Things to do in Los Angeles

Itineraries for Your Trip to Los Angeles

Los Angeles locals share their perfect days.
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3 Days in Los Angeles for First Timers

Curated by Lydia SchrandtLydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

With three days in sunny Los Angeles, there’s time to experience all of the city’s top attractions, from celebrity homes and Hollywood studio tours to theme parks, beaches, and day trips to nearby California destinations. Here are some top options for three days in Los Angeles.

Day 1

Immerse yourself in all things Los Angeles on the first day of your stay. Begin with a sightseeing tour of the city; options range from Hollywood and celebrity home tours to haunting history and true crime tours. The hop-on hop-off bus runs along several routes for a self-guided city tour at your own pace.

In the afternoon, spend time at one of LA’s unique attractions. Tour the art collection and landscaped gardens at the Getty Center, see the bubbling tar at La Brea Tar Pits, pay your respects at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, do some window shopping on Rodeo Drive, or hit one of the area beaches. Top it off with cocktails and dinner at one of the city’s gourmet hotel restaurants, an evening dinner cruise, or tickets to a show at the legendary Hollywood Bowl.

Day 2

Southern California is second only to Orlando when it comes to theme parks. You could easily spend a week hopping from park to park, but with just one day, it’s best to focus on a single park. Universal Studios Hollywood is a theme park and studio tour in one, offering visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how movies are made, as well as a chance to step into TV and movie favorites like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or The Simpsons.

In Anaheim, Disneyland® Resort and neighboring Disney California Adventure® Park are home to Mickey Mouse and friends, plus a huge assortment of attractions suitable for thrill seekers and young kids alike. Animal lovers might opt for a day trip to SeaWorld in San Diego, while adrenaline junkies will appreciate the coasters and thrill rides at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Day 3

Los Angeles makes an excellent base for exploring the Southern California coast and beyond, and there’s a day trip option for just about every interest. Head north for a guided tour to sunny Santa Barbara, Solvang, and Hearst Castle; go south to explore the beaches, zoos, and wildlife parks of San Diego; or continue south of the border to Tijuana. Other options include spending the day shopping and sunning in Palm Springs, catching a ferry to Catalina Island, or going whale watching from Newport Beach.

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