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The 14 Best Los Angeles Tours

by Atlanta Business Journal

Note: Some tour providers on this list may be running more limited operations due to COVID-19 or may impose testing or vaccine requirements. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.

At more than 465 square miles, Los Angeles defies easy exploration. Even those who dream of touring the city’s top attractions in a sporty convertible may be discouraged by the city’s notorious traffic congestion and tough parking rules. To enjoy that stress-free, laid-back vacation California is famous for, choose an easy, efficient guided tour. Using both traveler sentiment and expert opinion, U.S. News selected some of the top tours in Los Angeles whose entertaining introduction to the city will engage intrepid explorers, first-time visitors and local residents alike.

Bikes and Hikes LA – Hollywood Sign Hike

Summit Mount Hollywood on this 2 1/2-hour hiking trip. You’ll see Griffith Park and the Forest Lawn Memorial Park as well as the world-famous Hollywood sign and panoramic vistas of the city. Be ready for a workout: You’ll hike approximately 4 miles round-trip. While praising the excellent guides and overall experience, reviewers say tours may run long and require a fairly high level of fitness, so future tourgoers should keep that in mind. The tour costs around $30 per person (6 or older). Tours are offered daily year-round and depart at 9 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. The company also offers a shorter version of this hike and several bike tours of LA.

Open Bus Tours – Movie Star Home Tour

Open Bus Tours whisks you through Hollywood and Beverly Hills in an open-top van to show you the places where the rich and famous play. The guide will point out landmarks associated with past and current celebrities, contemporary sports figures and YouTube stars, plus drive past famous movie studios and filming locations, if available. You can snap photos of mansions, the Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, the Sunset Strip, the Dolby Theatre and more. Visitors say they like leaving the LA driving to fun, knowledgeable guides who entertain them with gossip, history and local legend as they point out A-lister hot spots. The two-hour guided tours are available from Thursday to Monday; there are four departures each day. Tickets cost approximately $35 for adults, $25 for children 2 to 11 and $20 for infants younger than 2. The company also offers private tours.

Big Bus Tours Los Angeles – TMZ Celebrity Tour

Gossip, secrets and buzz-worthy names are the focus of this popular Hollywood Celebrity Hot Spot Tour from Big Bus Tours Los Angeles and TMZ, the famous celebrity news website. The two-hour, guided bus tour departs several times daily from Hollywood and makes no stops. Instead, the entertaining guides show video clips, share stories, do giveaways and manage a remote studio on wheels in case wandering celebrities want to stop for an interview. Recent tour-takers who love celebrity gossip and pop culture offer very positive reviews of the outing, while some complain about not seeing enough stars’ homes, specific sites or celebrities during their tour. Tickets cost approximately $50 for adults and $30 for children 3 to 12.

ExperienceFirst – Haunted Hollywood Walking Tour: True Crime, Creepy Tales

This ghost tour not only covers paranormal activity in Hollywood, but also delves into LA’s crime history. You’ll learn about serial killers who traumatized the city as well as the infamous Manson family murders. Among the locations you’ll visit are the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel and the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Reviewers say the tour is excellent and that guides are wonderful storytellers. Trips depart at 6 p.m. nightly. Fees start at $39 for adults and $35 for children ages 4 to 12. ExperienceFirst also operates guided hikes to the Hollywood sign, as well as private outings.

(Courtesy of A Day in LA)

A Day in LA Tours – LA City Tour

Cruise from Venice Beach to Griffith Park and everywhere in between on this 7 1/2-hour tour. Tourgoers will hop on an air-conditioned bus that’s equipped with device charging ports and cruise in comfort to areas like Beverly Hills, Venice Beach and Santa Monica. First-time visitors to LA rave about how much you see in one day despite the city’s famous traffic. Others appreciate spending about 40 minutes at each attraction so they could explore and take photos. Tickets start at $104 for adults and $94 for children 12 and younger. A Day in LA Tours offers free hotel pickup from both Los Angeles hotels and hotels in the Anaheim/Disneyland area. Traveling with a large group? Book a private tour.

Six Taste – Downtown Los Angeles Food Tour

On this four-hour Downtown LA walking tour by Six Taste, visitors will sample signature dishes from up to six eateries while learning more about Filipino, Mexican, barbecue and other cuisines, the history of downtown and the city’s diverse cultures. Locals and visitors alike rave about the Six Taste guides and their selection of hard-to-find stands and shops, as well as the delicious tastings. Downtown tours run on Saturdays and Sundays only at 11 a.m. Tickets start at $75 per person. Some dietary accommodations can be made with advance notice, though the tour is not suited to vegan or gluten-free diets. Other popular Six Taste tours explore Santa Monica and the Arts District.

Malibu Wine Hikes – Malibu Wine Hike & Trail Tour

California wine is a must-try for oenophiles, but you won’t need to venture to Napa, Sonoma or Santa Barbara to sample some vino. Approximately 50 miles west of LA you’ll find Malibu, a well-known beach town and home to Malibu Wine Hikes. On its 2.5-mile wine tour, you’ll explore Saddlerock Ranch and its incomparable beauty, including the property’s grape vines. Guides will tell you about the varietals the ranch grows and you’ll get to taste the wine it produces. Visitors say they had a great time and are particularly wowed by the scenery. The two-hour tours start at $49 per person, but keep in mind this hike isn’t well-suited for those with mobility issues nor parents who need strollers for their little ones. Tour depart Wednesday through Monday. Times can vary by day, but you can generally expect tours in the late morning and mid-afternoon. Malibu Wine Hikes also offers a popular tour in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Ultimate Hollywood Tours – Celebrity Home & Filming Location Tour

See dozens of movie star homes and filming locations on Ultimate Hollywood Tours’ two-hour bus tour. The open-air bus drives by the past or present homes of celebrities like Elton John, Lucille Ball, Bruno Mars, Will Ferrell, Katy Perry, Charlize Theron, Michael Jackson and many others. You’ll pass shops and clubs where celebrities hang out. Buses also pause for photo opportunities, including at the famous Hollywood sign. Travelers rave about the entertaining guides, whose humor and insider knowledge make these small group tours a blast, even if they don’t spot any celebrities. Tours depart multiple times daily beginning at 10 a.m. Tickets start at around $40 for adults, $30 for children 2 to 12 and $5 for infants. If you’re looking for a half-day tour, consider the company’s five-hour Taste of LA experience, which visits Santa Monica, among other locations.

Best Los Angeles Tours

(Courtesy of Architecture Tours L.A.)

Architecture Tours L.A. – Silver Lake

Architecture buffs and design professionals should book ahead for this tour of the Silver Lake neighborhood. For up to three hours, you’ll view midcentury modern and contemporary homes by master architects Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, John Lautner and other notables. Architectural historian and author Laura Massino Smith is your expert guide as she chauffeurs you through the neighborhood via van. Tour-takers appreciate Smith’s insider access to homes designed by master architects that would otherwise be impossible to find or view up close. Tours run daily around 10 a.m. Tickets start at $80 per person and you must have at least two people to book. For tickets, contact the company directly. Architecture Tours L.A. hosts a variety of other tours through Los Angeles neighborhoods, such as Hancock Park/Miracle Mile and West Hollywood/Beverly Hills. You can also opt for specialized tours of Frank Lloyd Wright or Frank Gehry masterpieces.

The Real Los Angeles Tours – The Real Hollywood Tour

On this walking tour, guides take visitors on a two-hour, 2-mile stroll through Hollywood to explore its history. Tourgoers will see attractions like the old house where Charlie Chaplin’s children went to school, the historic Pantages and Egyptian theaters and the famous TCL Chinese Theatre. Patrons love the comprehensive commentary, suitable for school-age children, and appreciate the friendly guides. Tours run daily at 10 a.m. Tours cost approximately $35 for patrons 12 and older, and are free for children 11 and younger. Real Los Angeles Tours also runs a Speakeasy Bar Tour and a DTLA Murder Mystery Ghost Tour, among other options.

Sidewalk Food Tours of Los Angeles – Downtown Los Angeles Food Tour

This vegetarian-friendly food tour of downtown Los Angeles appeals to travelers interested in the neighborhood’s history and ethnically diverse culinary scene. Over the course of three hours, you’ll make six food stops that could include German currywurst, French pastry, Mexican tacos, Asian fusion and Texas barbecue. You’ll also walk through Grand Central Market and see sights like the Biltmore Los Angeles, a luxury hotel, and the Million Dollar Theatre. Visitors rave about the knowledgeable guides and appreciate finding restaurants to return to, while locals enjoy learning about downtown and the city’s hidden gem restaurants. Expect 2 to 3 miles of walking and bring a full water bottle. Tours run at 11 a.m. Friday through Monday. Tickets cost approximately $75 per person. Sidewalk Food Tours also offers a West Hollywood Food Tour and private food tours.

The Best Los Angeles Tours

(Getty Images)

Another Side of Los Angeles Tours – The Santa Monica & Venice Beach Segway Tour

Explore two different beach towns near Los Angeles during this two-hour sightseeing tour. Travelers hop on a Segway – a two-wheeled motorized vehicle – to glide by top sights including Pacific Park, Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier and more. Reviewers comment that the guides are great and the tour itself is fun. Fees start at $169 per person and at least two guests are required for the tour to run. Trips depart multiple times daily. Love to explore via Segway? Take the company’s Beverly Hills tour, which also uses the vehicles.

Surf City Tours – Malibu Mansions & Beach Homes Tour

See the homes of the rich and famous – with a side of spectacular ocean scenery – during this tour. Surf City Tours whisks you through Malibu to see the homes of celebrities like Lady Gaga and Cher as well as historic sites and filming locations. It also includes an hourlong stop so you can explore the beach on your own. Travelers say the tour is a must-do and appreciate the guides’ enthusiasm and historical knowledge. Trips last 4 ½ hours and depart at 9:30 a.m. daily. Tickets cost about $80 for those 14 and older; there’s about a $10 discount for children, seniors and veterans. Infants come along for free, but you must bring your own car seat. Tours depart from the company’s location in Santa Monica. The company also runs a surfing trip and a Hollywood tour.

Universal Studios Studio Tour

Movie fans will get a thrill out of Universal Studios’ Studio Tour, a theme park attraction that moves tram riders through 13 blocks of studio backlot. Jimmy Fallon serves as your video tour guide who introduces short clips that serve to enhance the narration from your in-person guide. During the tram ride, you’ll encounter the Bates Motel from “Psycho,” the shark from “Jaws” and other key props. Interactive experiences include watching a 3D King Kong battle a T. rex and racing alongside stars from “The Fast and the Furious” movie franchise. Both experiences are favorites of reviewers who especially enjoy the special effects. The hourlong backlot tours leave throughout the day. Tours are included with the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park ticket, which starts at $109 per person for one-day general admission. The park offers multiple shows and rides featuring famous animals, cartoon characters and blockbuster hits.

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