Viator's website director, Scott McNeely, is a native of Los Angeles and somebody who actually loves his sprawling hometown. Scott's personal quest is to help all Viator.com travelers make the most of a visit to Los Angeles, whether you're a first-time or repeat visitor. So read on for Scott's suggestions on how to be a traveler, not a tourist, in the City of Angels.
First things first, if it's your first morning in LA, don't eat the buffet breakfast at your hotel! No matter where you're staying make a pilgrimage to The Original Pantry Cafe in downtown LA, owned by the former mayor of Los Angeles. You like eggs and bacon? They got it. You like steak with that? They got it. This place has been around since 1924 and is so famous you may just recognize it.
After breakfast, if you're into art and history consider a walking tour of downtown LA or a contemporary art walking tour and really get beneath the skin of LA's chaotic, fascinating downtown. People accuse LA of lacking a heart; but they forget that LA's downtown is actually a beautiful (if a bit frayed) memento from the 1930s and '40s.
At some point, if you need a break and want to experience a true LA icon, head over to Clifton's Cafeteria. It's a real cafeteria (think: buffet) and loaded with history (full disclosure, my grandmother worked there in 1939).
A lot of people ask me, 'Is it OK to be fascinated by celebrities?' and 'Am I a bad person for taking a movie star home tour?' Nope. It is perfectly acceptable and encouraged. In fact you have a few options. Go for a comprehensive Grand Tour of Los Angeles that includes Hollywood and all of the cities major sites.
Or try the Hollywood Movie Star Experience, which includes a tour of Sony Pictures Studios, a movie stars' home tour, and a 'Heart of Hollywood' walking tour. Or you can combine the two with a Grand Tour of LA & Movie Star Tour.
If you're looking for something a little different, consider the clever and highly amusing Dearly Departed Tour. Sorry kids, this tour gets into the blood, lust and murder in LA and is not suitable for your young and innocent ears.
OK, so after 2 full days in LA the kids are screaming, begging, demanding to be taken to a theme park. Kids are like that, we can help. Los Angeles and nearby Anaheim has theme parks like they're going out of style, so take your pick and have a great day letting lose and enjoying the world-class rides and entertainment:
Today is all about seeing LA from a new perspective. It doesn't matter which of the following activities you choose, because they all offer a non-typical insight into what makes LA tick.
Personally I like the idea of a private surfing lesson. If you're feeling even more adventurous experience Los Angeles in a truly unique way: 'take the controls' flight over LA and Santa Monica, or a helicopter tour.
Finally, maybe you're in a more contemplative mood. If so make a beeline for the Getty Center and the The J. Paul Getty Museum, which houses European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European and American photographs. Don't let anybody ever tell you there's no culture in Los Angeles!
The above suggestions are just a small slice of the things to do in Los Angeles. If you need more inspiration browse our complete list of Los Angeles tours & activities.
Or why not extend your stay in California: hit the beach in San Diego, leave your heart in San Francisco or hug a tree in Lake Tahoe.