Los Angeles’s unmissable landmarks and historical sights

There’s more to see here than the Hollywood sign: visit Los Angeles’ architectural and natural landmarks to get a real picture of this sprawling city

Los Angeles is a city where everything feels bigger. Whether it’s the legacy of culture and history found throughout Hollywood or the wild and exciting arts scene found in the city’s Art District, Los Angeles has truly earned its status as one of the great cities of the world. With its impressive selection of historic landmarks, you can find a new marvel around every corner.

Don’t miss LA’s landmarks like the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame and signed cement blocks at the TCL Chinese Theatre. Make sure to catch the panoramic cityscape views from Griffith Park, one of the best places to visit in LA. If you are looking for fun things to do in the city, here are 15 of the best Los Angeles landmarks to visit.

Historic and architectural landmarks in Los Angeles

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1. Hollywood Walk of Fame

Spanning 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, the Hollywood Walk of Fame features over 2,500 brass stars featuring the names of entertainment industry stars. This is the most iconic of all Los Angeles landmarks. See how many names you can recognize.

Highlights:

From directors and musicians to fictional characters like Mickey Mouse, many Hollywood celebrities have a star on the Walk of Fame. Learn more about the world-famous names here on the Walk of Fame walking tour.

Meeting point: 6655 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA, 90028.

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2. The TCL Chinese Theatre

Built by Sid Grauman in 1927, the impressive Chinese Theatre has hosted many celebrated events and movie premieres, including Star Wars in 1977. Its most well-known section is the Forecourt of the Stars, which contains around 200 celebrity signatures and handprints marked on concrete blocks.

Highlights:

Although it's a working movie theater, private tours of this impressive building still happen. Explore even more of Hollywood on an LA Grand Tour.

Address and opening hours:

6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA, 90028. Open daily 8:00 AM-12:00 AM.

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3. The Hollywood Sign

Overlooking Los Angeles from high atop Mount Lee, the prominent Hollywood Sign is one of Hollywood's most well-known historic landmarks. Originally built in 1923 to advertise a new housing development, the sign has become an iconic part of the Los Angeles landscape.

Highlights:

Access to the sign is restricted, but several mountain walking trails will get you close enough for a picture. The Hollywood Sign Guided Walking Tour offers excellent views of the sign as well as the Hollywood cityscape.

Meeting point: 6301 Innsdale Dr., Los Angeles, CA, 90068.

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4. Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica's famous pier has been one of the most significant architectural landmarks of the LA coastline for over a century. Stroll down the pier, and you will find amusement arcades, restaurants, street entertainers, and a popular amusement park with its unique roller coaster. It's also a fun place to visit in LA at night.

Highlights:

You can explore more of Santa Monica's sights, including the pier, on an eBike Tour. Discover more popular destinations and hidden gems in Santa Monica and Venice Beach.

Meeting point: 212 Pier Ave., Santa Monica, CA, 90405.

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5. The Capital Records Building

Built in 1958, the Capital Records Building towers over the Hollywood skyline and is one of the most unique architectural landmarks in the city. Looking like a stack of records, the circular design of this building was among the first of its kind.

Highlights:

Why not get a unique perspective of this impressive building from the top deck of an open-air bus?

Address:

1750 Vine St., Los Angeles, CA, 90028.

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6. Griffith Observatory

Since opening in 1935, the beautiful Griffith Observatory has been one of the city's favorite landmarks. It's appeared in award-winning movies like Rebel Without a Cause and La La Land. The observatory is a great place to learn about space and see the night sky, and the outlook offers stunning views of the LA skyline.

Highlights:

Explore the building in depth with an observatory guided tour.

Address and opening hours:

2800 E Observatory Rd., Los Angeles, CA, 90027. Open 12:00 PM-10:00 PM Tuesday-Friday, 10:00 AM-10:00 PM Saturday-Sunday.

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7. Dolby Theatre

Although it's tucked away in the Ovation Hollywood Mall, the Dolby Theatre is one of the most important venues in Hollywood. The annual Academy Awards are held here, and the venue also hosts many high-profile events in Hollywood, from award ceremonies to concerts.

Highlights:

Just outside the theater, you'll find art deco columns displaying the Best Picture Oscar winners for each year since 1927. Explore the theater up close with an admission ticket and guided tour.

Address:

6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA, 90028.

Scenic and natural landmarks in Los Angeles

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8. Griffith Park

Covering over 4,000 acres of the Hollywood Hills, the walking trails of Griffith Park offer some of the best views of the LA skyline. Explore the park to find the Autry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles Zoo, and the Greek Theatre.

Highlights:

Griffith Park has been used as a location for movies and TV shows for many years. Get a closer look at some of these locations with a Griffith Observatory Hike.

Meeting point: 2715 N Vermont Canyon Rd., Los Angeles, CA, 90027.

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9. Echo Park Lake

Once the site of LA's reservoir, today Echo Park Lake has become a popular area to escape Downtown Los Angeles's fast-paced lifestyle. Here, you can enjoy picnic areas, live music, and of course, pedal boat rides on the lake.

Highlights:

The local swan pedal boats are one of the main attractions at Echo Park Lake. Try one for yourself with a Swan Pedal Boat Rental.

Address:

Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA, 90026.

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10. Venice Beach

Since the 1960s, Venice Beach and its renowned boardwalk have been the center for LA's countercultural movement, and today it's lost none of its spirit. Take a stroll and enjoy the street art and performers, as well as the beautiful sandy beaches and blue waters of the Pacific.

Highlights:

You can try many activities when you visit Venice Beach, including biking and skating. Why not take a private surfing lesson for the full local experience?

Address:

Venice, CA, 90401.

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11. Getty Villa Herb Garden

Modeled on the Roman Villa dei Papiri, the Getty Villa is a magnificent destination, offering wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean. Its nearby herb garden will entice you with its scents of mint, lavender, and thyme.

Highlights:

Take a guided walking tour of the villa and gardens, and enjoy a moment of serenity by the lotus pool at the end of the herb garden.

Address and opening hours:

17985 E Pacific Coast Hwy., Pacific Palisades, CA, 90272. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM Wednesday-Monday.

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12. Pacific Coast Highway

Following the western coastline of the United States, the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most breathtaking scenic drives in the world. Drive from Los Angeles to explore small coastal towns, dramatic cliffs, and picturesque beaches.

Highlights:

The highway stretches from San Diego in the south to Seattle in the north. With a three-day tour from LA to San Francisco, you can marvel at sights like Hearst Castle and Yosemite Park along the way.

Meeting Point: Farmers Market, 6333 W 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA, 90036.

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13. Huntington Botanical Gardens

Just outside the Huntington's extensive library and art museum lies a beautiful 130-acre botanical garden. Featuring 16 themed areas and over 83,000 different plant species, this is one of the most idyllic natural landmarks in Los Angeles. From desert flowers to Japanese bamboo forests, the Huntington Botanical Gardens is a perfect place to relax.

Highlights:

Save money on exploring the Huntington and other attractions with a Go City All-Inclusive Pass.

Address and opening hours:

1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, CA, 91108. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM Wednesday-Monday.

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14. Runyon Canyon Park

Runyon Canyon Park offers delightful scenic views of LA and the Santa Monica Mountains. Due to its proximity to Mulholland Drive, the park is also a great location for celebrity spotting. The park has areas where dogs are permitted to run off-leash, so don't be surprised if a few come up to say hello.

Highlights:

You can get a birds'-eye view of the Runyon Canyon with a romantic helicopter tour.

Address and opening hours:

2000 N Fuller Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046. Open daily 6:00 AM-6:30 PM.

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15. Saddle Peak

Saddle Peak, near Malibu, offers breathtaking views of the Los Angeles area and the surrounding Santa Monica Mountains. To get there, you need to climb the mountain; however, you can easily do this, with assistance available for even novice climbers.

Highlights:

Saddle Peak is made of sandstone and has a low-angle slab wall, so it's easy to climb. An expert instructor in outdoor rock climbing will help you if you have never climbed before.

Meeting Point: Stunt Rd. and Saddle Peak Rd., Malibu, CA, 90265.

FAQs

What is the oldest historic landmark in Los Angeles?

The Avila Adobe was originally built by Francisco José Avila in 1818. It is the oldest Los Angeles landmark and still stands in its original location.

What are some free landmarks to visit in Los Angeles?

Many public areas are free in Los Angeles, such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Farmers Market, and the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre. Venice Beach, Griffith Park, and Santa Monica Pier are also free, although some attractions may charge for entry.

Are there any guided tours that focus on the architecture of Los Angeles' landmarks?

Yes. You can explore some of the best landmarks in Los Angeles on many different kinds of guided tours, including walking, bus riding, biking, and segway tours.

How can I get the best views of scenic landmarks in Los Angeles?

Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon Park offer some of the best panoramic vistas of the city. Other great places for scenic views include The Getty Center, City Hall, and the OUE Skyspace LA.

What are some natural landmarks near Los Angeles worth visiting?

Griffith Park and Huntington Gardens are two outstanding natural landmarks in Los Angeles. Outside the city, the Getty Villa Herb Garden is also a fantastic option.