Updated: Dec 27, 2021
City of Angels. LaLaLand. LA. Los Angeles is a whirlwind of cultures, dreams and ideas. It's one of the most important cities in the world, and it offers so much more than what you've seen in movies and TV shows. If you haven't been yet, I'm quite sure LA is in your bucket list. If you have visited before, you're probably looking forward to be back here again. It's one of those places that you can never get enough. It can overwhelm you with so much information and contrasts, and yet leave you longing to experience more. California, to me, is a magical place, and Los Angeles is its golden girl.
Here's how to make the best of 72 hours in the City of Angels:
You've arrived in LAX and it's chaos. I know. Endless renovations and don't get me started on traffic. During this trip you'll get stuck in traffic at some point. Wish I had a better answer for that, but unless you can get yourself a helicopter to fly around, you'll have to deal with it. That's probably the only downside, so from here on, only good news!
Start your day like a Californian by going on a hike. One of the places where you might spot a celebrity working out and also get amazing views of the city is at Runyon Canyon.
If hiking is not your thing or you're looking to save some time, a favorite for both visitors and locals is the Griffith Observatory. In addition to free admission, an exhibit hall and a planetarium, the observatory also offers incredible views of the LA basin, Hollywood, Downtown and even the Pacific Ocean (on clear days), and you can see one of LA's most famous postcards up close: The Hollywood Sign. I've got a blog post highlighting the very best places to view and photograph this iconic landmark, click here to find out.
Next, stroll around the Hollywood Walk of Fame and photograph your favorite starts. Make sure to stop at the Dolby Theatre - where the Oscars ceremonies are held every year, as well as at the iconic Chinese Theater.
Did you know? - There are over 2,600 brass starts embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks between Hollywood Blvd and Vine St. Every month 2 more starts are added to the Walk honoring celebrities of the entertainment industry. - Anyone can nominate a celebrity for a star, but the star must agree! Also, there's an application process including a letter of agreement and a $40,000 fee. - Mickey Mouse was the 1st animated character to receive a star, in 1978.
- Honorees may request a specific location for their star, however, the final decision remains with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. For example, Oscar winners are usually places near the Dolby Theatre, where the event is held every year.
Head over to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Arts) and snap a pic by the Public Art: Urban Light, a popular solar-powered light installation created with restored cast iron street lamps that you've probably seen all over the 'gram. Close by is The Grove, LA's famous retail and entertainment complex, located by the Original Farmer's Market. Stop here for some outdoor shopping and dining and you can either call it a day or hit one of the many buzzing bars and clubs of the area.
Pretty busy 1st day, but there's sooo much to see here in LA, that you should be looking forward to exploring Beverly Hills next.
Plenty of places to brunch on Melrose Avenue, as well as art galleries, stores and wall murals. After you've had your morning cup of Joe, start by the Beverly Hills Hotel for a quick photo and head over to Beverly Gardens Park, where the famous Beverly Hills sign is located, then walk to Rodeo Drive just a couple blocks down for some window shopping at the most expensive zip code in the USA, and if you've ever watched Pretty Woman, you'll want to check out the Beverly Wilshire too.
Make your way to Venice Beach and spend the rest of the day by the Pacific Ocean. I've written a blog including Venice's main attractions (click here), and so once you're done exploring the free spirited beach town, head north on PCH towards Santa Monica.
The Santa Monica Pier is a must, and note that you can spend from an hour to half a day here, since this is one of the places people wish to visit the most. Palisades Park offers amazing views of the pier and the beach, and the Third Street Promenade, a pedestrian mall shopping and dining complex, is a good place to buy and grab a bite.
Lastly, north of Santa Monica we get to the bohemian chic city of Malibu (the Bu to locals). Stop by the Malibu sign on PCH then go watch the sunset over healthy food and drinks at Malibu Farm, located at the Malibu Pier. Reservations are highly encouraged, and you can thank me later.
One of the coolest things about LA is that you can actually visit some of the studios that were used in famous movies and TV shows. The Warner Bros. Studio tour takes about 3 hours and takes you backstage, giving visitors a BTS look at popular scenarios and special effects. Tickets are $69 per adult and $59 per child, age 8-12.
It's now lunch time and you can't leave without trying California's proudest foodie creation: an In-N-Out burger. Don't you dare say you prefer Five Guys or Shake Shack to any local, and order a Double-Double with Animal Fries (yes, they have a not-so-secret "secret" menu) and get fueled to continue exploring.
If you're not afraid of heights, your next adventure is 1000ft above DTLA at Skyspace LA. It features a 45ft slide made of glass on the exterior of 70th floor at the US Bank Tower. Tickets are $25 to go up to the observation tower and walk through a lot of interactive features that cover LA's history. If you want to ride the slide, it's $8 more. They often have specials, so check their website before you go.
If you said no to the glass slide, Chinatown could be your next stop. You can read about it here. Or maybe you want to find LA's Secret Swing, and guess what? I'm telling how to get there on another post, click here.
Finish off your day at the Grand Central Market, a place that 100% represents LA's amazing cultural diversity.
The Grand Central Market has a bit of everything from everywhere, and has become an amazing gastronomic center, as all as a gathering place for angelenos.
Find all sorts of cuisine here, such as Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, American, Latin, Vietnamese, Mediterranean, Vegan, and so many more, including fresh produce and a Golden Road bar.
Download, completely free of charge, the LA Travel Checklist that I created so you can easily checkmark the attractions as you visit them! All I ask is that you share the love and pin one of the images in this post!
Thank you for visiting Los Angeles. I hope you had an unforgettable time and that you enjoyed your stay and this guide.