SoCal, or Southern California, is a huge metropolis. Between LA, Santa Monica and Hollywood, choosing an itinerary can be a bit overwhelming. There is literally a million things to do and see. The area is also so spread out, it can cost a fortune when it comes to transportation.
So here is my guide for anyone planning a short visit to LA or is working from a smaller budget.
How to get around:
What really saved me was booking a Hop on Hop Off Bus ticket. I paid $64 and used the bus to get from city to city – I was able to visit Marina Del Ray, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles. I could get off at any stop and sight-see, so it was great for being solo. I also planned my route accordingly, so I could get off at the stop closest to my hostel.
I walked or used Lyft to visit anywhere else that wasn’t on the bus route. Getting from LAX can be a bit pricey too, I had originally planned to take a shuttle for $15 but my flight was delayed, so I missed the shuttle.
Where to stay:
For an affordable option,you might consider staying at a hostel or AirBnb. I like hostels when I’m solo, I meet fun people from around the world. Hostels are more social than most hotels I’ve stayed at. Plus, they’re a fraction of the cost. There are also plenty of really cool AirBnb rentals in the LA area.
- HI Los Angeles Hostel Santa Monica – included free breakfast, great location, around the corner from Santa Monica Beach and Pier.
- Loads of awesome AirBnb’s in LA – although I didn’t stay in one, I did see flats with roof top pools for $100 a night! We stayed a comfy, cozy 1 bedroom apartment in downtown LA.
- Banana Bungalow – included a free breakfast, low rates for privates and dorms, centrally located on Hollywood Boulevard. Offered tours, trips and drop off’s for hiking to the Hollywood Sign.
What to do:
It’s really hard to narrow it down and tell you the best spots in LA, but here is my top 5. Although, I could probably list 10 spots, easily. My favorite city was Venice Beach.
- Venice Canals – walking the canals and looking at the coolest houses was awesome.
- Hike to Hollywood Sign – of course this had been on my bucket list my whole life!
- Santa Monica Pier – vibrant and lively place.
- LACMA – Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I played in the Light exhibit for quite a while!
- The Grove, around Christmas this place if just magical. Lot’s of shopping and of course the Farmers Market, you should never leave this place hungry!
Where to eat:
I would really recommend booking an accommodation that includes free breakfast. For one, it’s free and two, it’s really convenient to roll out of bed and go eat breakfast in your pajamas.
- Blue Plate Taco – Santa Monica was right around the corner from HI Los Angeles. The decor was colorful and fun, as well as the vibe. I sat in an outdoor patio and had some vegetarian tacos which were good but interesting at the same time (arugula and chick peas?)
- Primetime Cuisine on Wheels is now closed but there’s enough food trucks to choose from. Outside of LACMA there were 10 food trucks set up, so hard to make a decision, I was in food truck heaven! I ended up a with giant burrito, my regular.
- C.O. Trattoria – Venice Beach, I can’t even describe how awesome this restaurant is. First and foremost – they have endless garlic knots! On top of it, the employees sing, dance around and toast with everyone eating. We also got a free souvenir photo from dinner. I would highly recommend! They handed every a copy of the words to That’s Amore and we all sang!
- Magee’s Kitchen – Farmers Market at the Grove the food options are endless! So so so many places and foods to choose from, I think I circled the place 5 times before deciding. At the time, it as the Mac N Cheese that won me over! I also got a sandwich and some mashed potatoes. (Don’t judge, I was 5 months pregnant.)
- Foo Chow – Chinatown, the bus tour stopped in Chinatown, I met a new friend along the way and we decided to do lunch. He picked this restaurant randomly, to find out it was famous! Rush Hour scenes had been filmed here! Pictures of Jackie Chan and Chris Rock decorated the place quite nicely!
- P.Y.T., a small quaint little spot with great food!