How to spend 3 days in Los Angeles with kids
A few months ago, we tried something new. Rather then travel as a family of four, we each took one boy on a separate mini-adventure. One parent, one boy. For this short trip, we decided to spend an extra long weekend in Los Angeles, California.
We chose to visit Los Angeles for a few reasons.
First, it’s less than 3 hours by plane from Vancouver to Los Angeles. And, both cities are located in the same time zone, which makes things easy.
Second, the goal for this trip is to attend live sports events. Therefore, the destination should have multiple sports teams playing on this weekend. Los Angeles is home to several professional sports teams, which makes it easy to find tickets to games.
Finally, there are so many things to do in Los Angeles with kids. Although the primary goal for our trip is to attend sports events, we also want to go hiking and sightseeing. Los Angeles has something for every travel style and budget.
Watch this short video from our trip to Los Angeles.
Weekend in Los Angeles itinerary
Let me start by stating the obvious. There are plenty of things to do in Los Angeles. So much so, that one can easily spend a few weeks exploring the Greater Los Angeles area and still only scratch the surface.
I find it challenging to recommend a specific 3 days in Los Angeles itinerary because travel is personal. Without knowing your likes and dislikes, it’s difficult to put together a plan that works for you.
However, after visiting LA a few times, we have a pretty good idea about how to spend a weekend in Los Angeles. There are a few things that every first time visitor to Los Angeles should do.
We arrive Friday morning and depart Monday evening.
This gives us 2 x full days and 2 x half days. Because of the two half days, I merged them together to create a 3 days in Los Angeles itinerary. However, you can easily add or subtract some of these Los Angeles attractions if you only have 2 or 4 days.
Here’s what we did on this trip to Los Angeles:
- Arrive Friday at 10:00AM – Uber from LAX to our hotel (we stayed at Hotel Indigo LA Downtown)
- Friday afternoon – Downtown Santa Monica and Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier
- Friday evening – Venice Beach Boardwalk, Muscle Beach and Skatepark
- Saturday morning – Griffith Observation and hike to see the famous Hollywood Sign
- Afternoon Saturday – Hollywood Boulevard and Walk of Fame
- Saturday evening – Los Angeles Kings hockey game at Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center)
- Sunday morning and afternoon – Los Angeles Chargers NFL game at Sofi Stadium
- Sunday evening – dinner in downtown Los Angeles
- Monday morning – explore downtown Los Angeles, lunch at Grand Central Market
- Monday afternoon – pool time at the hotel, then back to LAX to depart home
Travel tip – when planning your weekend in Los Angeles, it’s important to consider drive times between activities. There’s a good chance you will get stuck in Los Angeles’ infamous traffic. Even if the distance between locations appears close on the map, it’s wise to add an extra hour of travel time, just in case.
Scroll down to see our photos from Los Angeles.
Here’s a few of the top Los Angeles attractions:
- See the iconic Hollywood Sign
- Visit the Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier
- Experience the quirkiness of Venice Beach
- Admire the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills
- Explore Hollywood Boulevard and see the stars on the Walk of Fame
- Visit the Griffith Observatory and go hiking in Griffith Park
- Sample some interesting eats at Grand Central Market
- Marvel at the architecture of Walt Disney Concert Hall and The Broad
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Hollywood
- Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour of the top Los Angeles attractions
- Hollywood and Celebrity Homes Bus Tour
- Spend the day at Universal Studios Hollywood
- Spend the day at Disneyland California
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Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park
After checking into our hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, we grabbed an Uber to Santa Monica. We started our sightseeing at the downtown Santa Monica promenade. It’s a popular shopping district in Los Angeles.
We continued walking through Palisades Park towards the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier.
The pier is a family friendly destination with plenty of things to do with kids. Pacific Park on the Santa Monica pier is the top attraction. It’s a small amusement park with rides, games, aquarium, restaurants and concessions. You can easily spend a few hours here.
Watch this short video from Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier.
Santa Monica pier is also the final stop on the famous Route 66 highway.
Santa Monica Beach
If you’re looking for some beach time, Santa Monica is arguably the most popular beach in Los Angeles. It’s a large sandy beach with facilities and parking. And, given it’s close proximity to the Santa Monica pier, there’s plenty of concessions and restaurants nearby.
Watch this short video from Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier.
Santa Monica State Beach is huge. Notice the amusement park and Santa Monica pier in the backdrop. There’s a pathway connecting Santa Monica and Venice beach. You can walk, run, bike, roller-skate, scooter or skateboard on this iconic paved path.
We decided to walk from Santa Monica to Venice Beach.
Venice Beach Boardwalk
The Venice Beach Boardwalk is a two-mile promenade stretching parallel to Venice Beach. In the north, the Boardwalk connects to the Santa Monica Boardwalk. In the south, it finishes at Marina del Rey.
Venice is a quirky, artistic and touristy destination located on the coast of Los Angeles.
It’s an interesting place to visit. However, it’s not the best location for kids. There are a lot of bars, cannabis shops and questionable retail stores. We did not feel unsafe, but it’s probably better to spend time in Santa Monica if you have young kids.
The iconic Muscle Beach Venice Gym.
This is the mecca for body builders. We arrived just before sunset and the outdoor gym was empty.
Prior to this weekend in Los Angeles trip, we watched the Arnold Schwarzenegger Netflix docuseries. Muscle Beach is highlighted in the show, so this gave some context for our visit. My son wanted to find the Arnold Schwarzenegger mural in Venice Beach because it was featured in the show.
The Arnold mural is located on the back of the Muscle Beach gym building (see below).
Venice Beach Skatepark is the most famous skatepark in Los Angeles.
It’s located on Venice Beach, near Muscle Beach and Roller Skate Dance Plaza. It has a pedestrian viewing area, so you can watch the skaters practice their moves. My boy started skateboarding last year, so he was excited to witness this iconic American skatepark.
Venice Public Art Walls on Venice Beach.
Los Angeles Kings hockey game at Crypto.com Arena
The purpose of our trip to Los Angeles is to attend live sports events.
First up is an NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena, formerly known as Staples Center. The stadium is located in downtown Los Angeles. It’s also home to the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers (although a new stadium, Intuit Dome, is currently being built for the Clippers).
We watched the LA Kings vs Philadelphia Flyers on a Saturday night.
It’s a fun atmosphere for a hockey game. LA Live is a massive entertainment complex across the street from Cyrpto.com area. It has a theater, The Grammy Museum, and several restaurants and shops.
Get your LA Kings tickets here.
Our seats were in the upper level, close to center ice. It’s a nice hockey arena.
LA Live features live music and entertainment before the game. I love the Hockeywood reference.
Statues at Star Plaza in downtown Los Angeles
In the front of Crypto.com Arena is Star Plaza, home to statues of famous Los Angeles athletes and broadcasters. When we visited, the Kobe Bryant statue was not on display yet (it was unveiled on Feb 8, 2024). See the list of statues here.
Magic Johnson statue at Star Plaza in front of Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Chargers NFL game at SoFi Stadium
Next up is a visit to the impressive SoFi Stadium for a live NFL game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Detroit Lions. I’ve wanted to visit this state-of-the-art stadium since it opened in 2020.
This magnificent stadium has a capacity of 70,000. It’s home to both the LA Chargers and LA Rams, who won the Super Bowl in 2022 when this stadium hosted Super Bowl LVI.
Interesting fact about this stadium – it’s actually dug into the ground. When you walk into the stadium, you are already on level 3. So you have to walk down multiple flights to access field level. It’s a little disorienting the first time you enter the stadium and see the field.
Related post – Our experience at the Rugby World Cup in France
SoFi Stadium is one of the nicest stadiums in the world. Even if you’re not a sports fan, it’s a fun experience attending a live game here. Add this to your weekend in Los Angeles itinerary.
See more photos from inside the stadium here.
Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory
We decided to go hiking in Griffith Park to see the world famous Hollywood Sign. We took an Uber from our downtown LA hotel to the Griffith Observatory. It’s an easy landmark to add to the Uber map.
Prior to the hike, we visited the Griffith Observatory briefly. The views of Los Angeles from the observatory are fantastic. It’s a free-admission facility located on the south side of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park.
Here’s more photos from our hike to the Hollywood sign.
Santa Monica Beach and Pacific Ocean is on the horizon in the above photo.
View of Hollywood Sign from Griffith Observatory. Notice the people on the viewing platform on the right side of the above photo. There are several easy hiking trails in this area.
View of the hiking trails in Griffith Park. Notice the Observatory in the top right of the photo.
Can you spot the Hollywood Sign in the photo above?
Stay on the trail! The trails are actually a little confusing and deceiving. Because you must stay on the trail, sometimes you have to walk much further in order to loop around and get back down.
Bring sufficient water with you. The trails are dusty with loose gravel. Wear proper footwear. It can be slippery.
Hollywood Boulevard and Walk of Fame
After your hike in the nearby Hollywood Hills and/or Griffith Park, head to Hollywood Boulevard and walk the famous Walk of Fame. There’s actually a lot of things to do in Hollywood with kids. It seems like every corner has a museum, escape room or theatre.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a historic landmark that consists of more than 2,765 stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street. It’s one of the top free things to do in Los Angeles.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time here, unless you want to visit some of the Hollywood tourist attractions. We started at the TCL Chinese Theatre and walked east along Hollywood Boulevard.
It’s fun reading the names on the stars. But, be careful. It’s busy here and many tourists are walking with their eyes on the sidewalk. Collisions will happen if you’re not paying attention.
The TCL Chinese Theatre is one of the most famous landmarks in Hollywood, California.
There are lots of museums and shops on Hollywood Boulevard. Notice the stars on the Walk of Fame in the above photo. This goes on for several blocks. It’s actually pretty fun searching for famous people that you know.
The most popular tourist attractions in Hollywood are:
- TCL Chinese Theatre, Dolby Theatre, El Capitan & The Egyptian Theatre Hollywood
- The Hollywood Museum & Medieval Torture Museum
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
- Madame Tussauds Hollywood & Hollywood Wax Museum
- Ovation Hollywood shopping center
- Paramount Pictures Studio Tour
- Hotel Roosevelt & Capitol Records Building
The Dirt Dog. I’m told this is the official hot dog of Los Angeles.
This magical street meat is bacon-wrapped and served with grilled peppers, cheese sauce, jalapenos and all the fixings. It’s deadly.
We sampled one of these in Hollywood (above) and also after the NHL game at Crypto.com Arena.
Wander the streets of Downtown Los Angeles
Another easy free thing to do in Los Angeles is wander the streets of downtown and admire it’s architecture and landmarks. Above is the mind-bending architecture of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It’s worth checking out.
Across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall is The Broad (photo below), a modern art museum with a honeycomb-like façade.
Angels Flight railway is a historic landmark in the Bunker Hill district of Downtown Los Angeles. Learn about the history of this unique funicular here.
Where to eat in Los Angeles
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of places to eat in Los Angeles. Where you eat will depend heavily on your weekend in Los Angeles itinerary.
Therefore, rather then give you a long list of popular Los Angeles restaurants (that might complicate things and make you more indecisive), I’m going to give you one recommendation – visit Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles.
Grand Central Market is a historic landmark with a fun atmosphere. It has every type of food option you’re looking for, and some you didn’t know you needed. See the list of market vendors here. Food tours are also a great option if you don’t know where to go.
Where to stay in Los Angeles without a car
Where you choose to stay in Los Angeles should be connected to what you want to do.
Los Angeles is massive. And its known for its traffic and long drive times between short distances. Because of this, it’s best to stay relatively close the Los Angeles attractions you plan to visit.
The most popular areas to stay in Los Angeles is Downtown, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
We stayed at Hotel Indigo Los Angeles Downtown (see more photos here)
We also like that this Los Angeles hotel has a rooftop swimming pool, large gym facility, onsite restaurant and spacious rooms.
3 days in Los Angeles without a car
We did NOT rent a car on our weekend in Los Angeles. I did not want to deal with LA traffic. And, hotel parking can be $30-40 per night at most hotels in downtown LA.
I also did not want to deal with the headache of picking up and dropping off the vehicle at LAX.
How to get around Los Angeles without a car
We relied on Uber during this short trip to LA. If my math is correct, we did 9 Uber trips during our time in Los Angeles.
Using Uber was mostly fine. However, there were 2 trips that did not go according to plan.
The first was after our hike in the Hollywood Hills.
We had to walk through a residential neighborhood to find a pick-up point for the Uber driver. Because of our unusual location, it took 25 minutes to find a driver. Not a big deal, but it did create some added anxiety.
The second was after the football game at SoFi Stadium.
It cost approx. $30 USD to get from downtown Los Angeles to SoFi Stadium. However, for the return trip, the price jumped to $150 USD. And it was impossible to find a driver. Obviously, the dynamic pricing is based on demand. There were thousands of people searching for an Uber at the same time.
We decided to wait it out. I found a Sizzler restaurant located near the stadium. By the time we finished dinner, the demand for Uber drivers went down. Although, it still cost about $100 USD to return to our hotel.
I did consider public transit to get to and from SoFi Stadium. But there are no direct trains or buses from downtown Los Angeles. At least none that I could find. I was confused and somewhat overwhelmed trying to figure out the public transit system. So I defaulted to using Uber instead. More expensive, but more convenient.
When is the Best Time to visit Los Angeles
Is there a bad time to visit Los Angeles? I don’t think so.
Although, depending on what you want to do on your weekend in Los Angeles, the weather might be a factor. However, the likelihood of nice weather in Los Angeles is high.
Generally speaking, the low season in Los Angeles is typically the spring and fall. Spring in Los Angeles average temperatures is in the 70’s Fahrenheit (low 20’s Celsius). Fall in LA will offer similar temperatures.
Summer in Los Angeles average temperatures are in the mid-high 80’s Fahrenheit (25-30 Celsius). Winter months will be the coolest. Temperatures are typically in the high 60’s and low 70’s Fahrenheit (15-20 Celsius).
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Are you planning to spend a weekend in Los Angeles?
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