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  • Writer's pictureNicole Leonetti

Los Angeles 101 Itinerary

In the past 10 years that we have lived in Los Angeles, we have had many of our friends and family come visit to enjoy the California sunshine and just the overall awesomeness of this magical place. I created a fun, entry-level itinerary for our first-time guests to make sure they get the full LA experience. This enables them to see many of the sights, while avoiding feeling like a total tourist. I like to think of this itinerary as a “choose your own adventure” model where the trip can be curated to suit the individual visitor’s preferences. Just a word of warning: after this itinerary, you may have friends and family who will want to move out here – and who will actually move out here. So, be sure that you really enjoy the company of the people you expose to this amount of fun. On the flip side, if you do not live in LA, you should definitely use this itinerary to have an amazing long weekend in the City of Angels. Here is my Los Angeles 101 itinerary for first time visitors who are here for a quick, but fun-filled weekend trip:



DINNER: I live in the Valley – so this is usually my Valley night – but the idea is an easy, more casual dinner in the neighborhood where you are staying.


Petit Trois (French Bistro)

The Bellwether (California Cuisine)

Blue Dog Tavern (Casual spot for great Hamburgers – fantastic beer options)

Sushi Note (Sushi – amazing wine list)

Asanebo (Sushi)

AFTER DINNER: Time for a drink!


Buvette (Wine Bar)

MacLeod Ale (Brewery – fun pizza menu!)


MORNING: If you have visitors that are interested in physical fitness, I suggest a nice hike on Saturday morning.

Hike Options:

Griffith Observatory Hike - includes great views of the Hollywood sign

**After the hike you should actually explore the Griffith Observatory. Or, if you have no interest in hiking, then just go straight to the Observatory and take in all of the amazing views (and all the science).



Little Dom’s (Italian)

A.O.C. (California French Cuisine)

Republique (Modern American)

Animal (Meat-centric)

Atrium (Modern American)



Beverly Hills: You can go shopping or just stop for a beverage at one of these places

Polo Lounge (Located inside the Beverly Hills Hotel – sit outside if possible.)

Wilshire Beverly Hills (Hotel that has a lovely bar right off of Wilshire Boulevard.)

Getty Center (Amazing museum in a gorgeous setting.)

LACMA (Great museum. Also, the spot where you can get all of your Insta photos at the streetlight installation.)

Santa Monica: Santa Monica can get a bit touristy on the weekends, but it’s a nice option if you have an avid beach-lover coming to visit.

3rd Street Promenade (Solid shopping options.)

Hotel Casa del Mar (My favorite place to grab a glass of wine while watching the sunset.)

Big Dean’s (Perfect place to just grab a beer close to the sand!)


Options: Naturally, this is not an exhaustive list of restaurants in Los Angeles. Rather, these are my favorite spots to bring first time guests.

Jon & Vinny’s (Italian)

Pizzeria Mozza (Italian)

Spago (California Cuisine)

Dan Tana’s (Italian)



The Dresden (Classic spot with live music. If you’ve seen the film Swingers, you need to go here.)

The Abbey (This is where I go when I want to dance!)

Sur, TomTom, Pump (If your visitors are fans of Vanderpump Rules – or Lisa Vanderpump in general – you’ll need to at least stop by one of these venues for a beverage.)

Rainbow Bar & Grill (Located right on the Sunset Strip – the people watching cannot be beat!)

Tramp Stamp Granny’s (This is where I go when I want to SING! You can really belt out some good showtunes at this piano bar.)


MORNING: If you didn’t overdo it the evening before, you can do another hike! For this 101 trip – use the same options as above.

LUNCH: It’s Malibu Day so you are heading to the BEACH!


Reel Inn (Fresh Seafood)

Geoffrey’s (Seafood-centric California Cuisine)

Duke’s (American Cuisine)

Moonshadows (American Cuisine)

DAYTIME ACTIVITIES: More details regarding all of these activities in my Perfect Day in Malibu post.




Taverna Tony (Greek)

Café Habana (Cuban/Mexican Café)

Nobu (Japanese/Sushi)

Saddle Peak Lodge (New American Cuisine)

*Or just go home and grill out!


DEPART LA ☹ - If you really love your guests, you will drive them back to LAX. If you just can’t deal with the 405 or you have to work, then Uber will do just fine!


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