A year in Los Angeles, let alone 24 hours, would never be enough time to discover the whole of it. However, a resourceful traveler can experience a whirlwind tour of art, culture, food and nightlife while still having time for all the key sights and selfies. From LAX to the beach, Hollywood, downtown L.A. and Koreatown, here’s one game plan to fit a lot of L.A. into a little time.
An early walk on the beach
Get a cup of coffee or a smoothie at one of the many purveyors of such things along the Venice Boardwalk, and take an early morning stroll beside the beach. By 7 a.m., Menotti’s Coffee and Groundwork Coffee Co. will be open. The early morning is the best time to hit the side-by-side tourist destinations known as Venice and Santa Monica, as the morning breeze is cool and your fellow travelers have yet to descend in droves. The exercise will give you pep for the day, and you can’t really discover L.A. without checking out its westernmost edge.
Snag lunch on Sawtelle
Head inland and get an early lunch on Sawtelle Boulevard, an area more recently known as Japantown. There are plenty of lunch joints for filling your belly, not to mention an array of gallery spaces and fun shops. Get chicken wings at Furaibo, ramen at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle, or sushi at Sushi Tsijuta or Hide Sushi. Then poke around Tokyo Japanese Outlet for cute toys and household goods and Giant Robot Store for nerdy gifts.
See some art
Keep heading west to take in some culture in mid-Wilshire. See a piece of the Berlin Wall across from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Then cross the street to take your mandatory selfie in front of artist Chris Burden’s Urban Light sculpture, and see what’s on display at LACMA, or check out classic, unique or ludicrously expensive cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Stop by the Craft and Folk Art Museum to see fun craft and design projects from a diverse selection of artists, and conclude your whirlwind tour by taking a lap around the historic La Brea Tar Pits.
All that culture should take you to happy hour, so head to Hollywood. Start at Hollywood and Vine to get a peek at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but then head east to avoid touristy crowds that’ll slow you down. Take your obligatory photo of the Hollywood Sign from Hollywood Boulevard and Bronson Avenue before enjoying a cocktail or afternoon caffeine break. For simple drinks in one of Hollywood’s oldest dives, check out the Frolic Room. They open daily at 11 a.m., so it’s rarely too early. For a great cup of coffee, check out Rubies + Diamonds on Sunset Boulevard, where you can get a Coconut Sea Salt Cold Brew or a soothing cup of tea. If beer is more your speed, hit up Blue Palms, located right next to the historic Fonda Theater, and peruse their massive selection of craft brews. If you’re in the mood for a craft cocktail, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s is a ‘70s-themed bar offering beer, fun cocktails, and boozy snow cones. The inside looks like your cool uncle’s basement, while an outside patio is reminiscent of low-key barbecues at a friend’s.
For dinner, head downtown
Downtown Los Angeles is home to many of the city’s best restaurants. For excellent Mexican food, there’s Chef Ray Garcia’s Broken Spanish. If you’re interested in French cuisine in a gorgeous space, swing by Le Petit Paris, which sits in the lobby of a former Art Deco hotel. Visit Miro, which features a whiskey bar in the basement lounge, for sublime pasta and Italian fare. For something more casual, try Clifton’s, where guests choose their meals from a cafeteria full of American comfort food, pizza, and desserts. Enjoy your dinner on one of Clifton’s elaborately themed floors, and feel free to explore as the massive space features hidden caves and other enchanting surprises.
Nightcap and sleep
It’s getting late, so swing back over to Koreatown and enjoy some late-night karaoke or live music at one of the neighborhood’s many watering holes. Brass Monkey always pulls a big crowd for karaoke, or check out Mama Lion, a supper club offering creative cocktails and a diverse menu featuring a variety of global cuisines.
There are plenty of places to crash in Koreatown too. Chic hotel The Line offers elegant rooms plus a cute rooftop pool with an adjacent restaurant and bar, while The Normandie Hotel boasts a smart cocktail bar with yet another cocktail bar hidden within. For a quieter stay, there’s always the casual and affordable Garden Suite Hotel.
A goodbye breakfast
Before you leave, stop by Bia Coffee to score a pastry and a rose- or lavender-infused latte, made from syrups that are infused with flowers for three days at a time. If you have time for a relaxed breakfast, you can stop by République. A brunch and breakfast favorite, this French-style eatery offers thick cuts of bacon, splendid egg dishes, and unbelievable pastries. With a full stomach and a clear head, it’s back to LAX and onto the next adventure.