Los Angeles Basics: First Timer To-Do List

I just got back from an extended weekend trip to the Golden State and had the best time. One of my friends was heading out to southern California for a few work appointments… so for $300 round trip, 2 vacation days and 1 red-eye flight, I jumped on the bandwagon and joined her.

Two East Coast girls taking on the West Coast.

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Who couldn’t love California, with its year-round warm temperatures, gorgeous coastal views, and a large percentage of the population being beautiful people? It’s one of those places I dream of eventually relocating to; digging up my east coast roots and planting them in that west coast soil.

Maybe not forever, maybe not even ever, but I dream.

I imagine a work day in California being like the last day of school before summer break. Waiting anxiously as the clock ticks the day away, the excitement you have to burst out of the doors and run into the sunshine. That would be me, everyday, leaving work. Running out to the sun and sand and happy hour specials.

Just excited to be alive and free.


Sunshine and cocktails pretty much sums up our trip.

Exploring Los Angeles in just two days was jam packed, invigorating, booze-filled and adventurous. How exactly do you squeeze so much out of LA and into one weekend? Don’t worry, we did the leg work for you…

The Necessities:

  • Rent a good car, there’s almost no other way to get around so you’ll need wheels!
  • Location, location, location. Which neighborhood your hotel is in and the proximity of it to the places you want to go will be very helpful! Get familiar with Google Maps and try to pick a spot best for your trip. (We opted for something right in between the beaches of Santa Monica and Downtown LA, like the Beverly Hills / West Hollywood area.)

The Basics:

Runyon Canyon: Hike, walk, skip, crawl up and down the trails of Runyon and you’ll definitely work up a nice sweat and enjoy beautiful views of Los Angeles.


Rodeo Drive + Beverly Hills:

Cruise through the streets of Beverly Hills, admiring the luxurious shops and restaurants. Park and take a stroll down Rodeo Drive, and dare to do some shopping if you feel like a splurge.


Santa Monica:

Hit the beach and boardwalk! Catch some rays, go to the pier or rent a bike and ride down to Venice for some local grub and a gorgeous sunset.


Venice Beach:

The Ocean Front Walk of Venice is very circus-like, with loads of vendors selling art and handmade crafts, street performers, fortune tellers, and crowds of unique people all along the boardwalk.

Head a few streets inward and you can stumble upon actual water canals of Venice, though much smaller than those of its namesake in Italy.


Something different:

Like a surf lesson! This was something on my bucket list I just had to do while in California.

If you’re up for the workout, there are some rad surfing schools along the Santa Monica, Venice Beach or Manhattan Beach areas. They’ll teach you the basics for two hours and guarantee a good time, or at least some funny memories.


I also had the opportunity to knock something else off my bucket list and go on a road trip down the west coast!

Check out our experience road tripping the Pacific Coast Highway for some inspiration and tips on cruising your way around California’s beach towns.

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