Day Tours and Guides

You can explore L.A. from many vantage points and even more topical angles. Not surprisingly, lots of guides include dollops of celebrity history and gossip. Most tours run year-round, and most require advance reservations.

Bus and Van Tours

Guideline Tours gives sightseeing tours all around L.A., including downtown, stars' homes, Universal Studios, and Hollywood. L.A. Tours and Sightseeing has several tours ($49-$109) by van and bus covering various parts of the city, including downtown, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. The company also operates tours to Disneyland, Universal Studios, Six Flags Magic Mountain, beaches, and stars' homes. Starline Tours of Hollywood ($18-$129) picks up passengers from area hotels and from Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, stars' homes, and Disneyland are some of the sights on this popular tour company's agenda.

Fees and Schedules

Guideline Tours (323/461–0156 or 800/604–8433.

L.A. Tours and Sightseeing (323/460–6490.

Starline Tours of Hollywood (323/463–3333 or 800/959–3131.

Helicopter Tours

If you want an aerial tour, lift off with Orbic Helicopters. It offers two 30-minute tours (a general L.A. tour and a scenic shoreline/Westside tour) and a 45-minute tour combining those itineraries. Orbic's been flying its two- and four-passenger helicopters for more than a dozen years, and the pilots each have 16 or more years of flying experience.

Flights cost $160 per person ($225 if you book two tours; custom tours are $280 per hour); reserve via credit card and cancel within 24 hours at no charge (no-shows pay full fare).

Fees and Schedules

Orbic Air (818/988–6532.

Scooter Tours

For an unusual perspective on L.A.'s attractions, you can take a tour of the city via the Segway, the electric scooter and "human transporter" that debuted on city sidewalks in 2003.

Tours are $89 per person, and there are six different areas or themes from which to choose, including the UCLA campus, Santa Monica, and downtown L.A. All tours begin with an instruction session, followed by a guided ride, totaling just over two hours.

Fees and Schedules

Segway Tours (310/358–5900.

Special-Interest Tours

With Architecture Tours L.A., you can zip all over the city in a 1960s Cadillac on a private tour with an architectural historian. Rates start at $68. Architours customizes walking and driving tours for architecture buffs; these can include interior visits with architects, artists, and designers. A three-hour driving tour is $85; a downtown walking tour is $35.

The city of Beverly Hills operates year-round trolley tours that are focused on art and architecture and local sights. They last 40 minutes and run from 11 am to 4 pm every Saturday. Tickets cost $10. Soak up the shimmer and glow of classic neon signs from an open double-decker bus on one of the Museum of Neon Art's tours; tours and cruises $55 (offered June through November).

The Next Stage also has an innovative take on the city; it takes people by foot, bus, van, train, and helicopter on its tours. Favorites (mostly in the $40-$70 range) include the Insomniac's Tour, a chocolate-covered L.A. tour, and a culinary tour. Take My Mother Please will arrange lively, thematic combination walking and driving tours; for instance, you could explore sights associated with Raymond Chandler's detective novels. Custom tours are also available. Rates start at $350 for up to three people for a half day.

Fees and Schedules

Architecture Tours L.A (323/464–7868.

City of Beverly Hills Trolley Tours (Dayton Way and Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, CA, 90210. 310/285–2500.

Neon Cruise (213/489–9918.

Take My Mother Please (323/737–2200.

Walking Tours

Red Line Tours offers daily one- and two-hour walking tours of Hollywood behind the scenes and historic and contemporary downtown Los Angeles. Tours, which cost $25, are led by a docent, and include live audio headsets to block out street noise.

The Los Angeles Conservancy's walking tours (each about 2½ hours long at a cost of $10 per person) chiefly cover the downtown area. The Historic Core tour showcases the city's art deco and beaux arts past.

Fees and Schedules

Los Angeles Conservancy (213/623–2489.

Red Line Tours (323/402–1074.