Planning a trip to Southern California? Don’t leave without spending at least one day in Los Angeles. The second-largest city in the United States, L.A. is one of the country’s most exciting urban destinations—and the epicenter of modern American culture.
From top-notch museums and hip restaurants in Downtown L.A. to iconic landmarks and spotting celebrities in Beverly Hills and Hollywood, any Los Angeles itinerary is bound to be action-packed. But with the city’s immense size and sprawl, planning out the perfect 24 hours in Los Angeles can prove challenging for travelers.
Need a primer on what to do in Los Angeles in one day? Craft an epic trip plan with this complete 1-day Los Angeles trip itinerary…
Where to go in Los Angeles in one day: A complete itinerary
Visiting Los Angeles in 24 hours is rarely simple. Covering over 500 square miles, the City of Angels is spread far and wide, offering compelling attractions at every end of the spectrum.
If you’re limited to a day trip, it’ll be difficult to tackle all the best things to see & do in Los Angeles. Public transportation in L.A. leaves something to be desired and is hardly the most efficient way to scoot around the city on a 1-day itinerary.
Instead, you’ll either want to rent a car, use ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft, or get around by taxi. Keep in mind that traffic in Los Angeles can be nightmarish. A little patience and avoiding rush hour can go a long way in keeping your sanity intact.
Start off the morning in Venice Beach
Need a sunny start to your one day in Los Angeles? Roll out of bed and beeline for Venice Beach. Perched upon the Pacific Ocean shores, the laid-back beach town of Venice is one of L.A. must-sees.
Start exploring Venice along the Venice Beach Boardwalk, also known as the Ocean Front Walk. Take a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk and enjoy the restaurants, street performers, spas, magicians, and, of course, the skaters and roller-blading enthusiasts.
If you’re so inclined during your first 24 hours in Los Angeles, strap on a pair of rollerblades and skate along the Venice Beach Boardwalk to get a real feel of what makes this section of L.A. so special. Or flex those pipes and hammer out a couple pull-ups at Venice’s famed Muscle Beach.
Before you leave Venice Beach, stroll over to explore the Venice Canals. Inspired by the canals of Venice, Italy, the historic waterways are lined with modernist homes and are the perfect spot for a quick walk. (Extra points if you’re visiting L.A. with your special someone!)
Want to fuel up for the day ahead? Head away from Venice to one of the coffee shops lining Abbot Kinney Boulevard, including the industrial-chic Intelligentsia Coffee Venice Coffeebar.
Breathe in the sea breeze at Santa Monica Pier
From Venice Beach, it’s just over 10 minutes by car (or a 50-minute walk) to the iconic Santa Monica Pier. At the famed Santa Monica Pier, you’ll find a barrage of boutique shops, restaurants, and the historic Pacific Park amusement park. The pier’s neon gateway isn’t just one of the top points of interest in Santa Monica, but one of the most photographed tourist spots in the country. Don’t forget to snap a few pics yourself while you’re there.
After enjoying beautiful views of the waves and multimillion-dollar homes at Santa Monica Pier, head to the Third Street Promenade. Downtown Santa Monica is a shopper’s paradise and the Third Street Promenade is one of the best places to dish out your hard-earned dollars on all the latest fashions.
Stores in the area include Abercrombie & Fitch, Lululemon, Urban Outfitters, and tons more. If you need a bite to eat before continuing your adventure, you can stop at one of the many restaurants and cafes in the area.
Looking for more of L.A. seaside pleasures? Strap on a pair of sandals and go for a walk on Santa Monica Beach. With its soft sands and crystal-clear waters, the stretch is one of the most beautiful beaches in Los Angeles.
Browse art and enjoy epic L.A. views at the Getty Center
After soaking up the sun in Santa Monica, scoot over to the Getty Center, about a 20-minute drive away. Not only is the Getty Center the perfect example of amazing architecture; its perch atop the hills of Los Angeles delivers some stunning views of the city.
Besides the spectacular city views, the Getty Center is also home to extraordinary gardens and a collection of artwork that’s second to none. Take a short break at this free art museum before sliding down the hills and back into the heart of the city.
Spot celebs on Rodeo Drive
From the Getty Center, it’s about a 20-minute drive via Sunset Boulevard to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Lined with high-end fashion boutiques, the stretch of Rodeo Drive between Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard is one of America’s most famous streets.
Even if you’ve only got a day in L.A., taking a walk down Rodeo Drive is a must.
Flaunt your fashion sense as you go window-shopping or—if you dare!—max out your credit cards to stock up on all the latest trends from some of the world’s top fashion brands.
Brush up with fame at the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Sure, it’s kitschy. But no 1-day L.A. itinerary is complete without a stroll at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. From Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, the famed promenade is about a 25-minute drive via West Hollywood.
Centered around the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, the Hollywood Walk of Fame emblazons the names of hundreds of actors, singers, and other celebrities on the pavement within their very own stars.
Got a favorite celeb in mind? Save yourself some time and visit walkoffame.com to discover exactly where your idol’s star is located and beeline to it.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a great place to take a leisurely stroll and rest up for your next adventure. If you’d like to see more of Hollywood than the Walk of Fame, consider taking a bus tour that’ll bring you to major attractions throughout America’s showbiz capital, including the famed TCL Chinese Theater and Dolby Theater.
Enjoy a breath of fresh air at Griffith Park
Once you’ve dug into Hollywood’s charms, venture north to Griffith Park. Just 10 minutes by car or 30 minutes by foot from Hollywood, the park is L.A.’s most famous urban retreat. Griffith Park is jam-packed with hiking trails, offering spectacular views of the Los Angeles skyline.
Looking for some of the finest vistas in L.A.? Make your way to the Griffith Observatory. Located on Mount Hollywood, the observatory is a fantastic spot for soaking in views over the city, including the famed Hollywood Sign to the northwest.
If you’ve got extra time in your itinerary and want to partake in some of the best L.A. hikes, spend some time exploring some of the popular hiking trails around Griffith Park, including the Mount Hollywood Trail.
Get your cultural fix in Chinatown
From Griffith Park, it’s a 20-minute drive back down to the city to experience one of L.A.’s most important cultural corners: Chinatown. If you’ve built up an appetite from your Los Angeles hiking adventure, Chinatown is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat or enjoy some of the neighborhood’s historical architecture like the Thien Hau Temple.
If you’re looking to fill up on authentic Chinese cuisine, set your sights on the budget-friendly Foo-Chow Restaurant on N Hill Street or Phoenix Inn Chinese Cuisine on Ord Street. Otherwise, save your appetite for your upcoming adventure in the heart of the city: Downtown L.A.
End the day in Downtown Los Angeles
No matter how much daylight is left, there’s no better place to end your 1-day itinerary than in Downtown Los Angeles. Although L.A.’s downtown area is often pegged as commercial, it’s still the city’s cultural heart. The area teems with everything from art museums and hip restaurants to historical sites and entertainment venues.
Art fans should set aside time to explore The Broad, a famed contemporary art museum that’s home to more than 2,000 post-war works of art. Foodies, on the other hand, should rev up their tastebuds for the Grand Central Market, offering a cavalcade of flavors since 1917.
If you’re looking to end your day with a spectacular meal, grab some authentic Italian at Bottega Louie. Or enjoy upscale French cuisine to breathtaking views from the dramatic rooftop at Perch.
Where to stay with 24 hours in Los Angeles
With its immense sprawl, choosing where to stay in Los Angeles is rarely simple. For most travelers on a time crunch, the best areas to stay include Downtown, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills.
Looking to stay in Downtown L.A. without breaking the bank? Settle down at the chic citizenM. The new hotel features comfortable rooms and a host of amenities, including a restaurant, bar, fitness center, and shared lounge.
Up your L.A. accommodations game with a night at the InterContinental. Rooms at this luxurious hotel are modern and spacious, with the best of the bunch shining out wonderful views over the city. After a long day of sightseeing, cool down in the outdoor pool or sip on a cocktail at Spire 73, the hotel’s sleek rooftop bar.
Searching for the ultimate in Southern California luxury? Lay down your head at the JW Marriott. Aside from the full-featured rooms, guests will love soaking up the views from the rooftop pool or dining and sipping cocktails at one of the four classy on-site restaurants & bars.
More Los Angeles itinerary ideas
Universal Studios Hollywood
Located in the San Fernando Valley, Universal Studios Hollywood is one of L.A.’s most famous attractions for movie buffs. The sprawling theme park and film studio is a perfect spot to spend a day on your Southern California road trip if you’re traveling with the kids in tow.
Harry Potter fans will love Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, featuring a replica of Hogwarts Castle and family-friendly thrills. Or embark on The World-Famous Studio Tour to trolley through famed movie sets like Jaws, King Kong, and Fast and the Furious.
Occupying 65 acres, Paramount Studios features a total of 30 stages that have produced some of the world’s most famous movies and television shows.
The iconic Hollywood studio represents over 100 years of TV and filmmaking history. If you find yourself with more than 24 hours in L.A., hop onto an official Paramount Pictures Studio Tour to see classic and active movie sets—and maybe even catch a film or TV in action!
Runyon Canyon Park
Just steps north of Hollywood Boulevard, Runyon Canyon Park is one of the best places to escape the L.A. city buzz. The park drapes over 160 acres of the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, and is packed with miles of hiking trails to explore.
To get the most out of your Runyon Canyon hiking adventure, tackle the Western High Way Trail, traversing 3.3 miles over 800 feet of elevation change.
To explore central L.A.’s quieter side, save time in your travel plan for Echo Park. Located west of Chinatown and southwest of Elysian Park, the historic neighborhood centers around its namesake lakeside park.
If you’ve got room for some chill time, rent a paddleboat for a peddle around Echo Park Lake or circumnavigate its shores on the walking path. After soaking in the lakefront vibes, explore the neighborhood’s cool boutiques and hip restaurants, peppered along Sunset Blvd.
Marina Del Rey
If you’re not opposed to more driving, visiting Marina Del Rey is the perfect way to end your day in Los Angeles. Here, you can enjoy a cruise ship for the perfect starlight dinner or eat dinner on land at Salt, a restaurant offering some of the best views over Marina Del Rey.
Salt offers not just a great view of the ocean and its boats but also a fantastic menu, including everything from lobster pasta to fish & chips.
If you decide to spend the night in Marina Del Rey, you’ll have your choice of numerous hotels, allowing you to get a good night’s sleep before leaving this magnificent city.
If you didn’t quite get your L.A. beach fix, try to squeeze in a day trip to Malibu. Famed for its sandy shores and celebrity homes, the seaside city, located an hour from downtown, is the perfect antidote to L.A.’s big city vibes.
Spend a day feeling the sand between your toes on some of the best Malibu beaches, including Zuma Beach and El Matador Beach. Among the best things to do in Malibu is to use the beachfront town to launch a Pacific Coast Highway road trip and soak up more of California’s coastal charms.