Art and Adventure: How to Spend Three Days in Los Angeles

An early rise for a hike to Griffith Observatory is rewarded with beautiful LA views
An early rise for a hike to Griffith Observatory is rewarded with beautiful LA views | © Daniel Kim Photography / Stocksy

Three days in Los Angeles will always be a whirlwind affair. Hike semi-urban trails for city views, paddleboard along the Venice Canals, sample global cuisines at Grand Central Market – there are endless opportunities for surprise during your next Los Angeles adventure. To help you make the most of your time, we’ve curated an itinerary packed with all the ingredients necessary for an unforgettable vacation.

What is the best way to travel in LA?

Most travelers prefer to fly into the main air hub, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). And while renting a vehicle is always advisable when visiting the second-largest city in the US, recent improvements in public transport have made this great metropolis easier to navigate than ever before. Cab and ride-sharing services also offer a relatively inexpensive and convenient alternative – especially if you’re planning an evening of cocktails and care-free revelry.

Day one

Check in to a beach bungalow-inspired hotel

A light-and-airy lounge at Hotel June with wooden venetian blinds, sofa seating, and plenty of potted plants
Courtesy of Hotel June
Hotel June has the perfect address for an urban adventure – it’s a short distance from LAX and only 4mi (6.4km) from Venice Beach. Inside the 250-room property – designed in the 1960s and revamped in 2020 – is a beach-chic aesthetic, bright and airy communal spaces, and rooms featuring plush Italian linens, white oak beds and Aesop toiletries. On the rooftop deck is a heated outdoor pool, firepits for cozy gatherings under the stars, and a poolside restaurant with a Baja-inspired menu, serving spicy cauliflower nachos and agave nectar-infused margaritas.

Paddleboard along the Venice Canals

Architectural Landmark
One of the waterways that make up the Venice Canals, over which a small white bridge arches
© Jay De Winne / Alamy Stock Photo
The Venice Canals are among the greatest treasures in LA. Bordered by desirable abodes, the 1905-built waterways span a three-block radius interconnected by elegant bridges, reminiscent of those found in its Italian counterpart. The canals are within easy reach of Abbot Kinney Boulevard – a paradise for vegan dining, boutique shopping and people-watching – and the bustling Venice Boardwalk. Saunter away the afternoon, or rent a paddleboard and enter the water using the slope on Venice Boulevard for a memorable few hours drifting along the serene waterways. Have a few extra hours to spare? Head to the beach for a pre-booked surfing lesson or rent a bike and explore the scenic Marvin Braude Bike Trail, a 22mi (35km) paved pathway that weaves along the coast, stretching between the beaches of Will Rogers State in the north and Torrance County in the south.

Eat fresh seafood by the beach

Restaurant, Wine Bar, Seafood
A seafood platter with oysters, lobster and dips on ice
© Marc Fiorito / Stocksy
A stone’s throw from Venice Boardwalk is Dudley Market, a restaurant and wine bar where locals soak up the relaxed atmosphere and dine on freshly caught seafood. It’s helmed by Conner Mitchell, and the understated décor exudes California cool, with exposed brick walls, wooden tables and an outdoor patio with beach views. Expect to feast on succulent oysters served on the half shell, whole fried fish, gourmet burgers and seasonal vegetables, paired with a bottle from the eclectic wine list.

Day two

Hike to the Griffith Observatory

Building, Museum, Park
A hillside path flanked by foliage leads up to the white, domed Griffith Observatory
© Preappy / Stocksy
Start your day like a true Angeleno by hiking one of the semi-urban trails – an ideal excursion if you want a bird’s-eye view of LA. Go early to Griffith Park, a 30-minute drive from Hotel June, and hike from Ferndell to Griffith Observatory. This 2.6mi (4.1km) easy-moderate hike is perhaps one of the most picturesque and rewarding in the city. Along the way, enjoy sycamores, tropical plants, a babbling stream and unbeatable views of the Hollywood Sign and the vast cityscape.

Search for hidden gems at a flea market

Market
A woman shops at a flea market, behind her is a rack of furry coats and a sign reading "All Vintage"
© Jayme Burrows / Stocksy.com
While LA might be known for retail destinations such as Rodeo Drive and Century City, the flea and vintage markets here offer some of the most exciting shopping in the city. Mingle with vintage sellers, emerging designers and bargain hunters at Los Feliz Flea, a free-to-attend market held each Saturday from 11am to 5pm in a trendy neighborhood bordering Griffith Park. Although it’s much more intimate than the sprawling Rose Bowl Flea Market, there are still plenty of treasures among the overflowing piles of vintage denim, stacks of vinyl records and assorted bric-a-brac. The market also has free parking and multiple food and beverage options if you need refreshments while shopping.

Bar hop in Los Feliz

Restaurant, American, $$$
A whisky sour cocktail on a wooden table next to a brown clutch bag with a golden strap
© Martí Sans / Stocksy
For a taste of Old Hollywood, step back in time at The Dresden in Los Feliz, an LA landmark since 1954. The dimly lit lounge is the perfect setting for an evening of live music and drinks. You won’t regret trying the signature Blood and Sand cocktail, a blended rum-based concoction with tropical fruits. Or for heartier fare, enjoy an old-fashioned American grill dinner in the adjacent dining room. Other nearby spots to bookmark for the evening include Bar Covell for wine tasting and Pinky’s for cocktails and dancing.

Day three

Eat like royalty at Grand Central Market in Downtown LA

Market, American, Dim Sum, Seafood, Street Food, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free
Tourists and locals peruse the restaurant outlets at Grand Central Market with neon signs overhead
© Julie Edwards / Alamy Stock Photo
Grand Central Market is the foremost food destination in LA. Only a block from the Pershing Square metro station, it’s at the center of one of the most up-and-coming districts in the city. It has more than 40 vendors and tightly packed stalls serve freshly made pasta, cheese, and mouthwatering carnitas. Whether you grab a piping hot bowl of vegan ramen from Ramen Hood or hop in line for one of the coveted breakfast sandwiches at Eggslut (made with eggs scrambled to perfection), your taste buds will not be disappointed.

Explore the burgeoning Arts District

Architectural Landmark
The white-and-blue façade of the Hauser & Wirth art gallery has a grand, arched entrance and cactuses in front
© Debbie Eckert / Alamy Stock Photo
The crown jewel of Downtown LA is arguably the Arts District, a neighborhood brimming with galleries, boutiques and restaurants, just a short drive or cycle from Grand Central Market. Make your way to the LA outpost of Hauser & Wirth upon arrival. The gallery, housed in a former flour mill, spans more than 100,000sqft (9,290sqm) and features exhibition spaces, an open-air courtyard, restaurant, and a public garden with herb beds and a chicken coop. After an afternoon of culture, make your last stop Perch, a rooftop restaurant and bar with some of the best views of Downtown LA. Reserve a table on their outdoor deck for dinner and bask in the last of the day’s sunshine, accompanied by a cocktail or bottle of wine.

Find out more and start planning your trip now by visiting discoverlosangeles.com

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