How to Spend a Weekend in Los Angeles
In the City of Angels for a quick city break? Here's how to make the most of your weekend.
Until the moment you fly over the Los Angeles basin, you may not have any concept of just how huge the city is. Not only does it cover 502 square miles, but more than 10 million people live in the city, and LA county is even bigger, with about 17 million citizens and even more land area. So, the first step in planning an itinerary for how to spend a weekend in Los Angeles is to be realistic.
If you decide to stay in a Plum Guide LA home home overlooking the beach in Malibu, then travelling to Downtown LA for a concert at Staples Center can take you hours, especially on a Friday night when traffic is at its worst. On Saturday morning however, you'll probably breeze right across town. Beyond that, focus on the experience you want out of your weekend in LA. Is it the Downtown LA art or concert scene? The sophisticated Beverly Hills shopping and dining offerings? Do you love world-class museums like the ones along Miracle Mile? Or is it all about the beach experience that SoCal does so well? Whichever you're after, this guide is here to tell you the very best ways to spend your weekend in Los Angeles. Listen up…
Hit the beach
Los Angeles is famous for its kilometres of beaches, that range from way up past Point Dume in Malibu all the way down to Long Beach. But no place is more iconic than Venice Beach, known for its hippie vibe, Muscle Beach outdoor gymnasium, and jam-packed boardwalk, as well as the sophisticated dining and shopping on Abbot Kinney Boulevard that has sprung up as Venice has become a key part of the Silicon Beach revolution. For any tech buffs, it's also worth noting that Snapchat started here and Playa Vista and Marina del Rey are just a few miles south, where Google, Facebook, YouTube, IMAX, and numerous other tech companies have built custom-designed campuses.
Santa Monica is Venice's more sophisticated older sister, so expect to find an equally more sophisticated crowd (you'll fit right in during your weekend in Los Angeles). It's generally easy to find an empty beach here although not in the spots where there are surf breaks. In these areas, you can take a lesson or two and then go hang ten, but remember that the Pacific Ocean here never gets exactly warm, so plan to wear a wetsuit even in the summer. And remember that May Grey and June Gloom are very real at all SoCal beaches when the marine layer often keeps the clouds at the shoreline all day, so plan accordingly.
Explore the hills
The hills that ring LA are a world of their own, with secluded homes – which, if you're in Beverly Hills, are often mansions – that offer views of the city down below. You'll need a car to get down the mountain, but you'll feel far from everything and a bit like one of the movie stars who call the hills home. You can stay in the flats, too, but a Plum home in the hills will make you feel like a true local.
East of Beverly Hills are the Hollywood Hills, with homes that are sometimes a bit quirkier than those in the neighbourhoods to the west. Sometimes though, you'll find a mansion that reeks of wealth and power. Laurel Canyon marks the ostensible dividing line, drive up there to check out Harry Houdini's incredible mansion. Those hills lead right to the studios in the valley, too, and heading south drops you right into the heart of Hollywood. Here, you can spend a morning hiking Runyon Canyon the hit Hollywood Boulevard to see the footprints and handprints of stars in cement.
Discover Downtown LA
Downtown LA is kind of like an ageing female movie star. It's been going through a series of facelifts for the last 15 years, which means new construction and renovations are propping everything up and making parts of it look prettier than it ever was. Downtown is a foodie's paradise and an essential neighbourhood to discover for any food tour through LA – it's full of diverse offerings that allow you to taste the entire world. But there's an ugly underbelly, too. That's because LA is struggling with a terrible homelessness problem, which is centred in DTLA in an area called Skid Row. That means there are a few blocks of homeless encampments, located along Sixth and Seventh streets and edged by Broadway and Alameda. So be aware of where you choose to stay, because in Downtown LA the vibe can change dramatically from one block to the next.
Downtown LA is also home to some pretty outstanding architecture too so make sure to admire at least some of it during your weekend in Los Angeles. Start by visiting the ultra-modern Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels designed by Spaniard Jose Rafael Maneo and completed in 2002, then move on to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Frank Gehry's stainless-steel masterpiece.
So there we have it, our guide to making the most out of your fleeting weekend in Los Angeles. If, after reading this, you feel like spending more time in the city, our 7 day LA itinerary should serve you well. And if you're looking for the perfect accommodation, our guide to the best homes in LA has you covered.