Los Angeles is the City of Angels and it is big city that has a ton of traffic and is kinda gross in some areas (Downtown). It’s a lot of Hollywood glitz and glamour, but it’s all fake. At the same time, it’s also a very fun city with lots of restaurants, things to do, and people to see. There are beaches nearby and plenty of amazing things to see and do just outside of the city of LA such as Malibu, Joshua Tree National Park, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Channel Islands, Catalina Island, and Disneyland.
Getting here: There are two airports you can fly into: LAX or BUR. LAX will be more busy and good for international but BUR is smaller and less crowded. But when I say small, it’s tiny.
Transportation: I would recommend renting a car in Los Angeles because of how large and sprawling it is. You will suffer through a lot of driving and traffic all day, a lot the time. You have to pay for parking pretty much everywhere so bring a credit card and/or some coins.
I’ve done multiple weekend trips to Los Angeles and here are my top picks and favorites. The featured photo at the top is the Griffith Observatory.
This is a beautiful museum that is enormous with multiple buildings and floors, multiple gardens, and even a tram you have to take to get up there. You park in the parking lot (paid parking) and then visiting the museum is free. You can see medieval art, artifacts, impressionism, and even more modern art. Very picturesque.
Located in Griffith park, which is also a destination in itself, Griffith Observatory has an entire view of the city. If you’re going on the weekend, try to arrive before 9AM (even though the observatory opens at 10AM) and park in the lower lots to save on parking costs ($10/hr). If you arrive later than that, just find paid parking near the Observatory. You don’t even have to go inside to enjoy the observatory.
Do you like roller coasters or maybe just Harry Potter? Definitely check out Universal Studios. It’s a theme park with great rides, shows, and fun activities. It’s quite expensive though.
Unrelated to Universal Studios but in a similar vein of entertainment, there is a Warner Brothers Studio tour if you’re into tv shows and movies.
4. The Broad
The Broad is a contemporary art museum in Downtown LA and is free to the public.
If you like art, check out LACMA! It has a lot of great outdoor art sculptures where you don’t need any admission.
6. Venice Beach
Venice Beach is a famous beach in LA and it’s always bustling with activity.
If you want to see the stars with famous people’s names on it, you have to check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s a pretty gross neighborhood that’s very touristy, dirty, and lots of shopping.
The tar pits are exactly what it sounds like, pools of dirt and tar. It’s a really nice park though with a museum and lovely plants.
9. The Grove and Farmers Market
The Grove is a beautiful but very small shopping center. It’s good for a chill day to walk around and shop.
It’s right next to Farmers Market L.A., which is a foodie destination with gourmet grocers and restaurants and a food court.
The Last Bookstore is a neighborhood bookstore famous for its book sculptures and small shops inside the bookstore. It’s worth a visit to see the market inside the bookstore.
11. Magic Castle
Magic Castle is a magician’s only exclusive members only club. To visit the Magic Castle, you must be invited by a member magician. It’s a very fun event where you walk around the giant castle and go into all the different rooms, bars, and hallways to see multiple and almost endless magic shows that go until 2AM! Party on because the dress code is very strict. Women should be in fancy evening wear and men in suits. Suit up and let’s go! No photos or videos after the lobby.
Want to get outside even thought it’s very hot? Check out Topanga State Park for some hikes and ocean views.
EXTRA CREDIT! The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens (Pasadena, CA)
Pasadena is only about a 20min drive from LA and it’s a very rich, old money neighborhood. If you like gardens, you have to spend time at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. It is a huge estate with multiple gardens: Australian/New Zealand garden, English rose garden, desert garden, Chinese garden, and a Japanese garden. Every garden is enormous and every garden is so different from the other gardens. Make sure to allocate time to see all of them. There is also a library with very special and significant artifacts like the Gutenberg Bible and the Canterbury Tales.
Is the list not enough? Then, check out the Walt Disney Concert Hall, OUE Skyspace, Union Station, Olvera St, Chinatown, MOCA, Bradbury Building, Angels Flight, Clifton’s Cafeteria, Art’s District, Intercontinental, Grammy Museum, Little Tokyo, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angel, LA City Hall, Grand Park, Pershing Square & LA Library, Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and Dodger’s Stadium!
Some of the best doughnuts I’ve ever had in my life. Get the one with the egg in it if they have it.
You want some fresh pastries, breakfast sandwiches and burritos, and great bread at dirt cheap prices? Look no further than Porto’s. It’s where all the locals eat and it is phenomenal. They are famous for their potato balls, guava strudels, and cheesy rolls.
Expect a good time with unique eats and a diverse variety of eats. There are long lines and bring your money to support local chefs and artisan treats. Come hungry and discover a world of adventure.
2. Grand Central Market (Food Hall)
An indoor food hall with lots of vendors and ware. There is even some bars inside. Come explore the food hall and come hungry.
3. Howlin’ Ray’s (Nashville Hot Chicken)
There are two locations and there will be a line.
4. Erewhon (Celebrity-loved grocery store)
Want to spot a celebrity? You might find them at Erewhon. This incredibly expensive grocery store has sushi, cold and hot foods, smoothies and coffee, and your typical grocery store foods. The smoothies are $12-18! You know it!
Famous hot dogs named after celebrities. This joint is a well-established veteran that serves up dogs. What’s up dog?
6. Lemonade (Fast casual)
This is a healthy food chain where they serve bowls, salads, and sandwiches for the health conscious eater. They also sell a lot of different kinds of lemonade. I’m really into vegetable salads so this place is my love.
1. Perch ($$$ Rooftop Bar)
Los Angeles can be a beautiful place so you have to check it out from top views. Perch is a rooftop bar you won’t want to miss.
Did someone say fancy brunch? Check out Openaire which is inside the Line boutique hotel in Koreatown. It’s a nice restaurant with beautiful decor, beautiful people, and lovely food. Make sure to arrive with a reservation.
There are a lot of hotels in Los Angeles and definitely check out the airbnbs too. Pretty much all the hotels will charge for parking. I stayed in Burbank, CA at the Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles Burbank Airport, because it was cheaper and right next to Hollywood, which is where we mostly wanted to go. The hotel was simple, clean, and straightforward. It’s a tad bit dated but not terrible. I would stay again.
I also wanted to stay in Pasadena, CA at the Le Méridien Pasadena Arcadia simply because it was so beautiful and affordable. I’ll try to stay there next time.
Click here for the JoYo Los Angeles Guide map.
Did I miss something? Comment and let me know!