72 hours in Los Angeles + free things to do in LA

Griffith Observatory | Bedhead Nomad

My favorite kind of adventure is the spontaneous kind. The best feeling is when you have an idea of your adventure, but it doesn’t go entirely to plan. You get the best stories out of them!

I had some airline credits that needed to be used by the end of this month, so my sister and I booked a trip to Los Angeles during Labor Day weekend. We had our “agenda” made and followed it pretty well (surprisingly), but we made sure to veer off the path a bit. I do love a bit of chaos. It was our first time in the city, and it’s been my sister’s dream to travel there (she’s talked about it for YEARS). Since it was close and I needed to use up these credits, LA called us over, and we said, “Hell Ya, be right there babe 😘. ” So here’s a round-up of how we spent 72 hours in good ole Los Angeles!

Our first night

On our first night there, we flew into LAX that Friday around 10 pm. And girl, was it packed in that airport. We had gotten a rental car for the weekend (highly recommend if it’s in your budget) and were searching for the shuttle that takes us to the rental car counter. If you’ve never been to LAX before, it’s bigger than you would expect and can be confusing. I’ve been to my fair share of airports, and I’ve never felt more unsure of what we were doing, lol. I’m glad I didn’t go alone because we had walked around the island for a good 5 minutes at least, lol. It was comical.

So here’s the deets. If you’re renting a car, you have to go to one of the purple bus stops that says something like Rental Bus or Shuttle. It’s a sign placed at the top of the island (in the inside lane), so if you’re not paying attention, you could easily miss it. Once we got our car, we headed straight to our hotel, the AC Hotel in Beverly Hills, showered, then got ready for our morning hike at Griffith’s Park. It was supposed to be a sunrise hike… but I was so tired from the day before I didn’t want to wake up and gave my sister a death stare 😅. Here’s how our weekend schedule went:

Day 1

  1. Hiked Griffith’s Park
    • My sister was up by like 5 am or something (idk how she did it), but I got up by 6:30ish. We wanted to beat the crowd and also find free parking, so we left around 8 am. Parking wasn’t bad at all for a Saturday morning hike at that hour. In Seattle, the parking lots would be mostly full by that time, lol. If you’re going there to hike, I recommend parking at the bottom of the hill and walk up, or if you want to just see the Observatory, parking at the top is free before 10 am. I would double-check before you go, in case they changed the rules, but for now, it is. Once you get to the top, the view is pretty incredible. 
  2. Erewhon’s for “brunch”
    • It’s basically a bougie grocery story only located in California. I saw a few YouTubers shop here, so obviously, I had to try it out. It’s for sure way over price, but it’s cool to experience the “LA Girl” lifestyle, ya feel? It’s like a fancier Whole Foods. And their kale salad is delicious!! Apparently, so is there pumpkin seed bread my sister LOVED.
  3. Had coffee at Matte Black in DTLA
    • This shop reminded me of the South Korean cafe that was popular on Instagram a while back called Greem Cafe. You feel like you’re in a comic book when you walk in, and their ice lavender latte wasn’t bad either. Totally worth carving out time for your coffee break here. 
  4. Scoped out the iconic Rodeo Dr.
    • We had to know what the outfit situation was like before we strutted the streets.
  5. Then, actually walked down Rodeo Dr.
    • We went back to our hotel, showered, changed, and got into our Beverly Hills outfits. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was busier than I thought. And people were 100% showing off their luxury cars, pretty wild. We also saw the iconic Beverly Hills sign and took tons of pics on the famous street where the palm trees line the road. Classic ✨
  6. Walked around The Grove
    • We had to add this to our list. It was smaller than I was expecting. It reminded me of “the place” you would go as teenagers when you’re on a date and can walk around and do teen stuff. We also had a light lunch at Bar Verde in Nordstrom. I had a delicious Shrimp Salad, and my sister had either fish or shrimp tacos (I can’t remember), then we shared a bowl of fries which were *chef’s kiss*.
  7. Hit up Target for road trip snacks
    • We were planning a mini road trip to some of the famous California beaches the next day, so we needed snacks for the road.
  8. Dinner Date at The Terrace
    • Since we were in LA, the one thing we had to do was splurge on a fancy dinner. We got all dressed up and had a little dinner date. The ambiance there was for sure date vibes (but not in a cheesy way); it was more romantic. The food was very delicious, but be aware their portions are quite small, so either eat a ton beforehand or be prepared to order quite a few things. I had a clam pasta, and my sister had scallops (which was smaller than we expected lol), then had a very delicious apple tart. And whatever chardonnay they gave me was more than my body could handle, lol. 
  • View of the Griffith Observatory from trailhead
  • Close up view of the Griffith Observatory
  • Greenery Plants and Griffith Observatory architecture
  • Hollywood sign in Los Angeles
  • Matte Black Coffee Shop in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA)
  • Beverly Hills sign in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California
  • Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California
  • Fish Tacos, Shrimp Salad, Fries
  • The Terrace at the Maybourne Beverly Hills
  • The Terrace at the Maybourne Beverly Hills wearing Zara
  • Clam Linguine Pasta | The Terrace at the Maybourne Beverly Hills
  • Apple Tart | The Terrace restaurant at the Maybourne Beverly Hills

Day 2

  1. Venice Beach
    • Umm, all I can say is I don’t understand the hype. Yeah, the beach was beautiful, but we were over it pretty quickly, so we headed to the next beach. I will say, some of the restaurants looked delicious, though.
  2. Santa Monica Pier
    • This was more like it! I actually enjoyed the pier more for the views and photography than the actual activities around. And it’s free, so why not make a pit stop here, ya know.
  3. 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica + 1212 Santa Monica
    • This was an accidental find! We didn’t research Santa Monica much (that’s nothing new), and we were searching for a quick place to eat before our next destination. So as we were walking, we stumbled upon this outdoor shopping center that takes up the whole 3rd street. It’s a genius idea. While walking down this street, we found a restaurant that was poppin’ off with the good jams, so of course, we had to make a pit stop. And voila, we found our new favorite place! They were getting ready for a music festival that night, so they had DJs playing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to the party.
  4. The Getty Center
    • It’s an incredibly free art museum that has the most insane modern architecture I’ve ever seen in person. It has a clean, minimalistic touch to its design that you won’t want to stop taking photos. You do have to pay $20 for parking, but it can be used at The Getty Villa, too, if used on the same day. So it’s technically $10 each, and if you arrive after 3 pm, it’s $15 for parking. So you have tons of options. I was trying to go to The Getty Villa but did not realize there were two Getty museums, and we just went to the wrong one. But it wasn’t disappointing either way. If you’re going on a hot day, bring T O N S of water! It’s like a desert out there and extremely dry so, you have to stay hydrated constantly.
  5. My first In-n-Out Burgerexperience
    • Not keen on their fries, but their burgers were pretty good. I did have to shovel this down my throat so I couldn’t savor my first experience. My bright idea was to eat them on the beach during sunset, and maybe get a few cute pics here and there, but the seagulls were being straight savages. I wish we got it on video cause we were screaming like little girls lol it was pretty funny. The seagulls are quite aggressive in Malibu and would constantly try to snatch the burger right out of my sister’s hand. And at one point, when she was handing me mine, a whole flock flew at us. We’re from Florida and have never experienced this kind of aggression, lol. Definitely a memory for the books 😂. 
  6. Point Dume in Malibu
    • A coworker recommended this hike to me, and now, I’m passing this tip on to you. OMG, it’s magical here. It’s a hike, but barely, lol it’s about 1.7 miles roundtrip if you’re going to the top to see the breathtaking Malibu views, and a little bit longer if you’re going to the beach. Parking here is a little tricky. The GPS took us to the base of the trailhead located in a neighborhood. There is free parking there, however, there are only about 10 spots, so unless you want to wait, there are some free spots throughout the neighborhood you can park in. Just make sure to read the signs so you don’t get towed. You’ll see tons of people parking or walking to their cars so it won’t be hard to find.
  • Venice Beach sign at Venice, Los Angeles, California
  • Vendors at Venice Beach | Venice, Los Angeles, California
  • Venice Beach | Venice, Los Angeles, California
  • Santa Monica Pier | Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California
  • Santa Monica Pier | Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California
  • Santa Monica Pier | Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California
  • Santa Monica Pier | Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California
  • Santa Monica Pier | Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California
  • Restaurant in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California
  • The Getty Center | Los Angeles, California
  • The Getty Center | Los Angeles, California
  • In-n-out Calabasas, California
  • In-N-Out | Calabasas, California
  • Viewpoint at Point Dume, Malibu, California
  • Viewpoint at Point Dume, Malibu, California
  • Point Dume, Malibu, California
  • Point Dume, Malibu, California
  • Lifeguard tower | Point Dume, Malibu, California

Day 3

  1. Breakfast at Dialog Cafe
    • Another random find that we spotted on Apple Maps. We were searching for a restaurant close to the Oppenheim Group, so we could walk past it without being total creeps. But this ended up being our favorite LA cafe! I had the Sage Sausage, Egg, and English Muffin with an Arnold Palmer Hibiscus drink, and my sister had the Breakfast burrito and the Arnold Palmer Lemonade drink. No complaints here. My sister LOVED their breakfast burrito. 
  2. Found the Oppenheim Group office!!
    • If you’ve seen Selling Sunset on Netflix, then iykyk 😏
  3. Walked around the Main Street of Brentwood
    • Honestly, we were in search of celebrities…. and a donut shop. Found neither.
  4. Had donuts at Sidecar Doughnuts in Santa Monica
    • This was a google search find that had a ton of top reviews, so back in the car we went to find this gem. There was a line, but totally worth it. My sister picked up the tab on this one and got 3 different flavors – lemon poppy (for me), old-fashioned, and pumpkin.
  5. Checked out the Erewhon’s in Santa Monica
    • We ate quite a bit this weekend, so we needed to grab probiotic drinks at the one and only boujie paradise! They also had valet at this one which was the most LA thing ever… but, not gonna lie, I was into that energy.
  6. Drove to the airport to head home
    • It was a sad day… we both fell in love with LA and didn’t want to leave. Throughout our whole weekend, we could understand why people moved there. It’s intriguing, captivating, and extremely entertaining. There was not one doubtful moment between the both of us. That’s when you know you’ve had a good trip.
  • Egg Sausage cheese English muffin and breakfast burrito from Dialog Cafe
  • Sidecar Doughnuts in Santa Monica, California
  • Poppi Probiotic Drink wearing Aritzia
  • LAX Travel Outfit

There was so much to tell; I hope I got it all in here. I can’t wait to look back at this post in a few years and remember the fun moments we had. It’s been a WILD two years, and if it’s taught me anything, it’s that don’t wait to do all the things on your bucket list. Sometimes being impulsive and going after that one thing at the top of your list is worth it. You never know what adventure will come your way. Well, until next time…

Stay Wild,

Bedhead Nomad

View more photos on my travel instagram page here.

Shop photo prints from LA here.

Shop my LA looks here.


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