Are you visiting LA for the first time? This 2 day Los Angeles itinerary shows you how to tick all the highlights off your bucket list in under 48 hours.
It’s kinda impossible to road trip through California and not visit the city of Angels. Los Angeles is such a large and vibrant city, making it impossible to see everything in only two days. You could live there for months and still find new places to explore! Two days in Los Angeles does give you a great opportunity to see some of the main highlights alongside a few hidden gems. Let’s dive in!
2 Day Los Angeles Itinerary
Breaking down all the best things to do in LA is tough – there are so many great places! But we managed to take all the best bits and divided them into two days.
Day 1: West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica
If you’re on a tight time schedule, two days in Los Angeles will definitely be enough time to see some of the best spots in the city. On the first day, we start by checking off some LA bucket list items.
We start our two day Los Angeles itinerary with what probably is the most iconic and famous sight of the city: The Hollywood sign. Located on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills, the sign has been photographed thousands of times, starred in many movies and TV shows and attracted many tourists to LA.
The sign was created in 1923 and originally spelled out “Hollywoodland”. At first, it was only meant to be a temporary advertisement sign promoting a local real estate development. But due to its popularity, the sign stayed up.
One of the best places to enjoy the sign is in Lake Hollywood Park. Put 3000 Canyon Lane Drive into your navigation to get there. Here, you can find a park with a great view of the Hollywood Sign. For more great photography spots of the Hollywood sign, check this article.
Walk Of Fame
No visit to Hollywood is complete without the famous Walk Of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. With more than 2500 terrazzo and brass stars as part of the sidewalk, honouring the accomplishments of some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, the Walk Of Fame turned into a tourist hotspot.
But do go in with the right expectations. The Hollywood Boulevard is kind of a tourist trap and not as glamorous as it may seem on pictures and videos. It’s still fun to walk around it, see it with your own eyes and take a picture with the star of your favourite actors – but keep your expectations low and avoid going into any of the shops. They really try to profit from all the tourists and sell stuff with a crazy markup.
After walking upon the stars, head over to Sunset Boulevard for lunch. Here, you can find one of the most popular fast-food chains in California: In-N-Out Burgers. They are mainly found in California but are slowly expanding to other states as well. Their burgers are delicious (my dad went for seconds)! Make sure to try their house speciality, Animal Style Fries, which come with cheese, some onions and a tasty burger sauce.
Beverly Hills & Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills is a city in the LA county, mainly known for its many celebrities who made this their home. If you want to enjoy some fascinating architecture, I’d highly recommend driving around for a while. Don’t expect to see any celebs walking their dogs, though 😉
While in Beverly Hills, head over to Rodeo Drive. This shopping district was put on the map when Beverly Hill 90120 aired. It is one of the most expensive (and luxury) shopping district in the world. Obviously, I couldn’t really afford anything here, but it’s fun to see it with your own eyes!
The Original Farmers Market
If you’re not into burgers and fast food, do not worry. I have another recommendation for lunch right here: The Original Farmer’s Market. This historic Los Angeles landmark opened in 1934. You can find many food vendors, food stalls, local produce markets and other eateries here. There is a massive variety of foods available, so there really is something for everybody there. You can find more information about the Original Farmers Market on their website.
Santa Monica Pier
End your first day in Los Angeles in Santa Monica. It’s only a little drive away from Beverly Hills. With the famous Santa Monica Pier, it makes for a perfect place to spend your evening. On the pier, you can find an amusement park (with the iconic Ferris wheel), restaurants and shops. The perfect place to watch the sunset!
Day 2: Downtown L.A.
After having seen some of the main highlights of Los Angeles, we head over to downtown LA on our second day. Downtown LA has a lot of really cool places to check out, and you can see quite a bit in just one day. Here are my recommendations.
Walt Disney Concert Hall & The Broad
Start your day at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. There are some affordable parking spots quite close to this building, making it a good start of the day. Even if you don’t go inside, the building is impressive enough to leave an impression.
Afterwards, you can visit The Broad which is located pretty much next to the Concert Hall. The Broad is a modern art museum which has a magical mirror room. And the best thing… It’s completely free to visit! Just make sure you reserve tickets on their website before you go.
Angels Flight Railway
The Angels Flight funicular has been featured in many films, including La La Land. Only for that, it’s worth taking a peek. But also because it’s very close to the next two stops on this itinerary. For only a dollar, you can ride this iconic funicular. It only takes about 45 seconds, but it’s a cute little experience to add to your list.
The Grand Central Market
Food lovers’ paradise is only a few minutes away from the Angels Flight Railway: The Grand Central Market. With 38 different food vendors and a wide variety of international and local dishes, there is something for everybody to enjoy. The dishes are quite affordable and very Instagram-friendly 😉 It started off as an actual market back in 1907 and turned into a trendy meeting place for locals and tourists alike. It does get pretty hot in summer, so keep an eye out for that!
You may recognise the picture below from Blade Runner. The Bradbury Building was one of the locations where the film was shot. With many locations in LA, it’s really cool to see these places in real life. The building is open to the public to enjoy and because it’s almost next doors to the Central Market, I’d highly recommend popping in for a quick picture.
Blue Bottle Coffee
Across the road from the Bradbury Building, you can stop for a quick coffee fix. Blue Bottle Coffee is a coffee chain that specialises in speciality coffee. America is big on coffee, and I sure do like a cup as well. Blue Bottle Coffee makes sure to serve coffee within 48 hours of roasting the beans, allowing you to experience it was peak flavour. They really know their coffee and it’s great to learn more about it from their staff.
The Last Bookstore
On to one of my all-time favourite spots in Los Angeles: The Last Bookstore. Yes, I love books and stories. That ain’t a secret. But add that to the most instagramable shop in California that also sells a ton of affordable secondhand books – SAY NO MORE.
The Last Bookstore is located in downtown LA and is the largest bookstore in the state. Not only does it have an archway made of books (yes. For real!), they also hold many bookish events and sell many books by local authors. I ended up buying 3 secondhand books for $20 in total. They were all in great shape and they turned out to be a lovely keepsake to remind me of my time in LA.
Dinner with a view
The city of Angels is even prettier from higher up. Good thing that they have countless rooftops with restaurants, bars and cafes that give you some of the most stunning views across downtown LA. If you get the change, please check out one of the rooftop restaurants for a beautiful end to your two days in Los Angeles with a view across the city as the sun set. You can find some of the best rooftop bars in LA in this article.
Dodgers Baseball Game
If you happen to spend two days in Los Angeles while the Dodgers are playing a game, please do go check it out. We were lucky enough to visit LA when they played a home game and it was one of the coolest things we did in the US. Baseball is such a big part of the American culture. Watching a game, eating a hot dog while doing so and chanting along with songs I didn’t really know the lyrics to (“Take Me Out to the Ball Game…..”) – it was amazing!
Where to stay in Los Angeles
Picking a place to stay can always be tricky, especially in a city as massive as Los Angeles. Whether you’re on a budget or don’t mind spending a bit more, here are some recommendations:
$ Travelodge by Wyndham Hollywood-Vermont/Sunset: You can never go wrong with Travelodge. This hotel is located in East Hollywood, making it a very affordable option for this location. It’s everything you need for a two day stay.
$$ Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles: A tiny bit more expensive, but a big upgrade compared to the Travelodge. As the name suggests, this hotel is located in downtown LA. The rooms are modern, very comfortable and the hotel has a rooftop bar!
$$$ Mondrian Los Angeles: If you feel like treating yourself to a stunning and absolutely amazing stay, check out the Mondrian in Los Angeles. Located in the heart of the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, you’re not going to get a better location to stay at. Stylish and spacious rooms alongside an outdoor pool (with underwater music) and panoramic views over the city.
Day trips from Los Angeles
You could stay in Los Angeles for weeks and still find more than enough things to do. But if you’d like to see some more of the vicinity, here are a few recommendations of day trips you can make.
Universal Studios Hollywood or Disneyland
In LA, you can find both Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland California. When we were in LA, we decided to go to Universal Studios rather than Disneyland because we only had time to visit one of them. Of course, I can’t compare the two because I only went to one – but I really enjoyed Universal Studios.
Even though the rides were great, my favourite part was the Studio Tour. Taking us through the actual Hollywood studios, seeing places where some of my favourite shows and films were shot was amazing! The park was definitely a bit smaller than I expected at first, but that gave us the opportunity to do all the rides in one day. I was lucky enough to be chosen for the interactive wand picking at Ollivanders in the Harry Potter World, making it an even more precious memory.
Because Universal Studios is quite a busy theme park, I’d highly recommend pre-booking your tickets. You can buy your tickets here. If possible, I’d avoid weekends and holidays.
Just two hours from Los Angeles lays Palm Springs. Filled with hot springs and luxury spas, it is the perfect getaway destination when you’re in LA. Apart from great coffee shops, restaurants and vintage stores, Palm Springs is known for its midcentury modern architecture. From here, you can also take a trip to the famous Salvation Mountain or explore Joshua Tree. For a more detailed guide on how to spend some time in this desert oasis, check out my Palm Springs itinerary.
Joshua Tree National Park
A unique flora was created where two deserts met in Joshua Tree National Park. The strangely looking Yukka Trees (also known as Joshua Trees) give the park its name and its fame. It’s a magical place, unlike anything else on the planet. So when you’re in Los Angeles, it’s worth making a little day trip out to Joshua Tree.
If you’re looking for more awesome places to visit when in the Golden State, check out my 10 day California itinerary.
Los Angeles Travel Tips
Before giving you my recommended two day itinerary, I’d like to give you some extra tips for your trip to LA. If you’re already prepared for your Californian adventures, you can scroll down to the actual itinerary. But for those who still need some extra info; here you go!
Money in Los Angeles
As many of you will already know, the currency used in the USA is American Dollars ($). As with all currencies, the numbers fluctuate over time, but it currently sits around:
€1 = $1.11
£1 = $1.30
¥100 = $0.92
The tipping culture in the United States of America is something that kinda throws off tourists. It’s confusing when you’re not familiar with the way tipping works, especially if it’s not such a big deal in your home country. But because servers’ wages are incredibly low in the US, it is good custom to tip at restaurants, bars and hotels to make up for this low pay. On average, it’s recommended to tip 15%. Some good guides to read about how to tip properly in the US can be found here and here.
Best times to go to Los Angeles
Although Los Angeles never really gets too cold, the city does get very hot (and crowed). Especially during the summer, the heat and the massive wave of tourists do make the city a bit less enjoyable to visit. Personally, I’d recommend going in the fall if you have the choice.
How to get around Los Angeles
If you’re travelling through the US or California, you’re most likely already using a rental car. Using a car is by far the easiest way to make your way around LA. Do keep in mind that parking prices tend to get pretty pricey. It’s always a good idea to double-check with your hotel to see if they have on-site parking.
If you don’t have access to a car, Los Angeles also has a great public transport system that you can use. You can use this guide for all the info you need about using the LA public transport systems.
I hope this 2 day Los Angeles itinerary gave you some good ideas on what to do in LA. Let me know if I missed any of your favourite things to do in this beautiful city – I’d love to go back someday!