Los Angeles is a city so spread apart, that it could take several visits just to get oriented. Take advantage of a car service to get you to and from each destination refreshed and ready.
It’s worth noting that Los Angeles’ is constant and relentless, so if you truly only do have a couple hours to spare, we would recommend something from our list which is close by so you can really make the most of your free time!
1. The Getty Museum
The art inside is impressive and worth seeing, but it’s the actual 110-acre venue itself that makes a trip here a must-do for a visitor to LA. The Getty Center complex — drenched in 1.2-million square feet of Travertine to catch the light just so — is perched atop a hill within the Santa Monica Mountains boasting sweeping views of the surrounding city and the Pacific. Try joining one of the daily architecture tours or one focused on the impressive Central Garden while you’re there. Admission and tours are free.
2. Santa Monica Farmers Market
We’ve all heard the stories about all the LA chefs shopping at the Santa Monica Farmers Market and truth be told, they actually do. Downtown Santa Monica’s majorly massive market is indeed full of wandering white coats. This is especially true on Wednesday mornings when the offerings are even more vast than the Saturday version. If you can dream it, and it’s in season, you’ll find it here — from obscure winter greens to fleeting spring ramps to heirloom beans. It’s a beautiful place to roam and explore while celebrity chef spotting (for your foodies out there).
3. Venice Boardwalk
If you haven’t seen the Venice Boardwalk in movies and television shows, you’ve been missing out on some pretty obscure beach footage that’s been exploited in countless films and TV shows. Either way, the Venice Boardwalk is just as cool as you could imagine with a wild scene all day long, every day, all year long. Muscle Beach, head shops, trinket hawkers, a skate park, street performers, guys riding bikes in Speedos, it’s all there. Just accept it for what it is, take some photos and check it off your list. Everyone has to experience it at least once.
4. Grand Central Market
Downtown’s Grand Central Market has been around for more than a century but it has recently undergone some major gentrification as downtown Los Angeles is now one of the hottest spots to live within the city. Look forward to the “cuisines and cultures of LA,” including classic old-school stalls like China Café, famous for its wonton soup, and Latin grocer Chiles Secos. Grand Central Market is a fascinating place to visit. While you’re down there, take some time to walk around downtown. It’s changed drastically from what it once was.
5. Botanical Gardens
The 120-acre botanical gardens at Huntington Library is made up of a bunch of different gardens in one. These include Japanese gardens with bonsai trees, bridges, and tea houses. Find a glass-covered conservatory, an area dedicated to desert fauna and succulents, and ancillary gardens filled with roses, herbs, jungle plants, and much more. Admission is to the whole Huntington complex which means you might as well visit the fabled Huntington Library. This boasts art galleries and special exhibitions.
6. City Hall’s Rooftop
It’s no Empire State Building but LA’s City Hall once was the tallest building in the city. The 27th-floor observation deck of Los Angeles City Hall is open to the public Monday to Friday and provides 360-degree views of the city for free. If you happen to be in the downtown area, it’s a great add-on stop, but keep in mind that it does close at 5pm.
7. Hit The Beach
How could we talk about LA and not mention the beaches? LA is literally lined with some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Selecting one to choose from depends on exactly what you are looking for, and your location. Looking for miles of pro volleyball courts and plenty of fun bars ready to host you? Head to the South Bay. Santa Monica is the place for tons of pristine sand surrounded by family-friendly activities including a pier full of rides. Malibu has small patches of rocky beach surrounded by some of the most stunning homes LA has to offer. If you feel like seeing them all, grab a bike and hit the 22-mile trail that runs from Torrance in the South Bay up to swanky Pacific Palisades just south of Malibu.
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