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7 Los Angeles museums and attractions too good to miss
In a metropolis so sprawling and diverse, you could spend weeks checking off all the things to do in Los Angeles.
Whether you’re visiting Los Angeles or a local looking to get to know your city better, we’ve whipped up our own guide to help you sort through the lengthy list of attractions worth checking out. Read on to discover our favorite LA museums, plus other compelling destinations to explore.
Aquarium of the Pacific
Dive into the incredible world of the planet’s largest and most diverse body of water at Aquarium of the Pacific. With over 11,000 ocean animals, 19 different habitats, and a wide variety of changing exhibits, this extensive aquarium brims with under-the-sea fun for the whole family. Witness the silly antics of playful sea otters, venture right up to some of the ocean’s most impressive predators in the Shark Lagoon, and head to the Tropical Pacific Gallery to surround yourself with kaleidoscopic fish and coral.
Getty Center in Los Angeles
Perched high in the hills above Los Angeles, the billion-dollar project known as the Getty Center is more difficult to get to than the city’s more central attractions, but its world-class art and spectacular setting make it well worth the trip. Masterpieces by van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Gaugin, and Rembrandt are among the impressive collection of European paintings, and a section devoted to photography showcases some of the most captivating images of the 19th and 20th centuries. When you’re done browsing the museum, a stroll around the complex to admire the immaculate gardens and panoramic city views is a must.
Often referred to as the Central Park of Los Angeles, this larger and wilder urban oasis offers over 4,300 acres of serene greenery to explore. Lace up your hiking shoes and conquer miles of rugged trails, or stick to the park’s more well-known areas to visit history-filled attractions like the Greek Theatre and the Griffith Observatory, the latter of which features a viewing platform to scope out the mountaintop Hollywood Sign. Little ones will love the chance to spy chimpanzees, Asian elephants, gorillas, and reptiles galore at the LA Zoo, which opened to replace the original Griffith Park Zoo in 1966.
Natural History Museum
With a gargantuan collection that spans 35 million artifacts and 4.5 billion years of history, the Natural History Museum can be daunting but rewards those who plan out their visit beforehand. Step into the Dinosaur Hall to stroll among the complete skeletons of 20 dinosaurs and primordial sea creatures, including the world’s sole T-rex growth series, and let yourself be dazzled by the glittering specimens in the Gem and Mineral Hall. Before you go, check out the Becoming L.A. exhibit, which chronicles the city’s transformation from a tiny pueblo to massive metropolis.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
If roller coasters are your speed—get it?—a day trip with Starline Tours of Hollywood to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita is definitely in order. Here, thrill rides take center stage, with 19 coasters setting the world record for the most roller coasters in a single amusement park. Brave the plunging drop into an underground tunnel on Goliath, whip in and out of the treetops on Ninja, and careen through the steep banking turns and twisting inversions of Batman: The Ride. Seeking something tamer? Head to Roaring Rapids for a whitewater rafting adventure, or hop into a Go-Kart and put the pedal to the metal as you race around the curves of Cyclone 500.
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
Delve deep into the prehistoric past of Los Angeles at the La Brea Tar Pits, the Ice Age fossil excavation site located right in the heart of the city. In the museum, marvel at the incredible remains of mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, ground sloths, and dire wolves on display, and pop into the fossil lab to see what paleontologists are currently working on. For even more exploration, hop on the free Excavator Tour for a fascinating look at the famous bubbling Lake Pit and the active Project 23 pit, where excavators are still unearthing exciting fossil finds.
If you’re looking for an interesting way to celebrate International Sloth Day, the La Brea Tar Pits have plenty of giant ground sloth bones for you to examine.
Museum of Jurassic Technology
Despite what its name suggests, the Museum of Jurassic Technology is not an ode to dinosaur movies, but actually one of LA’s most bizarre and unique destinations. As you enter the unassuming building, you begin a journey through dim, maze-like corridors in which curiosities await around every corner. Among the peculiar objects on display are dead mice on toast, a fruit pie carved with an image of the crucifixion, and strange horn that supposedly grew from a woman’s head. By the time you wander back into daylight, you’ll probably still be asking yourself what on earth you just stumbled into, but that’s exactly what museum creator David Wilson intended.
What attractions are on your list of things to do in Los Angeles?
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