How to Spend One Day in Los Angeles: A Complete Guide

Los Angeles has so much to offer – so much so that figuring out how to spend one day in Los Angeles can be overwhelming! The city has everything from iconic movie locations to beautiful beaches to incredible restaurants, so narrowing down exactly what to do isn’t always easy. 

While doing L.A. in one day can be tricky (more on that below), you can still see a lot of Los Angeles during a day trip. As a Southern California native coming up on five years in L.A., I’m here to help. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about taking a day trip to Los Angeles.

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%.

Is One Day in L.A. Enough?

Short answer: no! While you can definitely do a fun day trip, don’t expect to see all of the sights of Los Angeles in one day. Los Angeles County is huge, and the must-visit sights, attractions, neighborhoods, restaurants, and so on are incredibly spread out.

Paired with the fact that traffic in L.A. is notoriously awful, it just isn’t possible to drive all around the county trying to see everything there is to see with just one day.

That all being said, if you only have 24 hours in Los Angeles (or less!), you can still have a fun visit – you just need to focus on one area of the county. You could also choose to explore one city/neighborhood in the morning, and then another in the afternoon.

For example, start in Santa Monica, and then head over to West Hollywood. Just keep in mind that this means you’ll be spending more time in the car (and will probably have to sit in some traffic!).

Below, you’ll find two different itineraries: one for a day in Santa Monica and Venice, and another for a day in Downtown L.A. and West Hollywood. Pick whichever one looks most exciting to you, and have a great time exploring that section of L.A.!

How to Spend One Day in Los Angeles: Two Ways to Spend a Day in L.A.

Here are the two different itinerary options for your visit to L.A. The first explores some of the more inland areas, and the second takes you out to the coast.

One Day in L.A.: DTLA, West Hollywood, and Surrounding Neighborhoods

In this Los Angeles in a day itinerary, you’ll see some of L.A.’s most iconic spots, including Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign.

You’ll start the day grabbing breakfast in Echo Park, and then you’ll head downtown to explore the city. Afterwards, you’ll head over to Griffith Observatory, and then finish your day with dinner and drinks in West Hollywood.

You’ll be covering a pretty big area in this itinerary, so I highly recommend traveling by car (either your own or with a rideshare).

Public transportation is an option, but keep in mind that this will add quite a bit of travel time to a relatively packed day – I’d try to limit use of buses or the train, if possible. That said, I’ll point out public transportation options for each activity.

Grab Breakfast and Coffee in Echo Park

Start your day off with some delicious breakfast (or just a cup of coffee) in Echo Park – a trendy neighborhood just north of Downtown.

If you end up grabbing a coffee or snack to-go, I recommend taking it down to the park of the same name to walk around the lake and take in the view. Here are a few places to check out:

  • Honey Hi: This small, health-conscious restaurant, cafe, and juice bar has delicious breakfast items (including a variety of bowls and sandwiches), as well as amazing drinks that you can get to-go. It’s a particularly great choice for people following a gluten free, vegetarian, and/or vegan diet – but anyone can enjoy Honey Hi!

  • Larchmont Bungalow Cafe: Larchmont Bungalow Cafe has a variety of breakfast dishes, pastries, and coffee drinks that you can enjoy on-site or take to-go. The extensive menu has egg dishes, waffles, bowls, sandwiches, a few vegan-friendly options, and more. There’s a huge outdoor patio space, as well as indoor seating.

  • Stereoscope Coffee: This well-loved coffee shop is one of the best places to get your caffeine fix in Echo Park. In addition to the great selection of coffee and tea drinks, Stereoscope offers a variety of pastries.
  • Honey Hi: This small, health-conscious restaurant, cafe, and juice bar has delicious breakfast items (including a variety of bowls and sandwiches), as well as amazing drinks that you can get to-go. It’s a particularly great choice for people following a gluten free, vegetarian, and/or vegan diet – but anyone can enjoy Honey Hi!

  • Larchmont Bungalow Cafe: Larchmont Bungalow Cafe has a variety of breakfast dishes, pastries, and coffee drinks that you can enjoy on-site or take to-go. The extensive menu has egg dishes, waffles, bowls, sandwiches, a few vegan-friendly options, and more. There’s a huge outdoor patio space, as well as indoor seating.

  • Stereoscope Coffee: This well-loved coffee shop is one of the best places to get your caffeine fix in Echo Park. In addition to the great selection of coffee and tea drinks, Stereoscope offers a variety of pastries.

Head to Downtown Los Angeles and Explore The Broad

After breakfast, you’ll make your way to The Broad in DTLA, which is about two miles south. If you drive yourself, you can park at The Broad Parking garage and leave your car there until you leave DTLA – you can find garage pricing information on the gallery website.

Alternatively, if you’d like to take public transportation, you can take the Los Angeles Metro Bus. Catch the Route 92 bus at the Glendale/Santa Ynez bus stop, and then take it to the Temple/Hill bus stop. The ride will be about 8 minutes, and will cost $1.75. From there, you’ll walk half a mile to The Broad.

The Broad is a contemporary art museum that is open Wednesdays through Sundays. The museum has a rotating selection of exhibits, and you can check the website to see what is currently on display. Admission is free, but you must reserve timed entry tickets in advance online – The Broad doesn’t currently have a standby line on-site.

When a super popular exhibit is on display (like one of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms), tickets book up fast, so be sure to reserve yours ASAP! Keep in mind that some popular exhibits (again, like the Infinity Mirror Rooms) also require a separate timed entry ticket, which you can also book online.

Check Out The Last Bookstore

Once you’re done at The Broad, you’ll walk about a half mile over to The Last Bookstore, which is the largest used and new bookstore in California.

This eclectic multilevel bookstore – which is located in a bank building that’s over a hundred years old – sells records, comic books, collectibles, and more.

There’s also a tunnel made of books, and plenty of art and cool rooms to explore.

Get Lunch at Grand Central Market

Next, you’ll walk about a quarter mile over to Grand Central Market, an iconic food hall that has been operating since 1917. There are over 40 stalls here, so the options for lunch are endless.

Take some time to walk around and see what’s open before settling on a place to eat.

Some vendors I recommend include Eggslut (delicious egg sandwiches), Ramen Hood (a fully vegan ramen shop), The Oyster Gourmet (a seafood bar), and Tacos Tumbras a Tomas (a Grand Central Market staple for over 50 years).

Stop by Bradbury Building and Angels Flight Railway

Before leaving DTLA, you’ll want to take a quick stop by two iconic downtown spots. The first is Bradbury Building, which is just on the other side of South Broadway Street from Grand Central Market.

This historic landmark opened in 1893, and is the oldest commercial building in DTLA. It has a gorgeous Victorian-style lobby area with ornate wrought-iron detailing, brick walls, marble stairs, and open elevators.

Bradbury Building has been used as a filming location numerous times over the years. You might recognize it from Blade Runner, 500 Days of Summer, Chinatown, or What Women Want. While much of the space is closed off to the public, visitors are still welcome to step inside the lobby, so it’s definitely worth a quick stop while you’re in the area.

After checking out Bradbury Building, you’ll head over to the opposite side of Grand Central Market to see Angels Flight Railway – famous for being the world’s shortest railway. Built in 1901, this railway (which takes you up a 298-foot incline) has been used in a wide variety of films and TV shows. 

You’ll more recently recognize it from La La Land, but it’s also been featured in The Unfaithful, The Glenn Miller Story, and the TV show Bosch (to name just a few). A one-way ticket for this super quick ride costs $1.00. 

If you drove your own car to DTLA, you can take a ride up and then walk back over to The Broad parking garage.

Visit Griffith Observatory

Next, you’ll get out of the downtown area and head over to Griffith Observatory, which is about a 20 to 30 minute drive north.

If you’re driving your own car, you can park at the lot in front of the observatory, or street park on West Observatory Road and walk up. Both of these options cost $4 per hour – pay at one of the machines and be sure to display your parking pass in your car.

Alternatively, if you’re in a hiking mood, you can park at the Section 9 Parking Lot for free (you’ll see it on the map linked above), and then hike up to the observatory via Ferndell Trail. The full loop is 2.5-miles long, but you’ll join the trail near the playground, which will shave off a bit of length.

It’s important to note that parking can be incredibly chaotic, particularly during the summer. Be prepared to wait a bit to get a spot if you’re visiting during peak season.

If the thought of parking stresses you out, consider street parking in the Los Feliz/Thai Town area, and then just taking a short rideshare ride up the mountain to the observatory.

You can also take public transportation (via the subway and then a bus), but keep in mind that it will add some time to your itinerary, especially since you’ll have to make a connection.

To do this, you’ll head to the Civic Center/Grand Park Subway Station, and take the Red/Metro B Line to Vermont/Sunset Station (a 12 minute ride that will cost $1.75. You’ll also need to pay for a $2.00 TAP card at the station, or buy a virtual card on the app). Walk over to the attached bus station, and then take the DASH Bus (operated by LADOT Transit) to the Griffith Observatory stop. This ride will take about 15 minutes, and costs $0.50. 

Griffith Observatory (which opened in 1935) is home to a planetarium and a variety of different exhibits. There are also shows throughout the day – you can learn more about the daily programs here.

The offerings inside the observatory are super fascinating, but the actual location is just as exciting.

You’ll get incredible views of Los Angeles from above, and can even see the Hollywood Sign from the western side of the property.

The actual observatory (which is completely free to visit) is typically open Friday through Sunday, but the grounds and outside terraces are open daily. If you aren’t visiting when the observatory is open, it’s still worth a visit. You can enjoy the gorgeous art deco architecture and take in the views.

Get Dinner and Drinks in West Hollywood

After visiting Griffith Observatory, it’s time to make your way to West Hollywood (AKA WeHo) for dinner and drinks. If you’re driving, you’ll need to street park. The drive will be around 30 minutes (but possibly more with traffic).

If you don’t have a car, I highly recommend taking a rideshare over public transportation – you’re looking at over an hour ride on the bus.

That said, if you still want to take public transportation, you’ll hop on the DASH Bus from the Griffith Observatory stop, and take it to the Vermont & Prospect Avenue stop (about a 30-minute ride that will cost $0.50). Walk across the street to the Hollywood/New Hampshire Layover stop, and then catch the Route 217 bus (operated by LA Metro), and take it to the Fairfax/Willoughby stop. This will cost $1.75, and will be about a 35-minute ride.

Trendy WeHo has some of the best eateries and bars in Los Angeles. It also has a super vibrant nightlife, and is home to the city’s LGBTQ+ community. Here are a few excellent restaurants in the area where you can get dinner:

  • Rosaliné: This trendy Peruvian restaurant has a great selection of dishes that are meant to be shared. Be sure to get a paella for the table, as well as the Causa Jar.

  • Nic’s on Beverly: Nic’s is one of the best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles. Their Detroit-style pizzas are a standout on the menu, and you’ll definitely want to get the Kennebec Potato Gratin Fries or the Avocado Crispy Rice (or both!) for the table to share. The cocktails are also excellent and super creative.

  • Tu Madre (N. Hayworth Ave Location): This vibrant spot is a little more casual than the other two options, but the food and drinks are just as good. They have incredibly unique tacos (including many vegan options), like the KBBQ Taco, the Fried Avocado Taco, and the Banh-Mi Taco.

After dinner, consider heading to one of these bars for a drink:

  • E.P. & L.P.: This restaurant and bar has an amazing, super popular rooftop with great views of the area. At the rooftop bar, you can get delicious cocktails, as well as some small bites.

  • Conservatory: Conservatory is a restaurant with two incredible bar spaces – a covered outdoor bar in the front, as well as a small speakeasy in the back. The menu has excellent cocktails, as well as beer and wine.

  • Laurel Hardware: Laurel Hardware has a gorgeous, spacious outdoor patio, as well as an indoor bar. They offer great cocktails (the Lavender Margarita is a personal favorite!), as well as beer and wine.

One Day in L.A.: Santa Monica and Venice

In this itinerary, you’ll be visiting two of the most popular coastal towns in Los Angeles: Santa Monica and Venice.

After grabbing breakfast, you’ll bike (or walk) on the beach from Santa Monica to Venice, and spend some time checking out the Venice Canals and Abbot Kinney, a popular street filled with cool boutiques and amazing eateries.

Then, you’ll make your way back to Santa Monica to stop by the pier and grab dinner and drinks.

While you won’t have a chance to visit some of the iconic Los Angeles neighborhoods and spots that are more inland (like Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Sign, The Getty, or Downtown L.A.), you’ll get a great overview of these beachside towns.

Grab Breakfast & Coffee in Santa Monica

To kick off your one day in L.A., grab some breakfast (or a cup of coffee) in Santa Monica. Here are a few great places to check out:

  • Blue Daisy: This popular brunch spot is located in the Downtown Santa Monica area, but is tucked away from the busiest streets. The menu features a wide variety of breakfast options, including crepes, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches and burritos, benedicts, and more. Blue Daisy doesn’t take reservations, so keep in mind that you may need to wait for a table if it’s busy.

  • Interstellar: This bright and airy restaurant (which is super close to the Santa Monica Pier) has a great breakfast menu featuring waffles, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast plates, signature coffee drinks, and more. You can make a reservation, and there is also a waitlist you can join on Yelp.

  • Primo Passo Coffee Co.: If you want a coffee or a quick bite to eat, head over to Primo Passo on Montana Avenue – a trendy street that is tucked away from the busyness of Downtown Santa Monica. Primo Passo has a great selection of coffee and tea drinks (the Cinnamon Plum tea is great!), as well as baked goods.

Head Over to Santa Monica State Beach and Bike to Venice

After breakfast, you’ll make your way over to the beach, where you’ll rent a bike to ride down to Venice. To get your bike, you’ll head over to the Perry’s Cafe and Beach Rentals location at 1200 Pacific Coast Highway (it’s #4 on the map on the company website). The easiest way to get there is by using theArizona Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, which is located off of Ocean Avenue.

If you’re visiting on the weekend, it’s not a bad idea to book your bike online in advance. A cruiser currently costs $24 for one hour, which will be plenty for your ride (there’s also a $5 per rental one-way drop-off fee).

Once you have your bike, you’ll follow the bike path right in front of Perry’s south for about 3 miles – the ride should take about 20 minutes if you don’t stop.

Alternatively, you can get a bike through the Los Angeles Metro Bike Share program – just keep in mind that you won’t be able to book a bike in advance. Pick up a bike from the Downtown Santa Monica E Line Station dock, and then ride along Colorado Avenue and Ocean Avenue to connect to the beach bike path just south of the Santa Monica Pier. A ride costs $1.75 per half hour.

The scenic, palm-tree lined path will take you right by the Santa Monica Pier, and also pass by the Original Muscle Beach, an iconic fitness park that dates back to the 1930s.

As you continue, you’ll ride by the Venice Pride Flag Lifeguard Tower, before making your way to Windward Plaza, a bustling Venice park that is right on the beach. Most importantly, you’ll have an amazing, unobstructed view of the coast the whole ride down.

Continue until you get to the #8 Perry’s Location in Venice Beach at 3100 Ocean Front Walk, where you’ll drop off your bike. Note that it’s right by the Venice Fishing Pier, so you’ll have a big landmark to look out for. If you got a bikeshare bike, you’ll drop it off at the Ocean Front Walk and North Venice dock.

Not into biking? You can alternatively just follow the walking path that parallels the bike path by foot down to Venice. Rather than going all the way to the bike drop-off locations, you can stop once you get to Windward Plaza.

Walk the Venice Canals

After you’ve made your way to Venice, it’s time to explore the Venice Canals, which you can access off of South Venice Boulevard or Strongs Drive.

These canals were constructed in the early 1900s as a way to bring a bit of Venice, Italy to Los Angeles, and there are walking paths and bridges that allow you to stroll right along the water. 

Spend some time walking around and enjoying the views! Keep in mind that this is a neighborhood, so be respectful of residents and their homes.

Get Lunch in Venice

There are plenty of excellent places to grab lunch in Venice. Most of the restaurants are on Abbot Kinney, the main shopping drag that you’ll have the opportunity to explore after lunch. Here are a few options to check out:

  • The Butcher’s Daughter: This popular vegetarian restaurant, cafe, and juice bar on Abbot Kinney is a great option whether you want to sit down and eat or just want something to go. The restaurant menu has pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and all-day breakfast items (their acai bowl is great!). You can also get coffee and tea drinks, smoothies, juices, and baked goods up front at the cafe. Both the cafe and restaurant are vegan and gluten free friendly.

  • Great White: Great White is another well-loved Venice restaurant located just a block away from the beach. The menu features tacos, sandwiches, wraps, pizzas, a variety of breakfast items (that are served during lunch), and more.

  • Eggslut: Eggslut (which is right across the street from Great White) is a great choice if you’re looking for a quicker lunch option. As you can guess by the name, the menu is very egg-forward. They have different egg sandwiches, as well as a few specialty items.

Stroll Down Abbot Kinney

Abbot Kinney is a fun street with a selection of eclectic shops, local artists’ galleries, and great places to eat and drink.

Even if you aren’t in the shopping mood, it’s worth it to walk down the less than one mile street and enjoy the mix of modern and bungalow-style architecture, as well as the colorful murals on the sides of the buildings.

If you happen to have a post-lunch sweet tooth, stop by Salt and Straw Ice Cream or Blue Star Donuts. Need some caffeine? Check out Blue Bottle Coffee or Intelligentsia.

Head Back to Santa Monica and Visit the Pier and Palisades Park

Palisades Park at sunset

Once you’ve explored Abbot Kinney, it’s time to make your way back north to Santa Monica. You have a few travel options here.

If you’re in a walking mood and have some extra time, you can head back to the beach and follow the pedestrian path, or follow Main Street and Ocean Avenue. This walk will be about two miles, and should take around 40 minutes.

If you choose the Main Street option and want to make a mid-walk drink stop, I recommend JuneShine, which is located in Ocean Park (a neighborhood in between Venice and Santa Monica). This hard kombucha tasting room offers full pours, as well as tasting flights – the Blood Orange Mint flavor is a must try!

Alternatively, if your feet are tired and you don’t want to travel by foot, you can call a rideshare or take the Big Blue Bus – Santa Monica’s bus system. Head to the Main/Brooks bus stop, and take the Route 1 Bus to the 4th/Broadway stop in Santa Monica. From there, you can walk to the pier. This ride will be about 20 minutes, and will cost $1.25.

Now that you’re back in Santa Monica, you’ll want to stop by one of the city’s most recognizable spots, the Santa Monica Pier. Here’s the catch: the pier is almost always busy, and gets unbelievably crowded during the summer.

Personally, I don’t think actually walking down the pier is essential, especially during the peak season – you can enjoy the view from the coast and avoid the swarms of crowds. 

However, if you really want to stroll down the pier, I’d recommend continuing to walk past Pacific Park (the amusement park) to get to a slightly less crowded area. From here, you can get great views of the beach.

If you’d like to avoid Santa Monica Pier (or want another spot to stop by afterwards), head over to Palisades Park, which is just north of the pier. It tends to be more crowded on the southern side, but if you continue walking north, you can get away from the larger crowds.

This palm-tree lined park overlooks the beach down below, and is incredibly picturesque later in the day as the sun is setting.

Grab Dinner and Drinks in Santa Monica

Finish off your one day in Santa Monica and Venice with some dinner and drinks. For dinner, consider one of these well-loved restaurants:

  • Birdie G’s: Birdie G’s is a popular restaurant set in an industrial space that serves amazing cocktails and an eclectic mix of comfort food. This spot is about two miles inland from Downtown Santa Monica, so you’ll want to drive or call a rideshare.

  • Kappo Miyabi: If you’re in the mood for sushi, you have to stop by Kappo Miyabi. The menu features a variety of traditional Japanese dishes, including a huge sushi selection.

  • Tar & Roses: This globally-inspired restaurant in the middle of Downtown Santa Monica focuses on wood fired oven dishes. The menu features a variety of small and large shareable plates, with dishes like Ricotta Gnocchi, Wagyu Beef Cheek, Wood Roasted Sunchokes, and much more. 

Once you’ve finished dinner, it’s time for drinks! Here are some great bars to check out in the Santa Monica area:

  • Bar Chloe: This intimate, dimly-lit lounge in the middle of Downtown Santa Monica is an excellent place for a great craft cocktail. Bar Chloe also has a snack menu if you need a little something extra to eat.

  • Bodega Wine Bar: Bodega is a popular neighborhood bar with a great wine list. The bar also serves sake, cocktails, and beer, as well as food.

  • The Dudes’ Brew: This super laid-back industrial brew pub has an excellent selection of locally brewed beers on tap, including IPAs, ambers, pale ales, and more.

What to Do with More Time in Los Angeles

If you decide to do more than a day in Los Angeles, here are a few activities that you can add to your itinerary. For a more in-depth guide, be sure to check out this guide to 2 Days in Los Angeles!

Go For a Hike

There are plenty of great hiking spots all around the county. Here are just a few options to consider checking out:

Los Leones (Pacific Palisades): This moderate 4.4-mile out and back trail (which has an elevation gain of 1,190 feet) offers amazing, unobstructed views of the coast.

Runyon Canyon (West Hollywood): This iconic, super popular L.A. hike offers great views of the Hollywood Sign, DTLA, and the surrounding area. It’s a 2.7-mile loop with a 748-foot elevation gain.

Eaton Canyon (Altadena): Further inland, you’ll find this easy and popular out-and-back trail, which ends at a waterfall. It’s 4.4-miles long, and has an elevation gain of 521 feet.

Visit the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

The Academy Museum just recently opened in the fall of 2021, and has quickly become one of the must-visit museums in Los Angeles.

This huge museum has six stories of fascinating movie history exhibits, and you’ll also have a chance to see some Oscar statues in person.

Adult tickets cost $25, and you’ll need to reserve them in advance online. If you want to add another museum to your itinerary, you can also check out the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which is right next door.

Explore Malibu

If you want to spend more time on the coast, be sure to head over to Malibu. There are tons of gorgeous beaches (El Matador is a must-visit), as well as some excellent hikes of all lengths and for all skill levels.

Two amazing trails I recommend are Solstice Canyon Loop (3 miles) and Escondido Falls (3.7 miles).

If you’re a seafood fan, you’ll also want to stop for food at Neptune’s Net, a long-standing casual restaurant right on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Tour Warner Brothers Studios

This might feel a bit touristy, but it’s truly one of the best studio tours in the city – and it’s great for anyone who wants to see the magic behind making some of the best films and TV shows.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour tickets cost under $70, and you can save a bit of money if you’re a Southern California resident.

Where to Stay for a Night in Los Angeles

If you’re planning on spending the night in L.A., you should check out this comprehensive guide on where to stay in Los Angeles.

Here’s a quick overview of some hotels, with options in Santa Monica (for the first itinerary) and the WeHo/DTLA areas (for the second itinerary).

Santa Monica

Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica… right on the beach!

Santa Monica Proper: This luxurious and serene hotel is tucked away from the busyness of Downtown Santa Monica, but is still within walking distance. There is a spa, a fitness center, and multiple eateries on-site. The hotel has both rooms and suites available, many of which have private terraces.

Shutters on the Beach: If you want to be right on the beach, you’ll want to stay at the Cape Cod-inspired Shutters. There is a spa, gym, and pool on-site, as well as multiple places to eat and drink. Many of the rooms and suites have balconies, and you can also choose a beachfront space.

West Hollywood and DTLA

ACE Hotel (DTLA): ACE is located in the historic United Artists building, and mixes together vintage and industrial design elements. The hotel has a restaurant and rooftop bar on-site, and offers rooms, lofts, and suites. Some of these accommodations have private terraces, and many also have a turntable and a selection of vinyl in-room.

Kimpton La Peer (West Hollywood): This upscale hotel is located right in the center of WeHo, within walking distance of some of the best bars and restaurants in the area. On-site, there is an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a patio bar, and an Italian restaurant. There are rooms and suites available, with the option to upgrade to accommodations with a balcony and/or soaking tub.

Petit Ermitage (West Hollywood): This boutique, Morocco-inspired hotel is another great option that is centrally located in WeHo. There’s an amazing rooftop with a saltwater pool, a bar, cabanas, and a firepit. Petit Ermitage offers spacious suites, many of which have balconies. 

Getting Around Los Angeles

There are a few different transportation options available to you when exploring Los Angeles. Here is what you need to know about each option.

On Foot

Los Angeles is notoriously not a super walker-friendly city, since it’s so spread out. You can generally get around on foot if you’re sticking to one specific neighborhood/area, but you’ll most likely need to rely on a vehicle at some point during your visit.

By Public Transit

Los Angeles doesn’t have the most amazing public transportation system when compared to other major cities, but it is an option if you need it.

The LA Metro (which includes buses and trains) is the county’s larger public transportation system, but there are also more local public transportation options, as well (such as Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, or the DASH Bus, which has routes mostly on the eastern side of the county). 

Since there are different public transportation groups around the county, the Google Maps transit planner is incredibly helpful. It will tell you exactly what options are available to you in the area you’re exploring.

However, if you’re only in the area for a day, I’d highly recommend trying to limit your use of public transportation, if possible. With such a limited amount of time, an unexpected bus or rail delay can really throw a wrench in your itinerary.

By Bike

Los Angeles Metro has an extensive bike share program, with stations around DTLA, Hollywood, and the surrounding areas, as well as Culver City, Santa Monica, Venice, and the surrounding areas.

You can check out the map online, and also download the app. A 30-minute ride costs $1.75.

The City of Beverly Hills also has its own bike share program if you’re in that area. A ride is $5 for the first hour.

By Car (Personal Vehicle or Rideshare)

For efficiency, traveling by car (whenever walking or biking isn’t possible) is the best way to get around Los Angeles. Rideshares are easy to get in the area, so that’s a great option if you don’t want to drive yourself.

If you’re driving your own vehicle, it’s not a bad idea to do some quick research on the parking situation in the area you’re visiting before you head out. See if there are any garages/lots available, or good places to street park.

Parking in Los Angeles can be difficult (particularly in busier areas), so going in with a game plan can help ease some of that stress.

With street parking, the best piece of advice I can give is to read the street parking signs at least twice. Many signs are straightforward, but some can feel like a riddle. Make sure you’re confident that you can actually park your car on that street before leaving it – you don’t want to end your L.A. day trip with a parking ticket!

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