How to Spend 48 Hours in Los Angeles

So you only have 48 hours in Los Angeles? This is my recommended itinerary for what to see, where to eat, and how to enjoy the city in a short amount of time. 

If you only have a short time in LA, it can feel daunting to choose what to see in the city. 

With its sprawling nature and notoriously bad traffic, you might feel like it’s impossible to see everything you want to during your visit. 

And, to be honest, it probably is. 

There are so many things to do in Los Angeles, and even with a lifetime of living in the city you probably wouldn’t get to everything. 

This is why I always recommend travelers focus on one or two specific neighborhoods or parts of the city per day that you’re in LA. 

There are quite a few people who come away from a visit to LA thinking the city is overrated.

This is usually because they sat in traffic for most of their trip, or only focused on hitting the top tourist traps instead of mixing in local experiences with the more popular attractions in the city. 

Los Angeles is a hefty city that has a lot going on. 

My biggest piece of advice is to not try and see everything in one trip. It’s a city to savor and come back to time and again. Or settle down for a while as it’s a one of the country’s top spots for digital nomads!

I guarantee that you’ll always find a different side to the city with each new visit. 

If this is your first time in the city, this is how I would recommend spending your first 48 hours in Los Angeles. 

Day 1 Morning – Hollywood + Griffith Park 

I always recommend visiting Hollywood Boulevard first to get it out of the way. 

It’s the #1 place that every traveler wants to see when they visit LA, and it’s great to see once, but it’s not the best that the city has to offer for 48 hours in Los Angeles.

Hollywood is one of the most touristy parts of the city, so come early to avoid the bulk of the crowds in the afternoon and evening. 

Near the Hollywood Walk of Fame, grab an early breakfast and coffee at The Griddle Cafe. This spot is a classic American diner and a local favorite for its huge portions and no frills atmosphere.  

After you’re done with breakfast, head over to the Hollywood Walk of Fame to try and find your favorite movie stars. You can search for where specific stars are located by using the official Star Search

Around the Hollywood Walk of Fame, there will be a lot of people dressed up in movie star or character costumes who will ask if you want to take a picture with them. 

I recommend avoiding them altogether as they will always charge you an extortionate fee for taking a picture with them.

Also, this area is notorious for pickpockets so always watch your stuff. You do not want to be spending any of your 48 hours in Los Angeles in a police station reporting a theft!

While you’re on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, make sure to walk by the historic TCL Chinese Theatre, one of the most ornate and beautiful theaters in LA that is still in operation. 

Once you’ve spent an hour or so around Hollywood Boulevard, head up to Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory – one of my favorite spots in the city so I had to add it to this two days in Los Angeles itinerary. 

I’d recommend taking an Uber or Lyft up to the observatory because parking can be a nightmare at Griffith Park. 

You might recognize Griffith Observatory because it has been in a ton of films throughout the years, including LA LA Land and James Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause

The observatory is free to enter and the view it offers is one of the best views in the city

This is also where you can clearly see the Hollywood Sign up on the hill. 

With only 48 hours in Los Angeles, you probably won’t have time to hike to it since that takes around two hours minimum, but it’s still a cool sight to see from afar.  

Day 1 Afternoon – LA Museums

Once you make your way down from Griffith Park, make a stop for lunch at the world famous Pink’s Hot Dogs. 

This place is a LA staple that has been around since 1939 and offers 30 varieties of hot dogs and 12 types of hamburgers. 

There are usually decent lines at Pink’s, especially after 12pm so be prepared to wait anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.  

Once your stomach is filled with all that greasy goodness, head over to LA’s Miracle Mile where most of the popular museums in the city are located. 

The two museums I’d recommend visiting for the afternoon are LACMA and La Brea Tar Pits

Even if you’re not a big fan of art, the LACMA has a stunning art installation that you’ve probably seen on Instagram, called ‘Urban Light’. This in itself is worth checking out during your 48 hours in Los Angeles. 

If you do have the time, take a couple of hours to see the best that LACMA has to offer. It’s the largest art museum in the western US and holds over 150,000 pieces of art. 

La Brea Tar Pits is one of the most unique museums in the city. It showcases a variety of natural tar pits dating as far back as the Ice Age. 

The tar pits have preserved a number of fossils over the course of tens of thousands of years and it’s quite the sight to see.   

Day 1 Evening – Beverly Hills + Sunset Strip 

You’ve probably heard of Beverly Hills from that Weezer song or simply know it as the place where rich people live in LA. 

It’s safe to say that Beverly Hills is definitely a more upscale part of Los Angeles county, but even if you’re not looking to spend money it can be a fun place to visit during 48 hours in Los Angeles. 

One of my favorite things to do in Beverly Hills is grab a cupcake from Sprinkles. 

I’d like to consider myself somewhat of a cupcake connoisseur, and I can confidently say that I’ve never tasted better cupcakes in my life than what I’ve had at Sprinkles. 

This may be an unpopular opinion, but Sprinkles blows Magnolia Cupcakes in New York City way out of the park.   

And Beverly Hills offers more than just cupcakes. 

Its famous street, Rodeo Drive, is where you’ll find all of the top designer brands in the world, and a ton of very expensive rare cars that just happen to drive by regularly. 

If window shopping and looking at fancy cars isn’t your ideal way of spending some of your two days in Los Angeles, Beverly Gardens Park is a great spot to walk around at sunset and take a picture with the Beverly Hills sign.   

Once you’ve had your fill of Beverly Hills, head over to Nic’s on Beverly for dinner. This vegan-friendly spot is where you’ll find delicious healthy dining options in a trendy atmosphere. 

The back patio has a good ambiance, especially on a nice night in LA (which is almost every night). 

After dinner, head over to the famous Sunset Strip for a night of best bar hopping, trendy rooftop bars, or a live show at the Viper Room or Whisky a Go Go. 

If drinking the night away isn’t really your thing, go for a hilarious show at Hollywood Improv, The Laugh Factory, or The Comedy Store.   

Day 2 Morning –  Venice Beach 

Start your second day of 48 hours in Los Angeles experiencing a completely different side to LA compared to yesterday – Venice Beach! 

Venice Beach is the counterculture hippie neighborhood of LA and a good place to start when it comes to exploring LA’s beautiful beaches. 

I recommend starting the day at Venice because of their wide selection of healthy breakfast spots and hipster cafes. 

Once you get to Venice, head over to Flake for breakfast and coffee. This is where you’ll potentially find the best breakfast sandwich in Los Angeles. 

If your 48 hours in Los Angeles fall on the weekend, get there early since this is a popular brunch spot for many locals. 

After the food coma has properly set it, head outside to walk along the Venice Beach Boardwalk

This is one of my favorite activities to do in Venice Beach, simply checking out the little artisan shops and people watching. 

Make sure to check out the famous skate park near the boardwalk and head down to Muscle Beach to watch all the bodybuilders do their thing. 

Next, head over to the Venice Canals. This is one of the most beautiful spots in Los Angeles and the perfect way to start a day in LA. 

Day 2 Afternoon – Marina del Rey + Santa Monica

For lunch, Tocaya Organica is a healthy Mexican eatery that offers up delicious tacos and protein bowls.  

Right next door is Marina del Rey (the place where Lana del Rey’s moniker was inspired). 

This is where you can rent standup paddle boards and take in the beautiful harbor and the 5,000 boats docked in it from the water. It’s a stunning place to spend the afternoon. 

Alternatively, if water sports aren’t really your thing, the beach and ocean are right there for swimming, suntanning, and soaking up the best parts of the sunny LA beaches.  

Towards the end of the afternoon before the sun goes down, head over to Santa Monica Pier for sunset. 

This is one of the best spots to watch the sunset in LA and the Santa Monica Pier is beautiful both during the day and at night so you can come any time during your 48 hours in Los Angeles.

Day 2 Evening – Koreatown + Open Air Movie 

After sunset, head back into the heart of the city to Koreatown for a must-eat experience in LA – all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ! 

Grab a seat at Hae Jang Chon in Koreatown for some of the best Korean BBQ in California. 

You won’t be disappointed, just make sure to come hungry to make the most of the all-you-can-eat aspect. 

After dinner, enjoy one of the best things to do in LA at night – going to an open-air movie. 

It makes sense that watching movies outside has become such a thing to do in LA. I mean, this is where a lot of movies are produced and filmed and the city has beautiful weather year round. 

Bring blankets and drinks and head over to  for a taste of what locals like to do on the weekends. 

If watching a movie in a cemetery doesn’t interest you, check out Rooftop Cinema Club for another great open air movie option. 

Final thoughts…

And there you have it, my recommended 48 hours in LA itinerary! This should give you a good idea of how to enjoy the best local things to do in the city without also missing out on the popular attractions that LA has to offer.

If you want to dive more into the city’s best neighborhood, or you’re looking for hotel recommendations during your stay, make sure to check out my detailed post about where to stay in Los Angeles as well. 

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So you only have 48 hours in Los Angeles? This is my recommended two days itinerary for what to see, where to eat, and heaps more!

So you only have 48 hours in Los Angeles? This is my recommended two days itinerary for what to see, where to eat, and heaps more!

About the Author: Mimi McFadden is a travel blogger, avid yogi, and sushi enthusiast. Originally from California, she has been slow traveling the world since 2013. After living abroad for five years in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Greece, and Portugal she has finally found a home in San Francisco, California. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog, The Atlas Heart.

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