10 Things to Do Near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Airplane Over The Palm Trees | photo courtesy of Dustin Volo, Flickr

Here are some of our favorite places near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), where you can relax and get acquainted with LA or take one last look at the city before you head home.

1) FLIGHT PATH LEARNING CENTER

Located in the LAX Imperial Terminal, this aviation museum and hands-on learning environment is a great place to spend some time. The Flight Path Learning Center is free and stays open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There’s even free parking. See scale models of various aircraft, photos depicting aviation history and the development of LAX, Howard Hughes memorabilia and a model of his famous Spruce Goose. Serious aviation buffs might want to plan for some time in the William A. Schoneberger Research Library, with its collection of aviation and aerospace books, technical manuals and other interesting publications.

6661 West Imperial Highway, Los Angeles, 424.646.7284

*Nearby, automobiles reign supreme at the Automobile Driving Museum. With a rotating collection of 150-plus classic, antique and vintage automobiles on display, museum visitors experience a wide range of vehicles, from an 1886 Benz Motorwagon to THE one-of-one 1999 350Z concept car that was donated by Nissan. Visit on a Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to participate in the Take a Ride program, when three different vintage cars are available to give guests 10 and older a brief passenger experience out on the road (suggested donation: $5 per person).

610 Lairport St., El Segundo, 310.909.0950

2) VENICE BOARDWALK

Photo courtesy of Eric Haller, Flickr

This world famous, pedestrian-friendly path is the place to be if you’re into people watching, alternative cultures or simply want to experience a vibe that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Palm readers, tarot card readers, sand sculptors, portrait artists and all manner of creative types expressing their individuality make Venice Beach a must-see.

3) ABBOT KINNEY BOULEVARD

This is one of LA’s best areas for unique shopping, featuring local artists and designers in a mix of modern chic and old-school vintage. The shops here — many of which eat, sleep and breathe the Abbot Kinney spirit — feature top-notch artwork, furniture, jewelry and boutique clothing.

4) MARINA DEL REY

Photo courtesy of Shawn Park, Flickr

Just a few minutes away from LAX, Marina del Rey is home to one of the largest man-made, small-boat harbors in the United States. Take a refreshing break from the bustling airport and walk around the marina and admire the boats. Burton W. Chace Park is another great place to relax and stroll around.

5) WESTCHESTER

In-N-Out Burger near LAX | Photo courtesy of Karen Nicoletti, Flickr

Grab a bite and play a round!

It's an LA tradition to stop at the In-N-Out burger stand next to the airport for a juicy cheeseburger, chocolate shake and animal-style french fries. Diners seated at the outside tables have an unparalleled view of the jets zooming overhead as they take off and land on the nearby runways.

9149 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Westchester

Westchester Golf Course is an 18-hole, par-64 golf course and driving range located next to LAX. This well-maintained course is lit at night and is open daily until 10 p.m.

6900 W. Manchester Ave., Los Angeles, 310.649.9167

6) KENNETH HAHN STATE RECREATION AREA

Sunset view, looking north from Kenneth Hahn | Photo courtesy of Andrew Hall, Flickr

Sometimes you want to get outside and enjoy some fresh air before or after a flight. One of LA’s hidden gems, this family-friendly recreation area is less than 10 miles from LAX and offers five miles of hiking trails, a lotus pond and plenty of scenic views. It’s the perfect place to grab some lunch and enjoy an outdoor picnic.

4100 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, 323.298.3660

7) OCEAN EXPRESS TROLLEY

The Ocean Express Trolley is a community-based transit system offering easy access to the restaurants, shops and shoreline of Manhattan Beach and El Segundo from the Gateway Hotels at LAX, where you purchase tickets. Catch the $5 roundtrip ride every hour from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Rated as effective Green Transit by the APCD, the trolley helps reduce road congestion and harmful emissions.

8) DOCKWEILER STATE BEACH

Dockweiler State Beach is beneath the takeoff path from LAX and is a seven-minute taxi ride from the passenger terminal area. The beach is free and features a three-mile-long shoreline with a picnic area, concession stand, restrooms and changing areas, and outdoor showers.

12501 Vista Del Mar, Playa del Rey, 310.305.9503

9) THIRD STREET PROMENADE

Approximately 20 minutes from the airport, the Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian-friendly stretch of boutiques, sidewalk cafes and gourmet restaurants — and an ideal place to stretch your legs before boarding the plane. Enjoy a glass of wine al fresco and browse upscale retailers like Diesel, Tory Burch and Hugo Boss. Still in the shopping mood? The renovated Santa Monica Place is a must, featuring shops and restaurants in a spectacular setting. Nearby is the historic Santa Monica Pier, home to Pacific Park, the West Coast’s only amusement park located on a pier.

10) MANHATTAN BEACH PIER

Sunset at Manhattan Beach Pier | Photo courtesy of Pedro Szekely, Flickr

Take in the California sunshine at this oceanside escape, which is only a 10-minute cab ride from LAX. You can walk along the pier to get a spectacular view of the ocean, or pedal along paved waterfront pathways with a rented cruiser bike, which costs about $10 per hour (available from any number of vendors).