Last September my hubby and I decided to give ourselves a long weekend and take a quick four day trip to LA. We flew out Friday evening after work, took the red eye home on Tuesday and were both back in the office first thing Wednesday morning… the things we do to maximize our vacation time. Honestly guys, this might sound exhausting but it worked out really well. All you have to do is take a couple drowsy pills, pack a pillow, blanket, an eye mask, and you’ll hardly notice that you aren’t in your own bed. Well, that’s not exactly true but it’s good enough. As long as the turbulence doesn’t wake you from your slumber (like it did for us), you’ll be good to go.
When you only have four days, I highly recommend having a well thought out plan to maximize your vacation. Being a chronic planner, I really enjoy this part of travelling and let’s be serious, if I left this part to my husband, we wouldn’t get very far. There’s something so exciting about booking a trip to a place you’ve never been and deciding what you want to see and where you want to go. Who doesn’t love a new adventure?! Luckily, if you’re thinking about going to LA for a long weekend, I’ve got your back and have done all the dirty work for you. You’re welcome!
In the four short days we visited LA, I developed a love for it. LA has so much to offer, there truly is something for everyone. Do you love hiking? Surfing? Craft beer? Good food? Sitting on the beach? If you answered “Yes!” to one or more of these, than LA is the place for you! You can honestly do it all and that’s exactly what we did.
Here is the four day itinerary that we followed. Of course, you don’t need to do it exactly as we did, simply use this as a guideline to see how much is possible in a single day. Although our trip was very craft beer focused, we still had a lot of time to fill with other activities.
Day 1 – Saturday
*Warning, this was our biggest craft beer day*
Wake up early and head to the Blue Daisy Cafe in Santa Monica for Breakfast. I had the croissant bacon and egg sandwich and it was delicious. After breakfast, take a stroll (about 14 minutes) down Broadway until you see the Santa Monica Pier. We arrived at the pier while the vendors were setting up and the amusement park was not yet open. If you want to visit Pacific Park, make sure you check the hours of operation before you go. Take some time to walk the pier, take in all the sights and of course, take a bunch of pictures.
Once you’re done at the pier, head to The Venice Beach Boardwalk. Here you can hangout at Muscle Beach and test your skills on the rings. There are a bunch of little shops and street performers to check out here too. You can also rent a bike to help you get up and down the boardwalk, which we did and was super fun.
Once you’re ready to move on, catch a ride to El Segundo Brewing. If you’re interested in craft beer, this will be your first brewery stop of many. I was blown away by the hospitality of the guys at El Segundo, so much so, that we tried their entire line up! Now that you have beer in your system, head across the street to Rock & Brews for some lunch (and more beer). I had the Chicago hot dog and was a happy camper, as you can see in the embarrassing picture below.
And the craft beer journey continues… next stop is Beachwood Blendery in Long Beach. We had intended to rent bikes in Long Beach to do some exploring, but my cousin happened to be in LA at the same time so we decided to head back to Venice to see her. Once back in Venice, take a quick stop at Hotel Erwin to enjoy a drink and the stunning view from the rooftop patio, and then head to Firestone Walker Brewing Company (yes, another brewery) in Marina Del Rey for dinner. At this point, I couldn’t take any more beer. After this, feel free to call it a night (like we did) or continue the party somewhere else.
Day 2 – Sunday
Wake up early, put on your athletic clothes and running shoes because you’re going for a hike! First, head to Roosevelt Golf Club for breakfast. I had the chorizo breakfast wrap, which was probably not the best thing to eat before an intense hike, but hey, it was pretty darn tasty. The Roosevelt Golf Club is not a fancy place and is in a convenient location to start your hike up the hills. To locate the start of the trail, walk up N Vermont Ave for a few minutes and you’ll see the entrance for the Griffith Park Trails slightly past the Greek Theatre on the right hand side. Make sure you bring a hat and a bottle of water, it can get really hot up there. Once you start the hike, you’ll be able to choose the path you want to follow. If you’re like us, you can live on the wild side and make your own path, just be on the lookout for snakes. Be prepared to take pictures when you reach the top, the view is breath taking and is the perfect photo op.
When you reach the end of the hike follow the signs for Griffith Observatory. The Griffith Observatory is such a gorgeous building and it is free to go inside (oooh yeah!). This is a great opportunity to cool off from the hike and explore the neat exhibits. You’ll also have the best views of the Hollywood Sign from here. Once you’re done at the observatory, catch a ride to Mumford Brewing. I think you’ve earned a cold one! Be careful when you arrive, this isn’t a good area and you really shouldn’t be walking around… I wish I was joking, but I’m not.
The next couple stops are also craft beer related. When you’re done at Mumford Brewing, catch a ride to Angel City Brewing in the Arts District. There is a lot of cool street art to look at and you can also find a famous pair of angel wings painted by Colette Miller just outside the brewery. We happened to visit Angel City on a day when they were having a food/vendor pop up (Pins & Pints), which was an added bonus. The next stop is Mikkeller Bar for lunch and more beer. I believe I only had fries and they were realllyyy good. After Mikkeller, you can walk around downtown for a bit like we did, but I don’t really recommend it. Unless there is somewhere specific you are looking to go, there isn’t much to see in this area.
If you’re a donut lover, the next stop is for you! Head on over to California Donuts for a sweet treat (or 6 haha). I saw these guys on Instagram before our trip and I couldn’t resist, their donuts are adorable. Fun Fact: California Donuts is opened 24 hours a day in case you get a late night sugar craving. Once you get your donuts, head home and enjoy.
Day 3 – Monday
Today, you’re being the ultimate tourist and going to Hollywood. Explore Hollywood Blvd, take a stroll on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and visit some of the shops. Before hopping on your Access Hollywood Tour, stop for a refreshment at Te’Kila Hollywood (we had the most intense margs). If you’re interested in doing the Access Hollywood Tour, I recommend prebooking it.
The Access Hollywood Tour was actually a lot of fun. Drive up, down and around Sunset Blvd, Mulholland Dr, Beverly Hills, and Rodeo Dr to see many famous sites… you might actually spot a celebrity! Fun Fact: we spotted Ben Stein eating lunch in a little Cafe. If you skipped the last day’s hike, don’t worry, the tour also gives you a chance to see amazing views of the city and the Hollywood Sign. The tour also takes you around to see celebrity homes and hideaways – rental property of Beyonce and Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake’s house, Katy Perry’s house, and the Playboy Mansion were just a few that we saw. To be honest, we were a little skeptical when we booked this tour. We were worried that it might be a waste of time and money, but it turned out to be a great experience.
After the tour, walk around the block to have lunch at the In-N-Out Burger. Once lunch is done you have time to do whatever your heart desires, for us, that was shopping. My makeup girls, you’re going to want to check out Ulta Beauty. We also spent a bunch of time at Target because my heart has longed for it ever since it was pulled from Canada, sigh. Are you guys surprised that we haven’t visited any breweries yet? Well that’s up next!
Head over to Monkish Brewing Co in Torrance. If you know about craft beer, you know that beer from these guys is really sought after, so this was a special treat and we were pretty excited. The next and final stop of the night is Phantom Carriage Brewery in Gardena. Now, this is a cool spot. If you’re into Halloween and horror movies, you will enjoy this place. We drank our beer in a dark room, watching a creepy movie from a projector… it is certainly a unique experience.
Day 4 – Tuesday
Wake up early and put on your bathing suit because today, you’re surfing! Head to Venice Beach to meet your surf instructor from Kapowui Surf Club. We had surfed two times prior but had never taken a proper lesson and I’m soo happy that we did in LA. Our instructor’s name was Lulu and she was amazing. Once you take the time to learn proper technique and understand the surf board design, you will easily get up on the water and be surfing like a pro. During the lesson, Lulu properly position us on the waves and guided us through the entire process. If surfing is something you have always wanted to try, go with Kapowui and make sure to book your lesson in advance. We booked the earliest time slot available and we had the ocean to ourselves.
I’m sure you’ve worked up an appetite from surfing so head on over to The Firehouse for breakfast. I don’t remember the exact meal that I had, but I do remember feeling like it was very overpriced and not worth it. Okay, maybe don’t head to The Firehouse for breakfast. I’m sure you can find something better. After breakfast, spend some more time exploring Venice. We ended up renting bikes for the second time, because why not? It’s fun. After you’re done exploring, walk over to Library Alehouse in Santa Monica for a bevy. Since we headed home this day, we went back to our Airbnb to shower and pack up our luggage.
The very last stop of this trip is Steel Craft in Long Beach. The main purpose of this stop is to visit Smog City Brewing, but you can also enjoy a nice lunch here too. It’s a neat little area, it’s gated and has a bunch of speciality food vendors. I ate at Waffle Love and had a waffle grilled cheese… yes, just yesss. Once you’re done here, feel free to fill the rest of your time with whatever. Since we flew the red eye, we ended up shopping a little more, checked out of our Airbnb and headed to the airport.
This was such a great trip and I can’t wait to go back. It felt jam packed without feeling rushed. Like I said at the start, there was a lot of craft beer drinking happening here and if that’s not for you, there are still soooo many amazing things to see and do instead.
Other Places To Visit Around LA
- Laguna Beach
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- Warner Brothers Studio Tour Hollywood
- Hike behind the Hollywood sign
- Joshua Tree National Park (about 3 hours from LA but still possible to make a day trip)
Things to Know Before You Go
- You can use Lyft and Uber to get around (we used Lyft over Uber since it was cheaper)
- Traffic can be bad, but it didn’t seem any worse than Toronto
- Hollywood isn’t the most clean place…
- There is a homeless crisis and it’s very shocking to see
- You can do more in a single day than you would expect with proper planning
- There is an overwhelming amount of hiking trails up the Hollywood Hills, making it very hard to decide which one is best when researching (many levels of intensity, different view points, different access points, etc.)