How Do You See LA in One Day?

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When I was laying out the itinerary for the Great US Road Trip, Los Angeles seemed like a necessary evil.

In the itinerary’s first incarnation it was the logical starting point and, even after the Super Bowl necessitated changing things up, it still was on our way to Las Vegas.

Add to that my travel companion never having been there and you had a fait accomplit. LA, love it or hate it, had to make an appearance on the itinerary.

sunset los angeles dune inn palm trees
Those LA sunsets aren’t bad though…

But after initially budgeting just a single day for the City of Angels, I began to regret my decision. Despite the city’s somewhat negative reputation among travellers, there was still a lot there I wanted to see.

My mate wanted to visit Disney Land, while I was all about hitting up Universal Studios.

I wanted to get off the beaten track, while he wanted to see the Hollywood sign and the other sights.

Travelling with a friend is all about compromise and, since I’d been to LA before and will likely go again, I decided we ought to do all of the touristy stuff here so I could get off the beaten track in new places like Austin and Nashville.

Seeing All of LA in One Day

Los Angeles is a sprawling city with notoriously bad public transport, so the task of seeing all of the more iconic LA sights in one day was a daunting one.

Sure, we had the rental car, but we’d not yet had a lot of experience navigating traffic and, admittedly, my navigation skills were not yet as refined as they would be by trip’s end.

I may or may not have still been using the old ‘hold up your hands and the one that looks like an ‘L’ is left’ trick…

With that in mind, we reached out to LA Insider Tours and they were kind enough to take us along on their aptly named All of LA in One Day tour.

venice canals los angeles
The canals for which Venice Beach gets its name. Only a few remain today.

I’m going to preface the below by saying this isn’t the kind of tour I would usually do. I’m all about experiencing a city organically and avoiding the tourist spots.

With that being said, I wanted to make sure my mate had the chance to see all of the LA landmarks he knew from TV, and I’m not going to lie: I wanted a photo in front of the Hollywood sign that had eluded me last time around.

idiot in front of hollywood sign
I finally got it! Arguably the most touristy photo you’ll ever see of me.

All of LA in One Day with LA Insider Tours

Picked up from our hotel at the Dunes Inn on Sunset, we were immediately whisked away to the first of many destinations.

Cramming all of LA into a single day is no mean feat, so brief stops become a necessary evil as you bounce from location to location.

It’s never so brief as to feel hopelessly rushed, although there were a few stops where I’d have liked more time (such as Venice Beach for the people watching) and a few spots where I had more time than I needed (I love Santa Monica Pier, but I’ve spent an entire day there before, so a quick visit was enough).

santa monica pier la
A pretty girl gazes wistfully out at the ocean from Santa Monica Pier.

With all that being said, the beauty of a private tour is that I could have requested more or less time. My friend, new to the city as he was, certainly seemed happy with the amount of time we spent at each place.

One other big advantage of the private tour was that our guide was able to cater his commentary to us. Knowing that we were movie and music buffs, he was sure to point out iconic spots such as the Viper Room or the Playboy Mansion. He didn’t waste too much time telling us about Rodeo Drive, but spent more time discussing the local comedy and music scene.

rodeo drive la
We gave Rodeo Drive a big ol’ miss. Image courtesy of Sompop S.

That local knowledge also translated into knowing the best spots to photograph the Hollywood sign, the best time to visit the Chinese Theater to miss the crowds, and the best places to grab a bite to eat.

What to see in one day in LA

Our All of LA in A Day experience packed all of the key highlights into a single day, including:

  • Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • Grauman’s Chinese Theater
  • The Roosevelt Hotel
  • Hollywood Sign
  • Beverly Hills
  • Rodeo Drive
  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Venice Beach
  • The Griffith Observatory
  • The Farmer’s Market

If that sounds like a lot to fit into one day, it is. But if you’ve only got the one day, then this tour is a fantastic way to see it all in comfort.

Tours are private and in a spacious, air-conditioned van, you have an hour for lunch at the very groovy Farmer’s Market, and pick-up and drop-off from your hotel means that it’s super convenient.

Is it the kind of tour I’d usually do? No.

I’m more of the find one spot, soak it in, and then move on until I’m out of time.

But is it a good tour if you’ve got limited time and want to see all of the big stuff? Certainly.

 

Your Say

Do you take time to see all of the touristy spots when you hit a new town? Or do you prefer to avoid the crowds and get off the beaten track?

Looking for more ideas for your time in LA? Check out Les Berlinettes LA city guide.

My All of LA in a Day tour experience was sponsored by LA Insider Tours. All opinions are my own.

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