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 72 hours, you can actually see a ton of the city. We are lucky to have family living here who were able to give us the full rundown on the best things to do and see in LA during our trip to California! We have also visited LA a couple of times. So, if you’re in LA for a few days and unsure what to do, below, find my detailed itinerary and travel tips on how to spend 3 days in Los Angeles.
I know you might be thinking is 3 days enough time in Los Angeles? The short answer is yes, 3 days in LA will give you enough time to see a ton of the city as you will find in the itinerary below. However, I would say that 3 days should be the minimum amount of time you spend in LA.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- How to Spend 3 days in Los Angeles Itinerary
- Getting Around With This Los Angeles Itinerary
- Day 1 – 3 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary
- Day 2 in LA – Venice, Santa Monica, and Runyon Canyon
- Day 3 in Los Angeles – Road Trip to Malibu
- 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
Getting Around With This Los Angeles Itinerary
With 3 days in Los Angeles, it’s best to rent a car, especially with this itinerary. The city is pretty spread out, so it would be very hard to manage without a car.
If you are flying into 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 – 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, 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 both 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
Admission is Free!
Hrs: M-F 12 PM – 10 PM Saturday and Sunday: 10 AM – 10 PM (double-check hours before going!)
Day 2 in LA – Venice, Santa Monica, and Runyon Canyon
On day two of our 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, make sure to add Runyon Canyon to your 3 day itinerary 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 boardwalk!
Popular areas to see at Venice Beach are the Skate Park, Abbott Kinney Street, and Muscle Beach.
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 are likely to 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, 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 just so you are not surprised!
Santa Monica Pier
From Venice, head North to the Santa Monica Beach and Pier! Seen in countless movies and famously the end of route 66, Santa Monica needs to be on your 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
Day 3 in Los Angeles – Road Trip to Malibu
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!
An optional idea is to check out Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, CityWalk in Hollywood, tour Downtown LA, or a day trip to San Diego. Since I grew up in Florida and visited these theme parks often growing up, and I’ve already toured downtown, we opted for a road trip to Malibu’s beaches instead.
If you love a day at the beach, I would definitely opt for Malibu. If the beach is not your thing, and neither is Disney, I would check out the Downtown Area.
Some of the things you can enjoy downtown include The Grand Central Market, The Last Bookstore, Grand Park, Angels Flight, The Broad Museum, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. You should be able to see all the above in just a day.
If you consider 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.
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!
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!
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 if you choose a good time to visit. To be honest, there really is not a bad time to visit LA. In terms of weather, the winter in LA 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. Have any questions or did I miss one of your favorite places in my Los Angeles itinerary? Let me know in the comments below!
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.
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