Hey there fellow travelers and welcome to my post where we will cover 11 ways to spend one day in Los Angeles. Now, we all know the joys that travel can bring, from visiting far off places, experiencing different cultures and of course, all the new foods. But there is also a downside, – that dreaded day to ‘waste’ in a city whilst waiting for a midnight flight.

spend one day in Los Angeles - header

So if you are like me (as I live in Australia, all outgoing flights seems to leave late at night), there has been many a day where you need to find something to do that is enjoyable, but doesn’t take too much time – or cost too much money. So if you are wondering how to spend a day in Los Angeles, here are 10 things you can do to pass the time in an enjoyable way.

Let’s check them out…

  1. Hop on Hop off Bus
  2. The Griffith Observatory
  3. The Getty Center
  4. The Santa Monica Pier
  5. Arts District in Downtown LA
  6. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  1. Runyon Canyon Park
  2. The Hollywood Walk of Fame
  3. Universal Studios Hollywood
  4. Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway
  5. Venice Beach

How to spend one day in Los Angeles

Whilst it is quite large, Los Angeles is a vibrant and exciting city where there’s always something new to discover. And as someone who has just recently returned from LA, I do have to say that we spent a week there and still really didn’t get to everything on this list. This means you may need to pick and choose from below however here are some suggestions for things to do.

Check out these: 10 Ways to Spend One Day in London

spend one day in Los Angeles - hop on hop off bus

1. Get the Hop on/Hop off Bus

This is one that I have added after my recent trip as if you can get yourself to the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Blvd, then you can get a day ticket which will take you to almost all of the places listed below. This is a great way to at the very least see a lot of the town – and even get off and explore the places of your choice a little more.

Key stops include iconic locations in Hollywood, such as the Dolby Theatre and Sunset Strip, luxurious Beverly Hills, the scenic Santa Monica Pier, bustling Downtown LA and cultural hotspots like Chinatown and Little Tokyo. Additionally, the service extends to other notable areas like Venice Beach.

The buses are equipped with pre-recorded tour guide narration, providing insightful commentary on each site. The service is designed for flexibility, allowing passengers to hop off at any stop to explore and then hop back on to continue their journey. Buses run at regular intervals, with about 45 minutes between services at each stop, making it convenient for you to plan their day around the sights you wish to see.

2. The Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is located in Griffith Park to the city’s north. It first opened to the public in 1935 and has since become an iconic landmark of the city. One of the main draws of the Griffith Observatory is its stunning views of the city, including the downtown skyline and the Hollywood sign. It’s a popular spot for watching the sunset or taking in the night sky as well.

The observatory features a variety of exhibits and displays that explore the wonders of the universe. The Samuel Oschin Planetarium is a state-of-the-art theater that offers immersive shows about the cosmos and there are also interactive exhibits that explore the history of astronomy, the planets and the stars.

One of the most iconic features of the Griffith Observatory is its telescope. The 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope is one of the largest publicly accessible telescopes in the world where visitors can view the sun, moon, planets and stars through the telescope during certain hours.

Admission to the Griffith Observatory is free, although there is a fee for planetarium shows. The observatory is open Tuesday through Friday from 12 pm to 10 pm, and on weekends from 10 am to 10 pm. It’s closed on Mondays. We went there at night and the view is incredible and a little hint: go the day after rain for a clearer view!

spend one day in Los Angeles - LA at night from Observatory

Check out my post: Los Angeles vs San Francisco

3. The Getty Center

The Getty Center is a world-renowned museum and cultural center located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. It’s mission is to inspire curiosity and enjoyment of the visual arts with a collection that includes a wide variety of art, ranging from ancient to contemporary, from all over the world.

Some of the highlights of the collection include European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, as well as photography, contemporary art, and more. Additionally, the Getty Center is also known for its beautiful architecture and gardens and features stunning white marble buildings set amidst lush gardens and fountains.

The gardens are a popular spot for visitors to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings whilst waiting for their plane. And if you have a full day, the Getty Center also offers a range of programs and events, including lectures, tours and workshops with several dining options on site, including a café and a full-service restaurant.

Admission to the Getty Center is free, although there is a fee for parking. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5:30 pm, and on Saturdays it stays open until 9 pm.

Check out these: 7 Best Things To Do In Los Angeles For Free

4. The Santa Monica Pier

This next option has been a go to for us on many a last day in Los Angeles. The Santa Monica Pier is a historic pier located in Santa Monica, a beachside city just west of Los Angeles, that is known for its fun and festive atmosphere. There is a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages including an amusement park, which features a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and other rides and games.

There are also several food options to choose from including fast food, chains (Bubba Gumps etc.) restaurants and bars, many of which offer stunning views of the ocean and the coastline. It’s a popular spot for dining and nightlife, with live music and other events often taking place on the weekends.

And again if you have longer, you can visit aquarium which showcases local marine life and offers hands-on educational exhibits where you can learn about the creatures that live in the nearby ocean and even touch some of them. And if that is not enough, you can take the quick two block stroll up to the Santa Monica mall for some last minute shopping as well.

Admission to the Santa Monica Pier is free, although there may be fees for some of the attractions and activities. The pier is open daily, with hours varying depending on the season.

spend one day in Los Angeles - santa monica pier

5. Arts District in Downtown LA

If the shops and chain restaurants aren’t your cup of tea, then the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles might be worth a look. This area is a vibrant neighborhood known for its eclectic mix of art, culture, and creativity and a hub for artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs.

One of the main draws of the Arts District is its thriving arts scene. The area is home to numerous galleries, studios and exhibition spaces showcasing the work of both established and up-and-coming artists. And if you happen to be in LA at the right time it also hosts several annual events and festivals, including the Downtown Art Walk and the LA Art Show.

In addition to its art scene, the Arts District is known for its trendy cafes, restaurants, and bars and has become a popular destination for foodies and craft beer enthusiasts with a wide variety of culinary options available. Many of the restaurants and bars feature unique decor and atmosphere, adding to the neighborhood’s creative vibe.

And finally, the area is also home to several retail shops and boutiques, offering everything from handmade jewelry to vintage clothing. All in all, it’s a great place to just wander and take in the sights before you leave.

6. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

And whilst we discuss the art scene, there is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to consider as well. This is the largest art museum in the western United States and located in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles. Its mission is to collect, exhibit and interpret art from a wide range of cultures and historical periods, with a focus on promoting an understanding of art and its role in society.

The museum’s collection is vast and diverse, featuring more than 150,000 works of art spanning thousands of years of human history. Some of the highlights of the collection include ancient Egyptian artifacts, European paintings and sculptures, contemporary art and more. The museum also has an extensive collection of Asian art, including works from China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.

And as with the Arts Ditstrict above, if you manage to visit at the right time, LACMA is also known for its impressive special exhibitions, which feature the work of major artists and explore a wide range of themes and topics. And if you want to spend all day there, it also offers a range of educational programs including lectures, tours and workshops for visitors of all ages. The museum also has several dining options on site, including a café and a full-service restaurant too.

Admission to LACMA varies depending on the exhibition and day of the week, but is generally affordable. The museum is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 11 am to 5 pm, Friday from 11 am to 8 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm.

Book your trip to Los Angeles here!

7. Runyon Canyon Park

If you are looking for something a little more active to do then why not look at Runyon Canyon Park. This is a popular hiking spot located in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles and is known for its scenic trails, stunning views of the city and occasional celebrity sightings.

The park has several hiking trails of varying difficulty, ranging from easy to challenging with the most popular being the 3-mile loop trail which takes hikers up to the summit of the park and offers breathtaking views of the Los Angeles skyline. This trail is well-maintained and offers plenty of opportunities for hikers to take in the stunning views and snap some photos.

In addition to its hiking trails, Runyon Canyon Park is also a popular spot for outdoor fitness enthusiasts with several outdoor fitness areas with equipment as well as plenty of open space for yoga, running and other workouts.

Overall, Runyon Canyon Park is a great option for anyone looking to experience the beauty of nature in the heart of Los Angeles.

spend one day in Los Angeles - Runyon canyon park

8. The Hollywood Walk of Fame

This next choice probably needs no explanation but if you want to wander, do some shopping and experience all the kitsch, glamour and grime that Hollywood has to offer then you can wander The Hollywood Walk of Fame. This is an iconic landmark located on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood, Los Angeles and a popular tourist destination that attracts millions of visitors every year.

The Walk of Fame is made up of more than 2,600 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street. Each star bears the name of a famous actor, musician, director, producer or other entertainment industry professionals who have made significant contributions to the entertainment industry.

Here you can stroll along the sidewalks and see the stars of your favorite celebrities, take photos and learn about the history of the entertainment industry. The area is also home to several iconic landmarks, including the TCL Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre, where the Academy Awards are held each year.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a free and open attraction, available to anyone who wants to experience the glamour and history of Hollywood. Just be prepared to be hassled by Capt. Jack Sparrow or Darth Vader for an overpriced photo as you wander about.

Check out my post on: Where Did They Shoot Dirty Dancing? And How To Get There

9. Universal Studios Hollywood

Next you can continue your journey into the world of Hollywood movies and visit Universal Studios Hollywood. This is a theme park and movie studio located in Universal City, a neighborhood in Los Angeles and another popular tourist destination that attracts millions of visitors each year.

The park features a variety of rides, shows and attractions based on popular movies and television shows. Some of the park’s most popular rides include the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, the Jurassic World ride and the Transformers: The Ride 3D. The park also has several live shows, including WaterWorld, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the Special Effects Show. The Nintendo area is pretty cool as well I will say!

Universal Studios Hollywood is also a working movie studio, and you can take a behind-the-scenes tour to see how movies and television shows are made. The tour takes visitors through the studio’s backlot, where they can see sound stages, prop house, and iconic movie sets, including the Bates Motel from Psycho and the town of Whoville from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

In addition to the rides and attractions there is also a variety of restaurants, shops, entertainment options and several gift shops, where you can purchase souvenirs and merchandise from your favorite movies and television shows. Times vary depending in season and ticket purchase but in general, Universal Studios is open from 9:00am – 10:00pm with 1-Day General Admission tickets starting at $109.

spend one day in Los Angeles - harry potter world

10. Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway

If you happen to have a hire care at your disposal then driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1 or the PCH, is one of the most iconic and breathtaking road trips in the world. The highway runs along the coast of California, from the northern border with Oregon all the way down to the southern border with Mexico.

It offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, with winding roads that hug the coastline and pass by towering cliffs, rocky beaches, and pristine wilderness areas. Depending on how long you have, the PCH provides access to the following:

  • Big Sur – located in the central coast of California, Big Sur is a rugged and remote area known for its dramatic coastline, redwood forests, and picturesque bridges. The area is a popular destination for camping, hiking and exploring the natural beauty of California.
  • Monterey – is a charming coastal town located on the southern edge of the Monterey Bay. The town is famous for its historic Cannery Row, which was once home to a thriving sardine canning industry. Today, visitors can explore the area’s museums, galleries, shops and restaurants.
  • Santa Barbara – this is a beautiful beach town located about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The town is known for its Spanish colonial architecture, palm-lined streets, and upscale boutiques and restaurants. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including surfing, hiking and biking, as well as explore the area’s cultural and historical attractions.
  • Malibu – famous for its celebrity homes, Malibu is a coastal community located about 30 miles west of Los Angeles. The area is known for its pristine beaches, rugged coastline, and celebrity homes. Visitors can explore the area’s beaches, hiking trails, and wineries, as well as take a drive along the scenic Mulholland Highway.
  • Laguna Beach – this is a small beach town located about 50 miles south of Los Angeles. The area is known for its beautiful beaches, art galleries and boutique shops. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including swimming, surfing and paddleboarding as well as exploring the area’s cultural and artistic offerings.

All in all, this all depends on just how much time you have and how much of it you want to spend in the car.

spend one day in Los Angeles - PCH

11. Venice Beach

And finally, if you want to experience what feels like all of Los Angeles in one day, then Venice Beach is well worth a visit. This area is a vibrant and eclectic beach community located on the westside of Los Angeles known for its unique culture, diverse population and colorful boardwalk and also the backdrop for many Hollywood movies.

One of the main attractions of Venice Beach is its famous boardwalk, which is lined with street performers, artists, vendors and musicians. Visitors can stroll along the boardwalk and enjoy the sights and sounds of this vibrant community, or rent a bike or rollerblades to explore the area more quickly.

Another popular attraction in Venice Beach is Muscle Beach, a famous outdoor gym where bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts come to work out and show off their impressive physiques. The area is also known for its colorful street art, which can be found throughout the community and is a must-see for art lovers.

In addition to its outdoor attractions, Venice Beach also has a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Visitors can browse through the unique boutiques and galleries, or grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and food stands that line the boardwalk. Personally, this is one of my favorite areas of LA however it is definitely one area that whilst safe, you definitely need to keep your street wits about you (and your hand on your purse or backpack as well).

Book your trip to Los Angeles here!


There you have it; 11 things you can try if you find yourself with a day in LA to kill. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual,  let me know of your experiences here.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, or corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun


More North American Locations

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *