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Things To Do In L.A. – What Are The Top 10 Gems?

The Ten Most Iconic Landmarks in L.A.
The Ten Most Iconic Landmarks in L.A.

Updated February 21st, 2020

As all Everyday Enthusiasts know, theTUNDRA is headquartered in sunny Los Angeles.  Now that we’ve been in Tinseltown for a few years, we realize how lucky we are.  This wonderful city has it all.  Gorgeous sun, gorgeous cars, people trying to be gorgeous…and only about a 46% chance that a major earthquake, as in “The Big One,” will happen within the next 30 years.  But as the saying goes, “nothing’s perfect.” 

Let’s stay focused on the positive.  We love this place.  There are so many creative people here so it’s no surprise that there are so many creative ways to spend the days.  Yes, days.  Let’s face it, no one works in this town.  Go into any Starbucks in the middle of the day and you’ll see what we mean.  Every table’s occupied by someone "working on a screenplay."  Who are these people?  How are they making money?  Are they making money?  And what does the line “Forget it, Jake, It’s Chinatown” from the Jack Nicholson movie CHINATOWN really mean?

The answer to those questions will be explored in another article, but for now, we’re interested in the answer to this: what are the Top 10 Gems to see in the City Of Angels?  So fasten your seatbelts, all you History Enthusiasts, Travel Enthusiasts, and Film and TV Enthusiasts - this one’s for you.

Griffith Park & The Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory sits on the south face of Mount Hollywood, overlooking the L.A. basin.  Known as SoCal’s gateway to the cosmos, visitors can look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows in the Planetarium and enjoy awesome views of the famous Hollywood sign.  Admission to the building and the grounds is free.  Hey, if there’s anything that the team @ theTUNDRA likes, it’s stuff that’s free. 

The Griffith Observatory is one of the most iconic landmarks in L.A.  How do we know that?  From all of the movies and shows in which it’s appeared.  It was in several scenes in the famous James Dean movie, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, which helped make it an internationally known emblem of the city (speaking of that classic, the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival is held every year in Hollywood and we were there last year).  Remember when Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone took flight as they danced together under the stars in 2016’s Oscar-winning LALA LAND?  That took place in the Griffith Observatory.  So did Arnold Schwarzenegger’s quick work on a trio of punks in 1984’s THE TERMINATOR.  Other notable movies in which it’s appeared: TRANSFORMERS, THE ROCKETEER and FUNNY PEOPLE.

Put simply, for the ultimate overview of LALA Land, Griffith Park and the Observatory should be first on your list.

The Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood Sign (formerly the Hollywoodland sign) is one of the world’s most recognized landmarks, a world-recognized metaphor for ambition, success, glamor and…the dream!  Located on the southern side of Griffith Park, the infamous white letters consist of 45-foot-tall capital letters that, together, span 350 feet.  It was originally created in 1923 as an ad for a local real estate development, but after appearing in shows and films during the Golden Age Of Hollywood, it became internationally recognized, and it was simply left there.  In 1978, it went through a major restoration, which strengthened and improved the letter structures.

We have to point out that one of theTUNDRA team members (who shall remain nameless), when they first visited L.A., climbed the letter “H,” took a selfie and proclaimed to no one in particular: “One day, I’m gonna take over this town!”  It remains to be seen whether his mission will be fulfilled, but we’ll keep you posted.  Our legal department forced us to say that, under no circumstances do we recommend climbing the “H,” or any letters, of the Hollywood Sign.  But you should definitely check them out.

One thing to keep in mind is that hiking to the Hollywood Sign is like a mountain – it looks closer than it actually is, something one learns when it’s too late, two hours into the hike, when there’s still four more hours of hiking to get there.  Yes, we’re speaking from personal experience.  So, if you plan on trekking your way there, prep like you’re about to hike a hybrid of the Sahara Desert and Mount Everest, especially during the hot, dry summer months.

The Waldorf Astoria’s Rooftop by JG – The L.A. Restaurant With A View

If you want to dine while viewing the city, the best place to do it in style is at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, located in the heart of Beverly Hills at the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevard.  Let’s just say that the Toyoto Camry we pulled up in paled in comparison to the Ferrari and Lambo in front of us.

Built in 2017, it’s located next to the famous Beverly Hilton Hotel.  While the rooftop (and hotel overall) has somewhat of a nouveau riche feel, we were totally dazzled by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s sumptuous food and the skilled bartenders’ mouth-watering drinks. But the star of the rooftop, as you might have guessed, is the 360 degree view of the city. It truly is spectacular.  And trust us, we should know, as our offices are about a mile away, which means we’ve visited more than a few times.  The next time you’re in town, let us know and maybe we’ll meet you for a friendly drink?

Hollywood Bus Tour

Sure, this one might seem a bit tacky, a little cliché, a little…we couldn’t recommend it more.  Come on, you know that you wanna see where the stars live, don’t be in denial.  But warning, if you take this tour, you’ll finally realize that the stars aren’t just like us – they live in massive mansions. 

Most of the bus tour companies hit the same spots: Rodeo Drive, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, the Sunset Strip and the homes of stars such as: Michael Jackson, Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Halle Berry, Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Sandler, Lucille Ball, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Ringo Starr and Elton John.  

Trust us, you’ll kick yourself if you don’t take one of these tours.  Just don’t be one of those people who yells at the stars, begging them to come out of their homes to say hi.  They really don’t like that.

The Comedy Store

You won’t find this entry on many “best of” L.A. lists, but hey, that’s what makes theTUNDRA theTUNDRA.  The Comedy Store is a must for anyone in need of a laugh and these days, who doesn’t need a chuckle or two?  The most famous comedy club in the city (The Hollywood Improv and The Laugh Factory are next), this spot opened in 1972 and is located on the Sunset Strip.  It was owned by Mitzi Shore, as a result of her divorce settlement from comedian Sammy Shore.  Mitzi and Sammy not only birthed the Comedy Store, they birthed the Weasel himself, Pauly Shore. 

The Comedy Store has been the home of some of the biggest names in comedy, including Gary Shandling, Jay Leno, David Letterman, George Carlin and Sam Kinison.  These days, on any given night, you might catch comedy stars like Bill Burr and Dave Chappelle dropping in for a set.  If you’re on the fence about checking this place out, you should know that one of theTUNDRA team members is also a regular performer here.  Seriously.  Intrigued?  Of course you are, so book your tickets and go.

The Broad

Don’t make the rookie mistake of pronouncing this “brawd” - it’s “broed.”  The Broad, which opened in 2015, is a contemporary art museum in Downtown L.A. on Grand Avenue.  Named for philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad and located next to Frank Gehry’s iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, this $140 million building has an exterior that’s been described as being similar to “honeycomb.”  The building is enveloped by a “veil,” a porous envelope wrapping the entire building structure, which filters and transmits daylight to the indoor space.  The collection includes 2,000 pieces of contemporary art, donated by the Broad Family, including works by Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman.  This new museum on the L.A. scene attracts the same number of visitors, more than 750,000 annually, as the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art (LACMA).  Despite being the new kid on the block, The Broad has already made its mark.  

So, in addition to visiting the obvious sites, like the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and the Santa Monica Pier (not that there’s anything wrong with them), we suggest that you expand your cultural horizons and visit the Broad too, as it’s L.A.’s latest and greatest, The Broad.

Musso & Frank Grill

Musso & Frank Grill, referred to by those in the know as Musso & Frank’s, is an iconic industry restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, in the thick of Hollywood.  A show business fixture, we love this spot for many reasons.  First, it opened in 1919, which makes it the oldest restaurant in Hollywood.  Second, the steaks here are sumptuous (for those of us who still eat steak in this veggie town).  Third, it was a watering hole for writers like Raymond Chandler, Nathaniel West, William Faulkner, Dorothy Parker and Dashiell Hammett.  It used to have a separate back room for film industry clientele like Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Orson Welles and Rudolph Valentino.  Current industry clientele include George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford.  Are you really telling us that you’re going to visit L.A. and not want to run into one of those guys?  

If you’re still on the fence about visiting this famous eatery, you should know that, in 2019, it became the first restaurant to ever be given a star on the Walk Of Fame.  2019 was also the year in which this hot spot played a prominent role in Quentin Tarrantino’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, who met with Al Pacino in a great scene at the beginning of the movie.  Be like them.  Eat at Musso & Frank’s.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach is a must see.  There are many reasons why millions of people visit this global tourist destination every year.  Whether it’s walking the pier and checking out all of the interesting eccentrics (E.G. Roller Skating Guitar Guy or Speedo Dude), or watching guys pump iron at Muscle Beach (where Arnold Schwarzenegger got his start), or being amazed by the street ballers at the Venice Beach basketball courts, this place is a major part of the fabric of L.A.  

It's where the rock band The Doors were formed in 1965 by Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek.  It’s also the birthplace of Perry Farrell’s band, Jane’s Addiction.  The gritty 2005 film LORDS OF DOGTOWN chronicled skate life here.  The hilarious David Duchovny show CALIFORNICATION took place here.  And scenes from two of our favorite movies of all time, THE BIG LEBOWSKI and WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP, were shot here.  Calling this is an L.A. landmark would be a huge understatement.  Even if it’s just for a few hours, you need to soak in some rays in Venice Beach if you want any SoCal visit to be complete.

Mount Saint Mary’s University

Founded in 1925 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Mount Saint Mary’s University, which has a 90% female student body, has two beautiful campuses in L.A.  The most picturesque campus, the Chalon campus, is located above Brentwood with gorgeous views overlooking the Pacific Ocean and West L.A. – it’s the closest architecture the U.S. has to an Italian piazza but this one sits on a mountain top that nearly touches the clouds.  While not nearly as well known as U.C.L.A. or U.S.C., we @ theTUNDRA decided to give this school a shout out as a spot to visit because the views from this school are stunning.  We call it the "Waldorf Astoria rooftop" of L.A. universities.  

Like so many pretty L.A. spots, many a film and show have been shot at this isolated location with beautiful vistas and architecture, including: BEVERLY HILLS 90210, COLUMBO, GILMORE GIRLS, MODERN FAMILY, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, THE MENTALIST and the Robert Downey Jr. classic, LESS THAN ZERO.

Make your Catholic grandmother proud and visit Mount Saint Mary’s.


Pink Hot Dogs

In this day and age of the growth of vegans, we wanted to highlight the home of the L.A. hot dog, Pink’s.  A landmark since it opened as a lowly little hot dog cart in 1939, it serves over 2000 hot dogs and 200 hamburgers every day.  Perched at the corner of the famous Melrose Avenue and La Brea, there’s parking for 25 cars and seating for 80 customers.  Pink’s has been featured in movies and TV shows, like MULHOLLAND DRIVE and HOUSE OF LIES, and now boasts 15 other locations throughout the country.  A few fun facts about Pink’s: Orson Welles once ate 18 Pink’s dogs in one sitting; there’s a dog named after Martha Stewart; and Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore there.  What a hot dog.  

A Hollywood Never-ending

Clearly, with everything from gorgeous rooftop bars, to legendary hotdogs, to tours of stars’ homes to the most renowned comedy club in the world, L.A. has so much to do and so much to offer Travel Enthusiasts, History Enthusiasts and Film and TV Enthusiasts.

However, we feel compelled to warn you that, if you do every single activity on this list, you just might do what a TUNDRA team member did at the end of her first visit – she stayed.  As in, she never went home.  L.A. has a way of doing that to people.  She’s a scintillating, enticing, and addictive city.

For more on all things L.A., you might want to check out  But, as this list illustrates, the best way to experience L.A. isn’t digitally, it’s analog, in the flesh.  That’s right, hop in your car, or get on a flight, or take the train…do whatever it takes to experience this fantastic city in person.  

It’s only then that you’ll realize why Randy Newman famously sang, “I love L.A.!


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