Once in a Lifetime Things to do in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a must-visit city, a place that calls you back time and again with its endless offerings, sights, and experiences. While there are countless guides highlighting the thousands of things to see and do, true exploration means delving beyond the well-trodden paths. It’s about immersing yourself in the city’s authentic essence, not just touring it but truly feeling its vibrancy and soul.

For those seeking an experience that transcends the typical recommendations found in travel guides, you’ve found the perfect starting point. This is precisely why I’ve compiled a list of unique, Once in a Lifetime Things to Do in Los Angeles. 

This city is brimming with thrilling adventures waiting to be discovered. Continue reading to craft the ultimate itinerary for your unforgettable journey to this incredible city.

The Best Time to Visit Los Angeles, California

The best time to visit Los Angeles depends on what you’re looking for in your visit. Generally, the most recommended times are from March to May and from September to November. Here’s why these periods are often considered the best:

  • Weather: During these months, the weather is generally more comfortable, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the low 80s Fahrenheit. This mild weather is ideal for exploring the city without the extreme heat that can occur in the summer months.
  • Crowds: Visiting in the spring (March to May) or fall (September to November) can help you avoid the peak tourist seasons, which usually occur during the summer months when schools are out and during the winter holidays. Fewer tourists can mean shorter lines at attractions, less crowded beaches, and potentially lower prices for accommodations and flights.
  • Events: Los Angeles hosts numerous events throughout the year. Depending on your interests, visiting during these shoulder seasons can also allow you to experience some of LA’s great festivals and events without the peak season’s hustle and bustle.
  • Cost: Traveling during these off-peak times can also be more cost-effective, as hotels and airlines often lower their prices to attract visitors during the less busy times of the year.

However, Los Angeles is a city that can be enjoyed year-round, thanks to its generally mild climate. If you prefer warmer weather for beach activities, summer can be a great time to visit, though do expect higher temperatures and more crowds. Winter can also be appealing for those looking to enjoy the city’s holiday festivities and generally cooler but still mild weather.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles, California?

Where to Stay in Los Angeles, California

Choosing where to stay in Los Angeles largely depends on your interests, budget, and the activities you plan to do. Los Angeles is a sprawling city with diverse neighborhoods, each offering its unique vibe and attractions. Here are some popular areas to consider:

1. Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA)

Ideal for those interested in arts, culture, and food. Downtown LA is home to the Arts District, The Broad Museum, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and numerous restaurants. It’s also convenient for business travelers.

2. Hollywood

Best for those looking to experience the classic LA glamour, walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame, visit the TCL Chinese Theatre, and enjoy easy access to various entertainment options.

3. West Hollywood (WeHo)

Known for its vibrant nightlife, upscale shopping, and the Sunset Strip. It’s a great area for those looking for a lively stay, with plenty of bars, clubs, and restaurants.

4. Beverly Hills

If you’re looking for luxury, Beverly Hills offers high-end shopping on Rodeo Drive, five-star hotels, and fine dining options. It’s perfect for those wanting a posh experience.

5. Santa Monica

Ideal for beach lovers and those looking for a more relaxed vibe. Santa Monica offers beautiful beaches, the iconic Santa Monica Pier, and the Third Street Promenade for shopping and dining. It’s also great for families.

6. Venice Beach

Known for its bohemian spirit, Venice Beach is great for those interested in street performers, muscle beach, unique shops, and the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk.

7. The Valley (e.g., North Hollywood, Studio City)

Offers a more suburban experience, with access to studios, more affordable accommodations, and family-friendly attractions. Good for longer stays or for those with a car to explore the city.

8. Silver Lake and Echo Park

Trendy neighborhoods known for their indie music scene, hip cafes, and boutiques. Ideal for younger travelers and those looking for a more local, alternative LA experience.

9. LAX/El Segundo

Convenient for short stays or layovers, with easy access to Los Angeles International Airport. There are plenty of hotels in this area, ranging from budget to luxury. Your choice should align with your priorities, whether it’s being close to the beach, immersed in the luxury lifestyle, exploring cultural attractions, or diving into the nightlife.

Each area offers a different slice of Los Angeles, and where you decide to stay can greatly influence your experience of the city. Consider your budget, transportation options (as traffic can be heavy and public transport may not always be convenient), and the main attractions you wish to visit when deciding.

Top 20 Once in a Lifetime Things to Do in Los Angeles

Top 20 Once in a Lifetime Things to Do in Los Angeles

1. Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

It’s easy to associate Los Angeles with its glitzy movie premieres and the high-glamour lifestyle often depicted in the media. However, there’s a quirky, unconventional side to the city that locals love – like picnicking in a cemetery. 

Yes, you read that right. Cinespia hosts outdoor movie screenings at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, offering a unique opportunity to sprawl out on the grass and enjoy classic films amidst the resting places of some of Old Hollywood’s biggest names, including Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Rudolph Valentino, and many others. This event is a perfect example of how Los Angeles blends the glamorous with the unexpected, creating experiences you won’t find anywhere else.

2. Surf The Waves of The Most Famous Beaches in The World

Los Angeles surroundings have some of the most famous beaches in the world, and the great news is that they are also very good to practice surf.

Whether you are an expert or you’re just a beginner who want to learn, going to surf in Santa Monica or Venice Beach is a unique experience that you have to try when you are in Los Angeles.

3. Attend a TV Show Taping

Did you know that the laughter you hear in your favorite TV sitcoms or the audience shots in talk shows involves real people, just like you? And here’s the best part—it’s completely free to be part of that audience! You typically need to request tickets and wait to see if you’re chosen. If you are, prepare for an all-day adventure. Arriving early is a must, and expect to spend several hours inside the studio. To sweeten the deal, they sometimes provide free pizza if the taping extends over meal times.

It’s important to remember that not all shows film year-round, so your options might be limited by your travel schedule. Also, tickets for the most sought-after sitcoms might be hard to come by, often reserved for those with connections to the production team. However, any opportunity to attend a taping is a unique and memorable experience—truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see behind-the-scenes television production!

4. Hiking to Hollywood Hills to View the Iconic Hollywood Sign

Hiking in Los Angeles tops the list of must-do, once-in-a-lifetime activities, and there’s a compelling reason it’s number one. Picture yourself reaching the summit of the Hollywood Hills, with the gentle touch of sunset rays. In that moment, you’re enveloped by a profound sense of achievement and awe. 

The effort it takes to hike up to the Hollywood Sign pays off immensely as you take in the breathtaking view. This experience isn’t just about the physical activity; it’s about connecting with the essence of Los Angeles in a way that’s both profound and unforgettable.

5. Get a Haircut by Chris McMillan

Visiting Los Angeles and considering a haircut might seem like just another chore, but not when it involves a stylist as renowned as Chris McMillan. Yes, the mastermind behind the iconic “Rachel” hairstyle that Jennifer Aniston made famous worldwide. Imagine sitting in the very salon where celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Reese Witherspoon have their hair styled.

For those interested, it’s possible to book appointments with certain stylists directly online. However, if you’re aiming for an appointment with Chris McMillan himself or any stylist not listed for online booking, you’ll need to call the salon. Keep in mind, securing a spot with a celebrity stylist of this caliber comes with a hefty price tag, but it’s a unique opportunity to experience the glam side of LA firsthand.

6. Visit Disneyland

Disneyland, located in Anaheim, California, is a magical destination beloved by families and Disney enthusiasts alike. To make the most of your visit, it’s crucial to buy tickets in advance, prioritize attractions, and use the FastPass system to skip long lines. 

Comfortable clothing and footwear are a must, along with taking breaks to rest. Beyond thrilling rides, Disneyland offers diverse dining options, opportunities to meet Disney characters, and must-see parades and fireworks displays. It’s an essential experience for any Los Angeles visit.

7. Walk the Venice Beach Boardwalk

Venice Beach Boardwalk is a lively fusion of street performers, vendors, and beach lovers, embodying the eclectic culture and energy of Venice and Los Angeles. Amidst the backdrop of legal marijuana, you’ll discover a wide range of street performances, from musicians and breakdancers to sand artists and unique characters that capture Venice’s artistic and free-spirited essence.

Stalls and vendors line the boardwalk, offering everything from handmade jewelry and art to trendy fashion and memorable souvenirs, allowing visitors to take a piece of Venice home and connect with local craftsmen. Highlights include Muscle Beach, where bodybuilders train in the open air, and Venice Skate Park, reflecting Southern California’s deep-rooted skate culture. The graffiti wall, constantly evolving with new art, adds to the area’s vibrant atmosphere.

The natural beauty of Venice Beach, with its expansive sandy shores and Pacific waves, offers a perfect setting for relaxation, sports, or simply enjoying the sunset. This blend of dynamic street life and peaceful beachside allure makes Venice Beach Boardwalk a unique destination.

8. Visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology

The Museum of Jurassic Technology stands out as an exceptionally unique and eccentric institution, unparalleled globally. Its exhibits delve into bizarre and intriguing subjects, showcasing the world of microminiature art and chronicling the adventures of Soviet space dogs, among others.

9. Have a walk on Rodeo Drive Road

During our LA trip, Rodeo Drive was a must-visit, offering a quintessential LA experience for movie buffs and high-end shopping enthusiasts alike. This iconic street, famous for its luxury boutiques and designer fashion, is perfect for those with a taste for the finer things in life.

Imagine wandering down Rodeo Drive under the Californian sun, surrounded by elegant shops—a street made famous in films like “Pretty Woman” and “Hannah Montana: The Movie.” It’s a thrill for cinema lovers and a paradise for shoppers seeking exclusive brands and luxury items.

Despite its reputation for opulence, the allure of Rodeo Drive extends beyond shopping to its cinematic history. It’s a compact area, easily explored between other tourist activities. Dress up and dive into the sophistication of Rodeo Drive, where window shopping and luxury purchases offer a memorable slice of Los Angeles luxury.

10. Go to a Live Television Taping

Joining a live studio audience is an essential LA adventure, with On Camera Audiences being your ticket hub. Sitcom recordings can span over three hours, requiring patience and an appetite for pizza, the common audience fare.

For a quicker pace, opt for games or talk shows. Remember to notify of any accessibility needs in advance. For a truly unforgettable LA moment, aim for a “Price Is Right” taping—show enthusiasm, arrive early, and consider a unique T-shirt to stand out for a chance to participate.

11. Car Wash Restaurants

A hidden gem known mostly to LA natives is that some of the city’s best eateries are found within car washes. It might sound unusual, but given the significant car culture in Los Angeles, enjoying a meal while waiting for your car to be cleaned is a quintessential LA experience. 

To discover these culinary treasures, you might need to look around, but a good starting point includes Indiemex Eats in Hollywood, Noho Café in North Hollywood, and Outdoor Grill in Culver City.

12. Slide Down a Skyscraper


For an unforgettable thrill in Los Angeles, head to the US Bank Tower in Downtown. Here, you can experience the exhilaration of sliding down the side of a skyscraper at OUE Skyspace LA. Every day, adventurous visitors take the plunge, attempting to keep their eyes open as they descend.

13. Ride Around Town in a Luxury Car

Experience Los Angeles in an extraordinary way by taking a 1-hour private Ferrari driving tour from Hollywood to Beverly Hills. This is your opportunity to live out a dream, cruising in a luxury sports car through the most iconic locations in the world. 

This unique tour offers not just a glimpse into the glamorous life of Hollywood and Beverly Hills but also makes you feel like a celebrity or a star from your favorite film. Alongside a private guide, you’ll journey through the city’s top sights in style. Remember to capture this unforgettable moment with plenty of photos.

14. Drive down the Pacific Coast Highway

Embark on a journey along the Pacific Coast Highway, one of the world’s most scenic drives, stretching over 600 miles. From Los Angeles, travel north or south and immerse yourself in breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged cliffs, and pristine beaches.

Whether you’re marveling at Big Sur’s dramatic landscape or exploring charming coastal towns, this iconic route promises an unforgettable experience with nature’s stunning beauty at every turn.

15. Hollywood Bowl Concerts

Experiencing an outdoor concert at the Hollywood Bowl, complete with a picnic and a bottle of wine, epitomizes the quintessential Los Angeles outing. Renowned worldwide, this iconic amphitheater has welcomed music legends from The Beatles to Beyoncé. 

If you find yourself in LA during the summer, seize the opportunity to enjoy a concert under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl. Tickets often become available on the day of the performance, offering a perfect chance for a memorable night.

16. Go on a Wine Safari

Malibu Wine Safaris offers a unique adult-only experience where you can enjoy sipping local wines alongside your friends, all within the scenic 1,000-acre vineyard. 

As you traverse the vast estate in an open-air safari vehicle, you’ll get to meet famed animal residents like Stanley the Giraffe, known from “The Hangover 3”, and other unique animals such as Zebrina the Teenage Witch, Michelle O’Llama, and Justin Zeber, all while enjoying unlimited wine tastings. Interestingly, this spot is right beside the Bachelor mansion, a popular location for many of the show’s dates.

17. Take a Helicopter Ride Over Los Angeles

Helicopter tours over Los Angeles offer a thrilling and memorable way to see the city from a unique perspective. Various companies provide these aerial adventures, ranging from quick 15-minute flights to more extensive 60-minute excursions. 

Passengers can enjoy breathtaking views of landmarks like the Hollywood Sign, Santa Monica Pier, and the downtown skyline, with some tours enhancing the experience with narration or music. However, it’s important to note that these tours can be pricey, with costs varying based on duration and other factors. Safety precautions are paramount, and following the pilot’s instructions is essential.

18. Spend a day on Catalina Island

Sometimes, the best way to enjoy Los Angeles is to take a short trip out of it, and Catalina Island is the perfect retreat. Just a ferry ride from Newport Beach, this peaceful island paradise combines natural beauty with a relaxed vibe. 

Explore charming Avalon, dive into outdoor adventures like snorkeling and zip-lining, or unwind on the pristine beaches. Catalina Island offers a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle with its scenic views and laid-back atmosphere.

19. See the Insta Spots

Can a trip to LA truly be considered complete without sharing it on Instagram? Make sure to capture the iconic Hollywood Sign, stroll down the Walk of Fame, explore the quirky Wax Museum, and gaze at celestial bodies at the Griffith Observatory, which offers free admission. 

Los Angeles is also home to famous mural walls like “California Dreaming,” “Made in LA,” the heart-filled love wall, angel wing murals, and the famous pink wall at Paul Smith, perfect for that quintessential LA photo op.

20. Visit an Aquarium

This giant aquarium houses a plenty of animals – from charming penguins to domineering sharks and, surprisingly, a vivid lorikeet timberland.

A great deal of the aquarium is surprisingly interactive, including the Moon Jelly Touch Lab where you can take care of and contact the jellyfish, an unfinished plumbing space to feel like you’re chilling with the penguins.

Get the sharks together close and feed them their morning meal at Shark Lagoon. Join the beams in a 18-inch pool where you additionally feed and cooperate with them!


Los Angeles is a city that guarantees unforgettable experiences with its distinctive attractions. Whether you’re skydiving to catch a bird’s-eye view of the city, attending a mesmerizing concert at the Hollywood Bowl, or stepping aboard the historic USS Iowa Battleship Museum, the city is packed with unique activities. 

Catching a performance at the Greek Theatre adds to the list of must-do experiences. For both first-time visitors and those who’ve explored LA before, the city continues to offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that leave lasting memories. Discover the unparalleled adventures that make Los Angeles truly special.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are some once in a lifetime experiences in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles offers unique experiences such as taking a helicopter tour over the city, attending a live TV show taping, enjoying a sunset sail from Marina Del Rey, exploring the city in a private Ferrari tour, and experiencing the magic of a concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

How can I see Los Angeles from above?

For a bird’s-eye view of Los Angeles, consider booking a helicopter tour, which offers panoramic views of landmarks like the Hollywood Sign, downtown LA, and the coastline. Alternatively, visit the Griffith Observatory for stunning city views and stargazing opportunities.

Are there any unique cultural experiences in Los Angeles?

Yes, Los Angeles is rich in cultural experiences. Attend a show at the Greek Theatre, explore the exhibits at the Museum of Jurassic Technology, or immerse yourself in art at The Getty Center. Participating in a studio audience or visiting historic sites like the USS Iowa Battleship Museum also offer deep cultural insights.

Can I have a luxury experience in Los Angeles?

Absolutely. Indulge in luxury with experiences like driving a Ferrari through the streets of Beverly Hills, dining at high-end restaurants with celebrity chefs, or booking a VIP tour of Universal Studios Hollywood. Shopping on Rodeo Drive provides a luxury retail experience as well.

What are some outdoor adventures unique to Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is known for its outdoor adventures, such as surfing lessons at Venice Beach, hiking to the Hollywood Sign, enjoying a Malibu Wine Safari, or experiencing the thrill of skydiving with views of the Pacific Ocean. Each offers a unique way to experience LA’s natural beauty and adventurous spirit.