Summer is not even half over yet, which means we’ve still got plenty of days of gorgeous weather to look forward to. You might be considering your options for last-minute summer vacation destinations to make the most of the rest of your summer. I tend to book last-minute trips, which isn’t ideal since last-minute flights are usually pretty expensive.
There’s one awesome destination, though, that I can always find a cheap flight to, even if it’s on short notice – and that would be Los Angeles. Depending on where you live, it can even be a beautiful and scenic road trip up to LA, and this city is always fun in the summer time.
LA is the perfect last-minute getaway because there’s so much to do there and tons of completely free entertainment, and you don’t need to book in advance. I’ve zipped up there many times, and I’ve always booked everything less than 10 days prior with no issues.
There are several awesome hotels to choose from and lots of scenic natural wonders. You can get park-hopper tickets for Disneyland the day of, and you don’t need to reserve a Universal Studios tour, either. You can just show up and buy passes at the gate. Here are 10 reasons why you should pack a weekender bag and head to L.A. if you’re in need of a quick and easy summer getaway:
1. The beach culture is the best of the best.
The beach culture in LA really can’t be beat, especially since it’s home to some of America’s best beaches. The legendary beaches include Venice Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Malibu Beach, Huntington Beach and many others.
The beach culture thrives thanks to the youthful surf culture, the beach-side entertainment and the fact California keeps its beaches in pristine condition.
Venice Beach, for example, has it all: a boardwalk lined with shops and restaurants, talented performers who put on free performances, beach-side independent vendors, henna tattoo artists, a skate park, a bike and rollerblading path, volleyball nets and even live music by the beach.
Laguna Beach and Newport Beach are quieter, but extremely gorgeous and scenic with lots of bars and restaurants to choose from.
2. The nightlife is awesome.
LA’s huge population of young and fun Millennials helps its nightlife thrive, so bars and clubs are always busy and never boring. From outdoor bungalow-style clubs and glamorous nightclubs to rooftop hotel pool parties and barefoot bars on the beach, the options are endless.
I must say, LA also has some of the coolest and most unique nightclubs I’ve ever seen. I actually hate nightclubs, but not the ones in L.A.
For example, The Bungalow is an outdoor club in Santa Monica that is designed to appeal to almost anyone. A portion of this venue is an outdoor garden patio setup that has a lounge feel rather than a nightclub feel. There’s an indoor section that is set up to look like cozy bungalows, complete with couches, pool tables and a fireplace.
For the real clubgoers, this venue has a real party setup inside a massive white tent. The tent has a full bar, tables for bottle service, a large dance floor and a DJ booth. There’s even a bonfire set up to drink your cocktails around the fire.
My favorite part of The Bungalow was the outdoor garden lounge area because you could still hear the music, it just wasn’t as loud as it is in the tent. Also, I liked how it felt like I was sipping cocktails in a secret garden with ivy walls. It’s a very memorable and unique venue, to say the least.
You can stay at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows where your room would be practically next door to the club, but the soundproof walls allow you to maintain a getaway feel when you want to get away from the nightlife. Plus, you get hooked up with VIP entrance when you’re a hotel guest, which is a major perk.
3. The world’s best theme parks are in Los Angeles
California draws in the tourists by boasting the world’s best theme parks. Disneyland, Six Flags and Universal Studios are some of the most popular, but other parks such as Knott’s Berry Farm, Raging Waters and Magic Mountain are awesome as well. The top priorities should be Disneyland and Universal Studios.
Universal recently opened the mind-blowing Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, which was over five years in the making and cost the park over $500 million to create.
These epic theme parks are enough of a reason to go to LA on their own, so consider these next 10 things on this list added bonuses of visiting the City of Angels.
4. Iconic and world-renowned hotels
Los Angeles is home to some of the world’s most iconic and spectacular hotels. The Beverly Hills Hotel, for example, is one of the world’s most iconic and best-known hotels that should definitely be on your bucket list. It’s closely associated with Hollywood film stars, rock stars and celebrities. This hotel (known fondly as the “Pink Palace”) is beyond luxury and five stars.
It feels as though you’re stepping into a fantasy world and leaving the regular world behind. Since the hotel is over 100 years old with much of its original architecture and designs intact, it’s no wonder why staying here feels other-worldly. There are so many Instagram-worthy moments here, which is why you should check it out.
The entrance to the hotel has a red carpet and photo wall. Entering the hotel’s iconic Fountain Coffee Room is like stepping backwards in time. It’s surreal. It’s a historical landmark built in 1949, and it features 19 restored bar stools around a classic curved soda fountain counter inspired by the 1940s.
Can you say milkshake, two straws and a really good Instagram filter? Yes please.
Request a (free) hotel tour, and check out the Bungalow Marilyn Monroe lived at during her career, and the one Elizabeth Taylor honeymooned at with six of her eight husbands. It’s worth your time, trust me.
5. California’s food and wine is incredible.
I’m sure you’re aware California is known for its delicious wine. California is home to some of North America’s best vineyards and wineries. A wine tour is a must during your visit, and great wineries in the Los Angeles area include the San Antonio Winery and The Malibu Estate, Rosenthal.
The food is incredible as well. California is lucky to be an ingredient-rich state, and the food is very multicultural so you’ll be eating the best of everything with plenty of variety.
There aren’t very many places where you’re sure to find amazing sushi, phenomenal seafood, authentic Mexican and traditional Italian. Many of the world’s most renowned chefs have restaurants in LA.
The City of Angels is a foodie’s paradise, and it’s a great place to visit if you’d like to experience the ideal dining experience, especially if you want amazing food paired with a beautiful view of the water while you eat. Not only that, but some of the farmer’s markets have great food vendors set up with fresh, delicious options at great prices.
6. It’s a fashionista’s paradise.
The shopping is awesome in LA because there’s so much variety. The one-of-a-kind boutiques and street vendors along the Venice Boardwalk are where you can find unique items nobody else has. If you’re looking for cool art to decorate your apartment or unique hand-made jewelry, go there.
The fashion district in Downtown LA has some of the best bargain shopping in the country, and the multiple outlets are a great stop for discount items as well. If you’re fancy, you’re in luck because shopping on Rodeo Drive is where all the best name-brand stores have their flagship locations.
7. The entertainment options are endless.
When it comes to everyday entertainment, the options in LA are ridiculous. If you don’t like bars or night clubs, take a walk along the Santa Monica Promenade instead, and watch the various street performers. Or, see one of the city’s awesome burlesque shows.
If you love stand-up comedy, I’d highly recommend going to The Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. That place is iconic, and some of the world’s best comedians got their start there. Alumni include Amy Schumer, Dave Chappelle, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Russell Peters and Kevin Hart.
The best part? It’s known for often surprising the audience with a celebrity guest. I was there last month and Dave Chappelle did a 15-minute surprise set. I guess he was just in the neighborhood and decided to stop by his old stomping ground? Who knows? It was just so awesome and the best $15 I’ve ever spent.
You can also get free tickets to be in the audience of your favorite talk show, like with Ellen or Jimmy Kimmel, or go and see an amazing art show. When it comes to entertainment, LA has some of the best options in the world.
8. The world-class spas.
If you love a good facial, massage or body wrap, definitely hit up one of the luxury spas in LA. One of the best spas in LA is La Prairie Spa. Its unique and extravagant treatment options include a Swiss Ice Crystal Facial, a Pure Gold Radiance Facial, a White Caviar Illuminating Facial, a Scalp and Foot Therapy Massage and a Diamond Perfection Body Treatment.
It can be tough to find a spa with luxury treatments like these, so definitely take advantage while you’re in LA. There’s nothing like this where I live, so I definitely took advantage.
9. You’ll see celebs.
Someone told me that if I wanted to see a celebrity, I should linger outside the entrance to the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It’s no joke. Within five minutes, I saw Al Pacino and Lisa Kudrow. The host was even kind enough to show me Frank Sinatra’s favorite booth (taking a photo of me in it at my request) and Leonardo’s, too.
You’re also likely to see celebrities at The Grove, Rodeo Drive and restaurants such as The Ivy, Koi and Katsuya.
Since so many movies are filmed in Los Angeles, so there’s always notable A-listers around. Yes, you can even get a guided Hollywood tour to see where celebs live.
10. The scenic natural wonders
California’s scenic coastline and surrounding nature is absolutely breathtaking. Beautiful natural wonders such as waterfalls, coves, hidden caves, botanical gardens, pristine lakes, inspired canals, mountains and beautiful hiking trails are just some of the natural sights you’ll see if you travel to LA. There are plenty of national parks to check out in the area as well.
This west coast city is also known for its stunning and colorful sunsets. There are plenty of beaches and hill tops to watch the sun go down, and the palm trees shadowed by pink skies is the cherry on top of that perfect Instagram-worthy moment. Mashable recently named LA the city with the most Instagram-worthy sunsets in the world. Some might argue the reason LA sunsets are so colorful and gorgeous is due to the air’s smog, smoke and pollution, but all we really know is that the sunsets are definitely worth seeing here.
LA isn’t all Hollywood, celebrities and muscular surfer dudes on the beach. Don’t overlook the amazing nature in the greater Los Angeles area, and make sure to spend some time taking in the natural sights when you’re there.