For anyone who’s never been to LA before, here’s a pro fact: Los Angeles is huge. Sprawling about 20 miles in diameter, LA is more than just Hollywood and Beverly Hills. And unfortunately, LAX International airport isn’t in the middle of the action.
Thanks to traffic, it could take you over an hour to get to the Hollywood area and those classic tourist attractions. But that’s ok, there’s plenty to do in the area! So if you have a long layover and hate standstill traffic with a passion, here are 10 things to do near LAX.
Embrace the tourist in you and try In-N-Out. This Southern California chain is famous for its incredibly restrictive burger menu. Like, it only does burgers. That’s it. But it does those burgers really, really well.
It’s kind of a right of passage for any traveller to try a burger. There’s one maybe five minutes down the street from LAX and if Google Maps can help you figure it out, it would probably be faster to walk there, rather than getting an Uber.
In-N-Out also has a secret menu so get on that neapolitan milkshake!
Located in Manhattan Beach, Sand Dune Park gets its name from the 100-foot high sand dune that the park was built around. While great for kids, with the inclusion of a play area and merry-go-round, it’s a good destination for adults too. Given that it’s a nature preserve, it holds many different wildflowers and birds. And, of course, the nature trail up the sand dune.
There is somewhat restricted access to the park due to preservation efforts. Visitation slots for the sand dune are limited to 60 minutes per person per day via online reservation. You don’t have to book a reservation, but you should if you want to secure a spot. It’s also kind of annoying that you have to make an account to book the reservation, but whatever. That’s pretty run of the mill for most places now.
The fee itself is doable, $3.16 per person for non-Manhattan Beach residents. And if you want to see a rare wildflower (the Orcutt’s Yellow Pincushion), then it’s totally worth it.
Only 10 minutes away from LAX, the Automobile Driving Museum is a must-see for any car enthusiast. Home to over 130 cars, the museum dedicates itself to preserving, maintaining, and of course, driving these antique cars. It’s run on a donation basis, so there’s no set admission price. Given how long some of the cars take to restore and the upkeep needed to keep them functional, there is a list of suggested admission donations that are appropriate for the amount of time you could spend there.
Keep in mind that it is closed on Mondays. But if you happen to go on a Sunday, you’re in luck! That’s ride day. And there’s a kids’ area as well as an ice cream parlor. Cars and ice cream? Heck yeah.
So you’re nowhere near close enough to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific, but the Roundhouse Aquarium is very close by. You can easily do this together with a trip to downtown Manhattan Beach. Located on the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier, the aquarium’s primary goal is to educate the public. Through the year, they host parties, classes, and summer camp.
Like the Automobile Driving Museum, the aquarium has free admission, though (as a non-profit) recommends a donation of $2 per person or $5 per family
Need a place to walk around? The Veterans Parkway is 3.75 miles long and runs parallel to Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. The path used to be train tracks from the 1800s, running from El Segundo to Redondo Beach. The tracks were disassembled in 1986 and the area converted into a wood chip path
The chips make for an easier walk and if you’re a dog lover, it’s a good place to get some pets in. Of course, ask if you can pet the dog first, but the point is that there’s a lot of dogs.
Parks are an important part of any city’s atmosphere, especially when that city undergoes staggering drought almost every year and looks brown and dull. Yeah, that’s the number one thing you’ll never be able to prepare yourself for given LA’s entertainment studios and clear, sunny skies. So parks in LA are a much needed breath of fresh air.
Polliwog Park is about 20 minutes away from LAX, located in Manhattan Beach. It’s the largest park in the southern part of the city, proudly boasting 18 acres for you to explore. Complete with a pond, amphitheatre, botanical garden, and plenty of play areas, there’s plenty to do and explore. Oh, and there’s free summer concerts.
If you want a fancy movie experience for a decently affordable price, ArcLight Cinema is a good place to go. Primarily in Southern California, the chain does exist in Chicago, DC, and will be coming to Boston at some point in 2019.
While it’s unlikely that a special event will happen at the El Segundo location, you’ll definitely be able to see costumes from upcoming or recently released movies. Past costume installations in different ArcLight locations include Deadpool 2, The Shape of Water, and A Wrinkle In Time. So buy a meal, get a drink (yes, the alcoholic kind), and enjoy that reclining seat.
Probably the best part about El Segundo Beach is that if you go during the week, you basically have the beach to yourself. It’s a big beach with plenty of parking space and because it’s so chill, it’s easy to get in and get out in a timely manner.
The downside is that it’s not the prettiest beach in the world and there’s nothing particularly extraordinary about it. But if you just want to get a tan before you leave for wherever you’re going, it’s perfect. Also, apparently haunted by a little girl after sundown, who will scream at you and have her head turn all the way around. So if you like haunted places, go at night!
Being a beach city, LA offers many ocean-related sports and activities. But you definitely won’t have the energy to venture down to Long Beach and honestly, that’s not worth the Uber. Good news is that there’s a fishing center way closer to LAX in Redondo Beach.
Redondo Beach Sportfishing & Whale Watch offers exactly what it says on the tin. They offer half-day sportfishing trips as well as whale watches. Fishing trips are 5 hours long and whale watches for 2.5 hours. If you’re strapped for time, no worries! There’s also a 45 minute Nature Cruise where you could potentially see dolphins and sea lions.
To the northwest of LAX lies Marina Del Rey and Venice and surprisingly enough, it’s a doable commute, even in traffic. Around a half-hour away from the airport (please keep the traffic in mind because it really never ends), Venice Beach Boardwalk is a mile and a half of different vendors, street performers, and of course, the beach.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of options here. You like sports? There’s plenty of sports bars to catch a game. Like to skateboard? There’s a skatepark and rentable skateboards. You’re into bodybuilding? Well, it is the bodybuilding beach for a reason, you may see someone.
The boardwalk offers the largest variety of things to do and if you have the time, visit the canals and Marina Del Rey.