Planning a trip to the City of Angels? You already know it’s going to be a sun-filled, fun-filled time! But before you begin booking hotels or creating your packing list, the first thing you should consider is your itinerary.
Figuring out what to do on your 3 days in Los Angeles can be daunting, especially when you are faced with a large city and many ways to spend your time. Because there’s so much to do in this massive city, this makes it so that there are truly an unlimited number of ways to spend 3 days in Los Angeles, CA.
That’s why I put together this guide to help you effortlessly plan out your perfect 3-day itinerary in Los Angeles, CA!
Regardless of if you are a first-time tourist in Los Angeles or are you a seasoned visitor of the City of Angels looking for new things to do this time around, this post is going to help both types of travelers.
During the 6 years I lived in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time exploring the nooks and crannies of the city after my day job ended.
I explored the city solo on weekends, delivered food, drove for Lyft, walked a few dogs here and there for Wag!, and through all these side hustles that took me all over the city, discovered the many sides of LA.
I discovered a lot of fun local spots, bars, restaurants, and activities over the course of 6 whole years. And today, I’m sharing some of my favorite activities with you!
So without further ado, let’s get right into planning out your perfect 3 days in Los Angeles, CA!
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Los Angeles, California: Overview
The city of Los Angeles is one of the most populated cities in the United States. It has a population of over 4 million people and covers an area of about 1,100 square miles.
The city is located along the Pacific Ocean coast and is bordered by Malibu to the west, San Diego to the south, Riverside County to the east, and Orange County to the southeast.
The city is divided into five geographic regions: Downtown LA, Westside/Central LA, Eastside, South Bay, and North Valley.
There are also several neighborhoods within each region–and each of these neighborhoods has its own personality, quirks, and charms.
What is Los Angeles, CA known for?
First and foremost, Los Angeles is probably best known for its movies. That’s right, a lot of people from out of state equate this city to the glamorous, Hollywood lifestyle that’s often seen on TV. But LA is so much more than that!
In addition to the entertainment industry, Los Angeles is known for its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, cultural diversity, world-class museums, art galleries, and a dining scene that is hard to beat.
Los Angeles is home to many famous landmarks such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Sign, Dolby Theater, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Walt Disney Concert Hall, University of California Los Angeles, Getty Center, Santa Monica Pier, Griffith Observatory, Dodger Stadium, Rose Bowl, Greek Theatre, and much more!
If you’re not familiar with a few of the landmarks listed above, don’t worry, we’ll dive more in-depth later in this post.
LA is a sprawling city, which can be both its greatest advantage and disadvantage. It has so much to offer that it can be overwhelming to research in the beginning. But we’re here to help with all of that!
The Best Time To Visit Los Angeles, CA
Because of the steadily warm weather that LA gets, LA is truly a year-round destination. If you’re looking for sunny weather perfect for brunching outdoors and exploring the neighborhoods, then there’s really no bad time to visit LA!
Having said that, if I had to choose the best time to visit LA, I’d pick during the Spring or the Fall, when temperatures are a lot less brutally hot compared to the summertime.
If you’re not afraid of the heat or your main objective is to spend time at the beach, then you’ll enjoy visiting LA during the summer months because you’ll get nothing but sun, sun, and more sun!
Summer temperatures average around the mid-80s, but hot stifling days in the 90s are pretty common, especially in more inland areas.
NOTE: The weather does tend to vary quite a bit in LA depending on where you are. The weather on the coast (Venice, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, etc.) could easily be 15-20°F cooler than the weather more inland (such as in Downtown Los Angeles, Northeast Los Angeles, or the valley). Pack layers just in case!
On the flip side, during the winter months, the temperatures are much cooler, averaging around 60 to 70 degrees. This actually makes walking around outdoors a lot more bearable than compared to the summertime.
Fall in Los Angeles is a short season that lasts from October to November. The days are still sunny and pleasantly warm. Don’t be shocked if you end up in LA during fall and experience temperatures in the mid-70s (it usually stays pretty warm until winter hits).
Just like the fall, the spring in Los Angeles is also short-lived. From April to mid-June, the climate gradually heats up with average high temperatures between 68 and 75°F. Once May rolls around, you can expect it to feel like summer with many days in the mid-80s.
How To Get Around Los Angeles, CA
Although the Metro system is relatively easy to use, a car is the most convenient way to explore Los Angeles and its surrounding areas.
Driving a car is going to be your best bet for exploring LA.
The city of LA is really big, and the public transportation isn’t as built out or convenient as other metropolitan cities like San Francisco, New York, Paris, or Tokyo.
Fortunately, car rentals are relatively cheap in Los Angeles and all major car rental companies are easily accessible at the LAX airport.
Need to rent a car? If you are the type to compare prices between rental car companies, use Priceline’s rental car search! Not only does the tool allow you to compare rental car prices across the major rental car companies, but most of the time you can book with no prepayment and no cancellation fees.
While I do think all travelers should opt to get around by car if possible, I did want to mention that driving in LA is by no means a walk in the park.
You’ll have to have patience on the road and carefully adhere to parking signs, which can often be confusing and overwhelming to read (there can be so many of them on just one post).
One thing to keep in mind is that LA traffic is HORRIBLE. That is right, do not underestimate what I am saying–I will repeat it. LA traffic is horrible.
If Google Maps tells you it’ll take 15 minutes to get somewhere, I’d double the number of minutes, just to be safe.
I am not trying to scare you, or discourage driving, but rather I’m trying to mentally prepare you for what’s to come. The LA traffic is one of the main reasons why I left LA and moved elsewhere in California–so don’t underestimate it.
To make the most of your time, I’d recommend strategically spending each day in a specific area to minimize travel time. Not only will this save you time on the road, but it will also save you from being stressed while on vacation!
As a local, I find that it’s usually more convenient to drive wherever I need to go, unless I am going to a part of town where parking is notoriously bad (Downtown LA, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Crypto.com Arena, Koreatown).
In these cases, it may make more sense to travel by train or by rideshare (Uber/Lyft).
The LA Metro is inexpensive, user-friendly, and provides service for most of Los Angeles County including some of L.A.’s best attractions. The public transit system consists of Metro Buses, DASH Buses, and Metro Rail Trains.
To use the Metro, purchase a TAP card at any Metro station from a TAP vending machine. You can load a preset cash value onto the card and travel across all three systems as needed.
Here are the most important lines you’ll want to take note of:
- The Red Line is probably going to be the most useful for tourists and visitors looking to explore Hollywood and DTLA. This line links the Union Station in DTLA (downtown LA), to Los Feliz, to Hollywood, and to Universal City (home of Universal Studios).
- The Purple Line links Downtown LA to Koreatown
- The Gold Line goes through smaller neighborhoods like Chinatown, Highland Park, and Little Tokyo.
- The Expo Line links USC and Exposition Park with Culver City, Santa Monica, and Downtown LA.
Ok, so what if you take the train, but it doesn’t drop you off exactly in front of where you need to go? After hopping off the Metro train, it may just be easier and faster to call a ride via a rideshare app than to hop onto a bus to complete the final leg of where you need to go.
By Rideshare (Lyft/Uber)
Uber and Lyft are super popular in Los Angeles. In fact, this is typically how we locals like to get around when we need to get to very busy areas like downtown LA, Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Koreatown and don’t want to be bothered with finding parking (which can sometimes be impossible during dinner time).
Ubers and Lyfts are relatively cheap in LA, so if you are traveling in a larger group that doesn’t mind splitting the cost of a ride, I would recommend choosing this option from time to time.
Plus, cars are always readily available, even in the wee hours of the morning. You will very rarely need to wait more than 5-8 minutes for a ride.
Examples of when taking an Uber/Lyft would make more sense than driving:
- You want to eat Korean BBQ in K-Town
- You have dinner reservations in Downtown LA
- You want to have a beach day at the Santa Monica Beach during prime time
- You plan on catching a game, show, or concert at Crypto.com Arena, Hollywood Bowl, or Dodger Stadium
- You plan on spending the day at Universal Studios and want to avoid paying for parking
Please remember, Los Angeles traffic can get really gnarly during rush hour so do give yourself some extra travel time when planning to get to and from attractions.
And sadly, “rush hour” in LA is basically any time from 12pm to 8pm.
Alright, so now that we’ve gotten some of the logistics out of the way, let’s get into planning out your 3 days in Los Angeles!
3 Days In Los Angeles: Your Perfect Itinerary Overview
Below, I’ve provided you with an itinerary for your 3 days in Los Angeles. This itinerary will allow you to see the major highlights as well as to explore a good portion of LA’s more hidden gems and neighborhoods!
I’d recommend reading through the itinerary as well as the additional activities listed in the following section.
You can either follow the itinerary exactly as is, or you can mix-and-match the activities from the two sections to customize your itinerary based on what you found to be interesting and worth your time!
Day 1: Hollywood and Downtown Area
Your first day in LA will begin in the most touristy part of the city, Hollywood. You’ll see a few of the most popular highlights as well as get in some physical activity!
Hollywood Sign Hike
The Hollywood Sign is one of the most iconic views in all of Los Angeles and is definitely something that you will want to get as close to as possible. The good news is that it is possible to hike up to the Hollywood Sign and it’s also completely free!
You have many options of seeing the Hollywood Sign on a hike. Choose between the Mt Hollywood Trail, the Brush Canyon Trail, or the Cahuenga Peak Trail (listed in order of difficulty).
The Cahuenga Peak Trail is my personal favorite because it grants you the opportunity to pay a visit to the Wisdom Tree. Do note that this one is the steepest out of the three options (but still very doable), and will take you to the back of the Hollywood sign, which gives you a very unique perspective of the sign.
Don’t want to deal with the logistics of figuring out how to get there? Take a hike to the Hollywood Sign with a guide.
Cost: Free; a guided tour is included with the Go City Los Angeles Pass
Alternative Hike: Runyon Canyon Hike
There are several hiking trails throughout LA, but Runyon Canyon remains the most popular one, which is located right next to Hollywood and attracts people of all ages to do day hikes and cardio workouts. Runyon Canyon is great because it’s free, dog friendly, and very popular.
This hike is one of my favorites in Los Angeles when I am looking for a more social, lighthearted hike. This hiking trail is perfect if you are looking for a scenic run or a light workout while getting in some people-watching! Because of how popular this hike is among celebs, you might even see an actor or singer on a walk with their dog.
It’s a relatively easy loop hike that’s about 2.7 miles long in total. The best time for this hike is during the spring/fall months when you can enjoy the 360-degree views from the summit without being beaten down by the heat, or during sunrise/sunset when you have cool temperatures and a nice breeze that follows you around.
Walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Next up is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This area features stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and 3 blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood.
This is a great place to see some of the stars who were once part of Hollywood history. Some of these include Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson. There are over 3,000 stars located on this stretch of sidewalk.
If you don’t know where to start, just head towards the TCL Chinese Theatre–most of the notable names are located between the 6800 and 6900 block of Hollywood Boulevard, which is in front of the theater.
Alternative Activities: If you’d rather not hike while on vacation, consider doing one of the following activities in the Hollywood area instead…
- Take a behind-the-scenes Hollywood tour
- Explore four floors of movie magic and Hollywood history at The Hollywood Museum
- Hop on an open-top bus and go on a Hollywood Sightseeing and Celebrity Homes Tour
Visit the TCL Chinese Theatre
This is another famous Hollywood landmark that has been around since 1927. It was originally built as a tribute to the Chinese community, but now anyone can go inside and buy a ticket to watch movies.
You can even take a tour of the theater if you’re interested in learning more about Hollywood and this iconic landmark’s history. Tours are offered daily (with the exception of special event days). Because of this attraction’s popularity, it’s best to reserve your spot online in advance.
Cost: Free to check out, unless you opt for the VIP tour
Tour the Dolby Theater
Home of the Academy Awards, the Dolby Theater is one of the world’s largest theaters, holding almost 4,000 people. This theater offers a 30-minute guided tour that includes a visit to the theater, VIP room, and Oscar history.
When you enter the theater, you will first notice the humongous screen on the wall. What’s super cool about this theater was that it was designed to look like a spaceship. You’ll also find seats that resemble pods that surround the audience.
If you’re a fan of movies and all things cinematics, this is a tour you can’t miss.
Cost: $19-25 per person; included with the Go City Los Angeles Pass
Catch the sunset at the Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory is famous for its great sunset views. It offers unbeatable views of the city and surrounding areas. Each month, the Observatory even offers a sunset hike led by a Park Ranger and a Museum Guide.
While you’re here, take advantage of the free guided tours or check out the self-guided exhibits inside the observatory–you can learn so much about space in there! Their daily programs can be found here.
You can even go for another stroll in nature at the massive Griffith Park.
In the evenings, the conditions are usually great for stargazing, so it can get pretty packed. Free telescope viewings are also available each evening the Observatory is open and when the skies are clear.
Dinner in Downtown LA
With all the exploring that you’ve done today, I’m sure you’ve worked up an appetite. Next up, head to Downtown LA for some of the best restaurants the city has to offer. You have a lot of options here, but a few of our top recommendations include:
- Bestia – iconic upscale fine dining
- Perch – whimsical French-inspired rooftop bistro with DTLA views
- Maccheroni Republic – fresh pasta handmade on a daily basis
- PASTA e PASTA by Allegro – in Little Tokyo, signature dishes include Uni Pasta and Beef Ragu Spaghetti
- KazuNori – features a 22-seat bar serving freshly-made hand rolls
- Philippe the Original – super casual spot where it’s all about the French Dip
Bar hopping / rooftop bars in Downtown LA
You can’t end your first night in LA without getting in some nightlife! In Downtown LA, you can either go bar hopping, go dancing at one of the many clubs or visit one of the city’s iconic rooftop bars.
Some bars to check out include:
- Library Bar – bar with cool library vibes
- Seven Grand – whiskey bar
- Wolf and Crane Bar – known for Japanese whiskey and other great cocktails
- EightyTwo – arcade bar
- The Queensberry – speakeasy/cocktail bar with disco balls and dancefloor
And if you’re looking for the quintessential LA rooftop bar experience, check out one of the following:
- Broken Shaker
- Upstairs at Ace Hotel
Pro Tip: On any given weekend there are at least one or two themed dance parties going on, ranging from 2000’s hip hop nights, Daft Punk parties, emo nights, electronic pop nights, and much more. Not to mention, lots of artists and DJs perform here! Google special events happening on your trip dates and see what pops up!
Coming from out of state? You may want to consider this tour: Los Angeles: Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Beach Grand Tour
Day 2: Northeast LA / Central LA
Day 2 in LA will be focused on the northeast and central portions of the city–this includes neighborhoods like Silver Lake, Echo Park, Los Feliz, Fairfax, and La Brea.
Grab breakfast burritos at Wake and Late
I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of breakfast burritos by any means, but Wake and Late has made such a lasting impression on me! I’ve had their burritos on at least three separate occasions and has become my go-to spot when friends/family ask me for food recs in Downtown LA!
Who knew a small window could serve up such bangin’ breakfast burritos! Eat them fresh so you can enjoy the crisp of the tater tots in the burrito. And don’t forget to get their deliciously spicy sauce on the side…
Explore the Arts District
The Arts District is one of the hottest, artsiest neighborhoods in the DTLA area.
Originally a very industrial area with nothing more than railroads and manufacturing businesses, the Arts District is now flourishing with independent businesses, trendy restaurants, and lively breweries.
You can get coffee at Blue Bottle, grab one of the many delicious pastries baked in-house at Bread Lounge, grab a pint of beer at Angel City Brewery, shop at the Poketo art store, browse art and homeware at Alchemy Works, and much more.
If you’re ready for cocktails at this time of day–or if you’d rather come back later in the day–do not miss Villains Tavern (a steampunk-themed bar) or EightyTwo (a super-fun arcade bar).
Explore Little Tokyo
Little Tokyo Los Angeles is a place that offers the visitor a piece of nihonmachi (community) and the chance to seek, taste, and purchase all things Japanese!
Little Tokyo is not only one of three remaining Japantowns in the USA (the other 2 are in San Jose, CA and San Francisco, CA), but it is also the largest too.
Little Tokyo Los Angeles is home to historic places, museums, local Japanese businesses, contemporary cafes, and many great restaurants. It’s the perfect destination for anything from a quick slurp of noodles at lunch to sipping on a warm cup of green tea while enjoying a post-dinner stroll in the evening.
Highlights include the Japanese American National Museum, the largest museum in the United States dedicated to the Japanese American experience, and the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, featuring over 7,000 pieces of artwork.
Looking to refuel? Consider grabbing a Kyoto-style (slow-drip) iced coffee from Demitasse or a chewy mochi treat at Fugetsu-Do!
Personally, we love visiting and supporting the local businesses in our Japantowns to ensure that the businesses (and even the neighborhood) survive the rapid changes taking place in these metropolitan cities.
Cost: Geffen Contemporary at MOCA – $10-18 | Japanese American National Museum: $7-16 per person
Have lunch at Grand Central Market
After you get your fill of street art and hip shops, head to Grand Central Market food hall for lunch.
Grand Central Market has been a downtown LA staple since 1917, bringing together the many cuisines and cultures of Los Angeles all under one roof!
Do try to come early to snag seats because this spot does get pretty packed during usual dining hours. You’ll have to order food from the establishments, then find your own seats.
If you don’t know where to start because the sheer number of restaurant options overwhelms you, then go with Sticky Rice, Tacos Tumbras a Tomas, or the extremely popular Eggslut.
Whatever you do, do NOT miss the chance to follow up your meal with McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams (Hint: get the cookies and cream flavor–it’ll change your tastebud’s life.)
Explore Silver Lake
Now that you’re belly has been fed, it’s time to do more walking, exploring, mural-hunting, and shopping! Enter–Silver Lake, CA!
Silver Lake (alongside Echo Park) is easily known as one of the most hipster neighborhoods in LA. While it’s not talked about very often by other blogs or travel sites out there, we locals know how fun and cool this area is.
Its creative vibe and unique landscape have turned it into one of the most sought-after destinations for residents and tourists alike. Take a walk down Sunset Blvd, where you’ll find tons of restaurants, bars, shops, and cafes on nearly every block.
And when you’re not shopping for vintage clothes, perusing the home decor shops, or rejuvenating at one of the many cocktail bars, you can pose by the many murals on the street corners here.
Silver Lake is such a fun place to explore on foot–and there will always be a special place in my heart for Silver Lake, as this is where I lived for 2 out of my 6 years in LA!
Visit the Echo Park neighborhood
If you have more time in your day, make your way down to the neighboring neighborhood of Echo Park, which is equally as hip but slightly more grungy.
Popular attractions here include Echo Park Lake (you can rent pedal boats here), the Bob Baker Marionette Theater (a totally fun and quirky activity), the Echo Park Time Travel Mart (another must-visit for those of you who love kitschy attractions), and one of my all-time favorite music and events venue, Echoplex!
If you’ve worked up an appetite, Silver Lake and Echo Park are some great neighborhoods to grab a bite to eat! Some of my favorite restaurants in Northeast LA are:
- Pine and Crane
- Mohawk Bend
- The Semi-Tropic
- Masa of Echo Park
- Silver Lake Ramen
- The Win-Dow Silver Lake
For mid-day drinks, don’t miss the following:
- Tiki-Ti Cocktail Lounge
- Bar Flores
- Button Mash Arcade Bar
Up next is strolling around two of the hippest streets of all of LA.
Melrose Ave is great for tons of women’s fashion shopping, great cafes, and Instagramable walls. A lot of the popular wall murals you see on Instagram can be found on Melrose Avenue–and there’s even a Melrose Instagram Tour!
If you happen to be in the area on a Sunday, don’t miss the Melrose Trading Post, a curated market where you can find one-of-a-kind goods, open every Sunday at Fairfax High School.
If you’re interested in trendy men’s fashion, other lifestyle goods, and more restaurants, head to Fairfax Ave.
This is where you’ll find shops like 2nd STREET – Melrose, Supreme, Round Two, OVO, Flight Club, Golf Wang, RIPNDIP, BAIT, AAPE, The Cool, Wasteland, and Stussy.
Window shop / stroll along Rodeo Drive
If you still have the energy to walk around at this point, head to the ritzier part of town to get a sense of the Beverly Hills vibes! Your next stop: Rodeo Drive.
Rodeo Drive is a major luxury shopping district in the heart of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. In addition to being a major retail area, Rodeo Drive is home to numerous high-end department stores, restaurants, and boutiques.
For those of you looking for the less outrageously expensive stores, head to the neighboring street of Beverly Drive, where you’ll find the likes of Lululemon, & Other Stories, INTERMIX, Sephora, and more.
Even if you don’t like shopping, it’s still worth driving through to visit this famous street, ogle at all the fancy cars, and potentially spotting a celeb.
Beyond shopping for luxury fashion, Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills also offer great opportunities to see some art. Travelers and locals on a budget can still appreciate the art at the galleries! Simply toss ‘art gallery’ into your maps app and see what comes up.
Chances are you won’t be buying much here, but it’s still fun to walk around and see how the other side lives!
Cost: Free to visit and window shop
Pick out dinner at The Farmers Market L.A.
Sitting south of West Hollywood is one of LA’s most beloved landmarks: The Original Farmers Market. A beloved destination among locals and tourists since 1934, LA’s world famous Original Farmers Market features over 100 gourmet grocers and restaurants–all at your fingertips!
This is one of my favorite spots to go for dinner when I’m in the Central LA area with a group of people who all want to eat something a little different.
Check out their full list of merchants, vendors, restaurants and dessert shops here, or just show up and allow it all to be a surprise to you.
The Original Farmers Market is right next to The Grove, meaning you can pop on over before/after enjoying the lively atmosphere (and maybe even doing a little bit of shopping)!
Alternatively, you can have dinner anywhere else in LA you choose.
Feeling more like Korean BBQ for dinner? How about some of the best all-you-can-eat KBBQ in the USA? Get in line for Hae Jang Chon in Koreatown, my favorite KBBQ joint in all of LA!
Visit the LACMA’s Urban Light Exhibit
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the largest public art museum in the western United States and attracts nearly 1 million visitors annually.
The LACMA is home to the very popular “Urban Light” exhibit, which can be found at the entrance of the museum. This set of lamps has been featured in countless movies, making it one of the top sights in Los Angeles!
While seeing the Urban Light exhibit is free, you’ll have to pay to visit the actual museum. Tickets must be purchased ahead of time on their website.
Day 3: Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice
The last day of your itinerary is all about beaches, boardwalks, scenic drives, coastline, and breathtaking coastal views!
Spend the morning in Malibu
From Los Angeles, driving to Malibu will take you about 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on traffic. Don’t fall asleep on this ride, because the views are absolutely incredible as you make your way up the Pacific Coast Highway!
If you’d like to spend an hour or two at the beach, I recommend Zuma Beach, a massive and clean beach spanning 1.8 miles of the Pacific coastline. There is tons of parking here and it’s also a great place to take kids when the waves are calm.
If you’re visiting in the winter, Zuma is also a great place to watch grey whales make their winter migration.
Cost: Free, but there may be parking fees
El Matador Beach
Just 12 minutes east of Malibu Seafood is El Matador Beach, a photographer and Instagram favorite. This beach has such unique and beautiful views, plus a really cool rock cave to explore!
El Matador has a parking lot on the bluff with picnic tables that look out over the Pacific Ocean. This is a great spot to soak in the views and have a picnic breakfast!
A trail will descend through the bluff–from there, take the stairs the rest of the way to the beach. Don’t forget to pack a beach blanket!
Cost: Parking in lot is $8, but free parking is available on PCH
After making the scenic drive back down Highway 1 from Malibu, I recommend you spend a few hours in Santa Monica!
There is so much you can do in Santa Monica. You can choose to go shopping at the 3rd Street Promenade, hang out at the beach, stroll along the boardwalk at the Santa Monica Pier and ride some rides, or rent bikes and ride along the popular bike path next to the beach.
Other things to do in Santa Monica include:
- Take a sunset jog along the pedestrian path next to the beach
- Shelling out money for 1-2 premium, must-try donuts at Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee
- Catch a nighttime comedy show at Westside Comedy Theater
- If you’ve arrived on a weekend, head to Main Street in the morning for the local Farmer’s Market. If you’re here at night, watch Main Street transform into a lively bar-hopping hotspot.
Explore the Venice neighborhood
Just South of Santa Monica is one of Los Angeles’s most popular and eclectic places–Venice Beach. Stroll along the grungy Venice Beach Boardwalk and the refined Abbott Kinney neighborhood, both of which are LA hotspots.
At Venice, you’ll encounter all kinds of street performers, skateboarders, rollerskaters, and joggers doing what they do best!
On Abbott Kinney, you’ll witness influencer-type travelers and locals dressed to the nines in their best brunch/vacationing clothing. This is a great spot to grab an afternoon pick-me-up drink (coffee or cocktail) and browse independent boutiques and other lifestyle shops.
Have dinner on the West Side
Most likely, it’ll be nighttime by the time you’ve gotten down to this part of the itinerary. We recommend grabbing dinner somewhere on the Westside to avoid having to drive long distances in LA rush hour traffic.
Some of my favorite restaurants on the west side of LA include:
- Milo and Olive (Santa Monica, CA)
- Pizzana (Brentwood, CA)
- The Brixton (Santa Monica, CA)
- Pasta Sisters (Culver City, CA)
- Manchego (Santa Monica, CA)
- Rutt’s Hawaiian (Mar Vista, CA)
- Rasselbock L.A. Kitchen & Beer Garden (Mar Vista, CA)
- Shunji Japanese Cuisine (Santa Monica, CA)
Have More Time? Additional Things To Do In LA
- Spend a day at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park (ogle at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and ride The Mummy ride a million times)
- Take a behind-the-scenes Hollywood tour
- Take the interactive 3-hour Warner Brother’s Studio Tour in Burbank, CA (perfect for movie buffs and fans of Friends!)
- Explore four floors of movie magic and Hollywood history at The Hollywood Museum
- Enjoy more shopping, restaurants, and cute cafes on La Brea Ave (between Beverly and 2nd)
- Pay your respects and learn something new at the Holocaust Museum LA
- Visit the permanent home for the history of moviemaking that’s finally open, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
- Eat a very French brunch at République Café Bakery & République Restaurant
- Explore the bright and colorful Museum of Dream Space in Beverly Hills
- Go on a 2-hour wine safari tour with Malibu Wine Safari
- Spend hours strolling through picturesque gardens at Huntington Library Gardens in San Marino, CA
- Catch a comedy show at one of my favorite comedy club venues, The Comedy & Magic Club
- Explore the shops in Hermosa Beach along Pier Avenue and Hermosa Avenue
- Explore the shops in Manhattan Beach along Manhattan Ave and Manhattan Beach Blvd.
- Go standup paddleboarding in the Redondo Beach Marina–the water here is so much cleaner than in Marina Del Rey.
- Go to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA
- Road trip to Palm Springs, CA or Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Consider The Go City Los Angeles Pass
On my last trip to Los Angeles, I used Go City’s Los Angeles All-Inclusive Pass. This easy-to-use mobile attraction pass really helped us see a lot of LA in a really short amount of time, and it helped us save a ton of money!
The Go City Los Angeles Pass is a digital attraction pass that provides easy access and admission to some of LA’s most popular museums and excursions. With certain excursions, you’re even able to skip the line, saving you both money and time.
There are two types of passes–the All-Inclusive Pass and the Explorer Pass.
The Go City All-Inclusive Pass is really great for travelers who want to see as much as possible while they’re in LA. With the All-Inclusive Pass, you can choose between a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7-day pass that will grant you free admission to 35+ parks, museums, and attractions throughout LA and even other parts of Southern California.
Prices start at $99 for the All-Inclusive Pass and you can visit literally as many attractions as you can fit into each day!
The pass includes admission to the following heavy-hitters:
- 1-Day Universal Studios Hollywood (Retail: $144)
- Knott’s Berry Farm (Retail: $99)
- Six Flags Magic Mountain (Retail: $92)
- Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus 1-Day Classic Tour (Retail: $52)
- Hollywood Sign Tour (Retail: $55)
- Dolby Theatre® Guided Tour (Retail: $25)
- Guided Celebrity Bike Tour (Retail: $75)
- Whale Watch in Long Beach (Retail: $50)
- Downtown LA Food and Culture Tour (Retail: $35)
And even some awesome attractions in the San Diego area:
- San Diego Zoo (Retail: $67)
- LEGOLAND California (Retail: $111)
If you don’t plan on visiting a ton of different attractions, Go City also has an Explorer Pass which will still save you a lot of money. With the Explorer Pass, you’ll pay one flat fee for a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7-choice pass.
You’ll then have 60 days to use the Explorer Pass on whichever attractions you’d like. There is also no need to pick attractions ahead of time, so you’ll have the flexibility to choose attractions as you go.
Passes start at $89 for 2 choices. But get this–the more activity choices you buy, the cheaper the overall cost per activity. A 7-choice pass costs just a little over $160. That comes out to just $23 per activity!
You can buy the pass online here.
Where to Stay in Los Angeles, CA
I’ve noticed that when I type in “Los Angeles” in various hotel search sites, they often show hotels in Downtown LA first. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the atmosphere of Downtown LA, so I’m going to be providing a few other neighborhood recommendations.
If the main objective of your LA trip is to explore museums, eat at popular restaurants, or go to rooftop bars, then sure–Downtown LA could be right for you.
However, I like the ambiance in the following neighborhoods more: Santa Monica, Venice / Culver City, and Northeast LA.
There’s just more parking, more space, and less noise overall. Here are some of the most hip places to stay in each of the neighborhoods above.
Santa Monica / Westwood
Venice / Culver City
- Luxury Boutique Hotel Option: Palihotel Westwood Village
- Mid-priced Hotel Option: Mayumi
- Design Bed and Breakfast: Venice Beach House
Hollywood / Northeast LA
- Luxury Hotel Option: The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles L.A. Live
- Design Hotel Option: The Hoxton, Downtown LA
- Design Hotel Option: Hotel Figueroa, Unbound Collection by Hyatt
3 Days In Los Angeles: Your Essential Packing List
- Comfortable walking shoes | You’re going to be doing a lot walking in LA, so bring comfortable walking shoes. My all-time favorite travel shoes these days are the tried and true Ecco Soft 7‘s (they’re stylish, comfortable, and have been raved about for decades since they were first created)! Lucky for us, they have them for both men and women.
- Smartphone UV Sanitizer and Charger | Our phones gather all the grime and bacteria we touch throughout the day, and then they are stored in warm, dark places like purses and pockets, which make for great breeding grounds for bacteria to grow. They are the third hand we never wash, but should! Using a UV sanitizer such as PhoneSoap on a regular basis will help keep germs and illness at bay.
- First Aid Kit | It’s always good to carry a first aid kit around with you when traveling. Road trips make it easier to do this since all you need to do is toss it in the trunk!
- Hiking Boots | If you plan on hiking, bring well broken-in hiking boots or trail running shoes with good ankle support and good traction.
- Puffy Jacket | If you’re traveling in the fall or winter, or even spending time on the coast during summer, you’re going to need layers. You have a lot of options here, but I personally have the North Face Thermoball, and it’s kept me warm throughout my many years of adventuring!
- Travel Daypack | I’m a huge fan of the Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpack. It’s stylish and has ample room for all the snacks and water you’ll need, as well as for your camera and the safety essentials for a hike or just a regular day out.
- Travel Towel | These are light and quick-drying, which is exactly what you need when you’re hopping from the water back to land, or simply need to dry your feet off. This one here is a great option for all these use cases!
- Sunhat | Sun protection is key for any destination, anytime.
- Sunscreen | Sunscreen is absolutely necessary. Even if it’s overcast or cloudy, the UV index can be very high, so be sure to apply whenever you’re outdoors. No matter where we go, we like a coral reef-safe brand, as traditional sunscreens contain chemicals that damage our environment. For the face, we are absolutely obsessed with the magical Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen.
- Hand Sanitizer | Hand sanitizer gel or wipes are a must any time you’re going to be in contact with surfaces many other people have touched. Never leave your hotel room without it! And if you do happen to forget it, remember to wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face.
- Body Wipes / Feminine Wipes | Feeling a bit gross after a hike or bike ride but don’t have the time to shower right in that instant? Just whip out one of these body wipes for a quick refresher. The feminine wipes I like are infused with cucumber and aloe. Trust me, you will feel and smell so much better. Always good to have a few handy in your travel bag.
- Portable Power Bank | You’re probably going to be out all day, snapping away taking pictures… the last thing you want is to be driving along with no phone battery! A portable power bank is a must-have, and Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many travelers! I never embark on a day of exploration without it.
- Soft Hydration Flask | Stay hydrated throughout the day with a water bottle that can go anywhere with you—and fold up when not in use. I love the packability of these bottles!
- Emergen-C packets or Liquid I.V. Hydration Packets | These are a great way to support your immune system and overall health on a trip. They are light, take up no space, and are very easy to pack!
And that concludes this post! We hope that this 3 days in LA itinerary has inspired you to try something new! If you have any questions about the destinations or have your own travel tips to share, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below.