Los Angeles isn’t just filled with iconic places, the entire city is an icon! The home of Hollywood, many places in the City of Angels have been featured* repeatedly in movies television shows, video games, and songs giving them a familiar feel to people around the world.
Touring around town for the first time, you’ll recognize familiar street names like Rodeo Drive or Sunset Boulevard, and sights like the Hollywood Sign or the Santa Monica Pier. Although there are countless places just waiting to be discovered it makes perfect sense to check a few of these icons off your list first!
1. The Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood Sign is one of the most famous icons in the world, making it the perfect place to start! How can you come all the way to LA, and not see the Hollywood Sign! There are many places around town to get a view of the famous sign, but Bronson Caves or the Griffith Park Observatory, both in Griffith Park are nice options for closer views if you’re not up for a hike.
Featured in: San Andreas starting Dwayne Johnson, Grand Theft Auto, Miley Cyrus Party in the USA, Katy Perry California Gurls and so many more.
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2. The Griffith Park Observatory
If you’re in the neighborhood viewing the Hollywood Sign why not check out The Griffith Observatory? Looking out from the Observatory and it’s grounds there are incredible views in every direction and on a clear day you can see forever.
A visit to the Griffith Park Observatory includes something for everyone! Fabulous views of Downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign, hiking, The Halls of Space, a planetarium, and a cafe. Entrance to the Observatory is free of charge.
Featured in: La La Land, Jurassic Park, Freaks and Geeks, Transformers, The Terminator, and Rebel Without A Cause are just a few of the many titles filmed in the area.
3. The Walk of Fame
Another nearby famous Hollywood institution is the Walk of Fame, which runs 1.3 miles along Hollywood Boulevard between Gower Street and La Brea Avenue. There are more than 2,500 stars along the Walk and you’ll be sure to recognize a few of your favorite entertainers.
Featured in: Pretty Woman
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4. Capital Records Building
Located on the famous corner of Hollywood & Vine, the iconic Capital Records Building isn’t open to the public, but its still a fun sight to see. The landmark building is designed to look like a stack of records and was the world’s first circular office building.
The red light at the top blinks the word Hollywood in morse code.
Featured in: Earthquake, Hancock, The Day After Tomorrow. Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, and Paul McCarney are just a few of the music legends who have recored at Capital Studios.
5. Graumans Chinese Theater
Don’t miss a visit to the famous Grauman’s Chinese theater located on Hollywood Boulevard. The theater is famous for the many celebrity prints which have been pressed into the courtyard floor and its fun to fit your hands and feet into molds of some of films greatest legends. The theater is operational, and many movies are premiered here.
Recent Premiers: Game Night, Tomb Raider, Pandas, Pacific Rim Uprising, and The Handmaid’s Tale
6. The Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl is located one mile from the famed corner of Hollywood and Highland and is an amazing place to see a show, however, you don’t have to attend a show to see this wonderful landmark. The Hollywood Bowl is a public park! An easy walk from Hollywood Boulevard, the Bowl is open to the public during the day and very worth a look around. While you are there check out the free museum featuring artifacts from the Bowl’s history.
Featured in: A Star Is Born, Double Indemnity, Anchors Aweigh, Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl, Xanadu, Some Kind of Wonderful, Beaches Escape from L.A., and Zombieland
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7. Sunset Strip
The Sunset Strip is a mile and a half stretch of Sunset Boulevard that passes though West Hollywood. It is home to many famous night clubs, massive billboards, hotels, and boutiques.
Famous Venues: The Viper Room, The Whiskey a Go Go, The Sky Bar, and The Chateau Marmont
Featured in: Sunset Boulevard, Sunset Strip
8. Rodeo Drive
First timer or resident, there’s something special about a stroll down Rode Drive. You’ll hear music as you stroll the down the street peeking in and out of the many world famous luxury boutiques. Looking for something a bit more affordable? Both the Paley Center for Media and the Beverly Hills Fountain are nearby and both are free.
Featured in: Pretty Woman, Beverly Hills Cop, Clueless
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9. The Beverly Hills Hotel
The Beverly Hills Hotel is located in the city of Beverly Hills on Sunset Boulevard, and opened in 1912, before Beverly Hills was even a city! You can’t miss its iconic pink paint and famous sign. The Hotel’s famous pink color and Polo Lounge didn’t come along until the early 1940s, but the Hotel has long been associated with the glamour of Hollywood’s film and rock stars.
Not a guest? Don’t worry, you can still visit the hotel. Eat in one of the hotel’s famous restaurants and enjoy the lovely ambiance.
Featured in: California Suite, The Way We Were, Shampoo, and American Gigolo. You might also recognize it from the cover of The Eagles’ Hotel California album.
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10. Santa Monica Pier
Yes, it’s very touristy, but everyone should visit the Santa Monica Pier at least once! Not only does it boast the only over water Roller Coaster in the world, but it also has na adorable little aquarium and an old fashioned carousel. My favorite time to go is at night when it’s all lit up!
Featured in: A Night at the Roxbury, Miracle Beach, Forrest Gump, Not Another Teen Movie, Iron Man, Dark Ride, Cellular, Falling Down, Ruthless People, Love Stinks, Hancock, Hannah Montana, 2012, The Glenn Miller Story, Pacific Rim Uprising,
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11. Venice Beach
There’s nothing like the beach in Southern California, and when you throw in everything else that Venice has to offer you’ve got nothing short of paradise! Venice is easily my favorite place in all of LA and the first place I bring all newcomers. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
Featured in: Lords of Dogtown, The Real World, The A-Team, Three’s Company, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, Fletch, Skatetown USA, and The Seventh Sign
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12. Angels Flight
The newly reopened Angels Flight Railway has been in operation on and off since 1901, and at 298 feet is the world’s shortest railway. When it opened, one hundred years ago, its location was the main hub of commerce and entertainment in Downtown Los Angeles. The Angels Flight Railway is a treasured piece of LA history, and it has given more than 100 million rides!
Featured in: La La Land
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*This is just a sampling of films, videos, tv show, and songs that each of these locations has been featured in. There is simply no way I could list them all.
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The Observatory was in Jurrassic Park? How did I not even notice that? I’m going to have to rewatch it and look out for it. #CityTripping
All would be fab but I’d love to go to Santa Monica #citytripping
It’s pretty awesome!
The classic Hollywood tour! Haven’t been in years but would like to show my husband…just once! I got my own photo but with Audrey Hepburn and Lucille Ball’s stars! #CityTripping
Everyone should go to these places at least once!
Venice beach is by far my favourite! We need to go back with the kiddies, it’s been too long amd we have so many formerly based London friends who moved there and enjoying California weather and lifestyle! #Farawayfiles
Yes! Come visit! Venice is my favorite too!! I admit that the weather is a big draw as it’s nice all year long.
Can you believe it, but during my two visits to LA I have not seen the Hollywood Sign… That and Griffith Observatory are on my list for next time. Love Santa Monica!
Depending on where you fly in from you can see it from the air! Otherwise you can get both of them at the same time as the Sign is in the park!
Ooh! I love Santa Monica too!
Trish @ Mum's Gone To
Wow, all these iconic places. A great idea to link to the films they have featured in – it makes me feel as if I’ve been there already! #farawayfiles
Thank you! Yes, So true. I think all the pop culture references help make everyone dream of LA. Of course it’s not exactly like the movies, but it’s pretty darn great!
You’ve reminded me of some of the places I visited in LA but had forgotten about. I went to the Viper Room that time and Venice Beach was definitely one of my favourite spots. I remember the Observatory from Rebel Without a Cause as I watched the film again recently. Great list to save for when I do make it to LA again. I’d really like to climb up to the Hollywood sign one day. #FarawayFiles
We saw The Romantics in the Viper Room on NYE 2001. Hiking to the Sign is next on my list!! You could join me?!
seen them in movies:)) #farawayfiles
I somehow never actively look for film locations when I’m traveling somewhere but I looove recognizing places I’ve been to when watching movies. I’ve been to quite a few on that list though 🙂 #FarawayFiles
Funny enough I don’t usually seek them out either, but it’s hard not to when you live in LA. Once I visited Spain and was so sad when I realized I’d forgotten to visit some GoT locations. It’s my favorite show, but I’d been so caught up in the history and food…
Hi Hilary! Great research and awesome post. I feel like not many people actually realize just ho iconic Los Angeles is when it comes to media and entertainment. I’ve never been there, but I have heard of almost all of these spots from television, movies, and music! Great post. #farawayfiles
Oh thank you! It’s true isn’t it? Literally hundreds of songs written about this city! Come visit one day it’s pretty neat!
Love this, what a great post! I have never been, but hope to one day! 🙂 #farawayfiles
Thank you! I know it’s cliche to say this, but “I love LA!” Hopefully you can visit one day and see what all the fuss is about!!
Morse code! Love it, fantastic post
Thank you! So Cool, right?!
That shot of Venice Beach is stunning!
Bryna | Dotted Line Travels
So many places I haven’t been to, but yet they look familiar because I’ve seen them in the movies. The view from Griffith Park Observatory is so pretty. I want to revisit on a day when it’s open!
I’ve been trying to get to the observatory for an evening view, but it’s challenging due to proximity from my home and opening hours. One of these days though!
What a fun tour of famous sights in Los Angeles!
What is cool about living in Los Angeles is that you see movies, commercials and music videos and you know where a lot of them were exactly filmed. Lately, I have seen a lot of places using Malibu as a filming location. Plus, I work close from some studios an sometimes I see towing trucks moving around the props.
Yes! So cool! I once saw THE Black Pearl from Pirates on the beach in Santa Monica!
Super list Hilary. I still have a vivid memory of visiting and buying perfume from the Giogio Beverly Hills store on Rodeo Drive. Must admit that’s about 20 years ago now. #FarawayFiles
Oh! My mom used to wear Giorgio! We visited that store when I was girl and to me that was always the mental picture I had of Beverly Hills! It’s gone now, but I’ll always think of those yellow and white stripes anytime I’m on Rodeo Drive!
Yes I remember the store very welll and as soon as the perfume was launched in Australia I bought some. The launch in Sydney had lots of yellow and white striped pop up boutiques with white wrapping and yellow ribbons.
Thank you for the great overview, all places we never made it to see while we lived in California. (boo hoo!) Loved the photos and for a hot minute I thought I could feel the sun while sitting here on a rainy London day. 🙂 LOVE the photo of the lifeguard stands and the palms in Venice Beach. Hope I get the chance to visit one day! #FarawayFiles
So glad you enjoyed! This is my second time living in LA and I’m making sure to do ALL the things!
I feel so naive… I know practically nothing about movies. I simply don’t have the attention span to sit through two hours of television (although I seem to have no problem watching a soccer game!) and so I hardly recognise any of these places 🙁 But for fans of the big screen, LA must be an absolute dream. What a great idea for a post! #FarawayFiles
Ha ha! I LOVE the movies, but many of these places were famous for other reasons making them perfect to be featured in film. You’d probably love the observatory, and the caves.
Kathleen (Kat) (@katpegimana)
Have you seen any movie stars in LA? 🙂 I bet that’s the common question you get? I reckon I’d be most happy to chill out at Venice Beach and would love to try the Angel Flight 🙂 #FarawayFiles
I do see movie stars! Though they don’t look all made up like they do in the movies, so it’s sometimes hard to spot them. I love to chill out at Venice Beach and do so often it’s the best!
Ladies What Travel (@LadiesWTravel)
Very cool, I visited a few of these during my trips to LA – one of the highlights was going around and seeing spots like this! Even watched a movie at the Chinese theatre! #citytripping
Now that one thing we haven’t done! We love the movies, so will have to try and see one there soon!
Really enjoyed your post, it’s amazing how some of these iconic locations get used time and again, but often seen in a different light.
We’ve often visited places we have seen in films, particularly some of the locations in “A Good Year” which was filmed around parts of Provence. We also seem to be stalking James Bond a bit too…. #farawayfiles
Thank you! We visited Sky Fall in Scotland and some Game of Thrones locations in Ireland as well! So fun! I’d love to visit Provence one day.
LA has so many firsts, bests, and brilliant sights! I can’t believe I still haven’t been. The over-water rollercoaster alone is enough to tempt me. #FarawayFiles
It sure does! I hope you’ll make it here someday. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!
SeasonedTravelr, aka Jessica
I grew up just about an hour away from LA, but never really explored the city until a couple years ago. You definitely got some of the best sights and attractions on this list! I especially love wandering around Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Thanks for sharing!
Good choices! Those are two of my favorites!
This is exactly the kind of tour I would do in LA!! I love movie sights 🙂
Me too! It’s so fun to see those places you’ve only seen on television or in the movies in “real”life!