How to spend 48 hours in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a popular city for a weekend break - whether it’s a stopover on the way to the Pacific Ocean or Asia, or as part of wider Western America road trip. Thing is though, it’s a big city and it can feel like a mammoth task planning how to see as much of it as possible in two days. So we’ve done it for you. Including where to stop for lunch and dinner, and how to get around the city.
Arriving in LA
Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX, is located southeast of the city, about 15 miles from downtown and 20 miles from the San Fernando Valley. There’s an Airport Bus that connects the airport to three stops in LA: Van Nuys, located in the Valley; Westwood, about halfway between Santa Monica and Beverly Hills; and Union Station in downtown LA. These buses usually don’t cost more than $10 per person, but they only take debit and credit cards. Alternatively you can get a cab at the airport, which will cost more but can drop you at your hotel door step (and ready to start your 48 hours!).
Time to rise and shine and beat the queues, because we’re heading north to Universal Studios Hollywood™. There’s a full day of adventure to be had here, including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, King Kong 360 3D, Springfield U.S.A, The Walking Dead Attraction, and (of course) the world-famous Studio Tour.
When it’s time for lunch you’ll be spoilt for choice with real-life replicas of fictional places – such as Three Broomsticks™, Moe’s Tavern, and Jurassic Café. You can also head into City Walk, where you’ll find restaurants, cinemas and souvenir shops.
Transport links: the Los Angeles Metro can drop you right outside Universal Studios Hollywood™ if you take the Red Line and get off at the Universal City/Studio City station.
It might take you a full day to get around Universal Studios Hollywood™ but if you do make it out within the afternoon, head over to Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood (which is less than a ten-minute drive away). On the tour, you’ll come across outdoor sets and soundstages used to create productions such as The Big Bang Theory, Pretty Little Liars, La La Land, Argo, and Gilmore Girls.
Studio Tour guests will also stop at the DC Universe - DC Comics Exhibit, the real Central Perk Friends set, and the original Batman Museum - Batmobile Collection.
Side note: working your way through both Universal Studios Hollywood™ and Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood will be tight, but it’s not impossible if you book tickets in advance and plan which attractions you want to see.
Before you head back into Central LA stop by the Griffith Observatory, which is open until 10pm. This art deco landmark from 1935 features a high-tech planetarium, public telescopes and some of the best views of Los Angeles (including the famous Hollywood sign).
Transport link: hailing a cab is your best way to get from Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood to the Griffith Observatory, though you can take a scenic 2-hour walk through Griffith Park. When you’re finished, The Griffith Observatory is an hour’s walk from Sunset Boulevard and there is a bus between the Observatory and the Vermont/Sunset Metro Red Line Metro Station.
Los Angeles is celebrated for its nightlife, and there are plenty of places to choose from. Though the Downtown Arts District in the east of the city is definitely LA’s neighbourhood of the moment. It’s an industrial district turned chic nightlife epicentre, and home to delicious restaurants like Bestia, the inspiring Hauser & Wirth Gallery, and a bevy of breweries. In the wider Downtown District, you’ll also find several nightclubs to party away in until the early hours.
Saturday’s itinerary was quite adventurous, but don’t worry because Sunday is more relaxed. Head out to The J. Paul Getty Museum in Bel Air, one of the world's largest arts organisations. Its collection includes Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art from the Neolithic to Late Antiquity. As well as European art—including illuminated manuscripts, paintings, drawings, sculpture, and decorative arts—from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century. Take a slow wander around the decorated halls to wake yourself up.
Transport links: this is up a hill with not much else around it, so we recommend booking a taxi, Lyft, or Uber.
Make your way back into the city, firstly stopping off in Beverly Hills. Even if this area is out of your price range, it’s still well-worth a visit to admire the lavish boutiques, take a picture with the iconic Beverley Hills sign, stop by the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM, and book a tour of the most extravagant houses in LA.
There are also a lot of restaurants in Beverley Hills to choose from, including Mastro’s Steakhouse, The Cheesecake Factory, and Ocean Prime.
Afterwards, head up to Hollywood Boulevard and find your favourite stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Then explore some of the nearby landmarks such as the Hollywood Wax Museum®, Museum of Death, and the Capitol Records Building.
Transport links: there are no direct buses or metro line between the Getty Museum and Beverley Hills and Hollywood so we recommend getting a taxi, Lyft, or an Uber (which will take little over 10 minutes).
While you’re in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, you have to catch a show. This is the home of showbiz after all! Along Sunset Boulevard you’ll find several famous venues – from the Laugh Factory for comedy, The Roxy Theatre for rock music, ArcLight for showing first-run movies, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre where many well-known actors and comedians started their careers, and Hollywood Palladium for the big name performers.
Have you been to Los Angeles? What attractions would you recommend to someone only in the city for 48 hours?
Edited by Morag@BarrheadTravel