16 Famous Los Angeles Landmarks You Must Visit


8 min read
Aerial view of a metropolis with modern skyscrapers and congested freeways
Los Angeles is the largest city in the state and the 2nd largest in the US

Located in Southern California, Los Angeles is the largest city in the state and the second-largest in the United States. It's known for its sunny weather, cultural and ethnic diversity, beautiful beaches, and the entertainment industry.

Many people from around the globe come to this part of the US to see the Hollywood Sign, walk on the Hollywood Walk of Fame or through Beverly Hills, spend a day at a theme park, and more!

As you can see, there's an endless list of things to do in LA. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the choices, see below for famous Los Angeles landmarks to prioritize on your next visit!.

  • 16 landmarks

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16 Famous Landmarks in Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles Landmarks Map

Using the map of Los Angeles landmarks, you can explore all the landmarks.

Hollywood Star signage on a street lamp post with a building behind
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of the most famous Los Angeles landmarks

The Hollywood Walk of Fame

One of the most iconic landmarks in Los Angeles, the Hollywood Walk of Fame officially opened in 1960 with the placement of the first eight stars. Years later, it has over 2500 stars on its famous sidewalk.

The Walk of Fame spans 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street. The brass stars, embedded in pink and charcoal terrazzo squares, immortalize the figures of Hollywood's entertainment industry.

From musicians and actors to directors and even fictional characters, the stars are permanent public monuments to each entertainer's achievements. Although it can get crowded, it's fun trying to find your favorite stars.

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The Hollywood Bowl

Since its opening in 1922, the Hollywood Bowl has hosted the world's most outstanding performers, from Stevie Wonder to The Beatles. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Los Angeles and one of the most renowned outdoor venues in the country.

Make sure to participate in Southern California's annual Playboy Jazz Festival, a beloved music tradition. The famous acoustic shell is an incredible sight, especially during spectacular fireworks displays.

You can check out the Muse of Music, Dance, a Drama sculpture, and a fountain at the entrance as well. These famous landmarks of Los Angeles were designed by George Stanley, who also designed the famous Oscar statuette.

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The white Griffith Observatory building, one of the famous Los Angeles landmarks
The Griffith Observatory was constructed in 1935 and has a 4,100 acres park

Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park

Opened in 1935, the Griffith Observatory offers the best views of the city and the famous Hollywood Sign. The observatory showcases many exhibits and activities. Explore the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, or take a look through the public telescopes.

Outside the observatory, Griffith Park has a lot to offer as well. The park covers more than 4,100 acres of natural wilderness, making it the largest urban park in the United States. From here, you can get a spectacular view of the Hollywood Sign.

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Universal Studios Hollywood

Starting as a film studio and located in San Fernando Valley, Universal Studios Hollywood has expanded to include a theme park and some of the city's best shops, eateries, and theaters at CityWalk. Starting in the early 1900s, it is one of the most famous and oldest utilized film studios.

Since it's one of the movie landmarks in Los Angeles, make sure to take the studio's most well-known Studio Tour! Hosted by comedian Jimmy Fallon, through video only, unfortunately, the tour explores 13 blocks of the historic studio lot.

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Colorful theme park with a Ferris wheel on a wooden platform facing a beach
Santa Monica Pier is famous for its iconic theme park along the beach

Santa Monica Pier and Santa Monica Boulevard

Located in the Santa Monica neighborhood, the Santa Monica Pier is an excellent site with abundant activities. It has beaches, a roller coaster, a Ferris Wheel, an arcade, various kiosks, and more. Apart from the famous tourist spot, the neighborhood is a place with a thriving local culture.

Make sure to see the extensive Santa Monica Boulevard adjacent! Walking on the boulevard, you can explore the various shops and cafes and watch street performances. There are also many creative installations for photo-ops!

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TCL Chinese Theatre

Opened originally as Grauman's Chinese Theater in 1927, the TCL Chinese Theatre is a cinema on the infamous Hollywood Walk of Fame. It has hosted many film debuts, including the 1977 premiere of George Lucas' Star Wars and three Academy Award ceremonies.

It also possesses the single largest IMAX theater globally. Designed to resemble a Chinese pagoda, the theatre has a Chinese dragon on the exterior as well.

Be sure to visit the famous Forecourt of the Stars too. This is one of the most iconic landmarks in Los Angeles. It contains nearly 200 celebrity handprints, footprints, and autographs immortalized in the concrete.

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Walt Disney Concert Hall

Initiated by Lillian Disney's gift of $50 million in 1987, the Walt Disney Concert Hall opened on October 24, 2003. Designed by Frank Gehry and located on Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A., this hall houses the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

This concert hall is one of Los Angeles' landmark buildings because it is one of the most acoustically sophisticated in the world. Moreover, you can explore the stunning exterior, the massive pipe organ inside the auditorium, and the rooftop garden.

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Path walk in a gated garden with green grass, tall trees, and plants
The La Brea Tar Pits has preserved animals and plants for over 50,000 years

The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

Within Hancock Park, La Brea Tar Pits are a group of tar pits inside an urban location. These tar pits have drawn in scientists and visitors from all over the world. Over the last 50,000 years, animals and plants, from giant mammoths and sloths to tiny remains and microfossils, have been preserved in the sticky asphalt.

Today, this area is the only actively excavated Ice Age fossil site located in an urban area. Since the early 1900s, excavations have been made at the Tar Pits, with most of the findings housed in the La Brea Tar Pits Museum. The fossils give us a look into ancient ecosystems and climates.

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Rows of white vintage iron street lamps aligned with palm trees behind
The vintage street lamps called "Urban Lights" can be found at LACMA's entrance

LACMA

LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) broke off from the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art in 1961. Opening to the public in 1965 in a new location, LACMA offers a permanent collection and special exhibitions.

Currently, LACMA is the largest art museum in California, exhibiting thousands of pieces from across the globe and history. Its diverse collections represent the region's equally diverse cultural heritage and community.

Lastly, outside the entrance of the museum are the Urban Lights, which is one of the most iconic landmarks in Los Angeles for a photo-op!

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Capitol Records Building

The Capitol Records Building is the recording studio where Frank Sinatra and many other music legends made their classic tracks. Established just north of the Walk of Fame and designed by Welton Becket, the tower resembles a stack of records and is the world's first circular office building.

The red-lit spire on top of the building blinks "Hollywood" in Morse code. Additionally, on the south wall of the building, you can see the Hollywood Jazz Mural entitled "Hollywood Jazz: 1945-1972", which pictures several notable jazz musicians.

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Bush mazes on a pond surrounded by trees with white structures in the background
The Getty is famous for its lush gardens and tram ride that offers a city view

The Getty

The Getty started in 1974 when J. Paul Getty opened a museum on his property in Malibu, California. However, the famous Getty you see today is located somewhere else.

Take the scenic tram up to one of the famous landmarks in California to get a spectacular view of the city. The museum itself has various wings with paintings, drawings, photography, and more. You can also stroll through the gorgeous gardens and buy a drink at the museum cafe.

In 2006, the Malibu location, known as the "Getty Villa," was refurbished and opened. This newly renovated site is dedicated to studying the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria, and houses a comprehensive selection of antiquities.

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Spanish colonial-style building with tall palm trees in front from across a street
In 1980, Union Station was added to the National Register of Historic Places

Union Station

Constructed in 1939, the Los Angeles Union Station emerged as a gateway to the Californian dream. As cars and planes became more common, fewer passengers traveled through the station.

However, it remained the transportation center of LA for decades. Its historic significance designated it as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1972 and placed it on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Presently, the station is the hub of trains, subways, buses, and coach services. As you wait for your transport, you can admire the unique and beautiful architecture here!

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Dolby Theater

Originally known as the Kodak Theater, the Dolby Theatre is an auditorium in Hollywood that offers live performances. Located on Hollywood Boulevard, it is close to the famous TCL Chinese Theatre and the El Capitan Theatre.

Opened on November 9, 2001, the theater is best known for hosting the Oscars annually, making it a must-visit on this Los Angeles landmarks list. Although you might not be able to attend the Oscars, there are numerous live concerts, awards shows, symphony performances, and other events throughout the year to enjoy!

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Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Officially dedicated on September 2, 2002, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is a Roman Catholic Church in the US. The cathedral honors the Virgin Mary and the original full name of Los Angeles: "The Town of Our Lady, the Queen of Angels of the River Porciúncula."

Built to replace the Cathedral of Saint Vibiana, which was severely damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, construction began in 1998. You can look at the fantastic architecture and visit the crypt downstairs.

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Watts Towers

The Watts Towers is a collection of steel towers within the artist's original residency in Watts.

The entire site, including the buildings, structures, sculptures, pavement, and walls, was designed and built by a lone Italian immigrant construction worker in his spare time. Over 33 years, he labored over them until their completion in 1954.

These towers were designated as a historic landmark both nationally, regionally, and locally in 1990. The sheer size of these Los Angeles landmark buildings makes it worth a visit!

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Iconic Space Age structure near a runway with parked aircrafts
The LAX Theme Building was built in 1961 and has a spacecraft-like restaurant

LAX Theme Building

Finished in 1961, the LAX Theme Building exemplifies a space-age landmark in Los Angeles. The playfulness and futurism of the Theme Building signal the city's ambition to be the city of tomorrow.

Recently, the building underwent a comprehensive remodeling to ensure it would survive for generations to come and remind future travelers of Los Angeles' dynamic postwar growth.

Make sure to visit the Theme Building's spacecraft-like restaurant suspended in the center, as well as the observatory deck where you can watch planes land!

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In Summary

There are many iconic and historical landmarks in Los Angeles, California to see. Moreover, there are theme parks, restaurants, and museums that aren't listed above to explore. You will never be short of things to do here, no matter how many times you visit!

This article was edited by Loredana Elena.

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Written by Ann Chang

wanderfulchange WRITER Currently based in the US, I'm a nomad who has lived and worked in Chile, Taiwan, and the UK, exploring North and South America, Asia, and Europe. I love the outdoors, museums, and chilling in cafes!