3 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary – A Perfect LA Guide

How to Spend 3 days in Los Angeles Itinerary

Palm trees, sunshine, bike rides, beach time; welcome to the city of Angels! Los Angeles is easily one of the top 5 cities to visit in the USA and with just 72 hours, you can actually see a ton of the city. We are lucky to have family living here who were able to give us the full rundown on the best things to do and see in LA during our trip to California! So, if you’re in LA for a few days and unsure what to do, below, find my detailed itinerary on how to spend 3 epic days in Los Angeles.

Sun setting at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles
Griffith Observatory at sunset is a top place to visit with 3 days in Los Angeles

Disclaimer: Please note some links are affiliate links which I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you decide to make a purchase.

Getting Around Los Angeles

With 3 days in Los Angeles, it’s best to rent a car, especially with this itinerary. The city is pretty spread out, so it would be very hard to manage without a car.

If you are flying into LAX, there are plenty of Airport shuttles that will bring you to rental car companies. If a car is out of the question, you can still do a hand full of group tours to most of the top places to visit in Los Angeles.

When searching for flights on Skyscanner, or booking with Booking.com, I usually check their deals on car rentals. I’ve found when you bundle together, the prices tend to be better. For this trip, we used Thrifty and had no issues.

Venice Beach Boardwalk in Los Angeles, California
Venice Beach Boardwalk in Los Angeles, California

Day 1 – 3 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary

For the first day in the city of Angels, we are going to make our way to the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory (my personal favorite), and a cruise down Rodeo Drive.

Hollywood Sign

Did you even visit LA without seeing the Hollywood sign?! The two best ways to see the Hollywood sign, in my opinion, is from Hollywood Lake Park or hiking up to the Hollywood Sign.

Hollywood Lake Park is by far the easiest way to see the sign and get Instagram-worthy photos! When we went, there was barely anyone there!

Address: 3160 Canyon Lake Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068

View the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles at Lake Hollywood Park

Next is actually hiking to the Hollywood Sign through Griffith Park. There are 3-4 different hikes starting from a little over 3 miles and up. If you don’t feel comfortable figuring out the trail on your own, there are also guided groups!

Funny story, it was our mission to see this iconic sign and at first glimpse, we all looked at each other and said in excitement, “hey look, the Hollywood Sign!”

Throughout the rest of the day, it became a running joke since every activity has the sign-in view!

Hiking Griffith Park to the Hollywood Sign Los Angeles, California

Griffith Observatory

After seeing the Hollywood sign, make your way over to the Griffith Observatory. The best time to go is around sunset for stunning views of Downtown Los Angeles.

Parking can be tricky here. We had to park pretty far down the hill, making it a hike up and you have to pay a meter. If you have enough time before sunset, spend time hiking around the area.

Besides the amazing sunset, they also have exhibits, a Planetarium, and pretty epic telescopes.

Address: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Admission is Free!

Hrs: M-F 12 PM – 10 PM Saturday and Sunday: 10 AM – 10 PM (double-check hours before going!)

Make sure to add Griffith Observatory to your itinerary with 3 days in Los Angeles

Rodeo Drive

If you love shopping, make sure to add a drive down Rodeo Drive to your 3-day Itinerary. It is a 2-mile long street located in Beverly Hills.  This shopping plaza has been featured in countless movies and is one of the most iconic and glamorous shopping streets in the USA!

Even if you don’t like shopping, it’s still worth driving through to visit this famous street and even see a celebrity.

Public Art “Urban Light”

If you love visiting Instagrammable places, make sure to add Urban Light to your 3 days Itinerary in Los Angeles. This art installation consists of 202 restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s.

It has been featured in countless movies making it one of the top attractions in Los Angeles.  They are open 24/7 and you can find them at the entrance to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Address: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Urban lights at the art museum in Los Angeles, California
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Day 2 – Venice, Santa Monica, and Runyon Canyon

On day two of our LA itinerary, we are going to explore the more edgy side of town taking stops in Venice, Santa Monica, and a hike through Runyon Canyon (or the hike of Celebrities).

Venice Beach

Let your inner bohemian out with Venice’s free-spirit vibes. This beach town consists of murals, street performers, hip stores, and more. One of the best things to do in Venice is to rent a bike and stroll down the boardwalk!

Popular areas to see at Venice Beach are the Skate Park, Abbott Kinney Street, and Muscle Beach.

Insider tip – Venice beach has one of the most beautiful sunsets!

Take a bike ride down the Venice Boardwalk with 3 days in Los Angeles

Watch the sunset from Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California

While I love this area, one thing no one tells you is the high amount of homeless people down the stretch of the beach. It’s actually not uncommon to see tents pitched up all around the city.

It’s an unfortunate issue in California right now that we can only hope gets better for those being affected. This is not to scare you in any way, it’s just so you are not surprised!

Santa Monica Pier

From Venice, head North to the Santa Monica Pier!  Enjoy snacking on ice cream and candy, letting out your inner child on the carnival rides, or even just taking a seat and people watching.

We actually rode our rented bikes from Venice. With each pedal, I counted all the reasons why we should move to LA lol.

Add the Santa Monica Pier to Your Itinerary with 3 Days in Los Angeles

Runyon Canyon Hike

Runyon Canyon was one of our favorite places we visited in LA. If you enjoy taking short hikes, make sure to add Runyon Canyon to your 3 days itinerary in Los Angeles!

The best time to go is in the morning or late afternoon when it’s not as hot.  Parking can be somewhat difficult since this is one of the most popular places to go hiking in LA. Even celebrities regularly hike here and are spotted often!

View the Hollywood Hills from Runyon Canyon Park
Hollywood Hills from Runyon Canyon
See Downtown Los Angeles Skyline from Runyon Canyon
Couple taking IG Photos with Downtown LA in the Background

Day 3 – Road Trip to Malibu

We have made it to the 3rd and final day of your Los Angeles itinerary. If the weather is nice during your visit to LA, I would highly recommend taking a road trip to Malibu!

An optional idea is to check out Disneyland, Universal Studios, and CityWalk in Hollywood. Since I grew up in Florida and visited these theme parks often growing up, we opted for a road trip to Malibu’s beaches instead.

Day Trip to Malibu

From Los Angeles, driving to Malibu takes around 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic. The views are absolutely incredible as you make your way up the Pacific Coast Highway!

For a quick bite to eat in Malibu, check out Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe. They are known for having excellent seafood!

Insider Tip: All Below Malibu beaches require you to climb down the cliff.

Big Dume Beach in Malibu California
Big Dume Beach in Malibu California

Big Dume Beach and Point Dume State Beach

One of the best things to do in Malibu is to visit their beaches. Malibu beaches are unique in that they are situated below large cliffs! From photos, it looks like you could even be in Portugal.

We started our Malibu beach trip at Big Dume and hiked down to Point Dume beach. Both beaches were pretty quiet making it super relaxing! Point Dume also has walking trails along the coast.

Address: Cliffside Dr & Birdview Ave, Malibu, CA 90265

Point Dume Beach in Malibu, California
Point Dume Beach in Malibu, California

El Matador Beach (Robert Meyer Memorial State Beach)

Next, we headed to the famous El Matador beach. Locals call it the Instagram beach since it’s always packed with people doing photoshoots. I totally get why since the beach has beautiful views and this really cool rock cave.

However, if you prefer quiet beaches, this is not the beach for you.

Address: 32350 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

Lookout from El Matador Beach

El Matador Beach at Sunset
El Matador Beach at Sunset

Other things to do in Malibu

Aside from hitting the Malibu beaches, you can stroll down the boardwalk, enjoy a handful of really nice hikes, or even check out some of the local beach bars!

Where To Eat Los Angeles

For those who know me, breakfast food,  pizza, and anything involving a lot of cheese is my go-to when eating. Below are some places we enjoyed the most!

Blu Jam Cafe: Located in the trendy Melrose neighborhood, their breakfast was absolutely amazing! We got french toast and eggs benedict and it was out of this world. Their menu also focuses on being sustainable.  They have 4.5 stars on Google with over 1.6k reviews so clearly I’m not the only one raving about them.

The Griddle Cafe: If you are a pancake lover, you have to check this spot out! I kid you not, the pancakes were larger than my head and they have the most creative dessert pancakes I’ve ever heard of!

Eggslut: If you are looking to grab a quick breakfast sandwich, check out Eggslut. We didn’t try the location in LA, but I lived at Eggslut during my trip to Vegas. It is basically equivalent to In-and-Out, but for Breakfast =)

Diddy Riese: Get Ice cream sandwiches and cookies from Diddy Riese! Don’t be surprised if this place has a line, it’s worth it though!

Blu Jam Cafe french toast in Los Angeles
Blu Jam Cafe french toast
The Griddle Cafe Pancake in Los Angeles
The Griddle Cafe’s delicious Pancakes
Blu Jam Cafe Eggs Benedict in Los Angeles
Blu Jam Cafe Eggs Benedict

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

We were lucky to stay with family during our visit, however, if we did not, we usually check hotels with booking.com or Hotels.com.

The 3 most popular areas to stay in Los Angeles is Hollywood (attractions), Beverly Hills (luxury), and Santa Monica (more beachy vibes).

Sunset at El Matador in Malibu, California
Sunset at El Matador in Malibu, California

Additional Things to do in Los Angeles

3 days gives you plenty of time to see a lot of LA, however, you can’t cover the whole city in this amount of time. Los Angeles definitely left us wanting more along with the rest of California!

If you have more than 3 days in Los Angeles or additional time on your itinerary here are more top attractions in Los Angeles!


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Best things to do in LA in 3 days California Itinerary

22 thoughts on “3 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary – A Perfect LA Guide”

  1. El Matador is good, as is Zuma Beach. But wwGetty Center is the best place to visit in Los Angeles. And don’t forget Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Olvera Street, Little Tokyo, and City Hall Tower.

    • Thank you so much for adding some additional places! I am hoping to make it back soon to explore more of what LA has to offer!

  2. This is an awesome itinerary to los Angeles.i missed visiting during my USA trip.i will surely visit on my next trip.

  3. We’ve driven to LA a couple of times since I moved to the US and have loved every visit. But I see that I haven’t been to Egg Slut or The Griddle Cafe, which I will have to rectify the next time we visit!

  4. These are great suggestions thank you! I will be going for a second time and saw plenty of things here that I missed the first time around. Especially keen to see that view from the Observatory and a bit of Malibu!

  5. I love SoCal! I also ate at Malibu Seafood and loved it there. I totally want to go back to the LA area and explore more. 🙂

  6. These are great suggestions thank you! I will be going for a second time and saw plenty of things here that I missed the first time around. Especially keen to see that view from the Observatory and a bit of Malibu!

  7. Wow I’ve been to LA and I never got around to any of these things (except the Hollywood sign – you have to do that!). I’ll definitely need to go back to see the Pier and Malibu!


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