How to Spend A Weekend In LA With a Teen

So far, the trips I have taken have either been solo or with friends in my age group. This past weekend, I did something I’ve never done before, TRAVEL WITH A TEENAGER.

For her 16th birthday, my lovely niece expressed that her wish was to spend some time with her aunt in LA. How could anyone refuse? We picked a weekend that didn’t directly clash with her school schedule or mine, made some calls, booked some flights, and then we were off!

While I saw this as an opportunity to bond with my niece, I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth I could do with a teenager for 3 days. Technically, I’m considered to be in my “late-twenties”, she’s right on the cusp of adulthood. She grew up on Youtube and memes, I grew up on Barbies and Hot Toys. She’s a Snapchat and Twitter guru, I have to pay for courses on how to utilize Snapchat and Twitter for this blog 😐.

To add another element of challenge, we both agreed NOT to go to amusement parks and to simply explore what LA had to offer. Fortunately for us, Los Angeles is hub for foodies, beach-combers, art enthusiasts, and photography junkies alike. With all that LA has to offer, we put together an itinerary of ultra-fun teen friendly LA activities!

Take photos!

Teens love taking photos and checking in to places. There were plenty of picturesque landmarks, art installations, and foodie hotspots throughout LA. Between the museums and unique landscapes, art projects and installations scatter across the city.

LACMA and the Urban Lights

Scattered art installations around Hollywood and Downtown LA

@Goldenangel in Hollywood
Baked at @mrholmesbakehouse



LA is a culinary haven at almost every corner you turn. While we had set spots to target, most of the places we ate were simply at the right corner at the right time.

Desserts at Mr. Holmes Bakeshop + Coolhaus

Green tea croissant and bacon-date croissant
Coolhause ice-cream!
Delicious fusion ice-cream @drips_swirls
24-hour Korean food @BCDTofu
Burgers and fries @Umamiburger
Go to the Beach

Being from Seattle (where the sun makes rare glimpses throughout the year), we were most excited for beach day. Be prepared to set a whole day aside to explore the endless beaches and fun shops in LA. We started our beach day in Downtown Santa Monica shopping for sunglasses, then spent the rest of the day strolling through the downtown promenade to the Santa Monica Pier and beaches.

Santa Monica Pier Amusement Park

Santa Monica Pier is a family-fun boardwalk filled with vendors, entertainers, restaurants, and rides. Make it a goal to at least walk to the end of the boardwalk and see the sights. On the day we visited, we were greeted by a happy seal!

Hi happy seal!

From the pier, you can continue walking south down Santa Monica Beach into Venice Beach. Venice Beach is characterized by the vibrant street performers and colorful street art. While here, don’t miss the muscles at Muscle Beach!

Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Boulevard, and the Hollywood Sign

Of course, no trip to California is complete without a trip through Hollywood. Being urban dwellers and nature lovers, we were able to get the best of both worlds in Hollywood. We started our Sunday early by going up to the Griffith Observatory. This wonderful and FREE visit gave us the opportunity to feel small under the stars.

Griffith Observatory, free to climb on and in!
Feel small yet?


From there, we decided that we needed to be closer to the stars and made plans to hike up to the Hollywood sign. It’s a surprisingly challenging nature hike that offers stunning views across Hollywood to Downtown LA. Be sure to set aside at least 3 hours if you plan to go on this 5 mile round-trip hike.

We finally ended our day at Hollywood Boulevard, where the rich and the famous mingle at star-studded events. This day in particular didn’t have any events, but it was still fun to walk through the Walk of Fame and see the sights.

Marilyn in Hollywood

While we ate and explored what LA had to offer on land and sea, the highlight of my trip had to be sharing my love for travel with my niece. She got first hand experience in understanding all the work that goes into planning and executing trip, but beyond this, I was able to show her that its the moments in between the destinations that matter most. Whether it was sharing ice-cream while waiting 2 hours at the airport for our car, relaxing in our AirBnB chaise lounge after a long day, or learning chess from the chessmaster at Chess Park in Venice Beach, we learned that its not about the places we’ve gone, but who we are with that makes the trip so much more special.



Happy Travels!

Diana Ratana

4 thoughts on “How to Spend A Weekend In LA With a Teen

  1. I think any teen would enjoy LA. There are just so many fun things to do, especially if it involves the beach. Looks like the two of you had a full and enjoyable visit!

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