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First thing's first: shoes. You’re going to need some good ones. Make sure you’re ready for a lot of walking, because there is a lot to see from the moment you step foot outside of LAX. Los Angeles isn’t necessarily known for its public transportation, so you should either plan to rent a car from the airport or take Uber or Lyft when you can’t walk ("be forewarned: waits at the airport for shared rides can be grueling," adds Instagram star, Patrick Janelle). The fares might add up, but if you’re trying to tackle one of the country’s largest cities in a day, it’ll be worth it (trust us, you’re going to see a lot).
Geographically, the airport isn’t far from the beach, so we’ll start you by the water in Venice, then direct you inland to Downtown L.A., then up to the hills to visit Griffith Observatory, and you’ll finish the day for dinner and drinks in Hollywood.
8 a.m.: Head straight toward the Pacific for a breath of fresh air. There’s no better way to start the day than soaking up the morning sunlight in Venice with some killer L.A. coffee and a bike ride down the beach. Make a quick stop on the famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard for a piping hot latte (we recommend Blue Bottle or Intelligentsia, but when it comes to coffee in Venice, the limit does not exist). A little off Abbot Kinney is "Venice Beach’s hippest—and most delicious—hang out spot, Gjusta. You’ll instantly be transported to the Venice way of life, surrounded by long-haired surfer kids and their very cool parents," says Janelle.
If you stick around Venice, stop by one of the concept shops on Lincoln Road, "like the uber-hip California home emporium General Store," Janelle advises. Then head out toward the Venice Beach boardwalk. Here, you can rent a bike from any number of little spots (they’re basically every couple blocks), and go for a revitalizing ride down the beach toward Santa Monica.
9:30 a.m.: Once you’ve had your fill of riding, head back to the Venice boardwalk, drop your bike, and make your way back in the direction of Abbot Kinney for some breakfast followed by some major Cali-vibe shopping. Grab a bite at either Bluestone Lane on Rose Avenue (the space is inspired by Aussie beach culture, and the food is light and seasonal—plus the coffee is to die for) or The Butcher’s Daughter which is right on Abbot (think organic, healthy eats like acai bowls and breakfast tacos, paired with delicious fresh juices in an airy, undeniably-L.A. space).
After filling up on some local goodies, be sure to check out as many stores as you can while you stroll down Abbot Kinney Boulevard—a few you shouldn’t miss are Bassike (simple yet luxe Australian clothing made from organic cotton); Bazar (high-end antiques, textiles, vintage clothing, and more); Flowerboy Project (cafe meets home goods meets floral shop in a beautiful space); and Huset (modern Scandinavian home goods).
11:30 a.m.: After getting your fill of the beachside lifestyle, hop in the car and head out toward Downtown Los Angeles for some exploring. The city offers some amazing walking tours, which is one of the best ways to get a feel for the beautiful and storied architecture of L.A., and it’s a great way to learn about the history along the way. Try the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Historic Downtown Walking Tour or the Broadway Historic Theatre and Commercial District Walking Tour. Whichever you do, make sure you stop into the Grand Central Market before or after to get some delicious local bites (like the pork tacos from Via Moreliana). Odds are you’ll be really hungry by the time your walking tour ends, so you can either fill up at the market, or head to Redbird just around the block for an unforgettable atmosphere and menu—fine modern American cuisine with an emphasis on L.A.’s cultural diversity. The space is just as remarkable as the food, housed in the former rectory of the Vibiana, a beautiful landmark cathedral-turned-event space. (Make sure to get there before the kitchen closes at 2 p.m.)
3 p.m.: After you’ve gotten your fill of downtown, hop back in the car and head for the hills! You can either drive up to the famed Griffith Observatory, or you can park and hike up if you’re looking to get the true Los Angeles experience. (This site has great information for where to park and what the different trails offer). Once you reach the observatory, you’ll have breathtaking views of the city below, as well as none other than the famous Hollywood sign. Alternatively, Janelle recommends a hike up Runyon Canyon, a quick, steep 30-minute loop that also culminates in sweeping views of the city. "It’s the see-and-be-seen spot for young Hollywood crowd and long-time locals alike. There is no dedicated parking, which is a good reason to take an Uber or Lyft and get dropped off at the entrance, a gate that sits at the top of Fuller Avenue".
5 p.m.: We’re willing to bet that after all the walking, you’ll be beat. Head from the hills down to Silver Lake where Janelle recommends grabbing a cocktail at Bar Stella, "a cozy, semi-hidden cocktail bar that anchors a corner known as Sunset Junction, the hottest corner in Silver Lake. Or head to Hollywood for the iconic Chateau Marmont or Found Oyster, a newly opened oyster and wine bar in a nearby corner of Hollywood that still shows some grit but is quickly up and coming."
7 p.m.: When you're in the Hollywood and West Hollywood area for dinner, spoilers, you're going to eat well. Possibilities abound in terms of dining for your evening, but we've got a few recommendations. For those looking to stick around West Hollywood, E.P. & L.P. is a Los Angeles hot spot with terrific pan-Asian cuisine. The rooftop atmosphere of L.P. feels luxurious and the views are just as incredible as the food. L.P. is one of the most expansive rooftop decks in L.A., and the Tulum-inspired décor (think: tropical plants and chic furnishings) make it feel sultry and inviting in the L.A. night air. Plus, it's not far from Chateau Marmont.
In the same area, you'll also find Merois, the must-visit new restaurant on the roof of the Pendry West Hollywood. Merois is the higher end of the two Wolfgang Puck restaurants at the hotel and dining here is the perfect way to celebrate the award-winning chef's return to the WeHo dining scene. You'll love the colorful, midcentury modern furnishings at the restaurant almost as much as you'll love the culinary offerings (it's Asian-inspired with a hint of French flair, and from the crispy duck for two to the chocolate souffle, each bite is impeccable). If you're instead wrapping up pre-dinner drinks and oysters at Found Oyster—their natural wine selection is amazing and the oysters come directly from Nantasket Beach, Massachusetts—you can continue into Silver Lake for a romantic meal at Alimento.
10 p.m.: After dinner, take a car to the Walk of Fame for a stroll to walk off dinner. You might be beat by the end of the day, but you can’t miss out on Hollywood nightlife. Have a drink at the upscale Parisian-style Pour Vous lounge for a craft cocktail, or check out Mama Shelter on Selma Avenue where you can drink atop the city at the roof bar. Walk over to the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt—known as “a modern Hollywood revival”—located just past the Walk of Fame.
Here, you can check out the Spare Room, a sleek cocktail lounge modeled in the style of speakeasy, but with the surprising flourish of two bowling alleys and a handful of beautiful wooden board games. Sip a cocktail and soak up the atmosphere (maybe you’ll even spot a star), and then head upstairs for a well-deserved sleep in the City of Angels. We bet you’ll come back for more.
Where to Stay
Pendry West Hollywood
The newly opened Pendry West Hollywood, right on the Sunset Strip, is the perfect spot if you're looking for a chic WeHo hotel experience. From the midcentury modern common areas to their two Wolfgang Puck restaurants on property—Merois and Ospero—to the rooftop pool, you have the best of L.A. nestled right in this hotel. Pro-tip, don't miss the Spa Pendry, where you'll indulge in cutting-edge beauty treatments and phenomenal massages. And if you're a regular visitor to L.A., you might just want to become a member of The Britely, the brand new social club within Pendry West Hollywood, too. Members can spend time at the club's exclusive (and Martin Brudnizki-designed) common areas—including a sectioned-off rooftop bar, a bowling alley, and a screening room.
Silver Lake Pool & Inn
For a more boutique hotel experience, try the Palisociety's sun-drenched Silver Lake Pool & Inn, nestled next to Hollywood in the heart of Silver Lake. Guests of the hotel will love daily aperitivo hour at Marco Polo Trattoria and Bar and the mod furnishings found in all 54 rooms.
Ellie Nan Storck and Maya Kachroo-Levine contributed to this article.