Planning a three day visit to Los Angeles and don't know what to see or do? Keep reading to see the best three day itinerary for the city of angels. This itinerary is perfect for first timers to L.A. and covers all of Los Angeles best attractions and sights. You can also find information on how to get around the city and the best way to save money. If you only have 2 days to spare then you want to read L.A. in 2 Days.
Scenario one, you have flown in to L.A. and it is still early morning (hopefully you got some good sleep on the plane!). What you want to do is go and pick up a rental car from the airport. Pre-book is my advice because you will be saving a lot of money if you do this. We use Avis for car hire from LAX and they always have great rates in Los Angeles with no one way drop off fee. Because you have your own vehicle you can organize your accommodation in any part of the city you like. Go and drop your bags off and get ready to explore the city of angels!
Scenario two, you have flown in but are not quite comfortable driving in a different country/ big city/ on the wrong side of the road so you opt for public transport. What you want to do is make sure you book your stay that is somewhere convenient to city attractions and where you can easily access transport. We recommend staying in either the Hollywood area, Santa Monica or Downtown Los Angeles.
Your options to get to your accommodations are to catch a shuttle bus which you can organize when you arrive at LAX, or book your shuttle bus in advance here. Another option is to use Uber which is very popular otherwise you can always try to find your way using the public transport system which involves catching a bus to the train station. If you want to try using the public transport system then check out this blog post on using the metro system in L.A. which I find less confusing than the official metro page.
Day 1 - Los Angeles Itinerary
What to see in L.A.
Start exploring the city of Los Angeles in Hollywood where you can visit the Walk of Fame and the TCL Chinese Theatre. This is also where you would begin the tour of the Hollywood Movie Star's Home's if you were to choose this option which takes you in an open air van to Beverly Hills and Mulholland Drive to view some glamourous abodes of the rich and famous.
Next up head to Griffith Park and visit Griffith Observatory where visitors can look through telescopes and explore exhibits. The Griffith Observatory building itself is an iconic Los Angeles attraction and from up here you can view spectacular views of Los Angeles city and the Hollywood Sign. The views are even better at night with the city all lit up below. After visiting the observatory you can choose to hike up to the Hollywood Sign or head to Downtown Los Angeles.
Downtown L.A. is full of beautiful art deco style architecture. The art deco movement arose in the 1930's and is closely associated with the golden age of Hollywood. You can see some of these stunning buildings on Broadway Street and then stop by Grand Central Market for lunch. Take a walking tour of downtown and walk by the Walt Disney Concert Hall at 111 south Grand Avenue which was designed by Frank Gehry. This building is an absolute marvel with it's striking stainless steel exterior. If you are still interested in viewing art deco style architecture you can head to Union Station on Alameda Street which is L.A.'s main railway station. Across the road from Union Station is Olvera Street, a Mexican market which recreates a romantic "old Los Angeles" with brick-lined streets, historic buildings, vendors selling arts & crafts and live music on the weekends. The Avila Adobe, a historic California landmark is also located here. It is the oldest still standing house built in 1818.
End your day at Oue Skypace, L.A.'s tallest open air observation deck 1000 feet above the city which features 360 degree panoramic views. If you're feeling daring you can ride the Sky Slide which transports you from the inside of the 70th floor to the outside of the 69th floor. This is not for you if you dislike heights!
Day 2 - Los Angeles Itinerary
What to see in L.A.
Start your morning with breakfast at Malibu Farm on the pier in Malibu, a trendy eatery which sources local organic food and has lovely views of the ocean. When you're done eating head over to the Getty Villa which houses a collection of Greek and Roman artwork that dates back to 6,500BC. The villa itself is a recreation of an ancient roman country house.
Next on your L.A. itinerary is a visit to Santa Monica Pier where you can take a ride on the iconic Ferris Wheel, roll on the rollercoaster or just grab some ice cream and stroll along the pier. If you have the kids in tow you may like to purchase a pass for Pacific Park which gives you unlimited rides at this amusement park on the pier. When you're done withthe fun head to Third Street Promenade for some retail therapy and lunch.
Afterwards head to Venice Beach where you can check out some of the street stalls and quirky characters. You can also hire a bicycle and ride over to the Venice Canals for some pictures. End your day by catching a gorgeous west coast sunset. There are a number of bars here if you want to grab a drink in the evening including a roof top bar at High Lounge.
Day 3 - Los Angeles Itinerary
It's time to have some fun! Choose one of the above attractions according to your interests and enjoy an exciting day. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour is great for movie buffs, Universal Studio's is sure to impress the kids along with Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags is our recommendation for thrill seekers.
How to save money on attractions in L.A.
If you are interested in visiting more than one of the attractions mentioned above (that aren't free) you should invest in a Go City Card which allows you to visit multiple attractions for one price. For example, a one day pass will set you back $85 and a two day pass costs $129. With these passes you can visit as many attractions as you can in a day. Some of the attractions that are included in the pass are Knott's Berry Farm, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Oue Skyspace L.A., Malibu Celebrity Homes Tour, and rides at Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier just to name a few. You can also build your own package and just choose a few of the places you'd prefer to visit.
How to see Los Angeles without a car
If you were in scenario two mentioned above and don't want to rent a vehicle then you have two options. You can opt to use public transport as mentioned above however that can be really slow. A better option is to get a ticket for the Hop on Hop off Bus. You can choose from a 24 hour, 48 hour and 72 hour option. You can board the bus at 70 different stops and see the city at your leisure. The bus consists of 4 routes which you can view along with the timetable by clicking on the following links: Hollywood & Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills & Santa Monica, Downtown L.A., Venice and Marina Del Ray and Universal and Hollywood Bowl line. Prices start from $49 for the 24 hour option and go up.
I hope you find this information useful. I have tried to group visiting attractions by area to make things easier. There is obviously so much more you could see and do however you want to make sure you enjoy each place visited and you also need to factor in L.A. traffic which can almost always double the time to get around. If you have any questions about where to visit, which attractions are best or have some of your own tips you would like to share feel free to leave a comment below.
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