Los Angeles is a big town, like really big. There’s a lot to see, and unless you really want to sit in LA’s infamous traffic as you go from place to place, a sightseeing tour is a must-do.
Since we had just one day in Los Angeles over the summer, we opted for a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus tour with StarLine Tours. It was an easy way to cover a lot of ground without wasting time hunting for parking and sitting at traffic lights. Plus, even if we had to sit in traffic, at least we could listen to the recorded narration about the sights on either side of the double-decker bus.
We had a 24-hour sightseeing pass, but if you plan to be in Los Angeles for several days, I’d opt for the 48-hour pass. The pass enables you to hop on any of four one- to two-hour narrated sightseeing loops, as well as the two connectors that link up select hotels (Hilton Universal, Sheraton Universal, as well as LAX hotels) with the StarLine bus routes.
Since we were staying overnight in nearby Santa Clarita, we started our tour of Los Angeles at the outdoor shopping plaza, Hollywood & Highland. The StarLine bus actually picked up in front of Dolby Theatre around the corner, but we wanted to stop at Starbucks for breakfast. I still can’t believe we nearly missed seeing the Hollywood sign (there’s a great viewpoint just steps away from the Starbucks!).
Once we got coffees and smoothies, we headed over to the Dolby Theatre to take a look at some of the stars along the Walk of Fame. Since it was a Saturday, it was very busy. There was a crush of tourists, as well as a variety of “entertainers” dressed up as Darth Vader, Mickey Mouse, etc. for photo opps, so we were more than eager to climb aboard when the red route bus arrived for our two-hour sightseeing loop.
We saw Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Chateau Marmont and the Rock Walk before we hopped off at The Grove for lunch. As a bonus, the Farmers Market is adjacent to The Grove, so we meandered around the market, even had photos taken with Minions at Dylan’s Candy Bar, before settling in for lunch. Since a new sightseeing bus comes every 20 minutes or so, it was easy to hop off and hop back on.
While the red route (the sightseeing line we picked) focused on Hollywood and Beverly Hills, there are three other routes, enabling you to see nearly all of Los Angeles. The other routes focus on Beverly Hills / Santa Monica (yellow route), Downtown Los Angeles (purple route) and Venice / Marina Del Rey (green route). It’s not possible to do them all in day, which is why I suggest taking a couple of days to explore.
If you plan to take the kids to Los Angeles, here are five quick sightseeing tips from me to you:
1. Take a Sightseeing Bus Tour. It’s an easy way to get around the city and you’ll be able to learn a bit about various attractions around town, too. Plus, it’s a great way to get your bearings before venturing off on your own around the city.
2. Opt for a 48-Hour Sightseeing Pass. StarLine Tours has a 48-hour sightseeing pass. Since Los Angeles is so big, I highly recommend going for the 48-hour option in order to see more of what you want to see. They also offer a 72-hour pass.
3. Plan Your Sightseeing Around Meals. We hopped on our sightseeing bus late-morning, so when we arrived at the stop for The Grove, about mid-way through the tour, it was lunchtime. That worked out perfectly since there was a lot to see at The Grove, as well as plenty of restaurants.
4. Bring Water & Sunscreen. The double-decker bus is open-air, and it is sunny Los Angeles, so you may get a bit warm on top of the bus (we did). So, bring along a few water bottles and make sure to slather on the sunscreen before you depart.
5. Get Off the Bus at Least Once or Twice. It can be tough for kids to sit for an entire two-hour bus ride, so check out the routes ahead of time and plan out where you want to stop. The La Brea Tar Pits (red route) and Chinatown (purple route) are great stops to get off the bus and walk around as a family.
If you are headed to Los Angeles and traveling on a budget you may enjoy these 20 free Things to Do With Kids in Los Angeles.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Discover Los Angeles and received free sightseeing passes with StarLine Tours. However, all opinions expressed in this article are my own.