Things to Do Near Universal Studios Hollywood™

Planning a trip to California to visit Universal Studios Hollywood™? Great choice — there’s so much to do, see and experience in this popular SoCal destination! Once you’ve had your fill of thrilling rides, studio tours, and amazing movie experiences, be sure to leave time in your itinerary to explore the many attractions in the area.

Here are some of our favorite, don’t-miss things to do on your next trip to Los Angeles.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Hogwarts at Universal Studios Hollywood

If you love movies, your time in LA won’t be complete without a day (or two, or three) spent exploring Universal Studios Hollywood. Here, you’ll experience your favorite films and shows in a whole new way, with heart-pounding rides, behind-the-scenes tours of movie sets, special effects shows, and much more. As with any theme park, weekdays tend to be less crowded than weekends, and holidays can be extra busy. Universal Studios allows you to bring in your own water bottles, so pack up to 2 liters and stay hydrated.

Tips for visiting:

  • Show up earlier in the day to avoid crowds
  • Eat breakfast before you go
  • Check the website a few weeks before your trip to reserve tickets to live tapings and see which celebrities may be filming that day
  • Schedule your day’s activities around show times, rather than rides
  • A California Explorer Pass lets you visit the park any day, allowing you flexibility as you plan your trip

Getting in: Universal Studios Hollywood™ tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Studio Tour

If you want to see filming in real time, don’t miss Warner Brothers Studio Tour. On this entertaining and educational tour, an expert guide will drive you around the 110-acre studio lot in a comfy golf cart, where you’ll see sets from classic and current movies. Keep your eyes open for celebrities who may be on-site filming. To avoid crowds, plan your visit on a winter or spring afternoon, which tend to be less busy. Bring your comfy shoes, as the tour does involve walking, as well as golf cart rides.

Tips for visiting:

  • Don’t forget your camera, as you may see movies and TV stars on set, but remember that video isn’t allowed
  • Book in advance, so your preferred tour doesn’t fill up
  • Got a favorite WB show? Let your guide know, as they may be able to swing by the set
  • Plan to spend a couple hours at the Stage 48 museum after the tour ends
  • Grab a coffee at Central Perk

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

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Gorillas, Komodo dragons and snow leopards, oh my! More than 1.5 million people visit this popular attraction each year to view thousands of colorful, noisy and fascinating birds, mammals, reptiles and insects. Bring sunscreen and a hat, because the afternoon sun can be intense. To see the animals when they’re most active, plan to visit the zoo as soon as possible after they open in the morning.

Tips for visiting:

  • You may see more animals on overcast days
  • Don’t miss the daily elephant training demonstration, free with admission
  • Book your Hippo Encounter tickets before you go, as they tend to sell out quickly
  • If cut down on walking, take the shuttle to the top of the zoo and work your way back toward the entrance; it’ll be downhill
  • To skip the carousel lines, purchase tickets in advance

Getting in: Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

Hollywood Hills Hike

go on a guided hiking tour of the hollywood hills

Get your daily steps in while enjoying some of the best views in town! A knowledgeable guide leads you through beautiful Griffith Park and the Hollywood Hills on this walking tour, which includes stops at the Griffith Park Observatory and amazing photo ops of the infamous Hollywood sign. Avoid the afternoon heat and schedule your hike in the morning. Bring sunscreen and wear your most comfortable shoes.

Tips for visiting:

  • This hike is rated as easy to moderate
  • Expect to walk from 3.5 to 4 miles on your tour
  • Park for free at the Greek Theater
  • This hike is appropriate for families and solo travelers
  • Take the twilight hike for romantic views of the city

Getting in: Hollywood Hills Hike tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

Madame Tussauds Hollywood

Image credit: Madame Tussauds Hollywood.

Get up close and personal with your favorite celebs — or at least with their amazingly life-like wax doppelgangers — at this don’t-miss destination. Bring your camera, because this is the best place in Hollywood to take selfies with your celebrity crush. If you plan your visit for early in the day, you’ll have a better chance of getting a space in the valet parking area located under Madame Tussauds.

Tips for visiting:

  • Eat before you visit, as Madame Tussauds doesn’t allow outside food or drink
  • Leave any large bags or backpacks in your hotel, as you won’t be permitted to bring them inside
  • Displays are always changing, so check the website before you go to ensure you see your top celebrity wax figures
  • For a fee, you can have a wax mold made of your own hand
  • Make sure your camera has a flash, as certain areas of the museum don’t have optimal lighting for photos

Getting in: Madame Tussauds Hollywood tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

TCL Chinese Theatres Guided Tour

Experience decades of iconic history when you visit TCL Chinese Theatres. This 30-minute walking tour offers a rich glimpse into Hollywood past and present, with access to the movie theater where celebrities attend red-carpet premiers and, of course, those famous cement hand and footprints in the Forecourt of the Stars. Take a morning tour, as the forecourt tends to fill with tourists (and sometimes technicians setting up for a premier) in the afternoon. Bring a few small bills with you if you plan on taking pictures with the street performers outside the theater, as they’ll expect a tip.

  • Reserve your tour ahead of time to get the time slot you want
  • Look for the three celebrity horse hoof prints among the human hand and footprints
  • See a movie at matinee prices in the early afternoon or late morning
  • See an IMAX film in the world’s largest IMAX auditorium
  • The TCL validates parking

Getting in: TCL Chinese Theatres Guided Tour tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

Dolby Theatre Guided Tour

Explore the stunning venue that hosts the Academy Awards. The Dolby Theatre Guided Tour takes you behind the scenes in this iconic facility. Plan your visit during a time other than the run-up to the Oscars in February, as it’s closed to the public during that time. Bring your camera, but not that some areas of the facility don’t allow photography.

Tips for visiting:

  • Read up on the history and architecture of this stunning venue before your visit for a better understanding
  • You’ll have to check your stroller at the door
  • The theatre validates parking for the first two hours
  • Check ahead to ensure that the theatre is open, as often closes for special events
  • Don’t miss the photo galleries of past Academy Award winners on the sides of the spiral staircase

Getting in: Dolby Theatre Guided Tour tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

Hollywood Museum

See the world’s largest collection of movie props, costumes and photos at the Hollywood Museum. From Marilyn Monroe to Max Factor, this amazing collection of memorabilia from the silver screen (and the small screen) will keep you mesmerized. Wear shoes you can walk and climb stairs in, as the museum has four floors to explore. Plan your visit for a Wednesday through Sunday, as its closed during the first part of the week.

Tips for visiting:

  • Budget enough time to explore this large museum, as it contains more than 10,000 items
  • Very young children may not appreciate this attraction
  • Paid parking is available across the street
  • Check out your reflection in each of the “hair color” rooms in the Max Factor exhibit
  • Be aware that the basement is dedicated to horror films and shows

Getting in: Hollywood Museum tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

Hollywood Movie Star Homes Tour

Dreaming of running into your favorite A-lister? Then you won’t want to miss this drive past celebrity mansions, hang-outs and hot locations for spotting luminaries of stage and screen. This two-hour hour takes you through Beverly Hills, the Sunset Strip, Rodeo Drive and more. Schedule your tour for a sunny day and bring a sun hat, because you may get to ride in an open-air vehicle.

Tips for visitors:

  • Check the weather before you go and be prepared for sun or a shower
  • Bring your camera and keep your eyes open for stars
  • Use the restroom before you go as there may not be a chance to stop
  • Bring water and sunscreen
  • If you tour on a chilly day, bring a jacket or sweater for the open-air vehicle

Getting in: Hollywood Movie Star Homes Tour tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes Tour by Red Line Tours

Learn how movies and TV shows are made on this walking tour. You’ll learn Hollywood’s secrets and get a look behind the curtain as you explore legendary show biz locations. Though this tour is definitely more of a stroll than a hike, bring water and wear comfortable shoes. Take the tour in the fall, winter or spring to avoid crowds.

Tips for visitors:

  • Schedule in advance to get a tour at the time and day that you want
  • The walking won’t be strenuous, but make sure you are comfortably dressed
  • Expect to see and learn about some of Hollywood’s lesser-known, but still influential, studios and most famous landmarks
  • You’ll wear a headset to hear commentary during the tour
  • Find less expensive parking options a few blocks away from Hollywood Boulevard

Getting in: Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes Tour tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

Self-Guided Movie Star Homes Bike Tour

See a side of Hollywood that tour buses can’t access on a self-guided bike tour! Explore at your own pace as you pedal through beautiful neighborhoods and landscapes you’ll recognize from famous films. Take your tour outside of rush hour, when traffic will be minimal. Be sure to bring extra water and stay hydrated on this three-hour ride.

Tips for visitors:

  • The ride forms a 12-mile loop
  • Helmet, hybrid bike rental, and safety vest included
  • You’ll use an included GPS to follow the route
  • Schedule an early morning or evening ride to avoid the sun and high temperatures
  • A moderate level of fitness may be required to handle hilly areas

Getting in: Self-Guided Movie Star Homes Bike Tour tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card.

Save on admission to things to do near Universal Studios Hollywood™

While you’re out there exploring all that Universal Studios Hollywood™ has to offer, be sure to save on admission to Universal Studios Hollywood™ plus nearby attractions and activities with a Go Los Angeles Card. Save up to 50% on combined attraction admission versus paying at the gate.

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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