Here’s your daily travel guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State. Each of these essential California adventures has been tried and tested by a Travel section staffer or contributor.
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Why: If the kids want rides and the adults want glimpses backstage, this is the only game in town. It's a theme park and studio tour in one place.
What: Universal Studios, which started offering tram tours in 1964, is now a tourist juggernaut that's nearly on Disneyland's scale, with millions of annual visitors and locations around the world. In 2016, L.A.'s Universal opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a combination of rides, shops and other attractions that includes Hogwarts Castle and Hogsmeade (though the Universal "Potter" park in Florida is bigger). Other attractions draw from "The Walking Dead," "Fast & Furious," "Despicable Me," "The Simpsons" and "King Kong 360 3D." The studio tour sites include the house from "Psycho" and the shark from "Jaws." Also, CityWalk with three blocks of restaurants, shops and theaters, is next door.
Where: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, 10 miles northwest of downtown L.A.
How much: One-day admission starts at $99-$116 (it's pricier in summer). In the off season, there are discounts for Californians. Parking costs $10-$40 per car.