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Create An Epic 3-Day Chicago Itinerary

Best things to do in Chicago in 3 days, itinerary

HOW TO PLAN YOUR 3 DAYS IN CHICAGO

If you are looking for the best things to do in 3 days in Chicago, where to go & what to see, this 3-day Chicago itinerary is here to help you. Get all the tips you will need for an epic trip to Chicago.

Chicago – one of the US’s largest cities – is full of interesting architecture and art, skyscrapers, parks, and even beaches. This city is a great place to visit for families, couples, and solo travelers who want to see what the “Windy City” offers. Though it might not be as famous as New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, it surely is one of the most exciting cities in the US, with many beautiful places to visit and things to do.

The post was written by Rebecca

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

Chicago in 3 days, Arzo Travels

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 3 DAYS IN CHICAGO

But first, here are some travel tips for your 3-day trip to Chicago to make your stay smoother.

How to Get to Chicago 

  • If you fly into Chicago, you will most likely come in via O’Hare International Airport, the busiest and third largest airport in the US. You might also come to Chicago Midway International Airport.
  • Once you arrive at the airport, you can either take a taxi or Uber to your hotel (costs about $30-40) or take the Blue Line.
  • The Blue Line ‘L’ Train leaves out of Terminals 1, 2, and 3 (follow the signs) and will take you from the airport to downtown in about 45 minutes. It costs about $5 ($2.50 if you are coming from Midway Airport). 
  • If you are driving, you can take Interstate 90 whether you are coming from the south or north.

Weather in Chicago

  • Chicago has nice summers but cold winters.
  • Summer temperatures are between 70ºF and 82ºF, while winter temperatures are between 22ºF and 32ºF.
  • The rainy season runs from June to August, and you will see the most snow in February.
  • Summer is the best time to visit for outdoor activities, like beaches, rooftop bars, etc., but keep in mind the humidity is about 70% so it will probably feel a bit sticky. 
  • It is also one of the great spring and fall destinations to visit in the US.

What to Pack for a Your 3-Day Chicago Itinerary

  • Chicago weather is a little erratic, so the best way to dress is in layers.
  • This is also called the Windy City because the wind off Lake Michigan is common. 
  • Make sure you pack a jacket with your shorts and t-shirts for a summer trip because storms can come in quickly and drop the temps dramatically. 
  • For winter, pack a warm jacket, gloves, scarves, and boots. You might want to bring thermals to keep you warm under your clothes.
  • And always bring comfortable walking shoes because you will probably do a lot of that here.

Where to Stay for 3 Days in Chicago 

Here are some places that are good options for your 3-day stay in Chicago.

  • For a luxury option, try The Peninsula Chicago Hotel, which provides great amenities, comfort, and location. Check out rates here.
  • For a mid-range option, I would suggest the Kinzie Hotel. It’s close to the Magnificent Mile (which is Chicago’s premier commercial district) and offers a continental breakfast. Here you can find the rates.
  • For budget accommodation, check out the Gateway Inn located in the Loop. It has nice clean rooms and isn’t far from some popular landmarks. Check out room rates here.

Chicago in 3 Days – How to Get Around

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

  • The best way to get around Chicago is to use public transportation.
  • The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) buses and trains are fast, cheap, and reliable. The trains are called the “L” because some of them are elevated (although some are underground, too). 
  • Download the Transit app. If you’re using public transportation, this is an easy way to track routes and timetables for trains and buses. It even tells you when your stop is approaching so you don’t miss it.
  • There’s also a free trolley that runs about every 30-45 minutes, but it can get pretty crowded, and you may have to wait for one that is empty enough for you to get on.
  • Even when using public transportation, you might still experience some delays, so keep that in mind as you plan your days.
  • Get a CTA pass. If you plan to spend 3 days in Chicago and see multiple landmarks and take public transportation throughout the city, you will save yourself time and money by getting the pass. A 3-day pass costs $20 for unlimited rides over 72 hours.

DRIVING

  • If you decide to rent a car, keep in mind that parking is expensive and hard to come by.
  • Traffic is pretty bad here, so make sure that you give yourself enough time to get places. 

SIGHTSEEING BUS TOURS

  • If you want to get around via sightseeing buses in Chicago, check out this option.
  • In general, these sightseeing bus tours are a great way to experience a city in a short amount of time.
  • You can hop off at many stations and explore it on your own path and then continue your bus ride.
Chicago city downtown urban skyline
@shutterstock

More Travel Tips

  • Chicago is set up in a grid, which makes it easier to navigate than other cities. State Street and Madison Street meet in the Loop center in the middle of the grid, and street numbers fan out from there, going north/south and east/west. Keep this in mind when you are trying to figure out your routes. Also, every 8 blocks equal about a mile.
  • Tipping is a normal practice in Chicago, as in any American city, but a little higher than most. The standard is 20% of the bill. If you are getting drinks, then leave $1 per drink.
  • If you are going to smaller venues or street festivals, make sure you’ve got the cash. Not all of them take credit cards, so cash is necessary at these places.
  • Being a large metropolitan city means higher security. Expect to get your bags searched at larger venues, and sometimes large bags are not permitted at all. Check the website of the places, to avoid being turned away at the door if they don’t have lockers for you to use. Or travel light when you’re sightseeing.
  • Chicago, like any city, has its good and bad neighborhoods. Use caution or avoid the sketchier areas and always keep an eye on your belongings. This is a safe city when you use common sense.

CHICAGO ITINERARY

Let´s get started with your 3-day Chicago itinerary.

DAY 1 OF 3 DAYS IN CHICAGO

For our first day in Chicago, we will start with a bus tour. But not just any bus tour… 

The Untouchables Tour

The Untouchables tour celebrates Chicago’s infamous gangster past, and I highly suggest adding this tour to your Chicago itinerary. This exciting 2-hour tour covers all the famed locations and gives an account of Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s, including well-known mobsters like Al Capone. Check out tours here.

  • When the tour is over, head over to Chicago Riverwalk to stretch your legs and take in the sights.
  • It should take about 10 minutes by train.

Chicago Riverwalk

Located along the Chicago River, you can kayak here in the warmer months or take a bike ride.

Northern Chicago River Riverwalk on North Branch Chicago River in Chicago, Illinois
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There are also plenty of restaurants, benches for relaxing, and museums, like the Chicago River Museum. This is a good spot to stop for lunch or even enjoy a picnic if you get your food to go, and it is a must-see place in Chicago.

  • Plan in about 2 hours for this spot before heading to the next destination.
  • This is about a 15-minute train ride north.

875 North Michigan Avenue / 360 Chicago Observation Deck

Located in the city center in the touristy Magnificent Mile, 875 North Michigan Avenue is the address of a supertall skyscraper that offers amazing views over Chicago.

City skyline from 360 Chicago observation deck. is one of the best things to see in 3 days
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At 1,128 feet tall and 100 stories, this building’s upper floors put you in a unique perspective. Head up to the 94th floor for the 360 Chicago Observation Deck to enjoy the panoramic scenery. You’ll be able to see many of the city’s neighborhoods, as well as Lake Michigan. If you feel like a thrill, then try Tilt – a moving platform that literally tilts you out over the street from the 94th floor! For the less adventurous, there is a very nice bar and café that you can stop at.

  • This will take about an hour or so.
  • Let´s continue with this Chicago itinerary – take the train over to Navy Pier (about 15 minutes) or walk there (about 20 minutes). 

Navy Pier

This 3,300-foot-long Navy Pier juts out onto Lake Michigan and provides many entertaining options for the last stop of your day. 

Navy Pier and skyline is a must on any 3-day Chicago itinerary
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You may want to stop at the Chicago Children’s Museum for some kid-centered fun if you have kids. Or, if you feel like some exercise, rent a bike and explore on two wheels. 

Another fun thing to do is take a lake cruise – there are an architecture cruise and a classic lake tour that you can choose from. There are also dinner cruises if you prefer. Most last about 2 hours.

The Centennial Wheel is another must-stop on any 3-day Chicago itinerary. If you haven’t gotten your fill of rides and views, then try this 200-foot Ferris wheel that offers 360-degree views. Each ride lasts about 12-15 minutes.

End the night with dinner on the pier at one of its many lakeside restaurants, some even with rooftop decks (perfect for a warm summer’s night).

  • Navy Pier should take about 3-4 hours, depending on what you choose to do.
  • Then, head back to the hotel for a busy Day 2.

DAY 2 OF 3 DAYS IN CHICAGO

Today, we are going to be doing a bit more city-wide traveling. But let’s start this Chicago itinerary for day 2 at one of the nicest parks in the city. So, head there after breakfast.

Millennial Park

Located in downtown Chicago, Millennial Park is full of things to do.

Crown Fountain in Millennial Park top place to see in 3 days
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The Bean is a must for any Chicago itinerary
Pic: f11photo /Shutterstock.com

In the morning, I advise stopping at Lurie Garden for a bit of nature amid the urban environment. This garden is actually 2.5 acres, so there’s plenty to experience with its assortment of plants and flowers. This park also sports some interesting sculptures, like “the Bean,” a rock climbing wall, an open-air pavilion where you can catch live shows in good weather, and restaurants. This is a lot of fun for families, couples, and/or solo travelers who want to spend some time enjoying the outdoors in the middle of a metropolis.

  • While you could easily spend all day here, I would suggest keeping it to 3 hours so that you can see some more great attractions during your 3 days in Chicago.
  • Grab the train from the park to Buckingham Fountain (about 10 minutes away).

Buckingham Fountain

The beautiful Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest in the world. It was built in 1927 and inspired by one at the Palace of Versailles.

Buckingham fountain and Chicago itinerary
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The wedding cake tiers of cascading water are beautiful and will make a great souvenir photo to bring home (or post on Instagram). 

  • Located in Grant Park, you can enjoy a stroll and relax in the sunshine for an hour before moving on to the next stop.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago is just a five-minute walk across Grant Park.

The Art Institute of Chicago

If you enjoy art, then take an hour or two to explore the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the country’s largest and oldest art museums.

Art Institute of Chicago on a 3-day itinerary for Chicago
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Popular among visitors and locals, there are lots of exhibits to look over. And if you are visiting in the winter, this will be a beautiful place to warm up from the snowy chill.

  • But if you are not a huge art lover, then you can skip this stop (and the $25 ticket fee) and head to our next Chicago landmark.
  • The train ride should only take about 10 minutes (15 if you walk).

Skydeck Chicago

The building was originally called the Sears Tower but is now Willis Towers.

Willis Tower Skydeck fun activity in 3 days
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And up on the 103rd floor, you will find an amazing observation deck. As high up as it is, and with a 360-degree view, you can actually see four different states from this vantage point.  If you wait until later in the afternoon, you will be rewarded with a really spectacular sunset from here. 

  • Depending on the lines (you can get a Fast Pass if you want to skip them), you will probably be here for a little over an hour.
  • Then, grab the train for a half-hour trek north of the downtown area.
  • Check out ticket prices for the Skydeck here.

North Avenue Beach

If you are visiting in the summer, this is a great place to stop. Favored by Chicagoans, you can enjoy some sand and sun, maybe even a swim or some water sports, during your afternoon here. 

Chicago downtown skyline
@shutterstock

This is also a great place to grab a bite to eat, with casual eateries along the beach. There are stores if you want to do a little souvenir shopping while you’re here, too.

  • Plan for about 2 hours at this spot. Then, let’s head to a Chicago historical landmark that’s also a lot of fun.
  • The train will get you there in about half an hour.

Wrigley Field

There’s nothing more American than baseball, and Chicago takes their baseball seriously.

Wrigley Field in Chicago a must see place
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Wrigley Field was built in 1914 and is home to the Chicago Cubs. Restaurants, bars, and stores surround the field, so there’s something for even those who aren’t baseball fans.  If you are curious about what a Major League park looks like on the inside, you can take a 60-90-minute guided tour and check out the dugouts where the players hang out the bleachers and more. This is a fun visit for adults and children alike.

  • This whole stop takes less than 2 hours.
  • Now, we are onto our last stop of the night, but only for the adults (sorry, kids). Take the train about 10 minutes north.

Green Mill

This lounge plays jazz and blues into late night and is the perfect way to cap off your night. The ambiance will remind you of the 1930s and 1940s, and you’ll love the energy here. Fair warning, though, there is a cover charge, and the bar only takes cash. So, plan and visit an ATM before stopping here for your nightcap.

DAY 3 OF 3 DAYS IN CHICAGO

For the last day of this 3-day itinerary in Chicago, we will start with a tour.

Chicago Trolley Tour

While we have definitely touched on many of Chicago’s best landmarks, it would be impossible to do see them all in 3 days. But the Chicago Trolley tour is a great way to see a few more spots before you leave. 

Chicago Trolley at Chicago downtown best tips for 3 days
@shutterstock

This hop-on hop-off trolley will take you through different city areas, from the Magnificent Mile to the Chicago Theater to the Water Tower. And if you are visiting during the holidays, there are also holiday light tours, which are a lot of fun at night.

  • Depending on how much you hop off, this tour takes about 2 hours.
  • When you’re done, we have a few more stops of our own. 

Lakefront Trail

After sitting on the trolley, you may welcome the chance to walk, bike, or jog down this beautiful coastal pathway. It’s a trendy spot for enjoying the water and fresh air, as well as some outdoor activities, and so I think it should be on your 3-day Chicago itinerary.

Michigan Lakefront Trail in Chicago city, Illinois, USA
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You’ll pass a lot of the city’s landmarks as you stroll along the path, but probably not all of it since it’s 19 miles long, and it is your last day!

  • Enjoy the views for an hour. 
  • And then let’s head to our next destination.

Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium is perfect for the space lover in you. The oldest one in the world, you can see exhibits and projections of the stars in a dome-shaped night sky.

Adler Planetarium in Chicago what to do in Chicago in 3 days
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  • You will probably spend about 2 hours here.
  • Our next stop is 30 minutes away by train.

The Garden of the Phoenix

This Japanese-style garden – the Garden of the Phoenix – is located on Jackson Park’s Wooded Island.

@shutterstock

It’s a lovely place to slow down after a busy morning and afternoon seeing the sights of this bustling city. If you visit in May, you are in for a treat as the cherry blossom trees will be in bloom by then. The waterfall and footbridges are also my favorite things to see.

  • You may spend an hour or two here.
  • When you are ready, let’s head to the last location of this itinerary. The train ride should take about 20 minutes.

Promontory Point

This is our last stop on your Chicago itinerary. Plan to arrive in time to watch the sunset from Promontory Point Park. I’d suggest getting dinner to go and picnicking here, where you can enjoy the city skyline as it reflects the setting sun and the changing colors of the sky.

Located in Burnham Park, it is a man-made peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan. You’ll get great views of the city and the lake from here. This is a perfect spot to say goodbye to Chicago.

CONCLUSION: CREATING AN AWESOME 3-DAY CHICAGO ITINERARY

I hope this 3-day Chicago itinerary will help you plan your own trip to Windy City. Whether you visit as a solo traveler, a family, a couple, or with friends – Chicago in 3 days will allow you to enjoy some of the best sights and have a great time.

Chicago surely is one of the best places to visit in the US and is always worth a trip.

About the Author:

This post was written by Rebecca, who runs her own blog at The Journey at Home – where she writes about her life as a mother of 5 with everything that comes along with it. She lived in New York for a long time before she moved to Las Vegas. She also works as a freelancer for Arzo Travels.

Safe Travels, Arzo

Categories USA

Epic 3-Day Los Angeles Itinerary

Best things to do in Los Angeles in 3 days, itinerary

HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN LOS ANGELES – ITINERARY 

From Hollywood, where almost all American movies originate, to Venice Beach, to nearby Disneyland, LA has something for everyone – families, couples, or solo travelers included. LA is one of the best cities to visit in the US. There are many, many choices when it comes to how to spend 3 days in Los Angeles. In this 3-day Los Angeles itinerary, I will try to narrow it down to the must-see destinations.

After New York and Washington D.C., Los Angeles might be the third most famous city in the country. Located in Southern California, this huge sprawling city has almost 4 million people living in it along the Pacific Ocean. But it is also packed with exciting attractions! 

The post was written by Rebecca

Los Angeles, California, USA downtown cityscape at sunset_
@shutterstock

Travel Tips For Your 3 Days in LA

Before talking about the best things to do in Los Angeles in 3 days, here are some travel tips.

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS MEANS I MIGHT EARN A SMALL COMMISSION WHEN YOU BUY A PRODUCT/SERVICE AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. MORE ABOUT IT HERE

I, Arzo – the owner of the blog – normally use GetYourGuide whenever I book tours. They are amazing – they offer a generous cancellation fee (which normally allows you to cancel tours/tickets up to 24 hours in advance without any fees) and they always have my back if problems occur. Thus, I mostly added links to their website.

How to Get to Los Angeles 

Because Los Angeles is so spread out, there are multiple airports that you may fly into. Here’s the list.

  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the most popular airport, and it is centrally located.
  • Ontario International Airport (ONT)
  • John Wayne Airport (SNA)
  • Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR)
  • Long Beach Airport (LGB)

How to Get to Your Hotel From the Airport

  • Once you’ve arrived at the airport, you can usually take a free airport shuttle from there to your hotel (most major hotels offer this service as a courtesy).
  • However, if you rent a car, you can take a shuttle provided by your rental company (e.g., Avis, Hertz, Budget, etc.) to the off-site lot where the cars are kept.
  • If you are driving, take I-15 to CA-14 when arriving from the east, and take the I-5 if you are coming from either north or south of the city.
  • Avoid an Uber or taxi – it can save some money.
  • If you want to travel budget-friendly, take the metro to your hotel downtown. Take the free Green Line G airport shuttle to the Aviation/LAX Metro station. There you pick up the Green Line train to Willowbrook and then change to the Blue Line, and finally, on to your hotel. The total cost is around $1.50 and takes an hour.
  • Or take the bus – the FlyAway bus runs 24/7 and costs just under $10 each way. It takes about 30 minutes to get downtown.  

Weather in Los Angeles

The weather in LA is really quite nice, with a Mediterranean climate that gets almost no rain in the summer. 

  • If you are coming for the summer months, the temperature usually doesn’t get much higher than 85ºF and no lower than 66ºF.
  • If you visit LA in winter, you can enjoy more moderate temperatures than in many other American cities: from 49ºF to 66ºF. Most of the city’s rain comes in February.

What to Pack for a 3-Day Los Angeles Trip

Since the weather in Los Angeles is on the mild side, you can pack lighter clothes for your trip.

  • In summer, shorts and tank tops or t-shirts are fine, with a bathing suit if you plan on swimming or just laying out at the beach. 
  • Check out my packing list for a day at the beach.
  • For winter, a light jacket and a few long-sleeved shirts and pants will be fine. You might also want to bring an umbrella since winter is the rainy season.
  • Of course, always bring good walking shoes because there is a lot to explore and you don’t want to have sore feet by the end of your 3 days in Los Angeles.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles For 3 Days

As you can imagine, there are plenty of accommodations in Los Angeles for you to choose from. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • For a luxury hotel, pick Hotel Bel-Air – Dorchester Collection, an icon in the city that boasts amenities like an on-site restaurant, pools, etc.
  • A more mid-range option is Level DTLA, which is still a nice hotel and has a great location for getting to some popular attractions.
  • A budget hotel with clean rooms, a good location, and even a restaurant is the New Seoul Hotel.

How to Get Around LA

DRIVING

Okay, I am going to be honest here. I do not like driving in Los Angeles. It can be a little crazy on the roads of Los Angeles, so consider yourself warned. I am from New York, which is known for its own aggressive drivers, and I still feel this way about LA!

  • There is almost always traffic. The freeways are constantly intersecting each other (which can be confusing for visitors).
  • The drivers are, well, a little crazy. They drive very fast, tailgate, and cut each other off without using any turn signals.
  • If you are driving, you can use HOV/Carpool lanes if you have 2 or 3 (or more) people in your car.
  • Just cross into and out of these lanes when the double yellow line breaks. You can recognize these lanes by the diamond painted on them, and they can save you time in traffic.
  • If you are in the carpool lane and you are coming to a toll, make sure the lane isn’t only for Fastrack holders (a transponder for quick payment that some locals have). You may need to move over a lane to pay cash.
  • Parking is expensive and hard to come by in Los Angeles. There is metered parking on the streets, but be aware of the signs that state hours and days when it’s ok to park there. You can use many private lots, and depending on the area and any events, it could cost $8-$25.
  • Valet parking is an option, too, which is pricey but not always much more than the lots – and you don’t have to drive around searching for space.

That being said, it is easiest and most convenient to drive in LA because of how large and spread out everything is.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

If you prefer to use public transportation, you can. The metro lines go to most major areas where your itinerary destinations will be located (e.g., the Red Line will take you downtown from Hollywood pretty quickly). And the bus is a good option as well, just plan for the extra travel time. Find more tips on how to use public transportation in LA. If you want to use hop-on and hop-off buses, check out the prices here.

More Travel Tips For Your LA Itinerary

  • Smoking is not allowed in most indoor places, especially ones with food. California has some of the strictest anti-smoking laws in the country, so be aware before you light up. BTW, it is also illegal here to smoke in the car if there is a minor – child under 18 – in there, too.
  • It can be easy to get lost in LA, not just because of the size, but because the street names can change abruptly and then change back later down the road. When navigating, it’s a good idea to use GPS or a map app to keep you going in the right direction.
  • Pick-pocketing isn’t uncommon in a place with this many tourists, so be careful in crowds and even while stopping to watch street performers, like at Venice Beach. This is an easy place to make a grab, so keep your belongings in front of you and held firmly.
  • There are some bad areas in Los Angeles, but most of the places you will visit will not be among them. There are parts of downtown that are a little run-down, and you will surely notice the homeless people that live on the side streets of the city, but for the most part, it is as safe as any other US city you visit. But to name names, you should probably avoid Compton, Inglewood, South Central, and Central City East (aka Skid Row).

WHAT TO DO IN LA IN 3 DAYS

Day 1 will be busy – you might not be able to visit all places mentioned here. Since we all have different tastes, feel free to skip those activities you are not interested in. You might be able to visit 3 or 4 places mentioned here.

Los Angeles is a must-see place for any California itinerary – so let’s start.

Day 1 of 3 Days in Los Angeles

It’s day 1, and we are going to start with beautiful and artsy Venice Beach. There are some parking spaces within walking distance (cost is about $3-$10), or you can look around on the side streets near the beach for a spot.

Venice Beach

You’ve probably seen Venice Beach depicted in numerous TV shows and movies. It’s usually very quirky with sidewalk shops, surfers, and bodybuilders.

Ocean Front Walk in Venice Beach one of the most beautiful places to see in LA
@shutterstock

And that’s not too far from the truth! Venice is very eclectic and fun, and people are laid back.

  • You can do some souvenir shopping when the stands open for the day or grab a bite to eat at a food stall.
  • Head to the beach to enjoy the early sunrise and see the surfers catching the waves.
  • You can wander over to the outdoor gyms, where the very fit like to show off their muscles.
  • And do not miss the Venice Beach Canals, which are historic landmarks. Reminiscent of the canals in Italy, but with a California vibe, strolling these lovely canals will be a highlight of your trip.
  • If you want to try out surfing, you can book a group session which you can check out here.

TIME 

  • You could spend hours wandering the Venice Beach boardwalk, but I would advise only spending 2-3 hours there and continuing your journey.
  • Our next stop is about 30 minutes away by car (1.5 hours by train).

Watts Towers Art Center

Watt Towers Art Center is located just south of the city’s center, near the artist’s original home, Simon Rodia.

Watts Towers in the USA
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It is not an art exhibit like many others, but rather a collection of sculptures and other art pieces that you can tour. The art center comprises 17 interconnected sculptural towers, individual sculptures and mosaics, and different architectural structures. The entire thing is awe-inspiring and a great stop for visitors who like architecture, art, and sculpture in particular. That said, you can skip it if you are not into art.

TIME

  • You will probably only spend about an hour here, so then let’s head to our next stop.
  • It is about a 20-minute drive due north. 

LA Fashion District

Whether you like shopping or not, it would be a shame to miss this fashion hub. This area is chock full of warehouses and shops where you can get clothing, accessories, and fabric – it’s actually the fashion hotspot for the US’s entire west coast. Check out the stores in Santee Alley.

This area is also the place to go if you are looking for decent knock-offs of your favorite designers at a fraction of the price.

TIME

  • This stop should just take 1-3 hours (depending on how much shopping you do).
  • It takes about 10 minutes to drive to the next destination. If you like walking, you could reach it in about an hour by taking San Pedro Street north.

Chinatown

Chinatown is a very popular destination for those visiting Los Angeles. So, stop by this area that houses many temples, eateries, and shops. Pagoda-style buildings are everywhere when you enter this part of the city, and it is a great place to grab a meal. If you like dim sum or Asian fusion, this is where you want to go.

You can also do some shopping, have tea, or just explore the various side streets while you’re here. Take pictures with the pretty red Chinese lanterns that are hung everywhere. 

TIME

  • After an hour or two, you can head over to the next destination.
  • It’s only a couple of minutes by car.

Echo Park Lake

Echo Park Lake is a beautiful place to stop and relax after a long day of sightseeing. Located in the center of the city, it is a secret gem that doesn’t get as much traffic or attention as nearby Silver Lake, so add it to your Los Angeles itinerary.

Los Angeles - Echo Park a must-see in LA
@shutterstock
  • Take a walk around the lake, which is roughly one mile.
  • You can’t swim here, but the clear blue water makes a nice backdrop to sit and soak in the sun.
  • If you really want to get out on the water, then rent a swan paddle boat for a great activity and a different perspective on the city (lots of fun for couples). Check out prices here
  • There are vendors to get a snack.

TIME

  • This stop can last from 1-3 hours. Then it is time to head to the last attraction on day 1 in LA.
  • It is about a 15-minute ride away. The Red Line metro also goes this way but takes about 30-40 minutes.

Griffith Observatory

For our last stop of the day, check out Griffith Observatory. It is open until 10 pm, and you can see the beauty of Los Angeles all lit up from this vantage point.

Griffith Park in 3 days in LA
@shutterstock

The observatory sits on Mount Hollywood’s slope and gives you some of the best views of downtown, Hollywood, the Los Angeles Basin, and the Pacific Ocean – and it is completely free to enjoy. There is also a planetarium inside, and for a small fee, you can enjoy one of their programs. Find out more about the planetarium here.

Day 2 of 3 Days in Los Angeles

It’s Day 2 in LA, and we are going to start our morning at the pretty Shakespeare Bridge.

Shakespeare Bridge

The Shakespeare Bridge is located in Franklin Hills, just north of the city center. It was built in 1926 with Gothic architecture. It’s a pretty little bridge that looks great in the early morning light – you may want to wake up early and take a few pictures. The bridge is a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument and was named – you guessed it – after famous playwright William Shakespeare.

TIME

  • This is just a short stop, but worth making an effort since it is a landmark in the city and is really cute.
  • The next stop is an iconic sign you have probably seen a million times, just not this close. The drive is about 10-15 minutes.

Hollywood Sign Trail

Hiking up to the Hollywood sign is a must for any Los Angeles itinerary for 3 days.

Hollywood, California a must-do in 3 days
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  • There are several trails, some longer than others, some easier or harder.
  • Depending on your skill level, I would probably choose the Brush Canyon Trail (moderate) or maybe the Mt. Hollywood Trail (easy). 
  • These hiking trails bring you right up to the sign and a little above and behind it.
  • You can look straight out over the entire city, and it is absolutely breathtaking. It’s an amazing perspective and worth the time and energy to get up here.
  • Wear boots or sneakers because snakes live up here. And bring plenty of water, especially in the summer. 
  • Once you’re done, let’s head to another favorite destination and maybe grab something to eat (hiking is hard work!).
  • If you enjoy hiking in a group, check out this guided tour.

TIME

  • Most hikes will take about 2-3 hours roundtrip, so keep that in mind. So, if you want to do longer hikes or plan longer breaks to enjoy the views, do not put too much on your Los Angeles itinerary for that day.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Dating back to 1960, stars with actors and other celebrities names have been emblazoned on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street’s sidewalks.

Walk of Fame at sunset on Hollywood Boulevard where to go in 3 days
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  • There are over 2600 stars today on Hollywood Boulevard, so if you want to find your favorite star, visit their website to find its exact location.
  • Or wander the street, seeing what stars you find along the way – it surely is one of the best things to do in Los Angeles in 3 days.
  • You will also see the famous TCL Chinese Theater (which has regular movie showtimes) in this area.
  • You will also find tours that will take you around Hollywood, even to see celebrities’ homes. If you love all things Hollywood, this is the place to be. 
  • Grab some lunch at one of the cafes in the area, or do a little shopping at the quirky vintage shops. 

TIME

  • This should take you 1-3 hours.
  • The next stop is a 15-minute drive north.

Mulholland Scenic Overlook

Then you’ll find yourself at Mulholland Drive Overlook. This is a great place to get views of the city and its surrounding area.

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The street name may sound familiar as it’s been the setting of more than a few movies, including one named Mulholland Drive. Head up here to enjoy more Los Angeles scenery and a less crowded area of the city before we do a little (window) shopping.

  • You can bring some snacks and rest here for an hour or two.
  • Drive 15 minutes south to the heart of Beverly Hills.

Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive – pronounced Roh-DAY-oh Drive, in Beverly Hills is one of the most famous streets in the world.

Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. California, USA one of the top things to do in LA in 3 days
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Like New York’s 5th Avenue, it’s comprised of some of the most exclusive boutiques, hotels, and restaurants around. It’s actually the connection of three streets, known as the Golden Triangle – however, in this case, the name is synonymous with high class.

Depending on your budget, you may or may not want to buy anything here, but it’s still fun to explore this luxurious area where wealthy Los Angelenos shop and relax. Even if you aren’t into luxury, I think it is one of the must-see places.

  • When you’ve had your fill of haute couture – maybe for an hour or two – let’s head to our last stop of the day. 
  • Santa Monica Pier is about 30 minutes away by car, but it is worth the drive.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica is a coastal city west of downtown Los Angeles – known for several things.

Santa Monica pier at Sunset one of the best places to visit in LA in 3 days
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Jutting out into the Pacific Ocean, you will find shops, eateries, bars, and a Ferris wheel that will give you some great views, especially as the sun sets. Spend the rest of your evening wandering the pier, having dinner or drinks, and getting your feet wet in the surf (unless it’s winter, in which case the water will feel really cold!).

  • If you want to check out Hollywood stars’ houses, you can do a tour from Santa Monica.
  • This is a great way to cap off the night of Day 2 on this itinerary. 

Day 3 of 3 Days in Los Angeles

Day 3 in LA offers two options. There are a few more sights in LA to see if you would like to continue exploring Los Angeles. Another option is to spend the day at one of the popular theme parks in the area.

So, if you decide to go with the sights, here are my suggestions:

White Point Park

Start with this great beach park for the morning of Day 3 – White Point Park. Known among locals for all the sea creatures you can see here, this is especially great for families. The beach area also has a children’s playground and picnic tables. So, take your breakfast to go and head here for a beach sunrise. 

TIME

  • Relaxing at the beach can take anywhere from an hour to 3 hours, depending on how much fun you’re having. 
  • Then, head to The Getty Center – the ride takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

The Getty

The Getty Center is actually a campus set up by the Getty Trust that includes a free museum, beautiful gardens, and interesting architecture.

The Central Garden at the Getty Center in a 3-day itinerary LA
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You also get really nice views of LA if you haven’t gotten enough of those yet. But seriously, this center is great for art lovers or really anyone. The gardens are nice to stroll through, and there is plenty of space, so couples, families, and solo travelers should be able to enjoy what it has to offer. The villa is done in the Roman style, and the art in the museum is of Greek and Roman origin for the most part.

TIME

  • This stop takes about 2-3 hours. 
  • Then you can visit a popular shopping center which is about an hour heading south along the coast.

Orchard Hills Shopping Center

For the second half of Day 3, I would suggest going to the Orchard Hills Shopping Center. This would be the last stop of the day because there is a lot to do here. It’s a favorite among locals and located in Irvine, so a bit of a trek from The Getty. Here you’ll find lots of shops, restaurants, and other services. You can get a spa treatment, buy some souvenirs, and have a glass of California wine while enjoying dinner – all in one place.

TIME

  • You can spend here almost a full day – but after 2-3 hours here, you might want to move on. 
  • If you find you still have time for one more stop, then head to the beach – it is just a 30-minute drive.

Huntington Beach

How about spending your last evening at the coast? If this sounds good, head to scenic Huntington Beach.

Huntington Beach Pier in Huntington Beach, California add to LA itinerary
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California is famous for its beautiful beaches, and this one is a nice sandy beach to lay out a towel or enjoy some water sports. Or just sit back and watch the sunset. Depending on how much time you have, you can decide the best way to close out Day 3 of your Los Angeles trip here at the beach.

OR…

Day Trips from Los Angeles for Day 3

Here are some day trip ideas that are great alternatives if you rather spend time outside of LA.

Disneyland

This is “the happiest place on Earth,” or at least on the US’s West Coast. Disneyland is an iconic landmark and a favorite among pretty much everyone, not just little kids.

Tickets go for about $97-$135, depending on how busy it is, and it’s located outside of LA, in neighboring Anaheim. If you plan to visit Disneyland, plan a full day – it is not a place to rush through.

Universal Studios

Half movie studio, half theme park – Universal Studios is a great destination for adults and families with older children.

Universal Studios in Hollywood a must see in 3 days in LA
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Tickets cost about $115 per person, so get here early to make the most of your money. It’s located within both Universal City and Los Angeles County. Check out ticket prices here.

Knott’s Berry Farm

Located in Buena Park, this is a more moderately-priced theme park at $67 per ticket. But it’s still a lot of fun for kids of all ages, and adults, too. You’ll find exciting and thrilling rollercoasters, rides, and eateries here. 

Creating an Epic LA Itinerary for 3 Days

I hope this 3-day Los Angeles itinerary has shown you all the best things to do. While it’s hard to see everything in such a sprawling metropolis, 3 days in Los Angeles should be enough to see the highlights – both the famous and the local favorites.

About the Author:

This post was written by Rebecca, who runs her own blog at The Journey at Home – where she writes about her life as a mother of 5 with everything that comes along with it. She lived in New York for a long time before she moved to Las Vegas. She also works as a freelancer for Arzo Travels.Safe Travels, Arzo

 

Categories USA

Epic Things to Do in Hawaii – USA

WHAT TO DO IN HAWAII

Are you planning your Hawaii trip and are wondering about the best things to do in Hawaii? Then read on to find out where to go and what to see and get more travel tips. 
 
Hawaii is a truly magical place. Comprised of many islands – eight major islands, several atolls, and numerous smaller islets – seven of the islands are inhabited. What you enjoy doing while traveling may dictate which islands are best for you, but I definitely recommend visiting at least 2-4 islands if you have the choice.

The islands accessible to visitors include the main 4 islands, Oahu, Maui, Hawaii (aka The Big Island), and Kauai. Also, there are the islands of Lana’i and Moloka’i which are accessible via ferry from Maui. The Hawaiian Islands definitely offer a unique and diverse destination for all types of travelers.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

This post was written by Cassandra

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EPIC THINGS TO DO IN HAWAII

Okay, let´s start with the best things to do in Hawaii  – you´ll find the top activities for the main island first.

Best Things to See in Maui

Here are the top activities for Maui.

Road to Hana (Maui)

Driving the Road to Hana is an amazing activity you should not miss out when visiting Hawaii.

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This is a full-day drive (about 3 hours each way), so you will want to leave early! Boasting amazing scenery along the way, you’ll see rainforests and ocean cliffs. You can also make several stops along the way at various beaches and waterfalls. At the end of the road, you’ll reach the charming town of Hana, where you can relax and grab some food at a local restaurant.

Snorkel Molokini (Maui)

Snorkeling is another of the top things to do in Hawaii.

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Molokini is a sunken, extinct volcano crater about 2 miles from the coast! And yes, you can snorkel it! Being submerged for many years, it has developed a reef system, and the rim of the crater protects these tiny ecosystems from the rough waters making it the perfect spot to snorkel. It is a protected marine reserve, though, so you must visit via tour.

See the Sun Rise at Haleakala (Maui)

Watching the sunrise at Haleakala is one of the must-dos in Hawaii.

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Haleakala is a dormant volcano known for its gorgeous sunrise views. Take the trip up here early in the morning to see the colors change with the sun. Be sure to dress warm though the altitude keeps it chilly here. If you are more of a thrill-seeker, you can ride a mountain bike down the summit as well. Either way, be sure to book ahead as a tour needs to be arranged in advance.

Best Things to Do on the Big Island

Here are the best things to do in Hawaii, Big Island.

Black Sand Beach (The Big Island)

You have to visit at least one black sand beach in Hawaii. People who visited Santorini in Greece or Iceland might have seen a black beach already – but black beaches are quite special, and in Hawaii, you have the option to see a few.

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Black sand beaches are such a surreal experience and definitely worth seeing while in Hawaii. Although there are black sand beaches on each of the islands, The Big Island has the most since it is the only island with an active volcano. One of the best on the island is Punalu’u Beach. There is also a high chance of seeing endangered sea turtles here as well!

Kona Coffee (The Big Island)

One of the top things to do in Hawaii is to learn about Kona Coffee. Kona coffee is not grown anywhere else in the world except on Hawaii Island (aka The Big Island). Due to the high elevation, volcanic soils, and the island’s cloud forests, it is ideal for coffee plantations and creates the perfect environment for the beans to grow.

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Coffee farming is a long-lasting tradition in Hawaii, and they make delicious rich and aromatic brews like non-other! If you can visit a plantation and witness the process and do some tastings- definitely do! But even if you can’t make it to a plantation, be sure to drink a cup while here.

Volcano National Park (The Big Island)

The Volcano National Park is one of the top places to visit in Hawaii, and it is a really amazing and humbling experience.

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This is where the island is literally still being created by mother nature. You can visit the museum and visitor’s center for some great info and safety information for exploring the park. You can visit several fascinating spots within the park, including the Thurston Lava Tube and the Halema’uma’u crater. If you are lucky, you will see the flowing lava but for a wonderful experience, wait until sundown when you can see the orange glow from the volcano.

Start or end your trip at the nearby winery – at Volcano Winery you can do some tastings of the unique Hawaiian wine and see the vineyards grown in the rich volcanic soil.

Stargaze Mauna Kea (The Big Island)

Mauna Kea is one of the best places in the world to stargaze, and thus it is an activity you should add to your Hawaii itinerary.

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Thousands of miles from any light population, you will see more stars than ever before. So much so in fact that the world’s largest telescopes were placed here to view deep into space. On a tour here, you can look through these telescopes as well. Note that due to the altitude, it can be chilly up here.

Find more tips on things to do on Big Island.

Best Things to on Oahu 

Find out about fun things to do in Oahu.

Waikiki Beach (Oahu)

Waikiki beach is the famed beach of Honolulu city, lined with high rises featuring tons of events and nightlife, and spending time at this beach is one of the best things to do in Hawaii.

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Shopping, restaurants galore, Friday night fireworks over the beach, and rooftop luaus make this one of the US’s top cities. Most people like to stay on this iconic beach area but conveniently located on the city’s waterfront means you still have access to the rest of Honolulu where you can see historic sights like Pearl Harbor or the Hawaiian Royal Palaces, as well as cultural hot spots like Chinatown.

Find out about a submarine tour in Hawaii

Diamond Head (Oahu)

Diamond Head crater was originally called Le’ahi by the Hawaiians but gained the nickname “Diamond Head” when sailors mistook the calcite for diamonds.

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Flying into Oahu, you will see Diamond Head. It is just outside Honolulu city and its relatively easy 45-minute hike to the top makes it an easily accessible natural site for all visitors. Gates open at 6 am, and it’s best to get there early to avoid tourist crowds. Once you get to the top, enjoy a stunning panoramic view of Oahu- gorgeous.

North Shore Surfers (Oahu)

The north shore is famous for surfing and is a nice escape from the city of Honolulu.

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If you are a beginner, visit in the summer for more manageable waves; otherwise, winter months bring huge waves and pro surf competitions that are a blast to watch and are amongst some of the best things to do in Hawaii. Be sure also to grab a local favorite here- Hawaiian shaved ice- yum!

Find out about more free things to do in Oahu.

Best Things to Do on Kauai

Here are the best things to do on Kauai.

Waimea Canyon (Kauai)

Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” this is one of the most popular spots to visit on the island.

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It has tons of hiking trails as well as sightseeing outlooks via car. The gorgeous colors of the stone with the lush green vegetation are definitely worth a visit while on the island!

Napali Coast (Kauai)

This is one of the most iconic sights of all of Hawaii. Even if you haven’t heard the name before, you have most likely seen an image of Napali Coast.

View of the monumental Na Pali Coast at Honopu Valley and Kalepa Ridge, aerial shot from a helicopter, Kauai, Hawaii.
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The dramatic cliffs and rock walls against the Pacific Ocean are stunning. As previously mentioned, much of Kauai is inaccessible via car, and this includes the Napali coast. In fact, the only way to see this area is via helicopter or boat. Although pricey,  helicopter rides are worth the amazing views, but if you want a more up-close experience, try one of the sailing trips that visit the coast daily.

Best Things to Do on Moloka’i

Here are tips for the best things to do in Moloka’i.

Hike Halawa Valley (Moloka’i)

You can take a ferry to Moloka’i from the island of Maui.

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A hike along this trail will lead you to the stunning 250-foot waterfall Mo’oula, definitely a sight worth seeing. Please note that a guide is required to hike this area!

Best Things to Do on Lana’i

Let´s talk about the best things to do on Lana´í

Visit the cliffs of Pu’upehe Bay (Lana’i) 

The location of “Sweetheart Rock” is a gorgeous sight of cliffs going into the Pacific.

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It is about a 30-minute hike up the cliffs to see the iconic landmark offshore, and if you’re lucky, you may spot dolphins! Take the hike later in the day to catch the sunset and have an evening picnic.

Whale Watching

Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to go whale watching.

@shutterstock (pic taken in New Zealand, Archive)

The whales migrate down during the winter months (Dec-March) to give birth to their calves. The most common whale to see is a humpback whale. If you are lucky, you may see one breach- where they leaped straight out of the water and come crashing down with a splash!

HAWAII TRAVEL TIPS

So, let´s start with the travel tips for Hawaii.

Safety Tips (for Female Travelers) for Hawaii

  • Most of Hawaii is safe even at night, so just exercising common sense will keep you out of any potential trouble.
  • Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings – always.
  • Don’t go out drinking alone, and be careful not to expose your money/valuables or leave them unattended on the beach.
  • Trust your gut if a person or situation doesn‘t feel right- leave and don’t share your hotel information with people you don’t trust.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable walking, grab a taxi.
  • Be conscious that every city has good and bad areas- research before you go so you know your good areas and stay in them.
  • English is the main language here, making navigation for most quite easy.
  • Like anywhere else, catcalling does happen. I always recommend ignoring and continuing walking. It’s best to avoid confrontation, especially if traveling solo.

How to Get Around Hawaii

Getting around varies from island to island as they are each structured differently.

  • On the island of Oahu: if you stay in the Honolulu area, you would mainly walk or use taxi and bus services since it is a city environment.
  • On the island of Maui or the Big Island: I recommend a car rental to get around easily or to discover it by motorcycle.
  • On the other hand, if you visit the island of Kauai, 80% of this island is inaccessible by car, so I wouldn’t bother with a car rental here and would stick to using transfers and tours.

To get between these 4 main islands, you would need to fly. Flights are typically about 45 minutes long.

If visiting the 2 smaller islands of Lanai or Molokai, they are both accessible via ferry from Maui.

Things to Pack for Hawaii

Be sure to pack a variety of clothing, although it will be tropical weather most of the time. If you decide to head up into the mountains, it can be quite chilly. I also recommend always having bug spray and sunblock available. Also, bring sneakers for active days and a raincoat for any tropical showers.

Where to Stay in Hawaii

Most of these are good mid-range hotels except for Kalani on The Big Island, which offers more cabin-style accommodations.

  • Oahu Honolulu/Waikiki – Check out the latest rates for  Aston Waikiki Beach.
  • Oahu North Shore – Check out the latest Rates for Courtyard Oahu North Shore
  • The Big Island Kona (west side) – Check out the latest rates for Aston Kona by the sea.
  • The Big Island Pahoa (east side) – Check out the latest rates for the Kalani retreat here.
  • Kauai – Check out the latest rates for Courtyard Coconut Beach
  • Maui – Check out the latest rates for Kaanapali Beach Hotel

Best Time to Visit Hawaii

  • The best time to travel to Hawaii is: anytime! There is no off-season, and the temperature is constantly  70s – 80s Fahrenheit year-round.
  • If you visit Hawaii in winter, check out the Hawaii winter guide.
  • Looking for more general travel tips (especially for backpackers)? Here for more travel tips.

Costs to Visit Hawaii

  • The USD is a fairly strong currency, so traveling here can be costly for some nations. Also, as it often happens on islands, many things are imported which can affect costs.
  • I found expenses higher when in city areas like Honolulu and more affordable in rural areas such as the east coast on the Big Island.
  • Of course, as with anywhere else, finding great local spots to eat is an option for saving money.
  • If you opt for a condo or apartment-style accommodation, you can also cook some meals to save money.
  • Also, most of Hawaii’s tap water is fine to drink, so there is no need for bottled water purchases.
  • Unfortunately, though, bargaining is not an option while shopping here, so spend wisely!
  • Click here to find out more about the food and culture in Hawaii.

Also, make sure to check out the Hawaii itinerary if you want to find out how to plan your Hawaii trip.

What do you think? Does not Hawaii look absolutely gorgeous? Have we missed beautiful spots in Hawaii? Let us know about your favorite things to do in Hawaii.
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cassandra is a US-female travel addict that loves traveling the world and a freelance writer at ArzoTravels. She has made traveling her priority, and so she has traveled for the last few years. She has also become a regular contributor for this website – Arzo Travels.

Follow Cassandra on Instagram

Safe Travels, Arzo

Categories USA

BEST THINGS TO DO IN DALLAS IN 3 DAYS

Best things to do in Dallas in 3 days, Texas

WHAT TO DO IN 3 DAYS IN DALLAS – ITINERARY

Headed to Dallas and wondering about the best things to do in Dallas? Then read on and find out what to do and how a perfect 3-day Dallas itinerary could look like.

Dallas is famous for many things – Tex-Mex and football are the first to come to mind. But this city is known for a lot more than that. Located in the northeast corner of Texas, Dallas is a cultural and commercial hub in the southern part of the US. Many companies are headquartered here, making it a place with lots of income – which means there are lots and lots of entertainment options which makes it one of the best cities to visit in the US.

This post was written by Rebecca (find out more about her below).

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means., I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

BEST TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR DALLAS TRIP

Find out about the best things to do in Dallas in 3 days, as well as some helpful travel tips for getting around the city and making the most of your time here. 

How to Get to Dallas

  • If you’re flying into Dallas, you will be arriving at one of two airports: the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (DFW) or the Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL). From there, you can either take public transportation to your hotel or rent a car.
  • Another more economical option is taking the train. Amtrak has stations in Dallas, making it easy to get here by train ride. Cross-country buses are even cheaper, if a little less comfortable.
  • If you are driving from the north or south, take Route 35 into the city, and from the west and east, you can travel along Route 20.

Weather in Dallas

The weather in Dallas can be beautiful, but some seasons are more comfortable than others. Dallas is the perfect fall and spring destination in the US.

  • Summer temperatures range from 77ºF to 96ºF, and with humidity, it can feel very hot and muggy.
  • Winters are between 36ºF and 56ºF, and spring and fall are more temperate, though sudden thunderstorms are not uncommon.

What to Pack For 3 Days in Dallas

Because of the heat and humidity, pack light clothes and sunscreen if you are visiting in the summer. Also, Dallas locals put a lot of pride into dressing fashionably, so keep that in mind if you’re looking forward to some nights out on the town.

3 Days in Dallas – Where to Stay

There are a lot of hotels located in the downtown area, as well as near the airports. But here are a few suggestions based on your budget:

  • You can stay at the Hotel Crescent Court, which is very modern, has on-site restaurants, and a private balcony off of each guest room for luxury accommodation. Great for couples and solo travelers.
  • The Omni Dallas Hotel is a good mid-range option with great views and a heated infinity pool that’s especially nice in the cooler months.

How to Get Around

Dallas is a very spread-out city, so for convenience, renting a car would be my suggestion. You will have to deal with parking and traffic, though, so there is a trade-off for being able to drive yourself. 

Even though a car is the easiest mode of transportation, it’s not the only way to get around. Dallas has an excellent public transportation system known as DART, including bus routes and a train system. It’s also constantly expanding to offer more coverage to the busy areas of the city and suburbs. You can buy single-fare tickets or day passes.

More Tips For Your Dallas Itinerary

Texas is hot in the summer, and Dallas is no exception. Heatstroke is a widespread malady for first-time visitors, so make sure you stay hydrated. The tap water in the city is well-filtered and safe to drink, so keep a bottle with you at all times and fill up often.

Keep an eye on weather reports when you’re visiting Dallas. From hail storms to tornadoes, extreme weather has been known to hit the region. So, look at the forecast before you head out each morning.

There are many free things to do in Dallas, but many attractions have entry fees. So, to save money, consider getting a City Pass, which will discount prices for popular stops, like the Sixth Floor Museum.

Dallas is a pretty safe city for tourists, so use common sense precautions when visiting. Keep an eye on your belongings, park in lit areas, and be careful of train platforms and side streets when traveling alone at night.

I mentioned that Dallas is a city with a lot of disposable income, so going out is as popular with the locals as it is with the visitors. Expect longer than usual wait times at popular eateries and night spots.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN DALLAS IN 3 DAYS

Here are fun things to do and see in Dallas in 3 days.

Day 1 in Dallas

Of course, you can play around and start with “day 2” – this is up to you, but here is how a great start in Dallas could look like.

White Rock Lake Park

Sunset at White Rock Lake, watching is one of the best things to do in 3 days in Dallas
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The first stop is White Rock Lake Park because…visiting is one of the best things to do, and it is one of the many free things to do in Dallas. This huge park just northeast of downtown is perfect for anyone who loves nature and the outdoors. There are biking and hiking trails, kayaking, and a museum, and a cultural center, which I suggest you stop. This is a good place to let the kids get their wiggles out if you’re traveling as a family.

There’s also a picnic area, so bring your breakfast and enjoy the fresh air while you eat. After an hour or two, you can head to the next destination.

George W. Bush Presidential Center

What makes the George W. Bush Presidential Center interesting isn’t so much the president himself, but just the things you can see at a presidential center. Each president gets one, and this particular one has cool artifacts from Bush’s presidency, including through 9/11 and the 43,000 gifts he was given while in office. And if you never get to see the Oval Office in the White House in person, here, you’ll find a replica. This takes about 2 hours to tour.

Highland Park Village

With a lovely Mediterranean Spanish-style architecture, Highland Park Village was the first shopping center in the US, built in 1931. It’s full of luxury stores, restaurants, and outdoor spaces. Even if you’re not coming to shop, it’s a great stop for nice architecture and something to eat. It was made a National Historic Landmark in 2000. So, grab a coffee/lunch and a bench and just people-watch for a little while before checking out the next stop.

Klyde Warren Park

This urban park is situated over the Klyde Warren Freeway and bridges uptown and downtown.

Klyde Warren Park, Downtown Dallas, Texas
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It has tons of free activities, a playground for kids, and food trucks that provide a variety of local cuisines. It’s a fun environment and very popular among locals and tourists alike. It’s also very close to the next stop on this itinerary.

Dallas Museum of Art

The Dallas Museum of Art is one of the largest museums in the country and has over 22,000 pieces of art to see.

Dallas Museum of Art on Dallas itinerary, Gilberto Mesquita, Shutterstock.com
@Gilberto Mesquita – Shutterstock.com

It’s a really diverse place and has exhibits covering ancient Mediterranean art to 20th-century America, Asia and Africa, and beyond. There are even pop culture exhibits about famous musicians, cultural trends, and touchable exhibits. This is an entertaining museum to stop by while visiting Dallas’ Art District, whether with kids, as a couple, or solo.

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Our last stop is best seen at night. World-renowned engineer Santiago Calatrava designed the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. It’s beautifully dramatic and can be seen for miles. Illuminated at night, this white arch soars to 400 feet at its center as it straddles the Trinity River. The architecture is really stunning, and I highly suggest making this the last stop of your night. And if you get hungry, there are several restaurants nearby after you’ve gotten some great pictures.

Day 2 in Dallas

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Day 2 will start at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardenm. Dallas aphotostory, Shutterstock.com
@aphotostory, Shutterstock.com

This 66-acre garden is full of bright floral displays for every season and walkways hugged by lines of trees. There are exhibits and events held here throughout the year, and it’s a great place for a picnic. So, take your coffee and breakfast to go and spend a couple of hours strolling through the beautiful natural scenery.

Swiss Avenue

The Swiss Avenue Historic District is a residential neighborhood that you can walk through and see centuries-old architecture examples. The houses were built in the early 1900s and were done in Colonial Revival and 19th and 20th Century Revival. The houses are even opened up to the public to walk through on occasion. Even if you are not a huge architecture buff, though, these buildings are stately and lovely to look at, plus it’s a nice area for a walk. 

Texas Discovery Gardens

This public park is great for kids because it’s not just a pretty outdoor area but tries to educate the public on ecology and nature. There’s a very cool 2-story butterfly house and a snake exhibit here, as well as many events. Explore the gardens and exhibits for an hour or two before checking out the next stop.

Old City Park / Heritage Village

This destination is actually now called Dallas Heritage Village, but it’s still an amazing example of what the city used to look like.

Landscape view of the entrance to the Dallas Heritage Village Shutterstock
@Shutterstock

Restored buildings and furnished homes from the 19th and early 20th centuries create a space here devoted to the cultural and historical heritage of North Texas. Stroll the tree-lined streets and explore the general store. Enjoy a historical reenactment or mock gunfight. This is especially fun for families, but I’d recommend it to any Dallas visitor.

Deep Ellum

Our last stop of the night is Deep Ellum. This quirky and lively art and music district is located in East Dallas. It’s a fun place to hang out full of experimental theaters, live music shows, and Tex-Mex restaurants. Jazz and blues are big here, but all music varieties are represented.

Check out art installations and grab drinks at one of the lounges. Weekends are especially boisterous in this part of the city. Finish out your night here, enjoying the artsy vibe of Dallas.

Day 3 in Dallas

For your last day in Dallas, you can visit the following places.

Dallas County Courthouse / Old Red Museum

It’s the last day, and our first stop is the Old Red Museum / Dallas County Courthouse.

Old Red Museum, formerly Dallas County Courthouse in Dallas, Texas main sight for Dallas itinerary
@shutterstock

This red municipal building was built in 1892 and still has beautiful architecture. Done in red sandstone with marble accents, it’s gorgeous. And you can go inside and learn even more about the building and the city. In 2007, it became the Old Red Museum, and you should check out its exhibits for an hour or two before heading to the next stop.

Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

The Sixth Floor Museum is located in the former Texas School Book Depository in Dealey Plaza.

Dealey Plaza in Dallas a must-see in 3 days
@Rick Seeney – Shutterstock.com

It gained fame as the place where the man who assassinated President John F. Kennedy was when he fired on the presidential motorcade. The museum is fascinating, especially because this particular tragedy is shrouded in conspiracy theories. Take the audio tour, which is included in the price of admission, and learn more about it. This stop should take about two hours. (Parents should use caution if their children are younger.) There are also several JFK Assassination Tours that you can book.

Reunion Tower

It just wouldn’t be right to visit a beautiful city like Dallas and not take in the view from above.

The Reunion Tower stands as the sun sets in Dallas, Texas. stock_photo_world, Shutterstock.com
@stock_photo_world, Shutterstock.com

Reunion Tower is definitely one of those places where you have to go in Dallas in 3 days. Check out the city with panoramic views. The 360-degree observation deck is amazing, and you can also eat here and get souvenirs if you like. But most of all, enjoy the skyline and scenery.

AT&T Stadium

There’s nothing bigger in Texas than football. And the Dallas Cowboys are the hometown heroes.

AT&T Stadium in Dallas fitzcrittle,Shutterstock.com
@fitzcrittle – Shutterstock.com

AT&T Stadium was built in 2009 and is one of the most impressive sports stadiums in the country. With a retractable roof and 160-foot jumbotron, there’s a lot to admire. Take a self-guided tour that lets you see the entire stadium and turf. Even if you’re not a football fan, you have to admire the place’s technology and grandeur. It’s located just outside of Dallas, in Arlington.

Sundance Square

The last stop will be Sundance Square. This is the only destination located in neighboring Fort Worth, but it’s worth the extra travel time (pun intended). This downtown district is the perfect place to end our visit, with restaurants, theaters, shops, and pubs lining the streets. Stroll through and see what catches your eye.

Enjoy dinner and drinks and watch a drama or musical performance. Or check out the pools and waterfalls at the nearby Fort Worth Water Gardens. There’s so much to do in this little area, and it’s great for solo travelers and couples, as well as families.

CONCLUSION: BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN DALLAS IN 3 DAYS

I hope this Dallas itinerary has answered the question about the best things to do in Dallas in 3 days and given you some guidance for your own visit.

This is a huge city with lots to enjoy, so 3 days hardly seems like enough. But this list gives you the best stops to make, and I hope you have a great time exploring this unique city.

Pinterest - Best things to do in Dallas, Texas, USA

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This post was written by Rebecca, who runs her own blog at The Journey at Home – where she writes about her life as a mother of 5 with everything that comes along with it. She lived in New York for a long time before she moved to Las Vegas. She also works as a freelancer for Arzo Travels.

Categories USA

What to Do in Winter in Hawaii

BEST THINGS TO DO IN HAWAII IN THE WINTER

Wondering about the best things to do in Hawaii in the “cold” winter months and what winter in Hawaii is like? Then read on as this post will help you to find out about what to do in Hawaii in the winter, but you will also find out how to arrive, what to pack, and how to get around, as well as other important travel tips.

If you are looking to get away from the cold, then a Hawaii vacation is the way to go. Beautiful warm weather (and nothing really cold here), stunning beaches, and friendly people, Hawaii in winter is relaxing and fun. This unique American state is made up of eight islands, 4 of which (Oahu, the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai) have been a vacation destination for Americans and people worldwide for decades. Kona in Hawaii

HAWAII WINTER TIPS

This post with the Hawaii travel tips was written by Rebecca, a regular Hawaii visitor.

How to Get to Hawaii

As Hawaii is completely made up of islands, there are only two ways to arrive: by boat or plane. While many cruises can be taken from the west coast of the US to Hawaii, they will take about two weeks to cover the 2500 miles. This can be a luxurious way to travel if you have the time, but if not, then I would advise flying.

If you fly to Hawaii, several carriers come to the major airports on the islands. Personally, I have always taken Hawaiian Airlines and loved it. Depending on your island destination, your flight price will vary, but you can always island hop. I have often flown into Oahu, then traveled on to the Big Island of Kauai by way of an inter-island flight.

Hawaii’s major airports are:

  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (Oahu)
  • Kona International Airport & Hilo International Airport (Hawaii, aka the Big Island)
  • Lihue Airport (Kauai)
  • Kahului Airport (Maui)

How to Get Around Hawaii

In Hawaii, you can get around by taxi, shuttle from your hotel, tour buses, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, or by public transportation.

TIP: I really recommend making a reservation for a car that you can pick up once your flight lands. There are so many lovely little nooks in the Hawaiian Islands that you might miss if someone else is in charge. By driving yourself, you have the chance to really explore in a relaxed manner befitting the Aloha State. Since you have to catch a few flights (if you visit more than one island), you have to rent a car on each of the islands.

Use caution and drive slowly – regardless of the weather because speed limits are generally lower in Hawaii than in other US states. It’s not unusual to see bumper stickers that read: Slow down, this isn’t the mainland. If you decide to get around by car, check out this site and find the best deals for a rental car.

Where to Stay in Hawaii

What hotel you decide on for your Hawaii visit will depend on which island you will be staying on. Since tourism is a major part of the Hawaiian economy, there is no shortage of hotels throughout the islands. However, if you are visiting the smaller islands, like Lanai and Kauai, there will be fewer options, so book ahead. Winter in Hawaii is beautiful, which means it’s also a high season for visitors.

Weather in Hawaii in Winter

Winter in Hawaii is very mild, with average temperatures around 78ºF at sea level. If you are going more inland where the elevation may be higher, it will be slightly cooler.

  • December sees temperatures as high as 82ºF and as low as 67ºF,
  • and January and February have highs of 81ºF and lows of 66ºF.

Winter is known as the wet season, so expect some rain, especially in December.

What to Pack for Winter in Hawaii

When it comes to packing, Hawaii is easy. Pack light and comfortable for the warmer weather, and leave plenty of room for souvenirs from the islands. 

  • Beachwear is a must and don’t forget any special gear you might need for hiking, snorkeling, etc.
  • Flip-flops (what locals call “slippers”) are worn by pretty much everyone.
  • Other winter vacations may require bulky coats and boots, but here, you can wear shorts and t-shirts every day (though I’d bring one sweater, just in case).
  • Resorts and restaurants have relaxed dress codes compared to other cities in the country, and the world, so a nice dress or slacks should suffice for a night out.

@shutterstock

More Travel Tips

  • English and Hawaiian are the co-official languages of Hawaii, but most locals speak Hawaiian Pidgin (particularly to each other). This can be a little confusing, as a few words are English and then others are not, but in the hotels and tourist areas, you should get on fine.
  • Car break-ins are rather common in Hawaii, particularly in Oahu and Maui. Make sure that you do not leave valuables in your car and park it in well-lit areas. Avoid isolated locations.
  • Be careful when driving at night, as you can run into both rain and fog. Use caution and check the weather forecast before heading out.
  • Hawaii is expensive. Period. Part of this is because many products are shipped in from the mainland, and part is since tourists have little choice but to pay what is charged once they have arrived.
  • To save money, consider stopping at a grocery store for your staples and snacks to avoid costly roadside meals as you explore. Also, gas is pricey here, but remember to fill up before heading into more remote areas.
  • There are agricultural laws about what live plants can be brought into and out of the islands. So, keep that in mind if you had planned to bring some island flora home with you.
  • Speaking of taking things home, I know that souvenirs are hard to turn down, but a couple that you should avoid are pieces of volcanic rock and stones from the beaches. This is considered bad luck and frowned upon by locals. And really, while you’re on an island with an active volcano, do you really want to upset Pele?

Winter in Hawaii – What to Do and See

Let´s get started and talk about the best winter activities in Hawaii.

Shine Bright with the Honolulu City Lights (December)

Hawaii is a beautiful place to celebrate the holidays.

Honolulu City Lights in winter
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If you are planning on being on the island of Oahu, stop at downtown Honolulu Hale for the festivities. Starting with the Electric Lights Parade, which features local bands and floats, it ends with the mayor lighting the city’s Christmas tree. Even if you aren’t here for the parade, it’s still a lot of fun to stroll around and see the lights and decorations — not to mention the huge statues of Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus. That’ll make for some great holiday photos. There’s also a trolley tour if you’d rather not walk.

The Amy & Willie Holiday Show (December)

What would Christmas be without Christmas music? Another annual holiday classic in Honolulu, Hawaii is the Amy & Willie Holiday Show. If you visit Hawaii in December this is a good show to watch.

Enjoy all your favorite holiday songs, redone Hawaiian style. Amy Hanaiali’i and Willie K. are beloved musicians on the islands and this Christmas concert is the perfect way for family and friends to get into the spirit. Good for visitors of all ages.

Countdown to Christmas (December)

Counting down to Christmas isn’t just for kids! The Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu makes the days leading up to Christmas all the more fun.

Throughout the year, the center highlights the cultural heritage of Polynesia, but from December 9th to December 22nd, they offer the Thirteen Days of Polynesia. This holiday-inspired event showcases Christmas canoe rides, live music, snow days, and lots of fun activities for kids. This is great for families, couples, and singles. The only downside is that this event is not free, but it is worth it. Plus, the center offers packages.

See the stars at Mauna Kea (December, January, and February)

On the Big Island of Hawaii, there is a stargazing program that will make a fun stop for any traveler, whether as a family, couple or on your own. Several times a week local volunteer astronomers set up telescopes outside of the station for visitors to use. This might not be offered during COVID times.

Mauna Kea star gazing in Hawaii is one of the best winter activities
@shutterstock

Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on the island, so it offers a unique vantage point from which to gaze at the stars. Dress warmly because at this elevation, it can get chilly – you might even see some snow on the mountain’s peak. The best part of this attraction is that it is free. So enjoy!

Mele Kalikimaka Marketplace (December)

Christmas markets are fun and festive events that are the perfect way to celebrate the season. Hawaii has its own market in Honolulu that you should visit. The Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian for Merry Christmas) Marketplace is held in the Neal Blaisdell Expo Hall downtown. You’ll find tons of holiday treats and sweets, pop-up stores to shop in, kid-friendly activities, plus lots more. Perfect for picking up some last-minute holiday gifts.

This is a great place to visit, especially for families (entry is $4-5, but children 12 and under are free).

Watch a Surf Competition (December)

Hawaii in winter is home to some of the biggest waves around. Oahu’s north shore is famous for these record-breaking swells, so if you are on the island between November and December, then check out one of the largest surfing contests in the world.

Surfing in Hawaii in winter
@pixabay

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is held at Sunset Beach and is a beautiful locale for a relaxing day in the Hawaii sun. Make a day of it by packing some beach gear (bathing suit optional since only the pros are allowed in the water) and a picnic (or grabbing a bite at a local place). Get here early to snag a good spot. 

If you’re in Maui, the Pe’ahi Challenge is also going on. This is known as one of the scariest surfing competitions because these waves can reach up to 60 feet high! Definitely unforgettable.

Christmas Night at Queen Emma Summer Palace (December)

This is a great spot for history lovers who would love to explore old Hawaii while visiting for the holidays. The Hulihe’e Palace Event is held in Queen Emma Summer Palace on Oahu, which is a historical building dating back to the time of the Hawaiian monarchy. While visiting, you can take a tour that will give you a chance to see the interior, as well as the carefully preserved original furniture. Everything is decorated for the season, and the trees, piano music, and lights are very festive.

The event runs throughout December. You can purchase tickets, or if you have the Go Oahu Card, they are included.

Banyan Tree Lighting (December)

Speaking of Maui, the city of Lahaina will be featuring its annual holiday tree lighting, which won’t be the pine you are used to.

Banyan Tree Lighting in Hawaii in December
@shutterstock

Here they have a banyan tree, which came from India and is now common throughout the island. Children love them for the shade they provide and the strong vines that they can swing on. But during December, you can enjoy them for their festive lights, along with hula dancing and relaxing Hawaiian music. 

See the Nutcracker (December)

It’s true, you can probably see the famous Nutcracker ballet in any city in America, maybe even the world, at this time of year. But Ballet Hawaii offers a beautiful performance, set to the music performed by the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. There are also members of the New York City Ballet that perform. Hawaii is known for its laid-back island style, but this holiday tradition is a nice change of pace.

Whether you’re traveling with kids, your significant other, or on your own, this ballet is a great addition to your itinerary while in Honolulu, Oahu.

Local Festivals (January)

Hawaiians are very proud of their culture and heritage. This is apparent by the large number of festivals that go on year-round. If you visit in January, then I suggest stopping at the Iolani Luahine Hula Festival held at the end of the month in Keauhou Bay on the Kona side of Hawaii.

This festival features dance performances, including some amazing hula dancing. Named after a famous and beloved hula dancer, the festival offers a glimpse into Hawaii’s island culture and a chance to see authentic dances that both locals and tourists can enjoy.

Go on the Makapuu Lighthouse Hike (December, January, and February)

With the weather so mild during the winter in Hawaii, why not enjoy a hike? On Oahu, you can enjoy a two-mile hike to the historic Makapuu Lighthouse, which is located at the southernmost tip of the island. 

Makapuu Lighthouse Hike in Hawaii, easy hike in the winter months
@shutterstock

Not only is the hike itself quite beautiful, but you will experience some great views and sights. You’ll pass the Halona Blow Hole on your way to the lighthouse, which is famous for sightings of humpback whales as they migrate.

Go Snowboarding (December, January, and February)

I know what you’re thinking — snowboarding in Hawaii? Believe it or not, they do get snow. If you’re visiting the Big Island of Hawaii and have a yearning for some traditional winter sports, then check out Mauna Kea Summit.

This dormant volcano is pretty awesome (I’ve hiked around it, but never gone to the summit), and with its high elevation, it can get as cold as 25ºF in the winter. This results in decent snowfall that you can enjoy during your trip.

TIP: You’ll need to bring your own gear since rentals are not available nearby, and neither are ski lifts.

Diamond Head Hike (December, January, and February)

Another hike that is easier (if you’re not much of a hiker) is the path up to Diamond Head. This one is fun and great for seeing some of the sights of the island, like this historic volcanic crater.

@shutterstock

Tickets for both hikes are included in the Go Oahu Card.

Go to the beach (December, January, and February)

Whether you visit Hawaii in December, January or February – the beach is always a good idea in Hawaii. If there is one thing the islands of Hawaii have a bounty of, it is beaches. But not all beaches are created equal and some are not the white sand variety that makes you want to roll out a towel and dive into the water.

@shutterstock

Like the black sand of Hawaii’s southern shores, some are better for pictures than picnics. But there are still plenty of great spots. On Oahu, you can head over to Lanikai, which offers clear, warm water, sun, and sand. Perfect for a day at the beach.

You can also check out Kualoa Ranch, which is a huge recreational complex with beautiful scenery, a secluded beach, and lots of outdoor fun, like volleyball and kayaking. Other suggestions are Makena Beach (Maui), Hapuna Beach (Big Island), and Makua Beach (Kauai).

Watch Golf (January)

If golf is your game, then Hawaii is a great place to enjoy it. There are plenty of great golf courses across the islands that offer 18 holes with great scenery. 

But you can also watch golf while visiting Hawaii in the winter. Oahu is home to the Sony Open golf tournament every January. Lasting for about 3-4 days, a portion of the proceeds from the competition are given to charity.

Tickets are available to the public. The event is held at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, and once the event is finished, you can purchase your own tee time if you like.

Go Whale Watching (January and February)

You’re not the only visitor to Hawaii in the winter. This season brings an influx of migrating humpback whales.

Humpback Whale spout in Maui is one of the best things to do in Hawaii in winter
@shutterstock

While visiting in January, I took a boat cruise off the coast of the Big Island and was amazed by this magnificent sight. From January until March, the whales come into the shallower waters close to the islands, so you have a great view of them, whether from a boat or even the shore.

There are dedicated whale-watching tours, but you can get lucky on a snorkeling expedition, too (like I did). The best spots for whale sightings are Poipu Beach on Kauai, Kohala Coast on the Big Island, and Makapuu Lighthouse on Oahu.

See the Cherry Blossoms (February)

I love cherry blossoms, and if you do too, then I suggest stopping at the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival on the Big Island. This festival is held in early February, which may come as a surprise, but that is because this is when the cherry trees blossom in Hawaii.

In Church Row Park, you will find cherry trees that are sixty years old or more blossoming at this time of year. It’s truly a gorgeous sight and the perfect way to spend a winter day in Hawaii. The festival is fun for families and couples alike, as well as solo travelers – anyone who enjoys stunning displays of nature and beautiful flowers.

CONCLUSION: TIPS FOR HAWAII IN INTER 

I hope this post has helped you find the best things to do and see while visiting Hawaii in winter. This is the perfect season to spend on the islands and there is lots to experience on each one. Full of festivals, beaches, outdoor sports, and fun, winter in Hawaii will be a trip to remember.

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About the Author:

This post was written by Rebecca, who runs her own blog at The Journey at Home – where she writes about her life as a mother of 5 with everything that comes along with it. She lived in New York for a long time before she moved to Las Vegas. She also works as a freelancer for Arzo Travels.

Safe Travels, Arzo

Categories USA

A Trip to NYC: Winter in New York

New York in the winter, best things to do and see

THINGS TO DO IN NEW YORK CITY IN THE WINTER MONTHS

The Best Things to Do in New York in the Winter (December, January, and February)

Are you planning to spend a few days in winter in New York and wondering about the best things to do in NYC in winter? Then this ” Winter in New York guide” is for you – written by a former New Yorker local, so you get the best tips here!

This post was written by Rebecca

New York City is one of the busiest and most vibrant cities in the world – and winter is no different. Without a question, it is one of the best places to visit in the winter. New York’s winter activities are just as fun as those in the warmer months. 

Find out where to stay, how to get around, what to pack, and offer travel tips that will make your vacation to NYC in December, January, or February unforgettable. Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or bringing the whole family, New York has plenty of fun winter things to do and places to see.

brooklyn-bridge in winter in New York

NEW YORK WINTER TRAVEL TIPS

Before talking about things to do in the winter in New York City, here are some quick travel tips.

How to Get to New York City 

  • By plane: If you are flying into NYC, you can arrive at either John F. Kennedy International Airport or LaGuardia Airport. From there, you can take a shuttle, bus, train, taxi, or rental car to your hotel.
  • By car: If you are driving in, just be aware of the time of day. Traffic and construction are pretty constant in the city. Also, parking is hard to come by. 
  • By train: If you are arriving by train, the Long Island Rail Road can bring you in from the east, and Amtrak and NJ Transit from the other directions. The trains stop at Penn Station in Manhattan, and from there, you can catch a cab, subway, or bus. 

How to Get Around New York City in Winter

Public transportation is pretty good and also plentiful. During a New York winter, when roads are covered in snow or ice, the subway is your best bet. It’s underground and warm, and you will experience far fewer issues than aboveground. 

Also, parking is difficult, so I advise leaving your car at the hotel (or not even bringing one) and relying on public transportation and your own feet during your NYC visit.

Where to Stay

Depending on what you have planned and where, as well as your budget, choose a hotel that will make a good base for your outings. New York City is fairly large, but accessible by public transportation.

  • Budget-friendly hotel: HI NYC Hostel might be a good choice for you if you like staying in hostels and making friends. Check out prices here.
  • Mid-range hotel: East Village Hotel seems like a good choice if you are looking for a decent hotel in a good location. Find out about rates here.
  • Luxury hotel: The Plaza is one of the most famous in the world and probably a great choice if you want to splurge and spoil yourself with a luxurious hotel. To find out more about rates, click here.

Weather in New York in Winter

The weather during the New York winter holidays is cold. The highs are in the mid-40s and the lows in the low-30s for December and February. January averages temps that are about five degrees less.

The good news is that the city doesn’t get piles and piles of snow like the more northern parts of New York State, but the sidewalks and roads can get icy after a snowfall. Be prepared for dirty slush as the snow melts into street grime.

What to Pack for a New York Winter Vacation

If you’re wondering what to wear in NYC in winter, let me offer a few suggestions. Since it will be cold, pack warm clothes. I’d suggest comfortable shoes – or better yet, winter boots – because you’ll probably land up walking quite a bit.

New Yorkers tend to dress well, so if you want to fit in, pack some nicer clothes along with jeans and sweaters, especially if you are planning on a nice romantic dinner out or to go clubbing.New York in winter with snow

More New York Winter Travel Tips

  • Winter is full of surprises, so be prepared for the possibility of delayed flights and traffic in the event of inclement weather. 
  • New York City is an expensive place in general. But within Manhattan, the prices are higher than, say, in Brooklyn. So, the closer you are to touristy areas and upper-class neighborhoods, the higher the prices for food, clothes, etc.
  • Traveling in New York City can be very safe so long as you use caution. Be careful when traveling at night. Avoid neighborhoods that have higher crime rates. Avoid empty subway platforms at night and badly lit side streets. Stick to populated areas, particularly after dark.
  • And always keep your valuables close to your body and in sight.
  • New York City has very strict no-smoking laws. Smoking is not permitted in any indoor area (including bars and clubs) or outdoor public areas (like beaches and parks). There are also high taxes on cigarettes in the city.
  • If you are looking for a NY itinerary, check out my 4-day itinerary for NYC.
  • If you have to budget (regardless of the time of your visit), then check out the NY budget guide.

WHAT TO DO IN WINTER IN NEW YORK

To make it easier to plan your NY winter trip, we have added the best time (in terms of winter month) for each activity/place.

See the Tree in Rockefeller Center (December)

It’s a holiday tradition for a nearly-100-foot tree to be selected, transported, decorated, and then lit in Rockefeller Center each year.

Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan is one of the best places to visit in winter
@shutterstock

The official tree lighting takes place at the beginning of the month of December, but even if you miss the actual event, you should still see it. This huge spectacle of holiday cheer is the perfect thing to get you into the spirit of things.

As famous as it is, you can’t be in New York in December without getting a few pictures and selfies here. Seeing the tree is one of the best things to do in NYC in December.

Drop by Raines Law Room for a Drink (December – February)

Staying warm during the winter season in New York is no easy task. Sometimes, the best thing you can do after strolling the streets and seeing the charms of the city stops in for a quick drink and warm up.

But don’t stop just anywhere! There are plenty of quaint bars and watering holes with character, but make an effort to try Raines Law Room. This is one of the city’s famous speakeasy bars, and it provides pleasantly strong drinks, comfortable seating, and a unique entryway you won’t want to miss. It’s located in Chelsea, at 48 W 17th Street.

Visit NYC Independent Bookstores (December – February)

I know, bookstores are everywhere. But there is a certain charm to the independent stores that stand despite bigger chains. They are also cozy places to warm up, sip a hot drink, and hang out with the locals.

Join New Yorkers and a few tourists in the know for one of the fun things to do in NYC in the winter. Explore the shelves for esoteric titles. Curl up in a comfy armchair. And grab an oversized hot chocolate and scone to get the full experience.

The best options are BookMark Shoppe in Bay Ridge, Housing Works Bookstore and Café in SoHo (my personal favorite), and Greenlight in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Any purchases support small businesses – plus, you can get some holiday shopping done!

Ice Skating in Rockefeller Center (December & early January)

The Rink at Rockefeller Center is located in the center of Midtown Manhattan and is a must-see. Sitting right next to the lit tree and other decorations, it’s at its most beautiful in December.

Rockefeller Plaza with a Christmas tree
@shutterstock

There is first-come, first-serve general admission skating, but you can also make reservations and purchase packages.

There are skates that you can rent if you don’t have your own (those were probably not on your packing list). There is even a Breakfast with Santa option.

Children under four can skate free!  This is a great thing to do in NYC with kids in winter!

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular (December)

This iconic holiday show is a must when you’re looking for fun things to see in NYC in December.

The Christmas Spectacular began in 1933 and has been a tradition ever since. The world-famous Radio City Rockettes perform throughout the 90-minute show. This is great for families, couples, or singles. You’ll see dancing along with an original score of music, singing, and traditional scenes like the Nativity.

Located right in the middle of Manhattan, it’s easy to get to and combine with other attractions like Rockefeller Center (which is another must-see in NY).

Bryant Park Winter Village (December)

Bryant Park is one of the nicest parks in New York City, and while it’s great to relax in summer, winter is plenty of fun, too.

Bryant Park Winter Village (Christmas Market) is one of teh top things to do in NY in winter
@shutterstock

If you’re looking for free things to do in NYC in winter, then try the winter village’s huge ice rink, where you can skate under twinkling lights (bring your own skates or rent them for a fee). 

There are also almost 200 shops, kiosks, and eateries for you to do some shopping and snacking while enjoying the picturesque park. Years past have seen hip pop-up restaurants rinkside and even a beer garden. The Winter Village is definitely one of the best things to do in New York in winter.

Hit the Slopes at Thunder Ridge (December – February)

One of the best things about New York City is how easy it is to slip away for a day trip.

And what’s winter without skiing? Just grab the Metro North out of Grand Central Terminal, and after a quick shuttle ride from the Patterson station, you can be at Thunder Ridge Resort within an hour and a half (it’s approximately 50 miles from NYC).

Some packages include train and lift tickets, as well as overnight packages. This is perfect for families and couples that need a winter getaway from NYC and want to spend some time in serious snow.

New Year’s Eve in Times Square (December)

When you’re talking about things to do in NYC in December, it would be impossible not to mention Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve in Times Square is a must-do in NY in winter
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This famous spectacle is wild and raucous, and the perfect way to ring in the new year if you happen to be in New York at the time. 

If you’ve ever watched the ball drop on TV, you know that there are a lot of people on the ground below – a lot. So, if you want to be one of them, then you’ll need to arrive early – people start lining up around 3 pm. Dress warm because the temperature will likely be in the 40s by midnight.

Tip: Due to the cold and intensity of the crowd, this is best experienced by adults.

Take in a Broadway Play (December – February)

Even if you are not a big play person, you can’t deny that seeing one of Broadway’s plays or musicals makes anyone’s bucket list.

There are plenty of theater places to visit in New York in December, and you’ll get the best prices on shows in January and February once all the holiday tourists have left.

While there are fun family entertainment choices (e.g. Disney), you can also take in some great “adult” shows at this time of year. If you prefer something less mainstream than the biggest Broadway hits of the year, walk a few blocks and check out the smaller and lesser-known shows – what is referred to as off-Broadway (for obvious reasons).

See a Hockey Game at Madison Square Garden (December – February)

The New York Rangers are the local hockey team and watching a game is a winter activity that even residents enjoy.

Hockey Game at Madison Square Garden one of the best winter activities in New York
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This is a fun way to experience the city, especially if you’re rooting for the home team. 

This is great for sports-loving families. And as an extra perk, Madison Square Garden sits atop Penn Station, making it centrally located and accessible by multiple forms of public transportation.

Tip: Beware of scalpers selling tickets in front of the venue. There’s no way to check the authenticity of these tickets, so skip the risk and use a legitimate ticket-selling source. Check out tickets and games here.

Winter Jazzfest (January)

With the holidays over, January can seem a little bleak. But if you find yourself here, wondering what to do in New York in January, never fear. A lot is going on at the beginning of the year.

Winter Jazzfest is the perfect antidote to the post-holiday blues. Lively and fun, this annual jazz extravaganza will have you feeling better in no time.

The two-night marathon in Greenwich Village offers some of the best jazz musicians around, as well as newly discovered talents. Music lovers bring excitement to this quirky and fun neighborhood that you’re sure to enjoy.

Take a Romantic Winter Stroll (February)

If you’re traveling with your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day, consider bundling up and taking a stroll through one of New York’s lush and sprawling parks.

There are many to choose from, but I’d recommend Bryant Park for its beautiful scenery; Prospect Park for its gently rolling hills and privacy as there are fewer tourists around; and Central Park for its iconic status and variety. Or Central Park. Of course, is another must in the winter months.

These are some fun New York winter activities that you and your date might enjoy, although they are also good for singles and families. Here are ideas for romantic activities in NY.

Join the Polar Bear Club at Coney Island (January)

Feeling adventurous? Then head to Coney Island, the legendary Brooklyn amusement park, for one of the craziest things to do in NYC in January – the annual New Year’s Day Swim.

Polar Bear Club at Coney Island is one of the best activities in New York in January
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If you’ve ever swum in the Atlantic Ocean in summer, you know that it’s pretty cold. So, you can imagine what it’s like in the middle of winter.

But despite the cold temperatures, the Polar Bear Club invites anyone brave enough to join them for a dip in the frigid ocean. Why? Because all proceeds go to a non-profit organization called Camp Sunshine in Maine for ill children.

What’s a little cold for a good cause?

Wine Tastings in Brooklyn (December – January)

After jumping in the Atlantic, it’s time to warm up. And where better than at the charming Brooklyn Winery. Even if you aren’t a wine aficionado, the winery offers wine tasting classes to educate and delight attendees. Grab the subway out of Manhattan and head to this neighboring borough for some great wines – they even offer a special class on winter wines that pair well with cold-weather dishes.

If you’re looking for some non-touristy things to do in NYC in winter, this would be a great choice for singles and couples.

New York Botanical Gardens (December – February)

Looking for some family-friendly places to visit in New York in winter? The New York Botanical Gardens is one of the jewels of the city and a great place to visit with kids.

The beautiful grounds boast amazing plant sculptures and a gorgeous assortment of natural beauty. If you are here during the holidays (until mid-January), you can also see the garden’s Holiday Train Show.

Witness stunning miniature landmarks created with plants, like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

To save money, check out the Grounds Only free admission on Wednesdays and from 9 am-10 am on Saturdays. Otherwise, admission is $15 for adults (cheaper for children based on age).

Day Trip to Long Island (December – February)

Speaking of winter day trips from NYC, the suburban community of Long Island makes a great destination no matter what the season.

beach at sunrise in winter on Long Island, New York _
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From Penn Station, you can catch the Long Island Rail Road east. The island is made up of many small towns that run up against each other, each with its own charms and attractions.

A few notable stops: the Hamptons for a glimpse at the small hamlets of New York’s elite and to see the Montauk Point Lighthouse; Walt Whitman’s birthplace in Huntington; the antique shops and boutiques of Northport; a tour of Roosevelt’s home of Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay; and Riverhead for the views of the Long Island Sound and Peconic River, and great shopping at the Tanger Outlets.

There’s no shortage of things to do when you’re spending winter in New York. A day trip to Long Island is perfect for families and singles alike.

Have a Drink at the Igloo Bar (December – February)

Here is one of the most interesting things to do in NYC in the winter – have a drink at an igloo bar. And while the igloos aren’t made of ice, the transparent heated bubbles are a cool way of enjoying a winter drink with your friends or your other half. 

The bars, located at 230 Fifth Avenue, are first-come-first-serve and offer complimentary red robes to wear during your experience. There are plenty of novelty drinks to choose from, including hot Fireball cider and Godiva peppermint hot chocolate.

If you want to reserve an igloo for a small party or jump the line on the weekends, packages are available for purchase.

Celebrate Chinese New Year (February)

This is one of the best things to do in NYC in winter – celebrate Chinese New Year.

Every year, Chinese New Year falls around the beginning of February and there are few parties bigger than this one. NYC celebrates the holiday with dragon dances, intricate floats, and delicious street food that you won’t be able to get enough of. Chinatown is the center of the action. 

The annual Lunar New Year Parade & Festival takes place in Flushing, Queens. Home to one of the largest East Asian populations in the area, there is plenty to see and do here as well. Dim sum on Prince Street is highly recommended.

Holiday Shopping (December)

One of the top things to do in NYC in December is shopping. With the holidays approaching, you can get some great gifts from the plethora of stores that the city has to offer. For luxury goods, check out iconic Fifth Avenue.

Fifth Avenue shopping in winter
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For cheaper knockoffs, you can browse Chinatown. There are also people selling interesting things on the street – though they are often unlicensed and will grab their stuff and run if a police officer shows up.

A few other popular shopping spots are SoHo, the Meatpacking District, and Herald Square. Beacon’s Closet is another favorite. Even if you aren’t looking to buy, enjoy the holiday storefronts that are exquisite this time of year (especially Macy’s on 34th Street).

Party it up at Le Bain (February)

Whether you’re traveling with friends or as a couple, Le Bain is a unique and fun nightlife experience that you won’t want to miss. 

Located on The Standard Hotel’s rooftop, this popular bar is a fun place to party and dance. But what really makes Le Bain interesting (besides the outdoor deck which is closed at this time of year) is the hot tub next to the dance floor (Le bain, tellingly, is French for the bath).

You’ll also be treated to world-class deejays and outstanding city views.

Partying at Le Bain is a fun thing to do in Manhattan in the winter. Dress code is chic casual. And if you forget your swimsuit, the bar sells some in a vending machine (really!). 

Celebrate Valentine’s Day Under the Stars (February)

If you visit New York in February, or more precisely on  Valentine’s Day, then this is a great idea.

Well, instead of paying for a pricey dinner, why not try the American Museum of Natural History’s yearly Romance Under the Stars? This event starts with an open bar and hors d’oeuvres, then you spend the night under the Planetarium’s starry sky.

As you cuddle up to your sweetheart, an astronomer will guide you through the most romantic stories from ancient times.

This unique and fascinating night will be one of the most special winter things you do in NYC. And it will surely be one of the most memorable Valentine’s Days you share.

Stop and Taste the Hot Chocolate (February)

Hot chocolate. That is the answer to the question of what to do in NYC when it’s cold. A steaming mug of sweet, rich deliciousness will keep you warm despite the cold temperatures outside.

But where do you go for the best hot chocolate in New York? Start with Jacques Torres, where you’ll enjoy a famously rich chocolate chaud.

Try Two E at The Pierre for one of its spiked Haute Chocolate items. You can also partake in City Bakery’s annual Hot Chocolate Festival, where you can enjoy a different flavor each day. Another popular spot (with unfortunately long lines) is Serendipity 3, which offers huge goblets of frozen hot chocolate.

Whether you’re a chocoholic or just have a casual sweet tooth, this is one of the most enjoyable winter things to do in NYC.

CONCLUSION: WINTER IN NEW YORK

Whether you are staying in the heart of Manhattan or looking for winter day trips from NYC to the surrounding areas, there are tons of things to do in December, January, and February for families, couples, and singles.

I hope this list has given you a good idea of all the amazing things to do in winter in New York.

Winter in New York, best things to do in winter

About the Author:

This post was written by Rebecca, who runs her own blog The Journey at Home – where she writes about her life as a mother of 5 with everything that comes along with it. She lived in New York for a long time before she moved to Las Vegas. She also works as a freelancer for Arzo Travels.

Safe Travels, Arzo

Categories USA

Epic 10-Day Hawaii Itinerary

10-day Hawaii itinerary

HOW TO SPEND 10 DAYS IN HAWAII – AN EPIC ITINERARY

Are you planning your Hawaii itinerary and wondering about how to spend 10 days in Hawaii? Then read on to find out about the best things to do and along with many more travel tips.

The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. Visitors flock from all over the world to this picturesque archipelago known for its year-round good weather, outdoor activities, and warm hospitality.

And Hawaii is like heaven! 

This post was written by Rebecca – a regular Hawaii visitor (find out more about her below)

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 10-DAY HAWAII ITINERARY

Before discussing how to spend 10 days in Hawaii, here are some quick travel tips for your itinerary.

Hawaii has always had a unique culture in comparison to the other US states. Given statehood in 1959, it is the last state to enter the union and hold onto its culture and traditions. Over 2,400 miles away from the western shores of California, Hawaii’s daily life is unlike many other places – which is one of the reasons it is such a favorite among tourists.

How many islands are in Hawaii?

  • Hawaii is made up of eight major islands: Hawaii (aka the Big Island), Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, and Niihau.
  • Some islands are uninhabited or not open for tourism, but the major islands that you should visit when coming to Hawaii are Oahu, the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai. 
  • Lanai is another possibility, but there is not much to do outside of the resort you stay in.

So, for this 10-day itinerary for Hawaii, we will focus on these four islands – what to do, where to go, and what to see!

  1. Oahu
  2. Big Island
  3. Maui
  4. and Kauai

Are 10 Days in Hawaii Enough?

Hawaii is a beautiful island paradise.  If you have to put a time limit on your trip, I would advise 10-14 days for all four major islands. If you can stay longer than 10 days, even better!

Weather in Hawaii

  • The weather in Hawaii is pretty consistent year-round.
  • The lows tend to be between 68ºF and 75ºF, and the highs between 78ºF and 85ºF. The only real variation is if you are closer to sea level (warmer) or higher elevations in the mountains (cooler).
  • There is sometimes snow at the summits of the islands’ three tallest volcanoes. 
  • Hawaii also has a rainy season, which is from November to March.
  • Some areas can be very humid during the summer months, like Honolulu and the touristy Waikiki on Oahu. But higher elevation areas will be less hot and humid, even in the summer.

Best Time to Visit Hawaii

  • Generally, the best months to visit Hawaii are April and May, and September and October. These months are known for having the best weather and travel rates, and the least amount of tourists (i.e. fewer crowds). 
  • Winters in Hawaii are nice, especially if you are escaping from a cold climate, but they are also very busy, and you’ll be dealing with crowds, expensive flights, and hotel prices. Hawaii is one of the best places to visit in the US in the winter months.
  • The downside of summer is that the islands can get pretty humid, especially close to sea level.

How to Get to Hawaii

Unless you’re in the market for a long cruise (about 2 weeks), the only way to get to Hawaii is by plane.

  • Each island has at least one major airport.
  • Most flights land in Oahu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu. 
  • From there, you can take a small inter-island flight to your final destination.
  • Many airlines fly to Hawaii, but my personal favorite is Hawaiian Airlines. 

How to Get Around Hawaii in 10 Days

  • Once you arrive in Hawaii, I would advise renting a car.
  • You may be tempted to get a convertible in this island paradise (I did once), but just be aware that it will peg you as a tourist. Locals rarely drive these, but they can be a lot of fun on a visit.
  • I advise renting a car because while public transportation isn’t bad, it will not allow you the freedom to really explore the nooks and crannies of the islands. 
  • However, since you have to catch a few flights, you would have to rent a car on each island.
  • Although taxis and Uber are options, they can get pretty expensive (and they are not that plentiful in some areas). Having your own transportation will make your trip that much more enjoyable. 
  • You can take a shuttle from the airport to the car rental pick-up location.

What to Pack for a 10-Day Hawaii Trip

  • Hawaii is easy to pack because the weather is consistent and not cold enough to need bulky outerwear.
  •  The Hawaiian people are very casual, so bring shorts and t-shirts, flip-flops (or slippers, as they are known here), and a bathing suit.
  • Maybe pack an umbrella for the rainy days and a sweater for the cooler nights if you head to higher elevations.
  • Since there are plenty of outdoorsy things to do, bring socks and good sneakers or hiking boots. I explored a volcano in slippers, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea!
  • Check out this post to find out what to pack for a beach vacation.

Where to Stay in Hawaii

Depending on your budget, there are multiple options for travelers looking for a luxury resort, mid-range hotel, and budget-friendly option.

Tourism is Hawaii’s main source of income. So there are a lot of accommodations around, especially on Oahu and Maui.

More Travel Tips for Your Hawaii Itinerary

  • Local people in Hawaii speak a mix of English and Hawaiian, known as pidgin. It can be a little confusing if you’re not used to it, but this is mostly toned down when speaking with non-natives. 
  • Water in Hawaii is actually rainwater that has been caught. In times of drought, water can be in short supply, so be courteous and (even in non-drought times) do not waste water. 
  • Do not take rocks or pieces of the volcano home with you. This is frowned upon by the locals. They sell souvenirs everywhere, so just buy them.
  • Drive slower in Hawaii than you normally would on the mainland of the US or in Europe. Speed limits are lower, and locals tend not to speed over them.

Relax and have fun. The island life is at a slower pace than in other places, so sit back and enjoy. This is a vacation, right?

HOW TO SPEND 10 DAYS IN HAWAII – ITINERARY

A word about this 10-day Hawaii itinerary: Many of the places I have included are not just tourist destinations but recommendations from local Hawaiians. My husband is from the Big Island and has family throughout Hawaii, so their experiences played heavily into my own Hawaii itinerary-making. 

I hope these suggestions give you a taste of real Hawaii beyond the tour guide favorites.

Day 1: Oahu (Honolulu)

Since you will be flying into Honolulu, Oahu. you should consider staying for a few days and seeing some of the sights.  Just a quick clarification: Waikiki is a district in Honolulu and Honolulu is a city on Oahu.

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In Honolulu, I advise dropping your bags off at the hotel and taking a walk through Waikiki.

  • This is the main tourist drag in the city, and it reminds me of the Las Vegas Strip (but with much less neon).
  • There are great restaurants, plenty of shopping opportunities, and fun people-watching here.
  • For dinner, you’ll find some casual eateries as well as fine dining in this area. Or, pick up some food and take it to the beach. You might be tired from the flight, so this should probably be the end of Day 1.

Day 2: Oahu (North Shore)

Today would be a good day for the beach. You have two options.

  • If your hotel has private beach access and you feel like just relaxing today, you can stay at the hotel beach and enjoy the hotel’s amenities.
  • Or, you could drive to the north side of the island, which is known for its surfing and snorkelingThe drive is about 45 minutes.

Depending on when you are visiting, you may see a world-famous surf competition here on the North Shore, or if it’s summer, the snorkeling is prominent as the water is calm.

Either way, you’ll find that this is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.

Stop in the town of Haleiwa for some supplies. There are a few plate-lunch places where you can get delicious Hawaiian fare to go for a beach picnic. There are also lots of small shops and galleries, which would be perfect for souvenirs.

Enjoy a day at one of Hawaii’s most famous beaches before heading over to the Dole Plantation. Pineapples are grown here, and there are tours offered throughout the day. It’s pretty cool and worth a look while you’re on this side of the island.

Finish your day off with dinner at Hali’ewa Beach House, which has a great terrace with views.

Day 3 Morning: Oahu

Today will be about taking an inter-island flight to Kauai, the next major island just northwest of Oahu. But before heading to the airport, you need to fuel up on something delicious that all the locals love.

Malasadas: These Portuguese donuts are absolutely delicious, and the best place on Oahu to get them is at Leonard’s on Kapahulu Avenue in Honolulu. Don’t let its small storefront fool you. This place makes amazing malasadas, and they sell out fast. So, head there early for your morning meal.

Day 3 Afternoon: Kauai

Depending on what time you fly out of Oahu and check in to your hotel in Kauai, you may or may not have much time for sightseeing. But assuming you have at least a few hours, I advise a sunset helicopter tour, followed by some of Kauai’s nightlife.

Helicopter Tour: Much of Kauai is not accessible by car, so it makes sense to explore it by air.

View of the monumental Na Pali Coast at Honopu Valley and Kalepa Ridge, aerial shot from a helicopter, Kauai, Hawaii.
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  • Book a helicopter tour to see the natural beauty of Kauai from above. You’ll be able to see the winding rivers, rushing waterfalls, forests, and dramatic sea cliffs from a whole new perspective. The dramatic light of the setting sun makes it even more memorable.
  • Kauai Nightlife: If you’re traveling with kids, stop for dinner at Hukilau Lanai Restaurant in Kapa’a, where you can enjoy a delicious meal on the lanai (patio) and hear traditional Hawaiian live music (performing Wed – Fri nights).
  • For a more adults-only vibe, check out Stevenson’s Library in Poipu, named after author Robert Louis Stevenson. This place has a great ambiance and drinks and has nightly jazz performances.
  • For couples, I recommend Duke’s Barefoot Bar on Kalapaki Beach for a casual dinner on the open-air terrace, and if it’s the weekend, music and dancing, too. This bar also serves a good variety of non-alcoholic cocktails for those who don’t drink.

Afterward, take a walk on the beach together. 

Day 4: Kauai

Kauai is a mecca for outdoor activities. And you don’t have to be especially sporty to enjoy them. This island will look like what many people imagine when they think of “Hawaii.” And that’s no accident. Many movies are shot on Kauai since it feels and looks like “real Hawaii.”

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So, today will be the day we explore “the Garden Isle.” The order you do the following things in is up to you. You can skip some or take longer on others, it is up to you. 

  • Hanalei River: This is a great place to kayak and paddleboard. Most people usually start in Hanalei Bay and work their way down the palm-lined river. It’s beautiful and also a great workout! Best to start early to avoid crowds and take in the early morning scenery.
  • Napali Coast: Take a boat tour to see the Napali Coast. This rugged and gorgeous area includes sea cliffs, waterfalls, turquoise water, and sandy beaches. A boat tour is a must and will give you a chance to take in a lot of this beautiful and vibrant stretch of coastline. Some tours include snorkeling and sailing, and more.
  • Kapaa Beach Park: Rent bikes in Kapaa and ride the trail at Kapaa Beach Park. You don’t have to be an expert cyclist to enjoy this scenic trail. This is fun for families as well as couples.
  • Princeville: If you’d rather stick closer to town, then check out Princeville. This area boasts the lovely Princeville Botanical Gardens, which offers a 3-hour walking tour that lets you see everything, as well as enjoy fruit and honey samples – and a chocolate tasting! A great stop for couples.
  • Poipu: For families, Poipu is a great area to stay and play. Some beaches and activities are fun for kids here – such as ATV tours and sailing charters. There is also a lot to do if you are staying at the Grand Hyatt Poipu. I suggest a luau experience where you can enjoy traditional Hawaiian food, a great ambiance, and lots of hula dancing for dinner.
  • The Kalalau Trail: This is a bonus suggestion for the adventurous and advanced hiker: Located within the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, the Kalalau Trail is a steep, 11-mile footpath that runs between He’e Beach and Kalalau Beach. This trail is renowned for its challenges, but it is also a way to see the Napali Coast up close, including five valleys that you will cross. Bring your hiking boots, a walking stick, supplies, and some determination for this trail.

Depending on what you choose to do, 2-3 of these activities should fill up Day 4. 

Day 5 Morning: Kauai/Maui

For Day 5 of this Hawaiian 10-day itinerary, I suggest doing a few more things in Kauai for the first half of the day and then flying on to Maui. 

  • If you spent yesterday hiking, go sailing today in Poipu.
  • If you want to relax, go for the chocolate tasting at the Botanical Gardens in Princeville.
  • Or enjoy the pool and amenities at your resort. 

When you’re ready to see your next Hawaiian island, then take an inter-island flight from Lihue Airport to Kahului Airport on Maui. 

Day 5 Afternoon: Maui

Maui is famous for its beaches and its volcano. The island has 30 miles of coastline beaches that feature red, white, and black sand and the world’s largest dormant volcano – Haleakala. 

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Park Maui Black Sand Beach

If you’re visiting in winter, you can also whale watch from this island, either in Lahaina or Ma’alaea Harbor. But Maui is great for shopping, eating, snorkeling, hiking, and windsurfing.

Once you are in Maui and check into your hotel (not to mention rent your car), it may be nearing the end of the day. So, now would be a good time to enjoy the sunset.

  • I suggest heading to the beach. Ka’anapali is a sandy beach on the northwest side of the island that is popular with the locals and features a lava promontory. “Black Rock,” as it is called, is good for snorkeling and cliff jumping.
  • Or you could head over to Kamaole 1, 2, or 3, located on the southwest side, which are very family-friendly beaches that have lifeguards on duty and sea turtles. Check out the family-friendly activities in Maui for more info.
  • You can pick up dinner to eat at the beach or have a sit-down meal. Try Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina – amazing views with great local food. 

This brings us to the end of Day 5. 

Day 6: Maui 

If you’re an early riser, I suggest heading over to Mount Haleakala to watch the sunrise. This dormant volcano gives you the perfect vantage point to enjoy the sun rising over the ocean. Sunrise Tours are available for booking.

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If you didn’t have breakfast, then I suggest stopping at Kula Lodge for great food and views. After that, you have a few options.

  • Black Rock: If you were intrigued by the idea of cliff jumping, then head (back) to Black Rock in Ka’anapali. The cliff is about 20-30 feet up and is a real adrenaline rush for adventure lovers.
  • Ho’okipa Beach: Maui is known as one of the world’s best windsurfing islands. So, head over to Ho’okipa Beach to enjoy this fun outdoor activity. If you’re just a beginner, then I’d suggest Kanaha Beach Park for calmer surf.
  • Hana hikes: On the Hana side of the island, there are multiple hiking options. The best as far as ease would be the Pools of Oheo Trail, which has a 200-foot waterfall at the top of the trail. Another option is Black Sand Beach and Blowhole, which is good for all skill levels and is a relaxing hike – good for families.
  • Aquarium at Ma’alaea Harbor: If you’re traveling with kids, you could take them to the Aquarium at the Maui Ocean Center. Sitting on 3 acres, this is the largest tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Grab dinner or a drink at one of the local eateries (try Leilani’s on the Beach in Ka’anapali) before getting some much-deserved rest.

These activities should give you more than enough to do on Day 6.

Day 7 Morning: Maui

Today, we say goodbye to Maui. My suggestion is to stop at Kihei Caffe for an authentic Hawaiian breakfast and coffee that will start your day right. Then, head out for one last Maui adventure.

  • Molokini: Book a boat tour that will take you out and give you a chance to snorkel with the Hawaiian marine life. I loved doing this when I was in Hawaii. The water is warm, and the views and fish are beautiful. 

Day 7 Afternoon: Big Island

When you’re ready, grab a flight to the next island, landing on the Big Island of Hawaii at Kona International Airport.

The Big Island of Hawaii is known for its dormant volcano, Mauna Kea, whose summit is so high that it gets snow.  There are also two active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa. The island has everything from colored sand beaches to rainforests and offers great spots for snorkeling and hiking. This is actually my favorite Hawaiian island.

Since this is (obviously) the biggest of the Hawaiian Islands, we will split our time between the western Kona side and the eastern Hilo side.

  • So, spend the rest of the day exploring the Kona side of the island. 
  • Today, take a walk through Holualoa, where you’ll find many boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries.
  • The cute Holuakoa restaurant is a great choice when you’re ready to sit down and eat. This area is really nice and not overly touristy either.
  • Just north of Holualoa is Kailua-Kona. There are some enjoyable, laid-back things to do here. The main street is called Ali’i Drive, and there’s plenty of shopping, food, music, and more.
  • If you’d like to explore some of Hawaii’s history, stop at the Hulihee Palace to see where Hawaiian royalty once vacationed. Or check out Mokuaikaua Church from the 1800s, the oldest Christian church in Hawaii.
  • End your night with dinner, drinks, or, best yet, some Hawaiian shaved ice. These ice cones come in dozens of flavors – and are best served with some ice cream in the middle. Yum.

Day 8: Big Island (Kona)

Start Day 8 of this itinerary at The Coffee Shack in Captain Cook. You’ll overlook the views of Kealakekua Bay while enjoying a tasty breakfast. 

Kona in Hawaii

  • Captain Cook/Kealakekua Bay: After eating, head over to the bay for some snorkeling. Some great boat tours will take you out toward the Captain Cook Monument. I actually saw whales while doing one of these – amazing! 
  • Captain Cook Monument Trail: If you prefer to hike, then try the Captain Cook Monument Trail. You can drive to the parking area at the top of the trail. It’s just under 2 miles, but just so you know – the downhill part is easy, but the trek back to your car is less so!
  • Kayaking at Kealakekua Bay: Another favorite activity is kayaking, which you can do in Kealakekua Bay by starting at Napoopoo Road. This will also take you to the Captain Cook Monument.

Best parks for the kids: In Kona, there are a few great parks for the kids to play in and explore. If you want to take a break from activities and just relax, either head down to the beach (Hapuna Beach is a favorite) or try one of these:

  • Higashihara Park in Kona – This one is older but still good.
  • Waimea Park in Waimea – This one was just redone and lots of fun.
  • Mauna Kea Recreation Area – Located on Saddle Road, this one connects Kona side to Hilo side, so this will work for either Day 8 or 9.

That should do it for Day 8. Get some rest because we’re heading to Hilo tomorrow.

Day 9: Big Island (Hilo)

Before we head to Hilo, we will make a stop because on the Big Island you have to see a volcano. 

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On the south side of the island, you can stop at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This takes about 2 hours to reach from Kona. You’ll notice black sand beaches, so pull over for some pictures. They’re gorgeous.

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: At the volcano park, you can go exploring on your own (though you risk getting lost as I did), or you can take a Ranger-led tour. If you’ve never seen a volcano up close, this is really interesting and worth a short visit.

From the volcanoes, it will take about 45 minutes to get to Hilo. This side of the island feels a little more urban than Kona (though nothing like Honolulu). There’s even a mall. But whether you want to hit the beaches, shop, or play outdoors, Hilo has lots of options.

  • Narnia Falls: If you enjoy hiking, I suggest visiting Narnia Falls. This “secret” area can be found by parking by the Boiling Pots Lake, hiking up to the overlook, climbing over the rail, and heading down a trail to the left. This will take you to four waterfalls that empty in one pool. You can swim here (though it may not be advisable).
  • Panaewa Rainforest Zoo: This cute zoo covers 12 acres and is a fun stop if you’re traveling as a family. It’s free and offers a nice playground for the kids to play on. 
  • Ziplining: This is a fun activity on the Big Island. Rushing over the beautiful rainforest and waterfalls is unforgettable. Check in at the Grand Naniloa Resort and then drive up the Hamakua Coast to Zipline Through Paradise, a company specializing in these zipline tours. This activity is great for couples, solo travelers, and families. It takes about 4 hours.

At this point, the day is nearing an end, and you are probably getting hungry. Here are some suggestions for where to eat:

  • Poke Market – Perfect for that poke craving you’ve been having. And if this is your first time, then this is a great place for the introduction.
  • Hilo’s Farmers Market – Open daily, this place is a mecca of local foods, and you’ll find something to please everyone. If it’s a Wednesday or Saturday, more than 200 vendors set up shop here.
  • Two Ladies Kitchen – This is just for dessert. Get some of the best mocha in Hawaii at this favorite local place. Mochi is a Japanese dessert, which is rice flour dough wrapped around flavored ice cream. Delicious!

Day 10: Big Island/Oahu

Well, today is the last day for this itinerary. And while you can stay longer (or may have had to leave sooner), we will be ending this trip by driving back around Kona to the north, so you have circumnavigated the whole island.

As you’re heading from Hilo back to Kona, stop at Tex Drive-in for some of the best malasadas on the island- Can you tell I love these little balls of fried dough? It’s located on the north shore of the Big Island, in Honokaa.

Drop off your rental car and grab a flight back to the Daniel K. Inouye Airport in Honolulu.

Day 10 Afternoon: Honolulu

Once you’ve arrived, if there’s time before your flight home, I suggest getting in one more taste of the islands. (Luggage storage is available in Terminal 2 of the airport, so you can move around without lugging your bags!)

  • Pearl Harbor: Not far from the airport is Pearl Harbor. For free, you can see the USS Arizona Memorial there and learn a little bit of the history that led up to the US’s entrance into WWII.

Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 10 days

  • Diamond Head: Or, if you want to get one last good look at Oahu, then head to Diamond Head for a quick hike and panoramic views as it is a must-see activity in Hawaii. This is beautiful and will probably take about 2 hours.
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If you didn’t see enough of Waikiki on Day 1, you could take a cab or Uber there for more sightseeing and souvenir shopping.

  • If you have the time, you could also explore Ala Moana Center for more shopping, eating, and beach time. It’s about 11 minutes away by car.

Since this is Day 10 of our Hawaii itinerary, we will say aloha to the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. 

FINAL THOUGHTS ON YOUR 10-DAY HAWAII TRIP

If you plan to stay longer, you can definitely take your time going through these activities and just wander around the towns and cities, checking out the small hidden charms that each has. If you couldn’t stay the full 10 days, then pick and choose your favorite activities and remember: you can always come back again!

I hope this 10-day Hawaii itinerary makes your vacation an exciting and fun one, full of local flavor. Whether you are traveling alone, coming as part of a couple, or taking the family – the islands have something for everyone.

About the Author:

This post was written by Rebecca, who runs her own blog The Journey at Home – where she writes about her life as a mother of 5 with everything that comes along with it. She lived in New York for a long time before she moved to Las Vegas. She also works as a freelancer for Arzo Travels.

Safe Travels, Arzo

Categories USA

HOW TO SPEND EPIC 7 DAYS IN CALIFORNIA

How to spend 7 days in California

AN AMAZING 7-DAY CALIFORNIA ITINERARY

Are you planning your 7-day California itinerary and wondering how to spend one week in California? Then read on and will find your answers here.

California is most famous for Hollywood and all the movies that are made there. Still, there are many other fun and exciting things to do here as well and it is a great place to visit. However, it gets a bit problematic as the state of California is very large, and in 7 days in California, you will not see all the beautiful spots/cities.

But there are a few cities that I suggest you visit during your one-week itinerary: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. San Francisco is more in the north of the state and has a different vibe from LA and San Diego in the south, so you get to experience different atmospheres and places.

If you have time, you can even add in a day trip – but we will talk about that later.

In this post, you will find out:

  • How to get to California
  • What to pack for one week in California
  • Where to stay in California for 7 days
  • How to get around California
  • More travel tips for your California itinerary
  • Map of places to visit for your 7-day California itinerary
  • San Francisco – 2-3 Days
  • Los Angeles – 3 Days
  • San Diego – 1 Day
  • Extra: California Day Trip – Big Sur

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

7-DAY CALIFORNIA ITINERARY, Arzo Travels

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 7 DAYS IN CALIFORNIA ITINERARY

First, here are my travel tips for a California itinerary to some of the best destinations.

What to Pack for One Week in California

California’s climate is different in the north and the south. San Francisco was cooler than LA or San Diego. Depending on the season, pack appropriately – and most importantly, pack comfortable shoes. San Francisco is very hilly, and you will be doing a lot of walking in the other cities, too. Also, there are a couple of hikes you want to do.

Where to Stay For 7 Days in California

You will find some hotel recommendations for each city on this California itinerary below.

How to Get around California

From San Francisco to Los Angeles, you can take a bus or train. It takes a few hours (up to 8 hours) but it’s great if you get the bus in the afternoon and arrive in the evening. 

From Los Angeles to San Diego, it is only about 2 hours by car, train, or bus. I surely don’t recommend flying there for that short distance, though you could fly into San Diego International Airport from Los Angeles.

THIS IS WHAT I DID

When I visited California, I started in San Francisco. I flew from New York to San Francisco International Airport, but you could also arrive via Oakland International Airport. I then took a Megabus from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

  • BY BUS: Getting from one city to another by bus was not bad. This was cheap and all right (and I prefer buses over flying), but the scenery was kind of boring. In the beginning, it was exciting, but there is a lot of nothing in between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
  • BY TRAIN: You can also travel between cities by train. It takes more time, but the views are supposedly good. You need to get a bus in San Diego to get to the city center.
  • BY CAR: Road tripping California would probably be more fun (though also more expensive and less environmentally friendly).

GETTING AROUND IN SAN FRANCISCO / LOS ANGELES / SAN DIEGO

San Francisco is not geographically big, but due to the many hills, curvy streets, and hidden alleyways, getting around only on foot could be tiring. I never used any cabs, just walked or took the tram or bus.

San francisco Hyde Street Cable Car Tram of the Powell-Hyde in California USA
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  • Another great way to get around San Francisco is via cable cars, which are tourist attractions themselves.
  • Also, hop-on and hop-off buses, which I love, might be a good option for San Francisco, because they also include entry to some attractions.
  • In Los Angeles, you can get around using buses and the metro or rent a car. It’s very spread out here, and so while you can get nearly everywhere by public transportation, it sometimes takes a while. But you can also walk often, like when you are downtown. If you rent a car, California is well-known for its traffic and its roads that are hard to follow because of changing names and winding streets. GPS or a map is very helpful if you are driving.
  • San Diego has decent public transportation, with buses, trains, and trolleys. You can take a ferry to Coronado Island. But to go to nearby La Jolla, you will probably need to take a cab or Uber or rent a car.

More Travel Tips For your 7-Day in California Itinerary

  • While I was visiting California, I did not take any special precautions. I felt quite safe, even going to watch the sunset from the Golden Gate Bridge. Of course, LA Downtown after sunset was a bit dodgy. My tip is to leave a place when it does not feel safe. Just be careful and keep your belongings close to you and practice common sense.
  • Look into a city pass, like the Go San Diego Pass, for discounted entries to popular tourist spots.

Map of Places to Visit

Check out this map – here you can see the places to visit in 7 days in California.

One Week in California Itinerary

This itinerary is divided into three parts: San Francisco for 2.5 days, then another 2.5 days in Los Angeles, and 1 day in San Diego. There is about half a day in between each to account for travel time.

San Francisco – 2-3 Days

San Francisco is often called the most beautiful city in the US, and once you visit, you will know why people love the “City by the Bay” so much. Without a doubt, it is one of the best cities to visit in the US.

San Francisco - the most beautiful city in the USA @shutterstock
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In general, I suggest staying between 2 and 3 days if you have a week in California. Depending on how you get to LA (remember, I took a bus that took quite a while), you have to plan in some time for getting there.

Best view of San Francisco_
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Painted Ladies with Arzo Travels

Where to go in San Francisco

  • Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • See San Francisco Bay
  • Ride the cable car
  • See the views at Twin Peaks
  • Visit Alcatraz
  • Relax at Golden Gate Park
  • Visit Fisherman’s Wharf
  • See the sea lions at Pier 39
  • Stop by Lombard Street
  • Visit Alamo Square and see the Full House houses
  • Explore “The Castro”
  • Visit Union Square
  • I wrote a detailed post on San Francisco.

Where to Stay in San Francisco

  • For a luxury stay, check out The Ritz-Carlton which is perfectly located (close to Union Square) and has all the amenities and facilities you can expect from a luxury hotel.

Los Angeles – 3 Days

I arrived by bus in LA and discovered the city – and its beautiful surroundings. There is so much to do and see, especially outside LA, so you need a minimum of 3 days to get a first glimpse of the area.

Santa Monica pier at Sunset one of the best places to visit in LA in 3 days
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LA itself was not my favorite place. I think you are either a NY or LA person, and I am definitely more into New York City. However, I did have some great memories, and I was impressed with the beautiful places around LA, so it is a must for any California itinerary.

Los Angeles - Echo Park a must-see in LA
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Hollywood, California a must-do in 3 days
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What to do in Los Angeles in 3 Days

  • Stroll Venice Beach
  • See Watts Towers Art Center
  • Visit LA Fashion District 
  • Explore Chinatown
  • Have a picnic at Echo Park Lake
  • Go to the Griffith Conservatory
  • See Shakespeare Bridge
  • Hike the Hollywood Sign Trail
  • Visit the Hollywood Walk-of-Fame
  • Take pictures at Mulholland Scenic Overlook
  • Wander Rodeo Drive
  • Visit Santa Monica Pier
  • Explore White Point Park
  • See the Getty
  • Relax at Huntington Beach
  • I have a detailed 3-day itinerary for LA for you.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

  • For a luxury hotel, pick Hotel Bel-Air. It is an icon in the city and boasts amenities like an on-site restaurant, pools, etc.
  • A more mid-range option is Level DTLA, which is still a nice hotel and has a great location for getting to some popular attractions.
  • A budget hotel with clean rooms, a good location, and even a restaurant is the New Seoul Hotel.

San Diego – 1 Day

It is only about 2-3 hours from LA to San Diego. You can take a bus, train, or drive there (or fly, but I do not really recommend it due to the proximity to LA). It’s a beautiful trip as you spend some time traveling along the coast. 

Drone view of the Children's Pool in La Jolla San Diego is one of the best things to do in 1 days in San Diego
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San Diego is a beautiful city, and I liked the vibe there but compared to LA and San Francisco, I found fewer attractions I wanted to see and visit. So, while you could stay longer than 1 day, I think, with only one week in California, 1 day in San Diego is probably enough.

Drone view of the Children's Pool in La Jolla San Diego is one of the best things to do in 3 days in San Diego
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Where to Go in San Diego (1 day)

  • Explore Balboa Park
  • Relax at Mission Beach
  • Visit La Jolla
  • See the Point Loma Tide Pools
  • Explore San Diego’s Old Town
  • Wander the Gaslamp Quarter
  • Check out my detailed itinerary for San Diego to find out more about the city and what to do & see.

Where to Stay in San Diego

If you stay in San Diego, I would suggest taking a hotel in the downtown area or La Jolla, which has great ocean views.

Extra: More Places to Visit in California

If you want to skip any of these places and take a day trip during your California itinerary, then here is my suggestion:

California Day Trip – Big Sur

Big Sur is a place I haven’t gotten to myself, but I recommend it if you want to take a day trip while in California.

California itinerary
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Located along the central coast, Big Sur is an area with lots of state parks that are popular for hiking and camping. The Santa Lucia Mountains are on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, so you should have some really nice scenery.

If you take State Route 1, you should also see many views of seaside cliffs and coastlines covered in mist. Big Sur is between San Francisco and Los Angeles, so if you drive down during your weeklong California trip, you can take this road and see Big Sur on your way.

FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT PLACES TO VISIT IN 7 DAYS IN CALIFORNIA

Hopefully, this one-week in California itinerary has shown you the best things to do and places to see while you are here. You can divide the days as you like, but with only 1 week, this is how I would do it.

I stayed a bit longer and created my California itinerary a bit differently back then. However, I hope you will have a fun 7 days in California using the above itinerary because it is how I would – in hindsight – plan my trip.

Stay safe and have fun!Safe Travels, Arzo

Categories USA

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