How to Spend 3 days in Los Angeles Itinerary
Palm trees, sunshine, bike rides, beach time; welcome to the city of Angels! Los Angeles is easily one of the top 5 cities to visit in the USA, and in just 3 days in Los Angeles, or a weekend in LA, you can actually see a ton of the city.
We are lucky to have family who lives in Los Angeles that we visit often. Therefore, I have been given the full rundown on the best things to do and see from locals (AkA family) each time we are in Los Angeles or California in general!
So, in this 3 days in Los Angeles itinerary, you will find the best things to do broken down by day and area, along with LA travel tips, where to stay, and where to eat!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- How to Spend 3 days in Los Angeles Itinerary
- Is A 3 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary Enough Time?
- Getting Around With This Los Angeles Itinerary
- Day 1 of 3 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary
- Day 2 of 3 Days in LA Itinerary – Venice, Santa Monica, and Runyon Canyon
- Venice Canals (Optional)
- Day 3 in Los Angeles Itinerary – Road Trip to Malibu, Explore Downtown LA, or Visit Disney & Universal
- Downtown Los Angeles
- Where To Eat Los Angeles
- Where to Stay in Los Angeles
- Additional Things to do in Los Angeles
- When Is the Best Time to Visit Los Angeles
- 3 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary: Wrap-up
Is A 3 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary Enough Time?
I know you might be thinking, is 3 days enough time on your Los Angeles itinerary? The short answer is yes, 3 days in LA will give you enough time to see a lot of the city, as you will find in this Los Angeles itinerary below.
However, I would say that 3 days or a weekend in Los Angeles should be the minimum amount of time you spend in LA. This city is huge, so it would be impossible to even see it all in 2 weeks.
You will likely find yourself coming back, as we have to explore more this city has to offer!
Getting Around With This Los Angeles Itinerary
Before jumping right into this Los Angeles itinerary, let’s quickly discuss how to get around. With 3 days in Los Angeles, it’s best to rent a car, especially with this Los Angeles itinerary.
The city is pretty spread out, so it would be very hard to manage without a car. Additionally, it would be tough relying on public transportation – especially with just 3 days in LA!
If you are flying into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), there are plenty of Airport shuttles that will bring you to rental car companies. If a car is out of the question, you can still do a hand full of group tours to most of the top places to visit in Los Angeles.
Day 1 of 3 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary
For the first day in the city of Angels, we are going to make our way to the famous Public Art LACMA, Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood Sign, and Griffith Observatory (my personal favorite).
Public Art “Urban Light” Los Angeles County Museum of Art
If you love visiting Instagrammable places, make sure to add Urban Light to your 3 days Itinerary in Los Angeles. This art installation consists of 202 restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s.
It has been featured in countless movies making it one of the top attractions in Los Angeles. They are open 24/7 and you can find them at the entrance to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It is beautiful during the day and at night. Oh, and it is totally free to visit!
While you are here, you might want to go inside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). To visit, tickets must be purchased ahead of time on their website, along with making sure you meet all the new health protocols.
Address: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Next, make sure to add a drive down Rodeo Drive to your 3 days LA Itinerary. It is a 2-mile long street located in Beverly Hills. This shopping plaza has been featured in countless movies and is one of the most iconic and glamorous shopping streets in the USA!
Even if you don’t like shopping, it’s still worth driving through to visit this famous street and even see a celebrity. Especially if you happen to be visiting the city during the holidays. They deck Rodeo Drive in some of the most beautiful Christmas lights!
Sunset Strip Blvd.
From Rodeo Drive, you can then cruise over to the famous Sunset Boulevard to drive the Sunset Strip. Enjoy driving or walking down the 1.5-mile Sunset Strip that will bring you through West Hollywood, California. Known for some of the best Los Angeles bars, boutiques, restaurants, and more!
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Another classic thing to add to your Los Angeles itinerary is checking out the Hollywood Walk of Fame! This iconic and historic California landmark has over 2,700 stars down the sidewalk. It gets very crowded here, so try to arrive early!
If I am being honest, I was very underwhelmed visiting. I would honestly skip it unless you really want to go.
Address: Hollywood Boulevard, Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Did you even visit LA without seeing the Hollywood sign?! You will have plenty of opportunities to see this iconic sign from a distance, however, the two best ways to see the Hollywood sign, in my opinion, is from Hollywood Lake Park or hiking up to the Hollywood Sign.
Hollywood Lake Park is by far the easiest way to see the sign and get Instagram-worthy photos! During our visit, there was barely anyone there.
The next best way to see it is by hiking to the Hollywood Sign through Griffith Park. There are 3-4 different hikes starting from a little over 3 miles and up. If you don’t feel comfortable figuring out the trail on your own, there are also guided groups!
Funny story, it was our mission to see this iconic sign, and at first glimpse, we all looked at each other and said in excitement, “hey look, the Hollywood Sign!”
Throughout the rest of the day, it became a running joke since just about every activity has the sign-in view!
Address: 3160 Canyon Lake Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068
After seeing the Hollywood sign, make your way over to the Griffith Observatory. Griffith Observatory was built in 1935 and has become one of the most visited public observatories in the world!
The best time to visit is around sunset for stunning views of Downtown Los Angeles.
Parking can be tricky at Griffith Observatory. We had to park pretty far down the hill, making it a hike up, oh, and you have to pay a meter. To be honest, it is a great place for hiking, so I would recommend giving yourself some additional time to hike!
Besides the amazing sunset, they also have exhibits, a Planetarium, and some pretty epic telescopes.
Address: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Hours: Monday – Friday 12 PM – 10 PM; Saturday and Sunday: 10 AM – 10 PM (double-check hours before going!)
Day 2 of 3 Days in LA Itinerary – Venice, Santa Monica, and Runyon Canyon
On day two of our 3 days LA itinerary, we are going to explore the more edgy side of town taking stops in Venice, Santa Monica, and a hike through Runyon Canyon (or the hike of Celebrities).
Runyon Canyon Hike
Los Angeles is all about healthy living, getting outside, and hiking, so to start your 2nd day, let’s head to Runyon Canyon. Runyon Canyon was one of our favorite places we visited in LA, and we are not even huge hikers.
If you enjoy taking short hikes, Runyon Canyon is a must with 3 days in Los Angeles!
The best time to visit is in the morning or late afternoon when it’s not as hot. Parking at Runyon Canyon can be somewhat difficult since this is one of the most popular places to go hiking in LA. Even celebrities regularly hike here and are spotted often!
The park is 160 acres, and the full Runyon Canyon hike is a 2.7-mile loop. We didn’t hike the full loop, but if hiking is your jam, you most certainly can!
There are 3 entrances to the park, and you can check the maps here!
Next, let’s release your inner bohemian with Venice’s free-spirit vibes. This beach town consists of murals, street performers, hip stores, and more. One of the best things to do in Venice is to rent a bike and stroll down the Venice Beach Boardwalk!
Popular areas to see along Venice Beach include the Skate Park, Abbott Kinney Street, and Muscle Beach.
Los Angeles Insider tip – Venice beach has one of the most beautiful sunsets!
While I love this area, one thing you normally won’t see in a Los Angeles itinerary is that you will likely see homeless people down the stretch of the beach. It’s actually not uncommon to see tents pitched up all around the city. During my recent visit in 2022, Venice Beach had fewer tents from the last time we were there, but overall, LA has way more tents around the city.
It’s an unfortunate issue in California right now that we can only hope gets better for those being affected. This is not to scare you in any way. It’s so that you are not surprised!
Santa Monica Pier
From Venice, head North to the famous Santa Monica Beach and Pier! Seen in countless movies and famously at the end of route 66, Santa Monica must be on your 3 days in Los Angeles itinerary.
We rode our bikes to Santa Monica since it’s not far from Venice Beach at all! If you are driving, you can find it on Colorado Avenue.
Once you get to the pier, enjoy snacking on ice cream and candy, letting out your inner child on the carnival rides, or even just taking a seat and people-watching.
Towards the end of the pier, you will see people fishing or just enjoying the views of the Pacific Ocean. After you finish enjoying the Santa Monica Pier, enjoy some time down on the Santa Monica beach!
Address: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Venice Canals (Optional)
You can choose to end your night with a sunset on Venice or Santa Monica Beach or at the Venice Canals. The Venice Canals consist of little bridges crossing over the canal and surrounded by insane mansions.
Day 3 in Los Angeles Itinerary – Road Trip to Malibu, Explore Downtown LA, or Visit Disney & Universal
We have made it to day 3 of our Los Angeles itinerary, and you have already seen a ton of iconic places. If the weather is nice during your visit to LA, I would highly recommend taking a road trip to Malibu!
But if it’s not beach weather, or you’re not a beach person, I want to give you a couple of options of how you can finish your time in LA!
One option is to check out Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, and CityWalk in Hollywood. Since I grew up in Florida and visited these theme parks often growing up, we opted out, but I know this is a lot of people’s jam. You can spend the full day doing this.
Or, you can take a trip to downtown Los Angeles. If you are good with time, you may be able to do both the beach and downtown LA!
Lastly, you consider a day trip to San Diego. I would opt for seeing La Jolla, Coronado Island, and Balboa Park. You can check out my Weekend in San Diego Itinerary for more details on the top attractions.
Downtown Los Angeles
If you want to do both downtown and Malibu, this is how I’d do it. Start your morning early in downtown LA.
Some of the best things to add to your downtown Los Angeles itinerary include:
- The Grand Central Market – Take a walk through and grab a quick bite to eat.
- The Last Bookstore, Grand Park – Quirky and Instagrammable bookstore to walk through.
- Angels Flight – Walk by or even take a short ride on the world’s shortest railway
- The Broad Museum – A unique museum, but cap your time to 1 hour.
- Walt Disney Concert Hall – You won’t have time to see a show if you want to visit Malibu, but you can stop by and see it.
Day Trip to Malibu
From Los Angeles, driving to Malibu takes around 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic. The views are absolutely incredible as you make your way up the Pacific Coast Highway!
For a quick bite to eat in Malibu, check out Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe. They are known for having excellent seafood!
Los Angeles Insider Tip: All Below Malibu beaches require you to climb down the cliff.
Big Dume Beach and Point Dume State Beach
One of the best things to do in Malibu is to visit its beaches. Malibu beaches are unique in that they are situated below large cliffs! From the photos, it looks like you could even be in Portugal.
We started our Malibu beach trip at Big Dume and hiked down to Point Dume beach. Both beaches were pretty quiet making it super relaxing! Point Dume also has walking trails along the coast.
Address: Cliffside Dr & Birdview Ave, Malibu, CA 90265
El Matador Beach (Robert Meyer Memorial State Beach)
Next, we headed to the famous El Matador beach. Locals call it the Instagram beach since it’s always packed with people doing photoshoots.
I totally get why since the beach has beautiful views and this really cool rock cave. I would also highly recommend watching the sunset at El Matador. It is a favorite photography spot.
However, if you prefer quiet beaches, this is not the beach for you.
Address: 32350 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
Other things to do in Malibu
Aside from hitting the Malibu beaches, you can stroll down the boardwalk, enjoy a handful of really nice hikes, or even check out some of the local beach bars!
Where To Eat Los Angeles
For those who know me, breakfast food, pizza, and anything involving a lot of cheese is my go-to when eating. Below are some places we enjoyed the most!
Blu Jam Cafe: Located in the trendy Melrose neighborhood, their breakfast was absolutely amazing! We got french toast and eggs benedict and it was out of this world. Their menu also focuses on being sustainable. They have 4.5 stars on Google with over 1.6k reviews so clearly, I’m not the only one raving about them. Menu
The Griddle Cafe: If you are a pancake lover, you have to check this spot out! I kid you not, the pancakes were larger than my head and they have the most creative dessert pancakes I’ve ever heard of! Menu
Eggslut: If you are looking to grab a quick breakfast sandwich, check out Eggslut. We didn’t try the location in LA, but I lived at Eggslut during my trip to Vegas. It is basically equivalent to In-and-Out, but for Breakfast. Menu
Diddy Riese: Get Ice cream sandwiches and cookies from Diddy Riese! Don’t be surprised if this place has a line, it’s worth it though! Menu
Larry’s Chili Dog: During my most recent trip to LA, I was in search of the best Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Burrito, and I found it here. This place legit looks like a whole in the wall, and I almost pulled away, but I am so glad I didn’t. Menu
Plancha Tacos: If I had a runner-up for my egg burrito, it would be at Plancha. They have two locations and have a little more of a Mexican twist to it. My Brother-in-law eats here at least once a week, so he’s a real fan. Menu
Joan’s on Third: A great place to get pastries. They also have a pretty decent Egg burrito, but it is much smaller than the other two places mentioned above. One thing they do differently that I liked was adding avocado and toasted the whole outside of the burrito. Menu
Where to Stay in Los Angeles
The 3 most popular areas to stay in Los Angeles is Hollywood (attractions), Beverly Hills (luxury), and Santa Monica (more beachy vibes). If you plan on staying near Universal, I’d definitely recommend booking in advance. Some great hotel options include:
Omni Los Angeles Hotel California Plaza: You can never go wrong with an Omni hotel! This property is located at California Plaza atop historic Bunker Hill. They have 2 onsite restaurants, an outdoor heated lap pool, a complimentary shuttle, spa, and more!
JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE: This property offers a beautiful modern design, a rooftop pool, 4 restaurants, and even specializes in local and organic food. You can also enjoy the spa, fitness center, and more!
Hilton Los Angeles-Universal City: Want to be close to Universal Studios? This property is located about 5 minutes from the Universal Studios Hollywood Walk. Additionally, they have a pool, hot tub, cafe, and more!
Andaz West Hollywood-a concept by Hyatt: Located just about 5 minutes from the Sunset Strip enjoy onsite dining, a rooftop pool, and complimentary non-alcoholic beverages.
Additional Things to do in Los Angeles
3 days gives you plenty of time to see a lot of LA, however, you can’t cover the whole city in this amount of time. Los Angeles definitely left us wanting more along with the rest of California – which is why we have been back several times!
Update: We went back to Los Angeles for a week, and I stick by my original Itinerary but did add additional options on day 3 in LA.
If you have more than 3 days in Los Angeles or additional time on your itinerary here are more top attractions in Los Angeles!
- Check out the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
- Tour The Getty Center Museum.
- Browse the free and well-known Broad Museum.
- Wander through The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA.
- Check out the California State Parks
- Explore Beverly Hills Mansions.
- Take a tour down the Venice Canals.
- Scout Melrose Ave for tons of shopping, great cafes, and Instagramable corners.
- Take a tour of Celebrity homes.
- Jump on a Hop on Hop off Tour.
- Go to a Football, Basketball, or Baseball game.
- Take a Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood
You should also check out some of the best Free Things to do in Los Angeles!
When Is the Best Time to Visit Los Angeles
Now that you have your whole Los Angeles itinerary ready, you might be wondering when the best time to visit LA. To be honest, there really is not no bad time to visit LA. In terms of weather, the winter in Los Angeles has milder temperatures making the city way more enjoyable.
The low season in Los Angeles is generally in the fall and spring.
Spring in Los Angeles average temperatures in the Low 70’s.
The Summer in LA, the average temperatures will be in the 80’s.
Fall will bring you temperatures between 70 degrees to 80 degrees.
Winter months will be the coolest around the high 60’s and low 70’s.
3 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary: Wrap-up
This covers some of the best things to do with 3 days in LA! From iconic landmarks, epic hikes, beach days, and road trips, I hope you had an amazing time exploring Los Angeles.
Plan on doing several paid activities? Consider getting the LA City Pass that will help you save money on tickets! Check out the LA City Pass here.
Some other guides you may enjoy:
- How to See Death Valley National Park in 1 Day
- Day Trip to Joshua Tree National Park
- Instagrammable Places in San Diego
- Best USA Warm Weather Winter Getaways
- Winter Wonderland USA Getaways
- Bucket List Cities
Have any questions or did I miss one of your favorite places in my 3 days in Los Angeles itinerary? Let me know in the comments below!