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Home Tourist Attraction 10 Tourist Traps In Los Angeles, Plus Alternatives Instead

10 Tourist Traps In Los Angeles, Plus Alternatives Instead

by Staff

Summary

  • There are lots of tourist traps in Los Angeles with alternatives instead; for one, skip the overpriced Hollywood Walk of Fame for Griffith Observatory’s free city views and stargazing.
  • Avoid paying for TCL Chinese Theater handprints and explore the La Brea Tar Pits’ film history and fossils instead.
  • Swap pricey Rodeo Drive for Santa Monica Place’s unique, authentic shopping experience.



Los Angeles and the SoCal area, known as the jewel of the West Coast, beckons with its allure of Hollywood glamour and a plethora of entertainment options. Still, let’s be honest, navigating the tourist scene can be tricky, as some places turn out to be top LA tourist traps to avoid, offering overpriced and underwhelming experiences. Not all destinations in the City of Angels live up to the hype, and falling into tourist traps can put a damper on any trip.

What precisely is a tourist trap, then? Tourist traps are well-known locations designed specifically to entice travelers and profit from their visits by providing conveniences like food, entertainment, and mementos that are geared toward tourists. These locations, while not strictly scams, put money above quality and frequently let guests down. They’re also typically crowded and expensive.


However, without offering better alternatives, it wouldn’t be very kind to advise what to skip in Los Angeles, would it? We’ve compiled a list of the main tourist traps Los Angeles offers its visitors, along with some better alternatives to help visitors arrange a more pleasurable and genuine visit.

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10 Skip: Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Alternative: Leave the overcrowded sidewalks and underwhelming stars. Visit Griffith Observatory instead!

View of the world famous Hollywood Walk of Fame in the Hollywood Boulevard district of Los Angeles, California, USA
Shutterstock / f11photo

View of the world famous Hollywood Walk of Fame in the Hollywood Boulevard district of Los Angeles, California, USA

While the Walk of Fame holds historical significance, it’s often jam-packed, making it difficult to even see the stars, let alone appreciate them.

Sure, it’s a major tourist destination and is considered one of the top attractions in LA, but do people really want to wait for a chance to snap selfies with faded stars on crowded sidewalks? Nah.


Alternative:Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory at sunset, Los Angeles, California, USA
Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash

Griffith Observatory at sunset, Los Angeles, California, USA

Ditch the Walk of Fame and head to the free-to-visit Griffith Observatory for panoramic city views, free stargazing evenings under the real Hollywood sky, and fascinating exhibits on astronomy and Southern California’s cosmic history.

At least here there will be no bumping into peddlers who want to sell overpriced trinkets or superhero impersonators who will charge a few dollars for a photo.

9 Skip: TCL Chinese Theater

Alternative: Leave the pricey hand prints alone and explore the diverse film history at the La Brea Tar Pits

The Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard
Photo by BP Miller on Unsplash

The Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard


While the handprints outside the TCL Chinese Theatre are undeniably iconic, the experience can be underwhelming due to crowds and ticket costs.

Numerous people have said the theater is not as classy and lovely as the way it appears in pictures or on television.

Alternative: La Brea Tar

Instead, delve into real Hollywood history at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. There are lots of fascinating animals at La Brea Tar Pits; witness the preserved remains of prehistoric creatures trapped in asphalt millions of years ago – it’s like stepping into a Jurassic Park movie set!


8 Skip: Venice Beach Boardwalk

Alternative: Skip the tourist clutter and enjoy authentic beach vibes at El Matador State Beach

Venturing to the Venice Boardwalk allows tourists to see one of the most iconic attractions in Los Angeles—the beach. While undeniably picturesque, it’s also notorious for being one of the many tourist traps in Los Angeles to avoid.

Visitors often contend with crowds, persistent vendors, and encounters with individuals of dubious repute. For a more enjoyable experience, consider exploring nearby destinations like Santa Monica, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach.

Alternative:El Matador State Beach


Escape to El Matador State Beach instead of Venice Beach. Hike a short trail to discover hidden coves, tide pools teeming with life, and breathtaking ocean views that will leave visitors speechless.

Pack a picnic and soak up the authentic California beach vibes.

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7 Skip: The Original Farmers Market

Alternative: Skip this and experience a unique and affordable shopping experience at Grand Central Market

Recommending the Original Farmers Market to visitors from out of town is becoming more difficult. While there are a few pricey “farm-style” kiosks, the majority of the area is made up of expensive food stands serving mainly subpar food and a few sporadic stores with miscellaneous items like toys, stickers, candles, and shoes.


So, the Original Farmers Market is expensive and overcrowded, but what’s the alternative?

Alternative:Grand Central Market

For a more authentic and affordable experience, explore the Grand Central Market. Similar to the Original Farmers Market, Grand Central Market has been serving food to “Angelenos” for over a century.

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6 Skip: Universal Studios Hollywood

Alternative: Avoid paying hefty prices and standing in line and opt for comparable thrills at Six Flags Magic Mountain instead


Universal Studios is often compared in price to Disney World., but both are pretty pricey for tourists on a budget. Sure, the film studio and theme park feature one-of-a-kind rides and entertainment that are hard to get anywhere else. However, it can be expensive and have long wait times, earning it a place among the abundance of tourist traps in LA to avoid.

Not to mention, the Citywalk sits just outside of Universal Studios and feels like any other. The majority of restaurants and retail establishments are similar to those in other well-known shopping centers and tourist destinations.

Alternative:Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six Flags Magic Mountain: Santa Clarita, California
Shutterstock

Six Flags Magic Mountain: Santa Clarita, California


A complete day at Six Flags is filled with extremely thrilling rollercoasters. In contrast, Universal is only open from 1/2 to 3/4 of a day and offers a studio tour in addition to vintage movie-themed rides and shows without many high-adrenaline attractions.

5 Skip: Rodeo Drive

Alternative: No need for window shopping on Rodeo Drive, visit Santa Monica Place instead!


The famous Rodeo Drive holds appeal mainly for those deeply interested in luxury brands. The likelihood of one actually making a purchase there? Quite low. Moreover, it’s not particularly pedestrian-friendly, often requiring significant time spent searching for parking along the road.

Despite the misconception that celebrities frequent Rodeo Drive for their shopping needs, the reality is quite different—few celebrities are said to be seen shopping there.

Alternative:Santa Monica Place


Visitors seeking something special and high-end often explore Santa Monica’s renowned shopping streets: Montana Avenue and Main Street. What sets them apart? Montana Avenue leans towards sophistication, while Main Street has a funkier vibe.

Montana Avenue attracts more starlets and tends to be less crowded. In either case, visitors are more likely to enjoy an authentic and star-studded shopping experience in Santa Monica compared to Rodeo Drive.

4 Skip: Hollywood Sign Hike

Alternative: The Griffith Park hike is a superior option to a “middle-of-the-road” Hollywood Sign hike


For those keen on embracing a quintessential tourist activity, hiking up to the Hollywood Sign isn’t a bad choice. It symbolizes the quintessential “I’m in LA” moment.

While Instagram-worthy shots of the sign and stunning LA vistas are almost guaranteed, be prepared for crowds of fellow hikers—especially on weekends.

Alternative: Griffith Park Hike

A better alternative? Set off on a journey from Griffith Park into the hills, climbing up a single dirt track to the Hollywood Sign’s home, Mount Lee, and Cahuenga Peak. It is one of the best hikes in Los Angeles. It provides not only a closer view of the Hollywood sign but also a panoramic view of the city. Two birds one stone.


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Alternative: Ditch the waxy doppelgängers for stunning art and panoramic views at The Getty Center instead

The front façade of Madame Tussauds Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA
Shutterstock

The front façade of Madame Tussauds Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA

Madame Tussauds wax museums have become a go-to tourist attraction in Los Angeles, with Hollywood’s version frequently promoted via coupons on the Walk of Fame.

Inside, fans may see life-size replicas of their favorite stars in wax, such as Taylor Swift, Ryan Gosling, Zoe Saldana, and Michael Jackson. However, beyond the novelty of photo opportunities, there’s not much else to do.

Alternative: The Getty Center


Instead, consider visiting The Getty Center in Brentwood. Drawing over 1.3 million visitors annually, The Getty offers stunning views of LA, beautiful gardens, and architecture by Richard Meier. The museum itself houses sculpture, ornamental art, European art from before the 20th century, and photography from the 19th and 20th centuries.

While it may sometimes get crowded, The Getty is a must-visit for its rich cultural offerings both indoors and outdoors.

2 Skip: LA Lakers Game

Alternative: Go watch Kawhi. Easy decision!

Views from the upper Deck of a Los Angels Lakers Game
Photo by Tim Hart on Unsplash

Views from the upper Deck of a Los Angels Lakers Game


While Los Angeles may not always be top-of-mind as a sports hub, it’s home to some of the biggest names in professional sports. Catching an NBA game while in town is a must, offering a chance for celebrity sightings or to cheer on big-name players.

It’s understandable that seeing LeBron James, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, would be a major reason to attend a Lakers game. Although, this is one of the many activities in Los Angeles to skip for those who dislike crowds (plus, tickets can be expensive).

Alternative: Watch the Clippers

For tourists looking to attend a game just for the sake of it, Clippers tickets are the way to go, especially if one is looking to avoid breaking the bank.


After all, why pay more for worse seats and big crowds when neutral fans can get the same thrill at a Clippers game?

1 Skip: Celebrity Home Tours

Alternative: Ditch the celebrity home hustle and see the stars’ eternal stage at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Double Decker bus tour in Los Angeles
Photo by Oxana Melis on Unsplash

Double Decker bus tour in Hollywood, Los Angeles

Tourists flock to Los Angeles eager to catch a glimpse of celebrities or just bask in the city’s glamor. Celebrity home tours are a frequently used way to see the city, but some tour operators engage in questionable practices because they are competing with one another for business.

It is best to do proper research before committing to a tour, as guides may misidentify homes, claiming they belong to stars who have never lived there.


Alternative: Hollywood Forever Cemetery

While celebrity home tours often fall short and come at a premium, exploring the final resting places of Hollywood legends can be a unique and respectful way to connect with their legacies.

This historic cemetery isn’t just a final resting place for stars; it’s an open-air museum of Hollywood’s past. They even have weddings, concerts, and other events here. Also, consider the official cemetery tours, as they offer historical insights and context about these legendary figures.

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