20 Exciting Things to Do Near LAX
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a part-time local, Los Angeles is the perfect place to explore, discover, and enjoy a number of memorable attractions. Maybe you have just landed (or are preparing to land) at our world-famous airport, and are looking to find the hottest and most memorable attractions to make your visit special. Well, you’re in luck. To help make your visit the best ever, we are pleased to present our list of 20 exciting things to do near LAX.
1. Visit the Santa Monica Pier.
No trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a visit to the Santa Monica Pier. Ideal for sightseeing, people-watching, experiencing live street performance, and even taking a ride on a ferris wheel with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, this iconic spot is tough to beat. Click here to learn more about visitor and parking information.
2. Take a stroll down the Third Street Promenade.
For those hoping to indulge in a little (or a lot of) shopping while in Los Angeles, the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica offers a perfect outdoor shopping experience. As a note, this area is home to numerous two-lane streets and lots of pedestrian activity, meaning that traffic can get hairy throughout the day. For larger groups, opting for a single vehicle such as a passenger van is highly recommended.
3. Enjoy a California beach bonfire at Dockweiler State Beach.
Conveniently close to LAX, Dockweiler State Beach is one of the few remaining beaches in the Los Angeles area to allow beach bonfires. To enjoy this classic California tradition, we recommend arriving early in the day, especially on weekends, since fire pits are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. As a note, lot parking tends to be more expensive on the weekends, so arriving in one vehicle is encouraged, particularly for larger groups. Click here to learn more.
4. Hike the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City.
Comprised of 282 irregular stone steps ascending a 58 acre state park, the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook offers spectacular views of L.A. stretching from the San Gabriel Mountains to the famous Hollywood sign to the Pacific Ocean. For travelers who love the great outdoors, this is definitely one of the best things to do near LAX. On-site parking is available but limited, and costs $6 per vehicle.
5. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway.
Whether you’re headed north or south, the Pacific Coast Highway offers extraordinary views, skirting the Pacific Ocean and stretching nearly 550 miles along the California coastline. The route offers an unforgettable road trip (and it’s virtually impossible to get lost). While this iconic drive can be performed in a cavalcade, the best way to experience the journey is in a single vehicle with plenty of room for your entire party, including camera equipment and beach gear. At State Van Rental, we even offer the options of onboard WiFi and GPS so that you’re always connected and never lost.
6. Play beach volleyball in Manhattan Beach.
A short jaunt from the airport, Manhattan Beach is a fun and relaxed coastal town where there’s plenty to see and do. Head down to the sand to enjoy a group match of beach volleyball - a popular local pastime - at one of the many local beach courts.
7. Get a tattoo on Abbot Kinney.
While this directive is clearly not for everyone, if you’re looking to (permanently) commemorate your visit to L.A., this is definitely the place to do it. While you’re perusing this must-visit strip in Venice Beach, you’ll discover lots of exciting things to do, including visiting art galleries, enjoying local dining, and shopping for a hip wardrobe to go with your new ink.
8. Ride a roller coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm.
Perfect for families and large groups, Knott’s Berry Farm features a number of live events, seasonal activities, and exciting theme park attractions. As a note, parking can be quite expensive, particularly for multiple vehicles, and consolidating your party in one large vehicle is highly recommended. Click here for help planning your visit.
9. Have a picnic at the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area.
Conveniently nestled a mere seven miles from the airport, this beautiful spot is rich in natural scenery, rustic hiking trails, and ideal picnicking spots. Whatever your plans, we highly recommend this laid-back locale to relax before or after a long flight.
10. Take a surfing lesson.
Off all the fun things to do near LAX, this is certainly one of the most adventurous. Surf camps and individual lessons are offered throughout the coastal areas of El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica, and offer a one-of-a-kind way to take your vacation to the next level.
11. Visit the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Located on Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach, the Aquarium of the Pacific is about 22 miles from LAX. The aquarium’s exciting shark lagoon, captivating penguin habitat, one-of-a-kind jellyfish tank, and Ocean Science Center make this spot well worth the trek.
12. Grab lunch at a taco truck.
California is just a short distance from Baja California, and Los Angeles is the ideal place to score signature fish tacos, fresh seafood, and homemade guacamole from an authentic taco truck. For help on your quest, click here for an up-to-date map of local L.A. food trucks by location.
13. Take a dolphin- and whale-watching tour.
A short distance from the airport, Marina del Rey and Long Beach offer outstanding opportunities to glimpse natural oceanic wildlife. Local dolphin- and whale-watching tours are truly unforgettable and typically inexpensive, but parking can be tricky near populated coastal areas. To experience the most fun with the least amount of hassle, we recommend traveling and parking in a single vehicle, such as a classic cargo van (also perfect for hauling your binoculars and water wings).
14. Buy something weird on the Venice Beach Boardwalk.
Whether it’s a spontaneous henna tattoo, a cartoonish sketch portrait of you riding a skateboard, or a souvenir dreamcatcher, the Venice Beach Boardwalk is undoubtedly the place to make your offbeat shopping dreams come true. Numerous street artists and performers can be found peddling their wares and providing a truly unique sensory experience, with bike trails, skateparks, and the beach itself just a few yards away.
15. Catch a glimpse of the famous Hollywood sign.
While visitors can get close to the sign either on a hike or an organized shuttle tour, the famous Hollywood sign can be viewed throughout the city from various vantage points. One of the easiest and most essential things to do near LAX, catching sight of the sign can be achieved from atop the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, along with a number of other lofty settings. Click here to learn more about accessing the best views.
16. Visit the original Disneyland theme park.
The only theme park whose construction was directly overseen by Walt Disney himself, Disneyland Park is one of the West Coast’s most magical destinations, and an essential stop on any SoCal family trip. Located in Anaheim, Disneyland is about a 45-minute drive from LAX, and features two complete theme parks. To experience the fun as a group, traveling in a single vehicle such as an 8-, 12-, or 15-passenger van can make it easier to coordinate upon arrival and can also prove cost-effective over the course of your trip.
17. Dip your toes in the ocean.
Throughout the Los Angeles area, public beach access is abundant, and points of entry (including numerous beach-adjacent parking lots) can occur as often as several times per mile or every few blocks. Upon arriving at LAX, renting your vehicle and making a beeline for the coast is incredibly easy, especially since the nearest beach (due west in El Segundo) is less than three miles from the airport.
18. See the Walk of Fame
No trip to L.A. is complete without a visit to the historic Walk of Fame. Begin your journey at Hollywood & Highland, and explore the world-famous TCL Chinese Theatre, and then make your way east toward Vine Street, home of the beautiful Pantages Theatre. As you journey along the storied streets of Hollywood, you can snap photographs of the stars along the sidewalk, honoring Hollywood royalty from James Dean to Steven Spielberg.
19. Shop in Beverly Hills.
Whether your sights are set on buying a commemorative T-shirt or cutting your life savings in half, shopping in Beverly Hills is an essential excursion for the L.A. traveler. Start on the iconic Rodeo Drive and venture to such luxurious shops as Cartier, Chanel, Gucci, Bulgari, and much more.
20. Snap a photo of the LAX lights.
Before leaving L.A., take a moment to appreciate this one-of-a-kind city with a snapshot of the Kinetic Light Installation along Century Boulevard, just outside the entrance to the airport. These dynamic, tubular neon lights reflect the electricity of the city itself, and provide a perfect parting image (as well as being one of the handiest things to do near LAX).