Los Angeles is the US’ glitzy capital, well famed for its celebrity haunts, glamorous beaches, and year round sunshine. The hub of the film and TV industry, the sprawling city is home to studios like Paramount Pictures, Universal, and Warner Brothers, where visitors can take tours. The sprawling SoCal city has so many iconic spots to see, from the Hollywood sign to Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame. With so much to see, it’s essential you begin with the right Los Angeles itinerary.
Highlights of Los Angeles include the Griffith Observatory with its stunning skyline views across LA. The beaches of Venice and Santa Monica must be visited, as well as checking out the body builders of Muscle Beach. Santa Monica’s pier has rides and games as well as the iconic ferris wheel with views across the beaches. Nearby Malibu is affluent and gorgeous with its surfers and wealthy residents, as is Beverly Hills. Check out the stunning establishment behind the Eagles’ Hotel California, and the nearby designer shops of upmarket Rodeo Drive.
There are so many things to do in LA, and this guide to Los Angeles including a complete itinerary should help you to plan your three days in this incredible city. A LA itinerary has something for everyone, from sunbathing on a gorgeous beach, to sightseeing, and designer shopping.
Table of Contents
Top Things to Do in Los Angeles
- Griffith Observatory
- Hollywood Sign
- Hollywood Walk of Fame
- Beverly Hills
- Santa Monica
- Melrose Avenue
- Abbot Kinney Boulevard
- Rodeo Drive
Looking for more things to do? Check out my post on the top things to do in Los Angeles.
A 3 Day Itinerary to Los Angeles
Day 1 in Los Angeles: Malibu and Santa Monica
- There’s no place more beautiful than Malibu in California. Catch an Uber or drive from Los Angeles to the coastal paradise of Malibu and make the most of that sunshine.
- Have breakfast at Country Kitchen on the way up to Malibu. Grab a breakfast burrito and some hash browns. Address: 21239 CA-1, Malibu, CA 90265.
- Go surfing at Malibu Lagoon State Beach. You can rent surf boards and wetsuits, or catch a surfing lesson from Point Break Surf Company. Address: 23200 CA-1, Malibu, CA 90265.
- Wander along Malibu Pier. It’s an iconic pier that dates back to 1905, with shops, restaurants, fishing, and surfer-watching.
- Lunch at Malibu Farm. Located right at the end of Malibu Pier, it serves fresh and healthy American cuisine with stunning views across the Pacific Ocean. Address: 23000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265.
- Head to El Matador State Beach. A little further along the coast, you’ll find this gorgeous beach. There are picnic tables that look out over the Pacific Ocean. Spend some time sunbathing before taking the trail through the stunning rock formations on the face of the bluff. You might even spot models having photoshoots on this iconic beach. Address: 32350 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265.
Evening: Santa Monica
- Once you’ve made the most of the sun in Malibu, either transit or drive down to Santa Monica Pier. Walk along the pier, soaking in the atmosphere and watching the entertainers. It wouldn’t be a visit without taking a ride on the famous ferris wheel for beach views. Address: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
- Next stop: Muscle Beach. Just along the way from Santa Monica Pier, you can watch dozens of beefy athletes of flexing and pumping iron. It’s quite the spectacle, and a true LA icon! Address: 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291.
- Go for dinner at Colapasta in downtown Santa Monica for delicious homemade pasta in a rustic Italian trattoria with beachy vibes. Address: 1241 5th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
- Head for sundowners at The Bungalow at the Fairmont Miramar. Here, you’ll find an upmarket, funky bar with a surf themed billiards room and a patio adorned with neon lights and LA’s coolest. Address: 101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Day 2 in Los Angeles: Melrose Avenue, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and the Griffith Observatory
Morning: Melrose Avenue
- First thing’s first: brunch. And where better to brunch than the quintessentially LA neighbourhood of Melrose Avenue. It’s a beautiful street, scattered with colourful murals, boutique stores, and independent restaurants. Check out Village Idiot, with its delicious brunch menu serving everything from biscuits and gravy to Eggs Benedict. Address: 7383 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046.
- With a full belly, you’ll likely fancy a walk. Melrose Avenue is one of those places where you see so many fascinating shops and quirky objects along your way. Go mural spotting along the way, and don’t miss that Paul Smith pink wall. It even has its own security. Address: 8221 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046.
- Go shopping at Melrose Place. One of my favourite parts in all of Los Angeles, it’s a beautiful street of ornate shop fronts and manicured topiary. Here, you’ll find everything from consignment stores to the candy pinks of Glossier and more. Address: Melrose Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Afternoon: Beverly Hills
- Not far from this area of West Hollywood, you’ll find one of LA’s most affluent areas: Beverly Hills. Uber or drive over and begin your exploration of 90210 by hitting up the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel. Check out the palm print wall paper, idyllic pool set up, or dine in one of its beautiful restaurants along with the stars. Address: 9641 Sunset Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
- No trip to Beverly Hills would be complete without seeing the Beverly Hills sign. Turn out of the hotel and walk down Sunset Boulevard. This in itself is a treat thanks to the gorgeous properties you’ll walk past. Turn the corner, and you’ll see the sign for your very own photoshoot. Address: 9390 N Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
- Walk along palm fringed Rodeo Drive. They may or may not be within your budget, but either way you need to see the luxury stores of Rodeo Drive. Don’t miss the bright yellow Rolls Royce and the Rodeo Drive street sign. Address: Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
Evening: Hollywood and the Griffith Observatory
- Before the sun sets, hit up the Hollywood Walk of Fame on your way from Beverly Hills to the Griffith Observatory. Hollywood is a little more run down than some of the more affluent parts of LA, but the Walk of Fame is one to tick off your bucket list. Look out for Grauman’s Chinese Theater with its accompany celebrity hand prints and footprints too. Address: 6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028.
- The quickest way to get up to the Griffith Observatory for sunset is to Uber from Hollywood. From here, you can explore the observatory, and enjoy the beautiful views across the Los Angeles skyline. Catch the sunset, and spot the incredible Hollywood sign. If you’re feeling active, go for a hike among the Hollywood hills at dusk. Address: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
- Grab dinner at LA favourite, Mercado. With creative Mexican cuisine and over seventy tequila options, you can guarantee a great dinner. Address: 3413 Cahuenga Blvd W, Los Angeles, CA 90068.
Day 3 in Los Angeles: Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, and Downtown LA
Morning: Abbot Kinney Boulevard
- Begin your day with a suitably LA breakfast at the Butcher’s Daughter on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. With gorgeous, green interiors, this Los Angeles hotspot dishes up vegan and vegetarian food as well as fresh juices. Address: 1205 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291.
- Go shopping along the length of Abbot Kinney Boulevard and check out the boutique stores and independent shops. Stop off for a delicious flat white at Blue Bottle Coffee along the way. Address: 1103 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291.
- Look out for the colourful murals along Abbot Kinney Boulevard for the perfect photo opportunity. Grab an ice cream from Salt and Straw – the salted, malted chocolate chip cookie dough is to die for. Address: 1357 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291.
- Walk along to Venice from Abbot Kinney Boulevard, passing the gorgeous beach houses and canals of the neighbourhood.
- Take an oceanfront walk along Venice Beach and enjoy a spot of people watching. Look out for the skateboarders and the surfers along your way. Address: Venice Fishing Pier, Venice, CA 90292.
- Stop for a bite to eat at Great White and indulge in healthy yet delicious Cali style foods from scramble bowls to avocado toast. Address: 1604 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA 90291.
- Spot the legendary Venice sign in the middle of a busy intersection. It’s a colourful hanging sign that is now a celebrated LA landscape. Don’t miss your photo opportunity! Address: Pacific Ave & Windward Ave, Venice, CA 90291.
Evening: Downtown LA
- The only way to end your three day Los Angeles itinerary is with a fantastic final supper. For something special, head to 71 Above. In the heart of downtown LA, it has delicious food with 360º views across Los Angeles. Prepared by Chef Javier Lopez, you can expect American cuisine, from steak tartare to octopus. Address: 633 W 5th St 71st Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071.
- Finish your Los Angeles itinerary with fancy cocktails at Broken Shaker. With a cool South Beach vibe, mingle with LA’s young and beautiful. Enjoy sundowners on the rooftop with a view of LA – just don’t be the one jumping into the swimming pool. Address: 416 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014.
When to Go to Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a great city any time of the year. The shoulder seasons of March to May, and September to November are ideal to visit because it’s a little cooler, and there are less crowds. As Los Angeles is spread out, however, this isn’t as bad as you may feel in other cities like London or New York. Temperatures in the shoulder seasons range from the low 50s to the low 80s (10-26C). This is perfect T-shirt weather for exploring and seeing the sights, without worrying about burning ion the hot sun.
In the summer months, LA often reaches into the mid-80s (around 30C). Sometimes this hot California sun and the heavy smog can feel a little oppressive, making the coastal areas and beaches a lot more attractive. For a cheaper deal, look at visiting LA in the winter. For some great deals, look at heading to LA in the winter. It may be a little cooler and you might need an umbrella occasionally, but January and February make for quieter months to explore.
Getting to Los Angeles
Naturally, this depends on where you’re coming from, but Los Angeles is a major city. This makes it relatively easy to reach no matter where your departure is from. Most people begin their Los Angeles itinerary with a flight in to LAX. A car, bus, or train from other destinations may also be possible from other areas. It also very much depends on what it is you’re planning to see in Los Angeles during your visit.
By car, the major highways are the I-5 from San Diego, the US Highway 101 from north California, the I-15 from Las Vegas, and the I-10 from Phoenix. Flights into LAX from San Francisco, San Jose, or Oakland are just over an hour making it a speedy trip. While LAX is the most common LA airport, there are also five others: Long Beach (LGB), Hollywood-Burbank (BUR), Orange County (SNA), and Ontario airport.
That’s my three day Los Angeles itinerary! Is there anything else you’d add in for a trip to LA?