How To Spend 24 Hours In Four LA Neighborhoods
Los Angeles is sprawl and all-day bumper-to-bumper traffic makes it difficult to get from one side of the city to the other. When planning your 24 hours in Tinseltown, it’s important to be realistic and strategic about how you spend your time. For that reason, this article is broken down based on neighborhoods.
West Side / Beach Cities
If you’re bound to stay near LAX, you’ll find plenty to explore in nearby beach cities. While brunch is a weekend treat for most people, in LA it’s a way of life. Begin your 24 hours by filling your energy tank at 26 Beach, which has a Monday through Friday breakfast happy hour from 8am-11am that includes bottomless mimosas. Soak up the booze with one of the restaurant’s famous burgers nestled between housemade buns so you’re not tempted to nap away the remainder of the day.
26 Beach is a quick Uber ride to the Venice Boardwalk, which is great for taking in the California coastline, people watching or grabbing a homemade souvenir from one of the artisans who set up shop along the strip. If the boardwalk is too crowded for your liking, head to Venice Canal Historic District to take in the man-made waterways and million-dollar real estate.
If you’re in the mood to burn some calories, a bike rental is a great way to see The Strand, a paved route that runs along the Southern California shoreline between Torrance and Santa Monica. Santa Monica offers plenty of shopping opportunities, restaurant and bar options, along with a pier where you can ride bumper cars, play arcade games, ride the famous ferris wheel, or gorge on funnel cakes.
For dinner, there are plenty of options for every budget. In Venice, the Rose Cafe has a huge menu with reimagined California cuisine and it’s open-kitchen design makes it perfect for large parties. If you’re in the mood for something fast and cheap, grab some authentic tacos at La Isla Bonita Taco Truck.
Finish your evening at the Townhouse Venice, which has an adjoining speakeasy bar and has been an LA staple for over a century. The venue features live performances on most days of the week.
Make sure you roll through the LAX-adjacent location of In-n-Out before boarding your flight!
East Side / DTLA
Los Angeles’ east side is inclusive of hipster neighborhoods like Echo Park, Silverlake, and Highland Park, and is only a couple miles from the rapidly developing downtown area. Outside of Griffith Park and the Observatory, it’s often overlooked by tourists and is a great option if you’re wanting a local experience.
You’ll find several coffee shops on every block, but I recommend The Semi-Tropic for their all-day happy hour which begins at 9 am. It’s a popular meeting and workspace during the day but has a spacious interior so you won’t feel overcrowded.
Afterward, decide if you’re in the mood for a hike or an easy stroll around the calming Echo Park Lake. If you’re feeling the former, grab an Uber to Griffith Park and trek up to the Observatory for a stunning view of the city, including the Hollywood sign. Afterward, stop by Trails Cafe and treat yourself to one of their pig in a blanket pastries or any of their delicious baked goods. The Autry Museum is located in the park offers a glimpse into the American West if you’re in the mood for a history lesson.
If Echo Park Lake is more your speed, grab a few picnic items or stop by the Beacon cafe (located off the lake) and grab some grub before settling on a grassy patch and taking in the blooming lily pads and families of geese. You can also rent one of the swan-shaped paddle boats by the hour for only $10.
For lunch, you can walk to Sage Bistro and be amazed at their delicious vegan grub. If you’re in the mood for protein, deep-dish pizza parlor Masa is right next door. Both restaurants are on Sunset Blvd, which offers plenty of food options to choose from.
Once you’re satiated, you can catch an Uber Downtown and get your fill of LA’s art scene at The Broad or MOCA. Top off your afternoon with some happy hour drinks at Perch’s rooftop bar and stay for the sunset.
There are endless options for dinner in DTLA, but I recommend Bestia if you’re looking to splurge or you can choose from one of the inexpensive counters in Grand Central Market, which has everything from Latin to Asian cuisine along with a Farmer’s Market with fresh fruits and veggies.
Head to the TV lots early and dress in your wildest outfit so you have a greater chance of being selected as an audience member for Price is Right. If you love daytime talk shows, you can request to join the audience for The Ellen Show or Dr. Phil. Afterward, you’ll find the outdoor shopping mall The Grove practically next door and overflowing with shopping and dining options.
You can spend hours exploring the expansive LACMA museum, or stroll through the La Brea Tar Pits and outdoor Urban Light exhibit free of charge. The Craft Contemporary museum across the street is smaller and less favored by tourists but has colorful exhibits that kids will love.
POC-owned Grain Cafe only serves vegetarian fare, but their affordable prices and fresh food make it the perfect lunch option. Mid-Wilshire is largely a business district so you might struggle to occupy yourself for 24 hours in this neighborhood, but it has some of the best museums in the city. I recommend heading to Hollywood to finish your time in LA.
Hollywood / WeHo
Hollywood is the epicenter of tourism in Los Angeles, and with good reason. Mel’s Diner is a must-visit and it’s 24-hour schedule offers flexibility for you to stop at any time of day. Its convenient location off the Hollywood Walk of Fame puts you in a great position to stroll down the famous boulevard and look for the names of your favorite stars. Make sure you stop at the TCL Chinese Theatre to see some of the handprints and signatures of celebrities from yesteryear.
Depending on your interests, you can refresh your Hollywood history by stopping in the Hollywood Museum, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, or Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. The Museum of Death and the Museum of Selfies offer alternative experiences.
If you want to go all out, head to Universal Studios and take the lot tour, which gives insight into the production of different Hollywood films. The adjacent City Walk is filled with tons of restaurant and bar options. Looking for something a little more lowkey? The Paramount Studio Tour is often overlooked by tourists and has just as much Hollywood history to behold.
If you’re in LA during a heatwave, taking a dip at the Hollywood Roosevelt pool might offer a respite. You can head further down Sunset Blvd to West Hollywood’s Mondrian Hotel if you’re wanting a more exclusive experience.
West Hollywood is the perfect place to position yourself for the evening hours and I recommend Gracias Madre for some delicious vegan grub (no trip to LA is complete until you’ve had “I can’t believe it’s not meat” vegan cuisine) and CBD cocktails. If you’re wanting to take advantage of legal cannabis, both Hollywood and West Hollywood have plenty of dispensaries to browse. The Herbarium is one of the most popular and known for having high-quality products.
End your evening with a drag show at Hamburger Mary’s West Hollywood location, which has events ranging from trivia to bingo to karaoke just about every night.