A History Lover's Guide to Los Angeles

Historical Sites, Museums, and Architecture in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has a fascinating history, and there are plenty of places to learn about it. From museums to walking tours, there are plenty of ways to immerse yourself in the city's past. The various Los Angeles history museums are a great place to learn more about the city's past, too. LA is home to a number of famous museums, the Natural History Museum and the Autry Museum of the American West.

Museums in Los Angeles

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Boasting a huge collection that is second only to the Smithsonian, the Natural History Museum of LA Country will take you quite some time to explore every level. From dinosaurs to gems to animal skeletons to an outdoor natural area, kids and adults will love spending the day here learning about a variety of topics. Even the building itself is a bit of a masterpiece.
Adams Normandie Historic District, LA, California
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
This large art museum has a variety of exhibits inside and outside. Inside visitors will find a variety of modern and historical art by famous names such as Andy Warhol, Picasso, Cezanne, and more. The exterior artwork of the museum has become somewhat famous recently due to a very photographic sculpture, Chris Burden’s Urban Light, which brought old streetlights from around town back to life. This area of the museum is free, but admission is required for entry to the inside galleries.
5912 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile, LA, California, 90036
Interested in more travel advice for Los Angeles? Check out A Fashion-Lovers Guide To Los Angeles and A Nature Lover's Guide to Los Angeles.
Getty Center
Getty Center
This art museum, which has beautiful architecture and gorgeous gardens, is the home of a huge collection of art. The works are part of the J. Paul Getty Trust's collection which were formerly housed at the Getty House, but moved to this new location after its completion in 1997. The galleries are extensive, and visitors can peruse the impressionist paintings, works by French artists, an outdoor sculpture garden, and plenty more. Any art lover will feel right at home here. Admission is free, but parking is not.
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, California, 90049
The Nethercutt Collection
This collection of classic cars includes European and American automobiles from the 1890s to the 1990s. This is a diverse and impressive collection that is in pristine condition. Also at the museum is a collection of antiques including furniture and mechanical musical instruments.
15151 Bledsoe St, Sylmar, CA, 91342
The Hollywood Museum
Located in the historic Max Factor building, this amazing museum is one of the most visited in L.A. Visitors can see a variety of memorabilia, props, costumes, and other paraphernalia from their favorite movies and TV shows. The collection has more than 10,000 items such as Marilyn Monroe's famous dress to costumes from Star Trek, I love Lucy, Glee, and more. Part of the museum also includes makeup rooms where movies stars were prepped for their shows and films.
1660 Highland Avenue, Hollywood, LA, California, 90028
Museum of the American West
This museum, as the name implies, focuses on the history of the western United States. Their overall goal is to provide an inclusive view of this history, so many of the exhibits focus on Native Americans as well as minorities and their contributions to American history and culture. A large portion of the museum also focuses on the culture of cowboys and the idea of "the wild west" as a frontier which was tamed by explorers. Children and adults enjoy this museum, and it's located in Griffith Park. It's free on the 2nd Tuesday of every month.
Western Heritage Way, Griffith Park, LA, California, 91201
Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)
Highlighting works from Latin American artists, this well designed art museum features a large indoor space as well as an outdoor sculpture garden. The museum actually features a work from every single Latin American country in a variety of mediums and forms. Also check out the cafe while you're there, as well as the numerous events and temporary exhibits.
628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach, California, 90802
La Brea Tar Pits
Centered around pits that were bubbling up from an underground lake of oil, scientists discovered a number of fossils and animal remains here. Now it's a museum focusing on the fossils, bones, and the general topic of paleontology. Kids love it, adults enjoy it, and it's a terrific learning experience for everyone. The indoor section of the museum requires a ticket for admission, but the outdoor section of this museum is free, and is quite interesting to see.
Wilshire Boulevard, LA, California, 90036
Los Angeles has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: Los Angeles's Best Architectural Landmarks and The Best Shopping Districts and Markets in Los Angeles.
Japanese American National Museum
With a goal to preserve and showcase the culture and history of Japanese Americans, this museum is located near downtown L.A. in Little Tokyo. Many of the exhibits are dedicated to Japanese immigration, the internment during WW2, and various artwork from historical and current artists in the community. An admission is normally charged, but it's free on Thursdays.
369 East 1st Street, Little Tokyo, LA, California, 90013
Discovery Cube Los Angeles
The Discovery Cube LA is a kids museum focused on STEM activities, environmental sciences, and healthy lifestyles. There are a number of kids activities that include a grocery store with a scavenger hunt and a simulated helicopter ride through California.
11800 Foothill Blvd, Sylmar, CA, 91342
California African American Museum (CAAM)
The California African American Museum (CAAM), found in Exposition Park, has a focus on the history, heritage, and cultural of African Americans. Specifically, it covers topics related to African Americans in California and the western region of the United States. Visitors will find a variety of art exhibits as well as events for adults and children. Public educational programs, rotating exhibits, and concerts and film screenings are all part of this museum's programming.
600 State Drive, Adams Normandie Historic District, LA, California, 90037
Battleship Iowa Museum
This impressive battleship educates visitors on what daily life was like at sea for sailors. There is a self guided tour and a scavenger hunt for the kids. There is also a behind the scenes tour available for those who want to see the ship on a different level.
250 S Harbor Blvd, San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA, 90731
Barnsdall Art Park & Hollyhock House Photograph
This historic park serves as a public art gallery, architectural exhibit, and entertainment venue. It was donated by Aline Barnsdall and today it remains a unique cultural park that hosts cinema nights, wine tastings, and a number of other events that bring together young adults, couples, and families in one unique setting.
4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, CA, 90027
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
If you love the movies, this museum is just for you. Featuring exhibits that house a variety of props, costumes, clothing, and items from famous movies, visitors will get to peruse R2D2, the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, the only remaining shark from Jaws, and many more. Other exhibits focus on historical filmmakers, contributions from African American filmmakers, and technical and production exhibits that focus on how movies were made throughout history.
6067 Wilshire Blvd, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles, California, 90036
If you're looking for more information about Los Angeles, read A Fashion-Lovers Guide To Los Angeles and A Nature Lover's Guide to Los Angeles.
How much does it cost to visit the museums in Los Angeles?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $15 to $288. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $144. A few of the best options are below.

Historic Sites in Los Angeles

Walk of Fame
Walk of Fame
Located along Hollywood Blvd, the popular Walk of Fame is a series of stars embedded into the sidewalk with the names of famous people from the movie industry. Visitors can see more than 2,600 brass stars that honor movie and TV stars, producers, musicians, directors, and even fictional characters. With millions of visitors every year, this is a very popular attraction in Hollywood. The streets of the Walk of Fame are also lined with shops, restaurants, and other Hollywood tourist attractions.
Hollywood, LA, California, 90028
Little Tokyo Historic District
Located in downtown L.A., this is the largest official Japantown in the U.S. and was declared as a National Historic Landmark District in '95. It's commonly referred to as Little Tokyo, and offers plenty of activities. Visitors can go shopping or enjoy various Japanese restaurants. There are also a number of art galleries including the Union Center for the Arts which focuses on both visual and performance art. Also, don't miss the James Irvine Japanese Garden, the Kyoto Gardens on top of the Double Tree, the Japanese American National Museum, or the Koban Center. And go shopping at the Japanese Village Plaza and the Galleria.
LA, California, 90012
How much does it cost to visit the historic sites of Los Angeles?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $5 to $247. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $99. A few of the best options are below.

Religious Sites in Los Angeles

Monuments in Los Angeles

Hollywood Sign
Hollywood Sign
Located on Mount Lee, the famous Hollywood sign can be seen for miles around and has been a historical symbol of the town for decades. It's possible to hike or drive to the area above the sign, although no one is allowed to get too close - it is protected by fences. Some of the best views of the sign can be found at the Griffith Observatory, at the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Highland Ave, or from the Hollywood Bowl Overlook on Mulholland Drive. More details are on the website.
LA, California, 90068
Griffith Park
Griffith Park sits at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains and stretches for over 4,300 acres (1,740 ha). It's one of the largest urban parks in the country. While it's technically a city park, much of the land is fairly rugged and unkept. However, in this park visitors can find a variety of attractions and activities such as the LA Zoo, Griffith Observatory, the Autry Museum of the American West, the Bronson Caves, the Hollywood Sign, various train exhibits, golf, and more. Furthermore, hiking and horseback riding on the various trails are a popular activity where visitors and locals alike can get out into nature and enjoy the views overlooking the city below.
Mount Hollywood Drive, LA, California, 90068
How much does it cost to visit the monuments in Los Angeles?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $35 to $1,390. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $396. A few of the best options are below.

Art & Art History in Los Angeles

How much does it cost to see the artwork in Los Angeles?

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

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