Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

What to Do With a Day in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Insider Guides
by Katie Scott Aiton Apr 25, 2017

Angelenos love to opine about the rapid gentrification of Downtown Los Angeles, but we also can’t help but appreciate the thriving restaurant and bar scenes that have emerged as a result. That, plus a few of the most respected art museums in the city, make it easy to spend a day getting lost in between the skyscrapers. In any case, it’s an ideal place to start if you’ve got a fast-running clock on your LA vacation.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

Traveling to Los Angeles? Check out Matador’s Los Angeles accommodations guides:

9am — Fuel up on breakfast

First order of business, find a local coffee shop and take a cold brew and a spot of breakie.

 FarmshopLos Angeles, United StatesTheir breakfast, weekend brunch and dinner are amazing. Hands down the best eggs anywhere, and ask for a side of the house made hot sauce.
You’ll find market fresh produce, amazing french toast, and my favorite Iced Americano.
For dinner grab a bottle of wine and a full list of the cheeses – the cheeses are paired with accompaniments are so perfect!
This place is a mecca of locally sourced goods!

10am — The Broad museum

Una publicación compartida de The Broad (@thebroadmuseum) el

Head downtown. Entry to The Broad museum is free with an appointment or you can take your chances in the standby line, but I suggest coughing up the $12 entry charge for their special exhibition, which will grant you access to the full museum. MOCA is just across the street, but if you are in town longer, save it for a Thursday evening between 5-8pm when Wells Fargo sponsors entry and you can browse for free.

11am — The Last Bookstore

 The Last BookstoreLos Angeles, United StatesThe Last Bookstore in DTLA is a bookstore, and much more. You can walk through a tunnel of books, browse entire sections organized by book color, or get lost in the maze of new and used books.

Visiting LA? Pay a visit. #gallery #souvenirs #bargins #history

The Last Bookstore is a downtown gem, and their second floor boasts a maze of books and local boutiques that one can easily explore for hours. It’s the largest new and used book and record store in California, and you’re bound to unearth a few classics to stow in your carry-on home.

12pm — 2pm Grand Central Market

Visiting Grand Central Market hungry is kind of like going to the grocery store hungry. I want to save you from that experience, so allow me to recommend a few — Berlin Currywurst, Bento Ya Japanese Cuisine, and Roast To Go, but honestly you really can’t go wrong with any of the vendors. Grab some fruit, cheese, or a Wexler’s deli sandwich to go, and make sure you stop by Courage and Craft for some alcoholic fuel for the road.

2pm — 5pm Choose your adventure

It’s time to choose your adventure, and it’s a heavy choice Angelenos battle every day — Uber or public transportation?

If you opt for the Metro, not only will you save a couple bucks, but you’ll get to indulge in some of the best people watching the city has to offer. Downtown to Santa Monica is the route of the moment, which is ironic because few of us would dare dip our toes into that over-polluted mile-long stretch of the Pacific. This is when those snacks and libations come in handy…

 CoolhausPasadena, United StatesEat the delicious ice cream sandwich as well as the wrapper!

You’ve got about an hour until the train drops you at 3rd Street Promenade, but if you’ve ever had to navigate beach parking, you already know this is the better option.

From there, stumble down to the Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park for arcade games, bumper cars, and a sick view.

If you need a break, check out Misfits‘ Happy Hour that extends until 6pm and splurge on the promenade.

Prefer to stay local? Echo Park is about a 7-minute Uber ride away from downtown. Head to Echo Park Lake for a lazy paddle boat ride that will only cost you $10 and give you a chance to finish off your leftover treats from Grand Central Market. Echo Park is pretty walkable, and home to some of the best thrift and vintage shops in the city, though be aware that hipster fashion comes off a cost. Whatever, you’re on vacation.

 Echo parkLos Angeles, United StatesIf you find yourself out in Silver Lake, definitely check out Echo Park. The relaxed, laid back vibe of this area is exactly what you need for a peaceful afternoon. Chase the ducks around or do some photography; A walk trough Echo park is a great way to spend time alone or with the kiddies. #outdoors #relax #activekids

If thrifting isn’t your thing, head on over to Button Mash for old school arcade games and a great beer menu.


If you chose the Santa Monica adventure, catch a quick Uber to Venice for dinner at one of their many acclaimed vegan restaurants and spend some time exploring the canals by moonlight.

 Venice WhalerLos Angeles, United StatesThe Venice Whaler is an excellent spot to watch a ball game, good drinks, and great food! Located right next to the Venice pier, the Whaler has an awesome roof top with unbeatable sunset views!

If you’re single and I’ve just described your worst nightmare, head to Del Monte Speakeasy for live music and artisan cocktails instead.

Do yourself a favor and explore LA on a Thursday, which we essentially treat like a weekend, and makes for some great nightlife options.

If you’re in Echo Park, you’ve got a couple of options. You can continue to bar hop from Button Mash down Sunset Blvd and catch a cheap show at The Echo or, if you’ve had your fill of Echo Park, head back to downtown and stop by my favorite no-frills dive bar La Cita. Pro-tip: Head to the back bar for better cocktails.

 The EchoLos Angeles, United StatesThis rad little Echo Park venue is a good place to catch up and coming bands, drink overpriced PBR and generally have a good time. Plenty of taco trucks in the area to take care of any post show munchies… #livemusic #echopark

The Regent, Villains Tavern, or Blue Whale are your best downtown options for live music; pick Villains if you want to skip the cover charge.

Both Echo Park and DTLA have a plethora of food trucks to choose from if you find yourself hungry later on.

You may notice that Hollywood is not mentioned in this guide. That’s not an oversight. With only 24 hours to spare, trust me your time can be better spent.

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