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In need of some fun, sun, sand and starlight? Same. So let’s take a little trip together and spend 5 days in L.A. We deserve it. In this post I take you through all the glorious things you can get up to with just 5 days in the City of Angels as well as practical tips about LAX, how to get around and more.
- 5 Days in Los Angeles – Itinerary
- How to Get to L.A
- Getting from LAX to Your Hotel
- Where to Stay in L.A
5 Days in Los Angeles – Itinerary
Day 1 – People-Watching and Exploring Venice Beach
Venice Beach is a destination in its own right. A short walk from the beach is The Cow’s End Cafe. The prices are good and the food is even better. I highly recommend the breakfast tacos (enough for 2 people). They only accept cash so make sure you have a few dollars to hand.
After you’ve had your fill take a stroll along the Venice canals, an oasis of calm that seems a million miles away from the madness of the boardwalk. The bridges and the mansions that line the canals make for gorgeous photo opps as you walk and you never know who you might see. There are lots of things to do and see in Venice but the canals are my favourite.
Next, pick up a bike from Ride! Venice and cycle along the boardwalk. You’ll see all sorts of characters along the way from roller skating troupes at Roller Skate Dance Plaza to the glistening giants of Muscle Beach. They also do tricycles for those of you who can’t cycle too well, like myself.
After your cycle head to High Lounge, the rooftop bar at Hotel Erwin, for a cocktail and stunning views over Venice. If you need a snack try their flatbread or other light bites as you watch the world go by below.
No trip to the L.A would be complete without some shopping. For sustainable fashion with an edge head to Gotta Have It vintage store where you could get lost in the bargain rails. Around the corner is the hanging Venice sign which is an essential souvenir photo stop.
Finally, head to Dudley Market for a freshly caught seafood dinner and an impressive wine list. Walk-ins are welcome and you’ll leave feeling like one of the locals.
Top Tip – Use the Ride! Venice website to book your bike in advance and organise a pick up time. Choose add ons like bluetooth speakers, phone chargers and GoPros.
Price Point – Bike rental at Ride! Venice costs $7/hr or $28/24hrs. Breakfast tacos at The Cow’s End Cafe cost $7.95. Cocktails at High Lounge start at $17. Mains at Dudley Market start at $16.
Day 2 – Day Trip to Laguna Beach
There is a lot more to L.A than big city life and the bright lights of Hollywood. Grab breakfast in your hotel, hop in the car/Uber and head to Laguna Beach for a chilled day out.
You might (should) be familiar with Laguna Beach thanks to the MTV series of the same name. Pick up a leaflet at the visitor’s centre which will guide you through Laguna Beach filming locations. Who knows, maybe you’ll run into LC!
Laguna Beach has a huge artist community. Make sure to stop at some of the galleries/studios dotted along Laguna Canyon Road. There’s also no shortage of street art murals on Canyon Road so if you’ve rented a car take advantage and stop along the way.
If you fancy more arty info the Laguna Art Museum is the perfect introduction to local artists and art history and well worth a visit.
Head to Harvest at The Ranch Laguna Beach (a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World) for a hearty yet healthy lunch full of local ingredients. The food there is so delicious and the views are great. The whole resort also has an impressive sustainability ethos which we love to see. After you’ve had your fill at Harvest it’s time to head to the beach!
Stroll through Heisler park taking in the stunning views. The park is full of beautiful sculpture, open green areas and BBQ pits so it’s a great spot if you’re travelling with children.
Take the stairs down to the beach and keep an eye on the sea; you might spot some dolphins. If you want to get close to the wildlife book a kayaking tour with La Vida Laguna where you could encounter sea lions, whales and plenty of dolphins.
For some of the best fish and chips in California head to the super casual Slapfish. Personally, I recommend a side of fried pickles! Snag yourself an outdoor table for sea views while you eat before heading back to your hotel.
Top Tip – There is a free trolley which you can catch around Laguna Beach. Download the Laguna Beach App for the trolley schedule and plenty more local info.
Price Point – Lunch starts from $15 at The Harvest. Entrance to the Laguna Beach Art Museum is $7/adult. Kayaking Tour with La Vida Laguna costs $95/person. Fish and chips at Slapfish start from $9.50.
Day 3 – Theme Park Thrills
You can’t visit L.A without paying a visit to the magical kingdom of Disneyland. I HIGHLY recommend the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge area, you truly feel like you’re in a galaxy far far away. Chewie strolls by, Storm Troopers march past and you can buy the famous blue (DELICIOUS) and green milk from refreshment stands.
Visit CVS/Walgreens to pick up some snacks and drinks for the day. You don’t want to pay park prices every time you’re hungry. However, it’s always worth splashing out on one exclusive Disney snack, they’re tasty AND Instagrammable! Mickey Mouse waffles, pancakes or toffee apple anyone?!
If you want something different and more thrilling Knott’s Berry Farm is the park for you. The wooden roller coaster, Ghostrider, scared me out of my skin. I wasn’t expecting it, it looked small, but Christ alive I was in bits by the end of it. You can get skip-the-line tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm HERE.
Speaking of ghosts, the Old West Ghost town is full of cute old shop fronts and actors who make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. A friendly sheriff tried, unsuccessfully, to teach me how to throw a lasso.
Keep an eye out for Peanuts characters. I was delighted to meet Snoopy and Peppermint Patty. If you do decide to eat in the park and have a sweet tooth you must try the famous Knott’s Berry Farm boysenberry pie.
Of course there are plenty of other theme parks to visit such as Universal Studios Hollywood (get skip the line tickets HERE) and Six Flags but it would be hard to fit them all in. Make sure you do your proper research in advance so that you know which theme parks suit you best.
Top Tip – Download the Disneyland app before your visit. It shows you ride wait times, the park map, when and where characters will be available and more. Comfy shoes are key because your step count will be off the charts.
Price Point – Disneyland 1 day pass costs from approximately $104. Knott’s Berry Farm 1 day pass costs from around $47.
Day 4 – Lights, Camera, Action!
No trip to L.A is complete without some movie glitz and glamour. Have a big breakfast at WeHo Bistro. The Huevos Rancheros will blow your mind.
After breakfast, it’s time to take the Warner Bros Studio Tour. This is a two hour guided tour with an optional one hour self-guided afterward. You’ll see sets from the Big Bang Theory, Friends, Gilmore Girls and lots more.
Afterwards, hop in an Uber/Lyft back to Hollywood. Check out the Walk of Fame and the TLC Chinese Theatre. You can find your favourite stars and even check when the next star ceremony is on via the Walk of Fame website.
If you don’t mind a bit of hanging around it’s possible to attend a live TV show recording. Each show has their own application process which you can check out here.
Of course, you have to see the iconic Hollywood sign. There are plenty of viewpoints from which to see the sign. But one of the best ways to see the sign, and a different side of L.A, is to hike the Griffith Park trail. There are photo opps galore AND your step count will soar.
If you don’t fancy doing the research to find the best trail then I highly recommend taking a Griffith Park hiking tour which organises everything for you. Just get yourself to the meeting point and they take it all from their.
Top Tip – Some TV shows have dress codes. Don’t wear any obviously branded clothing to a recording.
Price Point – Breakfast at WeHo Bistro starts from $12. Warner Bros Studio Tour costs $69 when booked online.
Day 5 – Shopping and Cocktails in West Hollywood
For your final day in L.A explore West Hollywood. This fun, lively neighbourhood is at the heart of the L.A LGBTQ+ community. If you’re around on a Sunday swing by Hamburger Mary’s for their drag queen brunch and if you have time, stay for the bingo.
Head out of WeHo to The Grove in Fairfax, a beautiful outdoor shopping area full of all your favourite highstreet brands, to grab some final bits. Honestly, this place is more of a shopping destination. There’s a free old fashioned tram that you can hop on to take you from one end to the other.
Once you’ve shopped to your heart’s content, and maybe had a cupcake from Sprinkles or a cronut from Dominique Ansel Bakery, head back to your hotel to drop off your purchases.
Time to relax at The Sundeck at the Andaz hotel. It’s the highest rooftop pool in L.A with views over the Sunset Strip and the Hollywood Hills. Order a frozen Marilyn Monroe cocktail, lounge by the pool and enjoy your last day.
Have dinner at SUR Restaurant, of Vanderpump Rules fame. You might bump into Ken and Lisa. Finally, if you have the energy, head to The Comedy Store for a show that will have you in stitches. Keep an eye out for the free shows with a surprise line up, you could see some very famous comedians!
Personally at this stage I’d be exhausted so I’d probably have called it a day after The Grove and just chilled in the hotel for the evening haha. BUT, I like to give you guys plenty of options.
Top Tip – Make sure to bring official ID with you to The Comedy Store and anywhere you intend to drink. They’re strict about IDing everyone in the USA.
Price Point – Brunch at Mary’s Hamburgers starts from $10. Cocktails on the Sundeck cost from $13. Dinner starts at $18 in Sur Restaurant.
How to Get to L.A
Before you can even think about heading to the USA you need to make sure to get your ESTA. The sooner you apply for your ESTA the better, don’t leave it until the last minute. Once you have an ESTA it is valid for multiple trips over the period of two years. Of course, you’ll still be asked a couple of questions by immigration but once they’re sure the purpose of your visit is for tourism then you’ll be good to go and on your way to L.A.
Getting to L.A from Dublin is pretty easy with direct and connecting flight options to choose from, not to mention USA pre-clearance at T1. Make sure to read my complete guide to Dublin Airport before you go. From London a variety of airlines fly direct – Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand, British Airways and more.
My favourite thing about arriving in LAX is their Pets Unstressing Passengers (or PUP) program. Adorable dogs and their handlers meander their way through the crowds helping weary travellers to relax. PUP members wear red official t-shirts and the handlers are full of airport info. Each dog has its own collectible info card with a photo, much like Pokemon cards. Honestly, it’s incredible.
Getting from LAX to Your Hotel
All the car rental companies are off site so there will be a free shuttle to take you from the terminal to your rental hub. Honestly, L.A traffic is some of the worst I’ve ever seen in the world so I wouldn’t advise renting a car unless it’s for a day trip out of the city and you have the patience of a saint. Parking gets expensive in L.A too.
Personally, I think the best way to get out of LAX is to grab a taxi or a Lyft/Uber. Bright green LAX-it shuttles ferry passengers to the official pick up area which is, again, not at terminal. Taxis will be more expensive but are more likely to arrive quickly. Make sure to order your Uber/Lyft when you’re on the shuttle to avoid surge-pricing when you reach the pick up zone.
When you order your Lyft/Uber the app will tell you to wait at a certain numbered zone within the pick up area. If you can’t find the numbered zone then just ask one of the attendants which are usually wearing the Lyft or Uber colours. Get $5 off your first Uber trip HERE.
Where to Stay in L.A
Petit Ermitage in West Hollywood is a stunning boutique hotel with a very whimsical vibe. The private rooftop terrace with salt water pool and hummingbirds whizzing around is magical. They host activities on the rooftop including yoga sessions and movie screenings under the stars. It’s a pricey option but great if you want to treat yourself.
If you’re looking for budget accommodation in Anaheim close to the theme parks then I’m happy to recommend the Lemon Tree Hotel. I stayed there for a couple of nights and it was very handy. The room was large and clean and a free breakfast was included. Sure the breakfast wasn’t great but there was also a CVS down the road as well as a few other places to eat. It’s an easy Uber ride to the parks too.
I also stayed at the Hilton Hotel Anaheim Resort which was within walking distance of Disneyland and was surrounded by restaurants, CVS and Walgreens. It can be pretty budget-friendly depending on when you book and it has a Starbucks on site as well as a food court. There is also a shuttle bus option from LAX to the hotel. Highly recommend!
There are plenty of options in Venice Beach. Be aware that you will usually pay extra for hotels on the beach front. If you wanted a more high end choice the check out Hotel Erwin. I’ve already mentioned the glorious rooftop bar belonging to this hotel but they also offer some great discount packages which include all sorts of things from tattoo vouchers and tequila to surf lessons.
As I always say, this is not a definitive guide and there are plenty of other wonderful things to do and see in L.A . However, I hope that I’ve given you a bit of inspiration, some guidance and maybe even some helpful tips. No matter how you choose to spend your time in L.A, there’s no doubt that you will have an incredible experience in La La Land.
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