Visit Los Angeles, California : 1 day, 3 days or a week in L.A.

Visit Los Angeles

With nearly 4 millions people, Los Angeles is the second largest US city, its urban area is even more gigantic: Los Angeles is a tentacular city. Don’t try to visit L.A. in a day, the city is so big and going from a neighborhood to another one can take an hour. Personally I really like this city, as long as you know why you’re going there, who you’re going to visit, and that you know you to take the time to discover it. There are a lot of touristy places, but there is also a particular Californian way of life that makes L.A. a appealing  and unique place.

La plage Los Angeles

This article was last updated in February 2018, and will be updated with new discoveries! If you have other good plans to share or questions to ask, post a comment!

Read my other articles if you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles:

traffic Los Angeles-1

Choose the neighborhood where to stay

Whether you choose Airbnb, home exchange or hotels, you will soon be faced with the question: where to stay in Los Angeles? This is an important choice to make, as the city is very extensive, and you can easily find yourself one or two hours away to get where you want. Think about:

  1. what you want to see in Los Angeles.
  2. how long do you have.

My experience :

The first time I was in Los Angeles, I stayed two nights in a hotel in Studio City, the Sportsmen’s Lodge *, the hotel is great for its price, with a pool, the street is not great, but it is well located to reach the whole northern part of Los Angeles.

I’ve also had the opportunity to spend a week in Los Angeles, and I chose to spend 6 nights at an Airbnb in Venice Beach. It was a vacation week centered on a seaside neighborhood, although I made a few trips to the museum, to Koreatown and Torrance. It was very chill.

For my third extended stay in Los Angeles, I split my time between Redondo Beach and Venice Beach. Hermosa is a bit far away, but the beachfront up to Manhattan Beach is nice. I also looked around Silver Lake *, for the hip side, but I preferred to stay near the ocean!

Los Angeles Stop Sign-1

Arriving at L.A.X.

L.A.X. is a huge airport in Los Angeles, and that’s probably where you’ll rent a car. Forget the taxis and Uber or even public transport, better have your own vehicle to move around Los Angeles. Car rental companies are located outside the airport, and you will need to take a shuttle to get there. If you do not have a GPS on your phone, rent one: it will be absolutely necessary to navigate the city. I always recommend having a paper map, in case of GPS failure, it can save your vacation (and if you go on a road trip after, the map will never fail you, even when the cell network is nonexistent).

Beware of traffic jams at night: allow at least 20 more minutes to reach the airport.

To read: During your long flight to Los Angeles, I recommend as a travel guide the Green Guide of the Southwest USA by Michelin *: I worked on it, but not on Los Angeles, I know the author who did the chapter on the city and he’s passionate about L.A., his recommendations are great.

What to do in Los Angeles?

La maison de Charmed - Instagram @mathildepit
The house from Charmed tv show, 1329 Carroll Avenue.

Los Angeles is Hollywood,
the capital of American cinema!

Pacifique Los Angeles-1

A lifeguard cabin on Venice Beach

Los Angeles,
it’s the beach and the Pacific Ocean!

  • Head to Venice Beach! I wrote a long article about everything you can do on this legendary beach. I enjoyed cycling on the bike track along the beach, meet the athletes of Muscle Beach, see the skateboarders, street art murals… Being there for a week, I took the time to go to yoga, walk around the Venice canals, and enjoy Abbot Kiney Street with its many cafes, chic boutiques, restaurants and shops. Read my Venice Beach Guide
  • There is beach everywhere in Los Angeles!
    South: Even though the name is misleading, Manhattan is a L.A. beach, next to Hermosa and Redondo Beach. You can spend the whole day walking around, or even surfing for the more experienced. The Pacific waters are cool, so you have to be motivated to swim!
    North: the very chicSanta Monica beach, further north, Malibu, and the millionaires’ houses on the seafront (which collapses little by little …)
Musee Los Angeles-1

Urban Light (2008) at the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

Los Angeles,
it’s also culture with exceptional museums!

Drop your cliches about Los Angeles as a city devoid of any culture: it’s here that dance, music and art are done today! Do you doubt it? Visit one of the city’s museums, one of the art venues to see outstanding performances. Below are the museums I visited, there are others, if you spend more than 3 days in Los Angeles, you will have something to do:

  • LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art: a beautiful building with a lot of art in its backyard! There are all kinds of exhibits in this museum, take at least half a day to enjoy them as there are plenty of sub-museums integrated in this place.
  • Getty Center, up a hill, accessible by train (north of the city): spectacular collections that cover just about every imaginable time periods, in a place with beautiful views of the city
  • Broad: Right in the downtown, next to the beautiful Walt Disney Center, this is a free contemporary art museum. Book your tickets on the site in advance, or queue up on the same day (which I did).
Los Angeles Venice Beach-1
Venice Beach, Los Angeles

But also…

  • Night ride to the Griffith Observatory, to feel like a movie star, and see the entire city lit up at night
  • Go walking in the downtown of Los Angeles, a neighborhood where it is actually very easy to walk! Enter the beautiful Grand Central Market, tour the Disney Center, an auditorium created by Frank Gehry in 2003 … it’s another side of Los Angeles; just off the downtown, past El Pueblo, the historic Los Angeles area, and most of all, enter the beautiful Art Deco train station, the Union Station.
  • Go get Korean food in Koreantown (and do karaoke)
  • Buy the Los Angeles Activity Pass *, $75 for 50 attractions
  • For an exceptional outing, do a helicopter tour over Los Angeles
Road Trip Sud Ouest Etats Unis-1
Valley of Fire, Nevada, close to Las Vegas

Go on a road trip from Los Angeles

Los Angeles is located in Southern California, and the city is a great start and/or finish for a road trip loop in the American Southwest. The possibilities are limitless. You can stay along the Pacific Coast, go south to San Diego or north to San Francisco. You can go west and head to national parks like Joshua Tree National Park, or go further to Arizona (where the Grand Canyon is) or even to Utah, where you’ll wander among the most spectacular sceneries of the Wild West.

▶ All travel ideas in California

▶ All road trip ideas in the United States

* links with asterisks are affiliate links: it means that if you buy an activity or book your hotel from the blog, I get a commission. It does not cost you more. The recommendations are my own decisions, and I have not been paid to put these links.



Rédactrice, grande organisatrice et réseau socialite du Blog de Mathilde. Quand je ne suis pas devant un écran, j'organise des visites guidées de Boston, là où j'ai fondé ma petite entreprise Boston le nez en l'air. Je suis aussi auteure de nombreux guides de voyages, de livres de yoga et de jeux chez des éditeurs français. Suivez-moi sur Instagram, Facebook ou Pinterest.

4 thoughts on “Visit Los Angeles, California : 1 day, 3 days or a week in L.A.

  1. Bonjour,
    Ça fait des mois et des mois que je me rends sur ce blog et je ne prends jamais le temps de laisser de commentaires : juste un grand merci. Je fais actuellement un road trip aux usa et ce blog m’a aidé pour tout : décider le nombre de jours de chaque villes (Chat noir du voyageur), que voir et faire dans chaque ville. Alors juste merci, ce blog est tellement bien fait.

    • Merci Axelle d’avoir pris le temps de laisser un petit mot ! A l’occasion vous pouvez même le dire sur votre blog ou vos réseaux sociaux, ça fait toujours plaisir !
      Vous avez prévu de venir sur la côte Est dans votre périple US ?
      Bon voyage !

  2. Super résumé ! Je suis sur L.A. uniquement un petit week-end et ta description est parfaite !!
    Merci !

  3. Bravo pour cet article ! C’est vrai que L.A. est génialement imparfaite. On a envie de l’aimer malgré ses nombreux travers. Elle a quelque chose d’attachant et de fascinant. Bien sûr, elle a aussi de nombreux atouts. Nous y avons été 2 fois, et avons séjourné chaque fois à Redonde Beach, à l’hôtel Crowne Plaza en face du Ruby’s Diner. Franchement, cette petite station balnéaire est sous cotée. Elle est populaire, sans prétention, l’ambiance est sympa… Son pier est vraiment chouette et sa visite se fait sous les vols de pélicans et avec les cris des otaries et lions de mer. Sa petite plage est très agréable et offre une superbe vue sur la péninsule de Palos Verdes. Santa Monica et Venice Beach sont mythiques. Concernant Venice, il faut absolument visiter les canaux dont l’ambiance idyllique contraste complètement avec la ferveur de la longue promenade en front de mer. Hermosa Beach nous a un peu déçus. Pourtant, le nom fait envie ! 😉 Et puis Los Feliz, Griffith Park et Hollywood sont incontournables. Et que dire de Mulholland Drive… à faire de jour comme de nuit… En tous cas, après chaque séjour à L.A., on a envie d’y revenir. Sa découverte se fait en plusieurs fois tant elle est démusurée…

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