2 Days in Los Angeles: How to Spend a Weekend in L.A.

Los Angeles offers a ton of incredible sights and experiences for just about everyone. From the amazing restaurants, beautiful hikes, and endless entertainment, you won’t have a dull moment during your visit! That said, given how sprawling the city is, planning an itinerary can get overwhelming, especially if you’re only visiting for a weekend.

Here’s a look at everything you need to know about spending 2 days in Los Angeles – through the eyes of a Southern California native who has lived in the city of LA for four years. 

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel and vacation rental links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would absolutely never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.

Where to Stay for 2 Days in Los Angeles

When it comes to choosing an area to stay during your 2 days in Los Angeles, you want to consider exactly where you’ll be spending most of your time. 

Los Angeles is famous for its traffic, so it’s best to choose an accommodation that is central to the spots you’ll be hitting up. Keeping that in mind, here are a few of the best neighborhoods to stay in during your LA visit.

Wondering where to stay in Los Angeles? Boy do we have the resource for you! Check out our guide to the best places to stay in Los Angeles, which has the top 5 neighborhoods, pros and cons for each, neighborhood highlights, and hotel options for each.

Essentially, the first decision you need to make around where to stay in L.A. is whether you want to be close to the beach or not. It takes A LONG TIME to go from one side of L.A. to the other (like from Downtown or Silver Lake to the beach). Especially when there’s traffic.

If staying near the beach is a must, stay in Santa Monica. If it’s not, you have a few more options to choose from.

  • If you’re looking for a great central location, roughly equidistant between Downtown and the beach, look at West Hollywood. The area is a great place to explore in its own right, with plenty of places to eat, drink, and shop within its borders, but also offers great access to other parts of the city.

  • If you’re looking to stay near the beach, your best bet is Santa Monica. Santa Monica is charming, with great stretches of shops, bars, and restaurants (particularly along Montana Ave on the north side of the neighborhood). There are plenty of hotels to choose from, though it’s one of the more expensive places to stay in L.A. If you’re on a budget, stay at the Georgian Hotel, or consider staying in nearby Venice, which is also a fun place to stay near the beach.

  • If you’ve got a short trip and want to experience the “city” parts of L.A., stay right in the heart of all the action in Downtown L.A. This is where you’ll find cultural icons like Staples Center, along with places like Grand Central Market, a bunch of great museums, and more. Plus, this area has the best hotels in L.A. We LOVE CitizenM Hotels, and they just opened a new branch in L.A. There are also a handful of stylish boutique hotels to choose from, like the Ace Hotel (we’ve stayed at their NYC location and their Seattle location) and the ultra-stylish Hotel Figueroa (which has a nice rooftop pool).

A Weekend in Los Angeles: A Complete 2 Day Los Angeles Itinerary

Here is an example of a 2 day Los Angeles itinerary. Keep in mind that LA is huge, so you’re not going to be able to hit up all the sights in just a weekend. That said, you can still get a great feel for the city with the spots mentioned below!

This Los Angeles itinerary is geared more towards people staying around West Hollywood, Santa Monica, or any of the areas between these towns. 

Friday Night: Arriving & Dinner and Drinks

Arrive and Get to Your Hotel

Drop off your bags, freshen up, and get ready for your first night in LA! 

Here are two options for where to head for dinner and drinks on your first night, depending on where you’re staying.

Dinner and Drinks – West Hollywood

If you’re staying in or around West Hollywood, here are a few local eateries and bars to check out (by the way, you’ll find a few more recommendations at the end of this post!):

  • Rosaliné: A Peruvian restaurant with shareable dishes and amazing cocktails.

  • Tacos Tu Madre: A colorful casual restaurant with super creative tacos, burritos, and more, as well as delicious drinks. There are plenty of vegan options, too.

  • Laurel Hardware: A bar and restaurant with a gorgeous outdoor patio – the perfect place to kick back while enjoying a cocktail, glass of wine, or beer. 

Dinner and Drinks – Santa Monica

Staying closer to Santa Monica? Here are a few options to look into:

  • Tumbi Craft Indian Kitchen: A modern Indian restaurant and bar right in the middle of downtown Santa Monica.

  • Birdie G’s: A well-loved American restaurant serving comfort food and great cocktails in a vast industrial space. It’s a short drive away from the hustle and bustle of central Santa Monica.

  • The Bungalow: Located at the Fairmont Miramar, this popular beachy bar has a beautiful outdoor garden and indoor game room.

Saturday: Coastal California – Santa Monica and Venice

Spend your first full day during your weekend in L.A. by the coast, enjoying the sights around Santa Monica and Venice.

The Santa Monica Farmers Market

Start your day off with a stroll through Santa Monica Farmers Market (open 8am to 1pm), located on Arizona Avenue between 4th and 2nd Street. This large market has everything you could want, including prepared meals (grab some breakfast!), produce, nuts, soaps, baked goods, and so much more.

Walk or Bike to Venice Beach

Once you’re done at the farmers market, it’s time to head to the beach! There’s a walk and bike path that spans down to Venice Beach (which is about 2 miles away), so it’s the perfect way to take in the views of the coast. 

If you want to bike, you’ll stop by Perry’s Cafe and Beach Rentals (the #4 locations on their site) to rent a bike. Use the Arizona Avenue pedestrian bridge to get down there.

Heads up: you’ll pass by 6 different Perry’s on your ride down, and the furthest location is just over 3 miles away (#8 on their map). You can either drop off the bike at one of these locations and walk (or rideshare) back, or keep the bike for the day and drop it off at the original location. 

Once you have your bike (or your walking shoes!), make your way south down Ocean Front Walk. You’ll pass by Santa Monica Pier pretty quickly, which you can stop by if you’d like (personally, I’d recommend skipping it – it gets very crowded and there’s not really much to see). 

Continue down the path, stopping as you please, and make your way towards Windward Plaza in Venice Beach. There’s a Perry’s just south of this park if you want to drop off your bike. 

There’s always something to see in this plaza – from drum circles to street performers to unique vendors – so take a moment to check out what’s happening. You can also head down to the Public Art Walls, which are covered in creative graffiti art.

As you’re leaving this area, be sure to also walk up Windward Avenue to get the picture perfect view of the Venice Sign.

Explore the Venice Canals

Now that you’re in Venice, it’s time to check out the famous Venice Canals. These man made canals were constructed in the early 1900s by Abbot Kinney, as a way to bring the feel of Venice, Italy to LA. 

There’s no must-see house or spot – just walk around and enjoy the views! Just be mindful of the residents in the area. 

Lunch in Venice

After the canals, you’ll probably be hungry for lunch! Some great lunch spots in the area are Eggslut, Tocaya Organica, Greenleaf Chopshop, and The Butcher’s Daughter.

Craving something sweet after lunch? Stop by Blue Star Donuts or Salt and Straw Ice Cream!

Stroll Through Abbot Kinney

After lunch, it’s time to check out Abbot Kinney, a ¾-mile strip dubbed the “coolest block in America”.

The eclectic mix of bungalow-style buildings and modern architecture, as well as the unique murals on the side of nearly every shop, make this stop worthwhile.

You can also stop into a few galleries and check out some of the boutiques (you’ll find both smaller and bigger name brands here). 

It’s also a great place to pick up a cup of coffee if you need a caffeine boost. I highly recommend Intelligentsia for great quality coffee. If you’re a matcha fan, Shuhari Matcha Café is another amazing spot. 

Head Back North to Santa Monica

Once you’re done at Abbot Kinney, you can start making your way back towards Santa Monica. If it’s getting late (or you’re ready to give your feet a break!), you can take a rideshare to the next spot. 

If not, you can go back to Ocean Front Walk to walk or bike back. Want a bit of a different scenery on the way back? I’d recommend taking Main Street up north for part of your journey.

Half a mile up Main Street from the end of Abbot Kinney, you’ll start walking through the main shopping area of Ocean Park, a laid-back neighborhood that’s quieter than its neighbors to the north and south. You’ll pass by a few shops and galleries along the way.

Definitely stop by Ten Women Gallery, an artists collective where you can buy unique pieces made by local artists. It’s a great spot for souvenirs and gifts!

If you take the Main Street way, head back towards the ocean once you hit Pico Boulevard, and hook back up with Ocean Front Walk for the rest of the journey. 

Catch the Sunset

Now that you’re back in Santa Monica, you have to make sure you catch the sunset. Palisades Park – a long strip that’s right above the beach – is a great place to watch the sun go down.

Go for a walk along the path, or find a nice bench. The park tends to be busier closer to the pier, but if you walk a bit further north, you’ll start to get away from the crowds. 

Dinner and Drinks

Now that the sun has set, it’s time for dinner! There are tons of restaurants in Santa Monica, so you really have a wealth of options. You can check out the two recommendations from above (Tumbi and Birdie G’s) if you didn’t on Friday night. 

Another recommendation is Father’s Office (Santa Monica location), which is located north of downtown Santa Monica on Montana Avenue. It’s a great gastropub with a huge variety of craft beers and gourmet pub-style food (including their famous Office Burger).

If you want more recommendations beyond Santa Monica, I’ve included some more options at the end of this post.

If you’re looking for some after dinner drinks, I’d recommend Bodega Wine Bar (in addition to the Bungalow, mentioned above).

After-Dinner Activities

Want to keep the excitement moving after dinner and drinks? Check out Harvelle’s Blues Club to enjoy another drink while listening to live music. During the summers, you can also enjoy Twilight on the Pier, a (completely free!) weekly music festival on the Santa Monica Pier.

Sunday: Downtown L.A.

After spending a day at the coast, it’s time to go inland for a bit of hiking and to explore a few iconic Los Angeles spots.

Hike to Griffith Observatory

If you’re spending two days in Los Angeles, you’ve definitely got to stop by Griffith Observatory, a gorgeous art deco building that opened in 1935. There are exhibits, a planetarium, and shows, so there’s plenty to explore.

Additionally, you get some of the best views of Los Angeles from up there – including a view of the Hollywood Sign in the distance. Be sure to check the website for opening times (FYI, admission is free!). 

Most people will just drive up to the observatory, but parking can be an absolute nightmare – especially on the weekends and in the summer.

A way better experience is hiking up to the observatory via Ferndell Trail, which is a 2.5-mile loop. It’s a fairly easy hike that’s largely paved, but it is uphill, so you might break a sweat!

Lunch in the Area

You’ve probably worked up an appetite during your hike, so it’s time for lunch! There are a few great options in the area.

As you head back towards the start of the trail, you’ll pass by The Trails Cafe – a rustic lunch spot where you order at the window. They offer delicious pastries, sandwiches, and coffee drinks, and there are plenty of benches and tables. 

You can also get out of Griffith Park and head over to Los Feliz for lunch. If you’re in a walking mood, this area is about one and a half miles from the start of Ferndell Trail. There are sidewalks on either side of Los Feliz Boulevard. Some great options include Home, Little Dom’s, and HomeState

Need a caffeine boost? Stop by Maru Coffee.

A Visit to LACMA

Credit: Darren Tierney / Shutterstock.com

After lunch, it’s time to head over to the Miracle Mile area to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which happens to be the largest art museum in the western US.

This museum has a large variety of work spanning over 6,000 years, and new exhibits are constantly being featured. Check out their website for the more up-to-date exhibit info. Adult tickets are $25 for those living outside of LA county. 

Before you leave, be sure you also check out the Urban Light exhibit outside the museum on Wilshire Boulevard. This photo-worthy spot features 202 densely packed restored streetlights, which are run by solar power.

Shopping at Melrose Trading Post

After the museum, you’ll head a mile and a half north to Melrose Trading Post, which happens every Sunday from 9am to 5pm.

At this outdoor market, local artists, jewelry makers, vintage collectors, and other vendors set up stations to sell their eclectic goods. It’s the perfect place for vintage clothes, local handmade goods, and unique souvenirs to take home. 

There’s also always local musicians and other performance artists performing at different spots throughout the market. Admission is $5, which goes towards programs at the local high school. 

What to Add with More Than 2 Days in L.A.

If you have an extra day or two in Los Angeles, here are a few extra activities and places to explore.

Do a Studio Tour in Burbank

Love film and TV? Consider doing a tour at Warner Bros. Studio, which is located in Burbank. Tours cost under $70. Sure, it’s a little touristy, but it’s a great tour and a fun way to see behind the scenes of your favorite films and TV shows. It’s easily one of the best studio tours in Los Angeles. 

Watch a Comedy Show at The Comedy Store

The Comedy Store is an iconic performance venue on Sunset Boulevard that has three separate stages where stand-up comedians perform. You’ll find both household names and up-and-comers perform here, so ticket prices vary greatly depending on who you’re seeing. Performance info can be found on the venue’s website. 

Spend a Day Downtown

If you’re spending a long weekend in LA, add a stop downtown to your itinerary.

Some of the key spots to check out are The Last Bookstore, the Bradbury Building, The Broad art museum, and Grand Central Market (which has a huge array of food vendors).

I’d also recommend grabbing a drink at the rooftop bar at Perch, and getting a scoop of charcoal ice cream at Little Damage.

Where to Eat & Drink in Los Angeles

We’ve covered quite a few restaurants and bars, but if you want more options all across LA, here are a few more great spots.

Eating in LA

Guisados (DTLA, WeHo, Burbank, & More) 

Guisados is the place to go for excellent tacos, with homestyle braises served on homemade tortillas. There are 7 locations throughout LA, so chances are you’re near one! 

E.P. & L.P. (West Hollywood)

This restaurant and rooftop bar serves delicious California-Asian fare that is meant to be shared family style. E.P. is the downstairs restaurant, and L.P. is the upstairs rooftop bar.

Mohawk Bend (Echo Park)

Enjoy the industrial-style space as you sip on a California beer and eat some delicious and creative American food at Mohawk Bend. Don’t forget to place an order of their famous buffalo cauliflower for the table.

Night + Market (Venice, West Hollywood, and Silver Lake)

This popular restaurant is the place to go for amazing traditional Thai food. They also have an extensive wine menu. 

Nic’s on Beverly (Beverly Grove)

Hit up Nic’s if you’re looking for a great spot for a plant-based brunch or dinner. Be sure to get the kennebec potato gratin fries, and try one of their delicious cocktails!

Rahel Ethiopian (Mid-Wilshire/Little Ethiopia)

Rahel is an insanely good Ethiopian restaurant that serves generous portions (it also happens to be fully vegan). I highly recommend getting a combination dish to try a wide variety of food. 

Sugarfish (Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, Hollywood, & More)

If you’re looking for high-quality, simple, and traditional sushi, definitely check out Sugarfish. There are 11 locations across Los Angeles. 

Drinking in LA

Coffee and Tea

Alfred’s Coffee and Tea Rooms (Brentwood, Studio City, Koreatown, & More)

Head to one of the many Alfred’s Coffee and Tea Rooms across LA for some high-quality tea or delicious coffee. 

Intelligentsia (Venice, Hollywood, Silver Lake, and Pasadena)

This super popular coffee shop is the place to go if you consider yourself to be a bit of a coffee aficionado.

Dinosaur Coffee (Silver Lake)

At Dinosaur Coffee, you’ll find classic coffee and tea drinks, plus plenty of drink specials and mouth watering pastries. 

Bars in L.A.

Angel City Brewery (DTLA)

Angel City Brewery is located in a huge historic brick warehouse that’s over 100 years old. They have a variety of their beers available on tap, and you can see what they’re currently serving on their website.  

Conservatory (West Hollywood)

Conservatory is a restaurant and bar with a beautiful covered outdoor dining and bar space, as well as a small speakeasy in the back. It’s the perfect place for a cocktail or glass of wine. 

Good Times at Davey Wayne’s (Hollywood) 

If you want to travel back in time, check out Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, a bar that was converted to look like a house from the 1970s. Be sure to order an alcoholic snow cone at the bar. 

Mama Shelter (Hollywood)

Mama Shelter is one of the best rooftop bars in the area, with sweeping views all around LA. Hang out on the colorful patio while sipping on one of their signature cocktails. 

The Best Time to Visit LA

If you want to avoid crowds while still getting the best possible weather, the best time to visit Los Angeles is early fall (once school is back in session) or late spring and early summer (before school gets out for the summer). With that in mind, let’s talk about the weather in each season.

In the early summer, the average temperatures range in the mid to high 70s. LA can get some “June gloom”, but it’s typically still warm enough to comfortably explore outside.

The weather gets warmer in the later summer, with an average temperature in the mid-80s in July and August. That said, some LA summer days reach into the 90s, and sometimes even break into the 100s (especially if you’re in the San Fernando Valley or more inland, as the areas tend to be warmer than other parts of LA).

As far as fall goes, the hot summer weather tends to continue well into the season – don’t expect to break out the sweaters until winter! The weather in September and October average in the high 70s and low 80s. Just as is the case with the summer, extra hot streaks are common. Don’t be shocked if you see weather in the 90s in October!

Winters in Los Angeles are generally mild, so you can still easily travel and explore without hitting any extreme weather. Average temperatures range in the high 60s to low 70s from mid-November to mid-March, but the weather does occasionally drop into the 50s in the winter. You’ll also typically see a handful of rainy days, particularly in the later winter. 

Finally, in the spring, you can expect temperatures averaging in the low to mid-70s – but you may see weather anywhere from the 60s to the 80s. You still should be prepared for the potential of rain, particularly in early spring, 

Heads up: Los Angeles county is big, so the weather can differ from town to town. Be sure to check the weather for the specific area you’ll be checking out for the most accurate information.

Getting to Los Angeles

Los Angeles has two major airports: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR). LAX is located between Marina Del Rey and El Segundo in the southwest area of LA, and BUR is located in Burbank, which is further northeast.

If you’re only spending 2 days in LA, I highly recommend checking the Burbank flight schedules first to see if there’s a good option for you. This is especially true for those staying around West Hollywood, Glendale, or anywhere further east. Burbank is a much smaller airport than LAX, and it’s a breeze to get in and out of (which means more time to spend exploring LA!). 

Of course, since it’s smaller, there are less flight options – which means the much larger LAX may work better for you. LAX is one of the busiest airports in the US (and the largest on the West Coast), so if you’re flying through LAX, plan to spend more time on arrival and departure. 

Getting from the Airport to Your Destination

The quickest and most straightforward option will be taking a rideshare from the airport to your destination (or renting a car).

For LAX, the rideshare pickup locations have changed a few times recently due to construction, so check the Uber or Lyft sites for the most up-to-date info on where to go.

Burbank has a single, one-way road that goes by the arrival area, so just look for signs for the pickup area once you’ve grabbed your bags. 

If you’re interested in public transportation, there are both train and bus options from BUR and LAX. The Metro Trip Planner is the best tool to use to see how you can get to your accommodations. You can also look at the BUR and LAX website for information on shuttles from the airport to public transportation stops. 

Getting Around Los Angeles

Los Angeles does have public transportation, but it isn’t as extensive as other US cities (especially when it comes to the subways – there are only two lines). Given how large the county is, you can’t easily get to every corner solely using public transport. 

With that in mind, I’d highly recommend either renting a car or using rideshare if you’re only spending a weekend in LA. If the main destinations you want to hit up aren’t on completely opposite sides of town, I’d recommend sticking with a rideshare.

That way, you won’t have to deal with parking (which can sometimes be hard to find and/or expensive, particularly in busy areas). 

That said, depending on exactly where you’ll be spending your time in LA, you may be able to get around solely using public transportation – you can find the Metro rail and busway map here.

On this map, in addition to the two subway lines (the B/Red line and the D/Purple line), you’ll find additional light rails and the two major busways.

Not shown on this map is the more vast bus system, which includes the Orange line (local buses) and Red line (rapid buses). The Metro Trip Planner is incredibly helpful for finding these bus routes in the area you’ll be hanging out in, or for planning your trip on the light rail and/or subways.

If you use any of these Metro systems, buy a TAP card for $2. You can buy a virtual card to use through the app, or a physical card at a station or through a vendor.

Those relying heavily on the Metro for their weekend in Los Angeles will get the most bang for their buck with a 1-Day pass, which costs $7. More info on how and where to buy this card – as well as more detailed fare information – can be found on Metro’s site.

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