Lights, camera, action! Home to some of the world’s most well-known film, fashion and music, Los Angeles is a destination that must be visited – even if just for a day. Whether you want to spend the day on one of Golden State’s beautiful beaches or roam around the city’s trendy and gentrified downtown, LA has it all. Los Angeles is your favorite curated Instagram feed come to life.
GUEST POST BY ANGELA STERLEY
BLOG: Destination Drifter
What’s the best time to visit Los Angeles?
Lucky for Angelenos and visitors alike, the weather is warm and sunny year-round. The summer months can become overly hot and crowded but autumn and spring create perfect temperatures and less of a tourist crowd. Winter rarely drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, so though it may not be ideal for lounging on the beach it is still comfortable weather for a day of sight-seeing. If you plan to make a stop at Downtown’s LA Live or stroll along the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, it is recommended to check the award ceremony scheduled to avoid attraction closures.
What’s good to know about Los Angeles?
Many main attractions such as the Walk of Fame and L.A. Live are not located within walking distance of each other. Los Angeles has a metro system between many of the main attractions and ride-share apps such as Uber and Lyft are commonly used throughout the city. Though Los Angeles was a city built for cars, it is still easy to get around without renting one. Don’t worry about the weather, there is an average of 284 sunny days of the year in the City of Angels so your stay will likely be under the warm California sun.
One Day in Los Angeles Itinerary
Top things to do in Los Angeles, California
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Los Angeles.
Start your morning at the end of Route 66 on the famous Santa Monica Pier. Take a stroll past the musicians and vendors or jump on the roller coaster in Pacific Park if you are feeling like a morning adrenaline rush. After taking in the coastal views head up to the Third Street Promenade for endless shopping or take a moment to take in the sunshine on the beach.
Rent a bike in Santa Monica and ride down the beach walk to Venice Beach. The boardwalk is lined with street performers, artists, restaurants, and shops. Venice is a haven for the artists of Southern California and attracts unique visitors from all around the world. A round-trip ride from Santa Monica with a walk down the Venice boardwalk will likely take approximately 2 hours.
After a morning on the coast, hop on the Metro Expo Line in Santa Monica to Downtown LA.
Grab lunch at one of the many incredible downtown restaurants or accompany your meal with a drink at The Upstairs Bar on the rooftop of the Ace Hotel or at Perch if you are searching for a trendy hang out with city views. Downtown’s food scene includes indulging favorites such as the Mexican-fusion restaurant B.S. Taqueria and french restaurant and bakery Bottega Louie.
Avoid the notorious Los Angeles traffic and ride the Metro Red Line to Hollywood Highland. This drops you off directly at the Walk of Fame and Hollywood Highland complex which boasts views of the Hollywood sign, downtown, and numerous shops, restaurants, and attractions.
West Hollywood/Beverly Hills
After getting your fix walking along the stars, take an Uber over to one (or all) of the iconic L.A. streets. Window-shop and spot Lamborghinis on Rodeo Drive, hunt through the vintage shops on Melrose, or throwback to the 1980’s rock scene on the Sunset Strip. But first, get your caffeine fix at the trendy cafe Alfred on Melrose. Eat among the stars and end your L.A. excursion dining in one of the many upscale West Hollywood restaurants.
Where to stay in Los Angeles?
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
1700 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, Los Angeles
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is a contemporary beachfront hotel Situated on the Pacific Ocean, offering dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean and beyond. The hotel features an on-site spa and a large oceanfront pool with a great lounge area.
LEVEL Furnished Living Suites Downtown Los Angeles
888 South Olive Street, Downtown Los Angeles
LEVEL Furnished Living Suites is a modern and stylish hotel located in Downtown Los Angeles, very close to Metro. It features fabulous facilities, well-appointed rooms, a heated outdoor pool, gym and even a basketball court.
HI Los Angeles – Santa Monica Hostel
1436 2nd Street, Santa Monica, Los Angeles
If you prefer a stay in a hostel, or just want to meet other fellow travelers, HI Los Angeles – Santa Monica Hostel is a great choice for your stay in Los Angeles. The hostel provides a bike rental and features facilities such as pool and lounge areas.
Day trips from Los Angeles
LA is definitely a city that has it all, but sometimes it’s good to simply get away from it a little and to spend your day in a less hectic place. Fortunately, there are plenty of options when you’re planning a day trip from Los Angeles, no matter how long you’re staying here. If you want to take a nice break, these are the places you really should visit.
Heading to Solvang means entering a completely different world. The town’s Danish origins are clearly visible on every corner – windmills, houses reminiscent of those in northern parts of Europe, things dedicated to Hans Christian Andersen… the lot! You should definitely stop by one of the many bakeries to try a Danish pastry or two, or check out the farms of ostrich and miniature horses on the town’s outskirts.
Ojai is the perfect place if you want to slow your lifestyle down a bit. Loads of olive and citrus trees are all around it, plus there are some really excellent places where you can grab something to eat. Its main street is home to many excellent antique shops, so if you’re into that kind of thing you’ll be strolling up and down for quite a while. The swimming holes in Sespe Creek are a great way to refresh yourself if the weather is good, and they provide an excellent excuse to enjoy the serene nature of this place even more.
Just the trip to Santa Barbara will make your day before you even get to your destination because the route will take along the Pacific Coast and provide some incredible views. But that’s just the beginning of it! Beautiful houses and their surrounding gardens, loads of great shops, excellent food and above all incredible wine and wineries will make sure you always have something to experience. Don’t forget to check out the sandy beaches surrounding this place, either. This is paradise, in every sense of the word.
Want to combine beaches and museums? Then head to San Diego for a visit to its famous Balboa Park where exactly 17 different museums are located. Of course, like so many other places in California, this one also boasts beautiful beaches, but what is particularly nice that many of the things worth seeing are close to the train station. Therefore, if you go on your day trip from Los Angeles by train, you will skip the traffic and arrive at a great location in about two hours. Don’t forget to check out the incredible array of museum ships in the bay.
Extra tips for visiting Los Angeles
– Be aware that if you choose to take a photo with the movie characters walking around on Hollywood Blvd. they will expect you to pay them.
– Downtown LA is located next to Skid Row – which is one of the United State’s largest homeless populations. Though it is completely safe to walk around in downtown it is best to stay between Figueroa St. and Los Angeles St. to avoid ending up in a dangerous situation.
– Street vendors and food trucks are a great way to try great LA cuisine for cheap. Most are cash only – come prepared!
– Skip the sightseeing vans in Hollywood. There are so many things to do in Los Angeles and it is not worth it to spend hours driving near celebrity houses that are often not even placed accurately.
– If you want to blend in with the locals it is best to dress for the seasons. Though the city certainly does not require a winter coat, Angelenos will be wearing cold-weather clothing in autumn and winter no matter the temperature.
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Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Angela owns the travel and lifestyle blog Destination Drifter. Coming from a background in fashion she covers how to explore the world in style, location itineraries, and travel inspiration.