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Los Angeles, also known as L.A., is not the most accessible of places like New York or Europe for tourists, but don't be dismayed! It is a great city with a lot of hidden gems. The city of Los Angeles is quite large, but the broader concept of Los Angeles covers many areas ranging from the beach cities of Santa Monica and Venice to the neighborhood areas of Hollywood and Silverlake.
What visit to Los Angeles would be complete without stopping over in Venice Beach? Named for the Venice canals located around the area and right behind people's backyards, a walk early morning on the beach is very peaceful. By noon on the weekends the shops open up along Oceanfront Walk and the beach can get crowded with both locals and tourists alike. Muscle Beach, Venice attracts body builders from all over and Gov. Schwarznegger was a visitor in his early years. Shopping along Abbot Kinney Avenue features artist originals and rare finds.
Just two miles south of Venice is Marina del Rey, http://www.visitmarinadelrey.com, the place to get out on the water. Whether you want to rent a small sail boat, motor boat, kayak or join a day sportfishing tour, enjoy a public charter dinner/dance cruise or just enjoy the waterside view, the Marina is the place to be. Fisherman's Village (at the end of Fiji Way) is where you'll find many of the boating outfits and public charters as well as waterside restaurants, cafes and shops for souvenirs. Plus, you can rent bikes to ride along the L.A. Beaches Bike path, taking you north to Santa Monica or south to Torrance. The bike trail is over 20 miles (32 kilometres) long, with most of it right along the beaches making it an easy ride for the entire family. Also, in Marina del Rey is Burton Chace Park, located at the end of Mindanao. This 10-acre jewel, jutting into the Marina's main channel, offers what may be the best vista point in the area; it is a great spot for walking, picnicking and gazing out at the deep blue water, boats and Marina.
In the other direction, 2 miles north of Venice is world famous Santa Monica, http://www.santamonica.com. It features miles of wide beaches known for surfing and sunbathing - and made famous by television's Baywatch. The Pier is also famous, including the Merry-Go-Round featured in motion pictures, and amusement park. Again, you'll find numerous places along the beaches to rent bike and skates. Santa Monica offers world class shopping along Third Street Promenade and one of a kind treasures on Montana Avenue. Plus with a wide variety restaurants, cafés and fast food outlets, you'll find something that will satisfy everyone without blowing your budget.
For the local scene head over to Manhattan Beach about 15 miles (24 kilometres) south or take the Pacific Coast Highway north and check out the beautiful coastline of Malibu.
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Although Santa Monica is a city itself rather than part of the city of Los Angeles, it basically is the playground for the beach bums in the LA. Most of the action in Santa Monica is centred around the Santa Monica Pier, where the official end of Route 66 is located. The pier, with its activities like rollercoasters and all sorts of shops, splits the beach into two halfs. The northern one is less attractive and most parking takes place there. The southern half, towards Venice Beach, is more attractive, with cycle- and foothpaths and palmtrees. The water here is pretty cold like most of the Californian coast, and watch out for riptides or strong currents at times. There are lifeguards patrolling around the waters, but better safe than sorry!
While Santa Monica Beach is more of a family style beach, Venice Beach is more the beach for the young and the ones that like to see and to be seen. Apart from the beach, there is also lots of sport grounds, including the famous Muscle Beach, where you'll find the big guys pumping their iron. Next to the beach runs the Ocean Front Walk, or just boardwalk, full with souvenir shops, snacks, drinks and even 'legal' (as in 'good for health problems') marihuana shops. Things can feel a bit worn down and downright shabby after the sun sets, but most of the times it's nothing more than a feeling and certainly not an unsafe place!
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There are plenty of museums for the art buff. Ranging from the LACMA, the MOCA, The Hammer Museum, the famous Getty Museum, which just opened the Getty Villa on the Westside, to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena there is something for every art lover. In addition there are a lot of shows such as the famous Laugh Factory on Sunset that attracts the best in comedy acts.
Summer months offer a variety of festivals thoughout the city. Some to enjoy include:
Los Angeles has a Mediterranean climate, and receives just enough annual precipitation to avoid a semi-arid climate classification. Los Angeles has plenty of sunshine throughout the year, with an average of only 35 days with measurable precipitation annually. The coastal region around Los Angeles has a climate that is comparable to coastal areas of Rabat, Morocco, in temperature range and variation, as well as annual precipitation levels and rainfall distribution.
Temperatures in the coastal basin exceed 32 °C on a dozen or so days in the year, from one day a month in April, May, June and November to three days a month in July, August, October and to five days in September. Temperatures in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys are considerably warmer. Temperatures are subject to substantial daily swings; in inland areas the difference between the average daily low and the average daily high is over 17 °C. The average annual temperature of the sea is 17 °C, from 14 °C in January to 20 °C in August. Hours of sunshine total more than 3,000 per year, from an average of 7 hours of sunshine per day in December to an average of 12 in July.
The Los Angeles area is also subject to phenomena typical of a microclimate, causing extreme variations in temperature in close physical proximity to each other. For instance, the average July maximum temperature at the Santa Monica Pier is 24 °C whereas it is 35 °C in Canoga Park. The city, like much of the southern California coast, is subject to a late spring/early summer weather phenomenon called "June Gloom". This involves overcast or foggy skies in the morning which yield to sun by early afternoon.
Downtown Los Angeles averages 379 mm of precipitation annually, which mainly occurs during November through March, generally in the form of moderate rain showers, but sometimes as heavy rainfall during winter storms. Summer days are usually rainless. Rarely, an incursion of moist air from the south or east can bring brief thunderstorms in late summer, especially to the mountains. The coast gets slightly less rainfall, while the inland and mountain areas get considerably more. Years of average rainfall are rare. The usual pattern is year to year variability, with a short string of dry years of 130-250 mm rainfall, followed by one or two wet years with more than 510 mm. Wet years are usually associated with warm water El Niño conditions in the Pacific, dry years with cooler water La Niña episodes. A series of rainy days can bring floods to the lowlands and mudslides to the hills, especially after wildfires have denuded the slopes.
Both freezing temperatures and snowfall are extremely rare in the city basin and along the coast, with the last occurrence of a 0 °C reading at the downtown station being January 29, 1979; freezing temperatures occur nearly every year in valley locations while the mountains within city limits typically receive snowfall every winter. The greatest snowfall recorded in downtown Los Angeles was 2.0 inches (5 cm) on January 15, 1932. At the official downtown station, the highest recorded temperature is 45 °C on September 27, 2010, while the lowest is -2 °C, on January 4, 1949. During autumn and winter, Santa Ana winds sometimes bring much warmer and drier conditions to Los Angeles, and raise the wildfire risk.
|Avg Max||18.7 °C||18.8 °C||18.6 °C||19.7 °C||20.6 °C||22.2 °C||24.1 °C||24.8 °C||24.8 °C||23.6 °C||21.3 °C||18.8 °C|
|Avg Min||8.8 °C||9.6 °C||10.3 °C||11.6 °C||13.5 °C||15.3 °C||17.1 °C||17.9 °C||17.3 °C||15.1 °C||11.6 °C||8.8 °C|
|Rainfall||61 mm||63.8 mm||50.3 mm||18.3 mm||3.6 mm||0.8 mm||0.3 mm||3.8 mm||7.9 mm||8.6 mm||44.7 mm||42.2 mm|
Los Angeles is served by more airports than any other city in the world. The main airport however is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It is one of the busiest airports in the world, handling over 60 million passengers a year. LAX is located in southwestern Los Angeles in the neighborhood of Westchester, 27 kilometres from the downtown core. The airport has 9 terminals: number 1 to 8 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), serving hundreds of destinations within the US and to Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
There are different options to get to the airport:
Other airports in the area include Bob Hope Airport (BUR) in Burbank to the north (about 15 minutes from Los Angeles city) and LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT) (about 45 minutes away) to the east.
Many Amtrak trains originate and terminate in Los Angeles. A few other pass Los Angeles as well. The trains include:
Although the busy Los Angeles traffic can make getting around by car a nightmare, it's one of the best options if you want to see a lot of the sights. There are car rental agencies at the airport and in many locations in LA itself, including downtown.
There are many Interstates to/from Los Angeles, including the I-15 towards Las Vegas, the I-5 towards San Diego (south) and the Central Valley (north) and the I-10 towards southern California and Arizona. Highway 1 goes up the Californian coast.
Greyhound buses serve San Diego at least hourly (2 to four hours) and there are up to eight buses to/from Santa Barbara (2 to three hours). Services to/from San Francisco run almost hourly (7½ to 12½ hours). There are also frequent departures to Anaheim and Disneyland (one hour).
It is almost essential to have a car while visiting Los Angeles. Public transport is improving in the city but most of it is still pretty basic and slow. Therefore renting a car is a good choice if planning to stay in Los Angeles. Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
Metro operates a subway system that centers around Downtown Los Angeles and takes you to the surrounding areas of Long Beach, Pasadena, through Hollywood and even to the airport.
Bus services operated by LADOT (DASH bus) and Metro are not the most reliable but if you have time to spare you can catch the sights from the bus. The Culver City Bus (green bus) and the Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus focus on the Westside of Los Angeles but are more dependable.
The Los Angeles area is one of the best places in the country for food - you can find just about anything you can imagine somewhere within its loose borders. From traditional American diner culture (try Mel's Drive-In in West Hollywood) to the new wave of organic cafes, to inexpensive taco trucks, and swanky eateries with breath-taking food, there are no shortage of options.
Los Angeles abounds with inexpensive, authentic food that represents the culinary traditions of L.A.'s many immigrant communities. You have to be willing to do a little legwork, go to neighborhoods you might not otherwise go to and often deal with charmless fluorescent-lit storefronts in strip malls, but your reward is hype-free, authentic cuisine from around the world served up at bargain prices. Food critic Jonathan Gold has been finding and reviewing these gems since the 1980s, mostly for the free LA Weekly before he moved to the food section of the LA Times.
For those on a budget but don't want to make too much of a sacrifice, In and Out is always a good hamburger option. For good cheap Mexican food go to Chano's located near USC, literally a small white stand on the corner of Figueroa and 30th St. or La Barca on Vermont which offers a Supreme Burrito the size of your entire plate. Another cheap eat is Noura Cafe on Melrose, which serve delicious Mediterranean food. Canter's is a Jewish deli on Fairfax that stays open late for the last call crowd. Miyagi is a popular Japanese restaurant on the Sunset Strip.
The newest arrival on the L.A. food scene is the gourmet food truck. These are not your average taco trucks and construction-site catering operations (although those exist too), but purveyors of creative and surprisingly high-quality food. Food trucks, particularly taco trucks, can be found in most parts of the city. A few noteworthy food trucks are "Grill Em All," run by 2 metalheads doing outstanding gourmet hamburgers, "Nom Nom," doing Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, "Kogi," doing Korean-inspired tacos and burritos, and "Manila Machine," doing Filipino food. Many trucks also have their own websites and post their daily schedules and locations on Twitter.
On the opposite spectrum from food trucks, those seeking high-end dining have some of the country's finest restaurants to choose from. While the Michelin guide stopped reviewing Los Angeles in 2010, Beverly Hills had several eateries that were rated by Michelin, including Wolfgang Puck's first restaurant, Spago. While there are numerous destinations for an upscale meal throughout the LA area, Santa Monica is notable as the only city besides Beverly Hills that can lay claim to multiple Michelin starred restaurants.
There are bars all over. For the more typical Hollywood scene check out Mood or The Ivar.
Hotel bars are generally considered by Angelenos to be the nicest places to have drinks. Some of the more popular upscale ones include Chateau Marmont, Skybar at The Mondrian, and Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, and The Rooftop Bar at The Standard in Downtown LA. Hollywood and the Sunset Strip are generally considered the nightlife centers of LA, though neighborhoods such as Silver Lake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park in Northwest LA are home to the dive bars and cafes favored by trendy hipsters. Downtown has recently recaptured some of its former glory with a selection of popular nightlife destinations such as The Golden Gopher, The Edison and the bars/clubs at LA Live. Hollywood's Cahuenga Corridor (Cahuenga between Selma and Hollywood Boulevard) boasts several popular bars in a row, making bar-hopping a possibility in a city where it's not the norm.
The Standard Hotel is a chill yuppie place for drinks and the Westin Bonaventure downtown offers a revolving, yes, the floor rotates, for a 360-degree high-rise view of the city.Other popular local hangouts The Dresden in Silverlake, The Brig in Venice, and Molly Malone's on Fairfax.
It's hard to summarize the plethora of hotel options in L.A. From some of the most opulent (and expensive) hotels in the world to budget hostels to apartment-hotel crash pads, there's something for everyone. Deciding where to stay will have a lot to do with what areas you plan on visiting, and how you're going to get there. As usual in Southern California, a car opens up a world of options, but be sure to check the parking arrangement at your accommodations before you arrive.
Hollywood and the Sunset Strip are probably the most popular options for those wanting to sight-see and chase their image of that world. Downtown has long been popular with the business crowd but is rapidly receiving a makeover with newer hotels drawing a hipper crowd. Beverly Hills has some of the nicest hotels in the city, and one should expect the prices to reflect its reputation. Sun and sand seekers can head to Santa Monica or Venice, while those just in town for a day or two might consider staying in one of the suburbs near LAX. To the northeast of Downtown L.A., Pasadena is a peaceful and leafy city and a good alternative that's still proximate to many major attractions, while Burbank has many places convenient to the Valley. Long Beach offers plenty of cheaper accommodations on the south side of the city.
|15 Rose Avenue||15 Rose Avenue Venice, CA||Hotel||-|
|AAE Los Angeles Hostel & Economy Hotel||4123 W. Century Blvd. Los Angeles Airport||HOSTEL||79|
|Adventurer Hostel||4229 West Century Blvd. LAX 90304||Hostel||-|
|Americas Best Value Inn & Suites LAX||4501 W Imperial Hwy Inglewood, CA 90304||HOTEL||-|
|Banana Bungalow Hollywood||5920 Hollywood Boulevard Hollywood||Hostel||85|
|Banana Bungalow West Hollywood||603 N Fairfax Ave||Hostel||84|
|Cecil Hotel||640 South Main street||Hotel||-|
|Studio City Courtyard Hotel||12933 Ventura Blvd. Los Angeles||Hotel||-|
|Duo Housing Los Angeles||886 Crenshaw Blvd||Hostel||-|
|El Patio Inn||11466 Ventura Boulevard Studio City, Hollywood||Hotel||-|
|H.I. Los Angeles / Santa Monica||1436 2nd Street Santa Monica, CA 90401||Hostel||84|
|HI-Los Angeles South Bay Hostel||3601S. Gaffey Street San Pedro||Hostel||-|
|Hollywood and Highland Hostel and Hotel||70381/2 Hollywood Blvd Hollywood||Hostel||76|
|Hollywood Downtowner Inn||5601 Hollywood Boulevard||Hotel||80|
|Hollywood Youth Hostel||6820 Hollywood Blvd Los angeles||Hostel||82|
|London Family Home||10872 Arizona Av CULVER CITY, CA 90232||Guesthouse||-|
|Los Angeles Backpackers Paradise Hostel||4200 W Century Blvd Inglewood||Hostel||-|
|Nite Inn||10612 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, Hollywood||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Normandie LA||605 South Normandie Ave||Hotel||-|
|Orange Drive Manor Hostel||1764 North Orange Drive Hollywood||Hostel||86|
|Orbit Hotel and Hostel||7950 Melrose (at Fairfax)||Hostel||-|
|Saharan Motor Hotel||7212 West Sunset Blvd. Hollywood||Hotel||79|
|Santa Clarita Motel||24971 Railroad Ave( San Fernando rd) Santa Clarita||Hotel||-|
|Santa Monica Motel||2102 Lincoln Blvd||Hotel||-|
|Sea Rock Inn||14032 S. Vermont Ave||Hotel||80|
|Stay on Main||636 South Main Street||Hostel||77|
|Surf City Hostel||26 Pier Avenue Hermosa Beach||Hostel||84|
|The Venice Beach Hostel||716 Washington Boulevard Venice, CA 90291||HOSTEL||76|
|Timen's House||5947 Tujunga av. North Hollywood||Hostel||78|
|USA Hostels Hollywood||1624 Schrader Blvd Hollywood||Hostel||86|
|Samesun Venice Beach||25 Windward Ave Venice Beach||HOSTEL||84|
|Venice Beach Hostel||1515 Pacific Avenue Venice||Hostel||75|
|The Ritz Milner Hotel||813 S. Flower St.||Hotel||-|
|Hollywood Stars Inn||5435 W. Sunset Blvd||Hotel||-|
|Days Inn Hollywood||5410 Hollywood Blvd.||Hostel||-|
|America's Best Value Inn||906 S. Alvarado Street||Hotel||-|
|Courtyard by Marriott Oxnard Ventura||600 East Esplanade Drive||Hotel||-|
|Wilshire Hotel||3515 Wilshire Blvd||Hotel||-|
|Rodeway Inn Gardena / Los Angeles||15607 South Normandie Ave Gardena||HOTEL||-|
|Comfort Inn near Downey Studios||9438 E. Firestone Blvd.||Hotel||-|
|Comfort Inn & Suites Near Universal Studios||6147 Lankershim Blvd.||Hotel||-|
|Comfort Inn Near Warner Center||20157 Ventura Boulevard Woodland Hills||Hotel||-|
|Comfort Inn & Suites Near the Home Depot Center||1390 W. 186th St. Gardena||Hotel||-|
|Rodeway Inn Los Angeles (Beverly Hills area)||7721 Beverly Blvd||Hotel||-|
|Americas Best Value Inn & Suites-Los Angeles/Comme||7701 East Slauson Ave.||Hotel||-|
|Rodeway Inn - Los Angeles Convention Center||1904 W. Olympic Blvd||Hotel||-|
|Comfort Inn and Suites Long Beach||200 E. Willow Street Long Beach||Hotel||-|
|Port of Los Angeles Monterey Inn Hostel||233 North Avalon Blvd.||Hostel||-|
|Hollywood Inn Express LAX||4300 W Century Blvd. Inglewood Los Angeles Int'l Airport West||Hotel||-|
|The Historic Mayfair Hotel||1256 W. 7th Street||HOTEL||-|
|Best Western Burbank Airport Inn||7615 Lankershim Boulevard||Hotel||-|
|Ocean Park Hotel||2680 32nd Street||Hotel||80|
|Rose Bowl Motel||1529 Colorado Blvd||Hotel||-|
|Hollywood Hotel - The Hotel of Hollywood||1160 North Vermont Avenue||Hotel||-|
|Travelodge Los Angeles (Ontario Airport)||1150 N. Grove Ave Ontario||Hotel||-|
|Rodeway Inn & Suites||3327 N. Del Mar Ave Rosemead||Hotel||-|
|Howard's Hostel-Hotel||2535 Hauser Boulevard||Hostel||-|
|Culver City Condominium||3813 Huron Avenue||Guesthouse||-|
|Rochester||1932 Rochester Cir||HOTEL||78|
|PodShare||1617 Cosmo Street||HOSTEL||79|
|Cadillac Hotel||8 Dudley Avenue||Hostel||-|
|L.A. Venice Hostel||2422 Venice Blvd||HOSTEL||-|
|La Mansion Hostel||1929 Rochester Circle||HOSTEL||-|
|Lady Ruthelen||3775 Ruthelen Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90018||HOSTEL||-|
|Sir Ruthelen||3777 Ruthelen Street||HOSTEL||-|
|Eva's Manor||2425 8th Ave.||HOSTEL||-|
|Arlington Hostel||3937 Arlington Ave||HOSTEL||-|
|The MoonPad LA Hostel||1700 E 4th Street #203||Hostel||-|
|Mission Motel||11920 Long Beach Bl Lynwood||HOTEL||-|
|MoonPad LA Hostel||125 S Boyle Ave Los Angeles CA 90033||HOSTEL||-|
|El Dorado Motel Gardena||15614 South Vermont Avenue||Hotel||-|
|Cimarron House||3702 Cimarron Street||HOSTEL||-|
|Redondo Inn and Suites||711 South Pacific Coast Hwy Redondo Beach||Hotel||-|
|Geneva Motel||321 West Manchester Boulevard Ingelwood||Hotel||-|
There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.
The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Los Angeles searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Los Angeles and areas nearby.
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