Towards the end of my miserable corporate job, I was able to use my coveted vacation days and hit up the West Coast with a friend. Our first stop was San Francisco where we spent just about a day, followed by Los Angeles, to which we generously allocated 48 hours. From staging “accidental” encounters with your favorite Hollywood actors to surfing and consuming appalling amounts of Mexican food, how do you manage to make the best of LA in only 48 hours?!
Upon landing at LAX, my travel buddy immediately bestowed upon me the task of creating our itinerary. After a brief state of utter confusion, I pulled together my go-to resources: the LA episode of The Layover for food inspiration and Matador Network for activities, since I didn’t want to do any touristy crap. We ended up having a total blast, so here are my recommendations on where to stay, what to do and eat.
WHERE WE STAYED
I’m an Air BNB junkie. I much prefer to stay with a local in a homey environment than some generic hotel room. The place we rented in LA was way cooler than it even looked in the listing. Self-described as “the Atomic Loft,” the space followed the James Bond theme impeccably, from the coffee table books dedicated to concocting the perfect cocktail and vintage piano in the living room, to the red walls and heavy black duvet covers in the bedrooms. The host was super chill and quickly gave us the down low on what’s good in the area. The price was ideal and really low for what we got, hovering around $70 per night for 2 people.
Do yourself a favor and rent a car. If you try to use the public transport you’ll lose a lot of time, plus you won’t have the freedom to go wherever you please on a whim. I personally never got a driver’s license, which is why my friend was completely in charge of transportation. We stopped by Enterprise at the airport, who tried to stick us with some ugly Camaro, but my friend put his foot down and said we were taking a drop top, no further discussion. HA! So we ended up with a sweet ride that would have cost twice of what we paid. Moral of the story: know what you want and be confident.
These are my favorite food choices:
Press Brothers – Drop Acid juice
Pitfire Pizza Company – burrata and cheese pizza with HAZELNUTS (whaaat)
The Prince – spicy chicken wings (ORGASMIC), spicy octopus
Calle Tacos – fish tacos (TO DIE FOR)
DTLA ART WALK
We happened to arrive on the second Thursday of the month, which is the monthly art walk. Downtown Los Angeles is going through a major renovation process in terms of clean up, infrastructure, drawing business in and upping the social game in order to revive the area. The art walk happens between 6 and 10 pm, during which stores and galleries are open, street vendors showcase their work and you might even see a tiny parade or two, including some very realistic Chewbacca costumes.
After spending about an hour and a half in DTLA and grabbing pho for dinner, we chose not to succumb to jet lag and exhaustion, but head up to Griffith Observatory instead. It’s exactly what it sounds like – an observatory presenting a gorgeous view of the entire city. Entrance is free and most people go directly for the balcony, camera in hand. Definitely worth the hike.
Serene water, palm trees, green grass, birds singing…Head over to Echo Park for a peaceful morning stroll and good photo ops.
Since we stayed in DTLA, the Arts District was just “steps” away (just kidding, no one walks in LA). I really love street art and was happy to check out the beautiful murals and expressive images staring from brick walls.
GRAND CENTRAL MARKET
We took a brunch break between figuring out our afternoon plan. Grand Central Market is essentially a whole lot of good food under one roof. The roof came in handy that morning since it rained (WTF, LA) I directed us straight to Eggslut, since I had seen a ton of #foodporn-worthy shots of egg sandwiches on Instagram and wasn’t cool with the idea of not being able to get one in Boston.
The Hills are all about the views. We didn’t care for the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign or other pop culture bullsh*t, so we acted like locals and got our hike on at Runyon Canyon. Make sure to hang around for the sunset. It’s truly beautiful and presents another great view of the city.
THE LAST BOOKSTORE
I know, I know – you’re on vacation, why the hell would you read? Good news is, you don’t have to. The Last Bookstore is a dark, whimsical space, which holds together hundreds of volumes as well as some provocative art. It will transport you to another dimension.
This choice was made solely under the influence of Anthony Bourdain. I really wanted to check out The Prince, an old school Victorian restaurant serving bomb Korean food. ORDER THE SPICY CHICKEN WINGS! The Prince will make you feel like royalty committing a sinful food affair.
VENICE BEACH & SANTA MONICA
About 40 minutes west from the Atomic Loft, Venice Beach and Santa Monica beckoned with many things, but mainly with the fact that the Boston cold had killed all of our desire to live on this planet, so stripping down to shorts and walking in the sand was our idea of paradise. Venice is fun to see, with its street vendors selling anything and everything, from CDs to comical tank tops and crappy souvenirs you’d kick yourself for buying right after you handed over that $5. There’s also Muscle Beach, if you’re into buff guys sweating (admit it). Santa Monica was chill, lots of stores and cafes, the usual. We met up with a friend for lunch and headed to the pier for a sunset stroll. Ferris wheel and fried dough – 2 things I’d always enjoy.
So there you have it – 48 hours in LA well spent. Touristy activities cut down to a minimum. excellent food, good weather, so head over to Skyscanner and book your flight today.
This article is dedicated to my best friend Selina who is visiting LA in a month. Have a great time, German!