The most populous city in California, Los Angeles covers an area of about 469 square miles. But even on a one day visit you can still see many top attractions. To explore L.A. in one day it’s best to focus on specific neighborhoods. Visit Hollywood and Santa Monica on this 1 day itinerary for Los Angeles. Things to do with family include visiting Hollywood attractions, the La Brea Tar Pits, and Santa Monica Beach.

To explore L.A .in a day focus on Hollywood and Santa Monica

The famous Hollywood sign is easily visible from several places in the city. Photo Credit: Los Angeles TravelingMom, Mimi Slawoff

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How to See Hollywood in 1 Day

For one day in Los Angeles, you’ll want to get an early start. I suggest bringing a day-pack filled with stuff for city and beach outings. Hollywood and Santa Monica are on the itinerary to explore L.A. in one day. You’ll be visiting the La Brea Tar Pits, Santa Monica State Beach and Venice Boardwalk. Although you’ll need a car to get around, be prepared to do some walking. I recommend keeping a small cooler in the car for snacks and drinks. Bring along flip-flops and beach towels for a swim in the ocean.

The Day’s Highlights:


Original Farmers Market


La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum

Venice Beach and Canals

Santa Monica Beach and Pier

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

First Stop: Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood & Highland
Parking: 6801 Hollywood Blvd
., Hollywood

The historic TCL Theatre is among places to visit when you explore L.A. in one day

The TCL Theatre is one of Hollywood’s most recognized attractions. Photo Credit: LA Tourism

This is the iconic L.A. thing to do in Hollywood: taking a stroll along Hollywood Boulevard. Park at the Hollywood & Highland Shopping Complex. From the mall, look for views of the Hollywood sign.

On your self-guided walk you’ll see many top attractions. The Dolby Theatre is where the Academy Awards take place. The venue offers 30-minute guided tours daily. The Walk of Fame begins at La Brea Avenue; the sidewalk is embedded with 2,000-plus stars bearing celebrity names.

Next is the opulent TCL Chinese Theatre, which debuted in 1927. Across the street is Disney’s El Capitan Theatre showing first-run Disney movies. Another fun place to visit with family is Madame Tussauds Hollywood wax museum.

TravelingMom Tip: Get your parking ticket validated by making a purchase at the Hollywood & Highland Mall.

Second Stop: Lunch at the Original Farmers Market

6333 W. Third Street, L.A.

Shop and dine at the Original Farmers Market when you explore LA in 1 day.

The Original Farmers Market features shopping, dining, and entertainment. Photo Credit: Original Farmers Market

It’s about a 15-minute drive from Hollywood to the market. This iconic marketplace is packed with eateries, merchants and family-friendly events. Perusing the many specialty shops and eateries are among the things to do at the Original Farmers Market. If you’re in town for the holidays, you’ll be treated to free entertainment. For more shopping options, walk across the street to The Grove.

TravelingMom Tip: The market has two paid parking lots. You get 90 minutes free validation with purchase from a market merchant.

Third Stop: La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum

5801 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

Ice Age fossile are among exciting things to see when you explore LA in 1 day

The La Brea Tar Pits are among L.A.’s most unique attraction. See Ice Age fossils at authentic excavation sites. Photo Credit: Los Angeles TravelingMom, Mimi Slawoff

The tar pits are located less than one mile from the market so you may consider walking. The La Brea Tar Pits are located on Museum Row, home to several top L.A. museums. Kids with an interest in Ice Age history will find this an interesting stop. It’s free to walk around the Lake Pit and visit excavation sites.

The model of a Colombian mammoth trapped in the gooey lake depicts the fate of many prehistoric animals. Follow the signs to the Pit 91 excavation site and the Project 23 compound. Numerous fossils continue to be excavated in the area. While there’s a fee to enter the Page Museum, it’s worth seeing the exhibits and fossil lab.

Fourth Stop: Venice Beach Canals, Venice

200 Linnie Canal, Venice

The Venice Canals are among the lesser known things to explore in LA in 1 day

Walk or drive over the scenic Venice Canals designed after Venice in Italy. Photo Credit: Los Angeles TravelingMom, Mimi Slawoff

From Museum Row it’s about a half-hour drive (depending on traffic) to the beach. While there, drive to the nearby scenic Venice Canals. The canals were built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney who designed the neighborhood to resemble Venice, Italy. Rowboats, kayaks and canoes are moored in front of the multi-million dollar houses. For better views, park the car and walk over the canals.

Fifth Stop: Santa Monica State Beach and Pier

200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica

This 1 day itinerary for Los Angeles with kids includes a stroll along Hollywood Boulevard and swimming at Santa Monica beach.

Yay, it’s beach time! Santa Monica is just a few minutes from Venice. To get close to the beach, park on the pier or along metered spots on the street. Built in 1909, the historic pier marks the official finish line for Route 66. The pier anchors a carousel, aquarium, and Pacific Park, a classic boardwalk amusement park. One of our favorite things to do is ride on the nine-story Pacific Wheel, a solar-powered Ferris wheel. The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is located at beach level under the carousel.

Dining options include pier burgers, seafood, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and Mariasol Cocina Mexicana.

Be sure to take a stroll along the iconic Venice Boardwalk, famous for its zany street entertainers, casual eateries and beach shops.

TravelingMom Tip: Download our printable beach packing list.

Oceanfront Hotel for the Night

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
1700 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica

 The Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is the ideal place to stay when you explore LA in 1 day

The Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel has a prime spot to enjoy the beach and nearby attractions. Photo Credit: Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

The Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel has a prime location just steps from the Santa Monica Pier. That means more beach time for your family. The hotel has many family amenities. Spa facility for adults, children’s activities, and music cards for teens are some examples. Relax at the swimming pool.

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