Updated May 2023
How much time should you give yourself to visit Los Angeles? It all depends on what you want to do while you’re here! This city’s got a little something for everyone, from beaches and hiking to theme parks, museums, and celebrity sightings. We recommend staying at least three days and three nights at HI Los Angeles Santa Monica hostel to give yourself time to explore the best of LA. But for those with a little more time, there’s always more to explore. To help you plan your visit, we’ve put together a list of our favorite activities, sights, and experiences and how much time you need to do them right!
Hollywood: Half day
The Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Sign, the Chinese Theater, and a whole lot of movie history are all right here. Give yourself at least half a day to see them all.
Downtown LA: Half to Full day
It’s all about art, architecture, and food in downtown LA. Beat the traffic and take the Expo line light rail (just a few blocks from HI LA Santa Monica hostel) and you’ll be there in under 50 minutes. While you’re downtown, check out the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Broad Museum, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, then stuff yourself silly at food emporium Grand Central Market.
Venice: Half to Full day
Venice is a quick bike or bus ride away from HI LA Santa Monica. Spend your day checking out the beach, the shopping, awesome restaurants, street art, and of course the famous Venice Canals. Window shop along the fabulous Abbot Kinney Blvd. and stop for snacks, dinner, or drinks as the evening wears on.
Universal Studios: Full day
Between its movie-themed rides and shows, the working on-site movie studio, and the shopping and dining, you’ll want to set aside a full day for this theme park.
Disneyland: Full day
You can hop a ride to Disneyland with our partner, Starline Tours, just outside of the hostel. Once there, you’ll want all day to get through all of the rides and shows!
LACMA, La Brea Tar Pits, and more: Full day
Visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and you’ll be close enough to swing by the La Brea Tar Pits (a legendary ice-age fossil excavation site), the Museum of Automobiles, and the Museum of Architecture and Design all in one day.
Malibu: Half to Full day
It’s easy to get to this glam city full of beautiful beaches and celebrity homes by bus. Depending on how much of a beach bum you’d like to be, give yourself a half day or a full day to soak up the sunshine.
Griffith Park: Half day
LA traffic being what it is, it can take a while to get to Griffith Park on the bus, so our staff recommends you split a cab with fellow hostellers if possible. Once you’re there, it will take you about a half-day to explore the park, the museum, and the famous observatory with epic views of the city. Have more time to spend here? You can hike from here to the Hollywood sign, choosing your own trail for a hike of up to seven miles.
The Getty: Half day
The free Getty Museum houses an awesome collection of Western art from the middle ages to the present in the super-fancy Brentwood neighborhood of LA. A visit will take you about half a day, including the bus ride to and from the hostel.
Santa Monica: Full day
We can’t forget our awesome home, Santa Monica! With a sprawling sandy beach, the world-famous Santa Monica Pier, and endless shops, restaurants, and bars, you’ll want to make sure you leave yourself a full day to explore our neighborhood.