california tourist

Tourists get a bad rap. And tourist attractions—i.e. some of a destination’s most iconic sites—have been given the cold shoulder lately. It’s not that unusual to run into a Los Angeles local who has never visited some of the county’s greatest sites—i.e. The Hollywood Sign, and The Santa Monica Pier.

We at The Ambrose Hotel understand the desire to travel “like a local,” but don’t forget that sometimes even locals should see a city’s key attractions. Being a tourist can mean whatever you want it to. Technically, if you are visiting a new city and you are touring it in any capacity, you’re a tourist! So, we say that you should own the title, and utilize your experience in a way that feels true to your desires and personality. Here are some of our favorite examples of tours you can take around Los Angeles. 

Santa Monica Tours

Beginning right here at The Ambrose Hotel in Santa Monica, you have a number of places to visit on a tour of the city of Santa Monica. To keep the day on your own terms, take one of the hotel’s Republic bicycles out for a spin to some of the area’s most notable attractions. We recommend hitting The Santa Monica Pier, the Looff Hippodrome Carousel, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and Bergamot Station (one of Santa Monica’s best art galleries). 

For some more specific ideas, like a tour of the best beaches and beach destinations near Santa Monica, you can check out our Guide To Santa Monica’s Beach Scene

Restaurant Tours

One of the best aspects of any destination is its unique culinary offerings. Luckily for aspiring visitors, Los Angeles has one of the broadest and highest quality restaurant scenes in the United States. (Don’t miss our break down of the best places to Wine & Dine in Santa Monica). There are a number of food tours you can set up for yourself based on area and reputation. Some examples include—Best Ramen in Little Tokyo, Best Tacos on The East Side, and Healthy Restaurants in Santa Monica

In addition to the wide range of inspiration for setting up your own food tours in Los Angeles, there are also plenty of reputable, existing tours celebrating local flavor. Six Taste, for example is a family-owned food tour company that takes hungry guests for tastings at top restaurants in Santa Monica, Koreatown, Hollywood, and around most other LA neighborhoods. 

Studio Tours 

One of the most touristy things you can do on a trip to Los Angeles is take a tour of a major film production studio. While some travelers may take that as a reason to avoid these famed destinations, we think that it’s just the opposite. Many of us grew up watching stars and shows on television and the silver screen who made the marks on the very lots and stages these tours visit. It’s nostalgic, unique, and a prime example of the type of experience that supports the idea that being a California tourist, or any kind of tourist, is still okay. 

You can take a tour of a classic Hollywood lot by riding on a long golf cart and listening to historical anecdotes from a guide at Paramount Pictures Studio. There’s also been a long-running tram tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, which explores over four acres of movie and television backlots. 

Funky LA Tours

One of the strangest, and most quintessentially LA-tourist tours you can take is in a van with the rooftop chopped off, going around and gawking at celebrity homes. While odd and invasive, these drive arounds are available throughout all of Los Angeles, and undoubtedly full of eccentric tour guides who either know too much of celebrity culture.

There are a number of other funky and memorable tours you can take around Los Angeles on your next visit. From reputable ghost tours running throughout the county, including one of the famous ship The Queen Mary to Metro Art Tours, which offers free tours of artwork throughout LA’s Metro Rail system, these tours give travelers a taste of the “tourist” life in the best way.

Discover More of Santa Monica

Experience the best of Santa Monica. Check out The Ambrose blog for our insider guide to the SoCal getaway.