You’ve just flown back from New Zealand and you’re on your way to Chicago. After the 15-hour flight the last thing you’re going to want to do is hang out in LAX for the next 8 hours until your domestic flight takes off. You could take a cab to the beach for a bit or take the subway and bus to the Hollywood sign, for a crazy adventure in LA. While you won’t be able to see all of LA on your layover, there are many things you can do that are close by and worth the hassle of going back through security. 

Rent a car: Cheaper than you think, especially if you book a head of time, renting a car is your easiest way to get around the city quickly. LA isn’t known for having the best public transportation and getting to the main subway line is an hour bus ride from the airport. Repeat after me: Just don’t do it! 

Head to the Beach: Venice Beach, Marina del Rey and Santa Monica are all only ten miles away from LAX and offer a combination of unique and tourist activities for families or couples. If you are with a big family, park in Venice Beach and wander up the boardwalk for the quintessential Venice Beach experience, complete with Muscle beach, Baywatch lifeguard towers and hippies. If you want a more refined experience, head a little further north for food and drinks on Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade. Here, you’ll find great shopping and more than a few places to grab a margarita and tacos while watching the sunset over the Pacific. If trendy shopping and potential celebrity sightings are more your thing, head to Abbott Kenney in Venice for cute boutiques and sidewalks full of hipsters. 

Head to the City: Give yourself an hour drive time each way to and from Hollywood, just in case traffic gets chaotic, and another couple of hours to explore Hollywood and Highland, the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Sign, the Chinese Theatre. While in the area, make sure to stop by Pink’s Hot Dogs or In and Out to try a classic California fast food. If you are a huge movie fan, plan a studio tour at Paramount Studios or walk around Hollywood Forever, a cemetery where a lot of famous actors are buried. If you have a longer layover, head up to Griffith Observatory for incredible views of the whole city. 

Eat: With almost 310 days of sunshine a year, make sure to pick a spot to eat that is outside seating. In Marina del Rey, try C&O Trattoria for their out of this world garlic knots and huge portions of pasta. In Santa Monica, try to go to Border Grille for their incredible happy hour menu and spicy margaritas. In Hollywood, order a big burger and sweet potato fries with a craft beer at Umami. In Venice, try a beer flight and a German sausage.