Los Angeles Sightseeing Tours – The Best Ways to Explore Los Angeles for First Timers

There’s so much to see and so much exploring to do in Los Angeles that planning a sightseeing itinerary can be overwhelming.

Whether you’re just looking for an overview of the city to give you a feel for the layout, or you want a guided tour tailored to your interests, guided tours are some of the best ways to experience Los Angeles.

We put together a list of the best Los Angeles sightseeing tours to help you choose one (or a few) that complements your sightseeing style.

Save on Popular Los Angeles Sightseeing Tours & More

Admission to a bunch of these attractions are available on the Go Los Angeles Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

See all available Los Angeles passes, attractions & prices.

A few of the available sightseeing activities include…

  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Los Angeles Bus Tour
  • OUE Skyspace LA
  • Perry’s Beach Café and Rentals
  • Cruise in Long Beach or San Pedro
  • and more

Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Go behind the scenes (literally) of some of your favorite movies and shows with the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Hollywood, real, working Hollywood Studio.

You’ll get to see what’s needed for all the ‘movie magic’ that happens, like props, costumes, and sets and might even get to see some of the actors going about their daily work.

Current shows at Warner Bros. Studio include The Big Bang Theory, Pretty Little LiarsConan, and many more.

Tour guests also get to see the Harry Potter Exhibit and a DC Comic Exhibit as well.

This tour typically lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Getting In: Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

If you’re planning to visit multiple studios, or trying to choose which one to go to, be sure to check out our post the best Los Angeles studio tours before your visit.

Universal Studios Hollywood™

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Part-working studio, part-theme park, Universal Studios Hollywood packs a lot of fun into one destination.

Take a behind-the-scenes tour at one of the most famous studios and learn about special effects (and experience them), see props used in iconic films, and more.

You will also be able to enjoy exciting rides, shows, and attractions that feature your favorite films, like TRANSFORMERS, Despicable Me, and more.

We recommend reserving between 5-6 hours for this attraction.

Getting In: Weekday Universal Studios Hollywood tickets are included exclusively on 3, 5, and 7-Day Go Los Angeles Cards.

TCL Chinese Theatres Guided Tour

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The TCL Chinese Theatre is what Hollywood is all about. Take the VIP tour and hear about little known facts and stories of Hollywood premiers that have taken place there, celebrities, and the theatre’s famous cement hand and footprints of Hollywood’s elite.

Getting In: TCL Chinese Theatres Guided Tour tickets are available on the Go Los Angeles Build Your Own Card.

Dolby Theatre® Guided Tour

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See where the Academy Awards® Ceremonies and walk in the footsteps of Hollywood icons on a half-hour Dolby Theater Tour.

You’ll get to see an official Oscar® statuette up-close, go inside the exclusive Dolby Lounge, browse through images from Academy Awards® ceremonies, and more.

Getting In: Dolby Theatre® Guided Tour tickets are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Hop-On Hop-Off Los Angeles Bus Tour

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See the sights of Beverly Hills and the surrounding beaches and learn about the history and culture of the area on a fully-guided hop-on  hop-off bus tour.

You’ll get open air views from vintage double decker bus so you can get a bird’s-eye-view of all the top landmarks along the 2-hour Yellow Route loop that covers 3rd Street Promenade, Montana Avenue, Brentwood Country Mart, Westwood Village, Hammer Museum, Rodeo Drive, Century City, Fox Studio’s, Marilyn Monroe’s Gravesite at Westwood Memorial, and more.

Hop off at any of the stops on the route and explore an area by foot or visit nearby attractions.

Just hop back on the bus when you’re done exploring to continue the tour. Buses run on 40-minute intervals, so be sure to plan accordingly when you hop off.

Getting In: Hop-On Hop-Off Los Angeles Bus Tour tickets are available on the Go Los Angeles Card.

OUE Skyspace LA

OUE Skyspace in LA observation deck

For the best views of Los Angeles and beyond, check out the new OUE Skyspace LA, located in the iconic US Bank Tower 1,000-feet above ground.

You’ll get 360-degree views of downtown LA and beyond, from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, and everything in between (see if you can spot the Dodgers Stadium and Catalina Island).

Before you reach the top, hop off the elevator at the 54th floor to check out the exhibits that will give context to the sights and landmarks you’ll be able to see from the observation deck.

Getting In: OUE Skyspace LA tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

Insider Tip: if you’re feeling adventurous, you can upgrade your Go Los Angeles Card admission, upon arrival, to include a ride on the Skyslide – a fully-enclosed all glass slide that glides visitors from the 70th to the 69th floor on the exterior of the building.

Perry’s Beach Café and Rentals

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Experience Santa Monica’s active beach lifestyle with a 3-hour mountain bike or roller skate rental from Perry’s Café and Rentals.

Part café, part beach rental hotspot, at Perry’s Café you can gear up and head out for a ride along the famous Santa Monica boardwalk and beach side community and then grab lunch or a quick snack and enjoy the outdoor beachfront dining scene.

Getting In: Perry’s Beach Café and Rentals are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Harbor Cruise or Whale Watch in Long Beach or San Pedro

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Get out on the water and see the marine life that call the California coastal waters home with your choice of a Harbor Cruise or Whale watch leaving from Long Beach or San Pedro.

Whale Watch Cruise (2-Hours): this whale watch cruise is narrated by mammal educators from the Aquarium of the Pacific so you’ll get to learn all about the wildlife you might encounter on each cruise, including whales, dolphins, seals, and more, and their unique environment straight from the pros.

Harbor Cruise (45-minutes): cruise past iconic sights along the shoreline in Los Angeles Harbor, one of the busiest harbors in the US. You’ll get to see the Terminal Island Federal Prison, Coast Guard ships, dry docks, container terminals, the Vincent Thomas suspension bridge, Los Angeles fire boats, cruise ships and terminals, San Pedro Bay, Angels Gate Lighthouse, and more.

Getting In: Harbor Cruise and Whale Watch cruise tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card; choose from two cruise departure locations: Long Beach Cruise tickets or San Pedro Cruise tickets

Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes by Red Line Tours

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See all the hotspots in Hollywood on a guided walking tour to places like the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Dolby Theater, the Walk of Fame, the Roosevelt Hotel, various filming locations, an ideal spot to get a photo with the Hollywood sign in the background, and more.

Getting In: Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes by Red Line Tours tickets are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Insider Tip: Make reservations if you’re traveling during the busy season; reserve at least 1 hour for the tour.

Malibu Celebrity Homes Tour

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Take a relaxing and informative tour to some of your favorite celebrities’ homes around the Malibu area’s palatial residential neighborhoods.

Each vehicle features open-air seating so you can get unobstructed views and enjoy the scenery along the Pacific Coast Highway. Each tour is a little different, but you might see homes of celebrities like Cher, Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Sandler, and more.

Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes in advance of the tour time you want to make sure you get a seat. This tour last 2 hours.

Getting In: Malibu Movie Stars’ Homes Tour tickets are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Hollywood Movie Star Homes Tour

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This two-hour tour guides visitors through Hollywood and some of its surrounding sights to showcase some of the most extravagant celebrity homes and hangouts in the area.

Your knowledgeable guide will point out celebrity homes and famous sights along the drive, from Sunset Boulevard to Rodeo Drive, making sure you don’t miss a thing. In addition to celebrity homes, you’ll get to see the Walk of Fame, Mann’s Chinese Theatre, celebrity hangout spots, and more (plus, you never know who you might see).

Getting In: Starline Movie Stars’ Homes Tour tickets are available on the Hollywood Explorer Pass.

Remember to Save on Sightseeing Admission

So there you have it. Our list of some of the best Los Angeles sightseeing tours and other fun ways to explore this city – from walking tours to movie bus tours and everything in between.

Remember, many (if not all) of these options are included on the Go Los Angeles Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

We hope you plan to add a few of these fun touring options to your vacation itinerary.

Go Los Angeles Card

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