This article focuses on providing a structured itinerary for those with only 2 days in Los Angeles.
There is a lot to see and do in the City of Angels. I have lived there for more than 15 years and have not seen it all.
If you count with only 2 days in Los Angeles, you need to come up with a plan in order to make the most out of your time.
Do not worry! I got you covered!
In this article, I am providing a detailed 2-day itinerary including sights, restaurants, coffee shops, driving tips, and parking details.
It is going to be a fun ride! I promise!
Please note: This article contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link. Of course, this comes at no extra cost to you and helps me to keep offering solid information to readers.
2 Days in Los Angeles – Planning Tips
Before digging into what to do, see and eat in Los Angeles, I want to provide some information about certain topics crucial to trip planning. I believe your trip will be a hundred times better if you know what to expect and have basic knowledge about how certain things work in Los Angeles.
This Los Angeles itinerary works for first-time and returning visitors. I am providing a lot of ideas for each day. Therefore, you may not be able to cover all the suggestions. That is ok. You will have an excuse to come back.
On the same note, Los Angeles is a huge metropolis. Even though you are not going to cover everything in 2 days, I think that is a reasonable amount of time to get a good grasp of the city.
I suggest starting sightseeing early (9 to 10 a.m.) to make the most out of your time. If you are staying 30-40 miles from the main touristic areas, you need to factor commute time (it can be more than an hour each way) into your itinerary.
If you are looking into a more relaxed trip, one where you are not spending your days jumping from one attraction to another, I recommend choosing a neighborhood or area for the day and focusing on discovering it. The city has a wide array of areas jam-packed with cultural, artistic and gastronomic attractions.
Los Angeles is not the most budget-friendly city in the United States. Depending on where you are coming from, you may be shocked at the prices.
If you want to take care of your wallet, it is a good idea to set up a daily budget and try to stick to it. If money is not an objection, you can go wild in Los Angeles. After all, this is the city of movie stars, TV moguls, fashion designers, and tech executives.
A well-priced hotel will be in the $100-$150 range. Prices may be higher in touristic hot spots (or at the beach). You may be able to find lower prices on particular houses or websites such as AirBnB.
Beware of low priced hotels/motels. They may be located in sketchy areas. I am not saying you will be in danger but you do not want to spend your vacation worrying about safety. I encourage you to carefully read reviews and pay attention to ratings. And, do not assume a place is safe just because it has international fame (I am looking at you Hollywood).
Meals can be had for $10-$15 per person. That range does not include drinks, appetizers or dessert. These prices are not set in stone. You may be able to get a meal for a lower amount.
A car can be rented for as low as $15-$20 per day. There are plenty of places to acquire travel-related incidentals (toiletries, water, sunblock). Good prices on groceries abound.
One positive about Los Angeles is that you can sightsee without spending a dime. There is a lot to do for free. Now, you will be pressured to buy tickets for tours, expensive attractions, and tourist traps. Avoid these if you have not budgeted for it.
I am known for my low budget itineraries. Most of my sightseeing recommendations are free of cost. It is up to you if you want to spend additional money on certain things. I will let you know when things have a cost.
Driving and Moving Around
A lot of people assume it is impossible to move around Los Angeles without a car. To a certain extent, that is true. Things will be simpler with a car and I recommend budgeting for one.
Now, I understand if you do not want to drive on the monster freeways. On this itinerary, I am providing details on how to approach the situation if you do not count with a car. If you are renting a car, you need to take into consideration parking expenses.
If you do not have a car, I advise you to take Uber or Lyft between places. Now, the prices of these ride-sharing services have increased with time. You can estimate fares with pages like this and this.
There are public transportation options such as buses and trains. However, with limited time, using public transportation may not be a viable idea.
Traffic in Los Angeles is terrible (it is one of the worst in the entire world). You want to avoid freeways during rush hours (6:00-9:00 a.m., 4:00-7:00 p.m.) And, you need to be patient. You may end up stuck in traffic at one point or another.
When to Visit
Los Angeles is a year-round destination due to its Meditteranean weather. Summer temperatures reach the high 80s and winter temperatures reach the low/mid 60s. There are about 300 days of sunshine per year and precipitation is low.
If you are interested in experiencing California’s beach culture, I recommend visiting during the summer. Keep in mind visitor numbers and prices are going to be higher than in other seasons.
I personally believe spring and fall are great times to visit Los Angeles.
Get ready for a day of sightseeing by bringing the right gear. Here is a list of the items I pack to explore cities and towns in California.
- Walking Shoes – Comfortable walking shoes are a must. I recommend investing in a good pair. My go-to brands are Clarks, Tevas, and Sketchers.
- Anti-Theft Bag – Keep your belongings safe by keeping them in an anti-theft bag. The ones manufactured by Travelon have a 5-points security system including an RFID blocking pocket. >>Check out their crossbody bag here If you prefer a backpack, this one is a good option
- Sweatshirt – A sweatshirt is a must to keep me warm during chilly mornings and nights. >Click to see this California appropriate option here
- Sun Block – Do not leave the house (or the car) without applying sunblock. I repeat, always wear sunblock when outdoors. >Buy sunblock here
- Lip Balm with Sunscreen – Protect your lips by applying a balm with sunscreen. >Get one of the best lip balms here
- Wide Brim Hat – A wide brim hat is a great way to protect your scalp, face, and neck. The ones manufactured by FURTALK come with an anti-UV function. >Buy this amazing hat here
- Hand Sanitizer – Do not forget to pack hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.
- Sunglasses – These are another must when it comes to protecting from the sun. A polarized, sporty pair works better outdoors. >Take a look at this wonderful pair
- Water Bottle – Do not forget to bring water! Keep yours cold by taking a beautiful Hydro Flask water bottle. >Check out the insane options here
- THERMOS Tumblers – I have been a fan of the THERMOS brand since I received a tumbler as a gift. The tumblers keep drinks hot for hours. >>Buy THERMOS insulated tumblers here
- Camera – I have never gotten used to taking pictures exclusively with my phone. I prefer to use the Sony Alpha a6000. It is compact and takes gorgeous pictures. >Buy Sony Camera here
- Tripod – A compact tripod to take your photos and videos to a different level. >>Check out this popular option here
- Portable Power Bank – It is a pain to keep phones charged on trips (more if you are taking pictures, posting on social media, and navigating). Having a power bank is a lifesaver. The Anker portable charger can charge a phone 5 times. >Buy this incredible power bank here
2 Days in Los Angeles – Day 1 (Santa Monica and Venice Beach)
Start your visit to Los Angeles on or near the beach. Believe me, your body needs some sunshine and salty air.
Blue Daisy Cafe is one of my favorite places to get breakfast. They have a great selection of unique dishes. For example, you will find croissant French toast, smoked salmon crepes, and baked eggs ratatouille on the menu. In addition, they have savory crepes, sandwiches, paninis, and a juice bar. With such an extensive menu, you will feel like coming back to this place over and over again.
It is hard to resist the offerings from Bruxie Original Fried Chicken and Waffle. As the name implies, this is fried chicken paradise. They have spicy, maple glazed and extra crispy versions. If you are not a fan of waffles, you can have the chicken by itself or as tenders or wings.
Other places to consider include Jinky’s Cafe, Flake, and 26 Beach Restaurant.
Restaurants in Santa Monica know how to satisfy clients with a killer brunch. If you are celebrating a special occasion or simply celebrating life, head to one of these places:
Huckleberry – This restaurant satisfies with its excellent pancakes, breakfast burritos, quinoa bowls, and fried chicken sandwich. Leave room on your stomach to try the biscuits, cookies, muffins, scones, and lemon bars prepared in-house.
Blueys Kitchen – Blueys prides itself on serving healthy dishes with beach vibes. They serve sweet squash pancakes, fried egg sandwiches, acai bowls, tartines, and smoothies.
FIG – This is one of the poshest options on this list. For brunch, this restaurant goes all out by offering pork belly, kimchi fried rice, lemon ricotta pancakes, and tandoori fried chicken sandwich. They have specials where you can have bottomless beer or sangria.
What to See and Do
Even though this day is dedicated to the beach, it is a good idea to spend some time at the Getty Center, one of the premier art institutions of the United States.
The Getty specializes in pre-20th-century paintings, illuminated manuscripts, drawings, sculpture, decorative arts, and photography.
This is not your typical museum. So, do not be put off if you are not a fan of them. The Getty features impressive architecture, gardens, a maze, and wonderful vistas of metro LA. In addition, it has many open areas where visitors can sit and enjoy the surroundings.
Technically, the museum entrance is free. The catch is that you have to pay $20 for parking. Keep in mind a visit here can take up to half a day. You can skip it if you want to spend the entire day at the beach.
For more details check this post: The Getty Center
It is time to head to Santa Monica! I would start by strolling along the Third Street Promenade, a pedestrian street full of cool restaurants, trendy shops, coffee houses, and stands selling magazines and newspapers (very European). Do not forget to snap pictures with the cute dinosaurs adorning the way.
Shopping fans will want to check out The Santa Monica Place, a modern designed mall with high-end stores and eating establishments on the top floor.
It is an easy walk to the Santa Monica Pier, a humongous structure holding an amusement park, restaurants, a trapeze school, shops, and a parking lot.
Pacific Park and its famous (solar-powered) Ferris wheel will be a hit with kids. Even if you do not do the rides, you can get all kinds of fair treats such as popcorn, cotton candy, churros, and ice cream.
A fun fact is that the Santa Monica Pier has been declared the last stop of Route 66. As a consequence, you are going to find a lot of signs (and memorabilia) commemorating this. Again, this provides plenty of fun photo ops.
In the pier vicinity, you will find the Original Muscle Beach, Tongva Park, the Santa Monica Pier Museum, and the Camera Obscura Art LA.
If you love to discover places by walking, Ocean Avenue is an excellent thoroughfare to see Art Deco, Modern, and Contemporary architecture. Of course, taking the Ocean Front Walk south will take you to Venice Beach.
If time is on your side, walk, bike or drive to Venice Beach. This Los Angeles neighborhood is very different from Santa Monica. Everything is hip, trendy, and bizarre there.
Do not miss The Boardwalk, the oceanfront walkway where the action happens. In there, you can see anything from disturbing shows (for example, a guy jumping over shattered glass), people hanging around with snakes, street artists, vendors selling all sorts of goods and much more. Add to that a marijuana dispensary at every corner.
For something less intense, head to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a place full of independent stores, boutiques, restaurants, and sweet shops. Plus, there are good quality murals at almost every corner. You can go crazy snapping away.
My favorite part of Venice Beach is the canals. These are the remnants of the canal systems developed by Abbot Kinney and the reason behind the neighborhood’s name (Venice of America). This area feels completely disconnected from the city. Do not miss it if you are looking for quietness.
End the day at the Erwin Hotel’s High Rooftop Lounge. The views, shareable plates, and drinks are great.
Lunch and Dinner
Here are some of my favorite places to eat in the Santa Monica and Venice Beach area:
Gjelina – This super popular place to try new American dishes. As an example, you can order grilled pork collar, mushroom toast, crispy duck, or Hawaiian kampachi crudo. Be ready to wait since the restaurant seems to always be full
The Butcher’s Daughter – Plant-based eatery, café, and juice bar with origins in New York City. Locals enjoy the stone oven pizzas, cauliflower t-bone, and grilled artichoke hearts
Kreation Organic Kafe – One of my favorite places to eat kebabs, bowls, salads, and sandwiches (the bread is delicious). You have to try one of their juices or smoothies (they are expensive but worth the price).
Greenleaf Gourmet Food – Yet another option for those days when you want to eat healthily and lightly. They have a large selection of salads, bowls, and sandwiches prepared with fresh ingredients
Abbot’s Pizza Company – Good option for those who are sticking to a budget or want to eat fast
El Huarique – We all need a bit of Peruvian food in our life so, get the chaufa, fish ceviche, or lomo saltado
Ice Cream and Sweet Treats
Salt & Straw – This is my number one recommendation to get ice cream in Venice Beach. The flavors (and taste) never disappoint. Be ready to wait in line since the place is super popular
DK’s Donuts – I am glad I do not live close to this store because my health would suffer horribly. I am not a big fan of donuts but the ones in here are addictive
Bluestone Lane – This small restaurant has an Australian inspired menu and as a result the coffee is excellent. Enjoy their flat whites, long black, and Aussie lattes
Love Coffee Bar – Neighborhood cafe serving high-quality coffee from small providers
Menotti’s Coffee Stop – Nice place to get a latte, chai, or cappuccino
In Santa Monica, you can park around the Third Street Promenade area or at the Santa Monica Place multi-level structure. If you are only interested in the beachfront attractions, park on or next to the pier.
Lot 1 (1633 Ocean Front Walk) is inexpensive. It is located meters away from the pier entrance.
In Venice Beach, there are several parking lots behind Abbot Kinney Boulevard (Irvin Tabor Circle and Electric Street). For beach parking, drive towards the end of Venice and Washington Boulevards.
Free parking spots in Venice and Washington Boulevards are blocks away from the beach.
If You Do Not Have a Car
Without a car, you should concentrate on covering the Santa Monica and Venice Beach areas. Start your day at one of the beach communities (arrive by train or Uber) and explore the sights.
After that, you can walk or bike from one place to another through the ocean walk (or The Boardwalk). The distance from Santa Monica to Venice Beach is 2 to 3 miles (depending on where you want to go).
If you do not feel like walking, take an Uber between the two places.
More of the Area
For more details on Venice Beach, check the articles I have written on this Los Angeles neighborhood.
Venice Beach Murals, Graffiti and Street Art
Abbot Kinney Boulevard: Restaurants, Shops, and Events
2 Days in Los Angeles – Day 2 (Beverly Hills and Hollywood)
After a fabulous day at the beach, it is time to explore some of the more iconic areas of Los Angeles. Today, it is all about glitz and glamour.
Do not forget about breakfast! Here are some ideas to start the day with the right feet:
Prospect Gourmand – The weekend brunch includes smoked salmon club “BLT,” lobster & brie omelet, and grilled Spanish octopus salad
Joan’s on Third – This spot operates on a marketplace concept. You explore the different stations and select items such as fried egg sandwich, corned beef hash, pain au chocolate, or rustic apple pie
Chaumont – I adore this place because of their Morrocan breakfast, mushroom & gruyere omelet, and acai bowl
The Griddle Cafe – This “all-day” breakfast joint adds ingredients such as Oreos, coconut, peanut butter and liqueur to pancakes and French toast. Their list of egg dishes is ginormous
Urth Caffe – The specialty here is organic coffee and tea but locals rave about the food too. For breakfast, they serve bread pudding, granola bowls, beef hash and an assortment of bread and pastries
Another Breakfast Option
Instead of heading to a restaurant for breakfast, you can start your day by exploring one of Los Angeles’s institutions, The Original Farmers Market.
In there, you will find stalls selling all sorts of prepared meals, produce, meat, poultry, teas, coffee, and a lot more.
You can have breakfast at Du-Pars, Charlie’s Coffee Shop, Michelina, The French Crepe Company, or Bob’s Donuts. In addition, you can buy other goodies to eat later during the day.
If you visit, you may want to take a bit of time to check out The Grove, an upscale, open-air shopping center. The place is beautiful and snapping pictures of its different features is free.
What to See and Do
If you are into taking pictures, I recommend starting the day at the intersection of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard. That is where you are going to find the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Urban Light piece of public art, the futuristic Petersen Automotive Museum, and a piece of the Berlin wall. Make this a brief stop since there is a lot more to see (and you only have 2 days in Los Angeles).
Then, it is time to explore Beverly Hills. The first stop should be Beverly Gardens Park for a photo with the famous “Beverly Hills” sign. The park has gardens, statues, and green areas.
Cross the street to hit Rodeo Drive, a synonym of opulency around the world. On this street, some of the most influential fashion houses have a presence. Expect top-notch window displays, futuristic buildings, and tons of luxury cars.
I particularly like the Prada, Bijan, Guess, and Van Cleef & Arpels stores. Be discreet if you enter one of the establishments. Most places have security guards at the entrance.
Make sure to walk all the way to the end of the street (intersection with Wilshire Boulevard). That is where you are going to find the Via Rodeo and Rodeo Drive intersection/sign and the Rodeo Drive Steps.
Continue your walk by checking out Beverly and Canon Drives. You can walk Beverly Drive past Wilshire too.
Do not forget to take a look at the beautiful Beverly Hills City Hall and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
With a car, you can head to the Beverly Hills Hotel. Non-guests are allowed to visit the cafe and lounge. Reservations are recommended if you want to eat at one of the restaurants.
It is time to visit Hollywood and its main attraction: the Walk of Fame. The walk starts at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue.
Once at Hollywood Boulevard, you are going to see the stars right away. The Walk of Fame is more than a mile long. If you are interested in finding a particular star, use this finder to locate the exact direction beforehand.
Other musts to see include the Chinese Theater, the Dolby Theater (where the Oscars take place), and the Capitan Theater.
At the Chinese Theater (upper floor), you can see photos and exhibitions related to Hollywood’s history. The La La Land store has tons of nice photo ops (and they let you use the restroom for free).
The Hollywood and Highland Shopping Center has great views of the Hollywood Sign.
Hollywood is full of paid attractions such as Madame Tussauds, Hollywood Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Personally, I do not recommend these places because of the cost involved to visit ($25-$30 per person) and the low quality of exhibits. I am mentioning them in case this is your cup of tea.
For sunset, head to the Griffith Observatory. Exhibitions here are free of charge but people visit for the incredible views of the city. In all honesty, I would skip Hollywood (to me it is overrated) and spend more time here. There are several hiking trails that can be accessed from the area.
Lunch and Dinner
Eating options in Beverly Hills are superior to the ones in Hollywood. You are going to be better off if you eat there.
Options in Beverly Hills include:
Le Pain Quotidien – Everything on the menu looks fresh and colorful. I enjoy their cheese platter, super grains bowl, and Devon ham & cheddar baked tart (my favorite).
Nate n’ Al Delicatessen – Classic New York-style deli serving humongous sandwiches, cakes, and shakes. Order half a sandwich since a whole one is for two people. Servers even have a New York accent.
Mulberry Street Pizzeria – New York-style pizzeria. They serve the whole pie, slices, pasta, and salads
Da Pasquale – Crazy good Italian food. They have a wide array of pasta (raviolo, spaghetti, ziti, pappardelle, fettuccini), meat, fish, and pizzas
If it is more convenient to eat in Hollywood, I recommend choosing a restaurant in Thai Town or Little Armenia (East Hollywood). Those places serve delicious food at affordable prices.
If you have not tried In-N-Out, the famous burger chain, there is a location at Sunset Boulevard and Orange Drive (several blocks away from the TCL Chinese Theater).
Ice Cream and Sweet Treats
In the Beverly Hills area, you will find:
Sprinkles – Get your baked goods from a cupcakes ATM (or you can go inside the store)
In Hollywood, Ghirardelli (a San Francisco transplant) has a soda fountain and chocolate shop. They sell a wide selection of scrumptious treats.
If you have a car, make sure to visit Mashti Malone’s, a shop selling Persian-style ice cream. This is one of the most unique places in Los Angeles.
Alfred Coffee – One of the most Instagrammable coffee chains in Los Angeles. Known for their matcha latte, drip coffee, cold brew iced coffee, and chagaccino (chaga is a wild-harvested mushroom)
Comoncy – Great place to get expressos, lattes, and hot chocolate. They serve food too.
La Colombe Coffee Roasters – This chain is known for unique blends and single origin products
In Beverly Hills, there are several public lots on Rodeo and Beverly Drives. There are several large parking structures on Santa Monica Boulevard.
In Hollywood, there is parking on the street (metered), public lots on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards and a parking structure at Hollywood and Highland (need validation from a merchant to get a cheap rate).
Try to avoid private lots that charge a $20 to $25 flat rate. Also, pay attention to the small print before entering a lot. A lot of places advertise parking rates as low as $5. However, when you enter, the rate is actually $5 per 15 or 30 minutes.
Even if you have a car, it is not recommendable to take it to the top of the Griffith Observatory. Parking is a nightmare there. It makes more sense to leave your car parked in Hollywood and take a shuttle or ride-sharing service to the top.
If You Do Not Have a Car
Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and the Griffith Observatory are close to each other. You can use Uber or Lyft to move around.
2 Days in Los Angeles – Other Options
If you are still looking for options on how to spend 2 days in Los Angeles or if you are a repeating visitor, I recommend checking Downtown. This is an area that has gained tons of notoriety lately. The article noted below provides details about 4 different itineraries.
4 Downtown Los Angeles Itineraries
Moreover, these articles can help you to create your own itinerary.
Things to Do in Downtown Los Angeles
If you are looking to explore less touristy neighborhoods of Los Angeles, the South Bay is full of beaches, natural beauty, eateries, and fun attractions.
If you are short on time or looking for something to do before catching a flight, here are plenty of ideas on things to do near the international airport.
Hope you enjoy your 2 days in Los Angeles Reach out if you have questions or need help on a particular topic.
More of Southern California
Los Angeles Ultimate Bucket List
One Day in San Diego: Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
Ultimate San Diego Bucket List
Places to Visit in Santa Barbara
150+ Places to Go in Orange County
What are your recommendations for 2 days in Los Angeles?
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Suvarna Arora says
It is very useful and full of information. I would love to visit Los Angeles someday.
madhu sharma says
Wow that’s a very detailed guide to Los Angeles with all the info required..I am surely going to visit during my next visit to USA .thanks for sharing this
What a great itinerary! I’d love to visit LA someday 🙂
LA area is gorgeous! Santa Monica was so pretty when I went! Venice was cool but did not linger. Beverly Hills was a whole different world!
I love your restaurant list! It’s so hard to pick a great restaurant in LA and your lists here are so great!
I love exploring California! LA is always great, wish I could be there right now. #damnyourona
Katie Dickinson says
Super detailed- love it! My sister is heading to LA as soon as travel reopens, so just sent this to her!