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2 days in Los Angeles – the perfect itinerary


Los Angeles is one of the most famous destinations in the United States and even the world. It attracts millions of tourists year-round. For me, Los Angeles was my home for several years. In this article, you’ll find the perfect way to spend 2 days in Los Angeles, including local tips and lesser-known attractions. 


Los Angeles goes by many names: LA, City of Angels, La-La Land, Tinseltown – the list goes on.

LA is most known for being the entertainment capital of the world, with millions of tourists and aspiring actors flocking to Hollywood. While it may be the mecca for the film industry and celebrity sightings, Los Angeles is known for much more than it. 

LA is home to stunning beaches, theme parks (hello Disneyland), star-studded boulevards, picturesque nature, and renowned cuisine

With all that variety, it’s no surprise that Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in the US. Each neighborhood is a place of its own.

Here you can enjoy the glamorous, fast-paced city life, endless arts & culture, or laid-back beach living. 

Snowy mountains as a los angles background
Los Angeles background

If you’re planning a trip to LA, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With so much to see and do, it can be hard to know where to start. As a former LA resident, I’m here to help. 

In this article, you’ll find the perfect itinerary for two days in Los Angeles. I’ve included activities for a range of budgets, and interests.

While the tourist track offers many worthwhile LA highlights, I’ve also included lesser-known activities for a well-rounded and unforgettable trip

How to get around in Los Angeles and from the Airport 

While there are several ways to get around LA, the only way that counts is by car. As the song says, nobody walks in LA. Renting a car is your best bet for enjoying the city. It can take at least an hour to get across town, depending on rush hour. 

You can easily get a rental car at LAX. Most car rentals offer free shuttles from the airport straight to their rental lots, a few miles away.

I recommend booking your rental car online in advance, especially if you have a specific budget or model in mind. 

Alternatively, you can take an Uber or Lyft easily throughout the city. This is definitely not cost-effective, however, especially if you plan to explore different parts of the city. A typical 3-mile ride will cost you $25-$30 USD, outside of surge times. 

Lastly, you can take public transportation. LA has a bus and metro system but I would not recommend it if you only have two days in LA. It’s very confusing and you’ll spend the majority of your time trying to navigate it.  

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Los Angeles 2 day itinerary – Day 1: Soak Up the City Life on the East Side

Los Angeles Sunset Boulevard - 2 days los angeles  itinerary
Sunset Boulevard

Use your first day in LA, while your energy is high, to explore the top attractions of the Eastside.

Most of the activities below can be done at any time, in any order. I’ve organized them geographically and included my favorite thing to do each.

I made sure to include all my favorite activities, perfect for both solo travelers and groups

Enjoy the DTLA Arts District

China town LA

My favorite part of Downtown LA is the arts district. Here you’ll find cool street art, galleries, and an ample amount of breweries. It’s a great place to drink, walk around, and admire the surroundings. 

Be sure to visit the Arts District Co-Op for awesome local shopping including vintage and artisan goods. 

Shop throughout the historic center

Los Angeles Historic center

Downtown LA is known for its historic architecture (don’t miss the Bradbury Building) and also numerous iconic landmarks. It’s also world-famous for its shopping. Stop at the Last Bookstore, one of the most unique bookstores I’ve ever been to. 

Then head to the fashion district. Check out Santee Alley and the Row for a truly unique and fantastic shopping experience. 

Eat your way through Little Tokyo & Chinatown 

China town Los Angeles

There’s no better way to experience Los Angeles’ diversity than to walk around Downtown. Each district is a world of its own. Little Tokyo and Chinatown are no exception. 

Be sure to visit these two districts for great sightseeing and even better food. 

Explore Griffith Park

Griffity Park observatory
griffith park

One of my favorite places on the Eastside is Griffith Park. This massive park is located right in the middle of Hollywood and filled with so many things to do. It’s the perfect place to picnic or go hiking

Driving around the park is a great way to see gorgeous views of LA, the Hollywood Hills, and the jaw-dropping houses within. Griffith Park is also home to my favorite theater in LA, the Greek Theatre

Lastly, you have to check out the Griffith Observatory. Home to arguably the best view of Los Angeles, this is a must-see if you have 2-days in LA. I recommend heading there for sunset and staying until dark. 

View the Hollywood Sign

LA HOLLYWOOD SIGN

 If you’re doing LA in two days, and it’s your first time, then you should check out the Hollywood Sign. If you’re adventurous, hike up to the Hollywood Sign through Griffith Park. You can also get a great view of it by hiking Runyon Canyon or Bronson Canyon

If you’re not much of a hiker, you can see the sign clearly from the Griffith Observatory. Alternatively, drive up the famous Mullholland drive to get a peek of the sign among some of the most famous, palm-tree-lined residential streets in LA

If you’re also interested in seeing the Walk of Fame, there’s a popular viewpoint from Hollywood Boulevard. You can see the sign clearly from the iconic Hollywood & Highland mall.

Get lost on Melrose

MELROSE PINK WALL
MELROSE AV SIGN

Melrose is one of the most famous LA streets. Park your car on the West end and stroll up Melrose. You can window shop your way through the most luxurious and high-end stores, take a photo at the Paul Frank pink wall, and grab a coffee at Alfred.

 As you head down Melrose, you’ll see it go from high-end to gritty and artsy. You’ll see well-known tattoo shops, iconic murals, vintage shops, famous comedy venues, and great restaurants for all budgets and tastes. 

Drive down Sunset Blvd. 

Sunset boulevard golden hours

One of my favorite things to do in LA is to drive down Sunset Blvd, starting at the Sunset Strip. On the strip, you’ll pass by many popular attractions like Chateau Marmont, Pink’s Hot Dogs, The Comedy Store, and legendary nightclubs and bars.

It’s fun to go out here but it’s equally fun to drive down, especially when you’re short on time. 

As you continue West down Sunset you’ll drive by the most famous houses and landmarks in Beverly Hills. This is a great street to take photos on. 

Visit the Grove & the Original Farmer’s market

LA Farmers' Markets

If you only have two days in LA, then one of the best places to visit is The Grove. This outdoor shopping mall is home to famous LA restaurants and stores. Thanks to its great ambiance and gorgeous architecture, it’s a treat just to walk around it. 

It’s also one of the only tourist attractions that have 75 minutes of free parking in their garage onsite. 

Across the parking lot, you’ll find the historic “Original Farmers Market.” This daily market has been open since 1943. It’s the perfect place to taste delicious local eats and treats.  

Pacific Coast Highway Malibu

Visit the LACMA 

The LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) became a tourist attraction due to the light installation out front. One of the most Instagrammable places in LA, the lights are best viewed at night.

I highly recommend visiting the actual museum, however. The LACMA has wonderful rotating exhibits and the grounds are quite impressive. 

Additionally, located just next door, is the La Brea Tar Pits. It’s a must-see for fossil lovers. 

Pretend you’re famous in Beverly Hills

Beverly hills signs

Beverly Hills may be the most glamorous and televised place in LA. It’s also home to numerous top attractions. 

People watch and window shop down Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard. Check out the famous Beverly Hills sign at Beverly Hills park or grab a bite at the Beverly Hills hotel

The residential streets nearby are great for photo ops and admiring beautiful houses, like the historical Spadena House

2 days in Los Angeles – Day 2 – Soak up the Sunshine on the West Side

Enjoy a Classic LA Brunch

Santa Monica pacific coast view

The first thing you’re going to want to do on your second day in LA is to enjoy a good breakfast. Brunching is a big deal in LA, especially on the westside. There are so many great neighborhoods to enjoy a classic LA brunch in.  

If you’re interested in seeing the more upscale side of West LA, with wonderful people watching, head over to Brentwood, Wilshire/Montana, or Santa Monica

If you’re looking for a more laid-back, coastal vibe, check out some low-key and hip spots in Venice and Mar Vista.  

Beverly Hills california boulevard

Marvel at the Getty Center & Getty Villa

By far my favorite museum in LA is the Getty. There are two locations and I highly recommend both. They are completely free except for parking ($20 per car). 

The Getty Center in West LA boasts some of the most impressive art collections, as well as extraordinary grounds. You could spend all day here. 

The Getty Villa is smaller but even more aesthetic, located on the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s a recreation of ancient Roman villas and the architecture is extraordinary. 

Enjoy a Farmers market

LA Down town market

A big part of the LA lifestyle is eating fresh, local goods. As such, the city loves its farmers’ markets. It’s a great place to get both the local taste and feel of a place. 

My favorite LA farmers’ markets are the Pacific Palisades Farmers market on Sunday’s and the Downtown Santa Monica Farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

Stroll down Venice Boardwalk 

Venice beach broadwalk

No 2-day Los Angeles itinerary is complete without a trip to the Venice Boardwalk. A stroll down the Venice Boardwalk will show you a very different side of LA.  

Stroll down the boardwalk and admire the street performers, artists, and rollerbladers. Grab lunch or beers at an ocean-front cafe, like the Venice Ale House. Watch the pros at the Venice Skate Park or the bodybuilders at Muscle Beach, an outdoor gym on the boardwalk. 

Check out 3rd Street Promenade

Santa Monica pier

While touristy, the 3rd Street Promenade is still worth a stop. This 3-block long walking street and the outdoor mall are home to great shopping, restaurants, and street performers. 

There are plenty of parking garages directly off the third street that offers 75 minutes free. Located just a few blocks from the beach and the Santa Monica Pier, this is a great place to park if you want to explore the area. 

A good option to explore that’s less touristy is Main Street, just a mile away. Main is home to some of the best restaurants, local bars, and small boutiques in Santa Monica

People watch on Abbot Kinney

LOS ANGELES CITY SUNSET

Abbot Kinney Boulevard is one of the most famous streets in LA. This trendy boulevard is home to everything that defines West LA.

Here you’ll find upscale juiceries, sustainable clothing shops, local designers, beautiful murals, and boujee California restaurants

Go on a Bike ride

Los Angeles Bike path

LA’s west coast is big, and it lacks convenient or affordable parking options. A great way to see the coastline without dealing with traffic or parking is to rent a bike. 

The coastal bike path starts in Pacific Palisades and goes all the way to Manhattan Beach in South Bay Los Angeles. If you have a few hours, I highly recommend biking it in its entirety as it’s the best way to see the different beaches in LA.

Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the Venice Canals. Just off Venice Beach, this neighborhood explains where Venice gets its name from, and boasts some of the prettiest scenery in the area. It’s the perfect place to bike around. 

Get in the Water

PAcific coast highway

If biking isn’t your thing, hopefully, the Pacific Ocean is! You’ll see numerous people in the water year-round. 

Stop by one of the many rental shops along the coast and get some gear. Try paddleboarding or take surfing lessons. You can rent a sailboat easily and enjoy a sunset or day cruise. 

Go on a Hike 

One of my favorite things about LA is the amount of easily accessible hikes throughout the city. The Westside is home to the prettiest ones, thanks to their oceanviews. 

My favorite trails are Temescal Canyon Park, Eagle Rock, and Point Dume. These trails are clearly marked and easy to moderate difficulty. 

Catch a Sunset

Los Angeles beach sunset

The westside has the most gorgeous sunsets everywhere you go. You can easily watch the sunset on any beachfront, like Santa Monica, Venice or Marina Del Rey. Plus there are plenty of hotel rooftops that allow outside guests to get a drink and enjoy the view. 

The best views however are in Malibu. The beaches here are stunning and there’s an abundance of delicious oceanfront restaurants. 

I recommend watching the sunset from El Matador State Beach, or Point Dume. If you’d prefer a meal with your sunset, try Moonshadows for fine dining, Malibu Farm on the Malibu Pier or Duke’s Malibu

Adding an extra day in Los Angeles

los angeles beach surfing

If you’re planning to stay an extra day, and you weren’t able to do everything above, now’s your chance.  

A third day in LA is the perfect opportunity to see more of your favorite neighborhoods or explore new ones. Check out my list of awesome yet lesser-known neighborhoods at the bottom of this article. 

Spend your third day doing full or half-day activities. Go hiking in Hollywood, Malibu, or Topanga. Spend the day at one of the numerous beaches in LA like Manhattan Beach, Playa Del Rey or Malibu

Topanga Canyon
Topanga Canyon

If you’re into theme parks, this is a great chance to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. You can also take a day trip to the beloved Disneyland. If you want to try something more local, check out Knott’s Berry Farm or Six Flags

If you’re more into arts and culture, book a full-day excursion or guided tour. Spend the full day at a museum. Take a walking tour or architecture tour downtown (you’ll love the Walt Disney Concert Hall). 

Things to do at night in Los Angeles

See a show in Los Angeles

Santa Monica pacific coast highway

As the entertainment capital of the world, you can expect fantastic shows to be available every day of the year. Go see a concert at the Greek Theatre, The Hollywood Bowl, or The Wiltern.

If it’s summer, don’t miss the weekly Twilight concerts at the Santa Monica Pier

Check out a comedy show. I highly recommend The Groundlings Theatre, where every big comedian got their start or Laugh Factory

See a play at the historic Geffen Playhouse or a Broadway show at Hollywood Pantages Theater.  

See a movie in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Beach

There is no shortage of beautiful movie theaters in LA, like the Dolby Theater, famous for hosting the Academy Awards. Some of my other favorites are TLC Chinese Theater, the Egyptian Theater, and the Fox Village Theater. 

If you’re visiting during the summer, no one does outdoor movies better than LA. Go see a movie at the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery or at the trendy Rooftop Cinema Club

Visit Pacific Park

Santa Monica pier

The Santa Monica Pier is even more lively at night. With its own amusement park, Pacific Park, you can ride roller coasters or the famous Ferris Wheel above the ocean. It’s a great way to see the city lights at night. 

Take in the views

There’s no better time to admire LA’s cityscape than at night. Head to one of the many rooftops throughout the city, visit the Griffith Observatory, or the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Enjoy the famous nightlife 

Going out on the town is one of the most popular things to do at night in LA.  Enjoy low-key bars in Venice or trendy, hipster-approved ones downtown. 

Visit the numerous speakeasies in Hollywood or hit the famous clubs of West Hollywood

Suggested day trips from Los Angeles 

Newport Beach California - aerial view

Newport/Laguna Beach

Los Angeles is less than an hour away from the coveted Orange County coastline. While there are a lot of things to do in Orange County, I recommend prioritizing a trip to Newport and Laguna Beach

Here you’ll find some of Orange County’s best beaches, shopping, and dining and awesome Orange County’s Airbnb

Disneyland

Located in Anaheim, just an hour away, is Disneyland. If theme parks and rollercoasters are your things, a day trip to Disneyland is a must.

Santa Barbara

home with pool sea view

Santa Barbara is also my former home and favorite LA getaway. This gorgeous little town is known for its Spanish architecture, unspoiled beaches, and fantastic local wine

Enjoy the vineyards nearby or simply sip at the centrally located tasting rooms in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. Then shop your way through State St. and marvel at the beaches that put LA shame. 

Where to stay in Los Angeles 

West Side – Hotel Erwin

Hotel Erwin ocean view

Located in one of the trendiest parts of Venice is the stylish Hotel Erwin. It’s walking distance to the best restaurants, nightlife, and shopping in Venice and also Santa Monica. Despite its beachfront location and cute hotel rooms, Hotel Erwin won’t break the bank. 

With a gorgeous rooftop bar and helpful front desk, this is a great place to stay as a solo traveler.

Check rates and availability on Booking.com


East Side – The PaliHotel Melrose

Palihotel melrose

This boutique hotel chain has several locations in Los Angeles. The Melrose location is prime real estate, just steps from the best attractions on Melrose. You’re only a short walk from Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Hollywood

The PaliHotel is great for solo travelers thanks to its welcoming community spaces and trendy onsite bar. 

Check rates and availability on Booking.com


Downtown – The Ace Hotel

Aca Hotel

The Ace Hotel is a famous Boutique hotel chain, and their Los Angeles location does not disappoint. Located in the heart of the historic center, you can easily walk to the best parts of downtown LA

With an events calendar, trendy rooftop, and movie theater, founded by Charlie Chaplin, the Ace Hotel has it all. 

Check rates and availability on Booking.com


Where to eat in Los Angeles

Gracias Madre

Gracias Madre seating room
Photo © Gracias Madre

If you want to try one of the best vegan restaurants in LA, Gracias Madre is a must. Beloved by celebrities, wellness enthusiasts, and those looking for good Mexican food and a great vibe, Gracias Madre is it. It’s so good, you can’t even tell it’s vegan. 

If real cheese and grease are what you’re craving for, however, then check out El Cholo. They are a great local chain known for the strongest margaritas and biggest portions since 1923. 


The Apple Pan

In’ n’ out is iconic, but the Apple Pan is equally iconic for locals. Beloved by Westsiders, Apple Pan serves old-school burgers, fries, and their notorious pies


Malibu Seafood 

If you’re on the westside during your 2-days in LA, then you have to head out to Malibu Seafood. If you like fried fish then this is worth the drive alone. Family run, they catch all their fish locally. 

They have a variety of seafood offerings, but I highly recommend getting the squid and chips. You’ll always find a line around the building due to their high-quality food and unbeatable price point


Swingers

Swingers is the ultimate LA diner complete with retro decor and waitresses in 50’s attire. Their delicious menu has all the greasy classics with a California twist, thanks to their ample veggie and vegan options.

You have to try their famous cupcakes or their ultra fluffy banana pancakes

While this is a must for breakfast or lunch, you’ll also see quite the late-night crowd here.


Grand Central Market 

Grand Central Market
Photo © Grand Central Market

A great way to taste the variety of cuisines in LA is to head to Grand Central Market. Located in the heart of downtown LA, here you’ll find delicious, affordable food in a historic landmark

It’s by far the best food market in Los Angeles and is always packed with locals and tourists alike. 


Insider tips about visiting Los Angeles

Stay where you want to explore

Los Angeles Trafic

Due to the famous LA traffic, I recommend choosing accommodation in the area you most want to explore. You can then walk to nearby attractions and spend less time in traffic. 

When it’s time to explore outside of your neighborhood, don’t try to do everything. Instead, pick your must-sees, map them out, and plan your LA itinerary by location. This will allow you to maximize your short visit

Make reservations in advance

If eating as much as possible is on your LA to-do list, I highly recommend making reservations in advance. 

You’ll need a reservation if it’s a popular sit-down restaurant, the weekend, or dinnertime. Otherwise, be prepared for a long wait or the possibility of not getting a table. 

Get outside of Hollywood

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is so much more than Hollywood and Beverly Hills. While the common LA tourist attractions are in this area, I’d recommend exploring outside of Hollywood. 

Each part of town is dramatically different with a variety of things to do and see. You won’t regret broadening your horizons and exploring less touristy neighborhoods. 

I recommend Downtown LA, Echo Park, Silverlake, Westwood, Brentwood, Culver City, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey, or Pacific Palisades


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