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For first timers in Los Angeles, must-dos include all the starry-eyed action that Hollywood has to offer, but those who have been there and done that, might want to try some of these different ways to explore the city.

Get closer to the sign

Seeing the Hollywood sign from afar is one thing – it's quite another to see the letters up close. Hire a car (or catch a cab) or, slip on some walking shoes and spend a few leisurely hours around one of Los Angeles most famous icons. Saddle up at Sunset Ranch Hollywood which offers horse-riding tours to Mount Hollywood with 360 degree views of the city, the sign and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys beyond.

Star in your own movie

Being part of a live studio audience is always one of LA’s top budget options because it’s free and fun. On Camera Audiences offers free tickets to live shows on CBS, FOX, NBC and other major stations. Popular shows include American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and The Price is Right. 

Up in the air

For a truly exclusive experience in the City of Angels, take a helicopter tour with Orbic Air and soar over the coastal areas of Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Marina Del Rey, celebrating with a toast atop a mountain in Malibu or from the top of a building overlooking the city.

Hit the (other) beaches

Further up the coast from Venice Beach's perpetual carnival vibes, you'll find surf central: Malibu. The Malibu Celebrity Homes Tour is an interesting alternative if you’ve done the Hollywood version. Down the coast is Marina del Rey, Los Angeles upscale small-boat harbor, great for sailing or kayaking.

South of the city are Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo beaches. Los Angeles' southernmost beach city is the harbor town of San Pedro, home of the battleship, USS Iowa. Take the ferry from here to Catalina Island for a Mediterranean-style seaside village escape.

Secret spot for sunsets

The locals don’t talk about this for fear that the area will get too popular, but Santa Monica’s Palisades Park – one of the city’s oldest parks – is the place to go to enjoy magnificent sunsets and Pacific Ocean views. It’s a perfect place for a picnic or people-watching on a sunny Los Angeles day and adjoins Santa Monica beach.

Explore the Westside

Affluent and sophisticated, Westside is the cultural neighbourhood of the city, home to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Getty Center, two of the world’s great cultural institutions. Culver City is emerging and always changing. Walk its hip downtown or gallery district, then return the next day to find galleries and sidewalk cafes that weren’t there yesterday.

Go beyond the botox

Urban Adventure’s one-day city tour goes beyond the Botox of Beverly Hills into lesser-known cultural haunts, where you can sample local foodie favourites including a 1960s-style diner and the world’s first cupcake shop. Alternatively, they will custom-design a tour just for you.

Try stargazing (literally)

Los Angeles has more stars than any other city, but none can rival those seen through the telescopes of the Griffith Observatory and the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, the Observatory is also one of the best vantage points for observing the world-famous Hollywood Sign.