Two Days in…LA

LA sunset by Expat Edna

How much can you really see with only two days in Los Angeles, a sprawling city the same size as Hong Kong, or a third of the state of Rhode Island? More importantly, how much do you really want to see, when you’re an East Coaster who “doesn’t really get” LA?

Let’s find out.

For this adventure, you will need:

  • A car (like, for sure)
  • A map or friend who knows the city
  • Music for when you hit the infamous LA traffic
  • Sunscreen because the sun does not let up in southern California
  • Cash for when you find those glorious taco/fruit/food trucks

I also enjoyed playing “Iconic LA Bingo“, where pretty much every other minute I found myself encountering some part of LA, geographically or culturally, I felt like I’d seen before thanks to tv and movies. (See: Hollywood, Malibu, the Santa Monica Pier, palm trees, outrageously toned blonde twigs…)

As always with my itineraries, by no means is this a definitive guide of things to do — this is just what worked for us, and by that I mean this is exactly how much we amazingly fit into two days in LA:


Start your day with an energy avalanche of diner food, fried things, and milkshakes at Cafe 50’s*. Once you feel far too fat for 9 in the morning, head to the Getty Villa, a gorgeous Roman-esque villa turned art museum.

Modeled after the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum (one of the many houses buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted), it houses thousands of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities — as well as beautiful gardens to walk around, for those who can literally only spend three minutes looking at art before getting bored (guilty).

Admission is free, just note that tickets have to be booked in advance online and parking is $15.

The Getty Villa, LA by Expat EdnaFountains, Getty Villa, LA by Expat EdnaFlower, Getty Villa, LA by Expat EdnaGetty Villa gardens, LA by Expat EdnaMosaic, Getty Villa, LA by Expat EdnaFountain, Getty Villa, LA by Expat EdnaInside Getty Villa, LA by Expat EdnaInside the Getty Villa, LA by Expat EdnaStatue, Getty Villa, LA by Expat Edna

From there drive down the road for lunch at Nobu Malibu*: incredible sushi, ocean views, and occasional celebrity sightings.

Inside Nobu, LA by Expat EdnaOutside Nobu, LA by Expat Edna

Head on to the iconic Santa Monica Pier, which is one of those places I recognized as famous but couldn’t tell you why (according to Wikipedia, it is a historical landmark over 100 years old. Well, that solves that). It looks as pier-y in person as it does in all these shows.

Really, it’s the kind of place where after a few minutes you suddenly want ice cream and to be on a carousel. (Plus: seals!)

Santa Monica Pier, LA by Expat EdnaSanta Monica, LA by Expat EdnaFish and seals, Santa Monica Pier, LA by Expat EdnaSanta Monica beach, LA by Expat EdnaSanta Monica Pier and Joe, LA by Expat EdnaPacific Park, Santa Monica Pier, LA by Expat EdnaCouple on Santa Monica pier, LA by Expat Edna

If you need a quiet break, head to the canals of (the other, non-Italian) Venice. It’s a quiet residential neighborhood, and just oozes ‘charmingly perfect for peaceful strolls.’

Canals in Venice, Los Angeles by Expat EdnaVenice baubles, LA by Expat EdnaBougainvillea and Venice palm trees, LA by Expat EdnaVenice trees, LA by Expat EdnaSwan and paddling, Venice, LA by Expat EdnaVenice, LA by Expat Edna

Food truck hot dog, LA by Expat Edna

If you’re still standing after such an exhausting day, find some food trucks/fruit guys* for dinner, take a nap, then reward yourself with some solid cocktails at The Corner Door* (seriously folks, the mushroom bitters). Alternatively: drinks at Library Alehouse and/or the Culver Hotel (of munchkins of Wizard of Oz fame).


Canter's and palm trees, LA by Expat Edna

Once again, start with a classic American diner breakfast, this time at Canter’s*. Once you’ve managed to roll yourself out the door, head to Runyon Canyon to work off all that pastrami and mac and cheese (plus all those milkshakes from the day before).

I love heights, so naturally I loved Runyon Canyon for the views over the city. BUT: the sun is brutal, there is very little shade, and every single person running circles past you on those dusty inclines looks like they’re about to head to an audition just as soon as they towel off their six-pack.

Prepare yourself.

Observatory, Runyon Canyon, LA by Expat EdnaRunyon Canyon instagram, LA by Expat EdnaLocks, Runyon Canyon, LA by Expat EdnaHollywood Sign from Runyon Canyon, LA by Expat EdnaHollywood sign, Runyon Canyon, LA by Expat EdnaView down Runyon Canyon, LA by Expat EdnaShade, Runyon Canyon, LA by Expat EdnaRunyon Canyon view, LA by Expat EdnaPalm trees over LA by Expat EdnaThe past feels thick and heavy, Graffiti, Runyon Canyon, LA by Expat Edna

Following that, a brief walk through Hollywood. Seriously, brief. I don’t understand the appeal here: you see some stars on sidewalks, some handprints, and very many tourists and touts trying to sell you bus tours. See it to get it out of your system, but don’t linger.

Hollywood sign, LA by Expat EdnaHollywood, LA by Expat Edna-2El Capitan, LA by Expat EdnaHollywood, LA by Expat EdnaMay you never die until I kill you, Humphrey Bogart, LA by Expat Edna

My favorite: “Sid, may you never die / till I kill you” — Humphrey Bogart

So from here, you could continue onto LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) or the La Brea Tarpits, which has the bones of ancient animals that died and were preserved in tar, which doesn’t at all make you think of those poor dinosaurs from The Land Before Time. 

Taco truck, LA by Expat Edna

But again, as someone not super into art and such things, I was happy with a drive-by of both, leaving more time to head back Westside for a nap and, most importantly, more food. Specifically, more Mexican food.

Venice sunrise, LA by Expat Edna

And thus, we left LA early the next morning to this sunrise, belly full of food and happiness and much sun. Can’t ask for more than that.

*For more on all the food: The 5 best things I ate in LA

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  1. I have never been interested in L.A., but your post actually makes it look kind of cool and worth a visit. I would obviously be most interested in eating all the things, but by the looks of it, there would be enough to keep us occupied and entertained between meals as well! :D

    • I felt the same way — and was so pleasantly surprised! Key is definitely having a car :)

  2. Nice overview of my hometown! I hear a lot of anti-L.A. sentiments in Australia, but it really is a city that has a lot to offer. I can’t wait to be home for Christmas in 25 days!

    • Thanks Kirstie! And that’s so surprising to hear, I just spent a few days in Bondi and it reminded us so much of LA!

  3. You packed so much in! I really need to get to LA, if for nothing else, the food and the beach – seems like to can’t go wrong with either one there (although the chances of feeling inadequate whilst sunning seems particularly high there).

    • Haha yes, though the more food I ate the more I felt like staying away from the beach!

  4. Wow, you really made the most of 2 days in LA! I’ve never been, and until recently I have never had a desire to go. I guess I’ve always thought of LA as being fake, superficial, and self-absorbed. But since moving to Paris and making good friends with wonderful people from the area/who have lived there, I’m convinced there is more to LA than I once thought. Your photos are stunning – had no idea that gorgeous Venice neighborhood existed before reading your post. If your food post didn’t already convince me to go, this itinerary did!

    • I thought the same thing too!! Must be an East Coast stereotype. Our friends in Paris definitely helped change that for me — I’d recommend checking it out, especially since so many of them are now there!

  5. Wish you were still here, my darling! Thank you for appreciating my new home so wonderfully :) and loving Mexican food as much as I do.

    • Thanks so much for coming out to see us! Next time you’ll have to come visit in Shanghai — we don’t have as great Mexican food but have some awesome noodles :)

  6. Another reason would be that it’s 80 degrees F down there in November!
    But yeah, not the biggest fan of LA, but have to admit, they have some of the better Asian food options even compared to Northern California. When I mean they, I mean the OC.

    • Didn’t get to try the Asian options (I was all about the Mexican! esp since I was visiting from Asia…) but I don’t doubt it’s pretty bomb there.

  7. Been years since I did the touristy side of LA, but most times I’m there to just visit family for a few days. I should probably do a bit of that next time I’m in the area.

  8. I only spent a day and a night in LA and we ended up staying in quite a dodgy area so I saw the seedy side of that city. I do hope to go back one day and explore it more.

  9. As usual, stunning photography. Keep travelling :)


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