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Top Places to Visit in Los Angeles, California: Hollywood, Venice Beach, & Beverly Hills (2023)

Top must-visit places must visit if it's your first time in LA: where to go, what to do, and where to eat.


When thinking about LA, you probably imagine Hollywood and its legendary movies, the famous Venice Beach, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills. However, Los Angeles is a vast city diverse in areas, cultures, and foods. In this guide, I share my favorite spots in different locations and streets of LA.

When flying into LA, you get a good glimpse of the city's size. Once you visit Los Angeles, you will quickly realize how diverse this city and its different neighborhoods are. There is the famous Venice Beach area that has a more laid-back surfer vibe. The famous Venice Beach Boardwalk is the perfect spot to ride your bike along palm trees and the beach. Downtown has an entirely different vibe, where you see many tall skyscrapers and busy streets, the complete opposite of Venice Beach. Then you have the famous Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the cleanest areas I have seen in LA, surrounded by massive mansions, luxurious boutiques, and greenery. And, not to forget the Hollywood Hills, where you can go hiking and catch the city's best views.


Many people travel to LA with big expectations because how can you not, right? With that, many people get disappointed when getting there because it's not quite what they had expected. You probably expect this glamorous city to be super clean, seeing luxury at every corner, but it's quite the opposite. Nevertheless, don't let that hold you back from going!



1. Venice, California: Venice Beach, Venice Canals, Abbot Kinney Blvd


Venice Beach

Venice Beach definitely has a California vibe to it! I recommend grabbing yourself a delicious avocado toast from Great White and sitting by the beach or watching the skaters at the famous Venice Beach Skatepark. Around Venice Beach, you can rent skates, surfboards, bikes, skateboards, etc. You can also rent a bike and ride along the coast up to Santa Monica Pier and back. Or you relax by the beach and catch some waves in the ocean.


Overall, Venice is a laid-back area in Los Angeles with its famous Venice Beach, the skate area, a fantastic shopping street called Abbot Kinney Blvd, and the charming Venice Canals. That is the perfect spot to escape the business of the City.


Recommendations Around Venice Beach

Great White - Sells locally produced foods (delicious avocado toasts)

Belles Beach House - Trendy Hawaiian restaurant

Menotti's Coffee Stop - Nice cafe

Samesun Venice Beach - Grubby hostel but perfect beach location

El Huarique Venice - Peruvian street food (1301, Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291)

Venice Ale House - American burgers and craft beers (2 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291)



Venice Canals

Venice Canals is a little peaceful hidden gem where locals live in beautiful houses surrounded by water canals. Walking through this area feels like being in Amsterdam or Venice, Italy. Locals also ride little boats or sit in their gardens enjoying themselves. Entering this area from Venice Beach seems like entering a whole different world. Highly recommend this hidden gem to wind down and take a breather.



Abbot Kinney Blvd

Abbot Kinney Blvd is my favorite shopping and dining street in Venice. There are many beautiful boutiques, sustainable clothing and swimwear shops, fine dining, and pretty cool restaurants that serve avocado toast and Acai bowls. Roosterfish is a cool bar that Jake and I would often go to when in Venice. Further down Abbot Kinney Blvd, the famous Erewhon grocery store sells organic, local, and sustainable products. Stroll down the whole street and see what catches your eye. There are a lot of cool spots to check out.



Recommendations for Shopping and Eating:

The Butcher's Daughter - Breakfast place (1205 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291)

Roosterfish - Cool bar (1302 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291)

Coutula - LA made Swimwear (1204 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291)

Piccolo Abbot Kinney - Great Italian food (1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291)



2. Santa Monica - Saturdays Market, Shopping, Dining, Beach, and Pier Walks

Santa Monica is a great place to spend a relaxing weekend by the beach, getting fresh produce at Saturday's market, and strolling through the mall and shopping area, only 5 mins walk from the beach.


I recommend staying in the HI Hostel, which has the perfect location between the beach and shopping area and hosts many international travelers. Every time I come here for a weekend, I meet lots of European and South American travelers.



Recommendations for Shopping and Eating:

HI Hostel Santa Monica - Lots of international travelers (1436 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90401)

North Italia - Italian restaurant right next to the hostel (1442 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90401)

Elephante - Ocean view lounge & Italian food (1332 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90401)

Massilia - best avocado toast (1445 4th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401)

Farmers Market - (on Sat/Wed 8 am to 1 pm) (155-199 Arizona Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401)

Joe's Pizza - GREAT PIZZA!! (111 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401)

Thunderbolt Spiritual Books - (512 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401)




Bike from Santa Monica to Venice

Rent yourself a bike and ride from Santa Monica to Venice. I recommend taking Ocean Avenue, followed by Main Street. You will drive by many cool shops, boutiques, second-hand stores, and cafes. One restaurant that I recommend is Cobi's, which is a Southeast Asian restaurant. Cobi's is a bit more expensive but has incredible food! There is a cute little garden corner that you can dine in (see picture below). Further down Main Street is my favorite crystal and bookstore, Mystic Journey Bookstore. Plenty of cool shops and cafes exist in the area.


On the way back to Santa Monica, bicycle or walk along the famous Venice Beach. The beach path is beautiful to stroll along. Continue walking down until you eventually get to the Santa Monica Pier. There are many fitness areas where you see people playing volleyball, doing hit training, or practicing yoga.



Recommendations between Santa Monica and Venice Beach:

Mystic Journey Bookstore (2923 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405)

The Closet Trading Company (2711 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405)

Cobi's - Southeast Asian fusion (2104 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405)



3. Hollywood: Hiking to the Hollywood Sign, Thai Food on Sunset Blvd, Walk of Fame, & Melrose Ave

Hollywood is a big area with lots of cool places to explore. Of course, you have to see the iconic Hollywood sign. To see the sign, you don't necessarily need to go hiking. There are plenty of places and areas where you can see the sign while in the city. For example, Palm Tree Street (Hollywood Sign 498-400 S Windsor Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90020),

Franklin Ave, Hollywood Forever Cemetery (6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038). You can even see the sign while driving on the highway.

Besides the famous Hollywood Sign, there are many other cool places to check out. There is a delicious Thai food restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, not to forget the famous Walk of Fame, Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, and the iconic Beverly Hills.



Hollywood Sign Hike

Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles

There are two popular hikes that lead you to the Hollywood sign. One hike takes you behind the Hollywood sign, where you get the view you see in the pictures above, and the other hike takes you below the sign, so you have the sign in the background of your photos (see image below). We recommend taking enough water and snacks for both walks because it takes longer than expected.

Griffith Observatory

The drive up to Griffith Observatory is beautiful and calming. Once you arrive, you can park along the road in a designated parking spot. However, ensure you arrive early since the place is very popular, and parking can quickly get tight. From up here, you have a great view of Los Angeles. You can start hiking from here or explore the cosmos at Griffith Observatory, where you can look through telescopes and explore exhibits.

Typical American House during Christmas

Driving to and from the Griffith Observatory takes you through beautiful Hollywood. Going through the neighborhoods gives me flashbacks of all the American movies I watched in childhood. Like the picture below, many traditional houses have typical American driveways and massive front yards. In this entire area, you see many interesting-looking homes. We drove around here during Christmas and saw this beautifully decorated, typical American house.



Thai Food on Sunset Blvd

I highly recommend visiting the Northern Thai Food Club (5301 Sunset Blvd #11, Los Angeles, CA 90027) on Sunset Boulevard if you love authentic, street food style Thai food. This small restaurant serves authentic, very spicy Thai food. Outside the restaurant is a little Asian market with vegetables and tropical fruits. You can also dine outside by the market area, sitting on small tables and seats like in Thailand.



Hollywood - Walk of Fame

If you are interested in music, we recommend visiting Amoeba Music (6200 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028), a popular record store where indie music lovers hang out.



West Hollywood - Melrose Avenue

Melrose Avenue is another great street to stroll around. The area is located just next to Beverly Hills. Many shops and restaurants, cool spots for Instagram pictures, and a lovely cat cafe exist. We recommend combining this area with a visit to Beverly Hills.


Recommendations

Crumbs & Whiskers | Kitten & Cat Cafe (7924 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046)

The Pink Wall (8221 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046, United States)



Beverly Hills - Rodeo Drive and Cupcakes

You can't miss visiting the iconic Beverly Hills area when visiting LA. Beverly Hills is indeed what you had in mind when imagining Los Angeles. The area is beautiful to stroll around and enjoy a cupcake while window shopping. The area is very well taken care of.


Recommendations

Sprinkles Beverly Hills ATM - (9635 S Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210)

Beverly Hills Park - (9641 N Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210)

The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills - (419 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210)

Rodeo Drive Walk Of Style - (328 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210)



4. Downtown LA - food market, hostel, book store, alleyway

Grand Central Market (317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013) is a great place to check out if you love all kinds of foods. In this market, you find many street food vendors selling dishes from around the world. You find currywurst from Germany, Mexican food, Thai food, Italian pasta, Japanese food, and many desserts.



Downtown Hostel - Freehand Hostel

We highly recommend Freehand Hostel (416 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014, United States) while visiting downtown Los Angeles. We've stayed in many hostels, but this one has been among the nicest. The rooms are pleasant and clean, there are plenty of international travelers to meet, and the rooftop bar has a swimming pool with amazing city views!



The Last Bookstore

The Last Bookstore (453 S Spring St Ground Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013, United States) is a book heaven to get lost in. We highly recommend this place if you love books and vinyl records.



Restaurant 71Above

If you love food and amazing dining experiences, we highly recommend checking out 71Above (633 W 5th St 71st floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071, United States). This restaurant is a luxurious eatery, bar, and lounge on the 71st floor, serving high-end modern American cuisine while enjoying panoramic views. The food is incredible, and the views are unforgettable.



Summary

Los Angeles is a huge city with so much to see and explore. This article showcased a quick summary of our favorite places to go in LA and the best areas to see a little bit of everything while in the city.


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We hope you enjoyed reading this LA article. What was your favorite LA experience? Let us know in the comments below!

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