If you’ve heard anything about Los Angeles, California, you’ve probably heard it’s a massive, sprawling city. With nearly 500 square miles of urban landscape, this rumor turns out to be true. Luckily, that just means that it’s ideal for exploring in small pockets. If you only have one weekend to spare, hit some of the highlights while leaving enough downtime to feel relaxed. If there’s one town to play tourist in, it’s this one. Especially since many of the main attractions are free!
12 pm – For day one, we recommend hopping the earlier flight to allow more time for exploring once you arrive in Los Angeles. Once you land, get your rental car squared away and navigate to your hotel you’ll be ready for lunch. Grab something near the hotel and spend some downtime orienting yourself to where you are in the city (there are quite a few neighborhoods, after all).
2 pm – Beat the Friday rush hour traffic as best you can and head to the iconic Santa Monica Pier in the late afternoon. The pier marks the end of the infamous Route 66 with its rides at Pacific Park, historical walking tours, arcade, aquarium and more. There’s plenty to do here to kill an afternoon including great places to grab a bite to eat.
5pm – Getting hungry? No problem. There are plenty of restaurants along the pier itself including Seaside on the Pier with great rooftop ocean views, The Albright if you’re on the hunt for fresh seafood, or Mariasol Cocina Mexicana if you’re feeling like margaritas.
8 pm – While other California towns may be more well-known for brewing beer, that doesn’t mean you can’t find any craft goodness in LA. Head to Santa Monica Brew Works to close out your evening. Their taproom is spacious with ample parking, and their “beach brewed” philosophy makes for suds that fit any kind of California mood you’re in. We’d suggest the Ocean Park Pilsner if you want to keep it light, or the Inclined IPA if you want something a little hoppier.
10 am – If making a trip to The Getty Center is on your list (and we think it should be), you’ll want to head there right away in the morning to beat the crowds. The museum is free to visit and is a modern marvel of architecture and breathtaking views. The art is spectacular, too, with a wide range of pieces from medieval times to the present including works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Renoir. Also, be sure to allow yourself enough time to explore the gardens which are works of art in their own right.
1 pm – After you’ve had your fill of art and architecture, why not get some lunch? Head back towards downtown Los Angeles towards Hollywood to position yourself in the perfect spot for your next adventure. If you’re looking for solid sustenance, we’d suggest Stout Burgers & Beers for creative burger options and craft beer that is certain to give you that afternoon pick-me-up you’ve been looking for.
4 pm – Since you’re so near Hollywood’s main attraction, walk the few blocks to Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame. It might be the most touristy part of your trip, but there’s an undeniable liveliness that comes with the red brick stars and towering Dolby Theater. It’s like the sidewalk soaks up all the hustle, bustle, and glamour of every movie premiere and award show that has come to town, and it creates an energy that permeates in the best possible way. It may be cheesy, but we think it’s also well-worth your time.
6 pm – Hungry again? Us too. This time, why not climb a little higher for some spectacular rooftop views. That part of town can offer not only great skyline sights, but a clear shot of the Hollywood sign, too. (Hint: The sign doesn’t actually light up a night so be sure to get there early enough to see it by day.) One of our favorite spots to do just that? Mama Shelter for its boutique laid-back vibes, reasonable prices, and oh-so-delicious cocktail menu.
8 pm – Last, but certainly not least, make the twilight trek to Griffith Observatory to catch a breathtaking sunset from the best viewing spot in town. The observatory itself has free admission, and planetarium shows are available for a small fee. The best part of the experience? Watching the city lights come to life after the sun goes down.
10 am – Fuel up for the flight home with a breakfast you’ll dream about for weeks to come. The LA brunch game is strong, so you have a lot of great options to choose from depending on which part of town you’re calling home base. A few of our favorites: Salts Cure in Central LA for its no-nonsense locally-sourced menu, “brekkie” at Ruby’s in Santa Monica for its friendly neighborhood feel, and Commissary in Koreatown for its luscious greenhouse vibes and made-from-scratch menu.
Taylor is part of the Communications Team at Sun Country Airlines. What she loves most? Sun Country’s love of all things Minnesota and the airline’s focus on making everyone – from crew to passengers – feel right at home. If she were hopping on a flight tomorrow, she’d be headed west to Portland or south to Puerto Vallarta.