When you only have one day in Los Angeles, planning a trip can seem overwhelming. There are just so many things to do in Los Angeles, California; you could spend weeks in LA and still have more to see and do. However, sometimes we only have a day in any particular place, so it’s all about making the most of our time there. I had only one day in LA before embarking on a cruise. Here are the best things to do in Los Angeles in one day, and exactly how I planned my Los Angeles itinerary.
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The Difficulties in Traveling to LA
Not only is it difficult deciding what to do in Los Angeles, but it’s made even more challenging due to its sprawling nature. On top of that, there’s the traffic. Getting from point A to point B in LA can take hours and hours, even if you aren’t going very far. If you only have one day in LA, I suggest limiting your commute within a reasonable distance so you don’t spend half of your day in an Uber.
Things to Do in Los Angeles Video
It’s also really difficult to find reliable details about such a popular city online because there’s an overwhelming amount of information. Thankfully, CheapOair has produced an expert video all about traveling to Los Angeles with tons of great tips and travel ideas. Their “Things To Do” video series will cover destinations across the USA and around the globe. It’s hosted by “The Travel Guy”, Beau Rials, and his expertise and worldly travels provide a fantastic insight when deciding what to do in Los Angeles (or any other place). The Travel Guy will introduce you to little known facts and intriguing places wherever he goes.
You’re going to want to follow their YouTube channel to catch each video as its released. Furthermore, CheapOair will be reaching out to their followers in the coming months to participate in an exciting opportunity…that’s all the information I have, but I hear that it’s going to be a total blast. You’ll want to keep a close watch on YouTube and their social channels so you can enter!
One Day in Los Angeles Itinerary
Ready for an exciting and super fun day in Los Angeles? I traveled there with my sister, and we were able to do all of the following activities within a day. Our flight landed in LA that morning. We left the airport that morning and did all of the following activities. This Los Angeles itinerary is totally doable, if you don’t mind one that’s action packed. If you love traveling at a slower pace, perhaps knock a couple of these suggestions off the list so it isn’t too wild or crazy.
Venice is one of my favorite places to visit in Los Angeles. It’s a little quieter than other spots in the city. You can enjoy the breeze off the ocean, listen to the crashing waves at the beach, and go people watching at the boardwalk. Start your day in Venice. Even if you spend all day here, I think that’s a wonderful way to spend 1 day in Los Angeles.
Venice Beach and Boardwalk
Looking for a gorgeous beach in LA? Head straight to Venice Beach. It’s a expansive stretch of powdery sand with crashing waves and a dramatic mountainous backdrop. You can’t go to California without hitting up the beach, right? Make Venice Beach your first stop on your Los Angeles one day itinerary.
Next, venture over to the Venice Beach boardwalk. It’s a lengthy paved path where you can go for a stroll and do a little bit of shopping. You’ll see lots of interesting characters on your way. Check out the Venice Skate Park or the Muscle Beach Gym, once the home gym of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. You’ll watch some of the fittest people lifting heavy objects or you can even join them for a workout.
The Venice Canals
Have you heard of the Venice Canals, also known as “Venice of America”? The Venice Canals are 100 year old man made canals. Developer Abbot Kinney wanted to import the concept of Venice, Italy to California, complete with canals and gondoliers. Unfortunately, the project didn’t take off like he expected. Even still, the Venice Canals are a wonderful hidden gem in Los Angeles. With only one day in Los Angeles, I highly recommend adding the Venice Canals to your travel plans.
This landmark is truly the next best thing to its Italian counterpart. We loved strolling across several bridges, spotting million dollar homes, and little parks around each corner. There is even a small duck pond with a sign, “Do not enter – ducks only!”. You’ll also view lots of street art in Venice, even around the Venice Canals themselves. If you’re exploring Los Angeles in a day, don’t miss the Venice Canals.
Breakfast or Lunch in Venice
I loved dining at Cafe Gratitude in Venice. Cafe Gratitude is a small chain of vegan restaurants, primarily in Los Angeles. Their plant-based meals are thoughtfully prepared and all come paired with descriptive feelings or adjectives. For instance, we ordered the Buffalo Cauliflower Wings, which were also labeled as “Eclectic”. My Macrobiotic Bowl was also called “Whole”.
Before dining, we were presented with a “question of the day” by our server, which we embraced as a conversation piece at our table. We discussed all that we were grateful for before the food arrived at the table, which was a really peaceful and kind concept.
Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier is an iconic place to visit in Los Angeles. Its the end of Route 66, there’s a small amusement park, and then there’s another beautiful beach. Spend at least a couple of hours wandering around the Santa Monica Pier to enjoy the views, go on some rides, and perhaps grab a drink or a bite to eat (I ordered a delicious iced coffee here!).
The End of Route 66
There’s a sign to mark the official end of Route 66 at the Santa Monica Pier. You can use the Santa Monica Pier as a starting point for a road trip of Route 66! Or, you can be tourists like us, and take your photo with the sign.
Pacific Park, an amusement park, is the main attraction of the Santa Monica Pier. You should definitely take the Ferris wheel for a spin. It’s a one of a kind solar powered Ferris wheel, and there are amazing views from the top of it. After riding the Ferris wheel and the small roller coaster, we walked up and down the wooden pier to catch glimpses of the ocean.
For more fun things to do in Los Angeles in one day, take a trip up to Griffith Park and the Griffith Observatory. Even if you only have 1 day in Los Angeles, you should find time to go there as it was one of my favorite spots. However, you’ll want to plan accordingly – don’t head to the Griffith Observatory during peak traffic hours. If it’s anytime after 3:00pm, you might not make it in time for the sunset. We took our Uber at 3:30pm and arrived at 6:15pm, getting there for dusk but missing the sun going down. I’d leave the Santa Monica Pier by 2:30pm or 3:00pm at the latest.
The Griffith Observatory overlooks Los Angeles for amazing views, and it’s a great place to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign. After we took in scenes of the city lights and the night sky, we caught a live planetarium show at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Our show, “Light of the Valkyries”, was one of the best planetarium shows I’ve ever seen. If you’re a fan of outer space, spectacular light shows, or even just learning something new, don’t miss it. Tip: You can also catch the DASH Observatory bus to get there if you don’t have a car or don’t want to take a car sharing service.
Hollywood is one of the most famous places to see in Los Angeles. We didn’t spend much time in Hollywood, but took a trip down after visiting the Griffith Observatory. We had dinner in Hollywood and then took a quick jaunt down the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Dinner in Hollywood
For dinner, check out the Veggie Grill location in Hollywood. This vegan fast food chain has tons of menu selections, including burgers, sandwiches, bowls, salads, tacos, and more. I ordered a classic veggie burger with fries and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The restaurant was packed with people, but the line moved quickly and we got our food pretty fast. Don’t miss this plant-based LA favorite when traveling here.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
It might seem a little touristy, but a first timers’ trip to Los Angeles is not complete without checking out the Hollywood Walk of Fame. While it wasn’t even close to being one of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles in one day, it’s one of those places you’ve just gotta see. Don’t feel guilty leaving this one off the list if you run out of time.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is much larger than I expected, spanning several city blocks. We aimlessly walked along and didn’t recognize many of the names on the stars, but we did stumble upon a few notable ones.
Where to Stay in Los Angeles
Spend the night in Venice at Ellison Suites, just one street away from the beach. Every suite in this historic hotel, dating back to 1913, is uniquely designed and feels more like a little apartment than a hotel room.
After the original owners, the Ellisons, comedy duo Laurel and Hardy purchased the property. In the 1950s, the hotel became apartments and was often frequented by Jim Morrison. Our suite was the perfect home away from home, with its own kitchenette, bedroom, and pullout couch. From our room, we woke up to a beautiful view of the beach from our window.
You can easily walk all over Venice from the Ellison Suites, and the Santa Monica Pier is a short bike ride away. If you’re spending one day in Los Angeles (or longer!), this hotel is the best home base for exploring the city, especially if you’d like to see Venice and Santa Monica.
Staying for Longer than a Day?
Do you have more than one day in Los Angeles? Check out my guide to spending a weekend in Los Angeles for a fun-filled two days in the city. It includes many attractions from this Los Angeles one day itinerary, but it’s a little more expansive and at a relaxed pace.
If you’re a frequent traveler living in the USA, you might even consider moving to Los Angeles. There are an endless amount of things to do in Los Angeles, and LAX is a great hopping off point to international destinations worldwide. Check out my guide to the 10 Best Places to Live in the US for Frequent Travelers for more details.
This post is sponsored by CheapOair.