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How to spend 3 days in Los Angeles - Venice Beach

How to Spend 3 Days in Los Angeles

LA is a sprawling city with many different areas, so three days is barely enough to scratch the surface, but with some careful planning you can certainly see the main highlights. Many people think of Los Angeles as being the home of Hollywood, Universal Studios and the Walk of Fame, but there’s so much more to see beyond the tourist traps and tacky bus tours. Year-round sunshine, tall palm trees, sandy beaches make this an appealing destination for travellers who like to mix the beach with urban exploration. Best of all, the City of Angels has a brilliant foodie scene and some of the best Mexican food outside of Mexico.

If you want to follow a slightly less touristy itinerary for your 3 days in Los Angeles this one may just be for you.

3 Days in Los Angeles

Day 1: Exploring West Hollywood

LACMA Los Angeles

Start your day off right with brunch at Urthh Cafe on Melrose, a popular deli known for its organic produce and super fresh salads. After you’ve lined your stomach you may want to walk to the famous Paul Smith store – not for clothes shopping, but to take pictures in front of the giant, bright pink wall. A word of warning – you may find yourself lining up behind others who are all there for the same reason too – to pose for pictures on Instagram.

If you DO want to fit in some shopping while you’re in LA then head over to The Grove – an outdoor shopping mall featuring stores such as Nordstrom, Nike and Anthropologie. Stop for macarons at Laduree or take a walk through the Farmer’s Market to pick up a snack if you’re feeling hungry after all that impulse buying.

Following on from the Grove it’s worth paying a visit to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) – the largest art museum in western USA. Outside you’ll find a beautiful installation called Urban Light – a collection of two-hundred and two restored cast iron antique street lamps.

At night you could do some bar crawling in WeHo, before stopping for a midnight snack at Guisados. While nothing will ever be the same as chowing down on street food in Mexico, these tacos are the best in LA.

Day 2: Santa Monica & Venice Beach

The beauty of Los Angeles is coastal living, so once you’ve explored the sights of Hollywood you might want to escape the urban jungle and hit the beach. Santa Monica and Venice Beach are the closest beaches to central LA and both places have great restaurant scenes.

Santa Monica is known for its photogenic pier and has more of a family vibe, while Venice Beach is grungier and great for people watching. If the weather’s nice (which it usually is) you might want to hire bikes and ride the cycle path between the two beaches. Start by grabbing a bite to eat at Blue Plate in Santa Monica then making your way to the waterfront, where you can take pictures of the pier and have a coffee on the terrace of The Georgian Hotel.

Over in Venice, stop to admire the world’s fittest people working out at Muscle Beach, sit and watch kids performing tricks in the skatepark or buy some quirky souvenirs from one of Venice’s street stalls. Afterwards make your way over to the Venice Canals, which are the closest thing to the real Venice outside of Italy. For sunset drinks, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the High Rooftop Lounge where you can enjoy daily drinks specials and live DJs.

Day 3: Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign

Griffith Observatory - How to spend 3 days in Los Angeles

If you’ve seen the movie ‘Pretty Woman’ you’ll know that Rodeo Drive is LA’s most expensive shopping street, filled with high-end designer stores. You don’t have to have a black Amex to enjoy this part of town, since it’s still nice to check out the window displays and take pictures of the flashy cars parked outside. Make a stop at Nate ‘n Al, a popular diner-style restaurant that’s been open since 1945 and is known for its deli sandwiches.

Next up hop on the DASH Observatory bus service and make your way over to Griffith Park, which boasts the most beautiful views over Los Angeles and the famous Hollywood Sign. Griffith Park is one of the best places in LA for hiking, so put on your running shoes and explore one of the many trails here.  

As night falls, Griffith Observatory is the best place for taking photographs, since you can capture the pink skyline and twinkling lights of the city below. The observatory itself boasts a planetarium, theater and solar telescopes for use.

For dinner stop by Eveleigh in West Hollywood, which serves farm-to-table plates inspired by American & European country cooking.

Essential Travel Info

Getting there – If you’re only heading to Los Angeles for just three days you might want to consider flying business class. Yes, these flights are more expensive than Economy but there are ways you can fly business without having to sell a kidney! One option is to do some travel hacking by signing up for credit cards that will allow you to collect air miles. Alternatively you can contact a specialist travel agent like to get the cheapest business class flights to Los Angeles. They have access to special discounted prices that aren’t displayed on flight search engines.

Getting around –  LA is one of those places in America where everyone seems to drive, so it’s easiest to get around by car. You can rent a car from the airport at LAX, but it’s actually more affordable to take an Uber pool if you’re exploring Los Angeles for just three days. If you’re travelling with friends you can also use the ‘Split Fare’ option so you don’t have to keep tabs on who’s paying for the rides. LA does have a decent Metro and you can take the bus too; it might not be a door-to-door service but it costs relatively little.  

What would be your ideal way to spend 3 days in Los Angeles?

Victoria Brewood

Although very much British, Victoria always felt like she was meant to be living the 'American Dream'. She loves the US and has travelled to over 14 states.

  • Cez of eTramping
    Posted at 10:35h, 21 April Reply

    That’s a great guide, thanks a lot for sharing it. We would like to see LA next year, and when we do, we’re sure to come back to your article, Turner. Enjoy your travels!

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