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 will help. Here you will 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, 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.

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.

3 Days in Chicago – 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 For Your 3-Day Chicago

  • 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.

HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN CHICAGO

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 which should be on any Chicago itinerary.

  • 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 happen to wait until later in the afternoon, you will be rewarded with a really spectacular sunset from here. 

  • Depending on lines (you can get a Fast Pass if you want to skip them), you will probably be here 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 the 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 it all in 3 days with a city this size.

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

But the Chicago Trolley tour is a great way to see a few more spots before you leave town. 

This hop-on hop-off trolley will take you throughout 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 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. If you were wondering what to do in 3 days, this list should help you find the best places to visit whether as a solo traveler, a family, a couple, or with friends.

Chicago surely is one of the best places to visit in the US and 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 

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.

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.

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

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 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 for 3 Days

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 laidback.

  • 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 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 a historic landmark. Reminiscent of the canals in Italy, but with a California vibe, strolling these lovely canals will be a highlight of your trip.
  • It is a perfect place for solo travelers, couples, and families.

TIME 

  • You could spend hours wandering the Venice Beach boardwalk, but I would advise to only spend 2-3 hours there and continue 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.

Once you’ve done some shopping, let’s head to another popular location in LA – and get a late lunch (or early dinner).

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

The 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
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It’s definitely worth a visit.

  • 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).
  • 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.

This is a great place for families, couples, and solo travelers.

  • And that’s the end of day 1 in Los Angeles.

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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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. 

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  • 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 the wealthy Los Angelenos shop and relax.

It is a good activity for solo travelers and couples – and 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 to explore 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 – the 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. 

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  • 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.

Parking is available for $15 per car.

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  • 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 are lots 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.

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  • 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 the 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 – the 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 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 also find many more travel tips for your trip.

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.

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

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

– what to do, where to go, and what to see – for your Hawaii itinerary.

Are 10 Days in Hawaii Enough?

Hawaii is a beautiful island paradise, so the question isn’t how long should you stay, but how long can you stay?

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 times 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.
  • Alhough 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 10 days in Hawaii

  • 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 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 a 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 the 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 in. 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 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 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, laidback 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 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

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 as you will find your answer 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, and 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 which 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.

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 in 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 into San Francisco International Airport, but you could also arrive via Oakland International Airport. I then took a Megabus to Los Angeles.

  • BY BUS
  • Getting from one city to other 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 are 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 in 7 Days in California

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
@shutterstock

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 traveling.

Best view of San Francisco_
@shutterstock

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 itinerary for San Francisco that you can check out here.

Where to Stay in San Francisco

  • For a luxury stay, check out The Ritz-Carlton that is perfectly located (close to Union Square) and has all the amenities and facilities you can expect from a luxury hotel.
  • I stayed in a hostel near Union Square, which I actually really liked. It is actually the best hostel I have stayed at. Check out the gorgeous hostel (though it is named a hotel) – given it is a hostel, prices are quite high, though.

Los Angeles – 3 Days

I arrived by bus in LA and discovered the city – and the 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 that you can check out here

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. So, make sure to add San Diego to your California itinerary.

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
@shutterstock

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

This 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
@shutterstock

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 California itinerary has shown you the best things to do and places to see while you are here. You can divide the days up to as you like, but with only one 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 my itinerary because it is how I would – in hindsight – create my next itinerary like this.

Stay safe and have fun!Safe Travels, Arzo

Categories USA

AMAZING 3-DAY SEATTLE ITINERARY – WHAT TO DO AND SEE

3 day itinerary Seattle, where to go and what to see in 3 days

WHAT TO DO IN SEATTLE IN 3 DAYS – ITINERARY

This 3-day Seattle itinerary helps you plan your trip. Find out about the best things to do in 3 days in Seattle – what to see, the best attractions, and more travel tips for your trip.Skyline of Seattle itinerary in 3 days

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 3 DAYS IN SEATTLE

If you love art, music, and a general funky vibe, Seattle is a great spot to go to. There are tons to do and see in the city, but everything is relatively close together, so you can easily make Seattle a fun 3-day trip.

If you have more time, I’d say to combine your Seattle visit with exploring more of Washington state and the West Coast. Just outside the city lies some gorgeous natural beauty worth exploring as well. It’s a unique place merging urban life and nature, so you can definitely have the best of both worlds on your Seattle trip! 

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.

View of downtown Seattle skyline in Seattle Washington, USA best thing to do in Seattle in 3 days
@shutterstock

How to Get Around Seattle for 3 Days

  • There is no need for a car in the city – parking prices are high and traffic can be crazy. For day trips – e.g. to Mount Rainier National Park – a car might be a good option. But you will not need a car for the duration of the 3 days.
  • There is plenty of public transportation – including Seattle Streetcars or Seattle Center Monorail.
  • If you want to get around via public transportation, you could get an All-Day Regional Transit Pass for $8 and use it on all of Seattle’s public transportation services except for the monorail and on Washington State Ferries. However, you have to buy an ORCA card first (a reusable transit card that costs $5 and can be refilled) so you can buy the $8 all-day pass from a vending machine. 
  • Seattle is a bike-friendly city and you can rent bikes (via the Uber or Lime App).
  • Another easy way to get around is via taxis and Uber.

Best Time to Visit Seattle

You can visit Seattle year-round, but going in the spring/summer months would be the best weather-wise. 

  • I went in late May and found it perfect. June is also a good time as it September and early October. The weather is pleasant and during these months prices for accommodation drop compared to the summer months.
  • Summer itself is high season, and the city attracts many visitors. So accommodation prices will rise, and it gets busier.
  • From late October to early May it might be very rainy and cold. Seattle is not the best destination then.

Bring layers as the weather can fluctuate. The city can get windy and rainy at times, too. 

Where to Stay For 3 Days in Seattle 

I would recommend staying in the downtown or Belltown neighborhoods to walk and explore the area easily. Anywhere near the Pike Place Market is a great spot and not too far from the Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture, and the Chihuly glass garden (all must-sees). 

Tips for Solo Female / Security 

  • The city, like any other, has some rougher areas. There is also a considerable population of homeless, which is usual in many US major cities. During my visit, most appeared to be drug users or mentally disturbed individuals that would shout at us.
  • This is something to be aware of. I recommend just continuing along your way and ignoring any such behavior. Also, do not walk around alone at night. I walked everywhere during the day with no problems, but suggest using taxi services or Uber after dark.
Downtown Seattle, Pier 66 is one of the best places to visit in 3 days
@shutterstock

Costs of Visiting Seattle in 3 Days

  • Seattle is pricey! Most US cities have higher costs, but I was surprised mainly at the high cost of entry for museums and art exhibits.
  • I’m used to entry on a donation basis from many places in NYC, and DC, so I was not expecting to drop $30 per person every time we went into a place, so it added up quickly!
  • Be better prepared than me and bring some extra funds for sightseeing.
  • Tap water is drinkable. You can save money by bringing a reusable water bottle and some pre-packaged snacks on your trip.

Restaurants to Visit For Your 3-Day Seattle Itinerary

  • One of my favorite stops was The Biscuit Bitch for breakfast. It was so good I had breakfast there twice. Plus, it was a lot of fun. There’s barely any seating, so it is best to get it to go. Since it’s a hot spot, you need to get there at opening time. There will most likely still be a line, but they move very fast, and you usually don’t wait too long. Their biscuits are delicious and are served in various ways- with gravy, breakfast sandwiches, or various toppings. They offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, too, so something for everyone, plus a coffee bar. 
  • Another recommendation would be Pike Place Market. It’s an awesome spot to explore and filled with various dining options and fresh goods.

Seattle skyline is one of the things to do in 3 days

BEST THINGS TO DO IN SEATTLE

So, now let’s talk about the best things to do in 3 days in Seattle.

DAY 1 OF YOUR 3-DAY IN SEATTLE ITINERARY

Day 1 in Seattle starts with the Pike Place Market.

Pike Place Market

I recommend trying to get a flight that lands you there in the morning, so you can still have some time to explore on your first day in Seattle.

After arriving and getting settled, I recommend heading to the Pike Place Market as it is one of the best places to visit in 3 days in Seattle. Pike Place Market is an iconic marketplace that started in 1907 and is the oldest continuously operating farmers market in the US.Visiting Public Market Center is one of the best thngs to do in 3 days in Seattle-clarisse-meyer unsplash

  • Pike Place includes a farmer’s market, a crafts market, and an array of more than 500 shops and restaurants well worth exploring. 
  • It attracts more than 10 million visitors annually – so you can imagine how busy it gets.
  • Start your Pike Place visit with a coffee from the first-ever Starbucks before exploring everything Pike Place has to offer.
  • Beware, it gets crowded! I recommend heading there earlier rather than later. 
  • You can even book a Pike Place Market tour and learn more from a local guide.
  • If you are traveling to Seattle with kids, you might want to visit the Seattle Aquarium, located close by.
  • You have free Wi-Fi at Pike Place Market!

Gum Wall in Seattle

Just near the Pike Place Market is also the iconic gum wall. It’s an alleyway in Post Alley under Pike Place Market completely covered in chewing gum. You can smell the gum (with a typical gum scent like peppermint), and yes, maybe it is a little gross but also awesome. It is worth visiting for a few photos, and this is definitely a must-see in Seattle in 3 days.Gumwall is a must see in Seattle in 3 days

  • The gum wall is a sign of Seattle’s still thriving grunge scene and was created in 1993.
  • In 2015 the alleyway was scraped clean.
  • It took 130 hours to remove the 2,350 pounds of gum. But it didn’t take long for Seattle natives and tourists to build it back up again.

Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square is another must-see in 3 days in Seattle and a popular Instagram place in Seattle. After all the walking, I’d recommend a stop for lunch at Piroshky Piroshky before heading to Pioneer Square with a nice walk along the waterfront.

Iron Pergola on Pioneer Square is a must-see in 3 days in Seattle
@shutterstock
  • Pioneer Square is in the southwest of Seattle Downtown and was the heart of the city once and is especially known for its Renaissance Revival architecture.
  • Pioneer Square has been around since 1852 and has several stops worth visiting, including the waterfall garden, the Klondike Goldrush historical park, or the Tlingit Totem Pole.
  • You can also visit Seattle’s oldest skyscraper: Smith Tower, which is also in the Pioneer Square neighborhood. Make your way up to the 35th-floor speakeasy-style Observatory Bar.
  • You can choose to do an underground tour which takes place in the subterranean passages at Pioneer Square. These passages were created in 1889 after Seattle’s Great Fire when the city was rebuilt over the ruins- they are known to have paranormal activity and are brimming with the history of the city.

When you’re ready for dinner, head back towards Pike Place for some good food and locally brewed beer at the Pike Pub.

DAY 2 IN SEATTLE

This is the day where you wake up early and get to it!

First, stop at the Biscuit Bitch at opening time (8 am) for an amazingly delicious breakfast and fun experience. There will be a line, but the line moves quickly, and it’s worth it.

The Space Needle

Afterward, head to The Space Needle. You’ll want to stop here first before lines get long. After getting your ticket and traveling to the top for amazing views, you should visit 2 of my favorites – Mo Pop and Chihuly Glass Garden. All 3 places are right next to each other.The Needle in Seattle, Washington

  • It was built for the 1962 World’s Fair – the Century 21 Exposition “The Age of Space” so the design was perfect.
  •  The Space Needle is 605 feet tall and an amazing vantage point for views of Seattle. It’s a must-do on anyone’s first trip to Seattle and the ultimate icon of the Seattle skyline with glass walls and floors.
  • It also includes an upper-level outdoor observation deck with open-air glass walls and Skyriser glass benches.
  • Prices range between $32.50 and $37.50 (adults) and with that ticket, you get a trip to the top of the Space Needle and access to two floors of experiences at the top.
  • Plan around 1,5 – 2 hours for this attraction.

Museum of Pop Culture

Mo Pop (Museum of Pop Culture) is another unique spot to add to your 3-day Seattle itinerary. It is a non-profit museum dedicated to contemporary popular culture. 

Museum of Pop Culture Seattle a place to go in 3 days
@shutterstock
  • It showcases the musical history, rock stars, and of course Seattle’s own grunge subculture. It’s a fun and interactive museum unlike any other.
  • They have fun and unique pop culture on display such as the “Horror” or “Sci-fi” features I visited during my stay and plenty of rotating features as well.
  • Plan 1,5-3 hours for the museum and there is an entrance fee of $30 (adults).

Chihuly Glass Garden

The neighboring Chihuly Glass Garden is a very different side of Seattle’s art scene featuring elegant glass creations indoors and outdoors by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly.

Chihuly Garden and Glass museum conservatory a must for a 3-day Seattle itinerary
@shutterstock
  • It opened in May 2012 at the former site of the defunct Fun Forest amusement park and even those that aren’t art lovers will still appreciate the unique sculptures and beautiful gardens.
  • Plan at least 1.5 hours for this attraction and the entrance fee is around $32 (adults).

All 3 stops should take up most of your day, and at some point in between, you’ll get hungry. A good local spot to grab lunch nearby would be the Skillet Counter.

Olympic Sculpture Park

While in this area, be sure to walk through the Olympic Sculpture Park as well. It’s a lovely walk right on the waterfront. The park opened in 2007 and comprises 9 acres of sculptures on display by the Seattle Art Museum (which is also nearby if you have some spare time). 

Olympic sculpture park, Seattle 3-day i tinerary
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  • Good news: To enjoy the outdoor sculpture park with both permanent outdoor sculpture, temporary works, and site-specific installations you do not have to pay an entrance fee.

When you’re ready for dinner, head back downtown and grab a meal at Lola’s for some delicious Mediterranean fare.

If you’re a grunge music fan, grab an Uber out to Viretta Park to see the memorial bench for Kurt Cobain and his old home.

DAY 3 IN SEATTLE

Although Seattle is a big city, it is surrounded by big nature! So, whether you want to hike near Seattle or do other activities, I highly recommend on one of your days to book a day tour out of the city. 

San Juan Island

My recommendation would be San Juan Island. It has a completely different feel than the city.

Mount Baker from the San Juan Islands is a good day trip from Seattle
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  • Laidback island life, lighthouses, vineyards, and a charming coastal town to stroll through will give a nice break from the city’s hustle and bustle.
  • You can also do whale-watching! Furthermore, sea lions approach the beaches, and you could spot deers and foxes.
  • If you’d rather enjoy some active time, choose a kayaking tour, rent a bike, or hike to the top of Mt. Young.
  • However, plan in 2-3 hours driving time (one way). A rental car, in this case, would be a good idea. Alternatively, there are also ferries.
  • To visit San Juan Island, you need to start early or probably get there in the evening before so you can start exploring San Juan Island in the morning.

Mt. Rainier National Park

Another option is a day trip to Mt. Rainier National Park. This is a perfect choice if you enjoy hiking and wildlife spotting.

Mt. Rainer National Park near Seattle_
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  • Mt. Rainer is a glaciated volcanic peak soaring over 14,000 feet.
  • It’s a gorgeous sight even from afar. If you visit over spring, you’re likely to see the slopes covered in wildflowers and rivers rushing by from melted snow.
  • There are plenty of hikes: easy and panoramic ones, as well as hard ones which include climbing. The Reflection Lakes make for wonderful pictures.
  • I recommend getting there early, as the parking lot fills up quickly.
  • Getting here from Seattle takes about 1,5-2 hours by car.

Snoqualmie Falls

If you are looking for something a bit more mellow, but still want some glimpses of the surrounding natural beauty, a day trip to Snoqualmie Falls would be a great option. Because it usually includes some vineyard visits for wine tasting.

Snoqualmie Falls near Seattle
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  • The 270-foot waterfall is absolutely gorgeous and doesn’t require any strenuous hiking to get to. There are upper and lower observation decks, accessible free of charge; in the evening, lights illuminate the falls.
  • Nearby are several vineyards where you can taste, sample, and sip the locally-made Washington state wines.
  • There is also the Northwest Railway Museum nearby.
  • If you are more into some thrilling activities, you can book with companies that organize paragliding over the wonderful scenery.
  • This day trip from Seattle is probably the easiest. It just takes about 30-45 minutes by car from Seattle.

No matter your style, there’s an option for everyone!

Most of these tours take up a full day, so when you get back to the city, head out to grab your last dinner in Seattle. I recommend El Borrachos. It is a tasty authentic-style Mexican spot by Pike Place with tons of options, including a vegetarian and vegan menu.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Seattle For 3 Days

Seattle is a very unique city – and there is a lot to do and see. Hopefully, this 3-day Seattle itinerary has helped you plan your trip to the city and learn how to spend 3 days in this fun city!

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Seattle, USA in 3 days, an itinerary

About the Author

Cassandra is a US-female travel addict who loves traveling the world and works as a tour operator. She is a freelance writer for Arzo Travels, where she shares her expertise and has a special love affair with Mexico – so she knows pretty well what she is recommending to you.

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CHECK OUT MORE ITINERARIES FOR US-CITIES

Safe Travels, Arzo

Categories USA

Best 3-Day San Diego Itinerary

Best things to do in 3 days in San Diego, itinerary

HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN SAN DIEGO – ITINERARY

San Diego is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the US on the west coast. Although it is not as well-known as Los Angeles or San Francisco, it is still a great choice for a trip at any time of the year. With great weather and lots of beaches, museums, and parks, this city has something to please everyone – families, couples, or solo travelers.

If you are looking for the best way to spend 3 days in San Diego, this post will help. Find out where to go and what to see. It also has some travel tips to make your own San Diego itinerary even better.

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

The post was written by Rebecca.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 3 DAYS IN SAN DIEGO

Before talking about the main activities for your 3-day San Diego trip, here are some important travel tips for a smooth trip.

How to Get to San Diego

You can fly into San Diego International Airport, and from there, take a taxi or rental car to your hotel. If you are driving in from the north, take Highway 101, aka the Pacific Coast Highway. And from the east, take Interstate 15. 

Once you arrive, you can take a bus from Terminal 1, a tram, or a taxi to your hotel. There is also a shuttle service. The best option will depend on the location of your hotel.

How to Get Around in 3 Days San Diego

San Diego has public transportation throughout the city, including buses, trains, trolleys, ferries, and taxis, not to mention Uber. So, you can get along fine with these for the popular attractions and within the downtown area.

There’s even a ferry that will take you across the bay to Coronado.

But when it comes to visiting La Jolla, Legoland, and other things that are farther, I suggest renting a car. The bonus is that you can drive down scenic coastal routes, like the Pacific Coast Highway, which starts in San Diego and follows the ocean all the way to Oregon.

Weather in San Diego

The weather in San Diego is really nice, year-round. Summer temperatures range from 67ºF-77ºF, and winters are from 49ºF to 66ºF.

The rainy season is from December until March. Generally, I have found that the mornings feel a little chilly, but everything warms up quickly once the sun is out in force.

What to Pack for 3 Days in San Diego

Since San Diego has pretty mild weather normally, you can pack pretty much the same all year. During the summer months, take some sandals, shorts, and t-shirts with you for the warmer afternoons, but make sure you have a jacket, just in case you’re out at night.

For winter, sneakers, boots, pants, and long-sleeved shirts are great but be prepared for warm-ish afternoons and colder evenings. Also, there’s nothing more chilling than a cold rain, so pack a coat in case you run into a storm.

3-day San Diego itinerary – Where to Stay

There are so many hotels in San Diego, not to mention the little neighborhoods throughout the area, like La Jolla. I would suggest taking a hotel in the downtown area of La Jolla, which has great ocean views. Or, if you don’t mind the move, take one night in each!

  • For a luxury option, I suggest the Pendry Hotel downtown, which has great amenities and service, or the Pantai Inn in La Jolla, which offers a boutique experience and a great location.
  •  For a mid-range hotel, try the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter in the downtown area, which has a good location.
  • For a budget option, you could stay at Holiday Inn Express – Downtown San Diego, which includes breakfast, or the La Jolla Cove Suites, which has vintage décor and a good location. 

Note that most of the hotels are more expensive in La Jolla than in San Diego proper, so just keep that in mind as you are booking.

San Diego, California, USA downtown city skyline
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More Travel Tips For Your San Diego Itinerary

If you plan to stop at many main attractions, such as the Air & Space Museum, Legoland, and Belmont Park (and others mentioned in this post), I suggest getting the Go San Diego Pass. You can get one for just 3 days, and it will save you money on entrance fees.

Travel can get pretty bad, especially on Interstate 5. To avoid this, there may be times when public transportation is the way to go. Look into trolley, train, and bus schedules to save you time and frustration.

Day trips to Tijuana are very common since San Diego sits right on the US-Mexico border. To make it fun, do a little research on where to go when south of the border. Also, note that while the drinking age for alcohol is 21 in the US, it is 18 in Mexico.

The hotel tax in San Diego is 10.5% and 12.5% for larger hotels with 70+ rooms. So, don’t be surprised if you see this added to your bill. 

Avoid visiting during the giant Comic-Con convention unless you’re attending. The city hosts about 150,000 attendees, and hotel room rates are super high and sell out fast. It’s usually at the end of July each year.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN SAN DIEGO

After all the travel tips, here is your itinerary.

DAY 1 OF 2 DAYS IN SAN DIEGO

Let’s start with day 1 in San Diego.

Balboa Park in San Diego

Balboa Park is a must on any 3-day itinerary in San Diego. Encompassing 1200 acres, this park is more than a park and has something to offer every visitor. It is near downtown San Diego and the largest urban cultural park in the US. It was First established by the City of San Diego in 1868, which makes it is also one of the oldest city parks in the country and it is the most visited single destination in San Diego. So, it surely is none of the hidden gems in San Diego.

San Diego's Balboa Park in San Diego California USA
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It is home to 16 museums, arts venues, gardens, trails, and many other creative and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo. So, a lot of your first day in San Diego will be at Balboa Park.

Botanical House

Gardens dot the park, so you can enjoy beautiful greenery wherever you are.

Balboa park Botanical building and pond San Diego, California USA
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The Botanical Building was built for the 1915-16 Exposition and along with the adjacent Lily Pond and Lagoon, this historic building is actually one of the largest lath structures in the world. Also, the most famous of the Balboa Park is probably the Botanical Building with the Lily Pond and Lagoon in the foreground.

Bring your own breakfast and have it on a bench among the 350 plant species so you can get an early start on your first day. Here, you will also find seasonal flower displays. 

TIPS

  • Free to the public on Friday through Wednesday, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Closed Thursdays and holidays

From here, head to one (or all) of the museums that are housed within Balboa Park.

San Diego Museum of Art

If you like art, stop at the San Diego Museum of Art located within Balboa Park. It specializes in Spanish Renaissance (even the architecture is done in this style) and Baroque paintings.

Check their website to see what programs are running for fun cocktail events, film screenings, and activities for the kids.

  • Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Sunday – 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  • Closed on Wednesdays
  • Tickets are around $15 for adults (discounts available)

San Diego Natural History Museum – The Nat

If you’re traveling with kids, the Natural History Museum be a good stop within the park. The Nat has four floors of exhibitions – examine fossils, explore different ecosystems, and see 3D displays that bring the Ice Age to life. 

Even adults will find the exhibition fun and interesting. 

  • Open from Friday to Tuesday from 10 am – 4 pm
  • Closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays
  • Admission is around $20 for adults – discounts available

San Diego Air & Space Museum

This museum is also located in Balboa Park and is an homage to the evolution of human flight.

You’ll find reproductions of the Wright Brothers’ glider from the first flight ever and artifacts from Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh. Flight simulators are really cool for adults, and if you’re traveling with a family, the Action Hangar is set up as a play area for kids.

  • Open 7 days a week from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • Closed on Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day
  • Tickets are around $22.00 (discounts available)

If you’ve had your fill of museums, stroll over to the next landmark in Balboa Park.

Old Globe

The Old Globe Theater was built as part of an expo in 1935 and is a replica of the original in England where Shakespeare’s plays were performed. It has three stages, and one is outdoors.

San Diego Balboa Park Old Globe Theater
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It is not just a random theater – the Old Globe is one of the country’s leading regional theatre complexes, California’s oldest professional theatre, and San Diego’s largest theatre organization. 

If you’re in the mood for a play, check the schedule. There are usually two performances a day and three on the weekends. Or, just wander around and take in the architecture and atmosphere of this Tony-award-winning institution.

  • Open from Tuesday to Sunday 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
  • Also closed on some holidays

This stop at Balboa Park should have taken about 2-5 hours, depending on how many museums you visited. 

And now it’s time to leave Balboa Park and head the harbor.

Embarcadero

One of the best things about San Diego is its closeness to the water. Embarcadero is the perfect spot to enjoy a meal, do some shopping, and take in the views. It is a busy cruise ship hub, with a lot to do and see.

Walk along the harbor and see Coronado island right across the bay. If you happen to be visiting in the summer, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra performs from the end of June until September. Also, Waterfront Park has interactive fountains and playgrounds for kids to enjoy.

If you’re wondering what to do in San Diego in 3 days, then here’s what Embarcadero has to offer.

USS Midway Museum

Here at Embarcadero is the USS Midway Museum. Take a tour of the USS Midway Museum and the aircraft carrier with a self-guided audio tour. You can climb into cockpits and try simulators to feel like you’re actually flying, as well as check out the below-decks areas.

  • Open every day from 10 am – 4 pm
  • Tickets for adults are around $26 (discounts available)
  • You can also buy tickets online and skip the lines
Take a Harbor Cruise

Since you are right in San Diego Harbor, why not take a cruise? You’ll get to see some of the city’s many landmarks, not to mention views from a whole new angle. This will be especially fun on a warm, sunny day. 

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA USA Coronado ferry boat Embarcadero
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Spot wildlife like sea lions and pelicans. And listen as an experienced guide tells you about the marine habitats and history. Cruises last one hour. Check out ticket prices online.

If you want to end your first day with a dinner cruise check out prices here.

Whale Watching in San Diego

Another must-do in San Diego if you are visiting from December through April is to go whale watching. This is the time of year that the California Gray Whale migrates from Alaska to Baja.

These cruises have a naturalist on board as a guide to answer questions. Cruises can last up to four hours. Check out prices for whale and dolphin tours in San Diego.

Extra: Coronado

You might be able to add Coronado to your 1 day in San Diego – however, you might also have to skip it, depending on the time of your arrival in San Diego. Either way, it is a place that might be perfect for you.

Coronado is located on the peninsula of San Diego Bay. Famous for its landmark hotel, this is also the home of some of the US Navy SEAL teams, which can be seen working out on Coronado Beach sometimes.

Panorama of Coronado old pier reflecting on in San Diego Bay from Coronado Island, California
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The Hotel del Coronado, the world’s largest resort hotel when it opened in 1888, was the place to go for the rich and famous, like Babe Ruth, Edward VIII, Charlie Chaplin, and 16 different US presidents.

It’s also been featured in a dozen movies. Take a 75-minute tour through the building and ornamental gardens to get a look at this famous resort. Even if you do not take the tour, you can stroll the area and enjoy some beach time.

This stop at Coronado should take about 2-3 hours.

That’s about all we can fit into Day 1. This stop at Embarcadero should have taken about 3-4 hours unless you did the whale watching cruise. So, get a good night’s sleep before we start Day 2 at the beach. 

DAY 2 OF 2 DAYS IN SAN DIEGO

We’re starting Day 2 at some of San Diego’s best beaches.

Mission Beach

Lined with a boardwalk with its own small amusement park, Mission Beach is a lot of fun. If you’re visiting in the early hours, then rent a bike, traverse the boardwalk, play some mini-golf, have a coffee in one of the lovely gardens, or take the kids to a playground.

Mission Beach Sunset and View of Downtown, San Diego California, USA
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If you want to lay out in the sand, you’ll have plenty of company year-round. So long as the weather is good, people will be out at this popular beach spot.

Belmont Park

If you love amusement parks, it will be hard to resist Belmont Park which is also at Mission Park.

Located on the boardwalk, this park has 12 rides, including the Giant Dipper – a wooden roller coaster named a National Historic Landmark and a favorite of locals. There’s also an 18-hole Tiki-themed mini gold course and eateries. 

This stop at Mission Beach and Belmont Park should have taken about 2-3 hours. Once you’ve gotten your roller coaster fix, let’s head to La Jolla or Pacific Beach. 

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach is a rather tranquil spot compared to other beaches, so it is a perfect place to enjoy the sea, sand, and sun in the morning.

Crystal pier in San Diego, California
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Take a walk on Crystal Pier and watch waves break. You have a great view of the city and the town of La Jolla from the end of the pier. The beach has lifeguards, so this is a good place to bring kids.

This stop at Pacific Beach should take about an hour. 

Not far from Chrystal Pier is La Jolla – it is about 3miles away and you could walk from one beach to the other or just visit one of the beaches.

La Jolla

This seaside community sits on land that juts right out into the ocean, surrounded by water on three sides. There are lots to do here, from hiking to surfing to exploring sea caves.

La Jolla, California is one of the best places to visit in 2 days
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La Jolla has a very chic, cosmopolitan vibe about it. Filled with boutiques and cafes, it has a different atmosphere from many other parts of San Diego. 

Stroll down Prospect Street and stop at the Legends Gallery. Here you’ll find original art displayed, including from a former resident, Theodor Seuss Geisel – Dr. Seuss!

Stop for a little while to relax in one of the beautiful parks. If you’re visiting in the summer, the Ellen Browning Scripps Park offers open-air concerts, so you might be able to enjoy some live music, too.

Children’s Pool Beach

Whether you’re traveling with children or not, definitely check out this part of the beach. Because La Jolla’s surf can be powerful, they constructed a seawall to protect an area of the beach and make it safe for children to swim in the calmer waters.

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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An unexpected byproduct was that it was also a prime location for seals and sea lions to come and give birth to their pups. From December to May, they arrive.

Access to the beach is limited for this reason, but you can climb up the seawall to get a great view of these adorable sea animals.

La Jolla Cove

This cove is a must-visit, one of the most famous on the US’s west coast. The views are gorgeous and definitely Insta-worthy. 

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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With tons of sea life in the water and sunning themselves on the rocks, you’ll take some great pictures in this cove. But I’d avoid swimming because the waves are powerful here. Another option would be to take a bike tour or go kayaking. 

Surfing

There are lots of places to surf, and not just in La Jolla. About 30 minutes north of the area, you will find Swami’s, a popular surf spot. Oceanside and Del Mar are also good choices and less populated. If you need to rent surf gear, each beach has a rental spot nearby.

And if surfing isn’t your thing, then grab lunch at an oceanside restaurant and watch others hang ten while you enjoy your meal.

Then, let’s head north to a beautiful nature reserve to end the day. This stop in La Jolla should take about 2-4 hours, depending on how long you spend shopping or at the beach.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

About 15-20 minutes (drive) north of La Jolla, you will find Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

Broken Hill at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and State Park La Jolla San Diego California
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This huge, 2000-acre park is home to the endangered Torrey Pine tree. It also consists of eight trails for hiking and walking, empty beaches to relax, and gray and blue whales’ sightings during their migration season. 

This park is also situated on a plateau that offers some really gorgeous water views, so make sure you take a moment to breathe in the salty ocean air and take in the scenery.

If you’d like to take a guided walk, they are available on certain days at 10 am and 2 pm, starting at the visitor’s center. This stop should take about 2 hours.

Torrey Pines Gliderport

For all you adventurers out there: check out the Torrey Pines Gliderport on your San Diego trip. At the edge of the park, you’ll find a platform used for hang-gliding and paragliding. They also offer tandem flights for a fee. 

Torrey Pines Gliderport is one of the top places to go in 2 days San Diego
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But this location isn’t just for adventurers. If you just want to check out the cliffs’ views, this is a great vantage point. Benches are situated around the area. 

By this time, you are probably nearing sunset, and this is the perfect place to see it. Enjoy the views, grab dinner, and either head back to the hotel or spend a lively evening at Mission Beach.

DAY 3 OF 3 DAYS IN SAN DIEGO

For day 3 in San Diego, consider visiting these places.

Point Loma

Our first stop this day will be the Point Loma Lighthouse, built in 1855.

This is a local landmark and a very cool place to tour. Not only do you get great views from this lighthouse, but you can check out the keeper’s quarters and the lens that can see almost 25 miles out to sea. 

Point Loma Tide Pools

If you catch the tides at the right time, you can actually climb down into the pools and look around at the sea caves and ocean life down there when the tide is out. Starfish, hermit crabs, and even octopus have been spotted.

POINT LOMA, CALIFORNIA is one of the best places to add to your 2-day San Diego itinerary
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After Point Loma, let’s head to the Old Town. This stop at Point Loma should have taken about an hour or so.

San Diego Old Town

The term “Old Town” means something very different in America than it does in Europe. San Diego’s Old Town is actually the first European settlement site in the state, from 1820-1870. The neighborhood, its adobe buildings, and the streets are well preserved.

Check out Casa de Estudillo for a lovely example of Spanish architecture.

Presidio Park is a good place to see historic settlements, specialty shops, art galleries and get authentic Mexican food. There’s even a real-life blacksmith that you can see working at the forge.

The stop in the Old Town will take about 2 hours.

Liberty Public Market

Visit the Liberty Public Market, a fun and exciting town market set up in a former navy building. Lots of fresh food, pastries, and arts and crafts are a great stop for lunch and see where locals and tourists do specialty shopping.

Open 7 days a week from 11 am-7 pm, you’ll find souvenirs for your trip and great examples of regional cuisine here. This stop at the market should take about an hour.

Gaslamp Quarter

When planning 3 days in San Diego, you don’t want to forget the Gaslamp Quarter. Enter through the archway on Fifth Avenue and stroll the 16-block downtown area. Full of eclectic charm, this area has something for everyone.

Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego
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Look over the historic buildings. Stop for a bite at one of the many sidewalk cafes. Check out a movie at the Rooftop Cinema Club – a fourth-floor outdoor movie theater where you can see a flick and the sights at the same time. 

If you come at night, you’ll find plenty of clubs, bars, and breweries, many with rooftop lounges.

Visiting the Gaslamp Quarter will about 1-5 hours, depending on what you do while you’re here.

Extra: Mission San Diego de Alcalá

I added this attraction as an extra activity because it is located a bit outside and though it is interesting, you might not be able to squeeze it all into your 3-day itinerary.

Head to the Mission San Diego de Alcalá to see the first Franciscan mission in California, established in 1769.

Daily tours are available. See the choir stalls, living quarters of the friars, and the artifacts and tools from the Kumeyaay tribe that inhabited the region.

This stop should take about an hour.

ALTERNATIVE DAY TRIPS FROM SAN DIEGO

With so much to do in San Diego, it’s hard to fit in the things that are just outside of the city. So, as an alternative to any of the days on this itinerary, here are three great day trips to consider for your vacation.

Day Trip 1 From San Diego: Legoland

Located just 30 minutes from San Diego, Legoland is a great stop if you travel with kids. This amusement park is Lego-themed, full of roller coasters and other rides and playgrounds, and kid-centered activities. 

Park hours are 10 am-5 pm daily. Prices range by age, but there is a discount for Go San Diego Pass holders.

Day Trip 2 From San Diego: Pacific Surfliner

The Pacific Surfliner is a great way to travel along the California coastline. The train ride offers amazing views, especially in the stretch right out of San Diego.

You could make a day trip to Los Angeles and use this as your main transportation. The train will even get you to Disneyland in two hours – which is great considering the crazy traffic in this area.

Tip: Sit on the right side of the train if you want to catch the sunset on your way back to San Diego.

Day Trip 3 From San Diego: Mission Trails Regional Park

This huge natural reserve is found at the northeast edge of the city. The sixth-largest park in the country, it deserves its own day. 

Here you can enjoy horseback riding, hiking, cycling, and climbing. You can even get up to the highest point in the city for the best views available – the tip of Cowles Mountain is almost 1600 feet up! You have amazing panoramic views from this spot (even if it is a bit of a hike).

Take in the beautiful scenery and natural surroundings right inside this major US city. 

FINAL THOUGHTS ON Your 3-DAY SAN DIEGO ITINERARY

San Diego is surely one of the best places for a long weekend break in the US. I hope this 3-day San Diego itinerary will help you plan an amazing trip. There is a lot to see, and it is a great location for families, couples, and solo travelers to enjoy nature, the beach, and city life, all in one place. 

PIN ME FOR LATER – SAN DIEGO IN 3 DAYS

Pin me for later.3-day San Diego itinerary, California USA, Arzo Travels

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

Best Things to do in 3 Days in Boston

best things to do in Boston in 3 days

CREATE AN AMAZING 3-DAY BOSTON ITINERARY

You are thinking of visiting Boston, Massachusetts, and are wondering about the best things to do in 3 days in Boston? Well, you have come to the right place. This 3-day Boston itinerary will help you decide the best way to spend your time and what to do and see in this historic American city.

It is located on the eastern coast of the US, north of New York. Boston is the largest city, and the capital, in the state of Massachusetts.

Founded in 1630, it is (by American standards) an old city. But Boston is even more famous for its part in US history, especially the events of the American Revolution. 

Though not as famous as San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Chicago, it is a great place to visit for a few days and one of the best places for a short weekend break in the US.

3 days in Boston will allow you to find many historic landmarks and sites, cobblestone streets, and buildings that date back to Boston’s roots.

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.

The post was written by Rebecca.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 3 DAYS IN BOSTON

Before we get to what to do in 3 days in Boston, here are some travel tips to make your stay smoother.

How to Get to Boston

  • BY AIR: If you are flying into Boston, you will be arriving at Logan International Airport (BOS), which is located only 4 miles from the city center. You can easily grab a taxi, subway, or even a water taxi from the airport to your hotel downtown. 
  • BY CAR: If you are driving in, then you can take Interstate 84 from the south, Interstate 90 from the west, or Interstate 95 from the north. Keep in mind that parking is hard to find in Boston, and your hotel will likely charge you per day to park in their garage.
  • BY TRAIN: Public transportation is great in Boston, so you can also take the Acela high-speed train into the city.
Boston, best cities to visit in spring
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Weather in Boston

The weather in Boston is really nice. It is a little humid in the summer but still the best time to visit (along with spring and fall). The average temperature at the height of summer in July is between 66ºF and 82ºF. Rain is moderate throughout the year.

If you decide to visit in the winter, it is definitely a bit colder. The average temperatures in January are between 22ºF and 37ºF. New England winters are no joke, and you will see the most snow in January and February.

What to Pack for 3 Days in Boston

  • If you are coming in the spring, summer, or fall, you can usually pack light clothes, like jeans, t-shirts, shorts, and dresses. Bostonians aren’t known for their high fashion and tend to dress according to the weather. Boston is also a big college town, so the basic jeans-and-shirt look works all year round. Sneakers are fine since you will be walking a lot (though locals prefer loafers).
  • If you are coming in winter, make sure to pack a warm jacket (preferably waterproof), scarf, gloves, and hat (bonus if it’s a Red Sox one – Boston takes their sports seriously). And boots are a must during the snowy winter weather. 

Where to Stay For 3 Days in Boston 

There are many possibilities for accommodations in Boston, some with a lot of charm and history. Here are a few suggestions for different budgets during your 3 days in Boston.

  • For a luxury hotel, try the Fairmont Copley Plaza, located in the Back Bay area, close to popular spots, like Newbury Street. It’s a historic building that’s been redone with modern décor and is particularly favored by couples. You can find out more here.
  • A mid-range option would be the Revere Hotel, which has a great location near beautiful Boston Common and the Visitor Center. It’s also very sleek and modern. Check it out here.
  • There are not many budget hotels in Boston, but the HI Hostel would be a great choice for couples and solo travelers, with breakfast provided and private rooms with en suite bathrooms. Located near Boston Common as well, it offers easy access to public transportation. Find more information here.

How to Get Around Boston For 3 Days

  • One of Boston’s nicknames (besides “Beantown”) is “the Walking City.” So, bring your walking shoes as you explore the city and the destinations on this itinerary that are nearby each other.
  • Other than that, public transportation is the way to go. Trains, trams, buses, and subways can be found all over the city and are the cheapest and most convenient way of getting around Boston.
  • You can easily buy one-way paper tickets (known as “Charlie Tickets”) at most stations for $2.75. If you want to get a Charlie Card, you can preload it, and rides are only $2.25. This also offers a free transfer to the buses.
  • If you drive your own car or a rental, expect an on-site parking fee at most hotels, as well as difficulty parking, as many areas require a residential-only neighborhood permit.

More Travel Tips For Your 3-Day Boston Itinerary

  • When you stay in Boston for 3 days, you should know that Boston is an expensive city. And hotels are no exception. The most expensive time to visit Boston is in mid-May (when many of the colleges are having graduation ceremonies) and in September/October (conferences in town and visitors coming for the changing of the leaves/fall foliage).
  • Many buildings and hotels in Boston are historic and converted over the years, but they still retain things like no elevators, steep stairways, etc. Europeans may not find this unusual, but Americans from other cities may be surprised. If you need accessible hotel rooms or want central air conditioning, check before you book.
  • Boston also has many brick and cobblestone streets, which can be tricky when wearing high heels or when there is snow. Just be aware as you make your shoe selection where you will be sightseeing.
  • It is actually illegal in Boston to have happy hour drink specials. Instead, they offer food specials from 4 pm-6 pm.
  • Smoking marijuana is illegal in public, but the purchase and possession of it are legal in Massachusetts. Just don’t take it over state lines.
  • This is not a 24-hour town. Boston mostly closes up by midnight (bars at 2 am), and the last subway leaves at 12:30 am. There are, however, a few all-night supermarkets, restaurants, and nightclubs.
  • Boston is a safe city, so long as you use common sense and proper precautions. Avoid side streets after dark and subway stations late at night if you are alone. Keep your possessions close to you at all times. And probably avoid the more crime-ridden areas of Roxbury and Dorchester.

WHAT TO DO IN 3 DAYS IN BOSTON

After all the travel tips, let´s get started with the 3-day Boston itinerary.

Day 1 of 3 Days in Boston

Day 1 in Boston starts with walking the Freedom Trail. There are many sights along the way, and I will focus on a few only. The last stop is not part of the Freedom Trail.

Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a path lined with red bricks and connects many famous historical landmarks of the city, and it is a must-see/do activity for 3 days in Boston. 

Freedom Trail in Boston is a must in 3 days
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It tells the story of the American Revolution. The trail is about 2.5 miles (4km) long, and the best way to see the trail is on foot. It is well marked throughout the city. Of course, you do not have to walk all the way but can just start or end it at any point – the trail is largely marked with bricks.

You will pass 16 locations significant to the history of the United States if you walk the whole trail. It really depends on how much time you spend at certain stops – walking the Freedom Trail can take from 3 hours to almost a full day. So, assuming it takes about 4-5 hours, you will still have some time for other activities on day 1.

Some of the sights you will see are the Park Street Church, Old State House (the oldest public building in the city), and the Benjamin Franklin statue.

Here are some of the main stops of the Freedom Trail.

Old North Church

The Old North Church could be the first stop of the Freedom Trail. If you like historic churches, then the Old North Church is a good stop. Founded in 1722, it was made famous as the place from which Paul Revere received the British’s signal, which led to the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and ignited the American Revolution.

Old North Church in Boston, visiting is one of the best things to do in 3 days
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The church attracts over 150,000 people from all over the world who want to find out more about its history.

  • There is a $5 admission fee to do a self-guided tour of the church.

After a half-hour here, you will probably be ready for our next stop on this Boston itinerary. Continue walking the Freedom Trail and stop at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

The Faneuil Hall Marketplace is also part of the Freedom Trail. It is huge, encompassing four different historic buildings from the early 1800s converted into a place for shops, restaurants, and even a promenade. Faneuil Hall is an indoor/outdoor mall and eatery

Faneuil Hall Marketplace a must on a 3-day Boston itinerary
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  • Besides the North and South Markets, the other famous building is Quincy Market (a favorite among locals and tourists).
  • Quincy Market is a lively and exciting place, perfect for souvenir shopping, tasting local delicacies, and just wandering.
  • There are tables set up for anyone who wants to stop for a game of chess.
  • And if you have ever seen the American TV show Cheers, a replica of the bar is here, too.

This market deserves at least a few hours of your time. It’s a lot of fun and a great place to eat a meal. Then, head to our next destination, about 10 minutes away on foot.

Boston Common

Boston Common is part of the Freedom Trail and our first stop. The park is actually the oldest city park in the US, dating back to 1634. Puritan colonists purchased the land rights to the Common’s 44 acres from the first European settler of the area.

  • While it is now a tranquil area, it had not always been like that – so were pirates, murderers, and witches hanged from the tree known as “The Great Elm.”  This tree stood there until 1876.
  • In the center of the park, you’ll find Frog Pond, a reflecting pool that makes a nice place to sit and enjoy the early morning light.
Boston Common and Frog Pond
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  • It’s turned into an ice skating rink and even has a skating school nearby in the winter. In summer, it’s a spray pool.
  • There’s also a children’s carousel, so this is a great stop for families, too.

After an hour or so at Boston Common, we can head to our next Boston attraction. Esplanade is about 1miles away.

Esplanade

The Charles River Esplanade is a park located in the Back Bay area of the city. It is also located on the south bank of the Charles River Basin. This park is a nice place to picnic or relax and wander. 

Take a breath and enjoy the cute, picturesque bridges, lush grassy areas, and view of the water.

This is all for day 1 in Boston. After dinner and all the walking on day 1, you might want to take it easy and not squeeze in more activities.

Day 2 of 3 Days in Boston

Day 2 in Boston starts with another charming outdoor area in the middle of Boston – let’s head to one of the city’s most popular public gardens.

Boston Public Garden 

The Boston Public Garden was created in 1634 and went through a few changes in the Victorian Age to become the haven of plants and flowers today. It is located right next to Boston Common that was listed on day 1 of your Boston itinerary.

Boston Public Garden
@shutterstock
  • You’ll find over 80 different local species, some a result of new techniques like hybridization, as well as exotic trees and plants. All of this gives the garden a gorgeous, colorful, and vibrant feel that is really nice to stroll through.
  • Besides the plant life, another very popular thing to do here is taking a ride in the lake’s Swan Boats. Over 100 years old, these boats are a fun activity for adults and kids alike. If you want to sit back and relax, though, grab one of the many benches and enjoy the morning. 

This stop should take a couple of hours.

Then head to Mary Eddy Baker Library – it is a research library, museum, and repository for the papers of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. It is about 15 minutes away by train from Boston Garden.

The Mapparium at Mary Eddy Baker Library

The Mapparium is a free area within the Mary Eddy Baker Library. The Mapparium is a popular spot with its 1930s neo-classical architecture. This fascinating section is a must-see in Boston.

Built by map-guru Rand McNally in 1935, the Mapparium is a 3-story, stained-glass globe. The Mapparium’s three-dimensional perspective of the world is enhanced by A World of Ideas. This is an original presentation that features a rich orchestration of words, music, and LED lights to illustrate the changes that have taken place in borders and even country names over time.

But even if you aren’t a huge geography buff, the Mapparium is breathtakingly beautiful and too pretty to skip. Half an hour is all you need to take in its charms.

After visiting the Mapparium, you may also want to stop and get a bite to eat.

Grab the train for 10 minutes to the west or walk for 15 minutes to get to your next stop.

Fenway Park Tour

I mentioned that Bostonians take their sports seriously, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone here who isn’t a Red Sox fan. And Fenway Park is where they play, and a Fenway Park Tour is an amazing activity for any sports enthusiasts or anyone curious to learn more about baseball.

Fenway Park in Boston is a must on Boston 3 days itinerary
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  • This baseball stadium is the oldest in the country. It is relatively small but has hosted numerous baseball, soccer, hockey games, and religious and political rallies.
  • Take a fun tour of the stadium and see the players’ clubhouses, the press room, and the seats that are above the infamous “Green Monster,” which is the 37-foot-high wall in left field that is very difficult to hit a ball over because of its proximity to home plate.  
  • Tours last about 1 hour – you might have to tweak your itinerary, depending on what time tours are offered. Check out prices and tour dates here.

When you’re done seeing Fenway, let’s head over to another cultural landmark in the city, albeit of a very different sort. It is an art museum.

To get to the Museum of Fine Arts, you can either take a 10-minute train ride, but I suggest walking it for the same amount of time through the “Emerald Necklace,” a series of city parks.

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is one of the oldest in the country and one of the most comprehensive. It houses 450,000 pieces of art, so I don’t think you’ll get through it all today!

Museum of Fine Arts Boston is a top in 3 days in Boston
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  • Your ticket does allow for a free re-entry within 10 days of your first, so if you can’t get enough on Day 2, you can come back the next day. 
  • Take in the vast collections, galleries, and architecture of the building itself.
  • This is a great destination for solo travelers, couples, and families that enjoy art and strolling through beautiful things.
  • TIP: To save on the $25 entrance fee, consider planning your trip for a Wednesday after 4 pm when the museum is free and open late, until 9 pm. Also, check their website for any free days that are coming up.
  • This stop could take you a few hours, depending on how much you love fine art. But take your time because our last stop of the night is open late.

Stop for dinner and then grab the train 10 minutes east.

Wally’s Café Jazz Club

This cozy Jazz club is a great way to end your evening. One of the oldest continuously-running jazz clubs in the US, old-school jazz and blues are performed here nightly by students and locals.

  • Sit back, have a cocktail, and enjoy the talents of the local musicians.
  • Tip: Bring cash. They may take cards, but cash is easier at this little spot.
  • If you’re visiting with family, Wally’s may not be the best spot for you and your kids, so my alternate suggestion is to take the family about 30 minutes east by train to try a Boston tradition. South Boston Candlepin Bowling is tougher than regular bowling and fun nighttime activity for pretty much anyone, but kids especially will love the challenge.
  • Check out the website of Wally´s Cafe Jazz Club here.

And that’s the end of Day 2. 

Day 3 of 3 Days in Boston

For day 3 in Boston, let’s begin in a fun and lively area of the city. 

Beacon Hill

This area is full of Federal-style row houses and is often what you see depicted in movies about the city. It’s also the most desirable part of Boston to live in.

Beacon Hill in Boston
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  • Stroll the brick sidewalks and narrow streets that run through Beacon Hill, Charles Street, and Louisbourg Square.
  • Adorned with charming lampposts, the area is full of cute cafés and small shops, as well as luxurious residences.

After an hour or so, you can head to a unique park that is not like any other park – the Lawn on D is about 2 miles away (30-minute walk or 30-minute train ride).

The Lawn on D

Morning outings to the green areas of Boston seem to be a theme, but don’t skip the Lawn on D because it isn’t like other parks here.

  • This grassy area is nice for picnics and relaxing, but people really come here for the events and games. If you’re coming in the warm parts of spring or fall, and especially in summer, you can enjoy an area devoted to fun and silly lawn games, as well as oft-scheduled outdoor events.
  • There are also kiosks, so you can grab a snack when you work up an appetite.
  • Speaking of food, I hope you have been trying some of the local cuisines. And if so, I suggest either Flour Bakery or Mike’s Pastry for a chance to try one of Boston’s most famous desserts: Boston Crème Pie.

The Lawn on D can be a lot of fun, but we still have other stops – so after a couple of hours, let’s head north for a different kind of museum – one on the water! You can walk or take the train. Either way will take about 15-20 minutes.

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

The Boston Tea Party at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston was an important event in American History. The Boston Tea Party was a political protest that occurred in 1773. American colonists, frustrated at Britain for imposing “taxation without representation,” dumped 342 chests of tea imported by the British East India Company into the harbor. This event was the first major act of defiance to British rule over the colonists and rallied American patriots across the 13 colonies to fight for independence.

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is one of the best places to go in 3 days
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Now you can visit the museum that’s been created to share artifacts and information about it – on a ship!

This is a fun stop, with interactive exhibits, actors playing out the scene, and even the chance to throw some tea overboard yourself. There is a café and gift shop on this restored ship that you can check out when you’re done. This stop takes about 1-2 hours.

Then it is time for another museum – a particular favorite of families, or for those of us who are kids at heart (about 25 minutes by train) – the Boston Children´s Museum.

The Boston Children’s Museum 

Created in 1909 by local science teachers, the Boston Children’s Museum is a fun, hands-on learning and playing environment popular for locals and tourists.

  • It is dedicated to providing new resources for teachers and students to exchange materials and ideas to advance teaching. The focus is on science, culture, environmental awareness, health & fitness, and the arts.
  • There are tons of exhibits, and the educational aspects are perfectly complemented by the fun of digging in and doing a wide variety of activities. 
  • Check out the sculpture on the first floor that children can safely climb – up 3 floors!
  • This is a great place for families, as it’s clean, safe, and well-run.
  • It’s also a lot of fun, especially if visiting in the winter to warm up.

Our last stop for Day 3 is the picturesque Harborwalk, located about 30 minutes north and across the water.

Harborwalk

If you’ve had dinner, this is a great place for an after-meal walk. The waterfront skirts along the edges of piers, wharves, beaches, and the shoreline.

Boston Skyline from Downtown Harborwalk
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The Harborwalk is actually in the process of being expanded, and once done, it will be almost 46 miles long in total. But for now, enjoy the walk, the views, and the art that is placed throughout.

  • Particularly on a warm summer evening, this is the place to go.
  • Join other locals and tourists, from families to couples to singles, who are enjoying some fresh sea air and exercise while taking in some lovely areas of the city that you haven’t yet seen.

Take in a sunset or see the glitter of the city lights from this new vantage point. This is a lovely way to end your visit to the city of Boston.

MORE THINGS TO ADD TO YOUR BOSTON ITINERARY

Another interesting place to visit in 3 days could be the world-famous Harvard University.

Who hasn’t heard of this iconic university? If you are interested in spending time on the campus, you could easily visit yourself – it is quite close to the city center – or you could do guided tours to learn more about this special university.

CONCLUSION: HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN BOSTON

I hope this 3-day Boston itinerary has given you a good idea of where to go and what to do.

There is a lot of history and fun to be had in this popular American city, and 3 days in Boston may not be enough to see it all, but this list gives you the highlights and will hopefully enable you to plan your own exciting Boston trip soon.

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

Best Outdoor Places in the USA to Visit

Best outdoor places to visit in the USA

BEST OUTDOOR PLACES TO VISIT IN THE US – PERFECT PLACE FOR NATURE LOVERS

The US has some amazing cities and towns – that is for sure. But the US also has amazing national parks and beaches that have to be on your itinerary.

While it is almost impossible to see all of the 58 US National Parks and the endless amount of stunning beaches, this post introduces you to some of the most amazing places in the USA – so be prepared to find out about the best outdoor places in the USA to visit.

With one post on the most beautiful cities and towns in the US, this post only covers nature lovers’ most beautiful places.

Grand Canyon in Arizona

Recommended by Arzo from Arzo Travels

Grand Canyon @shutterstock
Grand Canyon @shutterstock

Outside the US, the Grand Canyon is probably the most famous national park. After visiting myself on a day trip from Las Vegas, I can clearly see why this place is so popular amongst foreigners and locals.

Ideally located for people who like to escape Las Vegas’s craziness, the Grand Canyon makes a wonderful day trip – though, you will only see a small fraction of this giant national park located in Arizona.

There are plenty of things to do – hiking and cycling (depending on the weather), rafting, and enjoying the amazing views are just a few options that you have. While you basically have these views from everywhere, there are some special viewpoints: the Grand Canyon Skywalk is extremely popular among visitors, though less popular among the Native tribes that live there.

So, while I think that the Grand Canyon was an amazing part of my US trip, it is important to remember to be careful where you go and where you leave your garbage – this applies to all the places you go, but it is even more important with parks and beaches.

Sequoia National Park in California

Recommended by Kirsty from Travel With Meraki

Sequoia National Park packs a punch. The world’s largest tree to granite rocks towering above the wilderness, amazing wildlife, and magic underground crystal caves.

With so many things to pick from to do in the park, one of our favorites was standing next to the largest living sequoia. The General Sherman Tree makes you realize just how small we are in the scale of things. Over 11 meters in diameter and 83 meters tall, this 2000+-year-old tree is hard to get into just one photograph!

If seeing this huge tree has given you a taste for sequoias, The Giant Forest’s Big Trees Trail should be your next stop. Wandering amongst these regal giants seems to give you a sense of peace, and you can see visitors often finish this walk in total silence, just soaking in the views and atmosphere.

After seeing the National Park from the first floor, you need to head up Moro Rock to see its vast scale from above. The 350 steps leading up this huge granite dome are no small feat, but the view from the very top is definitely worth the climb.

We left Sequoia National Park with a little bit of enchantment in our hearts after walking amongst giants, seeing a mama bear and her two cubs, and relaxing amongst wilderness at Silver City Mountain Resort. 

Glacier National Park in Montana

Recommended by Nathalie from Unbridled

If you ever plan a road trip through the North of the U.S., you should definitely hit the Glacier National Park.

My favorite of all places in the U.S. Montana’s only National Park is a playground for hikers and outdoor junkies. It has many stunning trails for day hikes and trekking, crystal-clear lakes for kayaking, and remote areas for relaxation. You can fully disconnect from your stressful life because cell phone service is non-existent.

My favorite hike was the Highline Trail, which offers incredible views of the mountains and valleys. Kintla Lake is another fantastic place in the very North of the park. It is tranquil because it is far away from the visitor center and only available by dirt road.

If you are like me, you will be camping. The campsites are very popular, so you should reserve your site before you go or get up extremely early so that you can get one of the precious spots at Lake McDonald or Rising Sun.

Glacier National Park is one of the few places in the U.S. with the clearest night sky. On cloudless nights, you get to enjoy the impressive milky way that will appear over your head. There are even stargazing gatherings with telescopes in summer.

Divine nature and remoteness make Glacier National Park the best place to visit in the U.S.

Joshua Tree National Park in California

Recommended by Marta from Learning Escapes

Joshua Tree National Park is a wondrous place.

Here, two desert systems meet the Colorado desert, which lies in the park’s Eastern part. The Mojave desert, which is higher in elevation, has distinctive traits such as giant smooth boulders and the famous Joshua trees that park its name.

The Joshua Trees are unique to this area and were named Mormon settlers who thought they looked like the prophet Joshua with his arms stretched towards the heavens.

You can visit Joshua Tree National Park all year round, and the best activity here is hiking: there are paths for all levels of ability, and the views are spectacular!

If you love camping, campsites are available in the park but make sure you are prepared for the weather as, especially in summer, the heat is intense!

Joshua Tree can be visited in a relatively short period of time, and it is even possible to get a sense of the beauty of the park driving through it.

The park has many sites of interest, such as Skull Rock and the Cholla Cactus garden. What is special here is the vast desert landscape with the evocative Joshua trees, giving the park a distinctive otherworldly and unique appearance.

Volcano National Park in Hawaii

Recommended by LC Hunter from Birdgehl

The Big Island of Hawai’i doesn’t see nearly as many visitors as the other Hawaiian islands of Oahu or Maui. This is silly because the island has something the others don’t – Hawai’i Volcano National Park, which makes a trip there worth it, alone.

The island comprises five volcanoes – Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea. Three are considered active, with Kilauea erupting continually since 1983.

Entry to the National Park is $25, and a pass will last you a full seven days. On entry, you can see steam vents, walk through lava tubes, visit both an observatory and museum, or check out the action at the Volcano’s summit.

Best of all, the park is open 24/7. You can rock up any time of the day and night. I’d advise arriving about an hour before sunrise – there’ll be fewer people there (only the very dedicated), and it sure is a sight to see the glow of the volcano against the backdrop of millions of stars. It’s somehow even more impressive than witnessing it in the light of the rising sun.

You can also ride a bike or walk from the town of Kalapana to the ocean’s edge, where if you’re lucky, you’ll see lava fields flowing straight into the water. Try to arrive an hour before sunset to scope out a decent spot.

The park is a two-hour drive from the city of Kona and around forty minutes from Hilo. You can also stay onsite within the park, but accommodation is generally cheaper in either of the island’s two big cities.“

Finger Lakes in New York

Recommended by Sky from Sky Vs. World

When traveling through the East Coast of the United States, the Finger Lakes region of New York is a must-visit.

The area is known for several long, thin lakes that resemble “fingers” and is one of the best wine regions in the country. The Finger Lakes encompasses around 9,000 square miles and many small towns and a few larger cities, like Ithaca and Corning. Besides wineries, the region is also known for beautiful hikes and waterfalls at state parks.

Ithaca is home to Cornell University, one of the best universities in the country, and the Buttermilk State Falls. The Buttermilk Falls are absolutely stunning when there’s been rain, though the hike to the top is considered strenuous.

Watkins Glen is another area with many beautiful waterfalls and cute towns. Wineries can be found all around the lakes, with wine trails set up on Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake. For those looking for a little more, Seneca Falls is a quaint historic town known as the Women’s Rights Movement’s birthplace.

The museum there is definitely worth checking out! Overall, you really can’t go wrong with a visit to the Finger Lakes, whether you want to sip on wine, take a hike, or enjoy small-town New York!

Yosemite National Park in California

Recommended by Taiss from Together To Wherever

National Parks in the United States are some of the most amazing places to visit in the world.

We may be a bit biased as Californians, but we’d say that Yosemite is the absolute best of all to visit. The natural beauty alone is more than mind-blowing, even if you’ve already seen pictures of this place. The awe-inspiring sights at Yosemite National Park provide a backdrop to any vacation one may choose.

There are plenty of adventures to be had, such as epic hikes on Half Dome, as well as checking out several viewpoints like the famous Glacier Point, along with chasing some of the waterfalls that are dotted all around the park. Yosemite offers tremendous value to visitors on any budget.

Getting around the park is easy and free with the buses provided there, and the park entry is good for up to three days. There are various options for accommodations ranging from renting a campsite and pitching your own tent to motels, bed, and breakfasts or renting cabins.

However, park visitors can also enjoy some luxury amidst the raw natural experiences by staying at a high-end hotel-like Tenaya Lodge. The luxury accommodations there include a spa, steam and sauna rooms, as well as several pools.

So, whether you are into camping or glamping or you want to see some stunning landscapes, courtesy of mother nature, Yosemite National Park should be high on your list of must-see places in the US.

Naples Beach in Florida

Recommended by Lori from Travlinmad

Soft white sand? Check! Crystalline blue water? Check! Warm enough to swim year-round? Check, check, and check! Welcome to Naples, Florida.

Located in the subtropical southwest corner of the state on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, the summers here are hot and humid, while the winters offer perfect warm temperatures and little to no rain.

And although there’s the typical great shopping, dining, and cool arts scene here, perhaps the biggest draw to Naples are the spectacular beaches – after all, what better to do than relax at the beach with more than 300 sunny days a year!

There are several great ones to head to – from a family-friendly and dog-friendly -, but Barefoot Beach Preserve tops the list for one of Naples’s best beaches. With a secluded location, natural dunes, and nice wide beaches, the Preserve is 342 acres of natural land and one of the last undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s southwest coast.

You could hardly be blamed for spending the entire day here relaxing in paradise. And the icing on the cake is one that kids of all ages will love — Barefoot Beach Preserve has some of the most spectacular shelling in the world, where little gifts from the sea wash ashore against your ankles.

Just be sure and return the live shells to the sea!

Redwood National Park in California

Recommended by Sam from Alternative Travelers

The United States’ wilderness is one of the country’s biggest assets and visiting the Redwood National and State Parks in California is a must-see for travelers to the U.S. West Coast.

This is one of the only places in the world where you can stand in the presence of such massive and humbling trees. In fact, the tallest measured tree in the world, named Hyperion, is located within the Redwood National Park.

Wandering among the trees truly feels like entering another world as the unique redwood coastal ecosystem is home to several rare species. The Redwood National and State Parks are now a protected UNESCO World Heritage site and an International Biosphere Reserve.

The best way to experience these magnificent trees is to take any of the numerous hikes with varying levels of accessibility. While camping is restricted to backcountry camping in the national parks, state parks have more accessible campsites that allow visitors to spend a few nights under the canopy of the redwoods.

There are many scenic drives through the forest, such as the Avenue of the Giants or Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, for those who cannot or do not want to hike or camp.

Visiting the redwoods is a great stop on a West Coast road trip, or even a few days trips from San Francisco. The state of California alone has nine national parks, so if you plan on visiting a few, make sure to grab a yearly parks pass, as it will save you tons of money! You can buy them at any park, and you can even pick up a park’s passport too so that you can collect stamps at each park that you visit.

Sanibel Island in Florida

Recommended by Bret from Green Global Travel

Located on Florida’s gulf coast, just minutes from Fort Myers, Sanibel Island offers Florida’s nostalgic taste as it was 40-50 years ago.

Visitors may get the feeling of having stumbled onto their own private paradise. Neon, stoplights, and fast-food restaurants are prohibited (except for a Dairy Queen built before 1974). Businesses are prohibited from using gaudy colors or building taller than the tallest palm tree. Homes must be built a certain distance from the shore. These are just a few of the reasons Sanibel has kept me coming back over and over again since my first visit in the early ’90s.

Sanibel is a barrier island created by nature to buffer the mainland from the elements via native palm and mangrove trees. Its gorgeous white sand beaches are consistently ranked among the world’s finest, lined with sea grape and sea oats that lend themselves to striking sunrise/sunset photography.

Sanibel is also widely considered the #1 shelling beach in the world: Take a stroll along it, and you’ll see many people searching in a position known as the “Sanibel stoop.”

The island is a haven for nature lovers, thanks to the 5,200-acre J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which protects one of the country’s largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystems.

Hiking, biking, or driving through the refuge is a must, revealing wildlife ranging from raccoons and alligators to a world-renowned assortment of birds that includes herons, egrets, and the fluorescent pink Roseate Spoonbills. We recommend taking a naturalist-led kayaking tour in Tarpon Bay, which was voted one of the Top 10 places to paddle in the nation by Canoe & Kayak magazine.

From learning about marine conservation at Sanibel Sea School and mollusks at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum to fishing for tarpon and Sea Trout just offshore, this quiet little island offers a surprising array of attractions and activities. The only problem is, after visiting once, you may find yourself wishing you could call it home!

Antelope Canyon in Arizona

Recommended by Christine from The Traveling Pinoys

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in the Navajo Nation – a native American Indian territory that covers three states: Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in the Navajo Nation – a native American Indian territory that covers three states: Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.

The Canyon has 2 separated sections: the Upper Antelope Canyon and the Lower Antelope Canyon. Both sections offer amazing landscapes, and the only differences are the cost, your own mobility, and the crowd.

Upper Antelope Canyon is more expensive and popular – hence it is more crowded. However, it offers more dramatic views because of the light beams from the slots. The trail is also easier.

While the lower canyon offers a more secluded tour and less expensive, the trail can be quite tricky. Antelope is also a decent drive away from Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, and Grand Canyon, making it ideal if you want to do an epic road trip in Arizona. If you are a photographer, it will give you one of the best photo sessions you won’t forget.

It gives you the feeling of being in a different world – with its unique landscape that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

Fairbanks in Alaska

Recommended by Rebecca from Tattling Tourist

Fairbanks, Alaska is one of the top destinations to visit in the USA because of its offers.

It is best to start a visit here with a trip downtown and to the museum to learn about the town’s gold rush history.

Then, enjoy one of the many tours offered in the area. Earn bragging rights as you cross the Arctic Circle while touring the Ice Road Trucker’s Dalton Highway. Keep your eyes open for wildlife as you make your way on the 2-hour journey to see the highest peak in North America, Denali.

Head to Chena Hot Springs, where you can relax after visiting the nearby Aurora Ice Museum, the largest year-round ice museum in the world. Get a close-up of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline on the way back into town.

It is easy to enjoy Fairbanks no matter what time of year you visit.

Enjoy long summer days spent hiking, fishing, panning for gold, or enjoying a festival. In the winter, despite the short days, there are many activities to keep you busy, such as dog-sled tours, ice fishing, skiing, a visit to the Santa Claus House in the North Pole, and viewing the Northern Lights. Fairbanks, Alaska, is a town full of history and activities to keep you busy year-round.

Tip: It is recommended to stay in the downtown Fairbanks area since everything is within walking distance.

This is convenient in the winter as some hotels, such as the Springhill Suites by Marriott, provide free pick up and drop off at the airport. With all the tours that offer pick-up service, driving on the snow-covered roads in a rental car is unnecessary.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park in N. Carolina and Tennessee

Recommended by Ashley from A Southern Gypsy

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of my favorite places in the entire world. It consists of large portions of Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina in the United States.

Being from Tennessee, I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Smokies often, and they always blow me away by their beauty. This national park is the most visited national park in the US, and for a good reason.

Some of my favorite things to do include driving and hiking the 11-mile Cades Cove loop for the best black bear sightings, seeing the synchronous fireflies in June (one of only two places in the world to see them), spotting elk in the Cataloochee Valley, exploring the ghost town of Elkmont and all the hiking you could ever want.

The Smokies offer a little something for everyone and is a spot that should not be missed in the United States.  Many people come to this area for Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge but forget about the amazing outdoors right at their backdoor.

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Recommended by Ljojlo from The Traveller’s Guide

Yellowstone National Park is a volcanic wonderland located mainly in Wyoming, with small sections sprawling into Montana and Idaho.

This place is special because it is the first recognized National Park in the USA, but it is full of wildlife and spectacular geothermal activity. There are countless areas of Yellowstone to explore however are dependent on the time of year because, during the winter, much of the park is closed.

Spectacular spots not to be missed include Yellowstone Lake, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. Yellowstone Lake took my breath away because, in the middle of April, it was still frozen.

Being from Australia, seeing a frozen lake doesn’t happen ever, so seeing this was magical. Mammoth Hot Springs is a sight to be witnessed by all. The colors and the features can’t be described but must be seen. So, do yourself a favor and visit.

Lucky last on my top three was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. As the name suggests, this is an impressive canyon topped off with a raging waterfall. Other spots to be noted are Old Faithful, a cone geyser always waiting to excite onlookers, and finally getting a campsite and staying in the park.

Without a doubt enjoying the park from the comfort of our RV was undoubtedly a highlight.

Yellowstone National Park is a must-see purely because I have seen nothing like it and nothing quite as spectacular, except maybe Antarctica, but that is another story.

Big Sur in California

Recommended by Sierra from Passport Voyager

One of my favorite places in the entire world is Big Sur, California.

I grew up in Monterey, about 40 minutes north of Big Sur, and visited regularly. The Big Sur coastline boasts incredible natural beauty and many iconic sights, including McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Beach, Garapatta State Park, and Bixby Creek Bridge.

Stopping on the drive up or down the coast to visit any of these spots is a great way to break up the trip! Another beautiful viewpoint is at the famous Nepenthe Restaurant, which offers lots of delicious food (including vegetarian and vegan options), as well as a gorgeous view down the coastline from their upper deck.

If you’re on a budget, try eating at Cafe Kevah downstairs, which has a slightly more affordable menu.

Hiking through the beautiful state parks and spending time on the iconic beaches are two of the more classic Big Sur activities, but there are lots of other options as well! For a truly magical experience, I recommend staying at Deetjen’s Inn (or just grabbing a meal there if you can)!

This inn is made up of a set of rustic cabins set back in the Redwood forest of Big Sur and will provide a cozy experience no matter how long you stay. Big Sur is a must-see location because of its unique, exceptional natural beauty and local charm and a perfect addition to your California itinerary.

Bryce Canyon in Utah

Recommended by Danielle from Like Riding a Bicycle

Everyone thinks the best of this area is the Grand Canyon, and while stunning, to me at least, it didn’t hold a candle to Bryce Canyon.

Located in southern Utah, with beautiful canyons all around the area, Bryce Canyon has stunning rock formations that look like pillars coming out of the ground. You can drive up and see this amazing canyon from above, or go for a hike right down into it – and a much less strenuous hike than at the Grand Canyon, might I add!

It’s best to go during the daytime, of course, so that you can see it all, but I highly recommend early morning, as watching the sunrise above the canyon is spectacular. The canyon is huge, and while we did one hike down into it, there are many different options, so if you’re lucky, you’ll rarely see another person or can take a quick break to separate yourself from the rest.

I always prefer hikes that are along (or just with my group), so it’s wonderful that this is so much less crowded than the Grand Canyon. Bryce Canyon is an essential place to go to if you find yourself in Utah – believe me. You’ll be sorry if you don’t!

Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan

Recommended by Natasha from The World Pursuit

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park in Northern Michigan covers over 35 miles of beautiful and almost untouched coastline.

When you visit, the water is so blue. You would think you are in the Caribbean.  It’s the perfect place to visit in Michigan to relax and be at one with nature. There are some beautiful and historic hotels in the area, or you can take a campervan.

The whole area is great for hiking, canoeing, and being out on the water, especially in June, July!

Some ideal things to do there are to venture out on a Dune Climb, take in the stunning overlooks as at Pyramid Point, and stop off for an ice cream ice-cream cone in Leelanau County.

In the heart of winter, the whole area turns into a winter wonderland as well! In general Sleeping Bear Dunes is a great spot on any USA trip. It provides beautiful water, relaxing towns, and amazing forestry to vacation in.

 

Images: all images from shutterstock.com

FINAL THOUGHTS ON VISITING BEAUTIFUL OUTDOOR PLACES IN THE US

There are so many stunning places for nature lovers in the US. It would be impossible to add them all to this list. However, this list of beautiful places is pretty great to start exploring the best spots in the US.

For the best cities to visit in the US, check out my “best cities and towns to visit.”

What are your favorite places to visit in the US? Have we missed an awesome outdoor spot in the US? Let us know.

Safe Travels, Arzo

Categories USA

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