A perfect day in Los Angeles for Aeroplane Afficionados.
At Flitestar we love a bit of plane p*rn so on a brief visit to L.A recently I spent 24 hours indulging in a bit of aircraft fun.. Come along with me for some great pointers and resources for information...
You wake up to the sound of propellers whirring outside your window. Not a bad way to start the day in LA if you ask me. As an aeroplane enthusiast, a trip to the City of Angels isn't complete without embracing its storied aviation history. From witnessing gravity-defying stunts at an air show to strolling through aisles of historic aircraft, a perfect day discovering LA’s aeronautical wonders awaits.
The sun is shining and the sky is clear - ideal flying conditions. Fuel up on a breakfast burrito before heading to the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino. This massive hangar is home to over 150 vintage planes spanning the Golden Age of Aviation to modern marvels. After gawking at the aircraft and chatting with the pilots, catch an air show to see legendary planes soar and stunts that will make your heart leap into your throat.
With your need for speed satiated, head into West Hollywood for a stroll down memory lane along the Walk of Fame. Look for the stars dedicated to aviation greats like Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes. As the day winds down, watch the sunset paint colorful streaks across the sky from the Santa Monica Pier. The amber hues and faint propeller sounds in the distance are the perfect ending to your high-flying day. The City of Angels just earned its wings in your book.
Take a Tour of the Historic Santa Monica Airport
If you're an aviation enthusiast visiting LA, start your perfect day at the historic Santa Monica Airport. Opened in 1923, it's one of the oldest operating airports in the world.
Take a guided tour of the Museum of Flying located right at the airport. Open since 1979, they offer tours Wednesday through Sunday where you'll see vintage planes like an original DC-3 and learn about the airport's rich history.
Watch small planes take off and land as you grab breakfast or lunch at one of the airport diners like Spitfire Grill or Typhoon. The airport is still active, so you'll see lots of Cessna's and Pipers coming and going.
For a real thrill, book a helicopter tour with Luxury Helicopter Tours, the only company offering rides to Catalina Island right from Santa Monica Airport. Their state-of-the-art copters will give you an unparalleled view of the city and coastline.
As night falls, head to the airport's Observation Deck to watch the sunset over the runway. Then check out the neon-lit control tower and art deco architecture, glowing in the twilight.
With its rich history, active runways, helicopter tours, and vintage planes, Santa Monica Airport is an aeroplane aficionado's paradise.
Spend a day exploring all it has to offer—it will be a perfect day you'll never forget.
Visit the Museum of Flying at the Santa Monica Airport
If you can’t get enough of aviation history, you need to check out the Museum of Flying at the Santa Monica Airport. Originally opened as the Douglas Museum and Library in 1974, this little gem is a paradise for plane buffs.
The museum focuses heavily on Douglas Aircraft’s role in aviation and the history of the Santa Monica Airport. Douglas called the airport home for over 40 years and produced some of the most iconic aircraft of the 20th century there, including the DC-3 and DC-8. The museum is filled with artifacts, photos, models, and memorabilia related to Douglas and the golden age of flight.
Though the museum closed its doors in 2002, a group of dedicated aircraft enthusiasts reopened it in 2012 as the Museum of Flying. Today it’s a private non-profit museum and a must-see for anyone fascinated by aeronautics. Some of the highlights include:
•Vintage aircraft like the DC-3, DC-6, and DC-8 on display
•Artifacts from Donald Douglas’s original office
•An art gallery featuring famous aviation artists
•Flight simulators to test your pilot skills
•Kid-friendly exhibits and educational programs for budding aviators
The best part? Admission to the museum is free. If you only have one day in LA, make sure to schedule a stop at this little gem. Douglas may be gone, but their spirit of adventure and innovation lives on at the Museum of Flying.
Enjoy Lunch at the Santa Monica Airport With Views of the Runway
Lunch with a View
For aeroplane aficionados, there’s no better place for lunch than the historic Santa Monica Airport. Two restaurants right on the airfield offer unique dining experiences with unparalleled views of private planes taking off and landing.
If you prefer a sit-down meal, check out DC3, a restaurant and jazz bar that pays homage to the Douglas DC-3 aircraft. Their balcony overlooks the runway, so you’ll have front row seats to all the airfield action while enjoying a casual Californian menu. For dessert, the “Chocolate Airplane” with bourbon ice cream, chocolate wings, and an Oreo propeller is a must.
Other things to spot at KSMO (the airport’s call sign) include:
· Vintage planes from the Museum of Flying next door
· Celebrities arriving on private jets (this was a favorite airport of the Rat Pack!)
· Unique aircraft like the Boeing Business Jet or Pilatus PC-12
Whether you’re an avgeek (aviation geek) or just appreciate a memorable meal, the Santa Monica Airport offers a perfect blend of history, culture, cuisine, and aircraft in one compact location. Spending an afternoon spotting planes between bites of delicious food is the ideal way for any aeroplane aficionado to spend a day in LA.
Head to the Flight Path Learning Center & Museum
Once you’ve had your fill of propellers, it’s time to head to the Flight Path Learning Center & Museum. This unique aviation and aerospace museum is located right at LAX, so you can watch planes take off and land as you explore its exhibits.
Exhibits Showcase Aviation History
The museum showcases the history of commercial aviation, with a special focus on LAX and the airlines that have served it over the decades. Docents lead informative and entertaining tours, sharing stories about the early days of air travel. You’ll see historic photographs, artifacts like vintage flight attendant uniforms, and even get to board a retired DC-3 aircraft.
Hands-On Activities for All Ages
The Flight Path Learning Center offers interactive exhibits and simulations for both kids and adults. You can:
· Sit in a realistic modern aircraft cockpit
· Test your skills at landing a plane in a simulator
· Design your own aircraft and test how it flies
Little aeronauts will love the hands-on activities, crafts, and flight-themed play area. This makes the museum a great family-friendly attraction.
Panoramic Views of the Runways
Head up to the observation deck for a panoramic view of the runways at LAX. You’ll see planes taking off and landing from all the major airlines. It’s a perfect spot for aviation enthusiasts and photographers alike. You may even catch a glimpse of the latest jetliner models being tested.
The Flight Path Learning Center and Museum is a hidden gem for anyone fascinated by flight. You’ll discover the storied history of aviation in LA, get an up-close look at iconic aircraft, and maybe even inspire the next generation of pilots or engineers. It’s a perfect way to round out a day exploring the propellers and palm trees of Los Angeles.
End the Day Plane Spotting at LAX
End the Day Plane Spotting at LAX
As night falls over the city, make your way to LAX for some thrilling plane spotting. Head to the LAX Economy Parking garage, located right off Sepulveda Blvd. The top floor of this garage offers panoramic views of the southern runways, 24L and 24R, and is a prime viewing area for aviation enthusiasts.
You'll see planes taking off and landing every few minutes, from small commuter planes to the massive double-decker Airbus A380. LAX serves as a hub for major airlines like American, Delta, and United, so you're likely to spot aircraft from across their fleets. Keep an eye out for the Boeing 747 “Queen of the Skies”, as some carriers still fly this iconic jumbo jet.
For an even more unique experience, book a spot on the LAX Plane Spotting Tour with Kevin and Rudy. These avgeeks (aviation geeks) know all the best vantage points around the airport to get close-up views of the action. They’ll give you details about each aircraft as it takes off and lands right before your eyes. You may even get a friendly wave from the flight crew!
As one of the busiest airports in the world, LAX offers plane spotters the opportunity to see a huge variety of aircraft in a short amount of time. Snap some photos of your favorites and add them to your logbook or share them with fellow aviation enthusiasts online. After a few hours of watching these man-made birds glide down the runways and ascend into the starry SoCal sky, you'll be flying high on an endorphin rush.
End your perfect LA day on a perfect high note—with propellers, palm trees, and the City of Angels spread out before you. For any aeronautics aficionado, it's a view that simply can't be beat. Sweet plane-spotting dreams!
After a perfect day exploring LA’s aviation history, you find yourself watching the sunset at Santa Monica Pier, a cold drink in hand and a content smile on your face. The roar of plane engines still echoes in your memory, mixing with the crash of waves and laughter of beachgoers. You feel the thrill of adventure and wonder of discovery that comes from pursuing your passion. While the palm trees sway in the golden light and propellers spin through your thoughts, you realize there’s no place quite like this city of dreams under an open sky. Los Angeles welcomed you today with her characteristic warmth and showed you her wild, eccentric heart. She gave you a gift you’ll carry with you long after you’ve returned home—memories of a perfect day in paradise for those who share a love of all things that take flight.