48 Hours In LA

If you're headed stateside and you've got 48 hours on the west coast, what better way to spend it than 48 hours in LA? We share the hotspots.

Los Angeles is a multi-faceted metropolis made up of hundreds of distinctive urban pockets. Sprawled across 500 square miles, LA’s deep-rooted communities are rich in ethnic diversity and offer many different experiences that are impossible to pack into one trip. From bohemian beach communities to Hollywood glitz and glam, get a taste of the Westside, Eastside and Downtown with a good itinerary and a hire car from LAX.

Hannah Frances is a travel writer, photographer and founder of art and travel platform Palette. She is currently based in Urbino, Italy.

Banner Image Credit: iStock.com/oneinchpunch

Day One: Morning

Los Angeles is a beautiful beast of a city which is best explored by car. That said, it’s easy to get stuck on snaking freeways, so to reduce time spent in traffic and to maximise exploration, we’re sticking to Westside and Hollywood today. Start the day in style with brunch at Malibu Farm Pier Cafe (23000 Pacific Coast Hwy) at the end of Malibu Pier.

With breathtaking ocean views and a delicious menu that uses organic produce from small farmers, this stylish spot is the perfect introduction to life on the west side. It’s a short drive back down the Pacific Coast Highway to The Getty Villa (17985 Pacific Coast Highway).

Eggs Benedict - LA food

Image Credit: iStock.com/artpritsadee

The once-private gallery of oil magnate J. Paul Getty is a replica of a Roman villa with an astonishing collection of some 44,000 ancient works and artefacts dedicated to the cultural study of ancient Rome, Greece and Etruria. Continue driving south to Venice Beach, passing the main coastal hub of Santa Monica. Venice is vibrant and bohemian with plenty of colourful characters to keep you entertained.

Head to Abbot Kinney – a two-mile stretch of independent restaurants, juice bars and boutiques that sell all things sustainable, vegan and organic – and stop for lunch at The Butchers Daughter (1205 Abbot Kinney Blvd). The vegetarian restaurant is a Pinterest favourite for it’s stylish interior and popular with locals for the freshly pressed juices and fabulous pizza.

Day One: Afternoon

Hire a bike at Venice Boardwalk Bike Rental (517 Ocean Front Walk) and navigate the skaters and rollerbladers along the infamous boardwalk. Cycle beside golden sands and enjoy the sea breeze before exploring the calmer, residential streets around the area’s secret canals. Hop back in the car and join the main drag of Sunset Boulevard, driving eastwards through Brentwood and Beverly Hills.

For a slice of Hollywood history, check-in to the Roosevelt (7000 Hollywood Boulevard). The art deco hotel held the first Academy Awards in 1929 and today is home to Hockney’s famous swimming pool and swanky ‘sleb bar Teddy’s. The Hollywood Walk of Fame, Kodak Theatre and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre are all on the doorstep here.

Hotel Roosevelt in LA

Image Credit: iStock.com/Meinzahn

On Fridays, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (known as LACMA – 5905 Wilshire Blvd) opens until 8pm. Marvel at Michael Heizer’s ‘Levitated Mass’ and Chris Burden’s assemblage of cast-iron street lamps outside before exploring the museum’s incredible collection, which spans the history of art from ancient times up to the modern day.

Day One: Evening

Walk down to Santa Monica Boulevard for a drink at Laurel Hardware (7984 Santa Monica Blvd) before dinner on the pretty patio at Little Next Door (8142 West 3rd St). The French restaurant serves up Parisian classics and has an excellent wine list. For a nightcap, The Roger Room (370 N La Cienega Blvd) is an intimate, unpretentious bar just a few blocks north on La Cienega.

Day Two: Morning

Today, it’s time to visit LA’s Eastside neighbourhoods. Over recent years, the historic heart of Downtown (affectionately known as DTLA) has experienced an exciting renaissance and the area is now home to a burgeoning culinary scene, landmark architecture and a monthly Art Walk which always draws crowds. Drive over to the leafy neighbourhood of Los Feliz for breakfast this morning. Square One (4854 Fountain Ave) is a hip spot in the shadow of the Scientology complex with a lovely courtyard and pancakes that are mouthwateringly good.

Hollywood Walk of Fame in LA

Image Credit: iStock.com/ViewApart

Continue along Fountain to Sunset Boulevard, which curls southwards from its east-west trajectory on this side of town. You’ll pass through hipster-clad Silverlake, where you can find a great coffee at Intelligentsia (3922 Sunset Blvd) and browse beautiful clothing, accessories and homewares at Mohawk General Store (4011 Sunset Blvd). Cross the iconic fourth street bridge into downtown. Downtown is more pedestrian-friendly than the rest of the city, so park up for the afternoon in one of the area’s signposted parking lots.

Day Two: Afternoon

Next door to Frank Gehry’s signature Walt Disney Concert Hall is the city’s newest contemporary art museum. The Broad (221 S Grand Ave) is recognisable from its cutting-edge exterior that resembles a cheese grater. Inside, admission is free and you can enjoy works from the likes of Warhol, Twombly and Koons.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Image Credit: iStock.com/tupungato

Around the corner, the counters at Grand Central Market (317 S Broadway) offer an incredible choice of international lunch options. From old-timey favourites with dusty neon signs to hip newcomers such as the ever-popular Eggslut, you can prop up the bar and dive into a hearty ramen, a platter of oysters or a juicy currywurst. Nearby, The Last Bookstore (453 S Spring St) is a beautiful bookshop with a vast selection of new and used books, a sizeable $1 section and gorgeous historic features – the towering marble columns hark back to the building’s days as a bank. You could easily while away an hour or two here.

Day Two: Evening

The best views of the Downtown skyline are to be found at Perch (448 South Hill Street), whose rooftop bar is perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail. For dinner, book a table at Downtown stalwart Bottega Louie (700 S Grand Ave). The elegant restaurant has a stunning, lofty interior, and although known for its exquisite desserts (save room!), the Italian menu never disappoints. For a convincing speakeasy-style bar, the Edison (108 West Second Street), Seven Grand (515 West Seventh Street), and The Varnish (118 East Sixth Street) are all hard to beat for late night drinks.

Longer trip?

Visit Paradise Cove and The Malibu Winery in Malibu, hike the Hollywood hills in Runyon Canyon, catch a Lakers game at the Staples Centre and head east to explore Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park

Related articles