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  • Georgina D'Angelo

What to Do in LA For a Weekend: Planning a Trip to Los Angeles

Updated: Feb 1


What to Do in LA for a Weekend | Alpacka My Bags Travel Blog

Los Angeles is an iconic place to visit in the US. It’s a great place for movie lovers, thrill seekers, adventure enthusiasts, and city people alike. There are famous monuments and streets to admire, amazing restaurants to try, and fun activities to enjoy like a day at Universal Studios.


If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles, we’ve got you covered. As an ex-native (love LA but not the living costs) and a recent visitor, I want to help you have the best time exploring Los Angeles’s best sights and attractions! Keep reading for the ultimate LA itinerary; here’s just what to do in LA for a weekend!


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In this article…



Planning a trip to Los Angeles last minute?


If you're planning a trip to Los Angeles last minute, or you only have a very short time to explore the city, here are the best tours and best places to stay. A guided tour will allow you to see a few of LA's best parts, and a hotel downtown is a great base for exploring!


Top tours in LA:


Top Hotels in LA:


Lobby of citizenM Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles | What to Do in LA for a Weekend
citizenM Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles

How to Get Around Los Angeles


Most people rent a car to get around LA, but I want to tell you that’s not necessary. Avoid the hassle of traffic and parking fees, and learn how to get around LA without a car! It’s very much possible (we had a great four days here without a car), and it can save you money.


If you’re curious, these are all the ways to get around LA. It’s sadly not a walkable city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time exploring.


  • Rent a Car - best if you’re planning to visit outside LA

  • Public Transportation - buses and trains (download TAP app)

  • Rideshare - Uber and Lyft

  • Rent a bike - best for shorter distances


What to Do in LA For a Weekend


Day 1


Breakfast at Basil & Cheese Cafe


Basil & Cheese is a cute cafe located in downtown LA, just a couple of blocks from citizenM Hotel, and has everything you could want for breakfast.


Their lattes are amazing, and they have so many options for food, as well as several vegetarian options! I dream about their breakfast burritos daily (insert drooling emoji).


Griffith Observatory & Hiking Mt. Hollywood


After a hearty meal and caffeine boost at Basil & Cheese, it’s time to head to one of LA’s most beloved places, the Griffith Observatory. The Observatory itself is free (um, heck yes), is located on a mountain, and provides the best views of Los Angeles below.


If you want more of an adventure, add hiking Mt Hollywood to your morning itinerary. This hike is relatively easy and will show you beautiful views of the Griffith Observatory with LA in the background. It starts at the Griffith Observatory parking lot.


I recommend completing the hike first; generally, the Observatory doesn’t open until 10 or 11 a.m. Plan to hike after breakfast and complete the hike as the Griffith is opening!


View of Griffith Observatory and DTLA from Mt. Hollywood
View of Griffith Observatory and DTLA from Mt. Hollywood

Lunch at Javista


It’s time to head to Hollywood! Javista is a cozy cafe in Hollywood that serves amazing coffees, as well as bagels, sandwiches, pastries, and more.


It’s a great place to stop for lunch as it’s near the train station you’ll arrive at coming from Griffith Observatory, and it’s only a couple blocks from the Hollywood Walk of Fame and other must-sees in this part of LA.


They also have great bathrooms here which is random, but I highly recommend you use them before heading out to explore Hollywood.


Hollywood Walk of Fame


You can’t visit Los Angeles without walking down the renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame. See how many of your favorite celebrities you can find! This walk is 1.3 miles long; you can see the entirety of it, but it’s all the same things (you know, stars).


If there is a star you know you want to see, research where it is before you go, otherwise you likely won’t find it. There are a lot of stars here, and they're on both sides of the street.


TCL Chinese Theater


As you’re admiring the Hollywood Walk of Fame, make a stop at the TCL Chinese Theater. This famous theater is a sight to see and also has the Forecourt of the Stars out front. This is where many celebrities have left hand and/or shoe prints in the cement. Who’s the most notable handprint you can find?


View of The Chinese Theater in Hollywood from across the street
The Chinese Theater in Hollywood

Dolby Theater


If you have time, you can also walk to the Dolby Theater. This is where the Academy Awards have been held since 2002 and you can even join a 30-minute tour of the theater. If you’re a movie lover, this is a must for you!


Urban Light Display


The iconic light post display in Los Angeles is officially known as “Urban Light.” It’s free to enjoy, take photos by, and walk through. It’s actually part of the LACMA, or Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is located right next to it.


LACMA


Museum fans and art lovers, this one’s a must for you! After you have strolled through Urban Light, head to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA. They have a variety of incredible displays from textiles to modern art to stoneworks and more. This is known as one of the best art museums in the US so you don’t want to miss it!


Dinner at the Original Farmer’s Market


Just a few blocks away from LACMA is the Original Farmers Market of Los Angeles. Here you’ll find vendors selling foods of all kinds from handmade pasta to smoothies to burgers to tacos and more. This is a great place to have dinner because there are options for everyone.


It’s still one of my all-time favorite places to explore and eat in LA; you don’t want to miss the Orignal Farmers Market! And definitely don’t forget to grab a dessert. Stop by The French Crepes or Local Ice for the perfect sweet to end your first day in LA.


Women Shopping at the Candy Shop at the Original Farmers Market in LA
Candy Shop at the Original Farmers Market in LA

Day 2


Breakfast at Clark Street Diner


Start your second day in Los Angeles with a true diner experience at Clark Street Diner. They have so many options, including vegetarian (yay!), and the vibes are immaculate. It’s a real 50s diner vibe with amazing food and service.


I recommend the chilaquiles, and I hear their pastries are also phenomenal.


Santa Monica


This LA classic can’t be missed! After a hearty breakfast, head to the famous Santa Monica. Here you can enjoy the beach, although I am warning you now, the water is always freezing. There are paved paths you can walk down or venture into the sand and to the waves.


Another must-do is the Santa Monica Pier. It’s busy, but it’s fun! There are little stores and vendors to shop from, the views at the very end of the pier are great, and the carnival area is a blast.


We rode the coaster and while it was really fun, I don’t know if I’d say it’s worth the price. You’re better off spending that money on ice cream or churros, yum!


Santa Monica Pier | What to Do in LA for a Weekend
Santa Monica Pier

Venice Beach


Just down the beach from Santa Monica Pier is Venice Beach. You can either walk, drive, or my top recommendation, ride a bike!


There are many bike rental companies on both beaches. Rent a bike near Santa Monica pier, peddle down to Venice Beach, and check out the popular muscle beach.


Lunch at The Waterfront Venice


A great place to have lunch in the Santa Monica/Venice Beach area is The Waterfront Venice. This beer garden is very close to the beach with indoor and outdoor seating, a mix of options from big bites to shareables, a few vegetarian choices, as well as wine and beer.


OR! If you want a lighter lunch head to Dogtown Coffee for a quick bite and a delicious coffee. This cute coffee shop offers several menu options, including gluten-free and vegan ones. They even have acai bowls (starts drooling). Do note they close at 2 p.m!


DTLA


After you’ve explored Venice and Santa Monica for a few hours, head to Downtown Los Angeles, also known as DTLA. There are several iconic places to visit in this part of LA, as well as a great variety of restaurants. You can walk around freely and see where you end up or check out my highlights of DTLA below!


Walt Disney Concert Hall


This gorgeous building is an iconic staple in Los Angeles. Admire the Walt Disney Concert Hall from the outside, or stay for a free self-guided tour. These typically end at 2 p.m., so take note, and no reservation is required. There are select days when tours are closed, so check their calendar before planning your visit.


If you’re an architecture lover, check out this History & Architecture of Downtown LA Guided Tour that includes a stop at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.


The Last Bookstore


Book lovers, this one’s for you. Now’s the time for a visit to LA’s most beloved bookstore, The Last Bookstore. Even if you’re not a major reader, this place is worth a visit. They also sell vinyl records and art and provide amazing displays to attract a variety of visitors.


It’s free to enter and you never know what goodies you might find in the Last Bookstore! Talk about a unique souvenir.


Angel’s Flight Railway


Welcome to the shortest railway in the world! Angel’s Flight Railway is a funicular, running up and downhill. It only has two cars, one on each side, and it’s given over 100 million rides to visitors from all over. If you’re getting around LA by public transportation, use your TAP app or card to purchase your fare for Angel’s Flight.



Dinner at Yuko Kitchen DTLA


End your weekend in LA with a delicious Japanese dinner at Yuko Kitchen DTLA. Located right downtown, this restaurant can't be missed. They have a large menu with many vegetarian options.


The food here is phenomenal, and the aesthetic is somehow even better. The restaurant is decorated with plants of all kinds, which are also for sale, and painted murals. It's a unique dining experience; I'd love for it to be a highlight of your LA trip too!


If you also have a sweet tooth like me, and you’re an ice cream fan, stop by The Dolly Llama for dessert. You can get ice cream in a fresh bubble waffle here! It's so good but very rich, so split it if you have a friend with you.


Inside Yuko Kitchen DTLA | What to Do in LA for a Weekend
Yuko Kitchen in a Must When in LA for a Weekend

Have more time to spend in LA?


If you have more than just a weekend in LA, or you want other options to switch out some of the activities above, check out my top recommendations below. Here are some more of the best things to do in LA, as well as some of the best places to eat.


Other Fun Things to Do in LA:



Places to Eat in LA:


Mister O’s (American) - Studio City

& Waffles - (breakfast) North Hollywood

Maccheroni Republic (Italian) - DTLA

Milk + T (bubble tea) - DTLA

El Granjero Cantina (Mexican) - The Grove


What to Do in LA for a Weekend FAQ:


Can you do LA in 2 days?


If you have the time, I highly recommend spending more than days in Los Angeles. There is so much to see and do in this famous US city. However, you can still see some of the best parts of LA in just 2 days.


The above itinerary is perfect for a weekend in LA, or any two-day period. Big attractions like Universal Studios and Disneyland take an entire day each, but they’re both worth visiting.


You can always plan one day at one of these parks and spend the entirety of your second day in Los Angeles hitting the major sights like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Santa Monica, and downtown (DTLA).


How can I spend my weekend in Los Angeles?


The above Los Angeles itinerary is perfect for a 2-day weekend trip to LA. It hits major sights and takes you to some incredible restaurants. There’s so much to see in LA, it would be impossible to do it all even if you lived here for a year.


However, another great way to make the most of your time is to book a guided tour. Local guides offer so much knowledge about their city, and many tours are themed so you can find the one that interests you the most. Check out some of the best day tours in LA below:



Debbie Reynolds Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Debbie Reynolds Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

2 Days in Los Angeles Without a Car


If you plan to visit LA without a car, you’re in luck! We did just that and had a great time exploring California’s beloved city. Getting around LA without a car isn’t a common practice, but it is possible.


You can read more on my full Los Angeles transportation guide, but here are the highlights.


  • Download Uber and Lyft

  • Use the metro and buses

  • Download the TAP app to buy bus/train tickets

  • Use Google Maps for directions

  • Plan a little extra travel time into your day


Los Angeles is a city everyone needs to visit at least once, and if possible, spend more than just a couple of days here! The list could go on, but this is my recommendation on what to do in LA for a weekend. It’s a great mix of some famous sights, fun activities, amazing food, and a little bit of adventure.


If you don’t want to rent a car for your trip, learn how to get around LA without a car so you can make the most of your time in this vibrant place. Book a hotel downtown so you’re close to the action and within walking distance of metro (train) and bus stops.


It’s time to pack your bags and head to Los Angeles! When are you planning to visit La La Land? This is one of my favorite places to visit in the US, and I hope I can help you fall in love with it too.


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What to Do in LA for a Weekend | Alpacka My Bags

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aboutME

Hi, I'm Georgina, adventure enthusiast and creator of Alpacka My Bags. I'm here for all of your travel and adventure planning needs! 

 

I've been exploring this beautiful planet since I was a child, so I decided it was time to share my travel tips with others to enjoy. After college, I knew the "traditional career path" was not for me.

 

I needed to travel and explore what this world has to offer. It sounds cliché but you do only live once. So I made going on adventures a priority, and soon realized that I wanted to share them with others so you can enjoy them too! 

My passion is spreading the travel bug and showing others that travel is attainable and so worth it. From itineraries to camping tips to packing lists, Alpacka My Bags has you covered!

Join me, and often my partner and my dog, as we find exciting adventures and travel recommendations for you! If you've been bit by the travel bug just as I have, I hope you find my tips useful for all of your future travels.

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