Only have a weekend and you’re wondering how to spend 48 hours in Los Angeles? While this sprawling Southern California city offers travellers a bevy of delightful, unique activities and things to do, you can easily see pretty much everything there is to see in just 48 hours.
So, pack a weekend bag, put on some sunscreen, and get ready to explore sunny LA. You’re about to be California dreamin’, and you’re going to want to make sure you hit up all of the hotspots. Don’t worry, we’re not sending you to any major tourist traps.
Check out our complete guide on how to spend 48 hours in Los Angeles if it’s your very first time in this trendy city. We haven’t budgeted any time for celebrity sightings or 405 traffic meltdowns, but that’s just a part of #LAlife.
How To Spend 48 Hours In Los Angeles
Day One: Start Your LA Vacay With Trendy Breakfast
Assuming that you arrive to Los Angeles late in the evening or early in the morning, your 48 hours in the City of Angels will likely start with a trendy breakfast typical of this Southern California city.
Check out our guide to the most Instagrammable cafes in Los Angeles for tips on where to go if you’re looking for a breakfast that you can upload to your social media fees in order to serve your friends some serious FOMO. Alfred Coffee is a pretty great choice, and there are tons of locations all over the city, placing you close to caffeine-filled photoshoots no matter where you’re staying.
Or, if you’re actually interested in quality coffee and tasty eats, check out our guide to seven of the best cafes in Los Angeles. If you’re staying on the west side of the city, Menotti’s Coffee Shop and Intelligentsia are two of the trendiest spots in Venice. Even locals love the coffee here.
Hike Up To The Griffith Observatory For Stellar Views
After fueling up on some of the best coffee on the West Coast, you’ll have the energy to hike up to the famous Griffith Observatory. A leisurely hike up the mountain into Griffith Park will take you about two hours, which is why we suggest heading here early.
If you’re driving, take I-5 all the way to exit 141. It’ll say Los Feliz Boulevard. Keep heading west for about two and a half miles and then turn right on Fern Dell Drive. You’ll eventually reach Griffith Park.
Once you’ve reached Griffith Observatory, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and an array of free exhibits inside. While it’s not as pretty as it is at sunset, we suggest heading here early to avoid the crowds. Plus, there are other stunning sunset views awaiting you elsewhere in Los Angeles, trust us.
Explore The Eclectic Side Of Hollywood
After coming down from Griffith Park, you’ll spill out onto the eclectic streets of Hollywood. And, to be honest, coming from the mouth of a local, there’s really not much to see here. Sure, you can head to the Walk of Fame or Chinese Theatre, but you’ll quickly be bombarded by troves of crazy people in costumes.
So, we suggest taking the time to stop for lunch. Treat yourself to something special at a classic old Hollywood hotspot like Musso & Frank Grill or The Prince. The Prince is a bit towards Koreatown and not in Hollywood proper, but the opulent red leather booths there will make you feel like a celebrity. And, they’ve filmed lots of shows here, such as Mad Men and New Girl.
After lunch, if you feel like taking photos, you’ll want to head over to 3000 Canyon Lake Drive. Enter this address into your Google Maps and it’ll take you roughly to a spot where you can get an uber-trendy photo of the Hollywood sign in the background sans too many tourists.
Drive Down To The Santa Monica Pier
You’ve been hiking, seen some Hollywood Stars, and now you’re full from all the tasty food you’ve eaten. It’s time to relax at the beach. And, it’s impossible to visit Los Angeles and not head to the famous Santa Monica Pier. Just make sure you head out before rush-hour traffic hits (but, let’s be honest, when isn’t there traffic in LA?).
Whether you choose to indulge in the Pacific Park arcade games or want to wander up and down the pier listening to street artists, we definitely suggest you take the time to ride the iconic ferris wheel.
Sure, it might seem a little cheesy, but it really does provide you with some stunning city views. And, it’s a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the beach. Plus, if you’re travelling as a couple it’s a super romantic spot for a quiet respite from a long day of travelling.
Explore Venice’s Abbot Kinney Blvd.
After spending time at the beach, take Lincoln Blvd. about three miles over to the famous Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. Golden hour here is magical if you make it in time. But, if you choose to watch the sunset in Santa Monica, you can still enjoy exploring Abbot Kinney at night.
There’s a reason this was once voted as “The Coolest Block in America.” Here, you’ll find numerous trendy boutiques, bars, and some of the best eats in all of Los Angeles County.
If you’re visiting on the first Friday of the month they’ve got music, food trucks, games, and artisanal crafts. On any other day, we suggest heading over to Neighbor for some fantastic cocktails, amazing food, and a quality ambiance. Still looking for an additional nightcap? The Del Monte Speakeasy is a hotspot that’ll quench your thirst.
Day Two: Enjoy A Scenic Breakfast In Malibu
You’ve only got 48 hours in Los Angeles, so you’ll want to start day two in the sunny city of Malibu. Head to the Malibu Farm Pier Cafe for breakfast by the sea. As the name suggests, it’s situated right on the pier, offering breathtaking views of the blue Pacific Ocean. During the week they open at 11:30, so you don’t have to roll out of bed early for this one.
Fill up on farm scrambled eggs and granola and then drive down the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. Stop as many times as you want to marvel at all of the views and celebrity houses. Then, keep heading south until you get to I-10. You’re going to take I-10 east and back deep into the City of Angels.
Visit Buzzy Los Angeles Museums
When it comes to the best museums to visit in Los Angeles, we suggest the LACMA in Miracle Mile or the buzzy Broad Museum. The latter is downtown and you’ll find over 2,000 pieces of eccentric artwork from artists such as Andy Warhol. Entry is free which means it’s super popular. So, if you’re going to visit, definitely book your tickets ahead of time.
If you opt for visiting the LACMA, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy taking the classic tourist photo of the light lamps outside. Day or night, this place is poppin’ if you’re looking to snag a super hot pic for the ‘gram. And, the exhibits inside are always insightful and engaging.
Grab Lunch At Grand Central Market
If you went ahead and visited the Broad Museum, then you’re right in the heart of downtown. Head to Grand Central Market for lunch. This iconic building has been a local landmark since 1917, and it’s filled with as much tasty food as it is rich history.
Have fun exploring the numerous food stalls where you’ll find that they serve everything from Berlin currywurst and the famous Eggslut burgers to falafel, fruit, and Southern cuisine.
Check Out The Best Bars In Los Angeles
By now, you’re probably exhausted after a jam-packed 48 hours in Los Angeles. If you’ve got the energy, swing by Franklin Village to get some shopping done. Or, end your trip by checking out the best bars in Los Angeles.
We’ve crafted a list of the best LA bars for you. Good Times at Davey Wayne’s is always a hit, both with locals and tourists alike. However, if stunning views are what you’re after, then you’ll want to head over to Perch, Mama Shelter, or Élephante. You can’t go wrong by ending your fun-filled 48 hours in Los Angeles at any one of those trendy spots.
Before you travel to Los Angeles, check out our guide to 10 California Slang Words to Sound Like a Local. You’re going to want to brush up on some local slang, bruh.