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When you’re looking for an adventure, it’s not hard to find where to start: California is the place to be, with sunshine, beaches, and street art galore… but that’s just the beginning. Picture it: the people, the weather, the whole atmosphere of the state—wouldn’t you say it has a certain “je ne sais quoi?” A vibe, if you will?
If you agree, you’re on track to starting your next journey. So, hop aboard! From California’s size to its accommodations, you’ll have entertainment out of the wazoo, no matter what you’re looking for—so, what is it that you’re looking for?
Even if you’re unsure, don’t worry; we’ve assembled an exciting itinerary for your ultimate weekend in the Los Angeles area. By the time you’re finished reading, your upcoming trip will be chock full of fun, food vendors, souvenir shops, unforgettable contemporary art, and some.
After all, they don’t say “California dreamin'” for nothing!
Whether you’ve been before, have always wanted to visit, or want to make some memories, spend a long weekend in Los Angeles with us. The City of Angels is waiting for you!
- Day-by-Day Los Angeles Itinerary
- Day One: Hollywood Mayhem
- Hollywood Walk of Fame
- Griffith Park
- Brush Canyon Trail
- Santa Monica State Beach
- Day Two: Amusement Park Daydreams
- Disneyland California
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- Day Three: Visit Rodeo Drive & Historic Beverly Hills
- Rodeo Drive
- Optional Tour: Bikes and Hikes LA
- The Getty Center
- Day Four: Spend the Day in Downtown LA
- El Pueblo
- Grand Central Market
- Walt Disney Concert Hall
- Day Five: Best of Both Beaches
- El Matador State Beach
- Manhattan Beach
- Hermosa Beach
- Budgeting For Your Los Angeles Itinerary
- More Activities to Fluff Up Your Trip
- Off the Beaten Path: Go Hiking
- Play a Round of Golf
- Outdoor Tours in Los Angeles
- Free Things to Do in Los Angeles
- Drive the Pacific Coast Highway
- Sunset Strip
- Visit Echo Park
- Live TV Tapings
- Follow Paparazzi
- Family-Friendly Activities in Los Angeles
- Step Inside the Walt Disney Archives
- Arts, Crafts, and Story Time
- The Aquarium of the Pacific
- Local Cultural Events
- Little Tokyo
- California African American Museum
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I explore Los Angeles on a budget?
- What are some popular day-trip destinations from Los Angeles?
- What are some hidden gems in Los Angeles that I shouldn’t miss?
- Can you recommend a 5-day Los Angeles itinerary?
- Best things to do in Los Angeles: The Getty, Griffith Observatory, Griffith Park, the Hollywood Sign, Staples Center, Warner Bros. Studio Tour
- Must-visit attractions in the Los Angeles area: Griffith Park, the Hollywood Sign, Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier
- How many days should I spend in Los Angeles?: It depends on what you’re looking for, but five days to a week will allow you to see all the sights, and then some!
- When is the best time to visit Los Angeles?: Shoulder Season (September-January) and Awards Season (January-March)
- Navigating LA public transportation: Ride the Metro rail for $1.75 a trip, or buy a day pass for $7; conversely, ride the Metro bus for the same price. With approximately 2,308 buses, 13,978 stops, and 1,479 square miles of service area, you’ll easily explore LA.
- Areas to stay in Los Angeles: Hollywood, West Hollywood (WeHo, famous for nightlife), Beverly Hills (famous for luxury), Downtown LA
- Famous Hollywood attractions: Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Sign, Bel Air
- Family-friendly activities in Los Angeles: Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland
- Free things to do in Los Angeles: Visit Echo Park, the Sunset Strip, Hollywood Boulevard
Day-by-Day Los Angeles Itinerary
When planning your trip, you have to break down your preferences. Let’s say you’re spending five days in California; where will that bring you by day five? What are your must-see spots, your favorite beaches, and your dream tours? We’ve got it outlined for you right here.
With a five-day itinerary, you can hit the following stops (in whichever order you please). The sample itinerary below provides the insight you’re looking for, with tips to help you make the most of each day. We put together ideas prioritizing sightseeing and additional experiences in this loose plan.
For more in-depth plans, read on!
|1||Hollywood, Santa Monica, and more||Walk of Fame, Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, Santa Monica Pier|
|2||Disneyland and Universal Studios||Amusement park activities|
|3||Beverly Hills||Rodeo Drive, Beverly Gardens Park, Greystone Mansion, Getty Center|
|4||Downtown LA||El Pueblo, Grand Central Market, Walt Disney Concert Hall|
|5||LA Beaches||Venice Beach Boardwalk, Muscle Beach, bike ride on the beach, shop at Third Street Promenade|
Day One: Hollywood Mayhem
On your first day, you can visit Hollywood Boulevard—otherwise known as the Walk of Fame. Stroll the strip, take photos with your favorite stars (and if celebrities are there, too, all the better!), and stop at kitschy little shops to get your fill of silver screen souvenirs.
Next, you’ll want to stop by Griffith Observatory and/or the Griffith Park Zoo. This ride might take you somewhat off the beaten path, but the views are worth it. After you explore to your heart’s content, you can swing by the Hollywood Sign for a picture. Check that one off the bucket list!
Finally, our favorite way to wrap up day one in Los Angeles is a quick trip to downtown Santa Monica. Get some ice cream on the pier and watch the sunset over the water.
Does all that sound good? If so, your day will look a little like this:
Hollywood Walk of Fame
A classic California must-see, the Hollywood Walk of Fame should be at the top of your Los Angeles itinerary. Whether you’re big on celebrity culture or not, this boulevard promises something that many travelers can enjoy: A walk through history.
Take a stroll through the stars and look for any you might recognize. With nearly 3,000 memorialized in stone, you’ll have your pick of the litter!
There’s more to find here than you might think! Free festivals, summer camps for young artists, and other family-friendly events are just the beginning. It all depends on what you’re looking for!
You can visit the Griffith Observatory to get in touch with the stars, swing by the Zoo for a little wild urbanism, and more, all on the city’s outskirts. View this calendar for any additional information.
Brush Canyon Trail
One of the most popular California hikes, Brush Canyon promises a spectacular trek. Known for its breathtaking views of the city along the way, at the end of the thousand-foot elevation gain, you find a treat even more enticing: a perfect position, sequestered just behind the world-famous Hollywood Sign.
Brush Canyon possesses a variety of environments, from brushland to dusty, sandy trails. With steep terrain and a whopping six and a half miles to walk, it’s well-known for its difficulty… so if you’re headed out there, bring some reliable shoes, and don’t forget water!
Still, despite the hike’s difficulty, the rewards offered—no, earned— by the end are well worth the pain. What’s that they say? “No pain, no gain?” This rings especially true when you’re cresting the uppermost part of the trail, looking out over the mountains for the first time; your thighs may hurt, but look at that view!
The Brush Canyon hiking trail is part of the historic Griffith Park and is widely used among locals and tourists alike. Along the way, look out for Cooper’s hawks soaring high above the peaks, and stop to smell the wildflowers, rife with honeybees dusting pollen. On the way to the top, this trail also offers a fun side attraction: Adam West’s Bat Cave, home of the world-famous Batmobile in the 1960s Batman TV Series.
Remember, hiking is exertion, especially in that Southern California heat. Be sure to bring lots of water, and give yourself plenty of time going up and down. Some of the areas gain significant elevation in a short period. Likewise, when the trail is less used in the morning, look for mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, and rattlesnakes.
Santa Monica State Beach
Whether you’ve been to California or not, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Santa Monica. The go-to of all beach cities, it’s popular with both tourists and locals for good reason: With a great view of the ocean, as well as the wildly whimsical Santa Monica Pier, this beach is the perfect pit stop for photographers—not to mention for children of all ages!
Genuine, carnival fun meets the ideal Instagram aesthetic with a Ferris wheel, roller coasters, game kiosks, and street food to cure that sweet tooth. Add in the three-mile shoreline, and you have the combination of an amusement park and a sandy beach that promises to provide for all your mini vacation’s needs.
Looking for a nice running or walking path? Santa Monica has it, besides surfing, swimming, paddle boarding, and other watersports. If you’re still curious, read our list of other amazing things to do in Santa Monica to make the most of your visit.
Since you’re already along the coast, you can also check out the surrounding activities; you’ll be happy to learn plenty of other great things to do in Venice Beach!
Day Two: Amusement Park Daydreams
Calling all amusement park lovers! This day is for you. Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland are next on the agenda, promising fantastical adventures. Get some snacks, ride some rides, and make it a voyage to remember!
Remember: If you plan on visiting the parks, they’ll require a boatload of energy. We recommend taking it on earlier in the trip so you’re not too tuckered out to enjoy them at the end.
Your second day will look something like this:
Amusement park fans can attest that nobody does quality quite like Disney—and even if its sister land is more recognizable, Disneyland California has a lot to show for itself. While you’re in LA, drive to Anaheim; it’s one of the best places to visit in Southern California, regardless of your age.
Like Disney World, Disneyland is practically a lone fantastical continent. Rife with color, characters, and rides galore, you’ll have many activities to keep you going all day. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy exciting, California-exclusive rides, as well as its unique attractions, like Cars Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
On top of that, Disneyland boasts specialty parades, celebrations, and light shows. Top that off with some good ol’ carnival food, and you have a day to remember. Who could say no to that?
Universal Studios Hollywood
Often considered a more “grown” amusement park, Universal Studios showcases its impressive (and exclusive!) activities, bringing it on par with Disneyland. What are some of these activities, may you ask?
From the much-anticipated SUPER NINTENDO WORLD™ (broadcasting “A New Way to Play!”) to the evolution of Jurassic World’s rides, Universal Studios Hollywood delivers just what thrill seekers are looking for… an unforgettable adventure. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, you’ve found the right place.
What’s more, this park—and its adjacent parks—offers a series of VIP experiences to enhance your visit. Find out more about exclusive backlot access and additional theme park benefits when booking your Universal tickets!
Day Three: Visit Rodeo Drive & Historic Beverly Hills
Day three is a venture into fame and luxury—maybe even through Bikes and Hikes LA if you’re up for it. Today, you’ll stop at Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and The Getty.
While historic in their own right, these stops will bring you a little closer to that star shine that makes Los Angeles such an iconic city. On your third day, you’ll be heading out for the following activities:
What makes a famous road iconic? Rodeo Drive can answer that question. One of a few incredibly distinguished streets, it charms and sparkles for good reason; after all, with over one hundred distinct, brand-name shops, a litany of luxurious hotels, and endless rows of palm trees, Rodeo Drive is a crown jewel atop the crown of Beverly Hills.
You can take the historic boulevard in a rented car, on a walk, or a bike. This way, you can navigate Beverly Hills at your own pace and experience one of the most highly recommended tours in all of Los Angeles. Check it out:
Optional Tour: Bikes and Hikes LA
Even if you aren’t familiar with California, you might have heard of Bikes and Hikes LA, a world-renowned tour group. Signing up for an experience with them guarantees a great time and friendly, communicative staff. When you’re visiting Los Angeles, you might as well swing by, no?
Bikes and Hikes LA offers biking and hiking tours, corporate group adventures, as well as private tours all over the city. These include Hollywood bike tours, the famous hike to the Hollywood Sign, a celebrity bike tour, and guided nature walks along some of the best beaches in the vicinity.
If you opt for the celebrity bike tour, you can peruse Beverly Hills and the surrounding area, all while getting some cardio in. A great option for day three, right? It’s world-renowned for a reason!
See Related: Best Bike Rides in the World
The Getty Center
Ready to end the day with some art? The Getty Center has everything you’re looking for. Beautiful, twisting gardens meet modern architecture and medieval artwork in this incredible combination of tastes.
Open from 10 AM to 5:30 PM Tuesday through Friday and Sunday (until 8 PM on Saturdays!). You’ll have all the time in the world to wile away after a fastidious morning of biking and shopping.
Admission to the Getty Center is free, although it does require timed-entry reservations. Call them before you go, or visit their website to book online.
Day Four: Spend the Day in Downtown LA
Downtown Los Angeles is a good place to stay on your fourth day. Here, you can explore all the local pleasures, whether they be pop-up shops (there are plenty of those!), Grand Central Market, or even Walt Disney Concert Hall. Another idea: Swing by El Pueblo. You’re sure to enjoy it!
By day four, you’re already an expert. Naturally, your afternoon will look a little something like this:
Are you ready for a dose of history? El Pueblo is simultaneously the heart of and birthplace of this great city. Home to Olvera Street, countless museums, and food so delicious you’ll crave it for years after, El Pueblo is a must-see on your downtown LA day.
There are often special events and exhibits occurring in El Pueblo. If interested, explore the upcoming plans and schedule your afternoon accordingly.
Grand Central Market
Tearing up Los Angeles’s food scene since 1917, Grand Central Market is a must-do for foodies, traveler aficionados, and fans of all things fun. This market boasts a wide variety of vendors, showcasing just about any meal you can imagine. They’ll have it here whether you’re in the mood for Thai or tacos!
Alongside good food, Grand Central Market has a long, colorful history. Celebrating 100 years in 2017, this historic landmark seems to have almost always been part of downtown LA. As the city’s largest and oldest public market, that’s a well-earned title. So, what are you craving?
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Even after visiting Disneyland on your second day, there’s always room for a little more musical joy, right? We hope so because that’s what the Walt Disney Concert Hall provides. A unique architectural wonder, this building stands out in Downtown Los Angeles as a truly memorable spot.
Just a short walk from the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Broad, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is the fourth of the Music Center’s venues. Since its opening in 2003, it’s been designated as “one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world” (per the Music Center’s website).
Day Five: Best of Both Beaches
On your last day, relaxation is key. Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis that stretches along the coast. Naturally, that means getting some beach time in. What better way to spend your chill day than sleeping in the sun?
Drive by all the famous beaches in Los Angeles—or, walk them! Some are famously connected, so you can cruise down the strip with access to everything the coastline provides.
Your fifth day in LA (whew, say that five times fast!) will have these on the agenda:
El Matador State Beach
Who doesn’t love hitting the coast? The warm sand between your toes, the shining sunlight, and the ocean as far as your eye can… sea! (Get it?) If a beautiful view is what you’re after, El Matador State Beach should be at the top of your list.
Said to be one of the most picturesque beaches in California, this locale boasts ten-thousand-year-old rocks that litter the coast in a stunning, ancient array… and that’s only one of its many unique traits!
Before you go down to the sand, the parking lot hosts plentiful picnic tables and gorgeous views, even from your car. Peer down, and you’ll find it overlooks an incredible kelp forest, the deep blue sheen of the sea, and sometimes—if you’re lucky—the path of migrating whales.
Once you’ve had your fill of the scenery, it’s time to hit the water. A convenient set of stairs leads down the bluff, winding onto the sprawling beach. For the brave and experienced, there are secret sea caves that can be explored, although venturing through them is not recommended without the guidance of an expert.
Despite the rules regarding these caverns, El Matador State Beach remains a popular destination for beachgoers, wedding parties, and photographers.
See Related: Black Sand Beaches in the World
For those who favor warm, golden sands, the sprawling two-mile oceanfront of Manhattan Beach has just what you’re looking for. Boasting an impressive 115 acres, this seaside spot is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon, whether you’re out for some rays, reading, or just about anything else.
Sunbathing, swimming, and surfing are the biggest attractions here, and if you go, you’ll be sure to get your fill of all three. The north end, “El Porto,” is a popular surf spot; if you’re interested, you can easily sign up for a lesson! How cool would it be to tell your friends you learned to surf over your brief stay in beautiful LA?
Of course, if you’re looking to score some surf n’ turf—or possess the sudden urge to reel in your next dinner—you have options. A 900-foot pier at the end of Manhattan Beach Boulevard splits the beach in half, and on the pier itself, fishing is permitted year-round.
You don’t even have to think about walking far, as there are plenty of public parking spots (450, to be exact!) for your use.
Next on the list is an unforgettable spot—one of a three-beach trifecta that includes a handful of coastal stops in and around Los Angeles. These three—Redondo Beach, the aforementioned Manhattan Beach, and Hermosa Beach—are part of a huge, connected stretch that can a series of boulevards access along the Pacific Ocean. If you’re up for a walk, you can take to the streets and see all three in one day—but we’re here to talk about Hermosa, specifically.
This conveniently positioned locale offers tourists a little bit of everything. Located just 20 minutes south of Los Angeles International Airport, you can find everything here, from volleyball to watersports—if you’re ready to brave the Pacific Ocean. You can swim, go for a jog, or sit in the sun; it’s all the same to many beachgoers who spend their time hanging out, enjoying the spotless blue sky.
Hermosa Beach is a particularly special location because it also offers a daily farmer’s market. Likewise, it’s home to one of LA’s most well-renowned jazz clubs, The Lighthouse Café. If fresh food and good music are on your list, this is a must-see in town.
If you can swing it, try to fit in a walk on the Venice Beach boardwalk for some epic people-watching.
Budgeting For Your Los Angeles Itinerary
How do we budget now that you know how you’ll spend your trip? Here’s a tip: Look everything up ahead of time. You’ll know your trip’s total if you can understand what to expect from some of your tours.
Allot a certain amount of money for food, travel, and accommodations—then, take your itinerary and pepper in the various free activities in and around LA. If needed, you’ll have a full schedule with alternate plans. With these few facts in mind, you’ll never get bored!
More Activities to Fluff Up Your Trip
Of course, Los Angeles is a big city—there’s much more to do than what we’ve listed, and you have the freedom to decide if there are other things you’d rather do. If you have an extra day or even an extra hour, there are plenty of activities to take up your time.
For the sake of ease, we’ve added just a few more details to this Los Angeles guide. With this, you can decide: What best suits your vacation vibe?
Off the Beaten Path: Go Hiking
Are you all about outdoor adventure? Do you want to feel the earth crunch beneath your two feet as you hike a trail? If so, the next item on our list is right up your alley—or, well… your pathway.
Contrary to what one might expect from a sprawling metropolis, Los Angeles is a great place to explore hiking trails. Did you know you could hike up to the top and even further behind the world-famous Hollywood Sign?
Yeah, it’s true! From Brush Canyon to Runyon, you’ll find plenty of beautiful sites to accompany you while the western sun beats down from a bright blue sky in the heart of the Hollywood Hills.
See Related: Family Travel Insurance
Runyon Canyon Park
Next up on the list is Runyon Canyon, a famously expansive park home to several trails. When you’re walking through this area, you can pursue hikes of varying levels, from those suitable for novice hikers to more extreme, challenging treks. It’s up to you to choose where to begin!
The main trail, or East Trail, is an easy-going, meandering course; conversely, the less traveled West Trail is a more difficult hike. Despite the challenge, the latter leads to a nice overlook of the city, with only a moderate elevation gain. Which sounds more suitable to you?
It’s okay if neither of those trails catches your eye. You’ll still have plenty to see, as along the way, the paths (well-traveled and less traveled) provide beautiful views of the entire cityscape.
From this height, you’ll be stunned by the sheer size of Los Angeles. Put the big city in perspective and peer over it like a giant hovering high above.
Keep in mind: Water is a must, and so is appropriate footwear. However, as a side note, there’s also an off-leash dog park where dog and human friends can catch up!
Staying in the area?: Find all of the best deals on hotels in and around the surrounding LA area on Booking.com.
Trebek Open Space
Once you’re finished with your trek through Runyon Canyon Park, we’ve got another trail for you right around the corner. Head down the road to find a beautiful 62-acre open area donated by the late Alex Trebek.
You can pay your respects by enjoying this wonderful natural zone located smack dab in the Hollywood Hills. It’s easily accessible for humans and horses alike, not to mention peaceful—set yourself up for a brief reprieve from the city whenever you need it.
You’ll find a wide variety of fire roads throughout the open space. These are approximately a half mile each, and it’s common for hikers, mountain bikers, and furry friends of all kinds to walk and/or cruise these courses amidst the many weddings, picnics, and other events on the grounds.
Plenty of activities occur in the Trebek Open Space—a sunny day brings people from all over to enjoy this lovely area within the city.
Keep in mind: Some events on this land may be private—tread cautiously when exploring!
Play a Round of Golf
What else is there to do? Boy, do we have some fun in store! Some may not know this, but LA is a huge golf destination.
If you’re a golf fanatic, you’ll find this information might ring a bell. With some 300 days of sun per year, you can’t beat the conditions of a Los Angeles County golf course. Putt, putt, par (or something like that)!
Westchester Golf Course
Located just north of LAX, this beautiful 18-hole public golf course is friendly to novice and expert golfers. You can test your skill against others on the green or enjoy a leisurely round of nine before your flight leaves. With a casual feel, views of the Westside beaches and communities, and more, this lovely course offers an affordable challenge for all ages—all without sacrificing the quality of the turf.
But wait, there’s more! If you’re looking for more intensive study, you can find that here. There’s a driving range as well as daily instructors for your convenience. To make it even more fun, there’s nighttime play, too—don’t forget your glow-in-the-dark balls!
Heroes Golf Course
Next on the list is Heroes Golf Course—a stunning 9-hole, par-3 public course built for ease and entertainment. It’s a relaxing, welcoming facility that promises a variety of tee times and free play for veterans, making it a sanctuary for those in need.
Located near the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Campus, Heroes Golf Course is a resource that works in tandem with the local hospital to house homeless veterans in a connected wing. Since 2008, it’s been operated by the Bandini Foundation, which strives to make a difference in the lives of the many vets they service. Their ultimate goal, they say, is to assist veterans in therapy.
There are lessons available for the less-experienced golfer, and the turf is open to attendees of all kinds, so you can enjoy the beautiful Los Angeles weather and make connections while you do so. Tee times are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis, so be sure to get there early, if you’re pressed for time.
Los Feliz Golf Course
A par three, nine-hole course, Los Feliz is all about making your weekend a golf-friendly frenzy. This picturesque course is located in northern Los Angeles and offers fun for all skill levels. What’s special about Los Feliz, though? This golf course was featured in the movie Swingers, making it a unique attraction for locals, celebrities, tourists, and cinema fans.
According to reviews, this course demands accuracy; although it’s short enough to use for practice, you might find yourself putting your putting skills to the test. Work on your short game when you visit this hidden gem!
Outdoor Tours in Los Angeles
One of the great things about Los Angeles is that it always does its best to entertain. No matter where you are, there’s bound to be something to see—including the cars, bikes, and hikes around you!
I know, I know… You’re probably thinking, “What? I see cars (or bikes or hikes) everywhere. That’s nothing interesting.” Maybe in most cases, you’d be right—but in this situation, you can explore behind the wheel in a way foreign to you. Allow us to explain.
If you’re looking for something to fill the afternoon, consider the following tours. If they appeal to you, we’ll see you behind the wheel!
Elite Adventure Tours
Looking for a true luxury experience? If so, you’re in luck! Elite Adventure Tours made rolling around LA in style easier than ever. Here, you’ll have the ultimate VIP experience because that’s what they’re all about: This tour company offers exclusive behind-the-scenes looks at some of the most luxurious parts of Los Angeles.
Designer clothes? Check. Fancy restaurants? Double check. You don’t need to ask about the ride you’ll be picked up in—you’ll already be sitting in it, and it’s sure to be sleek! You can choose from several ways to travel around LA in style—land or sea! Want to arrive on a yacht? They can arrange that.
See Related: Best California Road Trips
ExperienceFirst’s Haunted Hollywood Walking Tour: True Crime and Creepy Tales
We’ve got a specially curated tour for all you true crime fans! For all that Los Angeles has a sunny, colorful history, it’s also had its moments in the dark. Delve into the drama that usually feels so disconnected from you—now, instead of listening from behind a screen, you’re walking the streets themselves. Spooky!
Learn more about the criminal history of LA, as well as its lesser-known paranormal past. Learn more here!
See Related: Best Weekend Getaways in the USA
Free Things to Do in Los Angeles
There’s more to the day in a city like LA than your average work grind. Locals know that entertainment comes in all shapes and sizes, whether you’re visiting exclusive pop-up coffee shops or doing a drive-by of the Chinese Theater… and sometimes, the sweetest, most memorable travel joys are free.
Whether you’re a budget traveler or just looking for something easy while visiting LA, these gratis activities are your friend. We’ve covered you from a short walk down Santa Monica Beach to a quick stop at the local farmers market.
Drive the Pacific Coast Highway
Picture this: A wide, open sky, a warm, perfect weekend. As you cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), you’ll see what all that “California dreamin'” was about. Known as one of the state’s most famous drives, the PCH will surely leave you speechless; this stretch of road wraps along the coastline, giving way to beautiful views and even better memories with friends and family.
With sun, sand, and a salty breeze, you’ll have everything you could ask for and more.
While you’re behind the wheel, we have another stop on your mini-road trip: The Sunset Strip. From its bright lights to classic LA traffic (there’s no escaping it), this world-famous 1.5-mile stretch of road is a great way to blow some free time. The people, music, food, and beautiful old architecture from the 1920s and 30s will catch your attention.
Explore all the sights in the huge city and maybe stop for a bite. There are many restaurants to try, including some just as famous as the road itself!
Visit Echo Park
Looking for a lakeside break? We’ve got just the spot. Another unique option to add to your LA itinerary is Echo Park, a beautifully diverse neighborhood northwest of Downtown Los Angeles. Known for small, trendy shops as well as its proximity to the local arts scene (from musicians to other creatives), visitors can swing by for a spell and let Echo Park work its magic.
What makes this stop one of our top places to visit? You’ll also find Swan Boats available for rent if you’re interested. Navigate the fountain in the lake’s center and peruse its signature lotus beds for an unforgettable experience.
Live TV Tapings
Looking for an experience you can only find in the City of Angels? If you’re lucky, you can sign up to be part of a live studio audience! The city has plenty of live tapings, including shows like Wheel of Fortune and American Idol. And guess what? You can be part of the audience. Tickets are free but required in advance to gain same-day entry.
Sometimes, having a good time doesn’t mean tracking down a singular, fun place. You can make an adventure out of just about anywhere! How, you ask? Start with this: Pop on your baseball cap, grab a fancy camera, and start your first scavenger hunt for a real celebrity in the Hollywood Hills.
Following the paparazzi is a unique LA experience. If you choose to do so, you might very well get the chance to see someone from the silver screen walking the street promenade. Remember, they’re all people, just like the rest of us; they need groceries too!
Family-Friendly Activities in Los Angeles
Are there kids tagging along for your weekend trip? If so, you’re in luck—we’ve got a comprehensive list of stops that will keep the kiddies entertained all day so that by the time you get back to your hotel room, they’re ready to sleep soundly. Check out these great options for family events!
Step Inside the Walt Disney Archives
In this amazing exhibit, you’ll have the opportunity to discover over 200 items of genuine Disney memorabilia, including art, props, costumes, and exclusive objects that are on display for the very first time.
If that’s not exciting enough, get this: the Archives operate in tandem with the Disney 100 Exhibition, which has recently gone on tour to celebrate a century of spell-binding stories, magic, and love. Kids of all ages will love this exhibition—and yes, we mean you, too!
Arts, Crafts, and Story Time
Some events are found in unlikely places. For example, the Los Angeles Public Library system can be a great resource for visiting parents to find something for a rowdy kid to do. The staff of each library offers a series of events for children year-round, including arts and crafts, storytime, and assorted science lessons for all ages. If you’re looking for something engaging, fun, and free, the library is the place to be.
The Aquarium of the Pacific
Does the summery weather leave you and your family in the mood for deep dives? The best place to go for a close look at the blue sea is the Aquarium of the Pacific, a stunning, elaborate museum that gets up close and personal with your favorite cold water animals.
Here, you can chat with team members, reach out to the animal care team, and learn the answers to your most pressing questions. For example, what’s it like to work with animals daily, and are sea otters as cuddly as they look? Get the inside scoop at the Sea Otter Habitat!
The Aquarium of the Pacific is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. Celebrate with them by exploring their new exhibits!
Local Cultural Events
Looking for a new perspective? You don’t even need to leave the state. California is rich in culture, and you can get in touch with the beliefs and experiences of others as you explore various cultural locations in Los Angeles.
One of only three Japantowns in the entirety of the United States, Little Tokyo in Los Angeles is the biggest. This historic district hosts the largest Japanese-American population in all of North America!
What makes Little Tokyo special? A district full of food, color, and art, Little Tokyo has previously hosted events that embody such; the Tuesday Night Project, focused on Asian-American creative expression, as well as Tuesday Night Café, a free public art and performance series, for instance.
California African American Museum
The California African American Museum (CAAM) is a great place to delve into the beauty and importance of Black history. At CAAM, they’re all about equal opportunity. Admission is free, so you can spend the day immersed in art, culture, and community.
Please note that as of this writing, CAAM is closed for upgrades until August 5th, except for special public programs. If you’d like to look before it reopens, the Helen Cammock: I Will Keep My Soul at Art + Practice exhibition is available in Leimert Park.
What do you think now that you know practically everything you can expect from your trip to Los Angeles? Are you going to spend most of it at an art museum, or will you explore the entertainment industry to your heart’s content? Whatever you decide is up to you, but be sure to make the most of your experience; we love LA, and LA loves having you.
When planning where to go, remember: There are plenty of ways to enjoy the California sunshine. Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, learn about LA’s rich culture and diversity, or enjoy an afternoon sunset on the beach. The world is your oyster.
Even if you can’t fit all your plans into a single weekend, that’s okay! Remember—you can always come back.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I explore Los Angeles on a budget?
There are a few ways to keep your bill down when you’re in LA, and it all depends on choosing your accommodations with care. Shop bargain hotels, explore hostels as an option (they’re worth it!), and consider staying in less popular areas of the city.
The same applies to food, drink, and even the time of year you visit. If you’re visiting in the off-season, you’ll find mild weather and lower costs because you’ve avoided the summer rush. Some ideas for places to eat include food trucks, local cafes, and more.
What are some popular day-trip destinations from Los Angeles?
Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve, the Vasquez Rocks, and Orange County are great day-trip destinations to further enhance your Los Angeles adventure!
Even in a city like LA, where there are plenty of cool things to do, there are still unique spots to be found. Naturally, this depends on your preference; still, there’s a variety to please and plenty of “diamonds in the rough,” so to speak! Some of these include the Old Zoo, the Sunken City, the Mosaic Tile House, the Museum of Neon Art, and the Mural Mile, cultivated by many local artists. Find more here!
Can you recommend a 5-day Los Angeles itinerary?
With a five-day itinerary, you can hit the following stops (in whichever order you please): Hollywood Boulevard (otherwise known as the Walk of Fame), Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Sign, and Santa Monica on day one; Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland on day two; Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and the Getty Center on day three; the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Downtown LA, and El Pueblo on day four; all the famous LA beaches on day five.
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- About the Author
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A bona fide expert in budget travel, Lana has been to 25 countries across four continents (although she hopes to round that up to seven soon!), as well as 29 U.S. states. She has a penchant for country hopping and proudly presents tips and tricks to help our readers do the same. Lana is currently based near Philadelphia, but spends a significant amount of time in Italy with family.
She’s fluent in three languages – English, Italian, and American Sign Language – and, through her studies, has been inducted into the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars and the Gamma Kappa Alpha Italian Language Society.