Famous for its beaches and connections to the movie industry, there are many places to visit and things to see in Los Angeles. For a long time, Los Angeles has been one of the top cities in the United States to visit. Although you can easily spend weeks exploring the city, it is possible to fit the main tourist sites with just 2 days in Los Angeles.
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My very first solo trip was a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I started my journey by spending 2 days in LA. It was such an unbelievable experience. I’m really happy I started the trip in Los Angeles. I hope you enjoy this 2 days in Los Angeles itinerary we have put together for some ideas for your visit to the city.
2 Days in Los Angeles
If you only have a couple of days to spend in LA, it is best to develop a plan, especially if you are a first-time visitor. Make sure you know what you want to see. You can get a lot done in two days if you manage your time well and prioritize the places you want to go.
See the Top Los Angeles Attractions on Day One
Los Angeles is famous around the world for several attractions and neighborhoods. For your first day itinerary, we’ve suggested quite a few places for you to visit. Some are good for a quick photo opportunity, and others you might want to spend more time. It’s all up to you.
Griffith Park is LA’s Natural Wonderland
Griffith Park is an excellent place to start your visit to Los Angeles. Located in the Santa Monica Mountains in the Los Feliz neighborhood, Griffith Park has many attractions and provides the best views of Los Angeles.
The Park is Part of Old Los Angeles
Griffith Park is part of the original Spanish land grant, Rancho Los Feliz. It is named for Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, a gold speculator who purchased 4,071 acres in 1882. In 1896, Griffith bequeathed 3,015 acres to the City of Los Angeles as a Christmas gift. This land was to be used as parkland open to everyone.
Lots of Attractions and Activities for Visitors
Griffith Park has been a popular place for Angelenos and tourists to visit since it was established. Beyond the natural beauty, there are several other attractions. These attractions include:
- Greek Theatre: The Greek is an outdoor entertainment venue that has hosted many great acts, including Frank Sinatra and Sir Elton John. The funds for this theatre were included in Col. Griffith’s will. The theatre was built in 1929 and had been entertaining the community ever since.
- Griffith Observatory: Also part of Col. Griffith’s legacy, the observatory opened up in 1935 and has been home to public astronomy in Southern California ever since. Admission is free, and visitors have access to exhibitions, a planetarium, and educational programming. On clear evenings, the telescope is open for viewing.
- Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens: The LA Zoo is home to more than 1400 mammals, birds, and amphibians. 58 of the 270 different species at the zoo are endangered. The Botanical Gardens has more than 800 species and 7000 plants, which you can see in planted gardens.
- Autry Museum of the American West: The Autry educates visitors about the American West and the stories and experiences of the diverse groups of people that lived there. The museum has a significant collection of Native American artifacts and exhibitions that discuss the relationship between native tribes and western settlers.
You can quite easily spend all day at Griffith Park, but it’s also an excellent stop to get a good sense of all that the city has to offer, especially when doing Los Angeles in 2 days. There is plenty of paid parking if you have a car, but if you don’t, the DASH Observatory shuttle regularly runs from the Sunset/Vermont Metro station.
Take a Photo at the Hollywood Sign
There is no symbol of Los Angeles that is more famous and enduring than the Hollywood sign, perched on the side of Mt. Lee. Erected initially as an advertisement for a housing development called Hollywoodland in 1923, it has since become a tourist attraction and a popular place to take photographs.
You might be surprised to learn that you cannot get very close to the sign. It is in a restricted area that is monitored by police and park rangers. If you are in Griffith Park, you can see the sign, but there are ways to get a good photo opportunity:
- Hiking Trails: There are several hiking trails that lead from Griffith Park. They range in difficulty and lead to different views of the sign, including from behind. Make sure to stay on the trail to avoid wandering into the restricted area.
- See the Sign from Downtown Hollywood: At the corner of Highland Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, you can see the Hollywood Sign and Hollywood all at the same time.
- Mulholland Drive Vista: On the famous Mulholland Drive, there is a specific viewpoint to see the sign. Called the “Hollywood Bowl Overlook,” you’ll get a great view of the sign plus a historical placard for more information.
How much time you decide to spend on seeing the Hollywood Sign is up to you. It is something you can easily incorporate into your visit to another location, so don’t feel like you need to devote a long time to get near it.
Visit Movie History in Hollywood
For many people around the world, Los Angeles means Hollywood. When planning your trip to LA, you will want to make sure to include a visit to Hollywood.
Hollywood Boulevard is the Heart of Hollywood
You cannot visit Hollywood without taking a walk down Hollywood Boulevard. One of the most famous streets in the city, there are a ton of attractions relating to film and entertainment. Things you must do while visiting Hollywood Boulevard are:
- Hollywood Walk of Fame: The Walk of Fame extends down both sides of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. Here you can find those iconic stars embedded in the sidewalk commemorating important figures in Hollywood history. The stars were first added in 1961, and there are generally 24 new ones each year.
- TCL Chinese Theatre: Originally known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, it opened in 1927. Filled with imported Chinese decorations, the interior is something to be seen. As are the world-famous handprints and footprints imprinted in the concrete outside. See if you can find your favorite movie star!
- Hollywood Wax Museum: When you visit Los Angeles, you never know if you’ll catch a glimpse of a movie star. At the wax museum, you can get up close and personal with them. From Michael Jackson to Brad Pitt, all sorts of entertainers are represented here.
- Hollywood Museum: If you love movie memorabilia, the Hollywood Museum is a must-see. There are more than 10,000 props and artifacts from movies and television shows, both classic and modern. Make sure to visit the Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball exhibits.
If you are using public transportation to get around the city, Hollywood Boulevard is easily accessible on the Metro Rail. Take the Red Line to the Hollywood/Highland Station, and you’ll be close to all these attractions.
West Hollywood Has a Wild History
West Hollywood is a cool and lively area of the city. In the early part of the 20th century, many movie stars lived in this neighborhood. At the time, it was an unincorporated part of Los Angeles, which meant that they were not under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department. However, they also lacked their own police force.
The lack of law enforcement meant that criminal enterprises moved in. The nightlife industry grew, especially on the Sunset Strip, a 1.5-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard that runs through West Hollywood. The gangsters are long gone, but the entertainment remains. Many rock stars got their start in the nightclubs, and this area has long had a large LGBTQ community.
Some of the things to do that you shouldn’t miss when you are in West Hollywood are:
- Sunset Strip: The Sunset Strip remains a place to have a good time. There are many great restaurants to choose from. Afterward, you can walk off your meal and do some shopping. If you are looking for something to do at night, there are music venues and nightclubs.
- Santa Monica Boulevard: Santa Monica Boulevard is part of historic Route 66, the road between Chicago and Los Angeles. It goes through the LGBTQ community, and the annual Pride Parade runs down the Boulevard.
- Design District: If you are interested in fashion and design, you must visit the design district. From art to streetwear, the Design District is the center of modern style trends.
Live the High Life in Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills is a neighborhood of Los Angeles known for being home to the rich and famous. It’s a great area to hang out if you want to see a movie star.
Art and Culture are Everywhere in Beverly Hills
If you are someone who appreciates public art and cultural landmarks, Beverly Hills has a lot to offer you. Visit these locations for a quick photo or stay a while to learn about the history and culture of this area.
- Beverly Gardens Park: Beverly Gardens is a 1.9-mile linear park that goes from Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevard to Doheny and Santa Monica Boulevard. There are several sights to see, including the iconic Beverly Hills sign and various gardens.
- Greystone Mansion and Gardens: The land this mansion was built on was given as a wedding gift to Edward “Ned” Laurence Dohney, Jr. by his father, an oil magnate. It was built in 1928 and had a tragic history. Six months after he and his family moved in, Ned was murdered. The grounds are open to the public.
- Virginia Robinson Gardens: The Robinson Gardens are on the former estate of Virginia and Harry Robinson, who owned the Robinson department stores. It was built in 1911 and was the first luxury estate built in Beverly Hills. The gardens are open to visitors, and if you plan your timing well, you can take a docent-led tour.
Beverly Hills Shopping
Beverly Hills is home to Rodeo Drive, one of the most famous shopping streets in the world. Over 100 luxury brands have stores here. Get the real Beverly Hills experience and go shopping, or at least window-shopping, on this architecturally significant street.
If you need a pick me up after all that shopping, stop at the Fountain Coffee Bar in the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel.
Getting to Beverly Hills is Easy
There are several ways to get to Beverly Hills. There are plenty of parking garages if you are using a car. Most offer the first two hours free. If you are using public transportation, the 704 Rapid bus goes between Union Station and the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards. You can also take it to Santa Monica and the beach.
Do Some Shopping and Eating at The Original Farmers’ Market and the Grove
Located in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, the Original Farmers’ Market and The Grove, an outdoor shopping area, are a must-visit for foodies and shoppers. They are open 7 days a week, and there is an electric streetcar that runs between them.
The Original Farmers’ Market is LA History
The Original Farmer’s Market has been at the corner of Third and Fairfax. Arthur Fremont Gilmore originally owned the site. It was a dairy farm that turned into an oil field after oil was discovered around 1900. Oil continued to be drilled until the 1920s, when zoning laws restricted drilling in residential areas.
In 1934, vendors started parking on the property selling their products to the local residents. This venture turns out to be so successful that a permanent building is erected, housing stalls, shops, and restaurants, as well as hosting special events. The market has only grown in the years since, and many stalls have been open for generations.
At the market, you can sample food from around the world and get unique gifts to take back to your friends and family. You can even take a food and history tour of the market. There are lots of ways to enjoy your time here.
The Grove is a Popular Outdoor Shopping and Dining Destination
After you’ve finished exploring the Farmer’s Market, you should take the streetcar over to The Grove. This outdoor area is filled with locals and tourists shopping and eating. The Grove also regularly hosts events, from drive-in movies to fashion shows, so take a look at the schedule before you go to see if anything is happening,
Day Two in Los Angeles – Take it Easy
After rushing around on day one to see all the top tourist attractions in LA, you will probably want to have a relaxing day focusing on one or two locations. For the locations below, you can devote as much time as you want. Keep in mind travel time to get to the spots and tour times if you take a studio tour.
Spend Some Time at the Beach
No trip to Los Angeles is complete without visiting the beach. Southern California is lucky enough to have a climate that encourages beach visits year-round. Fair warning to East Coasters, the Pacific Ocean can be very cold!
Venice Beach is LA’s Most Popular Park
Venice Beach is part of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. It is the most popular location that they manage, with between 28,000 and 30,000 people visiting every day. Venice Beach was established in the early 1900s as the Coney Island of the West Coast.
Fun things to do while at Venice Beach include:
- Venice Beach Boardwalk: The Boardwalk is over 2 miles long and is lined with restaurants, shops, and food venues. There are street entertainers and vendors all along the Boardwalk. Taking a walk, there can be a lot of fun.
- Venice Beach Recreation Center: The Recreation Center has tons of outdoor activities if you feel like you want some physical activity. There are basketball and tennis courts, a gymnastics area, and you won’t want to miss the famous Muscle Beach, where a young Arnold Schwarzenegger was discovered.
- Skate Plaza: In the 1970s, Venice Beach was declared the Roller Skating Capital of the World, and it has been a destination for roller skaters, rollerbladers, and skateboarders alike. You can roll down the oceanside walk or practice your tricks in the skate plaza.
Along with the above recreation options, there are lots of walking and biking paths. It is easy to rent a bike, so definitely include that in your visit to Venice Beach if you like bike rides by the ocean.
Have Fun in the Sun in Santa Monica
If you head north along the coast from Venice Beach, you’ll arrive in Santa Monica. Less quirky than Venice Beach, Santa Monica nonetheless has many activities for visitors. It has 3.5 miles of coastline and eight neighborhoods with shops and restaurants.
While you are in Santa Monica, you should make sure to visit these attractions:
- Santa Monica Pier: Arguably the biggest attraction in Santa Monica, the pier has been popular with visitors for more than a century. The pier opened in 1909 and immediately became a hot spot for recreational anglers. The amusement park opened in 1916. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel for great views of the pier and surrounding area.
- Palisades Park: This 25-acre park overlooks the Pacific and the pier. There are a lot of trails for walkers and bikers, and this is a great place to take a break and do some people watching.
- Annenberg Community Beach House: The Beach House was first built as a private estate by William Randolph Hearst for his mistress, actress Marion Davies. The original mansion had over 100 rooms and a marble swimming pool. It became a private club in the 1940s, and the mansion was demolished in 1956. The pool remains, and the beach house is now open to the public.
- Third Street Promenade: The promenade consists of three blocks in downtown Santa Monica that are pedestrianized. This is a great area to do some shopping or grab a bite to eat. There are also several theatres if you want to catch a show.
Go Car Free in Santa Monica
Santa Monica is easy to get to by public transportation. You can take the Metro Expo Line or Rapid 10 bus from Union Station and downtown LA. There are also parking lots and metered street parking.
Santa Monica encourages visitors to go car free, and it is a very pedestrian friendly town. There are walking paths and bike lanes that make it easy to get around. If you get tired, you can hail the Santa Monica Circuit, golf cart cabs that will take you anywhere in their service area for free. Finally, you can also rent an electric scooter.
Take a Studio Tour
If you came to Los Angeles with the sole intention of immersing yourself in all things Hollywood, then you should definitely devote a few hours to a studio tour. You can see where your favorite movies were made, sit in the audience of a game show, and maybe see the stars at work.
- Warner Brothers: At Warner Brothers, the studio tour will take you to see the sound stages and backlots where movies are filmed. You can also visit the sets of popular TV shows like Friends and The Big Bang Theory. There are also exhibitions to visit. There are various tours at different prices and length of the tour.
- Sony Pictures: On the Sony lot, you can see the soundstages where iconic films like The Wizard of Oz were filmed. Popular game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy are filmed here, so see if you can get an audience ticket. Tours run on weekdays.
- Universal Studios: The hour-long tour goes through 13 city blocks designed in consultation with Steven Spielberg. Visitors will get a behind the scenes tour of movie-making secrets and come face-to-face with King Kong and the shark from Jaws. The tour is included in the ticket for the Universal Studios theme park.
- Paramount Pictures: Paramount Pictures is as old as Hollywood itself, and there is a lot of cinema history at this studio. The tour is two hours long, and you’ll get to experience a behind the scenes look at a real working studio.
The studios are scattered around Los Angeles, so check before you go for the best way to get to them and if there is available parking nearby.
Ride the Roller Coaster at a Theme Park
Many visitors to Los Angeles make it a point to visit one of the world famous amusement parks that are near the city. From the original Disney Park to Universal Studios and its movie-themed rides, you are sure to have a fun day.
- Disneyland: Located in Anaheim, about a 30 drive minutes southwest of Downtown Los Angeles, Disneyland is the first theme park in the Disney Park empire. Since opening in 1955, Disneyland has been a popular attraction for visitors to Los Angeles ever since.
Disneyland covers 510 acres and has almost 100 attractions. Some of the most famous include the Spinning Tea Cups and Space Mountain. You can easily spend all day at the park, ending your visit with the fireworks show after the sun goes down.
- Universal Studios: Universal Studios is a combination theme park and movie studio. Its attractions and shows are largely based around the movies the studio produces, like Jurassic Park and Despicable Me.
Universal Studios is also home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Visitors can immerse themselves in all things Harry Potter. Visit Hogsmeade for a Butterbeer and take a ride on a Potter themed attraction.
When you are done with your trip to Universal Studios, head west on Ventura Boulevard to the Augustine Wine Bar, where you can enjoy a nice dinner.
To get to the theme parks, driving is easiest. Check the parks’ websites for parking and public transportation information.
Where To Stay in LA
Choosing where you stay while you’re in the city depends on what your sightseeing priorities are and what kind of transportation you are planning to use. If you don’t have a car, you’ll want to make sure you are near the metro and bus stops to get you around.
Stay in Hollywood for Easy Access
Hollywood is centrally located in Los Angeles and has easy links to the metro. Some places to stay include:
Choose Beverly Hills for a Little Glamour
Beverly Hills lacks convenient public transportation, so you should only choose to stay here if you are using a car to get around the city.
No matter where you choose to stay in the city, you’re guaranteed to find fun things to do and excellent restaurants nearby.
Los Angeles is a Place to Return To
Even if you’re only spending two days in LA, you’ll be able to make the most out of your time in the city. There are so many attractions that you would need weeks to visit everything. This itinerary will get you to the must-sees in the city. If you leave wishing you had had a chance to see more, fret not. LA is not going anywhere, and will always be a guaranteed good time.
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