The first thing you’ll notice about Los Angeles is how huge it is, it seems to stretch as far as the eye can see, with limitless possibilities of places to explore.

The city itself almost feels like a cluster of smaller cities that have come together for a dinner party – you know, the type where all your friends from different aspects of your life (school, work, neighbours…etc) come together. I’m not sure that’s the easiest analogy to follow but my long-winded point here is that each area of the city a different characteristic and identity that is uniquely its own and can make it perfect for us travellers to experience if we know where to look.

I have to be honest, on my first ever trip to Los Angeles wasn’t what I’d expected. I’d even go as far as saying I didn’t enjoy it. After traipsing around the well-trodden routes of the city, I kind of became a little disillusioned. I mean, there’s no going to Los Angeles and not walking the Hollywood Walk of Fame or seeing the Hollywood sign but for some reason, I just didn’t feel the magic was there and it really saddened me.

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Thankfully, travelling is temporal, an experience one time can be completely different to the next and my feelings changed somewhat on our second trip to this Californian City.

Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned traveller to the city, there’s always something to do in the city, with LA being one of those places where some of the best things to do are all free. Take a look at some key free experiences to have on your next trip to the city.

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1.) Head inside The Broad

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Home to over 2,000 pieces of art, The Broad is an iconic gallery that every visitor should explore in Los Angeles.

Not everyone realises but General Admission tickets to The Broad are totally free. If you don’t make your free reservation online, head over to the ‘standby line’ which allows entry to people that don’t have tickets. If on the other hand, you’re prepping for your trip in advance, make sure to book a few months before your visit, it’s the best way to secure your entry.

Top tip: If you tend not to like art, you might wanna give entry a miss 🤣

2.) Hike Runyon Canyon

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Perched at the most eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains is the perfect place for ramblers and hikers to take a break from city life. One of the best things about Runyon Canyon is that there’s a trail for each type of hiker (that start from Fuller Gate).

If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, head on the Runyon Canyon Road trail. If you’re looking for to break s sweat, head onto the Star Trail, and if you’re looking for a little cardio exercise, head onto the Hero Trail. You’ll get some epic views of the city, too!

If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, head on the Runyon Canyon Road trail. If you’re looking for to break s sweat, head onto the Star Trail, and if you’re looking for a little cardio exercise, head onto the Hero Trail. You’ll get some epic views of the city, too! 🏔

Looking to explore California? Check out these amazing sites you have to visit

3.) Find the Hollywood Sign

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It’s one of the most famous landmarks in the city and has become one of the global symbols of LA, which you’ve gotta see. Yes, it’s just a sign and yes, you’ll probably be done after 30 minutes but you’re in LA, so why not. One area to get a great shot is at Beachwood Canyon but you’ll find lots of places in the city.

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Make sure not to take the Hollyridge Trail which was famous to grab a snap behind the letters. Since April 2017 the trail has been closed and no longer available for us to trek.

4.) Explore the Griffith Observatory and Park

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Another classic LA location is the famous Griffith Observatory featured in one of the most famous scenes of the Oscar winning film La La Land. It has stunning views across the Hollywood Hills as well as beautiful Art Deco architecture for you to admire.

Make a day of it by visiting the observatory and then heading to the park for a picnic or to simply unwind.

5.) Stroll through Rodeo Drive

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Located in Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive is home to some of the most exclusive shopping and dining options in LA and makes a great place to come and window shop and people watch.

Saunter down this two-mile long street and take a pit stop at The Farm of Beverly Hills for a scrummy bite to eat. 🛍

6.) Relax a Santa Monica Pier and Beach

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Santa Monica Pier is one of the city’s most famous landmarks and was once the very end of Route 66. It’s now home to a carnival that features a vintage merry-go-round and speedy Ferris wheel as well as a roller coaster and snazzy arcade games.

If you’re lucky you might catch one of many free twilight concerts that are staged there throughout the year.

7.) Do Yoga on Venice Beach

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Besides being mega-watt famous and worth a visit in and of itself, Venice Beach is also home to free beach-side yoga classes and concerts. It also features a pavilion with cute cafes and eateries abound.

8.) Walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame

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Although, not my favourite thing to do in the city, no trip would be complete without a visit to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Search for your favourite actors and actresses stars, wander around to see whose hands and feet prints easily match with yours and remember to take lots of alcohol gel! All I could think about was how many germs were being passed around when thousands of people touch these every hour. Ha! 🤣

9.) See Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

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Located right next to the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, is a must-see landmark in LA. The impressive façade is one of the most iconic theatres in the country and one you can easily spot when visiting the Walk of Fame.

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10.) Enjoy The Getty Centre & Getty Villa

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Spend a day soaking up the culture at the Getty Centre, admiring 1000’s of paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures from across the world. The Exhibitions Pavilion affords fantastic views across LA, too, so you can really make the most out of your visit here. 🎨

11.) Discover Sunset Boulevard

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This glitzy, showstopper of a Boulevard combines classic Hollywood glamour with modern LA chic. It has functioned as the centre of Hollywood nightlife since the 1920s and dazzles with neon signs, flashing lights and gleaming billboards.

Make sure to visit Book Soup, the most iconic bookshop in Los Angeles and party it up at places like Whisky a Go Go where artists like Bruce Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses and The Doors really took off. This is one amazing place to experience and much less a ‘sparklers in vodka bottles’ establishment and much more real and authentic slice of Los Angeles. 🎶

12.) Gorge at the Grand Central Market

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If the stars in your eyes have gotten a little too bright, then you can always head to the Grand Central Market and spend your day getting lost amongst the 100’s of stalls, sampling delicious cuisine and possibly spend a few dollars gorging on all the local produce that I guarantee you’ll devour as soon as you arrive. 🧀
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  • a lot of fun things to do:)

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks, Tanja,

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I found it really interesting you changed your mind on L.A! I seem to do this every time I go there, and I’m up to 5 visits now! But I’ve got an itch to head back again, mostly for Santa Monica. I think living in London can cause L.A to feel like an anti-climax as we have many interesting things going on here, in walkable distance, hitting up a big spread out city can feel a little disappointing in some way.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Glad to hear it isn’t just me. I’m worried that the next time I visit I will be disappointed again (though, I really hope not). London is definitely more of a walkable city, that’s what I love about it too!

      So glad it’s not just me.

      Lloyd xx

  • I sort of feel the same way about LA. I lived in Orange County for a few years and would make trips to LA frequently, but always with a place to visit in mind (museums, restaurants, etc.) While there is plenty to do, the big tourist attractions do lack that sort of magic you’re expecting to experience. (Hollywood, for example…packed full of tourists, shops you can find anywhere, and annoying people trying to sell you things on the street. Not exactly magical.) I think you have to be prepared for huge crowds at the attractions, lots of sitting in traffic, and the fact that everything is very spread out. The museums and food are worth the trip!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re so right, Emily. That’s exactly how I felt on my first visit. It really disappointed me. I think it’s because the city has such a global hype and glitzy image that I got my hopes up far too high.

      Thankfully, I had a much better time on my second visit and you’re so right about the need to have an idea of what you want to see. Need to visit so many more of the museums when we visit again.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • And while not free but super affordable, end it all with a killer burger from In n Out!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      OMG… yes to In n’ Out!!!!! 🍔

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Would love to Hike in LA!!
    http://www.lottiegibbons.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Definitely try some of the trails if you head across soon. They’re great.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Laura

    The Last Bookstore is another well known LA bookshop in DTLA. Also, the twilight concerts are only in the summer :/ Abbot Kinney is another popular street to shop/browse in Venice, and it hosts First Fridays where food trucks set up camp the first friday of the month.