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Fun Things to Do in Burbank, California – The Media Capital of the World

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Looking for fun things to do in Burbank, CA? Grab your sunglasses and thank your adoring fans, because we’ve got a Burbank travel guide worth celebrating! Whether you’re supplementing your Los Angeles or Disneyland vacation, or you’re coming to California specifically to explore the Media Capital of the World, follow this list of activities for all ages in and near Burbank.

Mural in Downtown Burbank CA

Mural in Downtown Burbank (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

This story is brought to you in partnership with Visit Burbank. 

1. Embark on a Warner Bros. Studio Tour.

Burbank is home to hundreds of major film and television studios, including Walt Disney Studios, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Warner Bros. Studio. For an immersive look at sets and memorabilia from favorite shows and movies — be sure to book a Warner Bros. Studio Tour in advance.

Stars Hollow High, the Gilmore Girls High School

Stars Hollow High, the Gilmore Girls High School (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

A guide will drive your small tour group around the lot in an open-air vehicle, pointing sound stages where shows like Mom and Shameless are recorded. You’ll also see outdoor sets for movies like La La Land and tv shows like Gilmore Girls.

Jason Momoa's custom-made Aquaman costume at Warner Bros. Studio

Jason Momoa’s custom-made Aquaman costume (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Super hero fans will enjoy wandering through DC Universe: The Exhibit, where elaborate costumes are on display — like the one made for Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Meanwhile, Harry Potter enthusiasts will be pleased to see memorabilia, such as the wand and glasses of the Boy Who Lived. Then you’ll visit a whole room filled with Batmobiles. You can even turn on the Bat Signal!

One of many Batmobiles on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour

One of many Batmobiles on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

The tour concludes with photo ops in the Big Bang Theory apartment and hallway, as well as the permanent Friends set. You can also star in a Harry Potter green screen movie scene while riding aboard a broom or Hagrid’s motorbike. Your photos and movies are available for purchase, of course!

A separate Central Perk-themed café serves up lattés and baked goods as well. Stop by the gift shop to bring a little piece of Hollywood home with you (like my “smelly cat” Friends magnet)!

Friends set on Warner Bros. Tour

Posing with my daughter on the famous Central Perk set from “Friends” (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

2. Enjoy shows and rides at Universal Studios Hollywood.

If you like your movies and TV shows served with a side of amusement park rides and live shows, then Universal Studios Hollywood is an absolute must during your Burbank vacation. Not only is this attraction a full-fledged theme park, but also it is a real-life movie-producing studio.

Universal Studios Hollywood vacation

Universal Studios Hollywood (Photo credit: irisphoto11, Depositphotos.com)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the most alluring area of Universal Studios Hollywood for most visitors, super fans or not. Elaborately themed and amazingly accurate Hogwarts and Diagon Alley displays, shops and rides will amaze any Potterhead. Invest in a wand from Ollivanders to make magical displays come to life.

Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios Hollywood

Hogwarts Castle in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Photo credit: David Sprague, Universal Studios Hollywood)

Movie buffs will want to queue up for Universal’s famous Studio Tour. You’ll see actual sets from movies like Back to the FutureThe StingThe Great Outdoors, and Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

The Studio Tour is one of the star attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood

The Studio Tour is one of the star attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood (Photo credit: marcorubino, Depositphotos.com)

Look for live entertainment at Universal Studios Hollywood as well. The Special Effects Show divulges Hollywood secrets for creating the sounds, illusions, pyrotechnics and stunts in movies and TV programs. Another option, WaterWorld, is an intense show featuring jet ski stunts and a simulated sea plane crash. Meanwhile, Universal’s Animal Actors stars famous critters showcasing their tricks and animal antics.

Want to know more about this studio/theme park? Read our Universal Studios Hollywood tips!

Universal’s Animal Actors show

Universal’s Animal Actors show (Photo credit: Universal Studios Hollywood)

3. Watch a live television show taping.

When visiting the Media Capital of the World, of course you will want to view a live television taping. Plan ahead, though, because most shows require advance reservations. Typically, you can get tickets 30 days beforehand, with the most popular programs booking up on the first day of release. Conan and The Ellen DeGeneres Show both tape in front of live audiences at the Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank. See additional free TV ticket offerings in the Hollywood area at TVTix.com.

"Ellen" set at Warner Bros. Studio

“Ellen” set at Warner Bros. Studio (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

4. Gaze at the Hollywood Sign.

Located in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Hollywood Sign represents the California dream of success, fame and glamour. Burbank boasts some of the best views of the Hollywood Sign. Nearby Griffith Park is a great place to see this landmark. It can be viewed from several trails within the park but if sign sightings are really what you seek, drive to the top to take in the spectacular view near Griffith Observatory.

Even better, LA Horse Rentals offers horseback trail rides through Griffith Park to the Hollywood Sign. Talk about a memorable way to experience this world-renowned symbol of Tinseltown!

Hollywood sign

The iconic Hollywood Sign (Photo credit: logoboom, Depositphotos.com)

5. Visit the animals at the Los Angeles Zoo.

A visit to the Los Angeles Zoo makes an educational and entertaining addition to any Burbank getaway. The 133-acre non-profit zoo is home to 1,400 mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. In addition to residents like gorillas, koalas and lions — the zoo’s beautiful botanical gardens alone warrant a stop here. Animal shows and zookeeper talks add to the fun. Children will want to take a spin on their Conservation Carousel, too.

Giraffe at the Los Angeles Zoo

Giraffe at the Los Angeles Zoo (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

If visiting in winter, be sure to attend the dazzling nighttime LA Zoo Lights. So much more than a few strings of holiday lights — there are huge glowing animal displays, a walk-through Twinkle Tunnel, and even water/laser show. Zoo Lights typically runs from the end of November through early January. Tickets can be purchased in-person or in advance online.

LA Zoo Lights orangutan

One of a multitude of light displays at LA Zoo Lights (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

6. Get a guided tour of Walt Disney Studios.

Mickey Mouse was born at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. Now in its third location in the city, it’s the only major Hollywood studio that does not host regularly scheduled tours to the public. Disney super fans hankering for a tour should pony up some cash for a tour as a member of the D23 Fan Club or as a guest on the upscale Southern California Adventures by Disney tour.

Walt Disney Studios Burbank

Walt Disney Studios (Photo credit: Jean_Nelson, Depositphotos.com)

7. Play at Griffith Park, where Walt Disney dreamed up Disneyland.

Even without an official tour, you can get a glimpse of the sweet green space that inspired Walt Disney to build his first theme park. Griffith Park is where Disney brought his children to play on weekends when they were young. Legend has it, while sitting on a bench watching his girls spin in circles on the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, Disney decided to one day build a large-scale amusement center where the whole family could have fun. Built in 1926, the carousel is composed of 68 handmade horses that jump. You can still buy tickets for a pony ride today.

Kids will love playgrounds like Shane’s Inspiration in the center of the park near the Merry-Go-Round and the Neil Papiano Play Park. Griffith Parks is also home to 53 acres of hiking trails as well as the Griffith Observatory, the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, the Autry Museum of the American West, and the Los Angeles Zoo.

Griffith Park and the Griffith Observatory L.A. skyline view

Griffith Park and the Griffith Observatory with L.A. skyline view (Photo credit: sepavone, Depositphotos.com)

8. Explore downtown Burbank.

Downtown Burbank boasts 400 shops, restaurants and activities. It spans San Fernando Boulevard from the Burbank Town Center shopping mall to North America’s largest IKEA. Also worth exploring is Magnolia Park, a charming section of Burbank known for its boutique stores, vintage clothing shops, and plentiful coffee houses.

Downtown Burbank, California

Shopping opportunities aplenty in Downtown Burbank (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Downtown Burbank hosts special events throughout the year. During the holiday season (mid-December to early January), take a spin on The Rink Downtown Burbank near Burbank City Hall. This ice skating rink offers skates for rent or you can bring your own. Meanwhile, in May, the Downtown Burbank Arts Festival stretches across four blocks of the city with artwork, handicrafts, food booths and more. Take a look at additional Burbank events here.

Ice skating at The Rink Downtown Burbank

Ice skating at The Rink Downtown Burbank (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

9. Take a tour of celebrity homes.

Get a glimpse of the glamorous life during a celebrity homes tour of Burbank, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and beyond. An entertaining tour guide will point out such sites as celebrity hangouts, landmarks (like the Hollywood Sign and the TCL Chinese Theater), and extravagant properties owned by the rich and famous. Who knows? You might even spot your favorite movie star!

Beverly Hills

Tour celebrity homes near Burbank in Beverly Hills and beyond (Photo credit: duha127, Depositphotos.com)

10. Stop to smell the flowers at Descanso Gardens.

For a beautiful and peaceful place to stroll, head to the nearby Descanso Gardens. This 150-acre space features several themed botanical gardens, including a Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, Oak Forest, California Natives Garden and more. Kids will love the Enchanted Railroad, a 1/8th-scale replica of a diesel train that chugs through a section of the gardens.

Descanso Gardens near Burbank

Descanso Gardens near Burbank (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

11. Dine at the oldest remaining Bob’s Big Boy.

Stop by the oldest remaining Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank’s Media District for an Original Double-Deck Hamburger and a thick milkshake. Of course, you must pose next to the trademark chubby boy statue in his red-and-white checkered overalls. This restaurant was built in 1949 and has been designated as a Point of Historical Interest by the State of California. Every Friday night, Bob’s hosts a Classic Car Show.

Bob's Big Boy statue Burbank

Bob’s Big Boy statue (Photo credit: Junkyardsparkle – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45239539)

12. Attend a concert at the Starlight Bowl.

Summer is concert season at Burbank’s Starlight Bowl. The outdoor amphitheater can seat 5,000 people in backed chairs and on its grassy lawn. Cover bands and well-known artists like Kenny G and Air Supply perform here at a fraction of the cost of larger concert venues. Purchase snacks and drinks on-site, including wine and beer, or pack your own picnic basket. With lawn tickets, you’ll want to bring a blanket (or hotel towels) to sit on.

Concert at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank

Concert at the Starlight Bowl (Photo courtesy of Visit Burbank)

13. Horse around at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

Horse lovers will appreciate the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, located within Griffith Park. Polo matches as well as Western and English horse shows are held here throughout the year. The center also offers horseback riding lessons with professional trainers.

In conjunction with the Rose Bowl, the Tournament of Roses EquestFest is held here each January. It stars the graceful horses and talented riders that appear in the famous Rose Parade. They perform roping, dressage, jumps and other tricks in the center’s 3,500-seat Equidome.

Tournament of Roses EquestFest performers at Los Angeles Equestrian Center

Tournament of Roses EquestFest performers at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Why Visit Burbank

While Hollywood seems to get all the cinematic glory, Burbank is where the real movie and TV making takes place. During my recent mom-daughter trip to Burbank, I discovered a surprisingly unpretentious city filled with plenty to do. Plus, flights to Burbank are often cheaper and easier to manage than when flying into LAX. Whether you’re looking for a family vacation destination, a getaway with friends, or a spot for a romantic retreat — you’ll find all sorts of fun things to do in Burbank!

If you liked this story, then I bet you’ll love these other family-friendly California destinations and our list of the best beaches in California!

Wing mural at Universal CityWalk in Burbank

Finding our wings at Universal CityWalk in Burbank (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Keep this List of Things to Do in Burbank, CA

Be sure to save this guide to Burbank. Simply pin the graphic below to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Fun Things to Do in Burbank, CA

Which of these Burbank attractions and activities looks like the most fun to you? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: Thank you to Visit Burbank for sponsoring our recent trip to Burbank, California. I received monetary compensation related to this blog post. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments
  1. littlemisadvencha says

    all of these should be now part of my bucket list! all these are fun things to do. How I wish I can land my feet on that land someday. <3 wishful thinking!

  2. Burbank was not my radar of places to visit, but after reading your story and finding out there is so much to do and so much to see… well maybe I will try and fit it in on my upcomming travels to US 🙂

  3. Thanks for this list of fun things to do in Burbank. I always think of game shows when I think of this city so it’s nice to know there are other things to do.

  4. Jessica Collazo says

    I’m planing to go to California this next summer so thanks for the tips.

  5. Fantastic breakdown of Burbank. I haven’t been there in years. I think it has been at least a decade now. It looks like it hasn’t changed much. I have to admit, I kind of miss Southern California.

  6. Matt Taylor says

    Burbank is awesome! Universal Studios, of course, is amazing, but so many other cool things to do. Awesome list!

  7. If I ever went, I would want to tour old movie sets!

  8. I’ve been to CA twice and I loved it! I would love to explore more and visit Burbank one day.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      California really is an amazing state with so much to explore. When foreign followers ask me where in America they should visit if they only have a week, I recommend California because of the depth of variety in terms of big cities, nature play, theme parks and the movie/TV appeal of Burbank & Hollywood! I hope you can return to Cali & explore Burbank someday!

  9. Dreaming Loud says

    So many great things to do in Burbank..! I would definitely love to smell the flowers on Decanso garden. Looks like a really great place.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      I love visiting botanic gardens when traveling — so nice to get a nature break, especially when visiting a big metropolitan area!

  10. Subhashish Roy says

    There is so much to do. Just the ideal place to get lost in for a few days. Love to visit the Universal Studios.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Universal Studios Hollywood is such an interesting blend of a real movie studio mixed with theme park amusements!

  11. Ntensibe Edgar Michael says

    What??? Did you even have to mention it? A tour of the Warner Bros studios, is A MUST!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      LOL! I think I’d get in big trouble if I wrote a story about all of the wonderful things to do in Burbank and failed to mention Warner Bros. Studio! 🙂

  12. These are all going on my bucket list! I love Cali!

  13. Wow! So many fun things to do. OK, I’ve added to our travel wish list of places to visit.

  14. Love that Warner Bros Studio Tour!

  15. So many things to do! I need to plan another trip to Cali just so I can see Stars Hollow High School! I am such a huge Gilmore Girls fan.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      I had never seen Gilmore Girls so my daughter and I watched a couple of episodes, knowing we’d see lots of Gilmore Girls sets on our tour. I’m glad I did! It’s such a sweet show — I should download some episodes to watch on my flight tomorrow!

  16. Kevin Wagar says

    What an absolute riot of a place to go. I love watching the magic of movies come to life like that.

  17. A trip to California sure sounds interesting. The kids will love to tour the Warner Bros. Studio

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