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Los Angeles Itinerary 5 days: A Mix and Match Itinerary

Here is the perfect Los Angeles itinerary 5 Days as a mix-and-match itinerary. We’ve included all the top things to see in Los Angeles but we call it the perfect Los Angeles itinerary because it is practical and flexible.

All the best things to do are grouped together geographically, to save you time backtracking. Mix and match according to your interests and the time you have, and how you’re feeling on the day.

Each day stands independently and provides a great Los Angeles experience on its own.

While everyone tells you that you need a car in LA, we did this itinerary without one. Read on and see how it went!

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How long do you need to see Los Angeles?

Deciding how long to spend visiting Los Angeles in California was difficult. At first, I thought 2-3 days would be fine, see Hollywood, visit a studio, and move on.

But the more research I did, the more I decided we needed longer.

Hollywood sign, Los Angeles, California, USA
Hollywood sign, Los Angeles, California, USA

In the end, we had five full days and we didn’t visit any of the amusement parks! If you dig a little, LA has a whole lot to entertain you beyond Disneyland.

If you hit the ground running, you can do our Los Angeles Itinerary 5 Days in four days.

But it’s very easy to fill seven days in and around Los Angeles, and if you make it to the end of the page, we will give you a bunch of extra ideas if you decide to go that way.

Los Angeles Itinerary for 5 Days

Los Angeles Itinerary Day 1: Hollywood Day

Day one is Hollywood Day.

Depending on how much of a movie fan you are this can be a full-on day of bus tours past celebrity homes and checking out the famous haunts of old Hollywood or like us you can just wander Hollywood Boulevard and visit the main sites on the strip.

Key sites today

🎥 Hollywood Boulevard

🎥 Walk of Fame

🎥 Hollywood Museum 

🎥 Grove Mall

🎥 Highland Centre

On the first day of our Los Angeles itinerary we’ll be covering all the cheesy, cliched stuff so get ready…

TCL Grauman’s Chinese Theatre 

Still a fully functioning theatre, the main drawcard is the celebrity handprints on the forecourt, and the Theatre Tour is a unique part of LA’s diverse history.

Over 200 in total, there’s Fred Astaire Marilyn Monroe, Samuel L Jackson, and Brad Pitt to name just a few. See the full list here.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles

Dolby Theatre (Kodak) – Home of the Oscars


Located in the Highland Centre, the Dolby Theatre is a good stop for those who love all things Oscars. Take the Dolby Theatre Tour (with Admission Ticket) to walk the red carpet, see a real Oscar, and learn more Oscar trivia than you can imagine.

Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA
Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA

The Hollywood Walk of Fame

Since 1958 they have been adding stars to the sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard. There are over 2500 pink tiles with movie stars and even the odd fictional stars, including the Simpsons!

Charlie Chaplin Star, Los Angeles, California, USA
Charlie Chaplin Star, Los Angeles, California, USA

There are also a few strange ones like Neil Armstrong, Mohamad Ali, and even Donald Trump!

You will find the stars spread along a 2km stretch between La Brea Avenue and Gower Street. The biggest concentration is in the section near the Highland Centre.

You can now be photographed with your own start on this Hollywood: Get Your Own Star on the Walk of Fame Experience, and you can also take a guided walk of the Walk of Fame on this walking tour.

Hollywood Museum


Looking for Hollywood memorabilia? The Hollywood Museum has the most extensive range in the world. Everything from Marilyn Munroe’s dresses to Harry Potter’s robe.

Harry Potter Robe, Hollywood Museum, Los Angeles, USA
Harry Potter Robe, Hollywood Museum, Los Angeles, USA

Tickets are a very affordable $15 for adults (and the price hasn’t gone up in years), and with 10,000 items in the collection, you are sure to find something of interest.

🍽️ Lunch

🍽️ Lunch Mel’s Drive-in, trading since 1947, offers a real diner experience just off the Boulevard. But sometimes, you just need an In-N-Out Burger.

We made a b-line for In and Out and ordered off the secret menu
In-N-Out Burger, Los Angeles, California, USA

If you think you will need a bit of a rest by now why not book an afternoon celebrity bus tour.

Hollywood and Highland Shopping Centre

Along with a bunch of shops, cafes, and restaurants are some viewing platforms for photographing the Hollywood sign. It’s an excellent angle and saves the hassle of heading out specifically to get that shot.

Elvis and charlie coffee break in Los Angeles, California, USA
Elvis and Charlie coffee break in Los Angeles, California, USA

🍽️ Dinner

🍽️ Dinner – The Grove Shopping Centre and the Farmers Market

We arrived in November and were delighted to find Christmas decorations were already up and sparling. We headed to the Grove to check them out and ended up at the Cheesecake Factory for dinner.

Tip: serving sizes here are beyond generous – one plate will feed three regular appetites! If you want to visit the Farmer’s Market arrive by mid-afternoon.

Los Angeles Itinerary Day 2: Down Town Los Angeles Day

Finally, Downtown Los Angeles Day, or DTLA as you may see it written. I had been looking forward to this because I had watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Part’s Unknown and he sold it so well.

Key sites today

🎥 Grand Central Market

🎥 Last Bookstore

🎥 The Grammy’s Museum or The Broad of Koreatown

🎥 LCMA

🎥 Griffith Observatory

We started the day by taking the red line metro from Hollywood/Highland Stop to Pershing Square.

There is a Farmer’s Market in Pershing Park on Wednesday.

Leave the station and head along South Olive Street to Angel’s Flight – The world’s shortest railway where $1 will get you 300m down the hill.

Much more use for the return trip but we just grabbed a photo from the bottom and walked on.

Angel’s Flight’s 300m (super cheap with a TAP metro card) in downtown Los Angeles, USA
Angel’s Flight’s 300m (super cheap with a TAP metro card) in downtown Los Angeles, USA

From here it’s a six-minute walk to Grand Central Market where you will be spoiled for choice for your breakfast meal.

🍽️ Dinner

Egg Slut is the most famous, but we ended up going for a bagel from Wexler’s Deli, which was delicious.

If you’re a foodie, you might like to swap in the perfectly rated Downtown Los Angeles Food Tour. It has a perfect 5/5 rating on Viator from 380 reviews! It only takes 2 hours and it includes Grand Central market.

The salmon bagel from Wexler’s in downtown Los Angeles was one of the best we've had
Wexler’s Deli, Downtown Los Angeles, California, USA

Once you have eaten head across the road and check out the Bradbury Building, it’s most famous for being one of the locations of the 1982 classic Blade Runner.

Even if you are not a fan of the movie, the building is stunning.

Take a quick look at the stunning ironwork in the Bradbury Building in Downtown LA, California, USA
Ironwork on the Bradbury Building, Downtown Los Angeles, California, USA

Last Bookstore

Next up on our Los Angeles itinerary is of my favorite spots in Los Angeles, the Last Bookstore. The largest new and used store of its type.

If you have spent any time on Instagram checking out Los Angeles, you would have seen some of the fantastic displays in this shop.

Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, California, USA
Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, California, USA

Decision time – Music, Modern Art, or Koreatown?

The Last Bookstore is about halfway between each of these museums, and if you jump in some rideshares or move quickly you might be able to do both, but I would make a choice and just visit one.

Grammy Museum

If you don’t want to walk from the bookstore just jump on one of the buses that run along South Olive Street (14,70,76,78,96)

🍽️ LUNCH

It’s a short walk from the Grammy Museum to your suggested lunch stop at the Original Pantry. This diner claims to have been open with at least one customer in place every day since 1950!

The Broad, Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles, California, USA
The Broad, Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles, California, USA

If you prefer art to music, then consider booking a ticket to The Broad. This contemporary art museum is free, but bookings are required.

Founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad and houses the owner’s personal collection of 2000 works of postwar and contemporary art. There are also regular visiting exhibitions and programs.

KoreaTown

If neither of these options grab you, I suggest you check out the diverse and fascinating neighborhood of KoreaTown. Downtown LA has changed enormously over the last 10 years and is a lot funkier now.

It’s a 9 min share ride along W 8th Street from the Original Pantry to Koreatown.

Trip Anthropologist
Koreatown, Los Angeles, California, USA

This densely populated area, spanning roughly three square miles, is located between Eighth Street and Olympic Boulevard from east to west and between Harvard and Western Avenues from north to south.

Its bustling streets are dotted with a diverse range of shops and restaurants including family-owned Korean barbecue joints, sleek karaoke bars, 24-hour spas, and trendy boutiques.

There’s also distinctive architecture in this neighborhood, like the Art Deco-style Chapman Plaza.

Time to make another choice – do you want to see more art or would your rather a hike from Griffith Observatory to the Hollywood Sign?

If you have a car, on the way to your last stop of the day, drive to Lake Hollywood Park where you will get a fantastic view without much of a crowd- no walking required.

Griffith Observatory and Planetarium

Griffith Observatory is high in the Hollywood Hills on Mount Hollywood.

Along with a fabulous planetarium that has featured in dozens of films and TV shows this is the spot for the best view out over Los Angeles.

The best way to explore the Griffith Observatory is with a Private Tour of Griffith Observatory. (Tip: ask for the incredible Estevan when you book!)

Hollywood sign from Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, USA
Hollywood sign from Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, USA

There is also a view of the Hollywood sign. The easiest way to get here is to rideshare, although you can take a shuttle from the nearest metro.

Try to aim your visit to Griffith Observatory for the late afternoon because this is one of the best places in Los Angeles to watch the sunset and we think it’s a “must-do” on any Los Angeles itinerary.

The building itself also looks great at twilight.

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, California, USA
Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, California, USA

If you head here earlier in the day, you might like to take a hike to the Hollywood Sign after you have explored the planetarium.

Called the Mt. Hollywood Trail, it’s a pretty easy walk that takes an average walker about 75 minutes, but you can just stop when you have the view you need.

Just be aware that there is no transport from the sign, so you need to walk back to the planetarium to get home.

If you don’t want to do it alone, there’s a fantastic walking tour to the sign that takes 2.5 hours. It has a perfect rating of 5/5 from more than 1386 reviews. Read more about The Official Hollywood Sign Walking Tour in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Itinerary Day 3: Studio and Nature

There are four studio tours and Admission Tickets to choose from Warner Bros., Universal, Sony, and Paramount Pictures. It’s probably best to decide after reading descriptions of each.

Key sites today

🎥 Warner Bros Studio Tour

Warner Bros Studio Tour

We decided on the 2-3 hour Warner Bros Studio Tour because it included most of our family’s favorite shows including Friends, The Gilmore Girls, Pretty Little Liars, and the exhibits in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Trip Anthropologist
Warner Bros Studios, (Gilmore Girls filmed here), Los Angeles, California, USA

Tip: Be sure to carry a photo id as you may need it when you check-in!

We booked for the first tour of the day at 9 am. From Hollywood and Highland, you can take a bus which stops a couple of minutes away.

As well as the backlot tour we got to tour the Pretty Little Liar’s sound stage.

Pose for a photo on the Friends sofa, Central Perk Set, Los Angeles, USA
Pose for a photo on the Friends sofa, Central Perk Set, Los Angeles, USA

After the official tour is over, you have plenty of time to explore the Harry Potter, Batmobile Connection, and Friends Central Perk set.

Runyon Canyon

So if you have been eating your body weight in fast food, you might need some exercise. We didn’t do this, but we think you should! Check out the advice on this hiking page.

View from the top of Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles, California, US
View from the top of Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles, California, US

If this is not your thing perhaps head out to the Getty Museum by tram or rideshare.

There is a phenomenal tour called Demystifying Art at The Getty which you can purchase for 1, 1.5, or 2 hrs – they all have perfect 5/5 star reviews. The 2 hr tour is the most popular.

Los Angeles Itinerary Day 4: Shopping Day or Disneyland

Key sites today

🎥 Citadel Outlet Centre

🎥 Union Station

🎥 Olivera St, or

🎥 Disneyland

Day four for us was shopping day, we were stocking up on travel goods and electronics but check out all the other things to do at the bottom of the article if shopping’s not your thing.

If I had small children, I would be spending today in Disneyland.

TOP 2 DISNEYLAND TICKETS

Trip Anthropologist
Los angeles itinerary 5 days: a mix and match itinerary 32

My daughter had decided on Citadel Outlet Centre. She had this on the very top of her list, 130 stores in an outdoor mall with a few restaurants. It’s open daily from 10 am to 9 pm.

At the time of our visit, they offered a free shuttle bus from Union Station so we made use of this.

I am not sure if the Citadel Express which leaves from Union Station Gateway Plaza is free, but it is the quickest way to get there.

If you’re planning on driving, The LA VIP Shopping Day is only $30 and includes Valet Parkign and use of the Lounge at the Citadel Outlet Ventre.

After 2 hours of shopping our credit cards could take no more and we grabbed lunch at a cheesy-themed diner on-site.

We had by now discovered that in LA, two dinner meals fed four of us and it was a pretty economical way to eat!

Union Station

We headed back to Union Station, taking some time to look around the station because she is a beauty. Opened in 1939, the art deco features are lovely and mixed with several other architectural styles.

The waiting room is the nicest I have seen in any train station on our travels.

Union_Station,_John_&_Donald_Parkinson,_Architects_1939, Union Station Waiting Room Credit: MichaelJLocke
Union Station Waiting Room, Los Angeles, California, USA, Credit: MichaelJLocke

Across the road from the station is El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument.

This is the place where back in September 1781, eleven families of pobladores arrived here to establish a pueblo which became today’s City of Los Angeles.

Olvera Street performers

From here you can see Olvera Street, which is home to some of the city’s oldest buildings and the Olvera St Market. Plenty of Mexican handcrafts and more tacos than you can eat. Allow about an hour to explore.

There is plenty more to explore here, and if you are lucky enough to be here on the weekend, as we were, there are often concerts and dancing in the park.

El Pueblo del Los Angeles Historical, Monument, Olvera Street, Los Angeles, USA
El Pueblo del Los Angeles Historical, Monument, Olvera Street, Los Angeles, USA

We were in hardcore shopping mode by now so headed to Santee Alley and The LA Fashion District. We got our tips from the LA Girl blog.

I would only advise this if you are traveling with a shopping-loving daughter. Everyone else should just find a bar in Olvera Street and stay put enjoying the music and drinks!

If Mexican food is not your thing, you might want to jump in a rideshare and head over to Chinatown which is nearby.

Los Angeles Itinerary Day 5: Santa Monica Pier & Venice Beach Day

Key sites today

🎥 Beverly Hills

🎥 Santa Monica Pier

🎥 Venice Beach

Beverly Hills


We started the last day of our Los Angeles holiday with a bus ride to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive.

Choosing this as a first stop was partly because it was en route to downtown Santa Monica but also a strategic move as I knew not much would be open early.

Christmas decorations in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
Christmas decorations in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA

The number 2 bus from Sunset and Orange took about 35 minutes to reach Rodeo Drive. After a spot of window shopping and a quick coffee, we were back on the 704 bus to go explore Santa Monica.

A pleasant 40-minute trip with plenty to look at along the way. If you’d like to see the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, just keep following Rodeo Drive to Sunset Boulevard.

Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive are top itineraries on the best all-day LA sightseeing tours.

Abbott Kinney Blvd. Venice Beach

We decided to start our beach day at Venice Beach and make our way back to Santa Monica.

Trip Anthropologist
Venice Canals on the way to Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California, USA

It was an hour’s walk, so we jumped in another rideshare from Santa Monica to Abbott Kinney Blvd a street full of shops and cafes. There was a bus, but we could not be bothered waiting for it.

The area was designed by Abbot Kinney in 1905 to resemble Venice in Italy, complete with its own system of canals. This is one of LA’s historic and unique districts, and we think it’s a must-do on any Los Angeles itinerary.

If you are keen to see the Venice Canals head there before you make your way to the beach. You will find them in the back streets between Abbott Kinny and the Pacific Ocean.

If you’d rather see the area with a guide, the Venice Boardwalk & Canals Walking Tour is a two-hour walking tour that is perfect for first-timers to Venice Beach.

Muscle Beach & Venice Boardwalk

Over the past century, Venice Beach has transformed from a beach resort into a vibrant community.

The famous Venice Beach Ocean Front Walk, commonly referred to as the Venice Boardwalk, is a dynamic thoroughfare that spans about 2.5 miles along the Pacific Ocean’s sandy shores.

Oceanfront Walk, Venice Beach, Los Angeles, USA
Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach, Los Angeles, USA

The pedestrian promenade begins around the northern end at the Santa Monica city limit and continues south to the Venice Pier at Washington Boulevard.

The area is known for its street life, variety of shops and restaurants, and it’s the Boardwalk where street performers, artists, and gym-goers at the well-known Muscle Beach outdoor gym gather.

Muscle Beach has been attracting exercise lovers for decades, beginning with gymnasts back in the 1930s.

This a great place for people-watching, and you won’t notice the hour or so the walk to Santa Monica Pier will take. You can also rent a bike at Venice Beach so if you drive and park up this end that might be a good option.

Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park

If you walk about 30 minutes along the boardwalk from Venice Beach, you’ll get to Santa Monica Pier.

So many Hollywood films feature the famous Santa Monica Pier amusement park that I got a sense of déjà vu walking along to the Ferris wheel.

The famous Santa Monica Pier and its Amusement Park, Los Angeles, California, USA
The famous Santa Monica Pier and its Amusement Park, Los Angeles, California, USA

I didn’t realize it was the world’s only solar-powered Ferris Wheel.

Route 66, which starts right across the country in Chicago comes to an end here.

Route 66 Santa Monica sign at the west end of the Route, Santa MOnica, California, USA
Route 66 Santa Monica sign at the west end of the Route, Santa Monica, California, USA

And although it’s not part of our Los Angeles itinerary, we did manage to drive a small section of Route 66 on our way to Arizona a few days later.

The view from the Ferris wheel of Santa Monica- I don't do heights and I didn't go ride on the Pacific Wheel!
The view from the Ferris wheel of Santa Monica (the Pacific Wheel), Los Angeles, USA

We spent some time before sunset exploring the shops on the 3rd Street Promenade, a little too long, and almost missed the show.

Sunset at Santa Monica Beach and the Pacific Ocean, Los Angeles, California, USA
Sunset over the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica Beach, California, USA

We had intended to check out the murals in the area and had marked Lincoln Boulevard and the street art murals but we just ran out of time.

When we visit again we will spend a couple of days here. I want to stay at Shutters on the Beach.

Got more time? Ideas for more days to tack onto your Los Angeles Itinerary

🎥 Santa Barbara and Malibu

🎥 San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

🎥 Palm Springs

🎥 Universal Studios

🎥 Disneyland

🎥 Pacific Coast Highway

🎥 Get tickets to a TV show recording

🎥 Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) – This museum is possibly more famous for its outdoor installation “Urban Light” by Chris Burden

🎥 Walt Disney Concert Hall – At 111 South Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, you might be able to fit this into your DTLA Day. This beautiful Frank Gehry building is one of the most instagrammable sites in LA!

🎥 If you visit Los Angeles at Thanksgiving or Christmas time, here’s a bunch of great LA holiday season ideas.

Weather in Los Angeles

We visited in November and it was hot, like 30 Celcius most days and as we were heading to the east coast for a few weeks, we did not pack much in the way of summer clothes. Big mistake!

Los Angeles is hot for half the year and warm the rest of the year making it a great spot for a winter holiday.

Getting around Los Angeles

So as public transport advocates, we decided to try to use Public Transport here despite everyone saying it was rubbish. So how did it go? Not as bad as you might think. We had no issues and used the buses to get around.

We made it easier on ourselves by choosing a base that was well-serviced by public transport and central to several of the sites.

I found this blog post helpful in planning our use of public transport for our Los Angeles itinerary.

The metro station at Hollywood and Highland, Los Angeles, California, USA
The metro station at Hollywood and Highland, Los Angeles, California, USA

We purchased a TAP card and used it quite a bit. It’s incredibly cheap. A single trip will cost you $1.75 and covers 2 hrs of unlimited transfers to Metro rail and bus in one direction. You can also buy one-day and weekly cards.

We took the metro to Union Station to explore Olivera Street and the bus to Warner Brothers, Beverley Hills, and even Santa Monica.

You can also take the train to Santa Monica now, which will save you a packet on parking!

Parking cost about $15 so taking the bus is not always a bad idea

Los Angeles Hop on Hop Off Bus Service

If you are a fan of HOHO services the Los Angeles version offers three tours, Hollywood (15 stops), Downtown LA (14 stops) and Santa Monica (14 stops) and stops at LAX and Beverly Hills.

Hop On Hop Off StarLine Bus, Los Angeles, California, USA
Hop On Hop Off StarLine Bus, Los Angeles, California, USA

We took several rideshare trips in both Ubers and Lyfts. Sometimes it just made sense when there was no direct route between the places we were visiting.

Sign up for Lyft when you arrive, they generally shower you with coupons. We all downloaded it and took turns paying so really saved a lot.

We did eventually rent a car for our last day before heading off to Las Vegas. It was probably not the best idea to collect our car from Beverly Hills at 4.30 pm!

Where to Stay

For a family visit, we needed a room for 4 and loved our two-bedroom apartment-style room at the Hollywood Celebrity Hotel

Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles, California, USA
Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles, California, USA

Hollywood

If you are visiting without a car Hollywood, in particular, the area around Hollywood and Highland is a very good choice to use as a base for this Los Angeles 5-day itinerary. Sure it’s touristy, but it has excellent transport connections.

Buses stop outside the Highland Centre and the metro station is right underneath. It’s the red line that goes to Universal Studios and Downtown LA.

🛎️ Book the Hollywood Celebrity Hotel if you need a hotel stay that would work for more than 2 adults.

They have a Deluxe King-Queen Suite that has a king bed in a private room and a queen bed in a separate room. There is a bathroom in the middle and a full kitchen in the queen room.

The hotel is right behind the Hollywood and Highland shopping center and offered free continental breakfast, a guest laundry room, and very helpful staff.

If you want something a little fancier then consider the Roosevelt Hotel

🛎️Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is an important part of Hollywood history and you can stay here, right in the place where Marilyn lived for the first two years of her career!

The hotel was also used as a location in Beverly Hills Cop II, and Catch Me if You Can.

and finally for those who like a more contemporary feel check out Mama Shelter LA.

🛎️ Mama Shelter has 70 Quirky rooms, a rooftop bar with amazing views over the city. Each room in this boutique hotel features a king-size bed and plenty of workspace with a huge desk.

Probably best for couples rather than families.

Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown LA is a great location for food and art lovers and my chosen base when traveling alone or as a couple.

🛎️ Hotel Figueroa was once a YMCA but wow has it changed! part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt Hotels, I really love the look of this place. The rooms feature modern Spanish design and the hotel bar and restaurant are both great.

🛎️ Ace Hotel Downtown is housed in the 1927 United Artists building in the Broadway Theater District. The rooms feel industrial and reviews talk it up as a home for hipsters and aging hipsters.

The rooftop pool is sensational and the bones of this art deco beauty are fantastic.

Santa Monica

If you want a beach holiday Santa Monica is probably your best bet. A little more touristy than the other beach suburbs but best for transport and it’s definitely part of the 5-day Los Angeles itinerary.

🛎️ Shutters on the Beach is the perfect place for a splurge holiday, honeymoon, or special event. We loved this pretty white-shuttered hotel sitting right on the beach. Be sure to get an ocean view room!

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