How to Make the Best Los Angeles 10 Day Itinerary Ever

A Los Angeles 10 day itinerary so good, it deserves its own spot on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame.


View of the Hollywood sign

Let’s face it, ten days is a bit long for many city breaks. You end up needing a holiday from your holiday…from your holiday (very meta). But Los Angeles is the metaphorical (still meta) equivalent of a bunch of toddlers stacked on top of each other in a long raincoat in an effort to get into a nightclub. In other words, it gives off the impression that it’s one big city, but is in actual fact a flurry of trendy little neighbourhoods showing off their idiosyncratic little boutiques and vegan cafés. And that’s not to mention the beach resorts, theme parks and canals that make Los Angeles more like its own solar system than a city. And, like space, it’s apparently infinite, its outer edges dominated by further Californian attractions, including desert parks and hip coastal districts.

Here’s a Los Angeles 10 day itinerary that’ll help you visit each of the many planets in southern California’s little solar system. (I’m talking about the neighbourhoods, not actual planets, although there is a Planet Hollywood in the airport, so that’s something.)

Day 1

Wake up at the Sidewalk Café on Venice Boardwalk. Well, hopefully wake up in one of the world's best vacation homes in Los Angeles (thanks, Plum Guide), but then eat at one of those spots. Malibu sounds pretty cool right? It looks it too, so head on down there and rent water sports equipment for some prime belly flop opportunities. Work on your tan in the Paradise Cove Beach and rub sandy shoulders with the rich and famous on the Carbon Beach. Dine at the Tar & Roses or the Water Grill Santa Monica.

Venice Beach Boardwalk, California, USA

Day 2

The Santa Monica pier is the double-headed colossus you see on the postcards. Take a photo of your partner or kids holding one of those postcards in the exact same position as its image, to freak everyone out a bit. Allow the little ones exactly five minutes to enjoy the Ferris wheel and the arcade games, before rushing them off to the fashion stores of Third Street Promenade. It stays open until late, so the kids will be livid. Not to worry, they’ll enjoy some grub in the Gallery Food Hall. Travelling without children? Lucky you. Try some of the cocktails in one of the Santa Monica bars that stay open into the morning.

Day 3

Find yourself conscious in your remarkable Plum Guide home and go out for breakie at Gjusta (you don’t have to be able to pronounce it to enjoy it) bakery or the Café Gratitude (sounds like they’re angling for a big tip). Saunter along the banks of the Venice Canals in the afternoon and frequent the exclusive Felix or Shima restaurants.

Day 4

Drive past the Hollywood sign in the green rolling hills in the northern reaches of Los Angeles and let your cab driver whisk you off to the dazzling lights of the Hollywood Boulevard. Madame Tussauds, Ripley's Believe It or Not! and Universal Studios are just the tip of a very shallow iceberg.

Hollywood Hills Sign, Los Angeles

Day 5

It rarely rains, but let’s assign this as the rainy day of your Los Angeles 10 day itinerary, because you’re probably as red as a lobster by now from all the beach time and general open-air wandering around. Among the best museums is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is right next to the La Brea Tar Pits. The latter is full of weird and wonderful fossils. Get ready for plenty of jokes from the kids (subtract kids for spouse if appropriate) about your resemblance to these prehistoric animals.

Day 6

It’s payback time. Get those rascals all wrapped up in their favourite Disney costumes and talk up the prospect of Disneyland. Little do they know, you’re actually heading to the Getty Center to admire the architecture, décor and works of art. He he he. Then, drop in at the Museum of Tolerance and the Petersen Automotive Museum for a very adult day indeed. Jokes aside, the kids might find themselves really enjoying the exhibits at these culture spots.

Day 7

Take in the views of LA’s blue, blue sky at the Griffith Observatory, check out the modern works at the Broad contemporary art gallery and end your evening with a trip to the pre-eminent Spago restaurant in Beverly Hills.

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, California

Day 8

You can go up and tour the Church of Scientology and maybe even join, if you have the right energy or something. But, when was the last time you went to the beach? Venice Beach is one of the main hubs of activity, where you’ll meet all sorts of fun and eccentric types. For something more secluded, head down to Malibu for the Point Dume State Beach.

Day 9

We’re almost at the end of our journey together. You don’t live here, go home. With that spirit in mind, take a trip outside the city to Santa Catalina Island or trek through the Joshua Tree National Park, with the songs from the eponymous U2 album running through your head.

Day 10

Ok, ok, they’ve suffered enough, haven’t they? Just when the kids have given up all hope and are packing their stuff for the plane home, you pull a surprise and deliver them all their dreams at once (or so the adverts tell us): Disneyland. Or Universal Studios. Or the Six Flags Magic Mountain. Or the Knott’s Berry Farm. Or…I could go on all day. You probably couldn’t, so choose one.

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