Visit Los Angeles: 6 must-see spots around the city

Visit Los Angeles: 6 must-see spots around the city

I’ve visited the Los Angeles area twice in the last couple of years and there are some great things to do for visitors both in and out of the city. Here are my top six favourite things I’ve done across both of my visits to the USA’s 2nd most populated city.

1. Hike to the Hollywood Sign

Hollywood sign on wooded hill with blue skies and mast
My first close up of the Hollywood sign!
Panoramic view over the horizon from behind the Hollywood sign
It’s much larger than it seems…
Standing behind the Hollywood sign watching the sunset
And no visit would be complete without this obligatory photo, watching the sunset

If you’ve ever been to LA and haven’t hiked up to the Hollywood sign, you’re missing out on a treat. There are a few different trails to choose from, depending on how difficult you want your walk to be – you can get more details here. Whichever you choose though, expect incredible views of the city of Los Angeles and a stunning sunset if you get your timings right. When I hiked to the sign, Blur were rehearsing in the Hollywood Bowl and the sound carried to the top of the hills – bonus! Just make sure you don’t stay watching the sunset too long as hiking back down the hill in the dark was pretty freaky!

2. Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills sign with palm tree and pond in front


Paved pedestrian street with lampposts and hanging baskets
Via Rodeo
Rodeo drive lined with palm trees and shops on left
Rodeo Drive baby!
Cheesecakes on display counter
Visit the original The Cheesecake Factory in Beverly Hills!

What trip to LA would be complete without stopping off at the most famous designer shopping district in the world? I have to confess, I went here on both trips and still didn’t make it to the Hollywood Walk of Fame… but those shops! And Rodeo Drive makes you feel like you’ve just stepped into Pretty Woman. The main shopping street is actually much shorter than I expected, but is a gorgeous street lined with palm trees and all the big-name designers you could wish for. If you head down the streets just off Rodeo Drive, you’ll find more mid-range and high street shops to browse. Beverly Hills is also home to the first ever The Cheesecake Factory, founded in 1978. If you do want to visit Beverly Hills, you can park at Two Rodeo, which has a garage with free valet parking for two hours. Just don’t forget to tip your valet when you pick your car up! It’s located just off Rodeo Drive and is perfect for checking out Rodeo Drive.

3. Santa Monica Mountains

White car in front of view over Santa Monica Mountains
Taking a mini road trip

Road going into the distance with mountains and telephone poles

I discovered the joy of driving through the Santa Monica Mountains when I took an unplanned detour during my latest trip to Los Angeles. I was on my way back from Malibu and was distinctly unimpressed with the Pacific Coast Highway so I turned off it to find an alternative route. It was late afternoon and the mountain views from the road were stunning in the sunshine. Take time to pull over and enjoy the spectacular scenery so you don’t get distracted from the road! This drive was a great way to take a break from the city and experience nature in all its glory. You can read more about my drive here.

4. Malibu

Mixed seafood and meat platter including fries, ribs, prawn skewers, lemon wedges and dips
This seafood platter (for two) was incredible!
Beach with deck chairs and hanging basket with pier in distance
A private beach with a pier view

Sandy beach with rocks and sea

Malibu is a lovely spot to visit if you want to get out of the city and get some relaxing beach time. There are plenty of beaches to visit around Malibu, but I enjoyed going to the private beach at the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. Parking is only $6 during the week ($8 weekends) for four hours if you spend at least $30 in the cafe. I loved the food here and ordered myself a huge seafood platter to meet the minimum spend as I was on my own, much to the approval of the local clientele! After you’ve eaten, you can head straight out of the door onto the white sandy beach for a post-food chillout on the restaurant deck chairs. Although I decided to head over to Malibu primarily for some beach time, I also enjoyed gawking at the incredible hillside celebrity houses as I drove down the Pacific Coast Highway.

5. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park wooden welcome sign

Joshua tree with blue skies and mountains in the background
The landscape here is so unique
Joshua tree on left with rock formation behind
You can also do some rock-climbing in the park

Joshua Tree National Park is a stunning nature reserve located around 150 miles east of Los Angeles (about a three hour drive). It’s well worth the journey though, with unique Joshua Trees and breathtaking landscapes everywhere you look throughout the park. It’s also where the Mojave and Colorado Desert ecosystems meet. You can spend a good few hours driving around the park and stopping to admire the incredible trees and rocks. Just like the Santa Monica Mountains, I’d recommend putting the camera away for a while to appreciate the natural beauty of the park. You can find out more here.

6. Crystal Cove

View of beach and sea from restaurant terrace with white drapes
This is one of the best views ever
Plate of fish and chips with sea in background and Crystal Cove sign
Being a Brit at the seaside and ordering fish and chips…
Long sandy beach with blue skies and beach umbrellas
The beautiful beach at Crystal Cove

This is another recommendation for anyone who wants a sandy beach, great cocktails and a delicious lunch with sweeping Pacific Ocean views. Head down to Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach and you’ll find what you’re looking for! I had lunch and cocktails in the Beachcomber Cafe, which has a terrace on the beach offering guests unbeatable sea views. Once you’ve eaten, head onto the beach and dip your toes in the ocean and enjoy the fresh sea air.

Are you from/have you been to LA? Let me know your favourite spot in the comments below!