Los Angeles is an ever-evolving city famous for its golden sand beaches, cutting-edge trends, and celebrity spotting, but how did it become the popular destination it is today? Los Angeles Tourism invites visitors to turn back the clock and discover LA’s groundbreaking art-deco buildings, historical studio tours, and iconic restaurants that have fed Hollywood’s brightest stars.
As Los Angeles celebrates multiple monumental centennials throughout 2023, including the iconic Hollywood Sign’s anniversary on 8 December, this is the perfect time for visitors to immerse themselves in the city’s rich history. Additional notable centennials include The Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, Warner Bros. Studios, the LA Memorial Coliseum and more.
Spend a Day in Classic Hollywood
- See Marilyn Monroe’s dressing room and get the scoop on film history at the Hollywood Museum, housed in the historic Max Factor building.
- Sip a martini at Musso & Frank and stay the night (or just take a peek) at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, named for President Theodore Roosevelt, or the infamous Chateau Marmot, steeped in steamy Hollywood history.
- Live like a local and bring your own bottle of wine to a concert under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl, among one of the largest natural amphitheatres in the world, where the Los Angeles Philharmonic has been performing since 1921.
- Grab a bite at Pink’s Hot Dogs, where a hot dog cost 10 cents and cokes were a nickel when it opened in 1939. The classic hot dog stand looks about the same and is owned by the Pink family. Top selling franks named after celebrities are The Brando Dog and the Martha Stewart Dog.
- Take a studio tour of iconic filming locations at Paramount Pictures, which debuted in 1912, making it the oldest continuously operating Hollywood studio.
Explore Los Angeles’ Birthplace and Downtown History
- El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument marks LA’s birthplace when 44 immigrants formed a small farming community here in 1781. See the Plaza Firehouse (LA’s first firehouse), Avila Adobe (LA’s oldest standing house) and the once controversial America Tropical mural in the Interpretive Center adjacent to the Italian American Museum.
- Join in on the ‘Great LA French Dip Debate’ and visit Philippe The Original and Cole’s, which both claim to have invented the famed sandwich. Both institutions opened in 1908.
- Ride the Angels Flight Railway, a funicular built in 1901 to transport affluent residents in Bunker Hill to and from Grand Central Market, a bustling food court that has been open since 1917 and cultural culinary offerings that shape Los Angeles.
- Spend the night like a movie star at the glamorous Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles, which debuted in October 1923 and quickly became the go-to venue for celebrities, dignitaries, filming and special events like the Academy Awards.
Discover Movie Magic & Hidden Gems in the San Fernando Valley
- Home to the world’s major movie studios, the San Fernando Valley is where the magic of Hollywood really happens. Visit sets past and present on a behind the-scenes Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Burbank.
- Dine at the Smoke House steak restaurant (known for its garlic bread), which has been popular with locals and the entertainment industry since 1946.
- Walk along Ventura Boulevard, one of the area’s oldest roads that is flanked by restaurants, coffee shops and retail shopping from Universal City to Thousand Oaks.
- The Valley Relics Museum is a one-stop shop for neon signs, classic cars, a working retro arcade, and other treasures, displayed in two hangars of the Van Nuys Airport.
Dive Into LA’s Beach Culture
- No visit to LA is complete without a stroll along the eclectic Venice Beach Boardwalk where street entertainers, skaters and body builders strut their stuff against the backdrop of the sparkling Pacific. The Boardwalk and nearby Venice Canals were built in 1905 as part of Abbot Kinney’s ‘Venice of America’ plan.
- Santa Monica Pier offers quintessential beach activities. Take a spin on a vintage carousel inside the whimsical Looff Hippodrome, built by Charles Looff in 1916. He also built the Pleasure Pier adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier, creating one big wooden pier that anchors seaside amusement park rides and restaurants.
- Catch a wave at Malibu’s Surfrider Beach, made famous by 1950s and ’60s surfing movies, then soak up local history at the adjacent Malibu Lagoon Museum and Adamson House, a throwback to 1929. Don’t leave Malibu without a bite to eat at Neptune’s Net, an old-school beach restaurant from 1956 and the site of many classic movies.
For more ways to experience Los Angeles activities, visit DiscoverLosAngeles.com.