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20+ Unmissable Things To Do In Los Angeles For First Timers

hiking the hollywood trail los angeles

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You’ve seen the glitz and glamor of Los Angeles, California in endless movies, TV shows, and music videos, and you don’t need me to tell you there are hundreds, if not thousands, of things to do in LA.

With year round clear blue skies, blissful beaches, arid mountains, and encompassing desert landscapes, there is something for everyone in the world’s most famous metropolitan.

LA takes a bit of getting used to. You may love it or hate it immediately, or like me, need a few visits before you can start to appreciate it.

Its diversity is to be celebrated and admired and there is something to suit everyone in this city.

But if it’s your first time visit to LA and you’re not sure what attractions to add to your list, then this guide shares the most unmissable sites and landmarks you need to check out.

Hollywood sign

Unmissable Things to do in Los Angeles

1. Hit the beaches

family walking on pier of Manhattan Beach, California
Manhattan Beach Pier

The first place I recommend a first timer check out is LA is the beach. This is where you will find a laid back, surf culture and a bustling community, but without it feeling overwhelming.

I also don’t think the beaches in LA are overly spectacular, but they can fun places to hang out regardless, and it will ease you into the chaos of the city gently – which you’ll need if you haven’t visited the city before.

First thing to be aware of, the Pacific Ocean is always cold off the coast of California. I never swim in the ocean here as it’s too cold for me!

Some of our favorite beaches are:

South Bay Beaches

girl bike riding along the beach
Manhattan Beach

The South Bay Beaches are our favorite beaches, which are not far from the airport.

We generally skip LA now and head straight down to Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach and it is well worth staying here for a few days.

The sunsets on the beaches are worth the trip alone. Make sure you stop for a sundowner at one of the many beer gardens along the Hermosa promenade.

If you enjoy beach volleyball then Manhattan Beach and Hermosa are the best places to have a friendly game. They call Manhattan Beach the Volleyball Capital of the World.

We love to ride along the beach promenade between Manhattan and Hermosa (you can even go further: north to Marina Del Rey and South to Redondo Beach)

Santa Monica and Venice

view of Santa Monica Beach LA
Santa Monica Beach LA

We are not great fans of Santa Monica. It feels too touristy, stale and…

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