48 Hours in Los Angeles: Tacos, Beer and Boardwalks
We get it, 48 Hours in Los Angeles is not only way too little time to experience all there is to see in the city, but couldn’t possibly be enjoyable in just a weekend right? Wrong.
We recently got back to Dubai after a whirlwind trip to California and we managed to fit a whole hell of a lot in just a few days, including filming a 48 Hours in San Francisco episode as well.
The most important thing to think about before spending 48 hours in Los Angeles is making sure you plan it correct, as LA is a massively spread out city and isn’t exactly walking friendly. Sure, you can explore certain areas on foot, but if you expect to land at LAX, jump on the metro and be having lunch in Hollywood 20 minutes later, you’ve got some learning to do.
If you follow our adventures around the world at all, you’ll know we love to get lost and explore cities on foot, many days doing 10-15km walking easily. However, in Los Angeles, you’ll need to rent a car to really enjoy yourself – especially if you only have a weekend.
While a car will give you the freedom you need to get from Santa Monica to Pasadena, down to Long Beach and up the PCH Highway through Malibu, there is a metro in Los Angeles, which most people have no clue exists – I sure didn’t until I accidentally moved within walking distance of a stop. Uber and Lyft are plentiful in the city, so never fear, if you’ve had too many and don’t want to driver there will always be a way to get back to your hotel without spending $80 on a cab.
Next up you’ll need to pick a place to stay, which you should really put some thought into. We’ve had so many readers plan trips to Los Angeles and simply pick the cheapest option, only to be surprised they’ve ended up in a budget hotel miles and miles from anything close to interesting.
Los Angeles is so spread out it actually has two downtown areas, miles apart from each other so the most important thing is to pull out a map and decide what is most important to you. As this was Anne’s first trip to California, and I spent 10 years living there (see “How to Visit Los Angeles Like a Local”) , I had soooo much to show her, so picking the right spot was key, especially working around the world-famous Los Angeles traffic.
Right next to the Getty, nestled right off the 405 Freeway, we found the LUX Sunset, in one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city, that I never really knew was there. This proved to be the perfect location for us to set up our base, and was quiet and gorgeous nonetheless.
Located just a couple miles from the Malibu coast, Santa Monica and all three major freeways in Los Angeles (101, 10, 405) this was all critically important to spending 48 hours in Los Angeles and allowed us to perfectly hit every part of the city we wanted to explore.
We spent an lovely afternoon on the Venice Beach boardwalk, explored the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, walked the famous Santa Monica Pier, drove up the PCH coast towards Malibu – where the best fish tacos on the planet are located – and were able to easily pop into the middle of Hollywood, walk down Sunset Blvd. and even drive through downtown and up to Pasadena.
Not only were we able to easily explore Los Angeles but it was the perfect spot for us to sneak up the coast early one morning (thanks 12 hour time change!) and drive through the stunning and cozy beach towns of Ventura and Santa Barbara, just an hour up the coast from Los Angeles.
Now that you’ve got your transportation and accommodation planned out, you’ll need to find the best food and drink right? Of course you do.
Living in the Middle East for the last 3 years has been amazing, except there has been one clear item missing – tacos – or any decent Mexican food for that matter. Spending so many years living in Los Angeles, I took for granted all of the amazing authentic street food I was able to eat – and the delicious cheap Mexican beer to go along with it!
If you spend 48 hours in Los Angeles, I would suggest setting aside at least 47 of those hours for $1 street tacos, found on nearly corner and some of the beat food you’ll ever try. If you’re feeling adventurous you can go for the famous bacon wrapped hotdogs or jalepenos – they’ll wake you up!
The craft beer movement in the US isn’t just reserved for the Pacific North West, as Southern California now has some of the best microbrews in the country, and it would be a shame for you to miss out on trying all of them. Plan you trip around May and you’ll be able to check out the California Beer Fest – what a dream!
Have a bit more than 48 hours in Los Angeles? We’d suggest taking a trip down to Disneyland, or Universal Studios Unfortunately we decided to skip both as when you’re spending over $100 to enter, you want to spend a full day there. Or you could jump on a boat out to Catalina Island, one of the true gems of California, just a couple hour ride off the Long Beach coast.
So, was 48 hours in Los Angeles enough for us? Absolutely not. But it gave Anne a taste of one of my favorite cities in the world and so much left to explore when we go back – but at least I’ve gotten my fill of tacos, at least for a couple months.