Los Angeles is a sprawling city with beaches, mountains and valleys. You definitely need a plan to make the most of your visit if you’re in L.A. for just two days. Things to do with family include include visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, Griffith Park and the beach. You’ll also have time for Hollywood, Little Tokyo, and Dodger Stadium or the Hollywood Bowl if you follow this 2 day itinerary for Los Angeles. Yes, it will be a whirlwind tour but you sure will see a lot of L.A.
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On this L.A. in two days itinerary you’ll see both major and lesser known attractions. You can pick and choose the activities depending on your kids’ ages and interests. L.A. is a metropolis rich in arts and culture, history and family fun. You will definitely need a car to get around. But plan on walking quite a bit too. I always recommend keeping a few essentials in the car so you’re ready to go from hiking to the beach. The Sheraton Universal Hotel is a good home base for a two-day stay in Los Angeles.
Two Day Itinerary Highlights
Universal Studios Hollywood
La Brea Tar Pits
Santa Monica Beach and Pier
Los Angeles Zoo
Griffith Park & Southern Railroad
First Stop: Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City
For this 2 day itinerary, we recommend staying at the Sheraton Universal Hotel so you can visit the theme park first. You’ll cross off three things to do with kids at this park with this L.A. in two days itinerary. Universal Studios Hollywood is a movie studio, theme park and adjoins CityWalk. Check park hours and get to the park when it opens. Go straight to the Studio Tour attraction, a behind-the-scenes tour of movie making. You’ll see authentic movie lots and props on this fun tour for all ages. The movie-based theme park is also home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. More family favorite attractions include Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, and Jurassic Park – The Ride. Take a peek at CityWalk but save lunch for In-N-Out Burger across the street at 3640 Cahuenga Boulevard.
TravelingMom Traveling Mom recommends Get Away Today for discounted tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood.
Second Stop: Hollywood
Just a stone’s throw from Universal (about 3.5 miles), Hollywood is worth visiting because, well, it’s Hollywood. Park at the Hollywood & Highland Shopping Complex, open 24/7 and centrally located to major Hollywood landmarks. You’ll also get views of the Hollywood sign from the center. After your busy day at Universal Studios, enjoy a leisurely stroll along Hollywood Boulevard.
Things to do in Hollywood include a self-guided walk on Hollywood Boulevard. You’ll see the Dolby Theatre where the Academy Awards take place. Thirty-minute guided tours take place daily. People come from all over to see The Walk of Fame, which consists of 2,000-plus terrazzo and brass stars bearing celebrity names. The walk begins at La Brea Avenue and continues 15 blocks down on Vine Street.
Take photos in front of the extravagant TCL Chinese Theatre (Grauman’s Chinese Theatre), which debuted in 1927 and still shows movie premieres. Across from the theater is Disney’s El Capitan Theatre, showing first-run Disney movies. The Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop is located inside the theater’s Disney store.
Madame Tussauds Hollywood is also located on Hollywood Bouelvard. Unless your teens are eager to go inside, save this attraction for another visit when you have more time.
TravelingMom Tip: Get your parking ticket validated by making a purchase at one of the many stores and restaurants at the Hollywood & Highland Complex.
Third Stop: La Brea Tar Pits & Page Museum
5801 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
It’s about a 15-minute drive to the La Brea Tar Pits. Older kids with an interest in Ice Age history will find this an interesting stop during your L.A. in 2 days visit. 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 and walkway to the Pit 91 excavation site and the Project 23 compound. Numerous fossils continue to be excavated in the area. The Project 23 excavation team has uncovered more than 700 measured specimens. There’s a fee to enter the onsite Page Museum, which usually closes at 5 p.m. But if you get there early enough, it’s worth seeing the exhibits and fossil lab.
Fourth Stop: Santa Monica Beach and Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica
Park on the pier or along metered spots on the street. There are so many things to do at the Santa Monica Beach and pier. 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. Take a spin on the nine-story Pacific Wheel, a solar-powered Ferris wheel shown in many TV shows. 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: For cheap eats with a view, stop at Hot Dog on a Stick.
Fifth Stop: Venice Canals
200 Linnie Canal, Venice
Take a 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.
First Stop: Little Tokyo
307 E 1st St., Los Angeles
It’s about six miles–a 30-minute drive–from the hotel to Little Tokyo. The tidy Japanese neighborhood is one of several ethnic pockets in Los Angeles. Sampling Japanese cuisine and shopping for imported goods are among the fun things to do in Little Tokyo. Visit the Little Tokyo Koban, a traditional Japanese-style information center, for a walking map. History buffs will like the Japanese American National Museum. The museum tells the story of American Japanese ancestry in the U.S. through fascinating exhibits. The Oiwake Restaurant serves a traditional all-you-can-eat Japanese lunch buffet. Try to snag a window table on the second floor for village views. Treat your palate to traditional Japanese mochi (rice cakes) and other treats at Fegetsu-do Confectioners. Bring along a few extra goodies for our next stop in Griffith Park.
TravelingMom Tip: Shop for Japanese dolls, delicate tea sets, shoes, paper lanterns, handbags and clothing in the Japanese Village Plaza.
Second Stop: Griffith Park
From Little Tokyo it’s about a 30-minute drive to Griffith Park. This urban parkland is an L.A. icon with numerous trails and attractions sprawled over 4,210 acres. Things to do in Griffith Park include visiting the L.A. Zoo, Travel Town, and the spectacular observatory. You can also ride horses and learn about western history at the Autry Museum of the American West. All of these attractions are clustered in one area, although you will need to drive from one attraction to the next.
5200 Zoo Dr., L.A.
Make a quick stop at this transportation museum housing trains and vehicles from the 1880-1930s. The museum is especially fun for young kids and train buffs. You can climb aboard historic steamer locomotives, passenger cars and cabooses. Things to do in Travel Town include riding a miniature train around the nine-acre park.
TravelingMom Tip: If you plan in advance you can celebrate your child’s birthday inside a historic train car.
The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens
5333 Zoo Dr., L.A.
The zoo is home to more than 1,100 mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles representing more than 250 different species. While you could spend several hours at the zoo, limit your time to see other attractions in Griffith Park. To save time, choose your favorite animals and shows to see.
TravelingMom Tip: To save time, ride the Safari Shuttle which circles the zoo and returns to the entrance. You can hop on and off at designated stops.
Griffith Park & Southern Railroad
4400 Crystal Springs Drive
This small iconic attraction is on the way to the observatory. It’s especially popular with young families. Train and pony rides are among the fun things to do with kids.
2800 E. Observatory Road, L.A.
Day or night, the observatory is a great place for city views. Things to do include exploring exhibits, models, artifacts and telescopes that provide a peek into the universe. For a nominal fee, you can watch one of the daily planetarium shows. During free, monthly Public Star Parties, you can look through a variety of telescopes on the observatory’s terraces.
Next you have a few choices for the evening. You can stay at the observatory for night views of the sky and city. Or, go to Dodger Stadium for a ballgame or stadium tour, or take in a show at the Hollywood Bowl.
1000 Vin Scully Ave., L.A.
Whether you’re a baseball fan or just want to blend in with the L.A. crowd, it’s fun to root for the Dodgers. You may want to wear blue while watching an afternoon or evening game. Even if no games are scheduled, you can still see the country’s third largest baseball stadium on a tour. The 80-90-minute tours bring visitors to the field, dugout and more.
2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A.
The Hollywood Bowl is among the best venues to enjoy concerts in Los Angeles. The outdoor amphitheater showcases a variety of shows for families under the stars. Guests are welcome to bring a picnic (and wine).
TravelingMom Tip: For hassle-free parking, drive to one of the shuttle bus parking lots near the Hollywood Bowl. Park for about $6 per vehicle and ride a shuttle to the bowl. It is totally worth it.
Hotel for L.A. in Two Days Itinerary
Sheraton Universal Hotel, 333 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City
The Sheraton Universal Hotel has a prime location next door to Universal Studios Hollywood. A complimentary shuttle between the hotel and Universal makes it convenient to visit the park. The pet-friendly hotel is centrally located to many major L.A. attractions. The hotel’s spacious rooms and swimming pool with private cabanas make this a good choice for families.