How to Spend 24 Hours in Los Angeles

You can't visit Los Angeles without checking out Venice Beach
You can't visit Los Angeles without checking out Venice Beach | © Jon Bilous / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of K Santos
26 June 2019

While 24 hours in Los Angeles will never be enough time to discover everything this Californian metropolis has to offer, a day’s stopover is a chance to get a taste of the culture, food and nightlife that make this eclectic city so exciting. From beach walks to karaoke in Koreatown, here’s our guide on how to spend 24 hours in LA.

A beach walk from Venice to Santa Monica

Bohemian Venice Beach is undoubtedly a must-visit attraction on any trip to LA. Start your day with a cup of coffee or a smoothie on the Venice Boardwalk, and take an early morning stroll beside the beach. By 7am, Menotti’s Coffee and Groundwork Coffee Co. will be open. Enjoy the fresh sea air as you walk north from Venice to check out the iconic Santa Monica pier.

Venice Beach, Los Angeles | © Greg Balfour Evans / Alamy Stock Photo

Savor Japanese cuisine on Sawtelle

Head inland for an early lunch on Sawtelle Boulevard, also known as Sawtelle Japantown or Little Osaka (not to be confused with Little Tokyo, which is further east). Get some sustenance for the afternoon ahead at one of the many lunch joints – try chicken wings at Furaibo, ramen at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle, or sushi at Sushi Tsujita or Hide Sushi – before exploring the area’s array of shopping and cultural opportunities. Browse Tokyo Japanese Outlet for cute toys and household goods and Giant Robot Store for quirky gifts, or discover Asian-American pop culture and design at GR2 Art Gallery. Green-fingered visitors might like to head over to the Yamaguchi Bonsai Nursery, to discover the art of Japanese bonsai.

Head to one of the many Japanese restaurants to indulge in some ramen | © Supparsorn Wantarnagon / Alamy Stock Photo

Take in modern art and archaeology in Mid-Wilshire

Keep heading west to take in some culture in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood. See a piece of the Berlin Wall across from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) before crossing 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. Alternatively, check out classic, unique or ludicrously expensive cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Stop by the Craft and Folk Art Museum to see craft and design projects from a diverse selection of artists and even take part in a workshop, and conclude your whirlwind tour by taking a lap around the historic La Brea Tar Pits – the world’s only active, urban Ice Age excavation site. What’s more, it’s free!

Check out Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) | © Jessica Long / Alamy Stock Photo

Happy hour in the shadow of the Hollywood sign

All that culture should take you through to happy hour, so head over to Hollywood. Start at Hollywood and Vine to get a peek at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but then head east to avoid being slowed down by crowds of tourists. 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 11am, 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 thing, hit up Blue Palms, located right next to the historic Fonda Theater, and peruse their massive selection of craft brews. Or if you’re in the mood for a craft cocktail, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s is a ’70s-themed bar offering innovative drinks and boozy snow cones.

The Frolic Room bar is one of Los Angeles’ oldest watering holes | © Robert Landau / Alamy Stock Photo

Head downtown for dinner

Downtown Los Angeles is home to many of the city’s best restaurants, along with simply being a must-visit neighborhood for a day in LA. For excellent Mexican food, there’s Chef Ray Garcia’s Broken Spanish, or if you’re interested in French cuisine, be sure to swing by Le Petit Paris. This upscale dining spot sits in the lobby of a former Art Deco hotel, and is worth a look for its aesthetic alone. Visit Miro, which features a whiskey bar in the basement lounge, for sublime pasta and other Italian fare. For something more casual, try legendary diner The Pantry, where guests can enjoy old-school American comfort food around the clock.

Explore the bars and restaurants of Downtown Los Angeles | © Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

Nightcap and karaoke in Koreatown

An evening in LA is a chance to get a taste of the city’s buzzing nightlife. It’s getting late, so swing down to Koreatown to 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, while The Venue offers private karaoke rooms – ideal if singing is not exactly your forte. Alternatively, check out which acts are performing at The Wiltern, a stunning concert hall famed for its Art Deco design.

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 stylish cocktail bar with yet another cocktail bar hidden within. For a less extravagant stay, there’s the casual and affordable Garden Suite Hotel.

Tove Lo showing at the Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles | © The Photo Access / Alamy Stock Photo

A goodbye breakfast

Before you leave, stop by Bia Coffee to score a pastry and a rose- or lavender-infused latte, made with handmade flower syrups. 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, decadent egg dishes and unbelievable pastries. After a packed 24 hours in LA, it’s back to LAX and on to the next adventure.

Stop off for a quick coffee before you jet off to your next destination | © CAN KAYA / Alamy Stock Photo

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