Planning a trip to La La Land but short on time? Discover how to spend three days in Los Angeles AND get the most out of them with help from this jam-packed travel guide!
At this point in our California Coast road trip, we’d already spent two days in San Francisco and two days travelling down the Pacific Coast Highway so after a long drive we were very happy to arrive at our beautiful boho inspired Airbnb in Santa Monica. We cosied down for the evening with a Panda Express and made the most of the opportunity to be let loose on American Netflix before getting an early night ahead of two very busy days of exploring.
Our first day in LA was centred around ticking off some of the main tourist attractions and first on the list was the Warner Bros. Studio Tour! We were booked in for the 9am tour and despite having hired a car for our trip we decided to avoid navigating the chaotic roads and instead hop in an Uber. We left ourselves plenty of time to get there but let me tell you, the LA traffic is something else. What should have been a thirty minute journey actually took well over an hour so we ended up being late for our slot. It didn’t end up mattering too much though as the staff were pretty relaxed about simply popping us on the next tour which was only a five minute wait.
Each group has a designated a tour guide who takes you through the various backlots and sound stages, sharing interesting facts about the films and TV shows which were shot there. As Warner Bros. is a working Hollywood studio you really get to experience the buzz and excitement that comes with being on set. We got to go behind the scenes of live sets (we saw the production team working on Fuller House), walk down the New York street set which was used for all of the exterior shots in Friends as well as spot the outdoor area which posed as Central Park in the iconic Friends episode, The One Where Phoebe Runs.
In the Warner Bros. Archive you get to check out some of the original props and costumes from films such as Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts before heading to the final stop of the day, the interactive sound stage where you had the opportunity to sit on the ACTUAL real life Friends sofa and recreate scenes from The Big Bang Theory in Sheldon’s apartment.
It was such a fun packed two hours (we could have spent much longer there) and an incredible experience for any film or TV buffs although I think almost anyone could get enjoyment out of the tour! It also left me wondering whether it was too late for a change in careers to get into the film industry…
From there we decided to head over to Griffith Observatory, there wasn’t really a simple way to get there so we just hopped in an Uber (this became quite a theme of our time in LA) which took around twenty minutes.
It was around midday by the time we got there which meant the heat was getting pretty intense. We made our way up to the roof and got our very first glimpses of the Hollywood Sign. We took in the incredible scenery as we wandered around the observatory and wished we had the moves to recreate that La La Land scene…
Our next stop of the day was to head down to the West Hollywood area to take a look at the Walk of Fame. We had been pre-warned about how touristy it was but I just felt as though it was something I needed to see to be able to tick off the list. We took a stroll to check out the stars and stopped by the Chinese Theatre before ordering an Uber to get us away from the tourist-lined streets.
By this point it was mid afternoon and we hadn’t yet had chance to eat so we decided to head over to Joans on Third for some late lunch. I’d heard great things about this upmarket delicatessen and it definitely didn’t disappoint. There were so many fresh, healthy options which made it the perfect place to grab a quick and fuss-free bite to eat.
Feeling substantially refuelled we headed for a mooch around The Grove and of course we couldn’t visit this area without heading to check out The Original Farmers Market. Although it did have us cursing ourselves for filling up at lunch as there were so many tasty food options on offer!
We’d left our evening plans pretty open so we could be flexible depending on what we fancied doing. In the end we decided to hop in the car and head over to the Citadel Outlets to stock up on some discounted goodies as we didn’t think we’d get chance to fit this in at any other point in the trip. I also made sure we stopped by Target as that’s a must whenever you’re in America although I spent the whole time lusting after homeware pieces that we couldn’t possibly fit in our suitcases!
We decided to spend our second day in LA focused around exploring Abbott Kinney, Venice Beach and Santa Monica. It was around a thirty minute walk to Abbott Kinney from our Airbnb and after working up an appetite our first stop was brunch at The Butcher’s Daughter which is somewhere that had been on my bucket list for the longest time.
It was very “LA” and I’m not sure it quite lived up to my expectations with it’s $11 juices and pretty small portions but the interiors were gorgeous and we had a great people watching spot at the bar.
We then spent some time mooching around the gorgeous shops on Abbott Kinney Boulevard which are a great mix of independents and more well known high-street brands before heading down to check out the Venice Canals which gave us a serious case of house envy!
From there we walked down to Venice Beach and wandered around the iconic Muscle Beach (which was typically undergoing a makeover at the time). We had thought that we would hire bikes and cycle down to Santa Monica but in the end we decided against it and instead strolled along the beach, dipping our feet in the water as we went.
We wandered around Santa Monica Pier and debated going on the Ferris wheel but in the end I was too much of a scaredy cat. Me and heights just don’t seem to get on these days! I was feeling a little frazzled by this point as it was a warm day so we picked up a couple of drinks at Lemonade to refuel before taking a look around some of the shops in Santa Monica.
After freshening up at our Airbnb we decided to head back to Abbott Kinney for the evening as there were several restaurants and bars we could choose from to eat at for dinner.
At the top of our list was Gjelina, a celebrity hotspot where we’d heard reservations were a must. Despite this we somehow managed to grab a seat at the bar area which was pretty snug. We both went for pizzas, which were tasty but then again they should be for $24 each! We settled up our bill, the biggest of the whole trip despite only ordering two pizzas and two drinks and decided to head elsewhere in search of some dessert.
We’d heard amazing things about Salt & Straw so headed down the street in search of delicious ice cream and we certainly found it! I went for the salted, malted chocolate chip cookie dough and Adam went for the chocolate gooey brownie, both were equally tasty and I wish I could eat it over and over again.
Day three actually ended up being half a day as we had to get back on the road at around midday to make sure we reached Yosemite before dark. We chose to head back up the Highway 1 to Malibu to check out the beautiful beach and have brunch at Malibu Farm which is another place that was at the top of my bucket list.
Situated at the end of Malibu Pier the views are pretty incredible and we enjoyed our breakfast whilst watching the surfers out on the water. Again, another pricey spot but I think the atmosphere more than made up for it!
If we’d have had more time it would have been lovely to have spent an afternoon relaxing on Malibu beach but unfortunately our time in LA was up! Three days is no where near enough time to experience all that this city has to offer, we left feeling like we’d barely managed to scratch the surface so there will still be plenty to do if we decide to head back in the future.