Caprese starter that was simply divine.
For our mains, we both opted for pasta dishes that left us content and complete.
If you want a unique bar experience, I highly recommend The Rendition Room.
The food, the drinks, and the atmosphere are a treat.
I've got to say, there's nothing quite like the thrill of stepping into the colorful, animated world of the Kwik-E-Mart at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The minute I walk in, I'm instantly transported into a scene from the Simpsons.
I swear, it's just like I'm a character on the show!
This place is a regular hangout spot for me.
My routine is pretty much set in stone by now.
I usually pop over to the Kwik-E-Mart right after I've grabbed a bite at Krusty Burger.
And even though the store is not particularly large, every visit feels like a cartoon adventure!
The merchandise is exclusively Simpsons-themed, a dream come true for a fan like me.
But my absolute favorite thing to do?
I was sitting outside the store, munching on a donut and watching the colorful mix of people passing by.
It's a unique entertainment, and I can't get enough of it.
If you want to feel like you've stepped into a scene from the Simpsons, the Kwik-E-Mart at Universal Studios Hollywood is your best bet.
But don't just take my word for it.
Come and experience the magic yourself.
It's a whole lot of fun!
Grab a MealProsecco Trattoria
Ah, the charm of Prosecco Trattoria never fails to amaze me.
This popular eatery has been my go-to place for years.
I'm always captivated by the stunning beauty of the place.
For instance, the warm and inviting ambiance wraps around you as if you're being welcomed back home the moment you step in.
I have a few solid favorites from their menu, but the Angus sirloin steak with Chardonnay rosemary garlic sauce is irresistible.
The steak is always cooked to perfection, tender and juicy to the bite.
Meanwhile, the sauce is the perfect companion, adding just the right amount of flavor that enhances the natural savoriness of the beef.
But what I appreciate about Prosecco Trattoria is its ability to cater to diverse palates.
Being a meat lover doesn't mean I don't appreciate an excellent vegan soup.
Their Vegan Zuppe del Giorno is a testament to their culinary versatility.
This, along with Misto Mare, is a delight for anyone looking for something different in their dining experience.
So, if you're looking for a place that combines a beautiful atmosphere with delicious Northern Italian classics, Prosecco Trattoria is the place to be.
I promise you'll leave not just satisfied but yearning for more!
After all the thrilling rides, captivating shows, and mouthwatering food, I can confidently say Universal City is a vibrant wonderland that never fails to charm.
Universal City, California is an experience, memory, and story.
It's a celebration of entertainment and life itself. Trust me, a day spent here is never a day wasted