How to plan the perfect LA holiday

the famous Hollywood sign in LA

Zoe Macfarlane

Posted July 25, 2022

Los Angeles is a sprawling city chock-full of vibrant neighbourhoods and fun attractions. There’s so much to see and do in California’s biggest city, in fact, that it can feel a little overwhelming to plan your stay. Fortunately, we’ve used our insider tips to create this handy LA neighbourhood guide.

Want mellow beachside vibes? Head to Santa Monica and Venice. Prefer to be in the city’s most walkable neighbourhood? Base yourself in West Hollywood. Are you looking to experience iconic LA? Hollywood is where it’s at.

If you’re planning to drive while you’re overseas, you may need an International Driving Permit. You can apply online but check the country you’re visiting requires one before you travel and allow time for processing. 

Venice Beach in Los Angeles, USA

Venice Beach is a dream destination.

Santa Monica and Venice Beach

Santa Monica is a dream destination for US citizens and international visitors alike. It’s easy to fall in love with the beachy, carefree vibes, whether you’re wandering the famous pier, grabbing a bite on Main Street, or shopping up a storm in downtown Santa Monica.

Start the day with breakfast in cutesy Ocean Park, between Santa Monica pier and Venice Beach. A brain-fuelled brew from Bulletproof Coffee is a local favourite, though there are plenty of great eateries along the Main Street strip, so take your pick.

Rent an e-bike and enjoy a relaxing cycle from the Santa Monica Pier to eclectic Venice Beach along the oceanside promenade. Snap a photo at the Venice sign, wander Abbot Kinney’s on-trend boutiques, watch the Muscle Beach fitness enthusiasts pump iron and enjoy a haggle with the market vendors on Venice Beach.

Next, head to Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade for a spot of shopping. This beautiful stretch of retail outlets – from quirky to high-end - align under the palm trees, offering one of LA’s most relaxed shopping destinations.

Finish the day with a tasty and healthy dinner at the farm-to-table True Food restaurant. Or, for something a little different, head to Opaque for a unique ‘dining in the dark’ experience.


Hollywood's Walk of Fame

Strut your stuff on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.


Visiting LA and skipping Hollywood is a travel no-no – it's one of the most famous things about LA, after all. Start the day early by exercising like a local with a hike up Runyon Canyon. Aside from the expansive LA vistas at the top, it’s not uncommon to spy movie stars and singers while sweating your way to the summit.

Next, take the obligatory selfie next to your favourite celeb’s star on the Walk of Fame. Stop by the TCL Chinese Theatre and Hollywood Museum, too. At Hollywood and Highland, there’s a perfect spot to take a photo of the iconic Hollywood sign. 

If you’d love to get a peek into the lives of LA’s rich and famous, a celebrity homes tour offers great insights and commentary. Starting in Hollywood, it tours you around homes, plus key LA stops, like Beverly Hill’s Rodeo Drive and Bel Air.


Rodeo Drive signpost with palm trees against a summer sky

Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is an iconic street that has featured in many films.

West Hollywood

Hollywood’s urban-cool neighbour, West Hollywood, is California’s most walkable city and the heart of LA. An abundance of attractions awaits, including top-notch dining, trendy restaurants and bars, gorgeous rooftop pools, and hip retail outlets. It’s near impossible to get bored in West Hollywood.

Start your day with breakfast in one of West Hollywood’s trendy cafes. Urth Caffé is a popular healthy spot or go to the Griddle if you want quintessential American fare. Fuelled up, head to the Design District to explore the high-end boutiques, inspiring galleries, and vibrant street art.

Santa Monica Boulevard passes through West Hollywood: it’s part of the historic Route 66, perhaps the world’s most famous highway. Check out the nostalgic cars at Heritage Classics, too.

For more classic LA experiences, spend the evening on Sunset Strip, a long-standing home to Hollywood royalty. Take your pick of casual eateries through to Michelin-starred restaurants before enjoying a nightcap at one of the fab bars or rooftop pool areas. The Den on Sunset and Skybar LA are favourites. It's also worth checking out the Comedy Store, as many stand-ups cut their teeth here.


Disneyland in Anaheim, California

Going to Disneyland is a kid's dream come true.


Whether you’re travelling with kids or wanting to fulfil a childhood dream, a day trip to Anaheim is in order. Home to Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, you have double the opportunity to meet Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the Disney characters. The two-park Park Hopper pass is full-on but fun.

Also in Anaheim is Knott’s Berry Farm, a former working berry farm turned fun theme park. If you’re visiting LA around Halloween, the park transforms into Knott’s Scary Farm by night, with a raft of ways to spook you - including taking rides in the dark!

When you’ve had your fill of garish rides and theme park food, chill out at one of Orange County’s inviting white-sand beaches. Long Beach, a 30-minute drive away, is a firm favourite. If you’d prefer to grab a bargain (or three), head to the Outlets at Orange.

Most visitors find they need at least two days in Anaheim to squeeze everything in.


Runyon Canyon in LA

There's something for everyone in Los Angeles.

Honorary mentions

If you’ve more time to explore, consider these trip add-ons.

For art lovers, a visit to the Broad, in downtown LA, is an enriching addition to any LA itinerary. The modern honeycomb architecture complements the post-war and contemporary art housed inside.

While Manhattan Beach, on the south side of LAX, has stunning beaches and a lively dining scene, it’s the creamwich that’s the drawcard. People travel across LA for the Manhattan Beach Creamery’s delectable ice cream cookie sandwiches.

If you prefer more dare-devil theme park rides, head inland to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia. With a whopping 19 rides in the ‘thrill’ category, Six Flags is not for the meek.

For a cool-yet-unusual bar experience, head to the friendly Culver City neighbourhood. Here, the Blind Barber is a barber shop by day and speakeasy by night. Craft cocktails, IPA beers, and an intimate atmosphere make for an enchanting night out.


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