Los Angeles is a city full of life and opportunity, offering visitors a wealth of experiences that will leave lasting impressions. Los Angeles has something for everyone, from world-renowned museums to breathtaking natural scenery. But for those seeking truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences, the city has a host of unique offerings that simply cannot be missed.
In this travel guide, we’ve rounded up some of the most unforgettable experiences the city offers. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, these activities will make your trip to Los Angeles truly special. And if you’re looking for more conventional travel recommendations, be sure to check out our other travel guide to Los Angeles for a complete overview of the city’s must-see sights and attractions.
So why settle for ordinary when you can have extraordinary? Let’s dive into the once-in-a-lifetime things to do in Los Angeles and discover the magic of this vibrant and dynamic city.
Cultural and Historical Tours in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is filled with iconic landmarks and rich history. For those seeking a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, there are several cultural and historical tours available that offer a unique glimpse into the city’s past and present. Let’s explore some of the best tours and why they are worth adding to your bucket list.
First on the list is a private guided tour of the Bradbury Building. The Bradbury Building is a stunning architectural gem in Downtown LA featured in numerous films and TV shows. Completed in 1893, the building’s ornate interior features a grand central atrium with intricate ironwork, marble stairs, and open-cage elevators. The tour takes you through the building’s history, architecture, and design, offering a behind-the-scenes look at this iconic landmark. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as the Bradbury Building is not open to the general public and can only be visited on a guided tour. The building’s historical significance and unique design make it a must-visit destination for architecture and history enthusiasts.
Next up is a private guided tour of the Watts Towers. This unique landmark, located in the Watts neighborhood of LA, is a collection of 17 interconnected sculptures created by Italian-American artist Simon Rodia over 33 years. The sculptures are made from scrap metal, concrete, and other found objects and are a testament to the creativity and resilience of the human spirit. The guided tour takes you through the towers’ history, cultural significance, and the story of the artist who created them. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as the towers are a true testament to the power of human creativity and imagination.
Another must-see tour for art enthusiasts is a private art tour with an art expert from the city’s top galleries and museums. LA is home to some of the world’s most renowned museums and galleries, including the Getty Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Hammer Museum. A private tour with an art expert offers a unique opportunity to explore these institutions and gain a deeper understanding of the city’s rich art history. From the contemporary art scene to the city’s Mexican-American heritage, the tour will take you on a journey through LA’s diverse and vibrant art world.
If you’re looking for a spooky and intriguing experience, a private guided tour of the historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a must. This cemetery, located in the heart of Hollywood, is the final resting place of some of the entertainment industry’s biggest names, including Rudolph Valentino, Cecil B. DeMille, and Jayne Mansfield. The tour takes you through the history of the cemetery, its notable residents, and the myths and legends surrounding the property. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as the cemetery’s unique blend of history, culture, and eerie charm make it a truly unforgettable destination.
For those seeking a dose of ancient history, a private guided tour of the stunning Getty Villa is a must-see. Modeled after a first-century Roman villa, the museum features ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan artifacts, including sculptures, vases, and jewelry. The tour takes you through the history of the villa, its architecture and design, and the stories behind the ancient artifacts on display. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as the Getty Villa offers a rare opportunity to experience ancient history up close and personal.
Last but not least is a private guided tour of the historic Union Station. This landmark, located in Downtown LA, is a stunning example of Art Deco architecture and was once the main transportation hub for the city. The tour takes you through the history of the station
Once-in-a-lifetime Outdoor Activities in LA
Los Angeles is a city famous for its year-round sunshine and stunning natural beauty. For those seeking a once-in-a-lifetime outdoor experience, several activities offer a unique perspective on the city’s landscape and culture. Let’s explore some of the best outdoor activities and why they are worth adding to your bucket list.
First on the list is a helicopter tour of the city. This once-in-a-lifetime experience offers a breathtaking view of Los Angeles from above. The tour takes you over the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Hollywood Sign, the Griffith Observatory, and the Santa Monica Pier. The tour also provides a unique perspective on the city’s layout and geography, as well as its history and culture. From the downtown skyscrapers to the sprawling beaches, a helicopter tour of LA is an unforgettable way to experience the city’s beauty and grandeur.
Next up is a sailboat cruise in Marina Del Rey. This coastal town, located just south of Santa Monica, is home to the largest man-made small craft harbor in North America. A sailboat cruise offers a unique perspective on the area’s natural beauty, including the stunning coastline and the crystal-clear waters of the marina. The tour also provides a glimpse into the area’s history, including its role in the development of Southern California’s boating and tourism industries. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as it offers a chance to relax and unwind while taking in the natural beauty of the LA coast.
For those seeking a more active experience, a surf lesson with a local pro on the beautiful beaches of Malibu is a must. Malibu is home to some of the best surf spots in the world, and a lesson with a local pro offers a unique opportunity to experience the thrill of riding the waves. The lesson also provides insight into the surfing culture in Southern California, including the sport’s history and its impact on the local community. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as it offers a chance to connect with the ocean and the local surf culture in a way few other activities can.
Finally, for those seeking a more relaxing experience, a yoga class on the rooftop of a luxury hotel with stunning city views is a must. Many of LA’s luxury hotels offer yoga classes on their rooftops, providing a unique opportunity to connect with the city’s natural beauty while practicing mindfulness and relaxation. The classes also provide insight into the city’s wellness culture, which has become a major part of LA’s identity in recent years. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as it offers a chance to unwind and connect with the city in a restorative and rejuvenating way.
Music and Entertainment activities in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is known for its vibrant music and entertainment scene, and several activities offer a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. From historic theaters to exclusive private events, these activities provide a unique perspective on the city’s culture and history. Let’s dive in and explore some of LA’s best music and entertainment experiences.
First up is a concert at the historic Orpheum Theatre. Located in downtown LA, the Orpheum Theatre has been a fixture of the city’s cultural landscape since it first opened its doors in 1926. The theater has hosted some of the biggest names in entertainment over the years, from Frank Sinatra to the Marx Brothers. Attending a concert at the Orpheum is a once-in-a-lifetime experience because it offers a chance to step back in time and experience the grandeur and elegance of old Hollywood. The theater’s ornate architecture and rich history make it a truly unique and unforgettable setting for any performance.
Next on the list is attending a private event at the exclusive Soho House. This members-only club is a favorite of LA’s entertainment elite. Attending a private event there is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that provides a glimpse into the city’s exclusive social scene. The Soho House is known for its luxurious amenities, unparalleled views of the city, and strict membership policy. Attending an event there is an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the city’s most influential and creative people, making it a truly unforgettable experience.
Last but certainly not least is attending a private concert at the legendary Troubadour music venue. This intimate venue has played a pivotal role in the history of LA’s music scene, having hosted some of the biggest names in rock, folk, and country music over the years. From Elton John to Joni Mitchell, the Troubadour has been a launching pad for some of the biggest stars in the industry. Attending a private concert there is a once-in-a-lifetime experience because it provides a chance to see some of the world’s most talented musicians up close and personal, in an intimate and historic setting.
Gardens and Landmarks
Los Angeles is home to many stunning gardens and landmarks that offer a unique glimpse into the city’s history and culture. From iconic architecture to tranquil gardens, these activities are a must-see for anyone visiting LA. Let’s dive in and explore some of the city’s best gardens and landmarks.
First on the list is a visit to the historic Gamble House in Pasadena. This stunning example of American Arts and Crafts architecture was built in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble of Procter & Gamble fame. The house is a masterpiece of design and craftsmanship, featuring handcrafted woodwork, stained glass windows, and beautiful gardens. Visiting the Gamble House is a once-in-a-lifetime experience because it offers a chance to step back in time and experience the beauty and elegance of early 20th-century California. Guided tours are available, providing a fascinating insight into the history and architecture of the house.
Next up is a visit to the stunning Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. This world-renowned institution is home to one of the most impressive collections of art, literature, and botanical specimens in the world. The library’s collection includes rare books, manuscripts, and works of art, while the gardens boast a wide variety of plants from around the world. A visit to the Huntington is a once-in-a-lifetime experience because it provides a unique opportunity to explore the intersection of art, literature, and nature in a beautiful and tranquil setting.
Last but not least is a visit to the stunning architecture and gardens of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades. This tranquil oasis is home to beautiful gardens, a tranquil lake, and stunning architecture, including a shrine dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. A visit to the Lake Shrine is a once-in-a-lifetime experience because it offers a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and connect with nature and spirituality in a serene setting. The gardens are meticulously maintained, and visitors can explore various landscapes, including waterfalls, meditation gardens, and even a swan-filled lake.
Once-in-a-lifetime things to do in Los Angeles – Food and Cooking
Taking a private cooking class with a renowned chef in Los Angeles is an exceptional opportunity to learn how to make some of the city’s best dishes while experiencing the culinary history of this diverse and vibrant city. With so many cultures represented in LA, the food scene is truly unique and rich in history, reflecting the many immigrants who have brought their traditions and flavors to the city. By participating in a private cooking class, you can learn about these cultures and their impact on LA’s food scene while mastering the art of cooking their signature dishes.
Not only will you learn from a renowned chef who has made a name for themselves in the city, but you will also get to experience cooking in a professional kitchen. You’ll learn techniques and skills that will stay with you for life and can impress your friends and family with your newfound culinary abilities. You’ll get hands-on experience with ingredients you may never have worked with before and leave with a greater appreciation for the time and effort of creating a delicious meal.
Exploration and Adventure
Exploring the hidden tunnels and speakeasies of downtown Los Angeles is a unique and exciting way to experience the city’s history and culture. In the early 20th century, LA’s downtown area was a hotbed of bootlegging and speakeasies during Prohibition, and the underground tunnels that were used to transport alcohol and people between buildings are still there today. By exploring these hidden tunnels and speakeasies, you can get a glimpse into a bygone era and experience the history and intrigue of LA’s underground world.
These tours are typically led by knowledgeable guides who will take you through the hidden passageways and secret rooms of some of the city’s most famous buildings, such as the Bradbury Building and the Alexandria Hotel. You’ll learn about the history of Prohibition and its impact on the city, as well as the stories of the bootleggers, gangsters, and celebrities who frequented the speakeasies during this era. You may even get to sample some of the cocktails that were popular during this time, such as the classic Old Fashioned or the Sidecar.