An Instagram friend (shout out to @arsalanxx) recently asked me for suggestions for things to do in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. He is visiting each city for the first-time, so I figured a Weekend Getaway post for things to do in Los Angeles (other cities to come) would be the most broadly applicable to his situation and readers of my blog. If you have anything to suggest, make sure to leave a comment!
WHERE TO STAY
Make sure to map out your must sees before booking a place to stay. It’s hard to recommend a best place to stay since it depends on what your itinerary is. Using something like Greenbook can help you map your destinations of choice and reveal a central location for a hotel. On my most recent trip to LA we stayed at the Andaz in West Hollywood and that felt like a relatively central spot to things we wanted to see. We were able to ditch our car for a handful of things within walking distance to our hotel. It’s also dripping in Hollywood history.
Unlike a traditional city layout, LA is comprised of neighborhoods that feel more like small cities. These small cities are connected by massive boulevards and mind-blowing freeways. The best way to maximize your time in the city is to plan your activities so that you visit sites that are located in the same general area. Los Angeles is known for its traffic and not in a good way. Driving 5 miles can sometimes eat up a good portion of your day, not a fun way to spend your limited time here. Rush hour tends to peak between 7am-10am and 3pm-7pm, but traffic at anytime of day is not unheard. Keep in mind: parking can be pricey.
LA does have a bus and subway system, but not many people use it. I can’t speak to the reliability of the system, but have heard good things from people that have used it. Would I rely on it for my time in LA? Maybe if I had a more than a couple days here, but opt for a car on my weekend trips. Driving is also the best way to see all the iconic and not so iconic sides of the city.
THINGS TO SEE
LA county has an obscene amount to see and do. I tried breaking down the list by area to help with prioritizing, but you’ll have to make some tough calls based on your time and preferences.
Santa Monica & Venice
- Santa Monica Pier – Find rollercoasters, a Ferris wheel and amusement park style food all over the Pacific Ocean
- Third Street Promenade – An outdoor shopping district blocks from the beach
- Venice Beach Boardwalk – An eclectic mix of people and shopping
- Venice Canals – A residential neighborhood surrounded by canals
- Abbot Kenney – Fashion Forward and unique shopping
- Walt Disney Concert Hall – Unique design and concert venue
- Los Angeles City Hall Observation Deck – 360 degree skyline view of LA
- LA Garment District – If you love fashion you must visit this district
- The Broad – Instagram is going crazy over the infinity mirrored room
- Olvera Street – Located in the oldest part of Downtown LA, where you can browse Mexican goods and eateries
- El Matador State Beach – Beautiful rock formations, a good stretch of beach, breathtaking ocean views
- Zuma Beach – Big, wide beach, big surf, lots of people
- The Getty Villa – Not to be mistaken with Getty Center, this is a recreation of an Italian Villa in the hills above Malibu, book tickets in advance
- Rodeo Drive – High-end, luxury fashion and goods
- Golden Triangle – If you are into super cars, find an outdoor cafe to watch countless fancy cars whiz by or continue your luxury goods shopping
- Beverly Gardens Park – Take a photo with the iconic Beverly Hills sign and walk among beatiful gardens
- Getty Center – A massive art museum perched in the hills with sweeping views of LA
- Hollywood Walk of Fame – Stars names on the sidewalk. I think this is skippable, but it’s very iconic to some people’s LA experience so I included it
- Chinese Theater – See above, this is where you find the foot and hand prints of the stars in concrete
- Hollywood Bowl – Outdoor concert venue
- Sunset Boulevard – Find many iconic LA spots along the strip
- Runyon Canyon – Hiking and walking trails, currently closed through July 31, 2016
- Griffith Park Observatory – Museum and sweeping views of LA
- LA Zoo – You might be able to catch a funny sign or two
- Hollywood sign – See it from a far at the Observatory or get up close at Canyon Lake Drive (Hollywood Resovoir)
Amusement Parks & Studios
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
I highly recommend stopping in at Huckleberry, which made the Eater LA breakfast list. For a nutrient rich smoothie check out Earthbar. For other breakfast options check out Yelp.
For an iconic SoCal fast food experience check out any of the In-N-Out locations. It think it’s OK, but some people can’t live without it. Order your burger animal style for some extra flavor. For a sit down option check out Eveleigh, the outdoor patio is a nice respite from West Hollywood. For more options check out Eater LA’s lunch list or Yelp.
Catch sunset over the ocean at Venice Beach’s High Rooftop Lounge in Hotel Erwin. Sip cocktails with hipsters as Mart and Elayne croon out Cole Porter hits at the Dresden Room. Gaze at twinkling city lights with mountains in the background at The Standard’s Rooftop bar. For other options check out Eater LA or Yelp.
If you take any of my advice on things to do in Los Angeles, comment below. I would love to hear how your trip turned out!
PLAN BETTER. TRAVEL MORE. LIVE ADVENTUROUSLY. GET ON THE LIST.
Subscribe to Headed Anywhere's newsletter to get exclusive travel tips, advice, and inspiration to help you make your travel dreams a reality!