I recently returned from a weekend in Los Angeles, California and had an absolute blast. My friend and I had 3 days to spend in the City of Angels, staying in Marina del Rey, not far from Venice. At first, LA seems pretty overwhelming when planning a trip. When the city’s so spread out and there’s so much to do, what do you do? And how much can you cram into the time you have there? Here’s my guide on the top things to do in Los Angeles, no matter how long you’re staying.
Top things to do in Los Angeles: Drive to Malibu, California
Ever watch Cribs and dream of the celebrity homes set on the peripheries of Malibu Beach? Or dream of walking Malibu Pier and staring out to watch the Californian surfers catching waves? May all your dreams come true.
Walk Malibu Pier
Who knows what you’ll see on Malibu Pier, as it attracts all kinds of interesting people. Particularly a wealthy crowd. When we visited, a show for Netflix was being filmed. The sun was beating down, and vendors were selling ice cream sandwiches to freshly popped corn. It’s perfect for people watching, and the coastal views are also simply divine.
Eat at Malibu Farm
One of the top things to do in Los Angeles is grabbing a bite at Malibu Farm. Whether you choose the fancier restaurant or the cafe, neither choice will be regrettable. Most of their dishes are healthy yet delicious. The views are breathtaking, and you can sit in the sun sipping sangria while watching the surf. Just watch out the pesky seagulls don’t steal your leftovers.
Sunbathe on a Malibu Beach
It’s California, which means the sun is always shining, right? It was for us thankfully, on a beautiful October day. You can hit up Malibu Surfrider Beach to relax or walk up to Malibu Lagoon. If you have longer, check out some of the gorgeous beaches like El Matador Beach or Zuma Beach. Either way, it’s undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Los Angeles.
Top things to do in Los Angeles: Visit Santa Monica
No trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a stop to see Santa Monica. Walk the pier, dine at one of the many restaurants, and hit up the beach with its famous backdrop.
Walk Santa Monica Pier
It’s super fun and family friendly, so enjoy the rides and don’t forget to grab some cotton candy. Of course, any first time visitors should ride the Pacific Wheel for beach views all the way across to Venice. Relax, and enjoy some brilliant entertainment from the street entertainers on the pier.
Relax (or work out) at Muscle Beach
Of course, this is one of the top things to do in Los Angeles – you can’t visit without seeing the iconic Muscle Beach. It’s perfect for people watching, and you can see some really buff people pumping iron here, just like in the moves. Perhaps you’ll join them?
Enjoy al fresco drinks
It’s no secret that Santa Monica has some of the coolest and classiest bars in LA. Head to Fairmont’s The Bungalow outdoor bar for chic interiors and an even more sophisticated crowd. The Shangri La’s Onyx bar is on the rooftop and ocean facing for beautiful views as you sip cocktails.
Top things to do in Los Angeles: Hit up Melrose Avenue
Melrose Avenue is one of Los Angeles’ most famous streets, attracting locals and tourists with its walkable shopping and great restaurants. It’s twenty two blocks of murals and alternative stores that you won’t be able to resist.
Grab brunch on Melrose
There are just so many incredible places to brunch along Melrose Avenue that it’s genuinely a challenge to choose. You’ll find pretty much anything you fancy and you can also likely eat al fresco. Check out The Village Idiot, Blu Jam Cafe, and Crossroads Kitchen for a few tasty options on the street.
Hunt down the murals
One of the top things to do in Los Angeles is finding the many murals that appear along the street. You’ve probably spotted several already on Instagram. See how many you can get a photo with, and of course, don’t miss the Paul Smith pink wall. You’ll be amazed at its many rules.
Shop at Melrose Place
Melrose Place is probably one of the most beautiful shopping districts you’ll see. It’s full of gorgeous boutique designer stores, to the coolest stores from Glossier to consignment and vintage. The street itself is pretty enough with its plants and decor, let alone the beautiful shops.
Top things to do in Los Angeles: Ball out in Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills is famous as the most glamorous neighbourhood of Los Angeles. Home to only the richest in the city, it has some of the most beautiful streets and properties you’ll see.
Visit the Beverly Hills Hotel
Not all of us are able to afford a stay at the luxurious and iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, but don’t let that stop you. Anyone can visit to browse the temporary lodgings of the rich and famous, and you can choose from one of their many beautiful and delicious restaurants. It may cost you, though!
See the famous Beverly Hills sign
Live like a 90210 kid and make sure you see the famous Beverly Hills landmark with its water feature. It’s just a twenty minute walk from the Beverly Hills Hotel. I’d highly recommend taking this route as you pass some incredible houses, and also those beautiful palm fringed streets.
Shop on Rodeo Drive
Anyone who knows anything knows that Rodeo Drive screams money and is the ultimate shopping street for the wealthy. Picture the sun shining down through the palm trees, luxury cars cruising along, and all the designer shops and boutiques. And that, my friends, is Rodeo Drive.
Hang out in Hollywood
The City of Angels has long been the home of glitz, glamour, and celebrity. For this very reason, one of the top things to do in Los Angeles is visiting Hollywood. Tick off some key landmarks and connect with the birthplace of the Oscars, A-list stars, and also fame and fortune.
Take the Walk of Fame
Not exactly a walk, the Walk of Fame spans several streets with its star spangled plaques. It’s pretty cool walking along and finding celebrity after celebrity. Today’s major names are mostly found around the Dolby Theater and the Roosevelt Hotel. Take pictures with all your favourite celebrities’.
Check out the Griffith Observatory
The Griffith Observatory is a beautiful art deco building that’s home to an observatory and also a world-class planetarium. Here, you can learn all about physics, our planet, and the solar system. When you’re done, you can enjoy the Observatory’s incredible position overlooking downtown LA.
Catch a sunset from the Hollywood Hills
One of the top things to do in Los Angeles is for sure catching an incredible sunset during a hike among the Hollywood Hills. There are a number you can choose from, ranging in difficulty. All of them, however, offer sprawling views right across downtown LA, particularly awesome at sunset.
Top things to do in Los Angeles: Visit Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Abbot Kinney Boulevard is one of Los Angeles’ hottest streets. It can basically be described as a mile of boutique shops, hip restaurants, and modern art. It’s the street on which to be spotted, and the street where all retailers want their own boutique store. It’s also perfect for browsing.
Eat down the street
In true LA style, most of Abbot Kinney’s restaurants are trendy, famous on Instagram, and boast a whole ton of vegan options. Check out The Butcher’s Daughter for its beautiful interior, Felix for its delicious pizza, and finish off with ice cream from Salt & Straw and also coffee from Blue Bottle.
Shop until you drop
Definitely one of the top things to do in Los Angeles is shopping in the gorgeous boutique stores of Abbot Kinney Boulevard. With a boho California vibe, each store is kitted out to match. Wander the stores as your heart desires – a few favourites are Sweaty Betty and the Toms flagship.
Spot the murals
Much like Melrose Avenue, it seems as though no street in LA is cool unless there are colourful murals to be found. In between shopping, look across the street at the walls and down alleyways. You’ll be surprised at the beautiful art you pass along your journey along the boulevard.
Top things to do in Los Angeles: Hang out in Venice
Just a short walk from Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice is one of the coolest spots in LA, with its legendary boardwalk and iconic beach. Don’t miss the skateboarders, the street art, and the vibrant and diverse crowd.
Lounge on Venice Beach
Venice’s beautiful beach is large and sprawls for miles. Lounge, sunbathe, or take a dip in the cool Pacific Ocean. It’s the perfect place for people watching, and also snapping a picture with one of the colourful lifeguard huts that are dotted along the coast.
Spot the Venice sign
The most iconic landmark of this neighbourhood is the Venice sign, and therefore one of the top things to do in Los Angeles is go and see it. A replica of the 1905 original, you get a thirty second window to grab your shot in between the traffic lights.
Cruise the boardwalk
Whether you cycle, walk, or rollerblade the boardwalk, this is a must do on Venice Beach. Pass the skateboard ramps, characters with boom boxes, and the beautiful ocean on your way. You can continue all the way through to Santa Monica Pier, the perfect break after a long cruise in the sun.
That’s my comprehensive guide of the top things to do in Los Angeles. Have you been to LA before? If so, what are your top recommendations?