I travel to Los Angeles for work a lot. Naturally, I never have time to explore LA during the week. So what I've started doing is either going one day early, or staying an extra day. As a result, I've compiled a plethora of one-day itineraries. These itineraries are also super easy to scale up or down. With LA traffic, you never know when you have to replace your stops with "sitting in traffic."
One more thing... no one walks in LA. No one takes public transportation in LA. Share rides (Uber, Lyft) are good options. Having a car is probably a better option.
(1) Chaumont Bakery might be my favorite croissant place in the U.S. It is super buttery, crispy, flaky... all the right words. I also always get a few (aka Baker's dozen) to bring back home. I wrap them up REALLY tightly in plastic wrap, then put them in an airtight freezer box, before I put them into the freezer.
(2) Chaumont is right on the edge of Beverly Hills / Rodeo Drive. If you want to shop, obviously go later in the day. The later you go, the more likely you will see famous people and Ferraris. I personally find shopping on Rodeo Drive a bit annoying. I don't buy that level of high-end stuff often, but when I do... you can get much better service from the other non-Beverly Hills boutiques in LA (can you blame them... the women next to you is drinking champagne because she just bought out the entire new season).
(3) Westwood is a nearby area to Beverly Hills. UCLA is located in Westwood, so you know there's plenty of food options. But unlike other college campuses, Westwood also has plenty of really good food NOT catered to college student. Kazunori is one of my favorite. Kazunori is a hand-roll bar. What does that mean? Basically imagine going to a bar for cocktails... but instead of cocktails, you get handrolls with crispy nori (seaweed), soft fluffy rice, and a lot of fish / crab / lobster. And basically it works exactly the same as rounds of cocktails. Once you finish one, they'll bring you another. You order their set menus (3, 4, 5, or 6 pre-selected rolls) or you can order them a la carte. Here's my go-to order: 4 roll set (Toro, Yellowtail, Sea Bream, Crab) plus 1. I always add the 1 at the very end - because I never know what I'm feeling that day. More often than not - I'm going with the salmon or doubling down on the toro. After lunch - there are plenty shops around the Westwood area, and you can always head into the campus to check out their architecture.
(4) The Getty is (in my opinion) the best museum in LA. You can spend the entire day here between the museum and the gardens. Admission to both are free - time admission tickets are required for the gardens. The Getty also has one of the best online museums, so if you want, you most certainly can do some exploring and planning before your visit. You can also eat there as well if you'd like: full-service dining room (make reservations!), a cafeteria, and an outdoor cafe. There's also a picnic area. Regardless of how you plan your day there... make sure you spend time to check out Richard Meier's awesome architecture itself!
(5) There are two kinds of people in the world - the kind that can spend an afternoon on the Santa Monica Pier and those that will do one quick end-to-midway walk through and then walk away (there might be a third kind - LA residents who won't even come close to the pier). I'll let you decide which one you are: The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most-filmed locations in Los Angeles and has starred in hundreds of movies, music videos, commercials, and TV shows. The Pier offers storytellers a unique landscape with sweeping ocean views, wide, sandy beaches, plus an amusement park and classic boardwalk midway. The hidden gem of the Pier, Heal the Bay’s public marine-education center is hands-on fun tucked just underneath the historic Carousel building.
(6) The better places to eat in LA are never the main streets (this is probably broadly true of all major cities). Tar & Roses is a great option! Tar & Roses is chef Andrew Kirschner's highly lauded flagship restaurant in Santa Monica, where he has crafted the menu around a wood-burning oven. Flavors are globally inspired and locally sourced. There are plenty of great dishes to choose from - the whole fried snapper, the signature popped corn, oxtail dumplings, and crispy pig tails. Most of the dishes are small plates - so order as much as you like!
(7) & (8) You can’t be by the LA beach and not sit down for a drink outside. Plus, there is no better way to enjoy watching the LA scene than breathing in the beach air. I am going to get so much flak from my friends for recommending this... but go to the Bungalow. It is everything I imagine an LA bar to be. There are good drinks, the food is decent. There’s indoor and outdoor space. Everyone is dressed casually... but clearly has put a lot of effort into looking casual. I’ve never had a bad time there... but maybe I just don’t remember it.
The Oynx Bar inside the Shangri La hotel is another great option. Why should you trust me... because three friends have introduced me to this bar on 3 separate occasions (of ALL bars in LA). It’s a rooftop bar, there are firepits set up outside. Sit back, with cocktail in hand, and enjoy the ocean air.