I've lived in Los Angeles for 4 years. Here are 10 things tourists should skip and what they should do instead.

hollywood walk of fame (skip); molly o'obrien on hike in LA (don't skip)
Some popular attractions in Los Angeles haven't lived up to my expectations.Tupungato/Shutterstock; Molly O'Brien
  • After four years in Los Angeles, I've come up with a list of attractions that I think are overrated.

  • If you go to the right places, you can get the Hollywood experience without long lines and traffic.

  • Instead of following all the tourists, seek places where locals spend their time.

Skip the Hollywood Walk of Fame and hike to the Hollywood Sign instead.

Molly O'Brien on hike in California
The writer on a hike to the Hollywood Sign.Molly O'Brien

The Hollywood Walk of Fame, a landmark on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street that honors figures in the entertainment industry with stars on the sidewalk, can feel like an overcrowded nightmare.

Instead, trek to the Hollywood Sign, where you'll enjoy sweeping views of Greater Los Angeles and get an up-close view of the large white letters.

Hiking to the sign, which is 6 miles there and back, will help you avoid the crowds on the ground and give you more opportunities to get the perfect photo.

Rather than going to the Malibu Pier, carve out time for a visit to the Santa Monica Pier or the Venice Beach Boardwalk.

Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier.Molly O'Brien

In my experience, finding parking near Malibu Pier can feel nearly impossible. Plus, it doesn't offer as much entertainment as the Santa Monica Pier, which has a solar-powered Ferris wheel, carnival games, and food stands.

Another alternative is the Venice Beach Boardwalk. The dining options and going-out scene are really amazing, and parking is usually free if you take the time to find a spot.

Step into Winston House, which boasts an awesome restaurant, a bar, and nightly live music. Or head to The Waterfront, which serves chill drinks in an even more chill atmosphere. Both are on the boardwalk, as are dozens of other spots worth popping into in Venice.

Opt out of evenings at overcrowded nightclubs and seek out more unique, authentic bars instead.

Photo of South Santa Monica Boulevard with businesses and cars in Beverly Hills Los Angeles California USA illuminated at twilight blue hour.
Santa Monica Boulevard.Getty Images

You can find expensive, run-of-the-mill nightclubs in most cities, so I encourage visitors to step into more authentic, one-of-a-kind establishments when they're traveling to Los Angeles.

For example, the bars and restaurants on the Sunset Strip and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood boast an unparalleled international nightlife scene.

Unless you're very interested in fossils, take the La Brea Tar Pits off your itinerary and go take in the views at the Griffith Observatory.

Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory.Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

I didn't find the La Brea Tar Pits, an Ice Age excavation site in Los Angeles, to be the most exciting place in the city. However, it could be worth a visit if you're super into fossils.

If you're not, check out the Griffith Observatory, which offers visitors the free opportunity to explore the cosmos and see some spectacular sights from the top of a hill in Griffith Park.

Avoid running into Los Angeles' traffic during bus tours by exploring on foot.

Los Angeles downtown
Downtown Los Angeles.Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

You'll probably get stuck in at least some traffic if you take a hop-on, hop-off bus tour in Los Angeles.

Luckily, the coastal city has some walkable neighborhoods such as downtown Los Angeles, which is home to iconic landmarks like The Broad, The Museum of Contemporary Art, the Grammy Museum, and the Angels Flight Railway. There's more than enough to keep you thoroughly occupied during a full day of exploring.

The downtown area is also the home to Los Angeles Union Station, which is not only a historic landmark with gorgeous architecture, but also it's also the hub for Amtrak, Metrolink, and LA Metro.

Travelers can take trains from here to countless other local spots across California without having to worry about traffic or parking.

Get a one-of-a-kind experience at Universal Studios Hollywood instead of spending the day at Six Flags Magic Mountain or Disneyland.

Universal Studios Hollywood.
Universal Studios Hollywood.Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Disneyland isn't actually in Los Angeles; It's in Anaheim, which can sometimes be a two-hour drive away with Southern California traffic. And Six Flags Magic Mountain is part of a national theme-park chain, with various Six Flags parks around the country.

Instead, visit Universal Studios Hollywood, which is a film studio and theme park in Los Angeles that features one-of-a-kind rides and entertainment you can't get anywhere else.

Take a studio tour rather than spending your day sitting at a TV taping.

warner bros
The Warner Bros. film-studio lot in Burbank, California.AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GCImages via Getty Images

Attending tapings of live shows can take up hours of your day. I find some of them boring, and most of them haven't lived up to my expectations.

Instead, embark on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood in Burbank to see firsthand where epic TV shows like "Friends" were really filmed.

Or, visit legendary entertainment venues like The Hollywood Bowl, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Music Center, Dodger Stadium, and SoFi Stadium. Each is known for hosting sports games, concerts, and unforgettable shows.

Save yourself from long lines for fast-food chains by going to food halls and local farmers markets.

Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market.Molly O'Brien

At popular fast-food chains — like the In-N-Out Burger in Hollywood, which is seemingly always busy — you'll likely spend more time in line than you'll spend actually eating your food. And I find that my meals often seem overpriced.

Instead, visit a local food hall or farmers market, like The Original Farmers Market or Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles.

Or you can try one of the city's famous local restaurants, like legendary chef José Andrés' San Laurel at the Conrad Los Angeles and Agua Viva at The Grand LA.

Go to a celebrity hangout spot instead of paying for a guided tour through stars' neighborhoods.

The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles
The Beverly Hilton.David McNew/Getty Images

I advise against going on a pricey, guided tour to drive around the neighborhoods where celebrities live. Leave these peoples' houses alone.

You're likely to see a Hollywood star shining in their natural habitat if you go to a popular celebrity hangout spot such as The Beverly Hilton, The Tower Bar at Sunset Tower Hotel, Craig's, or The London West Hollywood.

Be aware that some of these places don't allow photos to protect and respect their easily recognizable patrons' privacy.

Skip Runyon Canyon and map out a hike on a less crowded trail.

Santa Monica Mountains
Mountains in Santa Monica.Steven Guo/Shutterstock

In my opinion, the famous Runyon Canyon Trail, which is 2.7 miles, is overrated, overcrowded, and underwhelming.

Luckily, there are so many underrated hidden gems in The Angeles National Forest and The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area. They're less crowded and just as (if not more) beautiful.

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