47.3 million visitors take the trip to Los Angeles each and every year, thrilled to witness first-hand some of the world’s most iconic landmarks. The magic inside the gates of Disneyland and Universal Studios attract the young and the young at heart from all corners of the globe, while The Hollywood Walk of Fame and Beverly Hills lure in the movie fanatics - those who are itching to snap an Insta pic with their favorite celeb’s star. If they’re lucky, maybe even the celebs themselves!
The tourists flock to the same places, day in, day out, and as a result, crowds can become excessive, especially in the peak tourist seasons. Thankfully, for each overcrowded landmark, the City of Angels has just as many underrated spots just waiting for off-the-beaten-track visitors to uncover.
10 Underrated: Warner Bros. Studio
Yes, of course the Warner Bros. Studios attract tourists! However, when we compare it side by side to the jam-packed so-called ‘Happiest Place on Earth,’ Disneyland, and the infamous 2-hour-long-lined Universal Studios, the Warner Bros. Studios looks like a desolate ghost town.
The main attractions here aren’t roller coasters or death-defying Tower of Terror-esque rides, they're the authentic sets that we’ve grown to love in movies and TV shows over the years. There are sets and costumes from shows like The Big Bang Theory and Friends, and there’s an exhibition for any die-hard superhero fan. It’s one of the most underrated attractions in LA.
9 Overflowing With Tourists: Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood Boulevard isn’t only jam-packed with tourists, full of tacky souvenir shops, riddled with scammers, and one of the most overrated tourist attractions in the country, no, that’s not even the half of it.
The ‘star-studded’ Walk of Fame brings in tourists from all across the globe. The thing is, it’s nothing more than a name on the sidewalk, which, more often than not, is either vandalized, covered in chewing gum, or welcoming too much foot traffic to actually read and not be bumped into. A global survey recently ranked the Walk of Fame as the single worst tourist destination in the world. Nothing more needs to be said.
8 Underrated: The Grove
While The Grove and the accompanying farmers’ market is a hot spot for locals, it has somehow been swept under the rug amidst the spotlight of Hollywood, Universal Studios, Santa Monica, and the like. However, to tourists’ own detriment! The Grove offers some of the best dining, entertainment and shopping opportunities across the city.
Since it’s so popular among locals, it has become a hot spot for celebrity sightings. The shopping area has a pedestrian focus, which is a breath of fresh air (literally) from the traffic of the rest of L.A. The only vehicle you’ll have to step aside for is the charming streetcar that takes guests from one side of the shopping strip to the other.
7 Overflowing With Tourists: Santa Monica Pier
Looking out the Pacific Ocean and the long sandy shorelines atop a Ferris wheel sounds unquestionably appealing. Throw in a couple of thousand selfie-snapping, popcorn-throwing tourists, and their shrieking kids, and that atmosphere is quickly thrown into the water below, never to be seen again.
On its own, the Santa Monica Pier is a picturesque waterfront carnival, with classic arcade games and semi-thrilling roller coasters, but when it's flocked by travelers, particularly in the summer months, it becomes somewhat of a nightmare. In high season, steer clear of Santa Monica. That being said, if you can make your way down when crowds are smaller, then it’s a destination certainly worthy of a couple of hours of your time.
6 Underrated: Griffith Park
If you want nothing more than to stretch your legs after a long flight and get away from the masses of tourists dotted along Hollywood Boulevard on Venice Beach, then Griffith Park has got you covered. There are a number of relatively easy hiking trails which go through the area, often giving off unmatched views of the Los Angeles Basin from their peaks.
At the top of the mountain, you’ll also find the world-renowned Griffith Observatory. Here, visitors can look through telescopes, check out a show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, and nab a quality peek at the famous Hollywood Sign.
5 Overflowing with tourists: Disneyland
While it’s out in Anaheim, not technically in the city of Los Angeles, it remains almost criminal to visit L.A. without trekking out to the Happiest Place on Earth™, Disneyland. Sure, it’s full of world-class rides, magical characters, and infinite Disney detail, but in the peak tourist times (which is summer and every school holiday period) it becomes, without a doubt, the Most Crowded Place on Earth™.
Endless seas of tourists and hour-long lines aside, it’ll cost you an arm and a leg to actually enter the park, plus another arm and a leg if you want to hop over to California Adventure while you’re at it.
4 Underrated: La Brea Tar Pits
Amidst the hustle and bustle that is the sprawling city of Los Angeles, there’s an (almost) untouched piece of preserved nature that deserves a heck of a lot more attention than it gets. The La Brea Tar Pits - home to the only urban Ice Age fossil site in the world that is still being studied today - displays preserved animals, insects, and plants that were trapped when sticky asphalt was poured over them way back when.
Aside from the main attraction - a live, hot, bubbling tar pit - there’s also a fossil lab, 3D theatre, and scientific exhibitions for guests to check out.
3 Overflowing with tourists: Universal CityWalk
It’s free for visitors to walk up and down the CityWalk at Universal Studios, and that alone means hundreds of thousands of tourists will flock. While that aspect of the attraction might not cost you, if you decide to eat, drink, or park a car within a reasonable walking distance, you’ll not only be dealing with heavy crowds, but you’ll be handing over your entire bank balance as well.
Universal Studios receives 9.15 million visitors annually, and that’s only increasing. The vast majority of these people will wander up and down the CityWalk, and that’s exactly why it continues to be saturated with snap-happy tourists.
2 Underrated: Getty Center
From the splendid architecture to its broad range of art and incredible gardens, there’s just so much to love about the Getty Center. While it doesn’t have the same worldwide fame as the MET or MOMA in New York, or the Louvre in Paris, it still offers a wide range of stunning paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and plenty more.
The property - which sits high up in the hills, displaying terrific views of the LA Basin below - offers a few different themed museums. Therefore, overall, it's able to accommodate a vast range of interests. A visit at the right time of year means you’ll be lucky enough to see all the flowers in the garden in full bloom as well!
1 Overflowing with tourists: Venice Beach Boardwalk
In the summertime, Venice Beach welcomes tourists from near and far and is well and truly a refreshing, picturesque shoreline, so it makes sense. Unfortunately, it seems that everyone has the same idea, rallying to the overcrowded sands and boardwalk as soon as the mercury heats up just a little too much. The beach might be large enough to accommodate large crowds, but the reality is that hundreds of tourists flock to the street performers and weightlifting areas, creating human-made roadblocks.
It’s not the worst place in L.A. by a long shot (that’d be the Walk of Fame), but the scammers, crowds and such make it a potentially unfriendly experience.