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Introduction

Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles

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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.

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Neighborhoods

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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Sights

Graumans Chinese Theater,Los Angeles

Graumans Chinese Theater,Los Angeles

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Hollywood

  • Grauman's Mann Chinese Theatre, where all the famous footprints and handprints of the stars are imprinted for cinema history.
  • The Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars are held, is right next to the Gruaman's theater. American Idol finals are also filmed there. The theatre offers guided tours seven days a week. To buy tickets check out Kodak Theatre Tickets. Part of the Kodak Theatre complex is the Hollywood and Highland Center, which offers fine dining, shopping, two nightclubs, a movie theater and a bowling alley.
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame runs down Hollywood Boulevard from Gower to La Brea, and on Vine from Yucca St. to Sunset Boulevard.
  • Pantages Theater is a world class live stage theater. Currently playing is Wicked, the hit Broadway musical, which has an indefinite run in Los Angeles.
  • Television Show Tapings are popular but reservations are required. The Price is Right, The Tonight Show, Ellen and Dr. Phil are just a few of the shows taped in Los Angeles.

Santa Monica

Rollercoaster, Santa Monica

Rollercoaster, Santa Monica

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

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!

Venice Beach

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!

T-shirt shop, Venice Beach

T-shirt shop, Venice Beach

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

Museums

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.

Outside of the City

  • Universal Studios is not far from Hollywood along with Universal City Walk, a street with tons of shops, movie theater, restaurants, outdoor fountains and fun for the family.
  • Disneyland is a resort area with two theme parks and three on-site hotels in Anaheim, an hour southeast of Los Angeles on Interstate 5. Originally built amid orange groves, Disneyland Resort is now surrounded by Anaheim's suburban sprawl. Save money by staying at any of a number of hotels adjacent to the resort property along Harbor Blvd. or Katella Ave.
  • Joshua Tree National Park is only a 2 hour drive from the city and is a great area of preserved desert. Most known for spectacular rock climbing and of course the Joshua Tree, there are also great hiking areas and camping.

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Activities

  • The Hollywood Bowl is a great place to pass a lazy summer afternoon. They boast first class acts and to get the full local experience you can bring a picnic to enjoy under a tree or in your seats. The Greek Amphitheatre is also a nice place to enjoy a show under the moderate Southern California climate.
  • Uber-independent film or barely distributed foreign film are easy to catch in Los Angeles. The Aero theater and the Egyptian theater are part of the American Cinematheque, a film society that feature old and contemporary films. They recently showcased contemporary Italian cinema and a Goddard retrospective.
  • Cinespia provides an opportunity to mix the best of both worlds of film and the outdoors with, a weekly outdoor movie screening of classics every Saturday evening at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. Pack a picnic, bring a jacket and head on down! The suggested donation is $10.
  • Griffith Park received national attention in the recent fires, is a good place to hike and offers a good view of the Hollywood sign. The park also features several golf courses, a children's area with a scaled-down train, a merry-go-round and plenty of picnic areas. On the east side of the park there are horse stables and riding trails. And with areas named such as "Ferndale" you will find a wide array of flora and fauna.
  • Griffith Observatory located in the park, has recently opened after extensive renovations. It is free of charge but reservations are required and parking is off site with a shuttle taking you between the parking lot and the main entrance.
  • Downtown L.A. is home to the Staples Center where the Lakers play and the Convention Center which recently hosted the Star Wars convention. Also Downtown are the wholesale flower district and clothing district.
  • Melrose Ave offers the best shopping of both worlds. They have eclectic boutiques to the more upscale stores, ending near The Beverly Center which houses one of the two H&M’s in Los Angeles, Forever 21, Dolce & Gabana, Louis Vuitton, to name a few.
  • Ballona Wetlands is part of a 51-acre marsh system and home to more than thousands of native trees, native shrubs and grasses and provides a natural habitat to waterfowl and wildlife. It's a great place for bird watchers to observe the great blue heron, snowy egrets, least terns along with mallards and other waterfowl. Located at the corner of Jefferson and Lincoln Boulevards.
  • L.A. Beaches Bike Path (also known as the South Bay Bike Trail) is a 22-mile (35 kilometres) bike trail that runs north from Will Rogers State Beach, Pacific Palisaides, through Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey, all the way south to Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance Beach. Along the path, you'll find places to picnic, stop for water or a snack, and of course, restrooms. Most of the trail runs next to the beaches, making it an easy, flat ride.

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Events and Festivals

Summer months offer a variety of festivals thoughout the city. Some to enjoy include:

  • Venice Beach Carnevale, usually the first weekend of June. Outdoor live musical performances, dance performances, fire-spinners, bellydancers, live theatre and day-long costume contest.
  • For the Fourth of July Fireworks display in Marina del Rey, which are shot over the main channel and can be seen from almost any waterview location in the Marina. This a a popular free event, so come early as it does get crowded; show starts at 9pm.
  • Also for the Fourth are the Mr. & Ms. Muscle Beach Body Building Competition held in Venice, and the Westchester/LAX 4th of July Parade are held during the day.
  • West Hollywood, the gay district of Los Angeles, hosts a Halloween Parade and Carnaval every year that's about as close to Carnaval in the city. There are even a few Haunted houses nearby.
  • In many sections of the city, local neighborhoods feature festivals for the winter holidays. Not to be missed are the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade, usually held the second Saturday of the month. Fireworks kick off the parade of lighted, holiday decorated boats as they parade up and down the main channel of the Marina. Starts at 6:00pm, fireworks at 5:55pm. Best viewing from Burton Chace Park or Fisherman's Village. Dress warmly as it does get cool by the water.
  • Also for New Year's Eve it wouldn't be complete without fireworks. Marina del Rey offers a New Year's Eve Fireworks display. Starting at 11:59:30pm, where they set off one blast each second counting down to midnight, then followed by a 5-minute display ushering in the New Year. Several restaurants and public charters offer dinner cruises or cocktail cruises to enjoy the festivities. But you can see the display from anywhere in the Marina.

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Weather

The weather is very moderate. In the winter it can get chilly but usually no more than three layers are needed and most of the time a sweater and jacket suffice. In the summer by noon it can get quite warm but the temperatures usually taper off by late afternoon and a light jacket is good to have handy.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max18.7 °C18.8 °C18.6 °C19.7 °C20.6 °C22.2 °C24.1 °C24.8 °C24.8 °C23.6 °C21.3 °C18.8 °C
Avg Min8.8 °C9.6 °C10.3 °C11.6 °C13.5 °C15.3 °C17.1 °C17.9 °C17.3 °C15.1 °C11.6 °C8.8 °C
Rainfall61 mm63.8 mm50.3 mm18.3 mm3.6 mm0.8 mm0.3 mm3.8 mm7.9 mm8.6 mm44.7 mm42.2 mm
Rain Days4.54.64.92.50.60.20.20.411.43.13.8

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Getting There

By Plane

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:

  • By car: take Century Boulevard exit (and several more northern exits) on Interstate 405, or the Sepulveda Boulevard exit on Interstate 105.
  • By bus: many routes (local, rapid and express) of the LACMTA, Line 8 of Torrance Transit, Line 109 of Beach Cities Transit, and the regular as well as the rapid buses of both the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus system's Line 3 and the Culver CityBus's Line 6 all make stops at the LAX Transit Center in Parking Lot C.
  • The FlyAway Bus is a shuttle service run by the LAWA, which travels between one of four off-airport locations: Van Nuys, Union Station, Westwood and the Irvine Transportation Center in Orange County. The shuttle service stops at every LAX terminal.
  • Shuttle bus "G" offers a free connection to the Aviation/LAX station on the Metro Green Line.
  • Taxis and private shuttles are obviously the most expensive option.

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.

By Train

Many Amtrak trains originate and terminate in Los Angeles. A few other pass Los Angeles as well. The trains include:

  • The Coast Starlight between Los Angeles and Seattle.
  • The Pacific Surfliner between Paso Robles and San Diego.
  • The Southwest Chief between Los Angeles and Chicago, via Albuquerque.
  • The Sunset Limited between Los Angeles and New Orleans.
  • The Texas Eagle between Los Angeles and Chicago, via San Antonio, Texas. The Los Angeles to San Antonio train travels only three times a week, but San Antonio to Chicago goes every day.

By Car

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.

By Bus

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).

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Getting Around

By Car

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.

By Public Transport

Rail
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
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.

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Eat

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.

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Drink

There are bars all over. For the more typical Hollywood scene check out Mood or The Ivar.
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.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
15 Rose Avenue15 Rose Avenue Venice, CAHotel-
AAE Los Angeles Hostel & Economy Hotel4123 W. Century Blvd. Los Angeles AirportHOSTEL73
Adventurer Hostel4229 West Century Blvd. LAX 90304Hostel66
Americas Best Value Inn & Suites LAX4501 W Imperial Hwy Inglewood, CA 90304HOTEL77
Banana Bungalow Hollywood5920 Hollywood Boulevard HollywoodHostel81
Banana Bungalow West Hollywood603 N Fairfax AveHostel81
Cecil Hotel640 South Main streetHotel-
Studio City Courtyard Hotel12933 Ventura Blvd. Los AngelesHotel-
Duo Housing Los Angeles886 Crenshaw BlvdHostel-
El Patio Inn11466 Ventura Boulevard Studio City, HollywoodHotel-
H.I. Los Angeles / Santa Monica1436 2nd Street Santa Monica, CA 90401Hostel83
HI-Los Angeles South Bay Hostel3601S. Gaffey Street San PedroHostel-
Hollywood and Highland Hostel and Hotel70381/2 Hollywood Blvd HollywoodHostel74
Hollywood Downtowner Inn5601 Hollywood BoulevardHotel77
Hollywood Youth Hostel6820 Hollywood Blvd Los angelesHostel79
London Family Home10872 Arizona Av CULVER CITY, CA 90232Guesthouse-
Los Angeles Backpackers Paradise Hostel4200 W Century Blvd InglewoodHostel65
Nite Inn10612 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, HollywoodHotel-
Hotel Normandie LA605 South Normandie AveHotel-
Orange Drive Manor Hostel1764 North Orange Drive HollywoodHostel83
Orbit Hotel and Hostel7950 Melrose (at Fairfax)Hostel-
Saharan Motor Hotel7212 West Sunset Blvd. HollywoodHotel79
Santa Clarita Motel24971 Railroad Ave( San Fernando rd) Santa ClaritaHotel-
Santa Monica Motel2102 Lincoln BlvdHotel-
Sea Rock Inn14032 S. Vermont AveHotel76
Stay on Main636 South Main StreetHostel77
Surf City Hostel26 Pier Avenue Hermosa BeachHostel81
The Venice Beach Hostel716 Washington Boulevard Venice, CA 90291HOSTEL73
Timen's House5947 Tujunga av. North HollywoodHostel71
USA Hostels Hollywood1624 Schrader Blvd HollywoodHostel86
Samesun Venice Beach25 Windward Ave Venice BeachHOSTEL81
Venice Beach Hostel1515 Pacific Avenue VeniceHostel72
The Ritz Milner Hotel813 S. Flower St.Hotel84
Hollywood Stars Inn5435 W. Sunset BlvdHotel79
Days Inn Hollywood5410 Hollywood Blvd.Hostel-
America's Best Value Inn906 S. Alvarado StreetHotel-
Courtyard by Marriott Oxnard Ventura600 East Esplanade DriveHotel-
Wilshire Hotel3515 Wilshire BlvdHotel-
Rodeway Inn Gardena / Los Angeles15607 South Normandie Ave GardenaHOTEL-
Comfort Inn near Downey Studios9438 E. Firestone Blvd.Hotel-
Comfort Inn & Suites Near Universal Studios6147 Lankershim Blvd.Hotel-
Comfort Inn Near Warner Center20157 Ventura Boulevard Woodland HillsHotel-
Comfort Inn & Suites Near the Home Depot Center1390 W. 186th St. GardenaHotel-
Rodeway Inn Los Angeles (Beverly Hills area)7721 Beverly BlvdHotel-
Americas Best Value Inn & Suites-Los Angeles/Comme7701 East Slauson Ave.Hotel-
Rodeway Inn - Los Angeles Convention Center1904 W. Olympic BlvdHotel-
Comfort Inn and Suites Long Beach200 E. Willow Street Long BeachHotel-
Port of Los Angeles Monterey Inn Hostel233 North Avalon Blvd.Hostel-
Hollywood Inn Express LAX4300 W Century Blvd. Inglewood Los Angeles Int'l Airport WestHotel-
The Historic Mayfair Hotel1256 W. 7th StreetHOTEL79
Best Western Burbank Airport Inn7615 Lankershim BoulevardHotel-
Ocean Park Hotel2680 32nd StreetHotel78
Rose Bowl Motel1529 Colorado BlvdHotel-
Hollywood Hotel - The Hotel of Hollywood1160 North Vermont AvenueHotel-
Travelodge Los Angeles (Ontario Airport)1150 N. Grove Ave OntarioHotel-
Rodeway Inn & Suites3327 N. Del Mar Ave RosemeadHotel-
Howard's Hostel-Hotel2535 Hauser BoulevardHostel77
Culver City Condominium3813 Huron AvenueGuesthouse-
Rochester1932 Rochester CirHOTEL77
PodShare1617 Cosmo StreetHOSTEL80
Cadillac Hotel8 Dudley AvenueHostel84
L.A. Venice Hostel2422 Venice BlvdHOSTEL-
La Mansion Hostel1929 Rochester CircleHOSTEL77
Lady Ruthelen3775 Ruthelen Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90018HOSTEL77
Sir Ruthelen3777 Ruthelen StreetHOSTEL-
Eva's Manor2425 8th Ave.HOSTEL-
Arlington Hostel3937 Arlington AveHOSTEL-
The MoonPad LA Hostel1700 E 4th Street #203Hostel68
Mission Motel11920 Long Beach Bl LynwoodHOTEL-
MoonPad LA Hostel125 S Boyle Ave Los Angeles CA 90033HOSTEL-
El Dorado Motel Gardena15614 South Vermont AvenueHotel-
Cimarron House3702 Cimarron StreetHOSTEL-
Redondo Inn and Suites711 South Pacific Coast Hwy Redondo BeachHotel-
Geneva Motel321 West Manchester Boulevard IngelwoodHotel-

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Keep Connected

Internet

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.

Phone

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.

Post

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.

Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 34.052187
  • Longitude: -118.243425

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Los Angeles Travel Helpers

This is version 84. Last edited at 2:39 on Jun 23, 14 by KellieBarnes. 143 articles link to this page.

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