As a Los Angeles native, I am always down to be a tour guide to those who have never been to the City of Angels before. I recently gave the grand tour to a friend who was visiting from Texas when we only had one free day in the city, and we were so efficient in the itinerary, I wanted to share it with anyone who only has 24 hours to spend in Los Angeles.
Keep in mind, we started from the Pasadena area so geographically, we made our way west.
AND the best time to travel around Los Angeles is during the weekday between 10am and 2pm. Outside of those hours, traffic will start to become more dense. We were able to make this schedule work because we went on a Monday. Otherwise, commute time will definitely cut into some of these activities.
One of my favorite places for breakfast and brunch is Urth Cafe. Their food is fresh and their coffee is uh-mazing. The location in Pasadena is mostly al fresco and since southern California is sunny most of the time, it’s such a nice way to dine.
Things to see in Hollywood include ‘The Walk of Fame’ where you can see celebrities’ names presents in stars on the sidewalk, and ‘Grauman’s Chinese Theater‘ where many film premieres occur and where some select celebrities have their handprints and footprints embedded in cement.
11:30am: Griffith Observatory
Just a few miles away is Griffith Park, home to the Griffith Observatory. This is an LA landmark that sits on top of a hill overlooking the city. The observatory is closed on Monday but the view is worth the visit, especially on a clear day. There is a path where you can go for a small hike. The Hollywood sign that’s perched on a nearby hill is also a lot more visible from the observatory area.
12:30am: Beverly Hills
“Beverly Hills! That’s where I want to be!” Not sure why this Wheezer song always pops in my head whenever Beverly Hills is mentioned. The most quintessential part of this city is the famous Rodeo Drive – a street full of luxury shops and where rare and expensive cars can sometimes be spotted parked just out on the streets.
2pm: Santa Monica Pier and Beach
Next up is LA’s most iconic beaches – Santa Monica Pier and Beach. On the pier itself, you can find little street vendors selling souvenirs, knick-knacks, and snacks as well as some street performers lined along the rails. There is also an arcade section where you can play games and go on several rides such as a rollercoaster and a ferris wheel.
If you feel like doing more shopping, I recommend the Third Street Promenade, an outdoors mall across the street from the Santa Monica Place mall. There, you’ll find more casual restaurants and shops, and it’s just a nice environment for some shopping.
Hint: There are parking buildings a block or two from the beach (around the mall) where they offer free parking for the first two hours.
4pm: Malibu or Venice Beach
To the left of Santa Monica Pier is Venice, a beach that truly is one-of-a-kind. It has a more more urban and laid-back setting, full of art and cannabis. By the beach itself, there are shops and casual eatery, a skatepark and basketball court. Go towards land some more and you’ll find Abbot Kinney, a street full of trendy shops and eatery.
To the right of Santa Monica Pier is Malibu. There are several beaches that make up Malibu but my favorite is El Matador State Beach that’s popular amongst photographers for its beautiful rock formations. It takes about half an hour or so to drive there from Santa Monica Pier but the drive is beautiful and scenic, so I never dread the distance. You’ll get to take in a bit of the Pacific Coast Highway and a glimpse of some of the Southern California beach houses along the way.
8pm: LACMA / Night Life
By this point, there most likely is traffic, so getting back to our hotel in the east side was a trek. However, we made one more stop along the way and it was to LACMA for their Urban Lights installation. This work of art is located outside by the streets and is available for passerbys to take photos! It’s a beautiful installation all throughout the day, but I feel like it’s especially beautiful when the lights are all aglow.
After this packed day of driving and sightseeing, we were both so tired that all we wanted to do was flop into bed.
What are some things you’d want to see if you only had 24 hours in Los Angeles?