The best of LA

See our suggestions for a two-day stopover or a one-week binge. These itineraries lean into quintessential LA experiences.

Make the most of every moment in Los Angeles with our recommendations for sightseeing, fun-seeking, outdoor adventures and people watching.

Two days in Los Angeles

For this LA sightseeing itinerary, we won't count your first day. Depending on your flight and the time of year you're travelling, you could arrive late morning or sometime in the afternoon.


Stay west or northwest of the CBD, to be close to the best things to do in Los Angeles. Settle into your accommodation, then head out for some fresh air and sunshine.

  • Stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the most star-studded sidewalk in the world.
  • Wander around Echo Park in central LA or hire a paddle boat to explore the lake
  • Get your first taste of Los Angeles Shopping at Rodeo Drive, Melrose Place, Westfield Century City, the Beverly Centre or Glendale Galleria
  • Have a hotdog dinner at Pink's, on the corner of La Brea and Melrose. The menu also includes a jaw-stretching selection of burgers
1Venice Beach and Santa Monica1 day
Girls running on beach, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, United States.

Don't linger over breakfast, because today is action-packed. To use public transport - Metro trains and buses - get a TAP card and load it up. Alternatively, catch a cab to the coast. Dress comfortably - you'll be biking from Venice to Santa Monica and back today. It's one of the top things to do in LA. Finish the day back at Venice Beach, with a casual meal on the waterfront or along Abbott Kinney Boulevard.

  • Find a bike rental operator at the southern end of Venice Beach and ride north to Santa Monica Pier
  • Head inland a little to the Venice canals to see gorgeous homes and soak up local culture
  • Continue along the boardwalk to discover street performers, unique shops, palm trees and all kinds of eateries. If the biking's making you hungry, pause for sushi, pizza or tacos
  • In Santa Monica, check out the fun on the pier - there's an amusement park, aquarium, video arcade and restaurants
  • See the original Muscle Beach, where locals do their resistance training on outdoor equipment. In the weekend, gymnasts put on free shows
  • Secure your bike and head to the beach for a swim. The waves are great for bodysurfing at Santa Monica, which is still one of the best beaches in California
  • Ride your bike back to your rental operator, then browse the shops and eateries in Abbott Kinney Boulevard. Find yourself a laid-back dinner, then bus, train or taxi back to your hotel
    2Movie studio or Disneyland, then shopping1 day

    Today is earmarked for an LA must-do - either a movie studio tour (Warner Brothers or Universal) or one of the Disneylands. Later on there might be time for shopping and people watching on Hollywood Boulevard or Rodeo Drive.

    • Universal Studios is an amusement-park-meets-movies experience. With a one-day general admission ticket you can take the World-Famous Studio tour to discover the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, meet King Kong in 3D, visit Jurassic World on a rollicking ride and much more
    • The Warner Brothers experience is more about the business of making movies. Depending on the tour you pick, you'll see backlots, soundstages, costume departments, props and post production. The six-hour Deluxe Tour includes a fine dining lunch
    • After your movie studio experience, head to Hollywood Boulevard or Rodeo Drive for shopping and an evening meal. Some of the best restaurants in LA are around here
    • Disneyland LA…well, what can we say? It's the happiest land of them all. And now there's a choice of two – Disneyland Park (the original) and Disneyland California Adventure Park. Buy a one-day ticket and arrive early to get maximum value for money

      Seven days in Los Angeles

      Use the two-day itinerary above, then add these extra days.

      3Hiking in the Hollywood Hills, plus a drop of culture1 day
      Hollywood Sign, Mount Lee, Los Angeles.

      Behind the glitz and glam of Hollywood are some fantastic hills for hiking. And after that exertion you'll be ready for a drop of culture. We recommend a performance at the Disney Concert Hall or the Hollywood Bowl. Or get tickets for a game.

      • Take a hike through Runyon Canyon Park adjoining the Hollywood Hills. There are many trail options, but the ultimate workout is reaching the 402 metre peak of Indian Rock for blockbuster views of the city
      • Get yourself up to the top of Mount Hollywood on the Charlie Turner Trail. Start on the north side of the observatory car park. After about 15 minutes of walking you'll see the Hollywood sign on the left. Photo opportunity!
      • Instead of the Hollywood Hills, you could hike the Sara Wan Trailhead at Corral Canyon - it's over by Malibu, so the sea views are pretty special
      • Catch a live performance tonight - either at the Disney Concert Hall or Hollywood Bowl. You'll need to plan ahead and buy your tickets online before you arrive in Los Angeles
      • If sport gets you going, watch basketball at the Staples Center or baseball at Dodger Stadium
        4Palm Springs1 day
        Backyard pool, Palm Springs, California, United States.

        Stay tonight and tomorrow night in Palm Springs, one of the best places to visit near Los Angeles. There are various ways to make the journey - bus, train, domestic flight or rental car.

        Palm Springs is a desert oasis with amazing retro architecture. Silent movie stars started building their hideaways here in the 1920s, then in the 1940s and 50s various Hollywood heavyweights made it their weekend getaway of choice. You can be almost certain of good weather - Palm Springs gets an average of 360 sunshine days a year.

        • Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a gondola ride up a canyon that reveals all of Coachella Valley
        • Check out all the mid-century architecture. Palm Springs is something of a time capsule for an architectural style called 'Desert Modernism' - simple, elegant, low structures that merge with pools and shaded areas
        • Admire the vintage aircraft at the air museum. You can even splurge on a flight in a P-51 Mustang
        • Walk to Tahquitz Canyon on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians reservation
        • Dress in your best mid-century outfit and dine at Norma's, King's Highway, Mr Lyons or Escena Lounge & Grill. From oyster shooters and shrimp cocktails to bone-in ribeye, it's all deliciously retro
        5Joshua Tree National Park1 day
        Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA.

        Sculpted by extreme weather over millions of years, this national park is home to a fascinating range of plants and animals. There's the potential to see mule deer, bighorn sheep, bobcats, lizards, jackrabbits, coyotes, bats and foxes. Snakes too. Bring plenty of snacks and water.

        • Stop at the visitors' centre for an old-fashioned paper map, then check with the ranger about the state of the trails. Ask about which walks to do, based on your fitness level
        • Trail choices include Lost Horse Mine, Skull Rock, Hidden Valley, Arch Rock, Cholla Cactus Garden and Mastodon Peak Loop. Barker Dam's a great place for a picnic and creative photography around the rock formations
        • Refresh and refuel at one of the restaurants bordering the northern boundary of the park
        • Late afternoon or early evening, get yourself back to Los Angeles
        6Museums of LA1 day

        Los Angeles likes to do things differently, especially when it comes to museums. Choose two or three of these experiences for a few hours of oohing, aahing and mind-broadening. Finish the day off with food that's quintessentially LA - Spanish fried chicken, Mexico-City-style tacos, grilled snook (it's a fish!) or enchiladas smeared with spicy mole (Oaxacan sauce).

        • The Getty Center - a hilltop art museum that cost a billion dollars and took 13 years to build. Must-sees include Van Gogh's 'Irises', the outdoor sculptures, an extraordinary central garden and the Department of Photographs. Entry is free
        • The La Brea Tar Pits - an archaeological site where scientists are excavating ancient creatures that were trapped in the tar many thousands of years ago
        • The Broad - a contemporary art collection of 2,000+ works by artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Entry is free and the building is an artwork in itself
        • Petersen Automotive Museum - a high-tech salute to car culture in Southern California with about 150 vehicles on display, from vintage jalopies to EV concept cars
        • MOCA – Museum of Contemporary At. One of the most compelling collections of contemporary art in the world. Free admission
        • Norton Simon Museum. This beautiful and calm gallery has an impressive collection of Old Masters, a sculpture garden and an ever-changing parade of visiting exhibitions
          7Shopping and stars1 day
          Shopping, Los Angeles, USA.

          You might need a pre-paid extra bag for our next suggested activity - shopping. Whether you're an active-wear kind of person, a boho bargain hunter or someone who hunts down haute couture, Los Angeles is retail heaven. You just need to know where to go.

          • Find The Americana at Brand for Nordstrom (iconic US department store) and international brands like Topshop, Nike and Sephora
          • Discover the Third Street Promenade pedestrian mall in Santa Monica, where more than 80 retailers have banded together to create shopping nirvana
          • Enjoy fresh air fun at Hollywood & Highland - an all-in-one shopping destination, Hollywood landmark and tourist attraction
          • If you're into vintage, look for second-hand bargains at Jet Rag or Buffalo Exchange in Melrose
          • Choose carefully for your last supper in LA. You could splash out on one of the best restaurants in LA - like Hayato, Spago of Beverly Hills, Manzke, Providence, Maude or Pasjoli. Otherwise, find a cheap-and-cheerful Asian fusion, burger, pizza or taco restaurant
          • After dark, head up to Griffith Observatory to check out the cosmos. There's a planetarium, exhibits and telescopes for star gazing. Admission's free

            Keep exploring Los Angeles

            Knott's Berry Farm image courtesy of Visit Anaheim