So you’ve landed at LAX but your next flight doesn’t leave until the next day. While it may be tempting to simply stay at the airport until your flight arrives, 24 hours is a long layover. With Los Angeles being as large as it is, a full day is evidently not enough to see everything the city has to offer. But it does give you just enough time for an express tour of the City of Angels.
Before you begin, a quick reminder that if you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need to fill out the Electronic System for Travel Authorization application. And by the way, Los Angeles isn’t known for its excellent public transportation system, so it’s recommended that you rent a car to make the most of your 24-hour mission and don’t spend the entire day waiting for the train or bus.
To start, you can take a parasailing ride to get a bird’s eye view and get panoramic views of the famous Santa Monica Pier as well as the iconic Venice Beach and Malibu. Hop on the freeway and drive about 10 minutes north until you reach Marina del Rey where there are several reputable companies to let you soar through the early morning L.A. sky.
After, replenish your energy reserves and grab some breakfast at the Venice Beach Boardwalk. You’ll have plenty of coffeeshops and restaurants just a stone’s throw from the water’s edge, and can tour the classic graffiti murals that have become a part of the culture of Venice Beach.
Today, Los Angeles may be synonymous with the glamour and glitz of Hollywood starlets, but if you head to Olvera Street you’ll get a glimpse at the city’s humble origins that date back to 1781. Now considered a historic district of Los Angeles, here you will also find some of the oldest buildings in the city, including Avila House, built in 1818. There are rows of painted stalls, street vendors, mariachi music, and Aztec dancing – and all within a few square blocks.
If lunchtime is creeping up but you’re not yet hungry, it’s the perfect time to head down the street to Los Angeles City Hall. (Tours are held once a year, so if you’re lucky enough to be in L.A. on that day then it’s a must-see. Otherwise, a walk around the outside is enough to impress.) When you’ve worked up an appetite, sample some authentic Japanese cuisine in Little Tokyo where you’ll find some of the best restaurants in the city.
After you’ve explored a bit of Japanese culture, head back to the water to catch the sunset. Drive to Will Rogers State Beach, pick a spot on the sand, and watch the sun sink behind the Pacific Ocean. There’s nothing quite like the sunset in Los Angeles: its vivid colors and hazy beauty are singular compared to other places in the United States.
If you’re looking for some pre-dinner cocktails, you can always go to one of the many bars that line the beach. But if you prefer a drink in the stratosphere, drive to The Upstairs Bar at the Ace Hotel DTLA. It not only offers incredible views of the city, but also has DJ sets, live music, and yoga classes. When you’re hungry for dinner, wander around downtown and its range of international cuisine to pick whatever you fancy.
When the sun has set and your flight is late the next morning, it might be the perfect time to head out on the town. While the choices seem endless, there are lots of bars and nightclubs to explore all over Hollywood, L.A.’s most famous district. One of the most emblematic is AVALON Hollywood, a nightclub whose history stretches back to 1927.
Once you’ve hit up the AVALON and perhaps another club or two on the Sunset Strip, you might be looking for a place to sleep. There are hotels all over the city, but if you’re looking for something more upscale make sure to head to the world-famous Beverly Hills, where you can find the Beverly Hills Hotel, home to celebrities and famous athletes.
24 hours in Los Angeles is a whirlwind experience that will leave you out of breath. A quick visit to the City of Angels, however, will also leave you wishing for a return trip.