Discover the best of California with our unique Los Angeles itinerary! Discover incredible tips and attractions in the City of Angels!

Los Angeles is a metropolis immersed in the world of cinema, which is why it is very sophisticated and preserves that almost magical air of eternal youth… It is as if the city invites you to fall in love, fostering the idea that your dreams can come true and that anything is possible in the “City of Angels”.

Well, given that rather romantic introduction, we also need to get down to brass tacks: LA is one of those giant, bustling, sprawling, and often chaotic cities. So, there are a few things that can make your stay and experience there much easier – and a car is definitely one of them.

I’m Ana Zeni, from the Marketing team at Rentcars, and I’ll tell you all about my trip in Los Angeles, as well as give you realistic tips on everything you can do there by car!

A young woman explores the bustling Santa Monica Pier, a landmark amusement destination.

How many days are needed to explore Los Angeles?

In this itinerary, you’ll find that it’s perfectly possible to see several Los Angeles attractions in just 3 days. However, if you’re planning on visiting further-flung places like Universal Studios Hollywood or The Getty, it’s recommended to spend at least a week in the city.

What is the best time to travel to Los Angeles?

Summer is always a good choice to enjoy the best of the beaches in California, but I visited during autumn and it was amazing! Especially because this season in Los Angeles is very pleasant, with mild temperatures and not as many tourists as you’d find during summer. For that reason, prices are lower and attractions are less crowded.

What to do in Los Angeles?

Tourism in Los Angeles is heavily reliant on car travel, because the city is vast and public transport isn’t as efficient. Besides, the hot weather with little rain makes car culture in the city very strong, as it provides the perfect conditions for comfortable driving.

For this reason, hiring a car should be a top priority when planning your trip to LA. Well-known hire companies, such as Alamo, Enterprise and Budget, offer services throughout the whole region – and to make a reservation with confidence, you can easily compare prices between them and book your car using the Rentcars website or app. This way, you’ll have all your booking information in one place! Much easier, isn’t it?

Right then, let’s get on with it: places you simply must visit in LA and how to drive there!

Day 1: Beaches and Shopping

Santa Monica

To kick off your day in true American style, your first stop for breakfast should be Denny’s. This restaurant chain has over 60 years of history, and it is renowned for serving up classic American breakfasts featuring eggs, bacon, pancakes, and milkshakes. I ordered their classic option, which came with pancakes and hash browns, and it was absolutely delicious!

A classic Denny's breakfast with fluffy pancakes, crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, and golden hash browns.

After that, I set off for Santa Monica to see the famous pier that’s been immortalised in countless television shows and films. To get there from Downtown LA, you can take the I-10 West or head west along roads like Olympic Boulevard and Pico Boulevard.

If you opt for the I-10 West (also known as the Santa Monica Freeway), join it via the designated slip roads and keep an eye out for signs pointing towards the “Pacific Coast Highway”. Thereafter, on Highway 1,  you’ll see signs for the city.

As well as strolling, the pier houses Pacific Park, an amusement park featuring the ‘West Coaster,’ the roller coaster that graces every postcard of the Santa Monica Pier. Take a ride on the West Coaster for an adrenaline rush, or opt for a more relaxed experience on the Ferris wheel, carousel, and other similar rides.

On the pier, you’ll also find a selection of souvenir and clothing shops, alongside beachfront restaurants, perfect for browsing or enjoying a nice meal. I found a fantastic pair of sunglasses for just US$12, so there are bargains to be found! And finally, if the weather’s good, you can make the most of the beach, or cycle along the seafront.

A wide view of the Santa Monica Pier, with the Pacific Park amusement rides and Ferris wheel visible in the distance.

In Santa Monica, you’ll find on-street parking with parking meters that operate during certain hours – the rates vary depending on the location. It’s crucial to follow the parking regulations, such as time limits and any restrictions that may apply on specific days. Another key tip is to use apps like ParkMe to find available parking spaces, check prices in real time, and, in some cases, even book parking.

Venice Beach 

A panoramic vista of Venice Beach, capturing the sandy beach, the palm trees, and the urban landscape in the background.

To make the most of your day, consider extending your visit to Venice Beach. Its close proximity to Santa Monica means many tourists, myself included, combine these two destinations in a single day. Venice has a distinctly youthful vibe! The seafront is lined with boutiques, ice cream shops, and parlours. Meanwhile, the beach, a haven for surfers and skaters, offers incredible sunsets.

Tourists explore the Venice Beach shops.

Other than that, the Venice Canals are located nearby. While the canals operate similarly to the ones in Italy, in California they are bordered by distinctly American houses and even mansions. Built in the early 1920s by Venice’s founder, Abbot Kinney, the canals now offer a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.

Image of the Venice Canals in Los Angeles, California.

Sunset Strip

To finish off your day,dive into the Californian nightlife on the Sunset Strip, where countless legendary music and film personalities have made their mark. Even David Bowie enjoyed a tipple or two there!

Sunset Strip forms part of Sunset Boulevard, stretching between Havenhurst Drive and Doheny Drive in West Hollywood. Here, you’ll find bars and clubs that played a huge role in rock and roll history during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

One of the most famous Rainbow, a bar which opened in April 1972 with a party for Elton John. Notorious in the music scene, it has already welcomed multiple rock stars and icons, such as John Lennon, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. It is also the place where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio met. Amazing, right?

If you’re not one for partying, your night can end at In-N-Out, a fast food chain unique to California, known for its speed, simplicity and flavour. For around US$20, you can order meals for two, which is quite affordable compared to other places in the United States.

Day 2: Most Famous Tourist Attractions

If you’re up early, you can pack in a visit to many iconic attractions by car: the Hollywood sign, the Walk of Fame, Beverly Hills, The Groove and Griffith Observatory. Right then, let’s get going! Grab a coffee and doughnut combo from Dunkin’ Donuts – delicious! Then, it’s time to hit the road and head for the Hollywood sign.

Girl holding coffee and donut from Dunkin' Donuts.

Hollywood Sign

To find the sign easily, enter  “Hollywood Sign Vista Point” as your destination to your GPS or map app, like Waze and Google Maps. This is a well-known viewpoint offering close-up views of the sign.

View of the Hollywood sign from a car.

Alternatively, you can drive to Mulholland Drive and then walk to 3160 Canyon Lake Drive, Hollywood, CA 90068, USA.

Walk of Fame

After snapping some photos, I headed to the world-famous Walk of Fame. Here, I marvelled at the over 2,600 stars embedded in the pavement, alongside the boutiques, historic theatres,  restaurants, and attractions like Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

You can also explore the Hollywood & Highland Centre, visit the Hollywood Museum, watch a movie at the El Capitan Theatre, and enjoy some sightseeing tours of the area. The Hollywood sign is also visible from here, although in the distance.

Beverly Hills and The Grove

How about a touch of luxury? The Grove, in Beverly Hills,  is an open-air mall with stylish and sophisticated shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

To get to Beverly Hills, I drove down the 101 South (also known as the Hollywood Freeway), heading towards Downtown, so always keep an eye out for signs indicating “Downtown Los Angeles”. Once you reach the exit for Wilshire Boulevard, follow this route, as this boulevard is one of the main streets in Beverly Hills.

Right next to The Grove, you’ll see the Farmers’ Market, an open-air market that offers numerous culinary delights, international cuisine, fresh produce, and healthy snacks.

Griffith Observatory

To cap off the day, you can watch the sunset at Griffith Observatory, the highest point in Los Angeles. This astronomical observatory tells you a bit about planets and telescopes, and offers a tour of the planetarium, which shows films about astronomy. Best of all, admission is free!

Los Angeles cityscape at nightfall, seen from Griffith Observatory.

From up high, you can see the Hollywood sign and the city lights begin to twinkle as the day draws to a close. Parking at the park costs around US$10 and is always crowded, so try to arrive as early as possible.

Day 3: Los Angeles at Night

For a third and final day in Los Angeles, if you want to wave goodbye to any semblance of a diet, another great option for an American meal is IHOP (International House of Pancakes). I found the pancakes better than Denny’s!

This is a restaurant chain that offers a variety of breakfast dishes, including pancakes, omelettes, waffles, crepes, eggs, bacon and much more. They also offer lunch and dinner options, such as hamburgers, sandwiches and steak.

LACMA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Afterwards, it’s time to explore the city’s museums a bit more. One of them is LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), home to those iconic lamp posts that make for stunning photographs.

Young Woman at LACMA, posing in front of the iconic lamp posts.

Located at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, LACMA boasts a vast collection of art from around the world and spanning different eras. This includes Western, Asian, African, Latin American, and contemporary art, as well as special exhibitions and installations. Admission is US$25.

Walk of Fame at Night

Strolling down the Walk of Fame in the late afternoon or early evening offers a unique experience compared to daytime. Not only are the crowds smaller, but it’s also easier to find parking. You’ll also have the chance to see all the theatres lit up with their colourful lights, creating a more vibrant atmosphere. This is also a great time for photography enthusiasts to capture some stunning shots!

Tips for visiting Los Angeles

Hire a car

Hiring a car in LA facilitates navigating the vast city and its surrounding areas with greater ease and flexibility, allowing travellers to explore various attractions at their own pace, and avoiding the constraints of public transport schedules. Additionally, it provides the convenience of reaching destinations that may not be easily accessible by other means. Ensure to book in advance to secure the best rates and availability, especially during peak travel seasons!

Check attraction hours beforehand

Researching the opening hours of attractions such as museums, galleries, and landmarks allows you to create a well-organised itinerary. This approach helps avoid disappointment due to unexpected closures or limited operating hours, enabling you to maximise your exploration of Los Angeles!

Watch out for the CA sales tax

Unlike some other states, California imposes a sales tax on most retail purchases, including goods and services. The current statewide sales tax rate is typically around 7.25%, but this can vary slightly depending on the city or county you’re in. Additionally, certain items may be subject to additional local taxes, further increasing the overall tax rate.

It’s important to factor in this sales tax when budgeting for your trip, as it can significantly impact your expenses, especially if you’re planning to make several purchases along the way. Keep in mind that sales tax is typically not included in listed prices, so be prepared for the total cost to be higher than the initial price tag.


With these tips in mind, it’s important to decide how many people will be joining you on your trip. This will help you choose the most comfortable and spacious car for both passengers and luggage. On the Rentcars website and app, you can easily see all the available categories, from the most economical cars to SUVs and convertibles, a popular vehicle type in Los Angeles.

Compare prices and see if any special promotions apply to find the perfect car for your US trip! Have a fantastic time!

Attention! All efforts were made to validade the information published in this blog at the moment they were written, however, does not take responsibility for inaccuracies or future adjustments that can happen as a result of different offers and conditions. The posts here published, as well as the eventual comments from its readers, are merely informative and it is the client's duty to confirm with and/or suppliers any content that may affect their vacation plans.

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