For the first time in a decade, Royal Caribbean is heading back to Los Angeles. The amped-up Navigator of the Seas is now sailing from the City of Angels, and there are plenty of reasons it makes for the ultimate short getaway: Easy three-, four- and five-night cruises, visits to beautiful destinations, like Catalina Island, California and Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; and a variety of experiences and activities on board for non-stop adventure and relaxation.
As a bonus: When you cruise from L.A., it’s no sweat to extend your vacation so that you can spend more time soaking up every drop of that California sunshine. Explore the city before your cruise or opt for a convenient shore excursion that hits all the top sights right before heading back home.
We’ve put together the ultimate guide to enjoy what this city has to offer, from hot dining spots and soothing spas to picturesque bike trails and iconic cultural sights.
Here are some of the best things to do in L.A. before or after your Royal Caribbean cruise vacation:
If you want to try a new dish …
Time it takes: 1 hour
Recommendation: Be adventurous.
L.A. is known for its incredible restaurants, but many foodies prefer scoping out the sidewalks rather than the scene of “being seen” at fine dining establishments. The city famous for putting food trucks on the map even has the locals making U-turns for Yess Aquatic and its inventive seafood menu that offers options from fish and chips to a sashimi salad. Other popular food trucks to try are The Tropic Truck (don’t miss the lobster nachos), Hustle N Dough for coffee and a sweet treat, and Dogtown Dogs for gourmet hot dogs.
The Sweet Escape
Time it takes: 1 hour
Recommendation: Bring your sweet tooth.
If you pine for homemade baked goods or want an indulgent treat for breakfast, Cake Monkey Bakery has what you crave. From mini and full-size layer cakes to modern twists on retro snack treats, like inside-out s’mores and gourmet toaster pastries, this sweet spot redefines the dessert table. There are even vegan and gluten-free options, complete with a full coffee menu. You’ll also be just a five-minute drive from other top attractions like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and The Grove, a popular shopping and dining area.
Dine Around the World
Time it takes: 3 hours
Recommendation: Wear walking shoes.
From vegan Thai and Korean-Mexican fusion to Persian and barbecue, L.A.’s varied food lineup is one of its biggest draws. To sample the best of this sprawling city’s culinary scene, make sure a food stall tour of DTLA’s (that’s downtown L.A.) iconic Grand Central Market is on your to-do list. Stop at Ana Maria for tacos, Knead for freshly made pasta, Shiku for Korean or Golden Road Brewing for craft beers.
If you want to experience the culture …
Time it takes: 5 hours
Recommendation: Bring your camera for a selfie.
If you haven’t stepped on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, peeked into Rodeo Drive storefront windows, walked the University of Southern California’s storied campus or shopped at Olvera Street marketplace—have you really been to L.A.? If you only have so much time before you head home after your cruise, take this sightseeing adventure to maximize what the city has to offer.
Mountains, Canyons and Museums, Oh My!
Time it takes: 4 hours
Recommendation: Take the DASH Observatory/Los Feliz shuttle.
Get a feel for Golden State terrain at Griffith Park, one of the country’s largest municipal parks with urban wilderness areas. The park’s elevation ranges from 384 to 1,625 feet above sea level, which means the landscape varies drastically from arid desert to coastal woodlands. You’ll also find camera-ready skyline views between visits to the Griffith Observatory, Greek Theatre and Autry Museum of the American West, which are all within the park.
Hit the High Notes
Time it takes: 4 hours
Recommendation: Listen and learn.
Calling all music lovers! Wander the halls of the GRAMMY Museum, a monument to music’s rich history, to explore the enduring legacies of Grammy Award-winning musicians. Enjoy interactive exhibits where you can see iconic looks worn on the Grammy Red Carpet, learn about the history of Latin music and discover how different music genres are all connected.
Editor’s note: Royal Caribbean has worked to fund music education with the GRAMMY Museum Signature Schools program since its ship, Symphony of the Seas, first set sail in 2018.
If you’re seeking adventure …
Put the Pedal to the Path
Time it takes: Set your pace on this 6-mile ride.
Recommendation: Enjoy the views.
Renting a bike to ride along the waterfront path from Santa Monica to Venice, aka The Strand, offers the best beachy vibes you could ask for and more. This route serves up the quintessential L.A. vibe, with all the people-watching, street performers, beautiful beaches and stunning sunsets along the way. You’re also sure to spot some skateboarders catching air at Venice Skatepark.
Time it takes: 1.5 hours
Recommendation: Hang 10 or have fun trying.
After you crest the curl on FlowRider on board Navigator, our signature surf simulator, test your skills on the open water. Surfers of all levels can catch a wave by taking a surf lesson with Malibu Surf Shack at Surfrider Beach, one of the world’s most famous surf breaks.
Pro tip: For those who prefer paddle sports, the company also offers kayak and SUP tours.
Head for the Hills
Time it takes: Go at your own pace.
Recommendation: Bring plenty of water.
There are few better ways to enjoy the iconic Hollywood sign than catching various views of it unfold as you hike the Santa Monica Mountains. The route options vary in difficulty, with the shortest option just 3 miles round trip. Adventurous hikers can opt for a steeper path that sets the stage for sweeping views of San Fernando Valley, known locally as The Valley.
If you crave relaxation …
Living, and Lounging, la Dolce Vita
Time it takes: Open 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Recommendation: Don’t forget your sunscreen.
The Hollywood Roosevelt is a part of silver screen history, with stars like Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable even once calling the hotel home. Now, you can try to catch sightings of A-list celebrities while lounging among palm trees at the David Hockney-designed pool when you book a day pass via ResortPass.
Time it takes: Treatments range from 30 minutes to 5 hours.
Recommendation: Splurge on a pampering session.
When in L.A., make like the celebrities do and book a rejuvenating spa day at La Prairie Spa at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. The Forbes Five-Star spot offers everything from caviar massages to manicures and firming facials.
Moments of Zen
Time it takes: It’s up to you.
Recommendation: Watch a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Tucked in among the 130 acres of gardens at The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, you’ll find the Japanese Garden. More than 100 years old, this verdant and calming oasis is teeming with fragrant blossoms, koi-filled ponds and even a picturesque moon bridge. You can also find tranquility here among the books in the library, admiring the art or roaming the rest of the gardens.
Find more inspiration here for a cruise from the City of Angels on Navigator of the Seas.