Recently we got to tour Los Angeles in a day, and it was an absolute whirlwind of fun! Have a day to spend there? Check out what we did!
Typically when you think of exploring LA, you wouldn’t expect to do it in a day. Life happens, and sometimes you only have a day to tour Los Angeles. In our case, it was either do it in a day, or don’t do it at all. We did it in a day, and had an aboslute blast! I even spoke to a California native recently, and he said we did more in a day than he’s done his entire time living there, so we must have done something right!
Tour Los Angeles In A Day
The Original Farmer’s Market
Number one on my list of things to do when we decided to tour Los Angeles was to shop at the Original Farmer’s Market. I live in the Midwest, so Farmer’s Markets are pretty abundant here. However, the Original Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles was SO diferent than what I was used to, but different in a good way.
DO NOT SKIP Bob’s Doughnuts. Best Iced Mocha I’ve ever had, and AMAZING donuts. They only take cash though, so keep that in mind.
They also have several amazing on-site restaurants, handmade goods, crazy candy shops and bakeries, and an awesome toy store. There’s also an amazing fresh meat shop right there! Most places take card, and the donut shop was the only place we found that didn’t have that capability. They’re open pretty late, so you can go more than once. Not gonna lie, we ate donuts twice that day.
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After we spent about an hour at the Original Farmer’s Market, we headed to Chinatown. If you’ve yet to tour Los Angeles, Chinatown is a pretty rough part of town. You will see LOTS of homelessness, and lots of dirty streets. Outside of that, Chinatown was one of our favorite parts of the trip!
While we weren’t brave enough to buy any, and were running low on cash (which you will also need in Chinatown, by the way) there were multiple trucks parked on the street full of fresh produce. That was pretty awesome to see.
A few things you should be aware of are parking, food, and haggling. You will need to pay to park most likely, and in a sketchy little parking lot. Chinese food here is AUTHENTIC so make sure you’re aware of what that is before you order. We weren’t aware. Haggling is not only acceptable, it’s expected in Chinatown. Don’t be a moron and pay full price. There are LOTS and lots of amazing knock-offs there. We got some super awesome dresses for our little girls for $15 a piece and wish we would have gotten more!
Initially I researched the best bus tours to see the stars’ homes and the Hollywood sign, but then I found Sunset Ranch. I lost interest in those bus tours pretty quickly. Sunset Ranch is this amazing horse ranch right in the middle of Hollywood. You can literally take a trail ride on well-mannered horses, under the Hollywood sign through one of California’s state parks. The park is in the mountains and you’ll see plenty of natural wildlife. It’s also above the entrance to the original Batcave from Batman. You will get to ride under the Hollywood sign, and ride your horse for a few steps onto a highway that’s been used in lots of famous car chase scenes on CSI, NCIS, and even the Transformer movies!
Tours are pretty inexpensive, and groups are small. We did the one-hour ride and it was perfect. You can book online HERE, and be sure to read all the wardrobe requirements etc before you just head there.
Santa Monica Beach
We spaced our acitivities for the day to tour Los Angeles out with blocks of time set aside for each event. We gave ourselves an hour for Farmer’s Market, two hours for Chinatown, an hour and a half for Sunset Ranch and then our goal was to make it to Santa Monica to watch the sun set into the ocean by sunset. We made it with 15 minutes to spare! Make sure to GPS the time it takes to get between each location before making your itinerary as well. These times can change depending on traffic and accidents, so check often if you need to.
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Most beaches in Santa Monica have free parking, so if a random dude tries to make you pay for parking you shouldn’t just give him $10 for parking. Yes, we were duped. Beaches here are pretty clean. We didn’t stay long because it was January, and the sand was actually freezing, but it was worth it!
After we watched the sunset, we were hungry! Santa Monica has a lot of food trucks that will line the highway just above the beach. It’s metered parking here, so don’t be surprised if you have to walk a while. You will find the biggest selection of food trucks on the weekends.
So there ya go! If you need to tour Los Angeles in a day, or just want an idea of some of the best things to hit and do, there’s a reasonable list of things that you can do without breaking the bank and still experience Los Angeles. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do, BUT I got to do a LOT of really awesome things. If you had only a day, what would you do?