I have such a passion for international travel that I often forget about the domestic gems that are just an hour flight away from me. Earlier this month I decided I could shoot as many photos in LA as I could in Asia, while saving on time, money and stress by staying local here in California. And you know what? I loved it! Truly, the perfect two-day trip. The flight was cheap, and quick. I didn't have to leave the country. The weather was a perfect 80-degree climate. No jet lag to battle. And because there's so much of LA I've yet to see, it was like visiting a completely new destination. With just 48 hours in town, I was able to see beaches, murals, pools, art installations and viewpoints, and even conquer a hike that had been on my bucket list for years. My itinerary was essentially a mini-Instagram tour of LA, so I thought I'd share all the spots with you guys. Enjoy!
1. Urban Light at LACMA
(Address: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles; Open 24 hours)
Ah, one of the most iconic photo locations in the city. Located at the entrance to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), this cluster of 202 restored antique street lamps sits just a few feet from bustling Wilshire Blvd. The exhibit is free, and open 24 hours, so best to arrive early in the morning to avoid people. This place really is a selfie magnet, and after 9 AM it becomes a bit tricky to take photos with dozens of people scattered between the lamps.
2. Butterfly Wall
(Address: 621 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood; Open 24 hours)
Every parking lot should be covered in rainbows and butterflies. That's right, this gorgeous pastel butterfly mural is located in the parking lot of a West Hollywood convenience store. We had the wall to ourselves mid-morning, which I think is the ideal time to visit Later in the day, there's a risk of afternoon shadows, as well as customers parking their car right in front of the mural while you're trying to take a photo.
3. Marina del Rey Hotel
(Address: 13534 Bali Way, Marina del Rey)
Because my mission in LA was photos, it only made sense to stay at a photogenic hotel while in town. The Marina del Rey Hotel was quintessential LA, and absolutely the perfect fit. In 2015 the property re-opened following a $20+ million renovation, and it's one of the prettiest places I've stayed in LA. The hotel felt completely new - I'd actually assumed the renovation had just happened, the setting was just so beautiful. I spent my first morning in town at the hotel pool surrounded by palm trees, luxury cabanas and views of the marina.
While in LA, I had all my meals at the hotel's on-site restaurant SALT, and it really felt like I was feasting 24/7. A few of my favorite dishes (beautifully plated, for all of you foodie Instagrammers!) were the fish tacos with grilled mahi mahi, black bean & avocado, carrot & cabbage slaw and pineapple & roasted jalepeno salsa; Scottish salmon with potato puree, grilled asparagus, roast shiitake and salsa verde; and Mary's Chicken with roasted nantes carrots, potato, chicken jus and herbs. So delicious!
And if you need a little more convincing, the hotel's waterfront location was ideal. The property sits just a few blocks from the freeway; 15 minutes away from LAX and just 10 minutes from Venice Beach and the Venice Canals! Thank you to the Marina del Rey Hotel for hosting my stay! xx
4. Hollywood Sign from Mt. Lee
(Trailhead Address: 3200 Canyon Dr, Los Angeles; Open 24 hours)
There are several hikes to views of the Hollywood sign, so do the research to find the hike that best suits you. I wanted to see the view of LA from ABOVE the Hollywood sign, which turned out to be one of the longer treks. For directions to the trailhead and the trail itself, I used the directions on this blog, but there are dozens of other websites if you do a few Google searches. The hike took us about four hours roundtrip, including a one hour stop at the top to rest and take photos. The view is well worth the climb, I would definitely do it again.
5. Venice Sign
(Address: Pacific Ave & Windward Ave, Venice; Open 24 hours)
The iconic Venice sign is located at a busy intersection, just a couple blocks from the beach. Like everywhere else in LA, it's best to arrive early, but here in particular because it's both pedestrians and cars you have to wait on for the perfect photo.
6. OUE Skyspace
(Address: 633 W 5th St #840, Los Angeles; Hours 10 AM-10 PM)
OUE Skyspace is one of the only place I've visited in LA that wasn't free. The ticket was $25 (I'm still trying to decide if it was worth it). Admission got me access to the 70th floor of the US Bank Tower in downtown LA. The views were lovely, especially at Golden Hour. And Colette Miller (who I met in LA!) has a couple of angel wings painted on the glass enclosures, a popular photo spot for visitors, Also, I skipped it, but there is a one-story slide visitors can experience for an extra fee.
7. Matador Beach
(Address: 32350 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu; Open 24 hours)
Matador Beach is a bit of a drive from LA, but I try to visit whenever I am in town. Yes, it's one of the prettiest beaches in Southern California for photos, but it's also I place I love going to just hang out and relax. I always arrive early to get parking (especially on weekends), and then head down to the beach with a towel, my Kindle and a few snacks - and then just spend the day soaking in the good Malibu vibes.
8. Palm Trees in Beverly Hills
(Address: Beverly Hills, CA)
Cruise over to Beverly Hills, and there are plenty of streets lined with the city's iconic skinny palm trees.
9. Starry Night Mural
(Address: 5 Wavecrest Ave, Venice; Open 24 hours)
So many murals, so little time. Most the art in Venice Beach is a bit more grungy than the rainbows and flowers of West Hollywood and Melrose. While grunge isn't really my taste, I do love this Starry Night mural located just off of Venice Beach. It's a larger than life recreation of the Van Gough masterpiece that makes for a wonderfully unique photo backdrop.
10. Made in LA Sign
(Address: 8025 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles; Open 24 hours)
The iconic Cisco Home sign has since been altered to support LA's immigrant population, and the recent changes make the sign even more poignant. Definitely worth a visit, especially for anyone mural-hunting along Melrose.