Whether you have a weekend or 10+ days, here is a list of 5 must-do things while you’re in Los Angeles.
I absolutely love everything about LA from the city to the ocean. So you can imagine that this was an extremely challenging task. I can hardly sum up all of my favorites things to do in LA over 3 years, let alone narrow it down to a short visit. There’s no particular order, just a few must-see places I would highly recommend! You can see my suggested route the venture to all o of these at the end.
This isn’t your go-to for specific spots to brunch or take tourist photos. Although, I have a few favorites in those departments too! Check out my latest travel posts for more details if you’re looking for venues etc.
…two quick tips if you don’t want to look like a tourist. First, the beach is considered the “west side”. That includes areas like Venice, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, etc. Secondly, NEVER ever call Pacific Coast Highway “the PCH”. It’s simply PCH. You’re welcome. 🙂
1. Venice Canals
Look, if you’re staying in West Hollywood, this could take you almost an hour to see. But hear me when I say, this place is worth it. Rent a bike off the boardwalk. Or you can look super touristy and grab a convenient one with an APP. There are Breeze stations everywhere on the westside. I prefer a beach cruiser, so my go-to spot has always been Venice Beach Bike Rentals.
If the beach cruiser isn’t your thing, no worries. Lucky for you, Birds, Limes and other funny named scooters are all over the place. Not to mention ride share options like uber and lyft. However, to get the full experience, I highly recommend either by bike or foot so you can enjoy the weather and not get bummed by the traffic.
I make an effort to stop by the canals every trip. I’m not always successful with that so I still take a ton of pictures. Cruising around, looking at all of the houses and seeing everyone out and about really is a must!
2. Pacific Palisades
You can just drive around the Palisades and see all of the beautiful homes that overlook the water. We actually enjoy parking around the bottom of some of the neighborhoods and taking mild hikes just to see the views.
The Palisades is one of the most underrated neighborhoods in LA and I think they like it that way. It’s a sweetly kept secret and really feels like a town of locals just living their best lives.
While you’re in the neighborhood, please do yourself a favor and visit the Palisades Village. You will feel like you’re in every coastal movie scene that you’ve ever seen. It really deserves its own trip. If you’re looking for a reason to extend your stay this place can definitely help with that.
3. Runyon Canyon
If you enjoy views of the city, light hiking, or horse back riding, Runyon Canyon is perfect for you. You’ll be able to capture the infamous Hollywood sign from several different vantage points from Runyon Canyon.
- For the view without the hiking, I would actually recommend the Hollywood Reservoir. You can park near the viewpoint and just relax.
- If you’re into horse back riding, checkout Sunset Ranch Stables. We went for my birthday one year and Kate Hudson had just been there. Who knows, you may get to ride horses around with celebs. I will say, if you’re into more of a trot, be prepared. This is very, very light riding. You’ll enjoy the views though!
- If you do choose to hike it, there are different options for parking and entering. I would recommend the Mulholland Drive entrance!
4. Rodeo Drive
This one is a no brainer. I know that I mentioned not sending you to a bunch of touristy spots for photo ops in this post. But let’s face it, everywhere in LA is photo-worthy. The last time we drove through we snapped this cute pic of that precious puppy living the dream in its drop top. These types of photo ops are everywhere!
If you don’t have much time or money you don’t have to shop it. Rodeo Drive is well groomed and just nice to look at. Grab lunch or take a stroll through it. You won’t regret it!
5. Lakers Game
It really doesn’t matter if you’re into sports or staying downtown. You will be surprised at how amazing the Staples Center when Lebron is in the building. I enjoyed going before, but in case you think you might not… you will! It’s especially fun in the winter when the ice skating rink is outside.
One of my favorite background claims to fame was getting caught in the back of one of Lebron’s instagram posts during a game. Granted, this won’t be everyones experience. But it dramatically changed mine. However, any game I’ve been to has been pretty incredible. The atmosphere in general is worth seeing.
If you were to ask my opinion of where to start and how to get from one to the other, this would be my answer…
You’ll land at LAX and head to the westside. Put your feet in the water, enjoy the beach scene and make your way through the city. I would even grab a coffee or cocktail to soak it all in and fuel up for the day – or week/weekend.
Have your driver take you to the boardwalk in Venice to grab your bike/bird and cruise to the canals. Then hop in an uber and ask them to take you down PCH to Sunset Blvd. You’ll be near the Palisades at this point so stop by there if you have the time!
Then take Sunset Blvd and have them drive you through Rodeo Drive. Again, if you have time, shop around, grab a bite to eat, get pictures at the Beverly Hills sign, yada yada. Continue down Sunset Blvd. to Runyon Canyon. If time permits, ride horses or hike and try to stick around for the sunset! It’s incredible. And if the Lakers are in town for a game – GO!
For more detailed blogs on the best hikes in LA, foodie favorites, outdoor activities and more, stay updated in my latest travel blog posts. Xo
Also published on Medium.