With 75 miles of coastline in Los Angeles County and beautiful weather year round, Santa Monica and the Beach Cities offer the quintessential Southern California experience on Day Three of The 3-Day Weekend Getaway Guide to Los Angeles. Accommodations include luxury properties like the Terranea Resort, the hip Custom Hotel, and the eco-friendly Shore Hotel. For travelers who want to stay plugged in, there are several business hotels near LAX with all the amenities a road warrior could ask for.
Los Angeles boasts some of the best beaches in the country, from romantic El Matador Beach northwest of Malibu to Cabrillo Beach near San Pedro. Exploring the stretches of sand is one of the best things to do in Los Angeles, whether you're taking a scenic drive alongside the Pacific Ocean or exercising some pedal power and biking on the miles of coastal paths. And of course, some of the most famous surfing spots in the world are right here in the City of Angels.
Located in Malibu, the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa features more than 1,200 antiquities from the permanent collection on view, as well as changing and loan exhibitions. The spectacular 64-acre museum complex sits on a hill above Pacific Coast Highway and houses 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities. Best of all, admission is free. If you're looking to visit the Getty Center in nearby Brentwood, you may need an extra day to have enough time to explore their extensive collection.
Opened in 1909, the world-famous Santa Monica Pier is a popular destination that the entire family can enjoy. The landmark is home to the Pacific Park amusement park, the Heal the Bay Aquarium and an historic 1922 Carousel that was featured in The Sting. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of specialty shops, carts and an old-fashioned soda fountain. Dining options include casual food stands, the always-lively Rusty's Surf Ranch, and The Lobster (an award-winning American seafood restaurant with 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean).
Few places can match Venice Beach’s combination of people watching, shopping and top notch restaurants and bars. There’s always something happening on the world-famous Ocean Front Walk (aka “the boardwalk”), whether it’s amazing street performers, Muscle Beach, intense basketball games, or unique tchotchkes for sale. Nearby Abbot Kinney Boulevard has been dubbed “the coolest block in America” by GQ magazine, and you’re bound to agree after browsing its eclectic collection of boutiques and shops. Foodies can choose from restaurants like the acclaimed Tasting Kitchen or longtime favorites like Joe’s Restaurant.
With its numerous attractions, shopping and dining, San Pedro could be a three-day weekend destination all by itself. The Port of Los Angeles is now home to Battleship USS Iowa, once known as the "world's greatest naval ship" before it was repurposed into an interactive naval museum and living memorial. Two World War II-era waterfront warehouses have been transformed into CRAFTED, a large-scale, permanent craft marketplace that features hundreds of local artists and designers. Other cultural destinations include the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Fort MacArthur Museum and the Korean Bell of Friendship. The whole family can also enjoy Ports O’ Call Village, a quaint collection of art galleries, souvenir shops, restaurants and other attractions that is reminiscent of a New England fishing village. A short walk from Ports O' Call are the popular Fanfare Fountains where 400,000 gallons of recycled water soar to an array of music and lights. If you have time to enjoy an extra day in the area, make sure to spend it at the nearby Terranea Resort along the stunning Palos Verdes Peninsula and hit the links at Trump National Golf Club.
For native Angelenos and visitors alike, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is a vital transportation hub, a world class airport that services tens of millions of passengers every year. There are a variety of things to do near LAX before catching your flight home, including unique cultural attractions like the Flight Path Learning Center and the Automobile Driving Museum. Outdoor activities include the adjacent Westchester Golf Course and the nearby Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area, a hidden gem with miles of hiking trails and gorgeous city views. And then there’s the ever-popular In-N-Out Burger on Sepulveda Boulevard, the first or last LA stop for countless travelers (including Anthony Bourdain).