Los Angeles Itinerary – 3 Days in Los Angeles for First Timers

We’ll be the first to admit there’s a lot to do in Los Angeles. From Hollywood showbiz and studio tours to amusement parks and beaches, can you possibly fit it all into 3 days?

The answer is yes, you can. And here’s how.

Take advantage of our 3 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary which will help you plan to visit many of the top attractions and get the full spectrum of L.A. entertainment in just 3 days.

This itinerary includes:

  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Universal Citywalk (free!)
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour
  • Madame Tussauds Hollywood
  • Behind-The-Scenes Hollywood Tour
  • Dolby Theatre® Guided Tour
  • Pacific Park
  • Malibu Celebrity Homes Tour
  • Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
  • Perry’s Beach Café & Bike Rentals
  • Venice Boardwalk

Only have a few days in Los Angeles? We’ve also put together a 1 day and 2 day itinerary.

Save on Attraction Admission

Pick up a 3-Day Go Los Angeles® Card and save off combined admission vs paying at the gate.

Remember, this 3 day itinerary is just one of many ways to experience Los Angeles.

The Go Los Angeles® Card gives you the flexibility to create your own itinerary, so you can choose from dozens of top attractions and create a vacation tailored to your interests.

Spending some more time in sunny California? Then check out our San Diego to San Francisco itinerary – talk about a fun road trip!

DAY 1

Stop #1 – Universal Studios Hollywood

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You can spend the entire day at this mega-attraction and it will be well worth your time. Universal Studios Hollywood is part-working studio, part-theme park, and all fun.

Weekday tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood are included exclusively on 3, 5, and 7-Day Go LA Cards.

Get a peak behind the scenes at one of the world’s most famous studios on an extensive and informative tour.

You will also be able to enjoy exciting rides, shows, and attractions that feature your favorite films, like TRANSFORMERS, Despicable Me, and more.

We recommend reserving between 5-6 hours for this attraction.

Getting In: Weekday Universal Studios Hollywood tickets are included on 3, 5, and 7-Day Go Los Angeles Cards.

Stop #2 – Universal Citywalk (free!)

This shopping and dining mecca is part of the true Universal Studios Hollywood experience, and you’ll definitely want to check it out before you leave.

With 30 different restaurants to choose from, you’ll easily be able to enjoy both lunch and dinner here without feeling like you’re restricting your taste buds.

There’s more to this area than just dining – there are also tons of other attractions, shops, and experiences for you to enjoy with the whole family.

Admission is free, although additional attractions may incur costs. There are even a number of nightlife spots that adults may enjoy, including music venues!

Interested in doing a little indoor skydiving? Then be sure to checkout iFLY Hollywood Indoor Skydiving (can be purchased through the Build Your Own Pass Go Los Angeles Card).

Located at Universal Studios CityWalk, IFLY Hollywood is open during the evenings and offers endless excitement, adrenaline, and adventure, while still being safe and fun for an entire family of first time flyers.

DAY 2

Stop #1 – Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Today’s another day spent in Hollywood. Begin with the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, a comprehensive, behind-the-scenes look at the world’s busiest studio.

You’ll get to see stock sets for locations like “quiet town” and “busy urban exterior,” and the sets of current shows being filmed on location.

Current shows at Warner Bros. Studio include The Big Bang Theory, Pretty Little LiarsConan, and many more!

This tour typically lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Also, be sure to check out our post the best Los Angeles studio tours before your visit.

Getting In: Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood tickets are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Stop #2 – Madame Tussauds Hollywood

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Who wouldn’t love the chance to meet their favorite celebrities? (Well, sort of.) Head to the world’s most famous wax museum for a chance to explore celebrity culture the way only Madame Tussauds can.

Some highlighted exhibit areas at Madame Tussauds include “Movie Stars,” “Hollywood Icons,” “Pop Stars,” “Sports Stars,” and many more. With over 100 different celebrities and characters depicted at this museum, you’re sure to find a favorite.

We recommend leaving at between 1-2 hours for this attraction.

Getting In: Madame Tussauds Hollywood tickets are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Lunch in Hollywood

Since this area is a tourist mecca, there are plenty of delicious and affordable dining options around.

If you want to find something a bit off the beaten path, go a bit south of Hollywood Boulevard to Sunset Boulevard and beyond – a place you’ll probably want to explore anyway.

Stop #3 – Behind-The-Scenes Hollywood Tour

behind-the-scenes-hollywood-tour

Pick up this next tour right in the same neighborhood, conveniently located on Hollywood Boulevard. This behind-the-scenes Hollywood Tour is a fun walking tour that takes you all throughout the Hollywood neighborhood, highlighting both the big-name attractions and the lesser-known points of significance.

Some of the highlights of your tour include the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s), the Dolby Theater, the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Sign, the Roosevelt Hotel, plus famous filming locations and sets.

We recommend making reservations if you’re traveling during the busy season; reserve at least 1 hour for this tour.

Getting In: Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes by Red Line Tours tickets are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Stop #4 – Dolby Theatre® Guided Tour

dolby-theatre-Guided-Tour-1

This half-hour Dolby Theater Tour is your VIP access to the home of the Academy Awards® Ceremonies.

Step inside and revel in the elegance of this state of the art facility.

During the tour you will get a chance to…

  • see an official Oscar® statuette
  • visit the Dolby Lounge and other exclusive celebrity hot spots
  • view images from previous Academy Awards® ceremonies
  • and more!

Guided tours run 7 days a week from 10:30 am-4:00 pm. Tour departs every half hour and lasts approximately 30 minutes.

Tours are subject to availability and may be cancelled due to theater operations. ​ Call in advance to check hours of operation.

Getting In: Dolby Theatre® Guided Tour tickets are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Dinner in Hollywood

Why mess with a good thing? Complete your day in L.A. with another chance to dine in this popular neighborhood.

If you’re looking to venture a bit further afield, try West Hollywood for some more diverse cuisine.

If you want to stay put centrally, we recommend Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill for some tasty American fare.

DAY 3

Stop #1 – Pacific Park

pacific-park-santa-monica-pier

Today is your day to explore Santa Monica. Pacific Park, located on the Santa Monica Pier, is a charming amusement park with exciting rides and historic attractions that the whole family will love.

Did you know that Pacific Park also owns the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel? They also have plenty of other classic rides and traditional arcade games to round out a fun morning.

We recommend reserving between 1-2 hours for this attraction.

Getting In: Pacific Park – Santa Monica Pier tickets are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Stop #2 – Malibu Celebrity Homes Tour

malibu-celebrity-homes-tour

After you’ve had your fun on the rides at Pacific Park, hop aboard the Malibu Celebrity Homes Tour for a relaxing and informative ride around the area’s palatial residential neighborhoods.

Enjoy the sun in this open-air vehicle as you drive along the famed Pacific Coast Highway, and snap photos of the current and former homes of celebrities like Cher, Leonardo Di Caprio, Adam Sandler, and more.

We recommend arriving at least 15 minutes in advance of your desired tour time to ensure a seat. This tour last 2 hours.

Getting In: Malibu Movie Stars’ Homes Tour tickets are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Lunch in Santa Monica

The tour will deposit you back on the Santa Monica Pier, so you’ll be in the heart of Santa Monica’s beachfront dining scene.

You’ll especially find plenty of options off of Santa Monica Boulevard, many of which you can easily walk to from the Pier.

Stop #3 – Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

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Image Credit: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

After you’ve taken the time to explore human life in Santa Monica, why not learn about the diverse marine life of the area?

A visit to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Home to over 100 different species of organisms, from sea urchins to sharks, this aquarium is the perfect destination for the aspiring marine biologist or the animal lover in the family.

If you’re visiting on a Sunday, be sure to catch their shark presentation and feeding.

We recommend leaving between 1-2 hours for this attraction.

Getting In: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium tickets are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Stop #4 – Perry’s Beach Café & Bike Rentals

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Experience the authentic California beach lifestyle with a 3-hour bike or roller blade rental from Perry’s Café and Rentals.

Part café, part beach rental hotspot,  Perry’s specializes in gear for active beach-goers.

Here you can enjoy a ride along the boardwalk and experience the famous Santa Monica beach side community.

Getting In: Perry’s Beach Café and Rentals are included on the Los Angeles Card.

Stop #5 – Venice Boardwalk (free!)

Head a bit further south along Santa Monica Beach to Venice Beach and explore new territory with a visit to the famous Venice Boardwalk.

This charming neighborhood is filled great photo ops and chances for people-watching, in addition to being a good place to cultivate a tan.

Explore the nearby Abbot Kinney area for something new.

Dinner in Venice Beach

There are tons of dining options in this neighborhood, all within walking distance or a quick drive of the Venice Boardwalk.

If you’re looking for tasty, seasonal fare, check out Lemonade Café. Mexican and seafood eateries abound, and other popular options encompass all variety of cuisines.

Let’s Recap

This 3 days in Los Angeles itinerary is designed to make the most of your time and to show you a great selection of places to go and things to do in L.A.

Using this itinerary as a guide, your vacation can be full of fun, excitement, and entertainment without the stress of planning from scratch.
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