Long layovers can be the worst part of any vacation, even in an airport as nice as LAX. It is a busy place, handling over 88 million passengers a year on average. So, rather than sit around and read a book or watch people go by, why not take a trip outside the airport and do something fun? While you can certainly rent a vehicle or take an Uber, at this airport you also have the option of hiring an LAX black car service, taking the stress out of navigating a new city and helping you to see more in a short amount of time.
And trust us. There is a lot that you will want to see and do!
From museums and aquariums to beaches and amusement parks, there is something interesting for everyone in LA. Here is a list of the top things to do near LAX, but first, drop off your suitcases at a suitcase storage facility near the airport. Then let the good times begin!
Best Things to do Near LAX Airport
Visit Some of LA’s Best Museums
- California Science Center (15 miles from LAX)
The California Science Center is a family favorite with a blend of serious science tinged with a lot of interactive fun. Even if you did not bring the kids, this museum will brighten your day and teach you some things about the huge state of California. From ecosystems to robotics, this place is great.
- Los Angeles Natural History Museum (15.4 miles from LAX)
Right next to the science center, you will find the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles where they have 35 million artifacts and specimens covering more than four billion years of history. Some of the most popular exhibits include archaeology, entomology, history, mammalogy, and mineralogy.
- The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (18.4 miles from LAX)
What better way to learn about the city you are in than to check out the local artwork? MOCA has a wide variety of exhibits from permanent collections to passing shows. Their permanent collection boasts over 6,000 pieces from artists like actor James Franco, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Ansel Adams.
- Aquarium of the Pacific (21.7 miles from LAX)
The Aquarium of the Pacific is Southern California’s largest Aquarium with over 100 exhibits and 12,000 animals. It is rated by U.S. News as one of the top Aquariums in the nation alongside the National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Meet the Magellanic Penguins, come face-to-face with blacktip reef sharks in the Shark Lagoon, hand-feed lorikeet birds, and more when you visit the Aquarium.
Enjoy the Outdoors
- Dockweiler State Beach (3.7 miles from LAX)
California is one of the two most popular destinations in the contiguous US for amazing beaches. The other is South Florida. Luckily there are quite a few beaches to choose from close to the airport.
Dockweiler State Beach is the closest beach to LAX (just four miles from the airport) and has over 3.7 miles of beachfront and 288 acres of sand. Besides surfing, fishing, and swimming, one of the most popular things to do here is hang gliding. In fact, the park has a hang-gliding center where even beginners can learn the sport.
- Santa Monica Pier (9.6 miles from LAX)
Whether you have the kids with you or not, the Santa Monica Pier is the perfect place to spend a few hours or the whole day. Not only does it take you hundreds of feet out over the ocean, but it also has an amusement park, a solar-powered Ferris wheel, a 1920s carousel, and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.
Just feet from the pier are a number of other fun activities that you can complete in a few hours. You can peruse the hundreds of shops along the boardwalk, take a guided bike tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beaches, or even take a 2-hour surfing lesson.
- Venice Beach (7.2 miles from LAX)
Venice Beach is perfect if you want to go swimming, surfing, or just do some people-watching. The coastline is amazing and the views of the mountains in the background are stunning. Take a walk along Muscle Beach to watch the serious gym enthusiasts work out or get some cool souvenirs at the shops along the promenade.
- Topanga State Park (25.4 miles from LAX)
As far as parks go, this one is pretty huge with over 36 miles of trails and it is considered the largest wildland in the world near a major city. In fact, it is the biggest park in the Santa Monica Mountains. The flora and fauna in Topanga State Park are numerous with over 80 mammal species and 60 amphibians and reptiles.
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See Some Stars
- Hollywood Walk of Fame (14.3 miles from LAX)
Take a walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame where you can see about 2,700 stars across 15 blocks on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. See stars dedicated to directors, producers, musicians, and actors as well as fictional characters like Rin Tin Tin, Kermit the Frog, and Mickey Mouse. It is a great place for selfies.
- Griffith Observatory (18.4 miles from LAX)
If you want to see some real stars, head to the Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park. They have several public telescopes that you can use for free with experts nearby to help you if you need it. Or check out the Samuel Oschin Planetarium where you can see a display of amazing cosmos in the 290-seat theater.
- Griffith Park (24.6 miles from LAX)
Besides the observatory, Griffith Park has a plethora of things to see and do. The Los Angeles Zoo has over 1,200 animals and 7,500 plants. You can also visit the Travel Town Transportation Museum where they have trains and horse-drawn carriages. And the Autry Museum is full of mythical and historical Wild West artifacts.
Play at one of LA’s famous amusement Parks
- Universal Studios (25.6 miles from LAX)
Everyone has heard of Universal Studios and if you have the whole day to pass, you should check it out while you are in town. It is not just a theme park for kids, it is a film studio and a spectacular place to take a tour, see some shows, and get some unique souvenirs.
Some of the stand-out attractions include the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Super Nintendo World, and Jurassic World. Of course, they have a bunch of rides and games to enjoy too.
- Knott’s Berry Farm (28.9 miles from LAX)
Knott’s Berry Farm is also known as California’s Original Theme Park as it was created over 100 years ago! The park features 4 theme areas, each inspired by the history and culture of California: the boardwalk, the ghost town, Fiesta Village, and Camp Snoopy. Although smaller than Disneyland, it is also half the price!
- Disneyland (33.8 miles from LAX)
Who doesn’t have Disney on their bucket list? While Disneyland is a bit farther from LAX, you could still squeeze in a few rides and attractions with a long layover and a lot of planning. A second option would be to visit the shops and entertainment at Downtown Disney where you can still experience the magic of Disney without the theme park ticket price.
Catch a Game
- Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (14.2 miles from LAX)
Home of the USC Trojans Football team, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has also hosted other sports and events like the Los Angeles Rams, Special Olympics World Summer Games, musical festival LA Rising, and the exciting Stadium Super Trucks. They have even hosted the World Series several times.
Be sure to take the time to stop at some of the fantastic restaurants and cafés in the area while you are out and about. Check out the Broad Street Oyster Company for a lobster roll or Tacos Los Palomos for amazing burritos and tacos. And stop by the Pie Hole or Salt & Straw for dessert.
- Staples Center (17.1 miles from LAX)
The Staples Center is a multi-purpose arena where you can see all sorts of sports and shows any time of year. Some of the most popular sports at the arena include the NHL Los Angeles Kings, NBA Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Sparks, as well as the WWF Wrestling series, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown.
- Dodger Stadium (20.3 miles)
Whether you want to see the Dodgers play or take a tour of the stadium, you can visit Dodger Stadium all year long. For a guided tour of the stadium, you can set an appointment in advance or just show up and ask for one. Don’t miss the museum where you can see the 1920 Dodgers Ice Cream Truck and all the other paraphernalia.
Take a tour
- Big Bus Hop-on Hop-Off Tour (14.6 miles)
With so many fun things to do around LAX and the city of Los Angeles, it only makes sense to book a Hop-on Hop-off tour. There are two routes to choose from. The Hollywood Loop covers 12 stops including the Chinese Theatre, Hollywood and Vine, and Paramount Studios. The Beach Loop covers 5 stops including Santa Monica Beach and the famous Venice Boardwalk.
- Hollywood and Celebrity Homes Tour (13.9 miles from LAX)
While many may see it as cliché, a Hollywood and Celebrity Homes tour remains one of the most popular things to do in Los Angeles for tourists. A guide will drive you around the famous neighborhoods of Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills in an open-top bus to discover celebrity homes as well as some of LA’s most iconic locations like the Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Sign, and Capital Records Building. The tour typically lasts 2 hours.
- The Hollywood Sign (18.2 miles from LAX)
Visiting the iconic Hollywood Sign is one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” things to do in LA. But if you want to get up close and personal with the huge iconic letters, you can hike along one of the trails in Griffith Park or go up Ledgewood Drive off Beachwood Canyon Drive. This Hollywood Sign Walking and Pictures Tour will guide you right to the top of the Hollywood Sign so that you don’t have to worry about getting lost.
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour (26.4 miles from LAX)
Countless films and sitcoms have been filmed at the Los Angeles Warner Bros. studio. This 3-hour studio tour takes you behind the scenes of some of the most popular productions in modern pop-culture. You can hop onto the famous Central Perk couch from Friends, climb aboard Harry Potter’s broomstick, and sit in Sheldon’s living room from the Big Bang Theory.
Frequently Asked Questions about Spending a Layover at LAX Airport
Where is there parking near LAX?
There are 4 main options for parking near LAX Airport.
- Hotel Parking – Many hotels close to LAX allow parking for a fee even if you aren’t a hotel guest, just be sure to reserve your spot ahead of time. Spot Hero provides a list of top-rated hotels for parking near LAX.
- Private Parking Lots and Garages – A second option is to park at an off-site garage or lot. Prices range between $15 – $28 a day. Some of the cheapest parking lots near LAX are Fox Auto Parks, 405 Airport Parking, and Airport Center Parking.
- LAX Valet Parking – In addition to the airport’s official valet service, there are several private valet companies that service LAX. Depending on the company, a valet attendant will either ride with you or meet you at your terminal, drop you off, and take your vehicle to the parking facility until you return. Valet services start at around $32 a day.
- LAX Terminal Parking – LAX has around 7,000 parking spots among 8 parking garages. Rates are available for hourly, daily, overnight, and extended stays. The LAX website has the most up-to-date information on parking availability and rates.
How do I rent a car near LAX?
There are many ways to see the city from LAX airport including the bus, an Uber, or even a black car service. Another popular option of course is to rent a car. If renting a car at LAX is your preference, here is what you can expect.
Before traveling book your car online. Once at LAX, collect your bags, and follow signs to the lower/arrivals level in front of each terminal where you will find shuttles operated by the car rental companies. Hop on the shuttle for your respective rental company. Once at the rental agency, an agent will guide you through the rest of the process.
Does LAX have sleeping lounges?
If you’d rather rest during your layover at LAX, keep in mind that there are no sleeping pods or designated sleeping lounges at the airport. If you wish to take a snooze in the airport there are a few couches scattered around. Your best bet is to find a secluded area with a carpeted floor or to find a nearby hotel.