Los Angeles is California’s largest and perhaps most famous city. A sprawling hub in the southern part of the state with a population of almost 4 million, it’s a place synonymous with the glitz and the glamour of Hollywood and the movers and shakers of the film industry. With a plethora of neighbourhoods spanning the city’s extensive size, each of them possess an abundance of their own distinctive features. Beverley Hills is home to the bronzed and the beautiful, with tree-lined streets flanked by gated mansions. Venice Beach boasts a popular arts community with colourful characters a-plenty. West Hollywood is known for the hustle and bustle of its sparkling nightlife. With so much to cover we have curated the perfect city guide for spending 48 hours in LA featuring the top things to do without running into the tourist traps.
48 Hours in LA
While the city is well-known as a back drop for many famous film and sitcoms, it’s certainly a place that needs some pre-planning prior to a visit to ensure you get the most out of it. So, if you’re after some Californian dreaming of your own our bespoke recommendations of where to stay, what to eat, and things to see in LA should help you make the most out of your LA stay.
Getting Around LA
LA is a city that is overwhelmingly large in size. Notorious for both its hard-to-navigate public transport system and terrible traffic jams, crossing the city is no mean feat. Hiring a car is almost essential; though if this isn’t an option we recommend making use of phone apps Lyft or Uber – both of which are readily available and rides can be shared with others in order to lessen the fare.
Where to Stay in LA
Where the iconic California canyons meet the beach, The Ranch Laguna Beach offers a truly unique place to stay in LA, well away from the busy Hollywood streets. With a sports and wellness focus, stay at The Ranch for a retreat just an hour from downtown LA.
The iconic Montage Laguna Beach is a hotel that will wow you. It’s expansive ocean frontage, stunning pool and beachfront relaxation areas and fine dining offerings make it the perfect choice for couples and families alike, just 30 minutes from Orange County airport or an hour to downtown LA.
For a laid back boutique beach feel, Beach House Hotel Hermosa Beach is will tempt you. Footsteps from the sand, wake up to the ocean just beyond your balcony, explore the esplanade or relax on the sand in this cute village style setting.
Beverly Hills and West Hollywood
LA is blessed with some incredible luxury hotels close to all the action, from the Peninsula Beverly Hills (we love Peninsula hotels), iconic names like The Beverly Hills Hotel famed for its pretty pink facade and hip boutique finds like The London West Hollywood. Search deals on Los Angeles hotels.
Where to Eat in LA
While one might expect Los Angeles to have a wealth of healthy eateries on every street corner, they’re harder to come across than you might think. However, we’ve dug out the city’s best foodie fare; from a stylish vegan hang out perfect for brunch, to the crème de la crème of seafood.
We’ve swooned over The Butcher’s Daughter in New York for brunch or a healthy bite before. So it’s no surprise the LA restaurant won us over too, located on Venice’s Beach’s lively Abbot Kinney. A beautifully breezy vegetarian restaurant, bedecked with hanging plants and tiled walls The Butcher’s Daughter has an outdoor terrace perfect for people watching and a small but perfectly formed retail space with candles, wines, bath salts and cooking oils. With plates including smashed avocado and breakfast burritos, few places in LA serve a better brunch.
Vegan hangout Café Gratitude has three branches in LA; Larchmont Village, Venice Beach and Beverley Hills. Everything on the menu is an affirmation, so you can order the chef’s bruschetta (heirloom tomato, basil hempseed pesto, cashew mozzarella, slow-fermented baguette, arugula, pine nuts, balsamic reduction) by saying ‘I am present’, or our personal favourite, the grilled peach and asparagus salad, by saying ‘I am local’. The food is delicious and the selection is varied; so it’s the perfect spot for both healthy fare and an indulgent treat.
If you’re after the finest seafood LA has to offer, Fishing with Dynamite is where it’s at. An intimate space on Manhattan Beach’s trendy Manhattan Avenue, the venue has a neighbourhood ambience and an unrivalled seafood offering. Boasting an impressive oyster selection, perfect Peruvian scallops and the juiciest of shrimps, it’s a dream destination for anyone with a hankering for sea fare. Be sure to save room for dessert. The restaurant’s key lime pie is an impeccable way to finish what will certainly be a magical foodie experience.
A celebration of farmers and artisan producers, Farmshop was founded by Chef-Owner Jeff Cerciello and is Californian culinary at its very best. A space fusing a deli and a restaurant in a modern, barn-like setting, Farmshop is tucked away in a small shopping area in Santa Monica and a great place to visit, whether for a catch up coffee or delicious dinner. With a creative menu offering everything from avocado hummus to smashed potatoes and grilled swordfish, visit with an empty belly, safe in the knowledge you’ll leave satiated and quenched.
One of LA’s hippest hangouts is Manhattan Beach Post. A soulful space offering farm to table foodie fare – whether a boozy brunch or a delicious dinner – the vibe is bustling, and the flavours mouth-watering. The roasted brussel sprouts and stone-fruit salad with whipped mascarpone taste just as good as they sound, and the carefully curated cocktail choices offer the perfect addition to the extensive menu.
What to Do in LA
There’s no shortage of things to do in LA, but steer clear from the tourist traps like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre if you want to avoid the crowds. Instead, check out our top picks for authentically LA activities to make the most of your Californian city break.
With endless elegant boutiques and a feast of chic hangouts, Abbot Kinney should be top of your hit list if you’ve got money to burn. From stylish shops with coastal cool interiors ideas, to bohemian beach wear and embellished bikinis, Abbot Kinney is your one stop shop for all things hip. Head for Sweaty Betty if you’re in need of some active wear for hitting the Hollywood hills, and Heist for a carefully curated collection of designer brands.
Made famous by the scene with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land, a trip to Griffith Observatory is a must-do for anyone visiting LA. Sitting on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, this tourist attraction not only offers visitors unrivalled vistas of both the cityscape and Hollywood sign, but also a variety of informational exhibits on the inside. If you want your mind blown, be sure to catch the Centered in the Universe show at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. In the space of half an hour you’ll be treated to a sequence of time travel, from ancient Egypt, to Galileo’s 17th century workshop, to Hubble’s deco-era Mount Wilson Observatory, to a modern-day research lab, looking at the ways in which we, as humans have tried to understand our place in the universe.
Walk the Venice Canals
A lesser known gem tucked away in Venice Beach are the picturesque canals. Restored in the 1990s, these lovely waterways are lined with some of Venice’s most elegant and elaborate homes and are the perfect place for a leisurely stroll on a balmy afternoon.
Hike the Hollywood Hills
A trip to LA wouldn’t be complete without a hike to the city’s famous Hollywood sign so make this a priority during your 48 hours in LA. While there are various routes to reach the sign, our favourite starts at Canyon Drive. A 6.5-mile hike that climbs more than a thousand feet, allow yourselves three hours for a round trip and pack plenty of water and a camera for that all important selfie at the foot of the sign!
Lucy Pearson is a certified bookworm, wanderluster, and qualified yoga teacher with a thirst for adventure and a love for life.
Lucy has her own blog, The Literary Edit, and also contributes to Stylist Magazine and Hip and Healthy.