Before you start yelling at me, I understand that L.A. is large with a capital "L". There's no way to really capture everything there is to see in one day, but what you will find below is a great itinerary for your first, or next, trip to the City of Angels.
Follow along for a guaranteed great day:
10am: Order Avocado Everything
You're on vacation, so take your time rolling out of bed. Once you realize you made it home safe and sound last night, it's time to get some nutrients back in you to do it all over again. If you love avocados, California is your spot. Even Subway has fresh avocado and not the weird green paste from the plastic bag that out-of-staters have the pleasure of dealing with.
What to Do: Grab a "Bagel Boy" from New York Bagel & Deli in Santa Monica
11am: Hit. The. Beach.
California has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I would say take advantage of the gigantic coastline, but we only have a few hours to work with, so let's stay in Santa Monica right next to the pier.
What to Do: Jump in the water, soak in some Vitamin D, then get a post-beach (large) beer or two at Big Dean's just next to the pier.
3pm: Get Artsy at The Getty
If anybody in your group is into architecture, art, or flat out badass views, The Getty is an impressive site. The building itself is set atop a hill that you need to take a tram too. The museum is totally free to enter (just a small $15 parking fee due to California state parking regulations). If you need to get a snack prior to dinner, there are multiple cafes and restaurants too.
What to Do: Take the 45 minute architecture tour on how the center was built and view the van Gogh painting, "Irises". There are usually rotating expos that are worth a look as well.
6pm: Grab Dinner at Simmzy's in Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach Blvd. has all you could ever want from bars to restaurants. If you walk to the beach, be prepared to trek back up the hill on your way back. It's a doozy, especially with a stomach full of food and brew.
What to Do: Sit outside at Simmzy's and order a pale ale or sour beer from their rotating list. The servers know what they are talking about, so ask for their recommendation. The Simmzy's Burger and sweet potato fries are my menu items of choice.
8pm: Capture the Sunset
I don't care who you are or where you're from, sunsets never get old. The vista of the sun setting over the ocean is something you don't want to miss.
What to Do: Take photos from the strand or hop on the beach and capture the moment from a lifeguard station.
9pm: Hit Up Hermosa For the Night
Hermosa is known to party harder than Manhattan Beach, so while both have loads to do, Hermosa has your ideal recipe for a serious night out with your pals.
What to Do: Make your own mini bar crawl at spots like American Junkie, Sharkeez (above), and Patrick Molloy's.