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2 Days in LA: The Must-Sees on a Short Trip to Los Angeles

Are you planning a short visit to Los Angeles or are you looking for what to do in LA for a weekend?

Los Angeles, California is one of the top cities for many visitors to the USA

‘The City of Angels’… What do you do with just two days to sample this sprawling city?

I just went to LA for the weekend, to at least get a glimpse of the city we all know from so many movies. The city that’s home to Hollywood, Baywatch, and the Playboy Mansion. The city where many dream the American dream while waiting tables and pumping gas…

Over the years I’ve been to LA on several occasions to visit friends and although I’ve never fallen in love with this city (I much prefer San Diego), Los Angeles is well worth a visit. And if you visit, even if it’s just for two days, at least try to visit some of these highlights:

What to Do in LA – the Must-Sees on a Short Trip


1. Santa Monica Pier

the Santa Monica Pier at sunset
The Santa Monica Pier – A must-visit when spending 2 days in LA

The Santa Monica Pier, used as the setting for so many scenes in movies, is definitely a must-visit in Los Angeles.

When one thinks of Santa Monica, the famous pier with its iconic red and yellow Ferris Wheel inevitably comes to mind. The Pier offers quite a decent amusement park, combined with plenty of restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops.

If you have some time to spare walk to the Third Street Promenade which is a nice retail, dining and entertainment area with a lovely atmosphere.

For more information check out Downtown Santa Monica’s website

2. Venice Beach Boardwalk

a crowded weekend in LA at Venice Beach Boardwalk
Source: venicebeach.com – Los Angeles in 2 days

Venice Beach and its famous boardwalk are well known around the world for their funky and offbeat vibe.

This 1.5 mile (2.5 kilometer) boardwalk has a bike path, skateboard ramps, restaurants, shops, and plenty of tourists.

Venice Beach is famous for muscle beach, where bodybuilders strut and invariably get mentioned in LA guides…

On the west side of the “walk” you can find hundreds of street vendors and performers. You can see everything from break-dancing to broken glass walking.

The Westside offers unique arts and crafts and on the Eastside you find the storefronts of the boardwalk. Here you will find every sort of t-shirt under the sun plus tattoo and piercing stores, skate and surf shops, marijuana dispensaries, and more. This is all in addition to the large selection of restaurants, juice spots, and bars.

If you are looking for what to do in LA for a weekend, Venice Beach definitely is a good option.

Visit LAParks.org for more information about Venice Beach.

Tip: If you love the beach and a laid-back vibe, consider a day trip to Catalina Island

3. Hollywood and the Hollywood Walk of Fame

the Hollywood Walk of Fame photographed from a high angle
Source: wikipedia.org – 2 days in Los Angeles

Although it has declined from its peak glamour days, especially around the fabled Hollywood and Sunset boulevards, Hollywood is still the site of such show business shrines as the Walk of Fame and the trendy Melrose Avenue shopping district.

And it therefore deserves to be on this list of places to visit, even if you only have 2 days in LA.

The Walk of Fame, “Where the Stars are Immortalized”, comprises more than 2,500 stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street. It’s overrun by tourists but it is one of these things you just have to see while in LA.

Hollywood is well known for its great nightlife so if you have time to fit in a visit to a trendy club or a happening bar, spend an evening here!

The area known as the Westside, located between Hollywood and the coast, is a more upmarket area and home to such glamorous neighborhoods as Beverly Hills and Bel Air. It is also the site of the famous Rodeo Drive shopping area.

4. The Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood sign visited on a short trip to Los Angeles

Fun fact: the Hollywood Sign, the worldwide symbol of the entertainment industry, was actually created as an outdoor ad campaign for a suburban housing development called “Hollywoodland”.

The sign overlooks Hollywood and again it is just one of those things you have to see while in Los Angeles.

It’s actually illegal to get close to the Sign, which is set behind restricting gates and protected by security cameras and Park Rangers. And even though the sign is 45-feet (almost 14 meters) tall, it is quite difficult to get a good shot of it.

Some say around 3000 Canyon Lake Drive is the best place to see the Hollywood sign.

Or, if you are looking for a unique experience, book a helicopter tour that will take you right over the Hollywood sign for an incredible view!

5. Miracle Mile

A futuristic building with a lot of metal and red lighting
Source: discoverlosangeles.com – 2 days in LA

Miracle Mile is a stretch on Wilshire Blvd, home to four major Los Angeles museums: LA County Museum of Art, La Brea Tar Pits (Page Museum), Craft Contemporary, and Petersen Automotive Museum.

If you want to add a bit of culture to your 2 days in LA then you should definitely visit the Miracle Mile.

6. Getty Museum

Getty Museum is a must visit on a weekend trip to LA
Source: getty.edu – weekend trip to LA

The J. Paul Getty Museum, commonly referred to as The Getty, is an art museum housed on two campuses: the Getty Center and the Getty Villa.

The Getty Center is located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles and is the primary location of the museum. The collection features Western art from the Middle Ages to the present. Its estimated 1.3 million visitors annually make it one of the most visited museums in the United States.

The museum’s second location, the Getty Villa, is located in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood and displays art from ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.

For more information visit The Getty’s official website

Tip: if you really want to know everything about the Getty museum you can book a private Getty museum tour with an expert guide

7. Griffith Park & Griffith Observatory

things to do in LAin 2 days: Griffith observatory

Griffith Park is a large municipal park. It has been referred to as the Central Park of Los Angeles but is much larger, more untamed, and rugged than its New York City counterpart.

It holds the Griffiths Observatory where you can look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, and enjoy spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign.

For more information visit Griffithobservatory.org

8. The Original Farmers Market

Los Angeles Farmers Market - Los Angeles 2 days itinerary
Source: patch.com – weekend trip to LA

The Farmers Market is an area of food stalls, sit-down eateries, prepared food vendors, and produce markets.

First opened in July 1934, it is also a historic Los Angeles landmark and I’d highly recommend stopping here for lunch or a snack.

Thanks to LA’s ethnic diversity you can taste food from all over the world here! It’s definitely one of my favorite places to visit when I go to LA for the weekend.

For more information go to Farmersmarketla.com

LA in 2 Days – Tips to Save Time & Money

Los Angeles is a big city, things are quite spread out and LA traffic can get pretty bad!

If you are only in LA for the weekend or for a short visit, I’d recommend checking out these 3 things:

1. LA in a Day – This is a tour of the highlights of Los Angeles which includes transport and ‘skip the line’ options to get to the main attractions quicker.

They have great guides and just make your visit to the must-visit places in Los Angeles a lot more convenient!

2. The Sightseeing FLEX Pass: If you are planning to visit several attractions this card will save you a lot of money!

You can choose a pass for 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 attractions and save up to 50% on admission prices.

3. LA’s Hop-On Hop-Off Bus: If you don’t feel like driving in LA’s crazy traffic, the hop-on hop-off bus is a great option.

It takes you to Beverly Hills, Hollywood, around downtown Los Angeles and to Santa Monica Pier, so that you can visit all the main sites conveniently and at your own pace.

Where to Stay in LA

Are you not sure where to stay yet in Los Angeles?

Then check out my article about cool hotels in Southern California, which includes several hotels worth staying at in LA.

LA Events, Tours & Attractions

LA is worth visiting year-round but if you do happen to be there during a movie premiere then so much the better! 

Or look into attending one of LA’s many events. To find out what’s happening in Los Angeles while you are there check out these websites:

There really is a lot to do in LA and it can all add up quickly. But, you can find a lot of discounts as well. If you are looking for discount tickets for tours and attractions in and around Los Angeles I recommend checking out this website.

One Final Tip For Any Visit to Los Angeles: Rent a Car!

A common complaint about Los Angeles is that it’s so big and spread out and it feels like it goes on FOREVER! 

So, do as the locals do: drive. Rent a car, especially if you only have a few days in LA and want to see as much as possible.

Looking for an easy road trip from Los Angeles? Check out What to Do in Big Bear for a Perfect Short Trip

About Los Angeles, California

“Los Angeles is the land of delusions. You can live your life thinking you’re the best invention since sliced bread and no one will question your self-importance.” – Thoughtcatalog

Los Angeles has long been known as a city of dreams, a place for the dispossessed or disillusioned to start over and rebuild their lives. In the course of the twentieth century it grew to be the second-largest city in the United States, after New York City.

LA is a tourist magnet known for its sunny climate, beautiful beaches, and entertainment industry. But, in recent decades the city has also experienced the downside of urban expansion, with its air pollution, traffic congestion, and racial and ethnic tensions.

Yet the city remains a colorful, thriving metropolis working to overcome the problems of suburban sprawl.

Situated in Southern California, Los Angeles is one of only two U.S. cities without a majority population. People from 140 countries, speaking approximately 86 different languages, call Los Angeles home.

The city has a population of around 4 million and attracts over 50 million tourists per year.

L.A. is a crazy city where it seems to be all about looking healthy, refreshed and athletic. Juice cleanses, exercising, the perfect tan, and the perfect plastic surgery.

But, with all its craziness this unique American city is well worth a visit!

“In New York, you’re only allowed to be an asshole if you’re interesting. You have to earn the privilege of behaving like a dick. In Los Angeles, however, you can just be a dick. No funny jokes or good personality needed!” – Ryan O’Connell

Also Read:

Want to See More of California?

Check out my other articles about where to go and what to do in California.

And for more inspiration for weekend trips, check out this article about the best US weekend getaways.

Hotel Review: JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot

Where to stay in Los Angeles - JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot hotel
Source: marriott.com – where to stay in Los Angeles

When I was last in LA for the weekend I stayed at JW Marriott’s Santa Monica Le Marigot hotel. It’s a hotel worth mentioning and I will therefore share my review.

Hotel Rooms: the rooms are spacious, very comfortable, clean and well maintained, with a good quality bed. Many offer a good view of Santa Monica beach.

Hotel Facilities: the hotel has a good gym, a spa and a nice lobby. Both the bar and the restaurant offer outdoor seating which, with the perfect Californian weather, is a great extra. Too bad the layout and walls around the property take away most of the sea view while seated on the terrace.

Hotel Location: absolutely perfect! With its direct access to Santa Monica Beach and short walk from the Santa Monica Pier it’s hard to beat this location.

Hotel Value: prices start around $300 per night, so this hotel isn’t cheap. But then you do get an amazing location and a comfortable hotel with good facilities and friendly staff. You pay extra for parking and in-room internet (unless you are a Marriott member) which at the hotel rates they charge I find a shame.

Overall rating: 8/10

If you are looking for where to stay in Los Angeles and want a comfortable hotel at a great location, JW Marriott’s Santa Monica Le Marigot hotel is definitely a good option.

For more information and to book online: JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot

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Are you planning a short trip to LA? Check out what not to miss in this popular Californian city.

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Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. I spend most of my time living and working abroad and visiting destinations all over the world. I use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.

3 thoughts on “2 Days in LA: The Must-Sees on a Short Trip to Los Angeles”

  1. I was in LA for ten days last September and I’m definitely going back next year. There’s just so much to see and do. There really is something for everyone.

  2. I loved reading about your Los Angeles short trip experience. Your descriptions really made it come alive for me. Happy travels!

  3. Wow, amazing! I missed out some of them. But I will visit when I can get a chance to go to LA again. Thanks for sharing.


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