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Los Angeles

Things to do during a 28 hour layover?

We will be arriving for a layover at LAX (on the way to NYC) at 8am and departing the next day at 12.40pm. We are looking for a place to stay close to the airport, but also want to do something during those hours. Would it be possible to do something like Universal Studios, etc. during this time or should we just stick around LA to see the sights? Maybe do some shopping or a city tour? 

Where would be the best place to stay?

10 Answers

answered by
Zoe from Manhattan Beach, California

You can definitely do one of the theme parks like Universal Studios Hollywood although it is pretty far from the airport.  You could stay at an airport hotel and drop your bags.  Many offer paid shuttle services to the various parks.

My recommendation would be to stay in one of the beach cities like Manhattan Beach or Hermosa Beach  They are only a 10 minute taxi from the airport and have great beaches and cute shopping.  I would say stay at a little local hotel like the Sea View Inn At the Beach in Manhattan Beach.  They have bicycles and you can take a short or long ride along the coast either south to Redondo Beach or north as far as Venice Beach where you can walk around the boardwalk.

A third more traditional tourist option would be to stay near Beverly Hills  You can do the typical Rodeo Drive walk in the morning and take one of the bus tours to see Hollywood and the stars mansions in the afternoon.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Universal Studios Hollywood (attraction)
  2. Manhattan Beach (city)
  3. Hermosa Beach (city)
  4. Sea View Inn At the Beach (hotel)
  5. Redondo Beach (city)
  6. Venice Beach (attraction)
  7. Beverly Hills (neighborhood)
  8. Rodeo Drive (neighborhood)
7 thanks

answered by
Dave from California

Hi Melanie

I'll bet you are overwhelmed by now! LA can quickly do that to a visitor!

Have you looked at staying close to the airport. My aunt and uncle always stay at the Hilton Garden Inn when they are in town located in El Segundo about a mile from the airport and 2 miles from El Segundo’s cute little walking friendly downtown. I have actually stayed here one night as well. They have a shuttle that makes it easy to get to and from the airport. Although note, they aren't within walking distance of too much of interest. But a good value for the money. Have you thought about going south of the Airport rather than north?

Long Beach and or San Pedro, CA has a number of attractions - including The Queen Mary, the really nice Aquarium of the Pacific (or the much smaller intimate, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium ) and the worth visiting USS Iowa (BB-61). Also totally under the radar and free (need to make appointment though) is the impressive private Chinese antiquities collection in the Chen Art Gallery in Torrance. All these within 30-50+ mins of LAX (depending on traffic). Sounds like you will have more than 1 person in the vehicle so you could use the HOV lanes on the 405 as you head south to save some time.

The Promenade at Howard Hughes Center (within just a few miles of LAX - very close)
Del Amo Fashion Center
South Bay Galleria
and further south in Orange County the enormous South Coast Plaza Shopping Center (the largest mall in the western USA!)

If you need to rent a car - two companies I've used many times (both good pricing) which are both very close to LAX are: E-Z Rent-a-Car and Midway Car Rental - both off of Century Blvd.

Here are some other oddball ideas!
Eat at Homegirl Cafe near Chinatown - menus and food prepared by reformed gang members
Visit the Skeletons in the Closet: The LA Coroner Gift Shop (quite a trip there!)
Signup for one of the afternoon Kayak trips on the Los Angeles River with LA River Kayak Safari
Visit the oldest McDonald's on Planet in Downey
Visit to any of hundred+ farmers markets (there are some in LA on every day of week)
Visit to Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum in Orange County - a bit closer than the Ronald Reagan one (still prob an hour from LAX with ok traffic)
Los Angeles has some great gardens - Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Descanso Gardens
Go see the Space Shuttle Endeavour @ California Science Center at Expo Park

With that said, you will have to pick and choose carefully and certainly not try to see it all as you have so limited time in town this time. LA is spread out and it does take time to get between places - often a lot of time especially mornings and after 3pm.

Not sure when you are arriving into LAX but note that “Century Crunch” is a 57-hour street closure on Century Boulevard to demolish the Century Boulevard Bridge leading into LAX during the weekend of July 25-28.

If you are there on a Sunday, the Automobile Driving Museum, minutes from LAX is the only museum in the country to offer rides in their classic cars. Also note, Monday is generally a bad day in town to visit museums as many (not all) are closed and to a lesser extent, Tuesday.

Or if your trying to go car free prob easier to go north than south of the airport - take the Flyaway Bus from LAX to Union Station and catch the metro to either Hollywood or Universal Studios Hollywood. From Union Station later in the day when you need a hotel, you can also take the metro to the 7th Street/Metro Center where you can easily walk to a number of hotels including one of my favorites, the Los Angeles Athletic Club. or drop your bags off at the hotel first and then head back to the metro.

Also the Theme Building at LAX is a interesting spot to visit - (you can't miss seeing this unique building) the observation deck is open on the weekends. Noticed you are arriving in LAX at 8am - that is a good time b/c by the time you go through immigration, rent car/get transportation etc - traffic will have died down a bit especially relating to weekday arrivals. I've done an earlier arrival flight from Brisbane and Sydney before and it gets in so early that USA immigration isn't even open yet and they make you wait on the apron/tarmac :(

5 thankscomments (1)

answered by
A from California

If you have your heart set on seeing Universal Studios Hollywood you should do it -- it's definitely manageable.  Going will eat up almost your entire time in LA, however, and there is a decent chance you will be stuck in serious traffic at some point.

Otherwise I would definitely stick with the beach cities as others have suggested (I'd go with Santa Monica if you are looking for a bit more of a quintessential LA destination compared with Hermosa and Manhattan Beach) and avoid Hollywood if you can help it (it really is rather trashy and un-interesting like Times Square).

There are a lot of nice hotels in Santa Monica so price will largely be your determining factor.  If you are looking to splurge a bit on the one night the following are all good bets:  Loews Santa Monica Beach HotelViceroy Santa MonicaShutters On the BeachFairmont Miramar Hotel & BungalowsThe Huntley Hotel and Shore Hotel.

5 thanks

answered by
Peter from Munich

Hi there,

you shouldn't have a problem finding a hotel close to the airport there are many around. I never stayed there, so I can't give you any advise on that. But I can recommend you Griffith Park and the Griffith Observatory. The Observatory is amazing and has a good view too. You can hike there and go all the way to the Hollywood Sign. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is also a interesting place, you see all kind of people there, dressed up in their favorite movie star outfits. To get to the plaes is fairly easy, most places you can probably reach with the Metro and a day ticket is about 5$ +1$ for the card (I believe thats the cost now) And with this card you can start exploring. Hop on and off the train as much as you want. You should be also good to ride the buses but I never needed it. It's also worth to check out Union Station, a very famous building and also the nearby area is nice and has some historical buildings. If you are at Union Station you can check the Avila Adobe.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Griffith Park (attraction)
  2. Griffith Observatory (attraction)
  3. Hollywood Sign (attraction)
  4. Hollywood Walk of Fame (attraction)
  5. Union Station (attraction)
  6. Avila Adobe (attraction)
5 thanks

answered by
Andrew from Downtown Los Angeles

LAX Sign is 45 minutes from Universal Studios Hollywood and 45 minutes from Disneyland Resort  With traffic the trip to Universal could be over an hour, But in South LA you won't have as much traffic on the way to Disney.

and since you're in town for a full day, an hour to get there is not that bad.  It'll be almost the same just to get to Hollywood. It's just 15 minutes from Hollywood to Universal Studios Hollywood.

And if you don't go to the Studios... you're missing out on a nice full day of Movie Magic!  If you head to the beach... well it's a lot of water and sand. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. LAX Sign (attraction)
  2. Universal Studios Hollywood (attraction)
  3. Disneyland Resort (amusement park)
  4. Hollywood (attraction)
  5. Hollywood (attraction)
  6. Universal Studios Hollywood (attraction)
2 thanks

top answer by
Christian from Manhattan Beach

For your one day in Los Angeles, Universal Studios Hollywood isn't really worth the trek - the traffic from LAX to Universal City would strike fear into the heart of the most hardcore LA commuter.

Hollywood Boulevard is a bit more manageable, and there are plenty of tour buses that can take you around the area. Just show up without reservations and you'll have dozens of options.

However, if you want a real taste of LA, you should stick to Venice or Santa Monica. Celebrity sightings are quite common at Abbot Kinney, especially at Intelligentsia Coffee. Muscle Beach Venice will remind you of Arnold Schwarzenegger at his best - and you'll have ample opportunities to pick up gifts for your family and friends.

Venice is a hip hangout, but the wedding dress in your profile makes me think you might be on your honeymoon? If so, check out Santa Monica:

Start at the Santa Monica Pier, where you can take a ride on the ferris wheel. From there, you can stop by the beach, or maybe head into town for shopping along the Third Street Promenade. Get lunch at Umami Burger for the best burger in LA. You'll probably need a pick-me-up at this point, so walk up along Montana Avenue, which is possibly the nicest area in Los Angeles County. Get your coffee at Primo Passo Coffee Co., then enjoy some tomato, green tea, or [insert random flavor] ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery - where if you don't bump into a celebrity, you'll probably see a few of their kids. Finally, UberX it to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for an amazing afternoon, and return to your hotel in Santa Monica for a beautiful dinner.

Oh, and before you catch your flight to NYC, you need to stop at the In-N-Out Burger. It's an LA-classic, so much so that you'll need to set aside some extra time for the craaaaazy lines.

Welcome to LA!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Universal Studios Hollywood (attraction)
  2. Abbot Kinney (attraction)
  3. Intelligentsia Coffee (restaurant)
  4. Muscle Beach Venice (attraction)
  5. Santa Monica Pier (attraction)
  6. Third Street Promenade (attraction)
  7. Umami Burger (restaurant)
  8. Montana Avenue (attraction)
  9. Primo Passo Coffee Co. (restaurant)
  10. Sweet Rose Creamery (restaurant)
  11. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (attraction)
  12. Santa Monica Pier/ 3rd Street Promenade (attraction)
  13. In-N-Out Burger (restaurant)
12 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Natalie from Toronto

So much to do in LA, but have you considered Manhattan Beach? Shade Hotel is a great place to stay. So close to the airport and Manhattan Beach is the perfect place to spend your day, enjoying the beach and eating at any of the great restaurants. Try The Rockefeller for the most amazing truffle parmesan fries you've ever had!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Shade Hotel (hotel)
  2. The Rockefeller (restaurant)
11 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Vicky from Los Angeles

It's possible to do Universal Studios though I imagine it'd be too tiring to spend a day there after a long flight and with jetlag, plus traffic. I suggest taking it easy and staying in Venice Beach or Santa Monica which is only 15 - 20 minutes from the airport by car. I always take my out of town visitors to the The Getty Center, which is always a hit, and if you have time, the Getty Villa - parking is free at the other Getty when you visit both on the same day, followed by a short drive down Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Monica to watch the sunset along Ocean Ave. Or watch it with a Bellini at the The Penthouse at The Huntley Hotel. There are so many hotels in Santa Monica depending on your budget. A splurge-worthy one is Shutters On the Beach. A more affordable one is The Inn at Venice Beach.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Getty Center (attraction)
  2. Getty Villa (attraction)
  3. Ocean Ave (attraction)
  4. The Penthouse (restaurant)
  5. The Huntley Hotel (hotel)
  6. Shutters On the Beach (hotel)
  7. Inn at Venice Beach (hotel)
1 thanks

answered by
Breanna from Los Angeles

From LAX you could also consider Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. If you have your heart set on doing something like that, this might be much easier to manage in one day since you won't have to go into the belly of the beast (Hollywood) like you will to get to Universal Studios.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Disneyland (attraction)
  2. Disney's California Adventure (attraction)

answered by
Kelly from Santa Monica

It's close by and more chilled to go to both Venice Beach Boardwalk and Santa Monica. I would start in Venice Beach and check out Muscle Beach where men are posing in speedos. Then walk down the Ocean Front Walk and look at shops until you get to Main Street there are great restaurants and shops there. You can then walk 15 mins on the beach to Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade where cool shops are. That would take up the day and is very pretty.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Venice Beach Boardwalk (attraction)
  2. Santa Monica (city)
  3. Venice Beach (attraction)
  4. Muscle Beach (attraction)
  5. Ocean Front Walk (attraction)
  6. Main Street (attraction)
  7. Santa Monica Pier (attraction)
  8. Third Street Promenade (attraction)

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