Last Updated on 12/03/2023
It can be overwhelming when you’re planning a trip and wondering what to do in Los Angeles. This sprawling metropolis is vast and has so many wonderful highlights that are worth exploring. But if you’re pushed for time, we’ve curated the perfect 2-day itinerary to take in the best of the city of angels.
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What To Do In Los Angeles: Know Before You Go
Where: Los Angeles, California, United States of America
Why go: If sunny skies all year round isn’t enough of a reason alone to visit Los Angeles, the combination of beautiful architecture, breath-taking scenery, iconic landmarks and variety of activities will soon convince you that LA has something to offer everyone who visits.
How to get there: Located on the west coast of the USA, you can fly to LAX, which is Los Angeles’s international airport and has regular flights to and from the rest of the world. If you live in or are already visiting the US, there are easy Amtrak or Metro Rail options, either direct or connecting from almost anywhere in the US. There are also several domestic airports within LA and the surrounding area to fly into locally.
How to get around: Los Angeles is a sprawling city, so the easiest way to get around everything in a short space of time is to hire a car. It is worth noting that LA is renowned for traffic so consider avoiding peak times for driving so it doesn’t eat into your vacation time too much, but a bit of traffic when in LA is inevitable – embrace it! It’s all part of the experience.
What To Do In Los Angeles: Day 1 Itinerary:
Los Angeles is such a vast and diverse city and could easily fill a whole week’s itinerary if you were to take it all in. If you’re pushed for time however, you can take in some of the best bits the city of angels has to offer with a carefully planned itinerary.
Warner Bros Studio Tour
Everyone thinks they know LA. You’ve seen it all the time on TV and in the movies, right? Surprisingly, what you’ve probably seen isn’t really LA at all! It’s most likely the carefully curated sets and stages built up at the Warner Bros studio.
The Warner Bros Studio tour is an absolute must for film and TV fans. This two-hour tour gives you an unscripted, behind the scenes peek. You’ll see the workings of one of the busiest working studios in Los Angeles.
As well as the guided tour, there are several opportunities to hop off the bus. You can look around exhibitions and talk show sets. There is also a larger exhibition centre at the end and here you can see sets, props, and costumes from film and TV favourites.
Overall you’re going to want approximately three hours for the experience. We’d recommend pre-booking an early tour to fill your morning and kick off your trip in true Hollywood style.
Pre-booking your tickets will cost $69 per adult* and $59 per child*. But it is a worthwhile investment and the whole family is guaranteed to have a great time.
Warner Bros Studio Favourites
If you’re planning a trip to Warner Bros Studio, set the scene for your trip by watching some of these favourite Warner Bros Studio classics before you visit the places they were recorded!
Downtown LA is not necessarily your typical tourist destination. Mainly comprising of offices with minimal shops and iconic landmarks, it doesn’t necessarily top most tourists lists. However, hidden amongst the skyscrapers are a handful of gems that are worth visiting if you can squeeze them in.
Downtown LA is home to some beautiful architecture, including the Millennium Biltmore Hotel (pictured above) and the Bradbury Building (below.)
At almost one hundred years old, the Biltmore is a time capsule of the roaring twenties art deco Hollywood glamour. The Bradbury Building first opened in 1893 and is the oldest remaining commercial building in downtown. Inside is a magical Victorian court with marble staircases, open cage elevators, and ornate iron railings.
Other buildings to look out for include the Los Angeles Central Library and the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites. Both of which are in stark contrast but equally iconic and further exemplify the diversity of downtown Los Angeles’s architecture.
The Last Bookstore
If you’re a booklover, The Last Bookstore is a must when you’re visiting downtown LA. This whimsical wonderland has impressive tunnels, mazes and art features constructed of books. You can very literally get lost here!
Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market opened in downtown LA in 1917 and has been in continuous operation since. This thriving hotspot is a constant hive of activity, noise, and neon. With a huge range of vendors catering to every cuisine imaginable, this is the ideal spot to pause and grab some lunch.
After the Hollywood sign, Hollywood Boulevard is one of the most iconic LA landmarks. It is home to the infamous Walk of Fame and the TCL Chinese Theatre. So you can tick several items off your bucket list at this tourist hotspot.
Hollywood & Highland mall has convenient parking just next door, which is also a great location to grab a bite to eat. Both Walk of Fame and Theatre attract huge crowds, so you’ll encounter the hustle and bustle of this tourist mecca. But a trip to LA isn’t complete without seeing those famous stars and putting your hands in the celebrity prints.
Shopping and Dining
If you’re not ready to drop after a packed day of exploring, why not head out to Glendale Galleria? This three-storey mall has a host of brand shops you can spend the evening perusing. Through the far side of the mall you can also find the Americana at Brand, which has additional shops and a wide range of restaurants for your evening meal.
What To Do In Los Angeles: Day 2 Itinerary
Just as packed as day one, your second day in LA gives you the opportunity to fill in the gaps in your bucket list and cross off those remaining LA icons.
Nowhere in Los Angeles is more picturesque than the Griffith Observatory. The observatory is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park and is the best vantage point for observing the world-famous Hollywood Sign.
If you arrive early in the morning the observatory itself is not open, but you have the advantage of beating the crowds and you can walk along the terrace without large groups around so you can take in the best views of the Hollywood sign and of the city itself in peace. It is an experience that is well worth the early start!
For those visitors who are up for a hike, you can park elsewhere in Griffith Park and hike up the mountain to the observatory at the top, or if you arrive early enough you can park for free right next to the observatory before the daily parking charge applies.
Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or not, Universal Studios Hollywood is well worth a couple of hours of your vacation time. If you only do one thing there, head straight for the Studio Tour ride. Although considerably more scripted than the Warner Bros counterpart, this tour shows you some of the behind-the-scenes sets and props from the tour bus, while incorporating some of those theme park thrills you’d expect from Universal Studios.
Universal Studios offers a series of other rides that cater for the whole family, so it is worth blocking out a few hours to enjoy everything the park has to offer. You can choose to upgrade your standard admission ticket to an express ticket to help you jump the queues and make sure you can fit everything in if you are pushed for time.
You may also want to explore City Walk while you are at Universal Studios. This shopping and dining complex is located before the park entrance and doesn’t require you to have a park ticket to walk around.
Universal Studios Hollywood Favourites
If you want to get a flavour for some of the Hollywood magic you’ll experience at Universal Studios, check out some of these classics before your visit!
A trip to LA wouldn’t be complete without at least a brief visit to see how the other half live. A drive around that famous zip code of Beverly Hills is everything you imagine it will be and more.
These lush suburbs with gated mansions are picturesque and every little bit as glamorous as you imagine and give you a fascinating glimpse into the lifestyle of LA’s rich and famous.
What To Do In Los Angeles: Other Things To Explore…
If you’re lucky enough to have some extra time on your hands, LA definitely has plenty more for you to explore! We’ve listed a few options below if you want to travel further afield and see what the rest of LA has to offer:
- Venice Beach – Known for its bohemian spirit, this boardwalk is the site of unique shops, street performers and colorful murals.
- Santa Monica State Beach – Located along Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica State Beach is 3.5 miles long and has parks, picnic areas, playgrounds, the original Muscle Beach and activities including volleyball, surfing, paddleboarding, and swimming.
- Disneyland Park – Disneyland Park opened on July 17, 1955, and it is the only theme park designed and built to completion under the direct supervision of Walt Disney. This family-friendly park captures the charming magic of Disney for both the young and young at heart.
- The Huntington – This library, art collection, and botanical garden is a collections-based educational and research institution established by Henry E. Huntington and Arabella Huntington and hosts more than 750,000 visitors each year from all walks of life.
*Prices updated as of June 2020
Get Your Los Angeles Trip Essentials
If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles don’t forget to pick up your travel guide and LA essentials before your visit!
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36 thoughts on “What To Do In Los Angeles: Epic 2 Day Itinerary”
I appreciate how you set up this post because you answer questions that potential travelers to LA may have before visiting. Great post!
Thanks for the great feedback, we’re glad you enjoyed the post!
What a great guide on things to do in LA! I would love to do a west coast road trip in the near future, saving this post for the planning 🙂 The Griffith Observatory looked especially great 😀
The Griffith Observatory is a beautiful place, it has breathtaking views of L.A. and is a great spot to see the Hollywood sign…it’s an absolute must if you’re visiting! We hope you get the opportunity to visit soon!
I’ve only been to LA briefly for work, and I need to go back! The Last Bookstore and the Bradbury are simply calling to me. Thanks for this great LA weekend itinerary!
Downtown L.A. definitely has some surprising gems that are worth exploring if you have the opportunity to go back!
Such a helpful blog post! Now I kind of regret not spending a few days in LA when I drove past it two weeks ago. I’ll save this blog post for my next Californian trip! 😉
We’re glad you found the post helpful! We hope you get the opportunity to go back and explore next time!
I’m thinking about going to LA for Taylor Swifts upcoming festival. Would love to check out some of your recs when I go! Pinned for later. Thanks!
We hope you enjoy your visit! There is so much to see in LA, you won’t have any trouble filling your time! Griffith Observatory would be the top of our list; if you’re really sort on time try squeeze this one in!
I’ve always wanted to visit LA, thanks for the awesome tips! Definitely adding this to my list!
<3 Taylor [teansea.org]
We’re glad you like the post and hope you get to visit LA soon!
Great tips! Definitely saving this for my trip to LA.
We’re glad you like the tips. We hope you have a great trip to L.A!
I’ve seen pictures of that book store in LA and want to go so badly! I could spend ages in there.
The book store is amazing! it’s definitely worth a visit just to immerse yourself in their maze of books!
We love Los Angeles and have been several times but have yet to do a Warner brothers tour- definitely on my list for our next visit!
I’d definitely recommend the Warner Bros tour, it was one of my highlights! There’s just so much to do in L.A. it’s hard to squeeze everything in!
LA is such an amazing city. I miss living there. great tips!
It’s such an incredible place! There is so much to see and do there, I want to go back and take more of it in!
I really like LA. I know some people find it really busy and so spread out, but I have always enjoyed my trips there. I think I’ve done a number of the typical activities you mentioned by now but still have never made it to the Griffith Observatory. Next time! I do love renting a car and just driving around. Last time we drove around the Hollywood Hills and Malibu and it was just so nice and different from my usual taking the bus vacation
I didn’t really know what to expect but I absolutely loved it! It’s definitely sprawling though and there is a lot I didn’t have time to take in…just an excuse to go back though! I’d strongly recommend the Griffith Observatory, the view is absolutely spectacular!
You’ve got all my favourites in here, plus some places that I haven’t been to before. I’d love to get to Grand Central Markets one day!
Grand Central Market was wonderful! It was so lively and there were so many amazing food options. I hope you get the chance to visit soon!
I think id swap universal studios for Venice Beach! Grand Central Market sounds cool too
Ooh I’d love to visit Venice Beach! I think Universal is probably the one I’d swap out too to try something different. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to go back and see more of the area!
I’ve always had this weary mindset for visiting LA. I use to go when I was younger for basketball tournaments, but I’ve never really explored as an adult. I think it would make for an excited little getaway from the heat of AZ. Thanks for sharing.
I’m glad you’re feeling inspired to visit! I wasn’t really sure what I’d think to L.A. but I really loved my trip and I want to go back and see more of the city! I hope you have a wonderful visit!
I felt a little embarrased reading your post, because I lived in LA for 4 years, and never saw or knew about the Angels Flight tram, or the Bradbury building. They’re on my list now to go visit when I go back.
It’s funny how we often miss things right on our doorstep isn’t it? What a great excuse to return! I hope you get to head back and see them soon!
I was in LA for a couple of 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.
There is so much to see in LA, isn’t there? I’d love to go back one day and see more of the area – one weekend is great for a taster but there are so many things to see and do, it is definitely a place that needs multiple trips!