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5-Day itinerary for California Los Angeles!

2023, California USA

California, a state that captivates us all with its irresistible charm, holds a special place in our hearts. Like countless others, Aditi and I have long been star-struck by the vibrant vibes, diverse culture, and breathtaking beauty that California has to offer.

Over the course of 20 awe-inspiring days, we experienced the best of the USA. If you're curious to hear more about our enthralling 20-day road trip, check out the below blog.

Unveiling the Marvels of Los Angeles

Aditi and I explored every nook and cranny of the magnificent city of Los Angeles. If you are planning a trip to Los Angeles, you have come to the right place. To make the most of your visit to the City of Angles, we are thrilled to present our personal itinerary.

We invite you to join us as we recount our memorable journey in the vibrant city of LA.

Our 5-day Los Angeles itinerary

To start of our adventure in the US, we rented a car from San Francisco and began the road-trip of our dreams. We explored the Pacific Coast Highway as we drove to LA. Without further adieu, let's dive straight into what we did after reaching LA!

Day 1: Iconic symbol Hollywood sign

Hollywood Sign at sunset
Hollywood Sign

Our day began in the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea as we embarked on our road trip to Los Angeles. Along the way, we made a delightful stop at Solvang, a Dutch-inspired town. After enjoying the dutch delicacies, we continued our journey towards the incredible city of Los Angeles. We were staying in Hilton at Universal Studios and straightaway checked in to the hotel around 5 pm as soon as we reached LA.

Since we had been on the road since 7 am, we were very tired and decided to rest before our exciting day at Universal Studios. We ordered room service and indulged in our all time favourite combo of Hummus and Pita bread. However, Aditi couldn't contain her excitement. Even though she was tired, she couldn't resist the urge to see the iconic Hollywood sign. So, without hesitation, we set off to catch a glimpse of it.

Her enthusiasm was infectious, and you can see here how thrilled she was when she finally laid eyes on the sign.

Our hotel concierge recommended Lake Hollywood Park to get the best view for the Hollywood Sign. The distance from the Hilton was approximately 3.3 miles.

There is limited parking near the park. You have to drive up the hill to get closer to the sign and park your car alongside the road. However, be aware of the designated parking hours, i.e., 6 am to 8 pm. If you plan to visit the park after 8 pm, do not leave your car unattended, as parking tickets can be quite expensive.

As we ascended the hill and approached the park, we started to catch glimpses of the magnificent Hollywood Sign from a distance. We arrived at around 7 pm, and much to our surprise, the area was bustling with activity, even on a weekday. Numerous cars were parked alongside the hill, and the fading light added an enchanting ambience to the scene.

While I was searching for parking, Aditi couldn't contain her excitement and headed straight towards the sign. I eventually joined her and captured some beautiful pictures of her with the iconic landmark.

As we stood there, we marvelled at the sight of the entire city of LA lit up, creating a truly magical atmosphere. After spending an hour in awe of the view, we made our way back to the hotel, marking the end of our first day in LA. Happy Aditi slept peacefully.

Pro tip: If you are reaching early in the day, start your day with a visit to Griffith Observatory followed by Lake Hollywood Park to see the Hollywood sign. Here is the exact location of the best spot to look at the Hollywood Sign -

Day 2: Universal Studios Adventure

Amit and Aditi at Universal Studios
Universal Studios, LA

Our day started off at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, conveniently located within walking distance from the hotel. However, they do offer free shuttle services for added convenience. As the park generally opens at 9 am, we aimed to arrive early to make the most of our time. We reached at 10 am and were met with sizeable crowds.

Our first stop was the enchanting Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We immersed ourselves in the magical atmosphere, exploring iconic locations like Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade Village, and Diagon Alley. Of course, we couldn't miss trying the famous Butterbeer.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the thrilling Harry Potter ride, Aditi, who isn't a fan of rides, was left a bit traumatized and couldn't speak for the next thirty minutes.

Nevertheless, she still finds joy in taking pictures, soaking up the lively atmosphere, and munching on popcorn.

Pro tip: The park has two decks, upper and lower. It's advisable to start with the lower deck first, where the waiting times for rides are generally shorter compared to the upper deck.

After our Wizarding World adventure, we headed to the lower deck to take the studio tour. The waiting time for this hour-long tour was approximately 15 minutes, and we found the experience highly enjoyable. The famous Universal Studios Studio Tour provided us with a fascinating glimpse into Hollywood's film and television industry. We sat on the left side of the tram, which offered the best views. The tour took us through working movie sets and provided behind-the-scenes insights into blockbuster films. Our favourite part was the special segment on encounter with King Kong.

Following the tour, we remained on the lower deck to explore the various attractions and rides within the park. We highly recommend experiencing the following rides:

  • Transformers: The Ride 3D

  • Jurassic World - The Ride

  • The Simpsons Ride

  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

  • Revenge of the Mummy - The Ride

Pro tip: Universal Studios offers live shows and entertainment throughout the day. Make sure to check the schedule and catch performances like Waterworld, the Special Effects Show, or the Animal Actors Show.

As lunchtime approached, we indulged in a meal at one of the park's dining spots. Afterwards, we made our way to the upper deck. It's worth noting that the waiting times for rides on the upper deck are typically shorter post mid-day compared to the morning. We adjusted our plans accordingly to make the most of our Universal Studio experience.

Pro tip: There is a separate queue for single riders, which tends to move faster than the regular lines. Keep that option open if you are taking the ride alone.

We also had the opportunity to meet beloved characters such as the Minions, Scooby-Doo, and the Transformers. While we didn't shop extensively, we explored the various shops and boutiques within the park. As ardent Harry Potter fans, we couldn't resist purchasing personalized magic wands with our names engraved on them—an ideal memento of our visit.

As the day progressed, we were treated to the nighttime entertainment and shows followed by our satisfying dinner at the park. After an eventful day, we returned to our hotel and called it a night!

Day 3: Immersed in Hollywood Dreams

Hollywood Sign atop Hollywood Hills
Hollywood Hills

We started our day at 7 am, hiking the popular Hollywood Hills. Several hiking trails in Los Angeles provide different vantage points and access to the Hollywood Sign. We are listing down a few of the interesting ones.

  1. Griffith Observatory Hiking Trails: 6.4 miles round trip starting from Griffith Observatory and offers a close-up view of the sign from behind.

  2. Brush Canyon Trail: 6.8-mile round trip up the Hollywood hills. The trail splits into two paths; one takes you to a viewpoint near the Hollywood Sign with a panoramic view of the sign and the city, while the other takes you straight to the back of the sign and offers an even more stunning view of the city.

  3. Canyon Drive Trail: 3 miles round trip and offers a close view of the Hollywood Sign. More convenient if you want to do a shorter trail.

  4. Wonder View Trail: 3.5 miles round trip and offers an alternative view of the Hollywood Sign.

We drove to starting point of the Brush Canyon Trail, parked our car and began our hike. During the hike, we were surprised by a brief rain shower, but fortunately, we are hopeless romantics enjoy walking under a single umbrella. The hike was moderate and took us a total of 4 hours for the round trip (including a short detour). We must say the views from the Hollywood sign were just out of this world.

(If you recently saw Creed 3, there's an epic aerial shot of the same spot which appears during Creed's training montage)

We highly recommend doing a hike on the Hollywood hills as it will be a memorable experience.

Satisfied and hungry, we returned to our hotel to rest and refuel after the adventurous hike. We checked out from our hotel and made our way to the LA city.

We then set our eyes towards the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame. Navigating the busy streets of LA, we reached Hollywood Walk of Fame and parked our car. We leisurely strolled along the legendary walk, admiring the stars that honor the greatest entertainers. We excitedly searched for our favorite celebrities' stars and snapped photos alongside them. Then our journey led us to the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre, where we marvelled at its rich history and ornate architecture.

Capturing countless photos and soaking in the energy of this iconic Hollywood destination, we revelled in the experience. The Walk of Fame offers several other attractions, including the Hollywood Museum, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, Hollywood Museum of Illusions, and the Hollywood History Museum. Depending on your interests, you can plan your visit accordingly.

After all the fun, it was time for lunch. We had seen a board for the Hard Rock cafe close to where we parked our car and we decided to have lunch there. However, while looking for Hard Rock Cafe, we accidentally stumbled upon the Dolby theatre where the Oscars takes place (star-struck by everything else, we had completely forgotten it was there). Standing there, we couldn't help but imagine the grandeur and glamour that fills the venue on Hollywood's biggest night.

After enjoying a delicious lunch at the Hard Rock Café on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, we had another round of 'spot your favourite star' :P

It was 5 pm, almost the time to catch the breathtaking sunset view from Griffith Observatory.

At the top of the hill near the Griffith Observatory, there are designated parking areas available for visitors. Firstly, park your car, and then go to the pay booths to pay for your parking and get a receipt.

Note: When you arrive at the booth, you will be required to enter the duration of your intended stay. The parking fee is $10 per hour, so if you plan to stay for four hours, you would need to pay $40. After completing the payment transaction at the booth, you will receive a ticket that must be displayed on your car dashboard. It is essential to ensure that the ticket is clearly visible from the outside of your car, as it serves as proof of payment for the parking. Failure to pay or display the ticket may result in a fine.

Pro tip: This practice is applicable throughout LA.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring both the interior and exterior of the Griffith Observatory.

Inside the observatory, you can explore a variety of exhibits related to our Sun, the planets, our solar system, the Universe and the history of the observatory itself. It houses several telescopes, including the Zeiss Refracting Telescope and the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, which offers captivating planetarium shows.

As a science enthusiast, I felt like a kid in candy-land. The Foucault pendulum at the very entrance is just mind-boggling, considering the fact that it demonstrates the earth's rotation so elegantly.

There is no entrance fee to explore the Griffith Observatory itself, allowing visitors to access its fascinating exhibits and observation decks free of charge.

However, the observatory offers a special shows at the planetarium which are paid. If you're interested in the show, you can conveniently purchase the tickets from inside the observatory.

Pro-tip: We recommend booking the tickets as soon as you reach the observatory as the shows sell out fast. This way, you can explore the observatory and then head to the planetarium to catch the show.

It was almost sunset time. We witnessed the stunning panoramic vistas of the cityscape, along with the beautiful sunset.

Overall, our day at the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Griffith Observatory was filled with exploration, photo opportunities, and a taste of the glamour and history that defines Hollywood.

Day 4: Rodeo Drive and Venice Beach Adventure

Amit @ Rodeo drive
Rodeo drive

By our Fourth Day in the city, and we are totally in love with the city. This is the day that we reserved for the Rodeo Drive and Venice Beach adventure. We reached Rodeo Drive around 11 am and it was already bustling with crowd.

Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is famous for luxury shopping and high-end fashion boutiques. We also gazed through the famous fashion houses like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, and many more. If you're not looking to make a purchase, walking along Rodeo Drive and admiring the stunning window displays can be an enjoyable experience.

Beverly Hills is home to many celebrities, and there's a chance you might spot one while exploring Rodeo Drive. Well, if not, you can definitely catch many TikTokers on the street. Keep your eyes peeled and camera ready, as you never know who you might come across.

Here are a few recommendations on things that you can do at Rodeo Drive apart from luxury shopping.

  • Treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of the many renowned eateries in the area.

  • Observe the lively atmosphere while keeping an eye out to spot any celebrity or YouTuber.

  • Explore the works of renowned artists and appreciate the fine art on display.

  • Enjoy the sight of high-end vehicles like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Rolls-Royces as they pass by.

  • Take a stroll along the park's tree-lined paths, admire the beautiful gardens, and relax by the iconic Beverly Hills sign and the famous Beverly Hills fountain.

After spending around 4 hours at Rodeo Drive and buying her a Louis Vuitton (as an anniversary present), we eagerly set off for to our next adventure: Venice Beach.

Venice Beach is known for its vibrant and eclectic atmosphere. Sunbathers soaked up the warm rays, while others leisurely strolled along the coastline. The Venice Skate Park echoed with the sounds of skateboards and rollerblades, showcasing impressive skills. The atmosphere exuded a sense of true freedom, and we savoured every moment of our time on Venice Beach.

Surprisingly, even as an extremely introverted person, I found myself drawn to the dance group and mustered the courage to join them. With joyous abandon, I let loose and moved alongside the talented dancers.

Here are some recommendations for you:

  • Enjoy beach activities and you can rent things like bikes, rollerblades, or surfboards from the local rental shops.

  • Watch or join skateboarders or rollerbladers at the Venice Skate Park.

  • Take a walk along the lively Venice Boardwalk, also known as Ocean Front Walk.

  • Check out street performers, artists, vendors, and unique shops selling a variety of goods.

  • Play a game of basketball, volleyball, or handball at the courts available.

  • Do not forget to check out the iconic Muscle Beach, where fitness enthusiasts showcase their strength and skills.

  • You can catch live music, magic shows, comedy acts, and other entertaining performances along the boardwalk.

  • Take a detour from the beach and explore the charming Venice Canals. It's a great place for a leisurely stroll and some great photo opportunities.

Pro tip: Show your appreciation and leave a tip if you enjoy the street shows.

Aditi @ Venice Beach
Venice Beach

After spending amazing time together at Venice Beach, we decided to head to Rodeo Drive for a dinner at a fancy restaurant. As both of us are vegetarians, we were aware that our dining options might be slightly limited.

Thankfully, we discovered a fancy place called Il Pastaio at Radio Drive. It’s an upscale Italian restaurant on the North and has a charming outdoor patio and a menu filled with delicious pasta dishes, salads, and vegetarian options. Excitedly, we stepped inside, ready to savour a delightful meal in the stylish ambience of Rodeo Drive.

Pro tip: Check the restaurant's menu beforehand or make a reservation to ensure they can accommodate your dietary preferences.

After our satisfying dinner, we ventured out to explore the illuminated streets of Rodeo Drive. The dazzling lights, stylish storefronts, and the buzz of activity intensified our love for the area.

Day 5: It’s a beach day!

We started late on this morning as it was going to be a laid back day. We packed our belongings, knowing that an early departure awaited us the next day. We were going to explore the awe-inspiring National Grand Canyon, which is an eight-hour journey from Los Angeles.

Later, we set out to explore the picturesque beaches of Malibu, renowned for its vibrant surf culture. We soaked in the beauty of the coastline and it was another amazing drive. Hungry from our adventure, we sought out the perfect spot for a meal and discovered Sunlife Organics.

Their menu offered a variety of options, including organic smoothies, refreshing acai bowls, and invigorating wellness shots.

Around 5 o'clock, we left for Santa Monica Pier. However, the bustling atmosphere and thrilling rides were not our preferred vibe. Aditi is not a fan of scary roller coasters, so there weren't many attractions that suited our tastes. Nonetheless, she has always enjoyed riding the Giant Wheel wherever we go, so we decided to give it a try.

Unfortunately, the experience on the Giant Wheel turned out to be a disappointment for both of us. Then we decided to make the most of our time and headed to Third Street Promenade, a famous street known for its vibrant street performers.

Santa Monica Coastline
Santa Monica Pier

We recommend visiting Third Street Promenade after 7:30 pm, especially on weekends, as the atmosphere truly comes alive. Fortunately, it was Sunday, and we had the opportunity to explore the street when it was at its coolest.

While Santa Monica Pier may not have been our cup of tea, Third Street Promenade provided a fun and engaging atmosphere.

Pro tip: Since vibrant ambience and street performances make it such a unique destination, we totally recommend checking it out.

Sunset view while driving in Malibu
Sunset Drive back from Malibu

This is all about our experiences in LA. We had fun, some amazing food and we also got the chance to meet with our lovely family who live in Simi Valley LA.

We explored all the iconic landmarks, such as the Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Sign, Universal Studio, The Hollywood Walk of Fame and many more. As our LA adventure came to an end, California Los Angeles left us with a bucket full of lovely memories.

Until we meet again!

City of Angels!


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