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Layover At LAX? How To Make The Most Of Your Time

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Siegfried Layda via Getty Images

Each day, thousands of Canadian travellers descend to the Los Angeles International Airport, the sixth busiest airport in the world, and third busiest in the United States, before embarking on the next leg of their journey. Layovers don't necessarily mean endless hours of waiting and mindlessly flipping the same magazine over and over again. In fact, a layover can mean an extra fun pit stop to your vacation, depending on how many hours you have.

We have put together our top recommendations if you find yourself landing in LAX for two hours or more, the hardest part about this layover will be saying goodbye and boarding the next flight to your final destination.

Two- to Three-Hour Layover

With two to three hours to spare, why not go on a culinary tour around the terminals at LAX? Inside the soon-to-be renovated terminal two, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse offers dishes from L.A.-based restaurant Hinoki and the Bird, known for its clean and healthy California cooking, specialty cocktails and fresh juices. Over at terminal four, try the Mexican creations at Border Grill, a restaurant inspired by famed Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Experience L.A.'s celebrity chefs just steps off the plane with ink.sack a creation by Top Chef winner, Michael Voltaggio.

Four- to Six-Hour Layover
Eager to put those toes in the sand? Some of L.A.'s best beaches are only a quick drive away from LAX, perfect if you want to soak up some sun before your next flight.

South Bay (five miles from LAX):
Known for its surfing waves, Manhattan Beach is regarded as the birthplace of beach volleyball. Explore the area via a self-guided walking tour itinerary, grab a cocktail at the Shade Hotel's Zinc@Shade or enjoy a meal at the stunning oceanfront restaurant, the Strand House.

Manhattan Beach Pier | Photo courtesy of Discover LA

Marina del Rey (10 miles from LAX):
This seaside community is one of the largest constructed small boat harbours in the world. Visitors can stroll through the quaint Fisherman's Village along the Marina or bike on the Marvin Braude coastal bike trail. For those who have some extra time, enjoy a sunset dining cruise aboard a Hornblower Cruise luxury yacht.

Venice Beach (10 miles from LAX):
Famous for its street art, boardwalk and creative California cuisine, this beach should be at the top of your must-visit list if you are stopping over in LAX for over four hours. Those seeking uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean should head to the High Rooftop Lounge at Hotel Erwin where they can enjoy a refreshing drink overlooking the horizon.

Santa Monica (15 miles from LAX):
This trendy waterfront has been named one of the Top 10 Beach Cities in the World by National Geographic. The iconic Santa Monica Pier is a must-see, with an amusement park, Ferris wheel and the Looff Hippodrome. The area also boasts the sleek outdoor Santa Monica Place and quaint boutiques along Main Street and Third Street Promenade.

Eight Hours or More

For travellers with layovers longer than eight hours, take advantage of Los Angeles's ever-improving public transit system. Take a car-free journey via the FlyAway bus service, which provides frequent non-stop transportation between LAX and locations throughout the city.

Downtown Los Angeles:
Get dropped off at Union Station and head straight to the historic Olvera Street, home to authentic Mexican restaurants, the new Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, street vendors and much more. Venture out a bit further and you'll find the city's newest contemporary art museum, the Broad, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and of course L.A.'s sports and entertainment district, the L.A. Live.

Downtown LA | Photo courtesy of Discover LA

For the hip and creative types, L.A.'s Arts District is a where you'll want to be. The area is filled with breweries, art murals and independent coffee shops and boutiques. Finally, enjoy the California views at the tallest open-air observation deck at OUE Skyspace LA or head to one of the many rooftop bars at either the Standard, Ace Hotel or Perch.

Perhaps the most famous district in L.A., this is a must-see for any first-time visitors. As the hub of the American film industry, you'll find several movie studios and theatres including the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX and Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards. Take pictures of the Hollywood Sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and then walk over to Madame Tussaud's wax showcase of celebrities. In the mood for a quick bite? New restaurant options in Hollywood include Paley., located at Columbia Square, the birthplace of the Golden Age of Hollywood, and the meat-centric Gwen by Chef Curtis Stone. Or, stick to tradition with Musso & Frank Grill, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood known for its killer martinis.

Overnight Layovers

For layovers that creep into the wee hours of the night, there are many cozy hotel options by the airport such as the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles. The hotel recently completed its second phase of multi-million-dollar renovation with sophisticated upgrades to their 802 guestrooms and suites as well as the hotel lobby area and Sheraton Club. Travellers who upgrade to the Sheraton Club have access to the lounge 24/7 and are provided with complimentary continental breakfast, evening hors d'oeuvres and panoramic views of LAX.

Sheraton LAX | Photo courtesy of

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