Having a layover at LAX doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are so many fun things to do in Los Angeles within 30 minutes of LAX that you can turn your layover into another vacation stop instead of a wait.
We live in LA and know how beautiful this city is. You don’t want to spend your layover in the airport when there is so much to see and do!
Keep in mind though that if you leave the terminal you are in you will have to go through the TSA check-in lines again. Be sure to factor this in as well as time waiting for transportation, whether you use a shuttle, or a Lyft or Uber. We recommend Lyft or Uber. The places are all nearby so the fares won’t be too steep. Renting a car isn’t the best option as you will use too much of your time getting to the car rental location and getting the paperwork done. Also a warning on LA Traffic. It can be quite heavy at times so be sure to pad your travel time enough to cover any delays getting back to the airport.
We have included addresses for some of the locations but most often it is easier to just punch the name into your navigation system or Google Maps.
Things to do near LAX when you have a short layover.
If your layover is under four hours there are still a lot of fun things to do near LAX, some without even leaving the airport. Some of the locations provide great photo ops so make sure you have a good camera with you!
1. Visit the Flight Path Museum
The Flight Path Museum and Learning Center is an aviation museum and hands on learning environment The museum is free and open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm. It is located in the Imperial terminal. Remember, if you have to leave the terminal you are in to get to the Imperial Terminal, you will have to go through TSA again.
2. Dine at The Proud Bird
The Proud Bird was named LA’s Hottest Food Hall by Food Network. The space has an open-air feel and industrial accents to celebrate the power of flight with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide panoramic views of LAX’s approach runways. Upon entering the food hall, guests are greeted by a suspended P-40 Flying Tiger replica and aircraft memorabilia. It has six kitchens to choose from and an incredible patio dining area. Note that is is directly under the flight path for landing planes. Also while it is only a few blocks from the airport, you will need to grab a cab or Uber and pass through TSA check in again when you return. But it’s worth it. See the menu and what this place looks like on their website.
Address is 11022 Aviation Blvd.
3. Head to Dockweiler Beach
There are two beaches within 10 minutes of the airport by car. The first is Dockweiler beach. It’s free and it’s much more fun waiting for your plane on the beach than in the terminal. Note that you are directly beneath the take off path of one of the runways. If you love watching and photographing planes this is a good thing. If you hate noise, then I have other beaches for you. Address 12501 Vista Del Mar, Playa del Rey, CA
4. Soak Up Sun at El Segundo Beach
El Segundo beach is a bit farther south of Dockweiler but you can still make it in 10 or 15 minutes by car. It’s a much quieter beach. There are no amenities such as a pier, but it has great sand and tends to be less crowded than other beaches around Los Angeles. It’s near a power plant, but this doesn’t really detract from the enjoyment of the beach. Just punch El Segundo Beach into Google maps and it will come right up. Again, don’t forget to allow for traffic delays getting back to the airport!
5. Shop Near the Airport
If time is short and you want to jam in some needed shopping, there is a two block section of shops on Sepulveda Blvd just north of the the airport. Stores include Koh’s, TJ Maxx, Bed Bath and Beyond, Ross and more. There is also an In-N-Out Burger directly adjacent to one of the runways. Don’t ask my why, but eating at In-N-Out burger is considered to be one of the things you must do when in LA. This particular branch is a favorite place for Angelenos to watch planes landing at LAX. It’s located at 9149 S Sepulveda Blvd and the shopping starts across the street.
6. Soak Up Peace and Tranquility at Marina Del Rey
There are a couple of places to go in Marina Del Rey. If you just want to enjoy the beautiful view of the sailboats in this large peaceful marina, then head to Burton Chace Park. It is surrounded on all sides by docks with a path that allows you to walk the perimeter of the park overlooking the docks. This is the perfect way to regain your personal space after being cramped up on an airplane!
If you want something more active head to Fishermans Village. You’ll find shops, restaurants and depending on what time you go there you may even get to enjoy live music. If your layover is long enough you can go out on a fishing boat, take a dinner cruise, ride the waters through the marina and more. 13755 Fiji Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
If you want to shop, choose from three fabulous shopping centers. The Waterside at Marina Del Rey, 4700 Admiralty Way; The Villa Marina Marketplace, 13450 Maxella Ave and the Marina Del Rey Farmers Market (held every Saturday from 9:00 AM t 2:00 PM), 1401 Panay Way.
7. Visit the Automobile Driving Museum
This unique museum has over 130 classic and antique automobiles on display. It’s open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. On Sundays you can ride in one of the classic cars.
610 Lairport St, El Segundo, Ca
Things to do in Los Angles during a long layover at LAX
8. Play 9 or 18 Holes of Golf or Hit Some Balls on the Driving Range
Believe it or not, you can actually play 18 holes of golf if your layover is long enough. Westchester Golf Course is an 18 hole, par 64 golf course and driving range next to LAX. It’s located at 6900 W Manchester Ave. As they say on their website, it’s the perfect golf course for golfers awaiting a flight. More info on their website.
9. People Watch and Play on the Venice Boardwalk
Venice Beach is just north of Marina Del Rey. It takes about 20 minutes to drive in good traffic. What you can do there is endless. Enjoy time out on the Venice Pier. See the beautiful Venice Canals. Shop on Abbott Kinney Blvd. People watch on the world famous Venice Boardwalk. Dine in any of the many sidewalk cafes on the boardwalk. Enjoy the stunning murals on the buildings, in particular the Ellison Murals just off the boardwalk near Rose St. Grab one of the bird scooters and ride it up the beach path to the Santa Monica Pier a couple miles north.
In fact there is so much to do in Venice that we put together a Venice Beach Vacation Guide video were you can see all Venice Beach has to offer.
10. Stroll on the Venice Pier and Soak in the Beauty of the Venice Canals
If you want a more peaceful experience, go to the south end off of Washington Blvd. You can enjoy the pier and then go north a couple of blocks up Pacific Ave to until you see paths cutting between the houses to the Venice Canals. The canals are lined with luxury homes, beautiful gardens, bridges and the reflections in the water are magnificent.
11. Shop and Dine on the funky Abbott Kinney Blvd
Abbott Kinney Blvd has become famous for its funky, trendy cafes and shops and eclectic blend of architecture. Definately not a chain store shopping area. Anything you purchase on Abbott Kinney Blvd will be unique.
Note: The Venice Boardwalk, Venice Canals, Venice Pier and Abbott Kinney Blvd are all part of Venice Beach. While they are close together, they are far enough apart that you can’t really walk between most of them. Parking is hard to find so if you want to see them all, park either near the pier where there are two parking lots, or up on the north end off of Rose street where there are again two large parking lots. Then use the Bird Scooters to travel between the different points, They are cheap and you simply leave them where you finish and when you want to go back, just find another one and take it. You will need to have the Bird app on your phone. There are also Lime scooters which are basically the same thing.
12. Go to the Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is an amusement pier and it’s packed with activities. It’s also the terminating point of the famous Route 66. I only recommend this one if you have a fairly lengthy layover. It will take you 30 minutes to get there in good traffic and parking there is generally quite difficult.
Once there you can take some of the rides in Pacific Rim Park on the pier. Stop into one of the cafes, people watch and just take in the vibe. The Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach are two of the most popular tourist destinations in the world for a good reason. They are fun and beautiful!
It’s located at the end of Colorado Ave in Santa Monica. Right where the 10 Freeway meets the Pacific Coast Highway. Also consider the option of parking in Venice and taking a scooter up to the Santa Monica Pier. It will probably be faster than dealing with the congestion near the Santa Monica Pier.
13. Enjoy the View from Pacific Palisades Park
Located north of the famous Santa Monica Pier on Ocean Avenue this Pacific Palisades Park also known as Palisades Park sits just east of the coast highway and high above the ocean. It offers some of the most breathtaking views of the Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean to be found.The Pier is also in view to the south and at night the lights of the amusement park on the pier, Pacific Park, are beautiful.
Metered angle parking is available on the street. Availability of parking varies.
If you park near the south end of the park, it’s an easy walk down to the Santa Monica Pier .
14. Visit the Museum of Flying
If you haven’t had your fill of airports and flying, check out the Museum of Flying at the Santa Monica Airport up the road. It has an extensive collection of aircraft since the beginning of flight. There are also some airplane cockpits you can get in and some flight simulators you can experience (as the pilot, not as the passenger which I’m sure you’ve had enough of!) for an extra fee. Admission is $10 for adults, less for children.
The Santa Monica Airport and the Museum of Flying is located between the Venice and Santa Monica Piers. It takes about 20 minutes to get there and you won’t have to deal with the crowds that you would on the two beach locations.
The one drawback is that it is currently on its winter hours, meaning it is only open Friday though Sunday 10 am to 5 pm.
3100 Airport Ave, Santa Monica, CA
15. Shop at the famous Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica
The Third Street Promenade is considered a premier shopping and dining district on the Westside and draws crowds from all over the Greater Los Angeles Area. Just east of the Pier, the Third Street Promenade consists of three open-air, car-free blocks. With everything from fresh farmers-market produce to designer fashions, it’s a shopper’s nirvana. Likewise, foodies rejoice in the numerous restaurants featuring locally sourced ingredients and craft cocktails.
1351 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA
16. Visit Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach is south of LAX and a little south of El Segundo Beach. It’s a 15 to 20 minute drive in good traffic. It has a decidedly different vibe than the other beach towns mentioned. It’s more upscale and manicured. It’s also one of the most expensive places to live in Los Angeles. The pier has an aquarium on the end of it. You’ll find plenty of shops and cafes on both Manhattan Beach Blvd which feeds into the pier an on Manhattan Ave just a block up from the beach.
17. Shop on Rodeo Drive
If you want to shop in the most expensive shopping area in the world, you can head on up to Rodeo Drive. Beware though. It’s further away than any of the others and while Google Maps may tell you it’s 30 minutes to get there from LAX you could easily find it is well over an hour to make the drive on your return trip! So allow plenty of time. One thing Angelenos tend to do is look at the time Google Maps says it will take and then double it to allow for traffic variances. That is a very good idea when you have a plane to catch!!!!
18. Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of the most popular attractions in Los Angeles. You of course get to see all the stars in the sidewalk and look for your favorites, you’ll find wax museums, theatres, the Hollywood Highland Shopping Center, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and so much more. But only do this one if you have a LOT of time. It’s a one hour drive from LAX in good traffic and there is so much to do there that you will feel cheated if you have to turn around and head back after only an hour! We put together a Walking Tour of the Hollywood Walk of Fame to give you a feel for what’s there.
We hope you enjoy your time in Los Angeles. Please be sure to bookmark this site for when you return and don’t forget to share Totally LA with your friends so they can find all the fun things to do in LA too!
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