There is a LOT to do in Los Angeles for a variety of tastes and ages. Our goal for this day was to be able to drive and see the sights of Los Angeles without stopping a lot of places – but you could always make changes based upon your interests. However, we must have done something right in our planning as we found ourselves behind paid tour buses the entire way.
And we would love to hear your thoughts, comments or suggestions at the bottom if you think we missed some unique stops; would make some changes; or if you simply found this helpful.
For our full day drive in Los Angeles, we wanted to find the best way to see the sights below in a single day (a Google map is included below):
- Capitol Records
- Walk of Fame
- TCL Chinese Theater
- Hollywood Sign
- Hollywood Bowl
- Mulholland Drive
- Laurel Canyon Road
- Chateau Marmont
- Sunset Boulevard (the Viper Room, the Whisky a Go Go, the Roxy)
- Beverly Hills sign
- Rodeo drive
- Beverly Wilshire
- Pink’s Hot Dogs
We started early in the morning on our drive coming from Newport Beach to Hollywood. And if you have never experienced Los Angeles traffic, you can understand why they call their highways by proper name. THE 405. THE 110. They deserve proper names and distinctions as they leave you surrounded by honking horns and gridlocked traffic. So in true California speak, we took the 5 over to the 101 to start our drive.
As you drive on the 101, you will pass the Capitol Records building on your left which is a famous landmark. And we did not choose to exit at this point and visit the Walk of Fame or the TCL Chinese Theater or the hand prints outside – but if you wanted to stop here is where you might want to add that or at the end. If you do visit, parking is recommended at Hollywood and Highland in the center. Instead, we chose to drive up to the Hollywood sign to 3000 Canyon Lake Road. It is a winding and confusing path through the neighborhood, so be sure to use a good GPS map on your phone. You’ll see a park once you get close – and you can park along the road and walk up to get a great view and photo of the Hollywood sign.
You can then drive back across the 101 to Mulholland Drive and stop at the Hollywood Bowl overlook. It only takes a few minutes and you can’t miss it with all of the buses and tourists coming and going. Next, head west on Mulholland over to the famous Laurel Canyon Road and back down to Sunset Boulevard where you’ll want to take a right. This will take you by the Chateau Marmont (where we thought about having lunch – but decided it was more geared towards older kids than ours); the Viper Room; the Whisky a Go Go; the Roxy; and more. I think after taking this drive, 90% of all movies and TV shows must be shot in this small area as you begin to see the sights over and over on TV once you get back home.
If you want a picture in front of the famous Beverly Hills sign, you can continue down to the corner of Sierra and Sunset to get a quick photo in the small park. And then make your way back east to drive down Rodeo drive and see the Beverly Wilshire in front of you at the end of the street. Of course you can stop to shop on Rodeo. We simply drove the famous street and made our way back east again to Melrose and Pink’s Hot Dogs. There was almost no line once we arrived but we hear it can get very busy right at noon, so we tried to be there just a little early. If you have not heard of it, Pink’s is somewhat famous with Hollywood actors and film studios for catering sets with hot dogs and fries.
You can then spend some time shopping on Melrose which is much less expensive than Rodeo drive. Travel Tip – the shops to the east of Fairfax are more eclectic and hip (think future rock stars). To the west, it is a bit more geared towards higher end clothing.
Again, there is a lot more to do in Los Angeles, but if you are looking to simply spend a day there (you probably have to fly home from LAX anyway) and want to check off as many items as you can without spending the night, this tour will hit most of the high points in a short four or five hours.
And for more details on surrounding areas see our full itineraries for Southern California and Ojai, Catalina or destination notes for San Diego, Joshua Tree/Palm Springs, Newport Beach, Ojai, Catalina Island and Disneyland.