48 hours in Los Angeles gives you time for a solid introduction to this diverse and fascinating city. The most important thing is to have a detailed plan to make the most of your time here. Here’s a sample of things to do that let you experience a little of everything from the cultural downtown center of the city, to a drive up one of Southern California’s most scenic highways. Here’s what sights you should consider adding to your own Los Angeles itinerary for 2 days.
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Getting around Los Angeles
The best way to get around Los Angeles is by renting a car. The ideal spot to rent a car is at the airport, since it’s always the cheapest and most convenient. The city’s public transportation system is not very efficient, especially if you want to cover long distances. That being said ride sharing options like Uber and Lyft can be used for short distances and the Metro can be useful depending where your destination is (like downtown LA for example).
The Complete Los Angeles Itinerary For 2 Days
Los Angeles restaurants are characteristic of their innovation, often borrowing from diverse cultural influences. Kismet in Los Feliz is exactly this, where its Mediterranean/Middle Eastern menu features dishes like the Turkish-ish Breakfast, which comes with tiny dishes like soft-boiled eggs with sumac and marinated Persian cucumbers with labneh that are perfect for sharing. Other brunch dishes that are noteworthy are the broccoli toast and the freekeh polenta. Strongly recommended: finish your meal with strong cups of Turkish coffee.
Alternative: If you want traditional LA breakfast fare, nearby Go Get Em Tiger, offers deliciously strong coffee, avocado toast, overnight oats and a breakfast burrito stuffed with chorizo, scrambled eggs and crispy potatoes that does not mess around.
Griffith Observatory and Park
It’s hard to really comprehend how spread out the city is until you see it from above. The hike from the parking lot to get to this observatory is not too difficult (it’s more of a walk up a steep paved road). Once you get up to the top you are instantly rewarded with stunning views of not only the city, but the surrounding Hollywood Hills, including a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign. There is nothing more classic LA than being up here, especially at sunset. Make sure to also explore inside the Observatory as well, where you can watch shows in the Planetarium.
The surrounding Griffith Park is a great spot to hike in and take advantage of the 53-mile network of trails. A popular hike is from the Observatory parking lot to the top of the highest peak in the park: Mount Hollywood, where you are rewarded with stunning views of Los Angeles . All hiking trails close at dusk.
Parking in the lot can be quite difficult, especially during the summer months. There is free parking in the Observatory parking lot if there’s no show going on in the Greek Theater. Take advantage of the DASH Observatory Shuttle, which connects to the Metro Red Line for an easy public transportation alternative.
You cannot visit LA without stopping by Rodeo Drive, and seeing the over-the-top designer stores and ridiculous wealth on display. Make sure to also stop by Anderson Court, which is a shopping center designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The vintage Beverley Hills sign in the Beverley Gardens Park is a great spot to stop for a prime photo opportunity. To treat your sweet tooth, head to the 24-hour Sprinkles ATM, where you can choose from a variety of cupcakes.
When you’ve had too much sensory overload, retreat to the Paley Center for Media, a quiet oasis in the midst of all the madness. This space has a beautifully-designed interior and always houses interesting television and radio-related exhibits and events. It also serves as a great restroom stop with spotless bathrooms. Best of all it’s free with donations encouraged.
The main drag of Hollywood is anything but glamorous. Instead it’s quite touristy, and a bit rough around the edges. The trick is to just get in and out, seeing the most important sights like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and famous hand prints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Fun fact: when a celebrity gets their star, the ceremony is open to the public. Check out the upcoming ceremonies on the official website. The rest of the area is not really worth sticking around for, since you’ll most likely be trying to navigate yourself around street performers handling live boa constrictors, hoards of famous people impersonators vying for your attention and a lot of weirdos wandering around. This area is basically the opposite of what people think Hollywood will be like.
For another taste of old Hollywood, the Roosevelt Hotel is a historic building that is worth stopping by and walking around the halls where actors like Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift once called home. Seek out The Spare Room, a cozy hidden bar on the hotel’s mezzanine floor, where there’s a pretty extensive cocktail list, board games to play, and a two-lane bowling alley that’s available for rent.
Grand Central Market
Head to this popular indoor food market for dinner where you can take advantage of a wide variety of food from around the world. A few excellent options are Tacos Tumbras a Tomas for their carnitas, Madcapra for falafel, and Sticky Rice for Thai food. For dessert, check out La Huerta, which is one of the original booths and offers a dizzying array of candy, including a wide range of Mexican sweets.
If there’s no seating (or just too hot inside), head a few blocks over to Grand Park for a picnic at one of DTLA’s largest swaths of green in a sea of skyscrapers. There are usually pink-hued tables and chairs available, with a view of the historic City Hall across the street.
Alternative: If you’re more in the mood for sausage and beer, Wurstkuche in the nearby Arts District has an impressive array with standards like bratwurst, and more unusual choices like rabbit. There are also vegetarian options as well. Pair your sausage with one of their Belgian and German beers.
After dinner, walk over to Little Tokyo for dessert from Mikawaya in the form of mochi ice cream in unique flavors like green tea, plum wine or salt caramel. This ice cream shop is located in the decorative Japanese Village Plaza, which has plenty of little shops to explore from beauty to home goods. Drop by Mitsuwa, a Japanese grocery chain to stock up on Pocky, rice crackers and pre-packaged mochi.
Start your day on the Westside in Venice and grab brunch at this neighborhood deli/cafe, which seems to always have a line no matter the time of day. There are different stations that you can choose your food from after grabbing a number from the back. The main area caters to those wanting items like a brisket sandwich or in-house cured smoked salmon. If you just want to grab coffee and/or baked goods, there is a separate line at the front.
Alternative: if the line for Gjusta is overwheming (I hear ya), head to Bondi Harvest in Santa Monica for a taste of Australia in the form of healthy dishes like squash pancakes or acai bowls, as well as addictive flat whites. The interior beach decor with real surfboards up against the wall makes you feel like you are right on the beach instead of in the middle of an industrial area miles from the ocean.
Pacific Coast Highway
In the late morning, head up to this dreamy stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, where you will be treated to ocean views most of the way up. Start in Santa Monica and stop at the famed pier with its sun-powered Ferris wheel and the adjacent beach. People watch to your heart’s content as bikers whiz by on the biking path and fit beach volleyball players battle it out for a point. Parking can be tricky, but you can sometimes find metered street parking that won’t be as much as the overpriced parking lots.
Another noteworthy stop along the way is the The Getty Villa, a seaside estate turned art museum in Pacific Palisades. Entrance is free, but you must get a timed-entry ticket beforehand. Parking is $20, $15 after 3pm.
Stop at Malibu Seafood, for lunch where you can some of the freshest seafood like fish and chips, or get a little bit of everything and get the Fried Seafood Combo that comes with clam strips, fried fish, and shrimp. After lunch, head over to Point Zume State Beach, where you can spend the day at this picturesque beach, wading in the water and sleeping off lunch.
For dinner, stop at Malibu Farm Restaurant, located on the Malibu Pier with plenty of stunning ocean views and a casual beach vibe. The food is locally sourced dishes like grilled salmon and skirt steak. It’s the perfect spot to treat yourself on the last day, just make sure to make a reservation beforehand since it can get busy.
Alternative: for something a bit more casual, grab a spot at Ollie’s Duck & Dive, a local gastropub that in true Malibu fashion serves locally-source, organic ingredients whenever possible in its tacos, salads, and burgers. Taco Tuesdays is a local favorite which offers $2 street tacos and $5 selected beers.
Where to stay in Los Angeles
The first thing is to decide which location in the city will best fit with your Los Angeles itinerary for 2 days. Finding a place within central LA is a wise choice that allows you access to West LA and East LA, without you having to cross town. Urban sprawl and mind-numbing traffic are two reasons why plotting your every move is essential. Areas like West Hollywood, Hollywood, and Fairfax are good spots to start your search for a hotel.
A smaller independently-owned hotel that is centrally located in Hollywood. Walking distance to Hollywood Boulevard (Hollywood Walk Of Fame, TCL Chinese Theater), but not right on it. A great alternative to the bigger chains in the area. Great value for the location, and amenities.
Holiday Inn Express Hollywood Walk of Fame
This reliable hotel chain offers an excellent option in Hollywood, that is a short walk away from Hollywood Boulevard, as well as a short drive (or Metro ride) from other popular attractions like Sunset Boulevard and Universal Studios. The rooms are spacious and a hearty breakfast is included in your stay.
The Hollywood Roosevelt
If you want to treat yourself to classic Hollywood glamour, this is the hotel to stay in. Once home to stars like Marilyn Monroe, this 4-star hotel is located right on Hollywood Boulevard, and pulls out all the stops. Highlights include a rooftop terrace, the hotel’s famous outdoor pool, and notable restaurants and bars.
For a more in-depth guide to where to stay in Los Angeles, check out this post.
There you have it, a sample of the best of what the city has to offer packed into a Los Angeles itinerary for 2 days. You can always mix and match depending on your personal taste and schedule.