The Walk of Fame is a classic example of hype far exceeding reality. For those visiting the L.A. and expecting a glamorous boulevard full of movie stars, it can be a rude awakening. The street is often dirty, full of homeless faces and pushy street performers. It’s worth a quick look, but any local would recommend not spending too much time here. Instead (if you’re really interested in the movie history of Hollywood) check out The Hollywood Museum and it’s priceless collection of movie industry memorabilia.
There are seemingly millions of these tour companies peddling on Hollywood Boulevard and other locations in the heart of L.A. Most offer a chance to “see the stars” or other similar claims. Mostly these tours will drive you through Hollywood and Beverly Hills, half heartedly gesturing to locked gates and faraway homes. Instead, take a self driving tour through Beverly Hills and Hollywood, taking in the nice neighborhoods and older buildings. But, if your heart is really set on seeing a celebrity, you can also take the time to visit the places where celebrities actually live – Malibu, Santa Monica, and others.
But really, they are just people, so we don’t really see the point!
While somewhat interesting, Madame Toussauds stands out as a location where your time and money can be far better spent somewhere else. It’s kitschy and the novelty will quickly wear off. Instead, considering visiting several of the world class museums open to the public in Los Angeles, all which cost a fraction of the price: The Getty Museum (FREE!), L.A.C.M.A, or the Los Angeles Natural History Museum.
We are sure to catch a lot of flak for this one, but we feel like we have to at least mention it. Sure, if you are a hardcore Disney fan or the parent to small children, there is no other place to go but Disneyland. Otherwise, Disneyland can be a lesson in frustration: it’s frequently crowded, the tickets are the most expensive theme park tickets in CA, and some of the rides need to be updated. Instead, check out some of the other world class theme parks within driving distance: Six Flags for coaster addicts, Universal Studios for movie buffs, and Knott’s Berry Farm for those looking for something different.
5. Hollywood Sign
OK, we get that this is probably a must see for most tourists visiting the city for the first time. But, it’s one of those things where most visitors are surprised when they first see it – it’s not secluded far away from the city, and is easily visible from almost all of Hollywood. Instead of taking the standard picture from the street, kill two birds with one stone and visit Griffith Observatory and Planetarium. You’ll be rewarded with one of the best views of the entire city, including the Hollywood sign.
Santa Monica is an extremely popular filming location, and the site of one of the most iconic piers in the world. So why did we include it on this list? A few reasons: 1. it gets unbearably crowded in the summer, and 2. The prices of everything in the area are extremely high and 3. much of the area has a very “packaged” feel to it. To get a sense of the zany nature of LA, check out Venice Beach and Boardwalk. It’s home to some of the craziest and most interesting residents of the city, and gives insight to the crazy nature that LA is famous for.
The Queen Mary hotel is a popular destination for many seeking to capture a piece of the golden period of ocean dreamliners and transatlantic travel. However, the hotel stay itself is incredibly overpriced. The rooms are a tier below what you pay for, and unless you’ve paid for a room with a decent view, you might spend the entirety of your trip staring at a parking lot. If you’re set on staying in a historic L.A. hotel, check out the Millenium Biltmore or Hotel Figueroa, both of which will place you smack dab in the heart and history of Los Angeles.
8. Los Angeles Zoo
OK, if you are dead set on visiting a zoo, this will pass. But, considering it’s the second largest city in the United States, the Los Angeles Zoo can be somewhat lackluster. If you are really interested in visiting a zoo, consider a trip down to San Diego to visit the San Diego Zoo, arguably the best zoo in the world. It’s also a beautiful drive!
Sure, it’s an interesting look at a distinct cultural enclave within the city. The Los Angeles Chinatown, however, pales in comparison to Chinatowns in other major cities (NYC, SF, etc). It’s smaller and doesn’t have the same cultural impact as other areas within the city. If you do plan on seeing it, make plans to visit the other historically ethnic neighborhoods of LA as well: Koreatown, Little Tokyo, and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument near Union Station.
Agree? Disagree? Want to tell us how we’re dead wrong, or we missed another overrated location? Leave a comment and let us know!