The sunny metropolis of Los Angeles, California welcomes visitors looking for one of America’s ultimate vacation spots. Celebrity sightings, outdoor activities, fabulous food and chilled out beaches lend to LA’s wide appeal. If you’re looking for a place to begin planning your LA getaway, the folks at Getting Stamped offer some insight into can’t-misses and must-dos in the City of Angels.
Photos by Marika Bortolami, Craig Howell, and iPhone-shoot CC BY
LAX FlyAway buses
The LAX FlyAway buses offer regularly scheduled round-trips, seven days a week from all LAX terminals. They drop you off at Van Nuys, Union Station, Westwood, Santa Monica, Hollywood, or Long Beach, depending where you’re staying.
Note: You can buy tickets on the bus, but it’s strictly no cash, only cards.
Cost: $8-10 depending on final destination
The Super Shuttle is a shared van, which runs 24/7, brings you right to your Los Angeles accomodation.
Cost: Around$17 Hollywood, $15 Santa Monica with prices depending on the destination.
The most convenient albeit expensive way to get where you need to go are cabs. Ask for a flat rate per trip (group) in either direction for trips between LAX and Downtown.
Cost: $46.50 Flat rate to Downtown, plus $4.00 Airport-mandated Surcharge
A cost effective alternative to taxi service for private transfers. Download the app for convenience in booking any transportation in LA.
Cost: $30-39 to Hollywood, $19-24 Santa Monica, $20-27 Beverly Hills
Where To Eat
The Classic Drive-In Burger: In-N-Out
Dropping into a In-N-Out Burger is a must for any first time visitor to L.A. or California. Stop in for a cheap and tasty burger at one of over 200 locations in California. At first glance the menu looks deceivingly simple, but there’s a secret menu that visitors in the know order from: try an ‘Animal Style’ burger that comes with mustard cooked beef patty, pickle, extra spread with grilled onions. Don’t drive away without a shake in hand!
- Hours: 10:30 a.m.-1:00 a.m. (Most locations)
- Cost: Double Double $3.40 Fries $1.60
Best Breakfast Spot: Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe
The Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe is a farm-to-table bakery in Santa Monica. Everything served at Huckleberry is made in-house with the best local ingredients. The menu changes often to reflect the season and what’s available at the farmer’s markets.
- Location: 1014 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
- Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
For more incredible Los Angeles breakfast spots, check out our Eggs & Benny Guide to Los Angeles.
Photos courtesy of Tender Greens Facebook page
Casual L.A. Lunch: Tender Greens
The motto at Tender Greens is slow food done fast. A great place for a good, yet quick lunch while exploring Los Angeles.
- Multiple Locations: See locations as the hours vary by location
For the Sushi Lovers: The Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya West Hollywood
Come in for sushi done right by one of only four master sushi chefs in Los Angeles at Izaka-Ya. Chef Katsuya Uechi was born and raised in Okinawa, Japan, and now calls L.A. home and is simply known around town as “KATSU.” This place is a must-do for sushi lovers who can expect high quality traditional sushi under the watchful eye of a real master.
- Location: 8420 W 3RD ST. LOS ANGELES, CA 90048
- Hours: Lunch Monday – Saturday 12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Dinner Monday – Thursday 5:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m., Friday 5:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m., Saturday 5:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m., Sunday 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Photos courtesy of the Misfit Bar Facebook page
Drinks & Appies: The Misfit Bar
The Misfit is famous for their $5 Barfly Lunch deal Monday-Friday. Every day is a different deal, but three rules apply: 1.) You must be sitting in a bar stool, 2.) No holding bar stools and 3.) It’s over at 4:00 p.m. sharp. A Local favorite is the Wednesday Ahi Burger. If you miss the special, try a plate of lobster sliders to share and wash it down with a Basil Gimlet.
- Location: 225 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA
- Hours: Opening Monday – Friday at 12:00 p.m., Saturday at 11:00 a.m., Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
For more foodie-centric Los Angeles inspiration, check out Where to Escape Cooking in L.A
What To See
Hollywood Walk Of Fame
A must on any L.A. itinerary is to walk among the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Find the brass stars of more than 2,500 celebrities from all corners of the entertainment industry. The stars are embedded in the sidewalks of 15 blocks along Hollywood Boulevard and another three blocks of Vine Street. Awarded to celebrities of the entertainment industry as a monument to their achievements, the stars permanently embedded in concrete are the names of actors, musicians, producers, theatrical groups, and even a few fictional characters.
- Location: Hollywood Boulevard near Dolby Theatre
Go see a live TV show taping
You can be a part of your favorite T.V. show by sitting in on a live taping as part of the audience and even get to see some of your favorite celebrities be interviewed. Request tickets online in advance as they oftentimes sell out and have limited stand-by tickets.
- Jimmy Kimmel Live – tapes Mon-Thurs (Age 18+)
- Conan O’ Brien – tapes Mon-Thur (Age 16+)
- Ellen Degeneres Show – Mon-Thurs (Age 14+)
Santa Monica Pier
A 100-year-old landmark, the Santa Monica Pier has been seen in countless Hollywood movies and makes for a great place to spend an afternoon in Los Angeles.
- Location: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA
What To Do
Hike Griffith Park
Get lost in LA’s largest public green space and the largest municipal park in the entire United States. The Famous Hollywood sign can be seen right from the parking lot of the Observatory, but there are lots of nice hikes with great viewpoints.
- Location: Griffith Park 4730 Crystal Springs Drive Los Angeles, CA 90027
- Hours: 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. daily
- Cost: Free and parking is also free in the Observatory lot or nearby roads
People Watch on Venice Beach
Possibly the most colorful and crazy three miles of sand anywhere in the world can be found at Venice beach. The main attraction of Venice beach is the shopping and people watching. In summer and weekends, there are street performers at every intersection along Ocean Front Walk. The acts include musicians, jugglers, acrobats, mimes, comics, magicians, fortune tellers, and just about anything else you could think of. Aside from the colorful characters at the beach, Venice also has plenty of unique shopping and restaurants. Don’t miss Muscle Beach for a dose of testosterone before leaving the beach.
- Cost: City Parking Lots around $4-15 per day
- Location: See Map
Celeb spotting in Runyon Canyon
If you are dead set on seeing someone famous, hiking up into Runyon Canyon, which is a notorious celeb spotting area, is your best shot. In the park there are three main trails: Runyon Canyon Road, Star Trail, and Hero Trail. Star Trail actually got its name from the numerous star sightings along its paths. For a more challenging hike, try Hero Trail with steep inclines.
From Runyon Canyon, you can get a pretty decent view of the Hollywood Sign — many people don’t realize it’s actually illegal to get close to the Hollywood Sign. The famous sign is locked up behind gates and protected by security cameras and Park Rangers. There is actually an L.A. Police officer stationed at the sign 24 hours a day.
- Note: Dogs allowed, Street parking is limited
- Location: Address 2001 N Fueller Ave LA
Where to Stay
There is an infinite amount of hotels to pick from in Los Angeles. Decide which area you want to stay in — Koreatown has seen some recent revitalization, Venice Beach sets you up for many a beach visit and Beverley Hills is by far the most famous Los Angeles postcode — 90210. January through April tend to see the lowest room rates and occupancy.
The Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles
The Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles is located in the city’s downtown area right next to L.A. Live and close to both the Staples Center and the Nokia Theater. Outstanding pampering, luxurious service and fabulous amenities can be expected from this 5-star hotel. The rooms are large and come with a minibar, a flat-screen television, Wi-Fi and turndown service. The marble bathrooms add another level of class to this prestigious property. The hotel has a pool and spa and features three restaurants, an espresso bar and two bars. WP24 by Wolfgang Puck is a popular dining spot; this restaurant offers an interesting modern twist on traditional Chinese food, a lengthy wine list and a fantastic view of downtown Los Angeles.
The Hollywood Hotel is a pet-friendly family hotel situated in Los Angeles that features a sauna on every floor along with AC in all the rooms, free breakfast, a bar and an outdoor swimming pool. They also offer complimentary WiFi, shuttle service and concierge service. The hotel is located close to Griffith Park, Greek Theater, The Hollywood sign and Universal Studios. Golfing, snorkeling, surfing, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing, biking and hiking are a few of the outdoor activities that can be arranged in the area.
Westin Los Angeles Airport
The Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel is located a short drive away from LAX Airport and 17-miles away from downtown Los Angeles and offers visitors a complimentary 24-hour airport shuttle and ample parking. The rooms at The Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel have pillow-top mattresses and luxurious down comforters for a peaceful night’s rest. The room also comes with a coffee maker, cable TV and the Westin’s signature line of toiletries. There is a fitness center and a heated, outdoor pool. Guests can get their work done at the fully-connected business center and unwind at the hotel’s spa.
LA Luxury Apartments By Stay City
All of the LA Luxury Apartments by Stay City rentals offer the comforts of home – and a little more. The hosts try to think of everything you’d need, within good reason, while traveling. The apartments are well kept and located in highly desirable areas. During your stay you can communicate with the hosts any time as there is a 24/7 support team via phone and live agents available for emergencies around the clock. They do not equate themselves to “Airbnb” as they have a no-lockbox policy at their rentals. You’ll get an entire apartment home designed with you and your needs in mind. And most importantly, you will get a clean vacation home!
Insider Tips from Getting Stamped
LA City Hall Observation deck
For some of the best views of the city, head up to the observation deck of the Los Angeles City Hall. First, sign-in at the desk and receive your visitor sticker (ID required). Next, take the express elevator to 22nd floor. Then leave the express elevator and find the elevator to 26th, and then walk up to the 27th floor. Here you’ll find an outdoor observation deck with fantastic views of the city.
- Hours: Monday – Friday, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Location: 201 Main St, Los Angeles
- Cost: Free – meter parking nearby is $4 an hour
Grab lunch at Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market has been continuously operating since 1917 and still makes a great place for a lunch stop. Choose from over 30 food vendors offering Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, German, Italian, and even Salvadorian dishes.
- Hours: Sunday -Wednesday 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Thursday – Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
- Location: 317 S. BROADWAY
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