Layover In Los Angeles: Top Must-Sees For A Quick Trip

Searching for what to do during a layover in Los Angeles? Well, ladies and gents, you came to the right place. So you’re a little adventurous and decided to venture outside of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). 

Here I listed a few things to do in the city during your layover at LAX to stretch your legs and explore the City of Angles. Surprisingly, even with little time, you can escape and see quite a few attractions near LAX. Without further ado, our time is brief let’s get our list started for where to hang out in Los Angeles during a quick stopover. 

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Getting Around During A Layover In Los Angeles

Hanging lights and a Los Angeles sunset.
Palm trees in Venice Beach

Taking an Uber is the best way to get around for a layover in Los Angeles. Costs may add up quickly, but depending on the length of your layover it is worth the price. Don’t waste time waiting on public transportation for pick up and drop off. 

This is the quickest way to get to the sites you want to see before getting back on the plane. 

Be cautious though, keep track of time and monitor the traffic through your Uber app. 

If you arrive during the working week,  Los Angeles is notorious for having some of the worst traffic here in the States. This could interfere with how long you can venture outside of the airport.

How Much Time Do You Need For A Layover At LAX

You can leave the airport during a layover in Los Angeles, it is quite doable if you have a minimum of 5 hours to spare.

While out, keep in mind the day of the week, the time of your arrival, and if you need to go through customs to leave the airport. 

With that being said, LAX is the second busiest airport in the States. Depending on the time of day, there may be long lines to get through security when you return.

 If you haven’t already and are a lover of travel like me, I suggest you apply for Global Entry access. With Global Entry you can easily avoid those long security lines.

What Can You Do On A Layover In Los Angeles

Now let’s discuss what we are here for. With this curated list I have 7 things you can do for a short layover in Los Angeles. With many hidden gems in Los Angeles that you want to discover your quick trip will be one for the books!

Depending on the amount of time you have, you can pick a few if not all to catch a quick glimpse of the top sites. Don’t worry, I won’t take you too far from the airport. There will still be plenty of time to catch your flight and reach your final destination. 

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Take A Stroll On Venice Beach

Venice Beach during sunset one of the top places to visit during a layover in Los Angeles.
Venice Beach

Just a 20-minute drive from LAX (depending on traffic) is the notorious Venice Beach. A layover in Los Angeles would not be complete without a stop at this iconic Los Angeles location.

Venice Beach is the perfect spot to soak in some salty air and do some people-watching. You’re bound to see some interesting locals there!

Along your walk grab a couple of churros, buy some souvenirs, and dip your toes in the ocean. If you’re feeling thirsty there are plenty of bars to grab a cocktail and be entertained with some live tunes. 

Take a long stroll on the boardwalk and stretch your legs before hopping back on the plane. 

During your layover in Los Angeles catch a sunset if you’re able. Something about that Californian orange sun nestling down into the mountains is memorizing. 

Get A Thrill At The Santa Monica Pier

Calling all you thrill-seekers out there! If traffic permits take a quick trip to the Santa Monica Pier. For around $32 you can go on unlimited rides such as a Ferris wheel and a few rollercoasters. 

For those who aren’t into amusement park rides, the pier alone is worth the journey to catch the salty breeze and panoramic view of the Pacific.

Eat At In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger is a staple to California and the most popular burger joint in the State. If you haven’t had a burger from there yet I suggest you add this to the top of your list during your layover in Los Angeles. One is located off Venice Boulevard so you will have time to grab a bite after cruising the beach. 

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Chow Down On Street Tacos

Los Angeles is home to the largest population of Mexicans in America. So ditch that airport food and grab some tasty and authentic street tacos and a margarita or two on the side. 

Expect an endless selection there; however, for a modern flair on Mexican cuisine, dine at Tocaya, where the interior embodies Los Angeles. 

You can nibble on a few tacos here before heading to Venice Beach since it’s only a few blocks away.

Relax In Marina Del Rey

If you’re looking for something a little quieter than the crowds then ditch Venice Beach and head to Marina Del Rey. This side of town has spectacular waterfront outdoor dining that offers a fresh ocean breeze. Expect a laid-back atmosphere in this community with more upscale amenities.

Get Friendly With A Local & Take A Guided City Tour

Nothing like taking a tour with a local to see the city’s hidden spots. If you want to see as much as you can during your layover in Los Angeles opt for a guided tour. Showaround is one of my favorite apps to use when booking tours when visiting a new city.

Take A Long Walk Through The Venice Canals

Get a small taste of Europe during your layover in Los Angeles and walk through the Venice Canals.  

This historic district is a hidden gem that makes for one peaceful stroll in the heart of Venice Beach and a must-see when visiting Los Angeles.

Layover In Los Angeles Thoughts

If time permits be a little adventurous and tour the city during your LAX stopover. Don’t hang out in the airport there is plenty to see if you have a layover in Los Angeles. Also, snag my list of Los Angeles captions to use on your Instagram for your photos. Curious to know what piqued your interest to see there. Let me know in the comments below. 

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  1. Jennifer Record

    Brilliant! I had no idea so many places were that close to the airport.. filing this away for future travels!

    1. Chrissy

      Thanks for reading Jennifer! Yes so many places to see and stretch your legs!

  2. Destiny

    Okay I always get so nervous leaving the airport, but this post was so helpful! I definitely feel I could make the most of my time for my next layover in LA!

    1. Chrissy

      Thanks for reading Destiny. I always schedule long layovers so I can squeeze in another place. Just don’t know how easy that will be now. Hope you get to explore LA if you end up having a layover there.

  3. Linzey

    This is a great article. It’s amazing that LAX is so centrally located – you really can do so much in only a few hours because of the airport’s proximity to the rest of the city and beaches. This is the perfect LAX Layover Itinerary! – Linzey @thefamilyfuntour

    1. Chrissy

      Yes, it is very close to so many places worth of visiting. Just have to check traffic though. Thanks for reading and for the compliment Linzey!

  4. Jill

    The last layover I had in LA I was too nervous to do anything besides grab brunch and head back to the airport, with this list on hand I’d feel a lot better about knowing exactly where to go!

    1. Chrissy

      Well, glad to hear you stepped out and got to see some of the city. It’s such a fun place to visit!

  5. Denise

    As an ex-Angelino, these are great suggestions! I think my nephew arranged his LA layover just for the In-n-out 🙂

    1. Chrissy

      Thanks so much Denise! That means a lot to hear. When there you definitely gotta get your burger from there!

  6. Ashlee Fechino

    Great article for things to do on a layover from LAX! We are always down to find delicious tacos and explore things closer to airports.

    1. Chrissy

      Hi Ashlee! Glad someone enjoys a delicious taco like me 😉

  7. Pam

    Layovers are the worst! What a great way to see a bit of the city and get out of the airport! Great post!

    1. Chrissy

      Hey Pam! Yes, layovers can be a drag. Getting out always helps and it’s a bonus to explore another city!

  8. Nina Clapperton

    Love this guide! It’s so important to turn layovers into a fun trip. When I was in LA I did an amazing race style tour around the city that was so much fun.

    1. Chrissy

      Oh Nina that sounds fun. Will have to check that out next time I am there!

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