Though the current incarnation of Los Angeles is relatively new, the area's history dates to at least 3,000 B.C., as archaeological records indicate the area was then inhabited by native people who hunted marine mammals and gathered seeds for food, and then nomadic peoples called Tongva.
The first [wiki=912d59cdf1d3f551fae21f6f0062258f]Europeans[/wiki] to visit the area were the Spanish explorers Captain Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542 and Captain Sebastián Vizcaíno in 1602, who arrived 166 years before any other Europeans would visit the area. When Spanish civilizations arrived in greater numbers in the 1700s, the Los Angeles basin was home to approximately 5,000 native peoples, dubbed Gabrielinos and Fernandeños by the Spanish.
In the mid-to-late 18th century, the missions in the region wielded considerable power, until the new governor of [wiki=356779a9a1696714480f57fa3fb66d4c]California[/wiki] Felipe de Neve toured the area, then called Alta California (or North California). He decided to create pueblos to support the military in the region, reducing their dependence on the missions. The Los Angeles Pueblo was founded by 44 settlers, of Pobladores. Los Angeles' official founding was on September 4, 1781, as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula, or "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Porciúncula River." The original settlement is still preserved today in the Olvera Street area of the city.
Originally a small ranch town for decades, the city grew, and by 182, the region became the largest self-sustaining farming community in [wiki=68731e74eac6e5073e7034c81f1f1fd7]Southern California[/wiki] with 650 inhabitants. The city's growing economic needs soon attracted native Americans from nearby settlements seeking paid work. Trade with the natives contributed greatly to the city's growing economic success.
In 1821, [wiki=8dbb07a18d46f63d8b3c8994d5ccc351]Mexico[/wiki] gained its independence from [wiki=907eba32d950bfab68227fd7ea22999b]Spain[/wiki], and the population continued to grow when Los Angeles was declared the regional capital. By 1840, the city had nearly tripled to 1,680. Mexican rule of Alta California ended after the Mexican-American war, when the region was captured by American soldiers, culminating in the signing of the Treaty of Cahuengaf in 1847.
The city continued to expand thanks to the development and completion of the Southern Pacific railroad line in 1876. Oil was discovered near Los Angeles in 1892, and soon [wiki=356779a9a1696714480f57fa3fb66d4c]California[/wiki] became the nation's largest oil producer. The new industry contributed to a continuing population boom, and by 1900, more than 102,000 people were living in the city. Since the area is relatively dry, this put a strain on the city's water supply, though the problem was soon solved by the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913 under the supervision of William Mulholland.
The city of [wiki=1ac441036f927b9815ba1137464ee064]Hollywood[/wiki] was established in 1903 but later annexed by Los Angeles by 1910, by which time 10 film studios were established. The region was beginning to attract filmmakers for the East Coast, attracted by the temperate weather and the lack of restrictions on filming in the area. Movie studios quickly established themselves in the region, so by 1921, more than 80 percent of the world's film industry was based in Los Angeles. The city's population surpassed one million inhabitants in 1930.
Thanks to the thriving oil and entertainment industries, Los Angeles didn't suffer the same economic woes as most of the country did during the Great Depression, though it did attract scores of Okies seeking jobs further west. During World War II, the city became a juggernaut of wartime production and propaganda, producing unprecedented amounts of war ships and planes. When the war ended, Los Angeles grew more rapidly than ever before, as families moved westward and often settled for cheaper housing in the city's developing suburbs throughout the [wiki=8b20181bc3de27fb7f9b6a117c9f5cce]San Fernando Valley[/wiki]. The expansion of the Interstate Highway System during this postwar period continued the push toward suburban growth and the demise of the city's electric rail system, once the world's largest.
Subsequent decades saw two major riots caused by racial tension. The Watts Riots of 1965 caused 34 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries. The Los Angeles riots of 1992, the city's most severe in history, was sparked by a jury's acquittal of police officers caught on videotape beating Rodney King. The riots caused 54 deaths, more than 2,000 injuries and $1.3 billion in property damage. In the late 20th and early 21st century, the economic and racial landscape of the city continues to change, as Mexican populations skyrocket and the city's urban sprawl continues to spread.
Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in the nation and thus the world in terms of its citizens’ ethnicities and economic standing. As of 2015, the city proper has an estimated population of 3,884,307 inhabitants and a population density of 8,092.3 people per square mile.
More than a third of the city’s population is foreign born, numbering just below 1.5 million. The people of Los Angeles come from all over the world and are dispersed throughout the city’s many sprawling, unique neighborhoods, though many of them congregate in ethnic enclaves like Little Armenia, [wiki=9900a6d70a186d8290faa34a3c6699bb]Koreatown[/wiki], Little Ethiopia, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Historic Filipinotown or Tehrangeles.
Today, non-Hispanic whites make up on 28.7% of the city population, though many more work in the city and simply live in the surrounding suburbs. Due in part to its proximity to the [wiki=8dbb07a18d46f63d8b3c8994d5ccc351]Mexican[/wiki] border, Hispanics and Latinos make up nearly half of the population (48.5%) and are most heavily concentrated in [wiki=7b912b399d6ea518251c88b27b179e83]East Los Angeles[/wiki]. In fact, the city has the third largest Mexican population in the world, behind the Mexican cities of [wiki=0b4596f8efe110dc55bbe564213dfb33]Mexico City[/wiki] and [wiki=82932d9ab70f90dddff4b3af38085ea7]Guadalajara[/wiki]. Asian people make up another sizable chunk of the Los Angeles population at 11.5%, with many more residing outside city limits, especially in the nearby [wiki=3d1a1104a0055bbf0c047228e4eeee20]San Gabriel Valley[/wiki]. Blacks and African Americans make up 9.4% of the city’s population with the heaviest concentration in [wiki=1e82ee27bc91a8c56d0b2d80b25b57f8]South Los Angeles[/wiki].
Los Angeles is similarly diverse when it comes to religion. The region is home to the largest Catholic archdiocese in the nation, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles; the Los Angeles California Temple, the second largest temple operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and the nation’s second largest concentration of Jews, 621,000 in the metropolitan area. The city is also home to large populations of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, various Eastern Orthodox practitioners and many more international religions.
The city’s diverse population makes Los Angeles one of the world’s great international cities, brimming with cultural opportunities amassed from every inhabited corner of the Earth. Visiting the ethnic enclaves is generally the easiest way to experience the distinct cultural differences present throughout the city and enjoy authentic ethnic cuisines. Los Angeles has some of the world’s best restaurants, and thanks to the sizable transplant population, many of the best ones are cheap but charming hole-in-the-wall places that suit any budget. Though Los Angeles is perhaps most famous for its thriving entertainment industries, multiculturalism may be the most significant part of modern Angeleno culture.
The climate of Los Angeles is classified as subtropical-Mediterranean, a rare and often desirable weather classification. The city is mostly sunny year-round, receiving an average of 14.93 inches of precipitation and 35.7 rainy days each year. Precipitation measurements, however, are rarely consistent between years, as the region is bimodal, meaning it often alternates between long dry spells and unusually rainy months. The weather is mild to warm year-round, only occasionally exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the lengthy summers and rarely dropping below 45 degrees in the the winter months.
Seasons in Los Angeles are often negligible, and can generally be divided into summer and winter/spring. Summers start early in May and run long, with some of the year's hottest temperatures occurring in September and sometimes October. Daytime highs in summer are about 81F, and humidity is generally mild. Although not frequent, a heat-wave could occur on occasion. Nighttime lows during summer are about 63F. The autumn and early winter months often see [wiki=7286620f917ec65ca888c8a3fd593129]Santa Ana[/wiki] winds, hot strong winds that originate inland near the Santa Ana mountains and blow towards the coast. The strong winds are perhaps the most miserable part of the [wiki=68731e74eac6e5073e7034c81f1f1fd7]Southern California[/wiki] weather cycle and often spark wildfires in dry years. The hot, sunny summers are sometimes interrupted by "June gloom," a weather phenomenon wherein fog settles around the city overnight, but generally disperses by the early afternoon. Weather begins to cool down into winter beginning in November and lasting until April. This is when the city receives the most rainfall, though sunny warm days are still the norm. Daytime highs in winter are about 67F, nighttime winter lows are about 49F. Climate varies depending on how far inland you are located. Winter temperatures can vary wildly throughout a single day. Often even the chilliest mornings lead straight into warm or even hot days.
The record high temperature in downtown Los Angeles was 113 degrees Fahrenheit in 2010, and the record low 28 degrees in 1949. Snow within city limits is almost unheard of, though it is common in the nearby mountains, allowing city dwellers to experience winter sports within driving distance of the beaches. The largest snowstorm in the city was recorded in 1949, when one-third fell in the city center but up to a foot in certain suburbs.
The weather is most often cited for how sunny it is, and the region is indeed dominated by sunny days. Even in the coldest and hottest months of the year, visitors to the city are almost guaranteed to enjoy a few sunny days and clear skies.
Los Angeles and the surrounding region are home to many micro-climates, meaning temperatures can shift wildly between geographically close places. This is due in part to the surrounding hills that can trap heat. For instance, [wiki=3d1a1104a0055bbf0c047228e4eeee20]San Gabriel Valley[/wiki] and [wiki=8b20181bc3de27fb7f9b6a117c9f5cce]San Fernando Valley[/wiki] on either side of the city are frequently much hotter that downtown temperatures. Similarly, temperatures in the [wiki=1ac441036f927b9815ba1137464ee064]Hollywood Hills[/wiki] and on [wiki=b8ed1ef341171d89a884ad87d2ca885f]Santa Monica[/wiki] pier will typically be much colder than those downtown. The water temperature of beaches in L.A., [wiki=b8ed1ef341171d89a884ad87d2ca885f]Santa Monica[/wiki], [wiki=f2ab82faff7d2e19f0e527553a5cef6c]Manhattan Beach[/wiki], [wiki=cd58e89c659592d05e070e2a040f4072]Newport Beach[/wiki] and other locales is around 62F in spring, 66F in summer, 68F in fall, and 58F in winter.
Each New Year in LA begins with the Tournament of Roses celebration, a [wiki=68731e74eac6e5073e7034c81f1f1fd7]Southern California[/wiki] tradition more than a century old, which includes the massive Rose Parade and the subsequent Rose Bowl college football game. Spectators line the streets of LA's neighboring city [wiki=5437249604733e2a4447dbcfaa82f7d6]Pasadena[/wiki] to watch a lavish, televised parade of flowers, floats and many marching bands. The Tournament of Roses is a massive event that requires some days of preparation and marching band competitions beforehand. Afterwards, there are plenty off tailgate parties to close the football game, and the floats are showcased for several days after the event on Sierra Madre and Washington Boulevards in [wiki=5437249604733e2a4447dbcfaa82f7d6]Pasadena[/wiki].
For Easter, many communities throughout the city and its suburbs host community egg hunts in local parks for parents and children to spend the day outside, enjoying the sunny weather and sweet treats the Easter Bunny has left. One of the larger events is the [wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]Downtown LA[/wiki] Easter Fest at Grand Hope Park, featuring egg hunts as well as live music, food and arts and crafts. On the Saturday before Easter Sunday, LA's oldest neighborhood on Olvera Street hosts an event called the Blessing of the Animals, wherein processions of farm animals and pets are honored with flowers and blessings from the Archbishop of Los Angeles.
Each May, Memorial Day heralds another crop of outdoor festivals and parades designed to honor members of the US army who died in service. The annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade in the [wiki=8b20181bc3de27fb7f9b6a117c9f5cce]San Fernando Valley[/wiki] incorporates military marching bands, floats, antique cars and military aircraft flyovers. Elsewhere throughout Los Angeles county, you'll find the St. Nicholas Valley Greek Festival, the Rose Hills Memorial Day Observance, the Fiesta Hermosa, and more all taking place in the span of this one three-day weekend. Similarly, on the opposite end of the summer, Labor Day kicks off another series of events, including the month-long LA County Fair in [wiki=caf14912dab8713f592cd581e2b7dcc2]Pomona[/wiki]. There are almost too many events to count in this one weekend, generally signalling the end of summer and start of autumn, such as the LA/Long Beach Labor Coalition Labor Day Parade in nearby Wilmington, and The Taste food and wine extravaganza sponsored by the LA Times.
By the time October comes around, Los Angeles is already gearing up for Halloween, with many of the local theme parks and community spaces hosting haunted houses, hay rides and other events throughout the whole month. Movie theaters screen horror film marathons, and many communities host costume contests and pub crawls throughout the festive months, though dates and events often change from year to year. Actual Halloween heralds more merrymaking across the city, with the insane [wiki=c6e8e9f83ed14c5f5b6de31cff78f589]West Hollywood[/wiki] Halloween Carnival standing tall as the largest, most outrageous party of them all. After Halloween, the Mexican community celebrates their own holiday, the festive Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with performances, fiestas and exhibits from Olvera Street to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
On Thanksgiving day, many restaurants in LA, prestigious and hole-in-the-wall establishments alike, stay open as usual or else offer gourmet Thanksgiving meals of their own that buck traditional turkey-and-gravy dinners in favor of something more unique. The [wiki=1ac441036f927b9815ba1137464ee064]Hollywood[/wiki] Christmas Parade the day after Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas season. Though you're never likely to see snow here, Los Angeles has as much Christmas spirit as the next city, if not more. Most shopping districts and malls are fully decked out with wreaths, pine trees and festive lights for the season to welcome frantic shoppers, and many neighborhoods devote countless man hours to creating the perfect light displays on their homes. Despite the warm weather, many cities host ice skating rinks. The Mexican Christmas tradition of Los Posadas is celebrated with reenactments of Mary and Joseph's journey for nine days on Olvera Street. Elsewhere, the old Griffith Park Zoo is lit up with faux-animals in Zoo Lights and the Los Angeles Philharmonic holds its 'Deck the Halls' concert series [wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]downtown[/wiki].
The Los Angeles area is served by five major commercial airports and more than a dozen private airports. The five major airports are located in Los Angeles, Burbank, Santa Ana, Long Beach, and Ontario.
Los Angeles International Airport [url=http://www.lawa.org/welcomeLAX.aspx]] ([[Los Angeles Airport[/url]]) is the major international gateway to the Southland. LAX is gigantic, with nine terminals built in different eras in a variety of architectural styles, of which the common element is that they all seem rather cramped on the inside (that is, relative to the size and importance of the airport). Some terminals have been renovated recently and look relatively modern, while others are definitely showing their age. Most of the terminals were built before the Transportation Security Administration implemented modern security checkpoints, which means the checkpoints were shoehorned into the existing buildings with very awkward results.
If you find yourself in one of the older terminals (which can be recognized by the overcrowding, outdated décor, and unpleasant odor), keep in mind the last comprehensive renovation and expansion of LAX was just prior to the 1984 Summer Olympics. Since then, implementation of LAX's various master plans have been stalled for years by lawsuits filed by the airport's enraged neighbors. This is why LAX has never won any of the Skytrax World Airport Awards, and consistently tops lists of the worst international airports in the United States.
In 2013, LAX completed a new expansion of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (abbreviated to TBIT or B) called Bradley West, which is the first LAX terminal to feature the broad corridors, high ceilings, and luxury retailers long since taken for granted in most international airports. However, the new terminal did not become fully operational until 2015, since the old TBIT was blocking Bradley West's east-facing gates and had to be removed first.
LAX's lower level roadway is divided into inner and outer roadways. Private vehicles and taxis are supposed to do pickups and dropoffs on the outer roadway. Commercial vehicles (including buses as well as hotel and car rental shuttles) circle the inner roadway and stop at islands that divide the two roadways. The different pickup zones are clearly marked by brightly colored overhead-mounted signs facing you as you exit the lower level of any of the terminals. You are expected to cross the outer road when it is safe to do so and find the zone corresponding to the type of vehicle you are looking for. There are also directional signs that show whether you need to go left or right to find a particular type of zone.
A free "Airline Connections" ('A' line) shuttle bus loops around all the terminals on the lower level roadway; it stops under the BLUE "LAX Shuttle and Shuttle Connections" signs at each terminal. If you do not mind walking, it is no more than a 10-minute walk between any two adjacent terminals (with the exception of 1 and 8). If you are transferring between two directly adjacent terminals, walking is nearly always quicker than the shuttle. A streetside sidewalk connects all the terminals, except 1 and 8.
Airside transfers between the secure portions of terminals are limited at LAX. Terminals 6, 7, and 8 are linked on the secured side into a single complex (in a passageway), directly behind the security screening stations where passengers in any one of the three can walk over to the other without having to pass through security again (and that will work only if you arrived from a domestic flight). Between Terminals 5 & 6 there is an underground tunnel from the middle of Terminal 6 by Ruby's Diner & Hudson News, between Gates 65 & 66 to the middle of Terminal 5 by McDonald's, between Gates 53 & 54. There is also an airside shuttle bus between Gate 44 in Terminal 4 (American Airlines), TBIT/B (Their OneWorld partner airlines), Gate 65A (Alaska Airlines & US Airways) in Terminal 6 and the remote American Eagle Terminal east of Terminal 8 (not accessible from Terminal 8 or from the street). Otherwise, you must incorporate time to go through security into your planning if you need to transfer between terminals or arriving internationally. All international arrivals must go through security screening upon completion of immigration and customs inspections to access the onward flight.
There is free WiFi in the terminals. [url=http://www.lawa.org/welcome_lax.aspx?id=46]]Paid WiFi is also available from T-Mobile for $6.00 per hour or $9.99 for the whole day. Boingo WiFi is also available for those who need high-speed Internet access which costs $4.95 per hour, or $7.95 for the entire day.
Many international flights do not leave from or arrive at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (Terminal TBIT or B) they can be at Terminal 2, 4, 5, 6 or 8 depending on the airline you are traveling with. See the chart at right. To avoid missing flights, always determine in advance which terminal(s) your international flights will be flying in or out of with your airline(s), especially if you are connecting through LAX.
There are also two executive terminals for charter aircraft, if time means money.
The main Amtrak [url=http://www.amtrak.com]]station is at Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St. next to the Hollywood (US-101) freeway in downtown Los Angeles. The train station also has a Metro Red Line subway station (platforms in station's basement) and Metro Gold Line light rail station (on platforms 1 and 2, parallel to the Amtrak and Metrolink trains), while local city buses stop at various locations around the terminal, including some in the MTA (Patsaouras) bus plaza at the east portal of the station. The train station is patrolled by private security staff and people lingering too long in the seats may be asked to show a ticket. Taxis are available at the west exit and the station is within short walking distance to the Civic Center and Olvera Street. Chinatown and Little Tokyo are also nearby. Be warned that it can get quite uncomfortable in the station especially when it is hot and/or there are a lot of people. Great for business travel but perhaps not the best for families or any large group of people.
Amtrak routes serving Los Angeles are the following:
* The Coast Starlight [url=http://www.amtrak.com/coast-starlight-train[/url]]runs daily between Los Angeles and [[Seattle[/url]] via [wiki=4de1b900c73db4e7bbf3688612baaf55]Portland[/wiki] and the [wiki=9696e5377238098a3d700726d090e927]San Francisco Bay Area[/wiki], with one other LA County stop northwest of Downtown in the San Fernando Valley (Van Nuys).
* The Pacific Surfliner [url=http://www.amtrak.com/pacific-surfliner-train]]runs several trains daily between [[San Diego[/url]] and Los Angeles, with some trains traveling north to [wiki=ce896907ef849c99898b8b2043f88366]Santa Barbara[/wiki] and [wiki=7ce648909618f7c2cda67811af537294]San Luis Obispo[/wiki]. There are many local stops northwest of Downtown in the San Fernando Valley (it shares a route with the Coast Starlight but stops at more stations) and southeast to Orange County.
* The Southwest Chief [url=http://www.amtrak.com/southwest-chief-train]]runs daily to [[Chicago[/url]] via [wiki=0a9353caefcec354dbf88ae14ae0564f]Albuquerque[/wiki] and [wiki=9cdcc316e7fb3f97eb08f790c2c9f5a4]Kansas City[/wiki]. Local stops south of Downtown and east into the Inland Empire are Fullerton, [wiki=335fdb83bb546d226c01a8911b94f647]Riverside[/wiki], and [wiki=02f2ee81a58d82c1830cacff754a2e91]San Bernardino[/wiki]. The train continues to Victorville, Barstow and Needles before crossing into northern Arizona. The nearest stop to the Grand Canyon is in Williams Junction, Az and Flagstaff. The nearest stop to [wiki=05c27bf00932572de28bf65a0539ba97#By plane]Las Vegas (McCarran Int. Airport)[/wiki] is Kingman, Az. From the Kingman station there is a bus on the Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach (coordinated with the Southwest Chief train) to Las Vegas via Laughlin.
* The Sunset Limited [url=http://www.amtrak.com/sunset-limited-train]]runs three times a week out to [[New Orleans[/url]] via [wiki=512e0102c59ea46488deba1e7bd52ba5]Tucson[/wiki] and [wiki=938256dbbd2dc32e07ec3230533e3644]San Antonio[/wiki]. Additionally, Amtrak's Texas Eagle [url=http://www.texaseagle.com/home.htm]]service between San Antonio and Chicago incorporates the Sunset Limited to provide a direct connection to Los Angeles. Local stops east of Downtown are Pomona and Ontario in the Inland Empire and continuing east to Palm Springs before crossing into Arizona.
* The San Joaquin [url=http://www.amtrak.com/san-joaquin-train[/url]]from [[Fresno[/url]] and [wiki=2ff4bdbec0419eb92d7fada8b262b480]Sacramento[/wiki] goes no further than [wiki=ec6a6a6719ac490420240dd248a50b36]Bakersfield[/wiki] (about 115 miles to the north). However, coordinated bus travel on the Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach between Union Station and [wiki=ec6a6a6719ac490420240dd248a50b36]Bakersfield[/wiki] on a single ticket is available from Amtrak. From the [wiki=5f44f6572b293e3c4a6dde1dd1ac1e7b]San Joaquin Valley[/wiki] (also know as the Central Valley), this is the only option available that involves any train service. Since the track is generally west of the State Route 99 freeway, it serves different cities than the Greyhound Bus line.
Metrolink [url=http://www.metrolinktrains.com]]is an extensive regional train network with rail lines to [[Riverside[/url]], [wiki=3dfc284d045f7a5ea138295437249018]Lancaster[/wiki], [wiki=8125591b5a4b47a54cf553e41703310b]Oceanside[/wiki], [wiki=02f2ee81a58d82c1830cacff754a2e91]San Bernardino[/wiki], [wiki=205384ca9ff1699bc767401a64dc079d]Oxnard[/wiki], and points in between. Union Station is the main station served by Amtrak, the hub of the Metrolink network, and it is well-served by the Los Angeles Metro.
Union Station is spectacular (opened in 1939 and features grandiose architecture typical of that era), but there are several stops within the county that may be better located to your destination. LA is massive so make sure you get the right stop. Unfortunately, while Union Station has the best bus, subway, light rail, and commuter rail connections (and a Hertz and Budget car rental desk), it may be far from other landmarks. If you are arriving in LA by train but planning to travel around the area, here are some alternate connection options:
* The Burbank Amtrak station is next to the Burbank Bob Hope airport, where connections include Metrolink, bus and the usual rental cars at the airport's terminal. Book Amtrak through to Burbank (BUR), although doing so means you'll probably make a connection to a Pacific Surfliner at Union Station (since no long distance train serves Burbank). If that is the case, Pacific Surfliner tickets are not tied to a specific train and can be used on any Pacific Surfliner train as well as any Metrolink trains serving the same route. So when your long distance train arrives at Union Station, you can simply take the first available train heading to Burbank. (Note that Metrolink calls the same station Burbank-Bob Hope Airport, as Metrolink also serves an additional Downtown Burbank station not served by Amtrak.)
* Los Angeles World Airports operates a cheap motorcoach service between Union Station and LAX, where every major rental car company has countless thousands of cars available (weekend prices can be real bargains). Called the Union Station FlyAway, it serves the MTA (Patsouras) bus plaza adjacent to the station.
* You can also take bus 42 or the subway to LAX (Purple, Blue, and Green Line) to LAX where you can rent cars. If you are a tourist, you can plan visiting all the tourist places that are on the Metro Subway lines on one or two days and rent the car only for the rest of the trip (to go to Disneyland, Malibu or Santa Monica), though these places could be reached by bus.
Several Metrolink lines overlap Amtrak's routes or serve the same cities via a slightly different routing. Metrolink tickets can cost significantly less than Amtrak tickets; for example, LA to Oceanside is $15 on Metrolink but $28 on Amtrak. Train frequencies vary between Amtrak and Metrolink for given station pairs (some are more frequent via Amtrak and some are more frequent via Metrolink, since some Metrolink runs terminate before the end of the line).
The Greyhound [url=http://www.greyhound.com]]terminal is at 1716 East 7th Street, near I-10 and South Alameda Street, south of the city's Downtown Arts District and east of the vast, notorious Skid Row district. Though a growing residential population in the area has brought increased safety and services, this neighborhood remains largely underdeveloped. You should still not linger around here longer than you have to, and staff often ask people who are here too long to show their tickets.
Access to connecting transit services is limited. From the Greyhound station, take a taxi or bus 760 or 60 to connect to Downtown or a taxi to Union Station for the FlyAway bus to the airport, Amtrak or Metrolink trains.
Fortunately, other terminals are in far safer areas and have better access to public transportation. From the north, the North Hollywood station is located at 11239 Magnolia Boulevard, a quarter of a mile south of the Metro Red Line North Hollywood station. The Hollywood station, at 1715 North Cahuenga Boulevard, is a quarter of a mile west of the Metro Red Line Hollywood/Vine station. (The Hollywood greyhound station closed in July 2012)
Of note for passengers coming from the east is the El Monte station, at 3501 North Santa Anita Ave. The station also houses an M.T.A. and Foothill Transit bus station, and frequent express bus service to Downtown Los Angeles is available upstairs. The El Monte station also houses a substation of the local county sheriff. Also, from the east, the Pasadena Greyhound station, located one-quarter mile west of the Lake Avenue Metro Gold Line station, is an option.
From the south, Greyhound passengers should use the East Los Angeles station, located at 1241 South Soto Street, or the Compton Station, located at 305 North Tamarind Ave. The East Los Angeles station has many buses to downtown nearby, while the Compton station is across the street from a Metro Blue Line station.
Cruceros USA and Autobus Americanos are subsidiary brands of Greyhound Mexico [url=http://wwww.greyhound.com.mx[/url]]for travel within the American southwest and to Mexico from the U.S. They share the same stations & stops as Greyhound Lines in the U.S. Onward travel from Tijuana, Mexicali and other cities south of the border are with the partner, [url=http://www.estrellablanca.com.mx[/url]Grupo Estrella Blanca[/url].
In addition to Greyhound there are other choices:
* There are various vans & buses going from under the green "FlyAway, Long Distance Buses & Vans" sign in front of each terminal at the airport (LAX) to Ventura, Santa Barbara and Orange Counties and to Lancaster (in north L.A. County, north of the San Gabriel Mountains from Pasadena) and San Fernando Valley. See [url=http://www.lawa.org/welcome_lax.aspx?id=1296]this link[/url]
* Las Vegas, Barstow & Los Angeles on one route. Goes north to the SF Bay area (San Francisco, San Jose, & Oakland) on separate routes. The stop 100m to the left from the Union Station main entrance, directly across from the 'Mozaic at Union Station' Apartment Complex.
* offers service to [wiki=f4334fdfa1c728eae375fe781e2e2d9d]San Francisco[/wiki] and [wiki=fd9338593b1a5ec176616b8ebbb90d2c]San Jose[/wiki]. In Los Angeles they stop in Hollywood, North Hollywood, Santa Monica and a Denny's Restaurant across from the downtown Union Station. See [url=http://www.cashuttlebus.com/locations.php] this link[/url] for specifics. Prices starting at $15 and the only bus service with reserved seating. Allows up to 2 bags for free (3rd bag for $5). Also allows bicycles for $5.
* Goes to [wiki=ec6a6a6719ac490420240dd248a50b36]Bakersfield[/wiki] from under the green "FlyAway, Long Distance Buses & Vans" sign in front of each terminal at the airport (LAX)
* Goes from Los Angeles to Indio, Phoenix, Las Cruces, NM; and El Paso on one route and to Las Vegas & North Las Vegas on another route. They stop in E. Los Angeles, El Monte and Colton on their way on both routes. The East L.A. terminal is at 4425 E Olympic Blvd Tel: 323-265-3232
* offers service to the [wiki=2624f1dd85cdc4063a1183056398c006]Bay Area[/wiki], [wiki=2ff4bdbec0419eb92d7fada8b262b480]Sacramento[/wiki], and [wiki=5047bc596a4bab2dc7f7c120bb22dec5]Phoenix[/wiki]. They have other stops in Westminster, El Monte, Long Beach & Rosemead as well. Check their website as to where your bus is picking up at.
* From Los Angeles they go north to Madera via San Fernando, Bakersfield, Fresno and other smaller towns along the I-5/CA-99 corridor. Branches north to Stockton & San Jose from Madera. Branches south from Los Angeles on three separate routes to Tijuana & Mexicali.
* offers four daily trips to and from Anaheim, San Diego, and Las Vegas. They require advance reservations for hotel pick-up in Los Angeles.
* Offers bus service to/from various points in Mexico, California & Arizona. They also have another station at 2500 E Florence Ave, Huntington Park in east L.A. Tel: 323 588-8330
* Express bus service to/from [wiki=f4334fdfa1c728eae375fe781e2e2d9d]San Francisco[/wiki], [wiki=4d5cbd6481334a0aabb3035a7ba0d027]San Jose[/wiki], [wiki=ca442975313ffa75bbac92e69d79507f]Oakland[/wiki] and [wiki=05c27bf00932572de28bf65a0539ba97]Las Vegas[/wiki]. Double Decker Coaches with WiFi, Restrooms, Power Outlets. Maximum one bag allowed. Seats starting at $1 with dynamic pricing, average prices around $20.
* Goes to [wiki=b1358b83e586f5150c5cc7b3e6d3f961]Carpinteria[/wiki](Btwn Chase Bank & SB Bank & Trust in the Casitas Plaza parking lot), [wiki=ce896907ef849c99898b8b2043f88366]Santa Barbara[/wiki] ((Corner of Por La Mar & Ninos Drive at the Bistro 1111 in the Hyatt Hotel @ 1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd) and [wiki=6361cecb22ce89f05a1b6120eadf3e3e]Goleta[/wiki] (their office) from under the green "FlyAway, Long Distance Buses & Vans" sign in front of each terminal at the airport (LAX)
Unfortunately, there is no central bus terminal and different companies leave from their own terminals or stops. Some stop in multiple locations all over the city. The terminals or stops for El Paso-Los Angeles Limousine, InterCalifornias and Tufesa are in the sketchy skid row areas near downtown and are very close to each other.
Cycling conditions in the City of Los Angeles and surrounding cities are in a transitional state. While beach cities like Santa Monica and Hermosa Beach tend to have modern bike infrastructure due to a burgeoning number of cycling residents and tourists, all parts of the LA metro are subject to impatient and motivated vehicle traffic, in large quantity. Simply put, to stay safe you must be prepared to yield to an inattentive or impatient motorist at all times, wherever you are, no matter who has the right of way. Staying safe on a bike here means riding with respect to bad drivers. Lights and high visibility apparel are a must. For mountain bikers, LA remains a good destination and trails and safe roads are nearby.
If you are visiting West Hollywood, under no circumstances should you take Fountain Ave between La Cienega and La Brea during any high traffic period. It is a marked cycling route, but its crosstown traffic is some of the most unyielding in Los Angeles and a collision is likely to be at high-speed. Try Willoughby or De Longpre instead.
There also is a possibility of doing guided bike tours in LA. There are various bike tour companies which can lead you through the city in a few hours. For example [url=http://www.bajabikes.eu/en/bike-tour-los-angeles]Baja Bikes[/url], [url=http://www.hollywoodtourz.webs.com/biketours.htm]Hollywoodtourz[/url] or [url=http://bikesandhikesla.com]Bikes and Hikes LA[/url] are bike tour companies which offer guided bicycle tours. With a local guide, cycling is a fun and safe way of discovering the City of Angels. You can cycle around places like the Walk of Fame, homes of the big Hollywood stars and LA’s famous beaches (especially beautiful is the stretch between [wiki=b8ed1ef341171d89a884ad87d2ca885f]Santa Monica[/wiki] and [wiki=f2ab82faff7d2e19f0e527553a5cef6c]Manhattan Beach[/wiki]).
Public transportation in L.A., as in most American cities, leaves something to be desired. Although the Los Angeles area has an extensive bus system and many transit agencies, and a fairly new subway and elevated network to boot, this is still not adequate considering the region's population and size. Although some bus routes have service every 10 to 15 minutes, many others (especially away from the main tourist areas) have service every 30 to 90 minutes. Also keep in mind there is not a bus line to reach every nook and cranny, and as such, it is not uncommon to find yourself walking up to a mile or so to your destination after you've gotten off the bus at the closest stop.
And because there are numerous bus transit agencies in the L.A. area, you may find yourself paying additional money when you get off one transit agency's bus and board another transit agency's bus to continue your journey. Keep in mind, some bus routes will end service in the early evening - although a number operate 24 hours a day - so you should plan your trip accordingly to make sure you are not stranded while on an outing, thus subjecting yourself to an expensive taxi ride back to your hotel - which, depending on how far away you are, may end up costing roughly the same as if you had just rented a car for the day in the first place.
Los Angeles also has an expanding subway/light rail system to help speed up journeys around the city. If you plan to stay near a Metro Rail station in the outlying areas, this may suffice as the rail network will take you to the tourist areas such as Downtown, Hollywood, Universal Studios, Westside/Culver City, Pasadena, LAX and Long Beach. However, those who will be staying or visiting outlying areas, and would otherwise have to take multiple buses during their visit, are strongly advised to rent a car if the budget allows.
For visitors who will routinely be traveling only a couple of miles or so, staying just a few days, and not minding the 10-30 minute bus wait, then they may find that the L.A. public transportation system can be sufficient. If you intend to travel in the areas of the West Side, downtown L.A., Beverly Hills, and Hollywood, and primarily travel during weekdays, then public transportation may reasonably accomodate your needs.
Metro Rapid buses come more frequently and make fewer stops than local buses and should be used when possible. Remember that many cities in the metro area (including Santa Monica, Culver City, Long Beach, Santa Clarita, and Ontario to name a few) operate their own bus agencies, independent of the Metro, thus charging different fares.
If you choose to rent a car, you will have the pleasure of directly experiencing the sprawling freeway system of the Greater Los Angeles Area along with its notorious traffic jams. Regardless, driving yourself will still be more convenient than bus travel for long trips, or visits to multiple destinations on the same day.
But if you choose to drive, please watch out for dangers unique to L.A. driving, such as road rage, high-speed police chases, and paparazzi chasing celebrities. If you see a helicopter following the freeway and pointing its spotlight at the freeway, that may indicate something big is going on.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Los Angeles once had one of the world's largest streetcar networks. Streetcars fell out of fashion during the 1940s and the last lines were dismantled in 1963. By the mid-1970s, it was recognized that dismantling the streetcars and then failing to complete most of the Los Angeles freeway network as planned (over half were canceled) had been a serious mistake. Most of Los Angeles was already afflicted with the legendary traffic jams which have persisted to the present. After many years of planning and construction, the Metro Rail subway/elevated light rail system opened its first line in 1990, and it has been rapidly expanding ever since.
Many neighborhoods and sightseeing destinations can be reached using Metro Rail, including downtown, Koreatown, Hollywood, North Hollywood, Chinatown, Pasadena, and Long Beach. Public transportation is preferable, when possible, to the gridlock that often occurs on Los Angeles area freeways and streets.
A single-trip fare valid on one line in one direction costs $1.75 (with free transfers for two hours) and can be purchased from ticket vending machines located in the stations. Alternatively, a day pass (valid until 3 a.m. the next day) costs $7; a weekly pass (running Sunday to Saturday) costs $25, and a monthly pass costs $100. Passes allow unlimited access on Metro bus and rail lines. Day passes can be purchased through ticket vending machines in stations (on buses, day passes can be purchased only using a reusable TAP card), and weekly and monthly passes on TAP cards can be obtained online or at Metro Customer Centers.[url=http://www.metro.net/riding_metro/riders_guide/contact_us-01.htm]](The main one is at Union Station.) Metrorail and metrobus services can be used with the passes (a few express bus routes require payment of additional fare except for pass users). Route maps are available online and in stations.[http://www.metro.net/riding_metro/maps/default.htm[/url]
Metro fare payment works on a proof-of-payment system. There are turnstiles in the subway stations and some light rail stations. Passengers using a TAP card must tap the turnstile to have a valid fare. Passengers using paper one-day passes can walk through some of the turnstiles which are still unlocked, but most turnstiles are now locked and can only be triggered with a TAP card. Tickets or passes must be purchased before entering boarding zones. Metro police randomly check for valid tickets on the trains or platforms, even if people did not board any train. The penalty for not being able to show a valid ticket is $250 and up to 48 hours of community service.
Unlike many cities whose local train systems allow free transfers between rail lines when the lines converge, trips that involve multiple lines or transfers in Los Angeles require separate tickets for each line. A better option will simply be to purchase a day, weekly, or monthly pass for travel on all the lines. Passes can be more cost effective than several single-ride tickets.
Metro Rail/Transitway Lines:
* Red Line, a subway that runs from [wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]Downtown[/wiki] (Union Station) to the [wiki=1ac441036f927b9815ba1137464ee064]Hollywood[/wiki] area, then to [wiki=a500acd2fee8a369c12de0b242bb1d93]North Hollywood[/wiki] in the [wiki=8b20181bc3de27fb7f9b6a117c9f5cce]San Fernando Valley[/wiki]. This route shares track with the Purple Line for about half of its length; when boarding a subway train, check its destination signs to make sure you are on the right train. Station display signs should also provide information about the destination of the train you are boarding. Trains run on average every 12 minutes daytime, becoming less frequent in the evening.
* Purple Line, a subway that runs from [wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]Downtown[/wiki] (Union Station) to Koreatown. This route shares track with the Red Line for most of its length; when boarding a subway train, check its destination signs to make sure you are on the right train. Note that the Purple Line trains outside of rush hour are only two cars in length and will not fill the length of the station. There are tunnel signs to help guide you to where the train will stop.
* Blue Line, a light rail line that runs from Downtown Los Angeles(7th Street/Metro Center Station) through South Los Angeles to [wiki=5de943f2fe978b75081984c68fee2faa]Long Beach[/wiki].
* Expo Line, a light rail line that runs from Downtown Los Angeles (7th Street/Metro Center Station) to Downtown Culver City.
* Gold Line, a light rail line that runs from East LA through Chinatown and Northeast Los Angeles to [wiki=5437249604733e2a4447dbcfaa82f7d6]Pasadena[/wiki].
* Green Line, a light rail line that runs from the South Bay (near LAX) east to the city of [wiki=e3b7a064f5789331ca13e001a668718c]Norwalk[/wiki] along Interstate 105.
* Orange Line, a transitway across the San Fernando Valley from North Hollywood to Warner Center (Woodland Hills), using sleek articulated "bus-trains" on rubber tires.
* Silver Line, a transitway from El Monte to Artesia using "bus-trains" on rubber tires. A surchage is to be paid on this route. must be purchased for this route.
Note that Metro operating hours and timetables vary fom one line to another.[http://www.metro.net/riding_metro/riders_guide/planning_trip.htm]
There is currently no direct rail connection between Downtown Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), but a free shuttle from the Metro Green Line Aviation/LAX Station to terminals is available. Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) operates the much more convenient and direct LAX FlyAway shuttle every 30 min between Union Station and airport terminals.[http://www.lawa.org/welcome_lax.aspx?id=292]
One should not confuse Metro with Metrolink, the commuter rail system. Metrolink, centered at Union Station in Los Angeles, is a regional train network that runs to outlying suburbs. The system reaches as far as [wiki=5eb743f9607b6e90abf72039f4fc63b8]Ventura[/wiki], [wiki=3dfc284d045f7a5ea138295437249018]Lancaster[/wiki], [wiki=02f2ee81a58d82c1830cacff754a2e91]San Bernardino[/wiki], and [wiki=8125591b5a4b47a54cf553e41703310b]Oceanside[/wiki] (northern San Diego County), but runs limited service at night and on weekends. Metrolink does not accept Metro passes and thus requires the purchase of a separate ticket. Metrolink, like Metro, uses the honor system, where no barriers are required to enter the system, but frequent random inspections are used to ensure that every passenger has a valid ticket. If a passenger is found without a valid ticket, the fine is $250, with 48 hours of community service. Metrolink tickets are honored as a day pass on Metrorail and Metrobus.[http://www.metrolinktrains.com]
For information on the Los Angeles County bus system, operated by Metro, call 1-800-COMMUTE (1-800-266-6883) or go on the site first.[url=http://www.mta.net]] The Metro bus system covers virtually all of central and southern Los Angeles County, including much of the City of Los Angeles.
Many Angelenos without a car use the bus as their primary mode of transportation. Within the central area, roughly from Santa Monica Blvd on the north, the [[Los Angeles/Downtown|Downtown[/url]] area on the east, Pico Blvd on the south, and Santa Monica on the west, the buses are somewhat frequent. Outside of this corridor, however, service is not as frequent. An online 12 minute map is available.[url=http://metro.net/riding_metro/maps/images/12_min_map.pdf]]
Metro buses come in three basic kinds: Local (orange), Rapid (red) & Express (blue). Express buses have the fewest stops and use the freeways (if possible) to get closer to the end of the route, thus skipping some local areas. Rapid buses usually go on local streets (parallel local routes) with fewer stops than Local buses and are better at cutting through traffic because they are not constantly diving over to the curb to pick up or drop off passengers.[url=http://metro.net/riding_metro/maps/images/rapid_system.pdf[/url].]Of course the orange local buses which stop frequently to pick up and drop off people. Check the schedules in advance as many routes change and have reduced frequency in the late hours. Fares are currently $1.75 one way (with two hours of free transfers if using a TAP card), $7 for a day pass (also good on Metro Rail, but note that on buses, day passes can be purchased only using a reusable TAP card), $25 for a weekly pass, and $100 for a monthly pass. Day passes can be purchased from any Metro Rail station or bus operator; weekly and monthly passes can be purchased in selected stores in the county, and at Metro Customer Centers.[url=http://www.metro.net/riding_metro/riders_guide/contact_us-01.htm[/url].]They are also available online.[http://taptogo.net[/url]
Metro also operates extra-long Metro Liners on the Silver and Orange bus rapid transit lines, which appear on the Metro Rail map because both operate in dedicated transitways for most of their routes.
Neighboring cities within the greater Los Angeles area often operate their own bus systems with different fares which extend into the City of Los Angeles and overlap with parts of the Metro bus network and adjacent cities. Some of them also have 'Rapid Ride' route paralleling a local route with fewer stops. They are:
* operates local buses in Lancaster and Palmdale in Antelope Valley located north of the San Gabriel Mountains in northern Los Angeles County. They also operate commuter express buses down from Lancaster & Palmdale to downtown Los Angeles (#785); West Los Angeles & Century City (#786); and West San Fernando Valley (#787) between 3AM & 6AM in the mornings and going back up from 3PM to 5PM. At other times the Metrolink Lancaster Train would be the way to get between Antelope Valley and the greater metropolitan area. See schedules for exact times. [http://www.avta.com/index.aspx?page=164]
* Operated by City of Santa Monica with local service in and around Santa Monica and to Brentwood, Westwood (#12), Venice Beach (#3,R3), downtown L.A (#10), and LAX (#3, R3)
* operated by City of Redondo Beach to connect Redondo Beach with Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo and LAX (#109) as well as east/west connectivity to the City of Torrance (#102) on two fixed routes.
* Operates buses in around Burbank and North Hollywood
* operates buses in and around Culver City, Venice (#1), Westchester, Westwood, UCLA (#6,R6), West Los Angeles Transit Center (#1 & 4), Palms, Marina Del Rey (#7), Rancho Park, Mar Vista (#1 & 2), Century City (#3) and LAX (#6)
* operates buses in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles such as downtown Los Angeles ('Silver Streak'), Montebello, Covina, West Covina, Industry, El Monte, Pasadena, Pomona, San Dimas, Montclaire, Claremont, etc. etc.
* The city of Gardena also operates their own small fleet buses within the city on 5 routes.
* operates buses in and around Long Beach, North Long Beach, Signal Hill, Compton, Paramount, Cerritos, Lakewood, etc. The #11 bus goes to the Long Beach Airport.
* operates white & blue shuttle buses from downtown to adjacent neighborhoods and similarly in 26 other high density neighborhoods around town to supplement Metro routes
* goes in & around Torrance and to LAX (#8), downtown Los Angeles (#4), Redondo Beach and Long Beach (R3, 3)
The below are additional service outlying cities and suburbs in adjacent counties that make up the greater Los Angeles Metropolitan area. Some may operate limited express buses into downtown Los Angeles during the morning rush hours and back out to their respective areas in the afternoons. Otherwise take a Metrolink train out to the adjacent counties and transfer to the below:
* Serve the cities in Orange County, south of Los Angeles. The cities served are Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguana Hills, Laguana Beach, Newport Beach, Orange, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana & Westminster
* Serve the cities in San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire, east of Los Angeles. The cities served are Chino, Chino Hills, Colton, Fontana, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Rialto, San Bernardino, Uplands & Yucaipa
* Serve the cities in Riverside County. The cities served are Riverside, San Jacinto, Temecula, Banning, Beaumont, Calimesa, Canyon Lake, Corona, Eastvale, Hemet, Jurupa Valley, Lake Elsinore, Moreno Valley, Menifee, Murrieta, Norco, Perris, Riverside, San Jacinto, Temecula, Wildomar and the unincorporated areas of Riverside County.
Unfortunately, unlike most American cities that have one or perhaps two transit agencies with compatible fares, the Greater Los Angeles area has many different transit agencies whose fare structures are not interchangeable with each other. You will have to pay additional money if you're transferring to a different agency's bus.
Los Angeles is notorious for its traffic conditions, and its freeway system can get extremely clogged at times. Still, automobile travel is the easiest way to see parts of the region. Many major car rental companies are located at LAX.
Many natural areas surrounding the LA metropolitan area can be reached only by car. See the article about [wiki=03fc2401554f13eb6fcc7d1e27e128da]Driving in Los Angeles County[/wiki] for more information. If you are going to be driving, make sure that you have access to extensive street and freeway maps or a GPS navigation system or you may get lost on the spaghetti map of freeways.
The freeways can be confusing for visitors. It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with your chosen route prior to setting out on your trip and pay attention to traffic and road signs. "Carpool Only" lanes may be entered with two or more occupants in a vehicle. Although the speed limit is 65 miles per hour, most people drive much faster. Do not drive in the carpool lane if you don't have at least one passenger and are comfortable with driving at least 80 miles per hour, traffic permitting. In the other far left lines, drive at least 75 miles per hour, traffic permitting. If you are not comfortable driving this fast, stay in the slower lanes to the right to avoid angering others.
Listening to a radio station is helpful for any long trip through LA since most stations regularly disseminate traffic information during the daylight hours. KNX 1070 AM and KFWB 980 AM are the most frequent and cover the metropolitan area, including Orange and Ventura counties and the Inland Empire.
Although LA's traffic jams are legendary, the freeway grid provides for an effective movement of traffic and a variety of alternatives. Be sure to have an alternative route planned out in advance; many freeways run parallel to one another and serve as viable alternatives, especially in long-distance trips. If possible, use a passenger as your navigator. You may also check SigAlert [url=http://www.sigalert.com/map.asp?Region=Greater+Los+Angeles],]TrafficReport [url=http://www.trafficreport.com/los-angeles[/url]]or [url=http://bigverdict.com/trafficinfo/[/url]"BigVerdict"[/url] for current traffic information before your trip. In addition, the electronic message signs placed along the freeways show estimated times to destinations as well as warnings about severe accidents that require lane closures or detours. For the worst accidents, Caltrans may deploy pickup trucks carrying large electronic signs to freeways approaching the accident site to give further warning.
The most severely congested areas of Los Angeles include downtown, Hollywood, the entire Westside, and everything in between. Assume the worst and plan for the possibility of traffic jams on all freeways in those areas (I-10, I-405, I-110, I-5, and US 101) at any hour of day or night, every day of the week.
As for driving on the street grid, most cities in the Greater Los Angeles Area (also known as the Southland) have well-maintained streets, but streets within the city of Los Angeles itself tend to have a lot of cracks and potholes. The city government spends about half of its annual budget on law enforcement and crime prevention, which leaves little for street maintenance. The most dangerous period is within two weeks after major rainstorms, when potholes can grow large enough for entire tires to sink deep into them. This means they can cause severe, irreparable damage to tires, wheels, and shocks, and force drivers to replace all three.
Both Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards are particularly notorious for extremely bumpy conditions, especially in the Mid-City area east of Beverly Hills. The city government has installed sensor loops on most major streets and publishes real-time traffic speed maps online.[http://trafficinfo.lacity.org/].
Also, while many other California cities have dedicated left-turn traffic lights at major intersections, allowing for so-called "protected" left turns, most Los Angeles intersections do not have them. They operate under the rule where you must yield to opposing traffic, and turn only when it is safe. Some Los Angeles streets are so congested that it is impossible to turn until the traffic light reaches the yellow (caution) phase. Therefore, it is customary in Los Angeles for as many as two or three vehicles to creep into the middle of such intersections in order to turn against opposing traffic on a yellow light. During rush hour, once the light turns yellow and the two or three cars waiting in the intersection finally initiate their left turns, a fourth or even fifth car will sometimes follow them through (running the red light in the process). If you are a first-time visitor, you may find yourself being honked at by other drivers (or vice versa) until you become accustomed to this.
Such turning against a yellow light is legal as long as the vehicle enter the intersection while the light is green or yellow. But entering while red is considered running the red and a violation of California law. Suburbs outside of Los Angeles that are less congested tend to be much more strict about enforcing red lights in all cases (including left turns). Therefore, you must be careful as to whether you are driving in the City of Los Angeles itself or another city. One way to tell if you are in the City of Los Angeles is to look out for its distinctive street signs on corners, of which there are at least four major types because the city has never had enough money to upgrade all of them at once to the current design.
Driving around downtown Los Angeles is especially frustrating to deal with. Even when there are not a large number of vehicles present, drivers still tend to go slower in the downtown area because of the numerous turns, ramps, tunnels, potholes, and traffic lights.
Another frustration of driving in downtown Los Angeles is the very expensive cost of parking there. Many downtown hotels and many hotels outside of downtown (such as in high-density areas like LAX, Hollywood and Century City) have parking garages, but will charge you exorbitant daily parking fees. Even worse, they may have only valet parking, meaning you will be expected to also tip the valet. If you plan to bring or rent a car to drive around Los Angeles, consider looking for hotels that have free parking or at least reasonable fees for self-parking garages.
Red light cameras were a longtime menace for hapless visitors. The good news is that the City of Los Angeles [url=http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/28/local/la-me-red-light-cameras-20110728]has removed red light cameras[/url] as of July 2011.
Note that HOV/carpool lanes on the freeways which are operated as High Occupancy Toll (HOT) "Express Lanes" by Metro always require an electronic FasTrak transponder, even when driving with two or more passengers (unlike HOT programs elsewhere). Metro does not have a "pay-by-plate" program like other agencies for one-time use of the Express Lanes. Either you must set up a regular FasTrak account with Metro or any other California toll authority in order to obtain a transponder. Or you must rent a vehicle with a FasTrak transponder installed from a rental car agency which will pass through all toll charges to your bill.
If you do not have a FasTrak transponder in your vehicle, exercise extreme caution to avoid entering Express Lanes or the handful of freeway onramps that feed directly into Express Lanes. If you drive through an Express Lane toll gantry without a valid FasTrak transponder, or the highway patrol catches you illegally crossing double-white lines to avoid the toll gantries, you could end up with an expensive ticket (or if you're in a rental car, a huge surcharge on your bill).
Taxis can be expensive. You cannot flag them down on the street, but can call one of the taxi companies to send a cab to pick you up. You may have to wait awhile for a taxi to get to you depending on where you are. Remember, this city generally experiences a lot of traffic and is very spread out. Thus the overwhelming majority of citizens have their own vehicles; hence, cabs are expensive and less involved in the movement of people than in cities like New York, Chicago, or Washington, DC. One should also consider APP devices like LYFT and UBER as they have recently implemented themselves into the norm for LA transportation.
Hiring a vehicle is a quick and easy affair. Arriving passengers will find offers and services from various car rental firms there. It is only a short distance from the desks of the car rental agents to the car rental service centre where the hire cars are picked up and returned. You could also find different private options like [url=http://www.dottransfers.com/united-states/los-angeles/]Los Angeles Limo Service[/url] or [url=http://www.alistlimo.com/]AlistLimo.com[/url]
An often overlooked alternative which deals well with Los Angeles' lackluster public transportation and frustrating traffic conditions is to travel by motorcycle. Rentals range from around $70 for a basic bike up to $300 a day for high-performance sport bikes, with plenty of range and options between. This option garners a higher per-day rental price than a car, with obviously diminished cargo space. However, a motorcycle's significant increase in fuel economy combined with the city's high gas prices, and ease of parking in a notoriously difficult-to-park-in city may be appealing to the adventurous rider. A quick web search will reveal numerous rental agencies, including Eagle Rider (http://www.eaglerider.com/), Cheap Motorcycle Rental (http://cheapmotorcyclerental.com/), and others. California riders must have a class M1 license.
Of course, riding a motorcycle should be done by those who are experienced as it is not for the faint of heart. But it may afford the rider a small advantage in terms of travel time. In most states in America, it is illegal to "split lanes" -riding between two adjacent lanes through slow or stopped traffic to get ahead of other vehicles- as a motorcycle rider is still required to follow virtually all rules and guidelines as if it were a car. Although lane spliting is illegal in most states, it is legal in California if undertaken at speeds under 45 mph. Motorcycles with engines less than 250cc, or if incapable of maintaining speeds exceeding 60mph, are not permitted on freeways. Foreign travelers not familiar with the United States may notice motorcycles tend to be comparatively large, heavy, and fast and extreme caution should be exercised.
The canyon roads of Malibu, Topanga, and the San Gabriel mountains are frequented by motorsports enthusiasts year-round due to their extreme "twistiness" and contain celebrated hangouts such as Neptune's Net (on the Pacific Coast Highway), the Rock Store (on Mulholland in Malibu Canyon), and others. Bikers visiting on the weekend will find good company, cold beer, and excellent riding there. The drinking age is 21, and it is enforced.
Nearly all L.A. first-time visitors will want to visit [wiki=1ac441036f927b9815ba1137464ee064]Hollywood[/wiki], [wiki=a5729cafdc4c9dba7b4ee94af3c289f3]Universal City[/wiki] (specifically Universal Studios), and [wiki=9e1752c1834a760f8d5699cb94f94e9f]Venice Beach[/wiki] as their top priorities within the City of Los Angeles itself. [wiki=a388bdea937c63cdef34b8a45ad6630c]Century City[/wiki], [wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]Downtown Los Angeles[/wiki], UCLA, USC, Griffith Park and the Los Angeles River bridges just east of downtown are all also worth a look. They have all been used for filming a huge number of famous movies, television shows, and television commercials, and will seem slightly familiar for that reason.
However, many other landmarks generally associated with L.A. are technically not located in the City of Los Angeles, but are in adjacent cities or unincorporated areas. For example, Rodeo Drive is found in [wiki=22dde6e992e9039005d1071ef7507bb2]Beverly Hills[/wiki]; the Santa Monica Pier, the Third Street Promenade, and Santa Monica Beach are in [wiki=b8ed1ef341171d89a884ad87d2ca885f]Santa Monica[/wiki]; studio facilities for NBC, Disney, and Warner Bros. are all found in [wiki=c133513b3c1d2f3ffc1cbf13999816ec]Burbank[/wiki]; the Sony Pictures Entertainment studio is in [wiki=804e57c7cedc9f303fdd8791fd9bef3b]Culver City[/wiki]; and [wiki=1a8e12e918299570217fb01c1f89a04b]Marina del Rey[/wiki] is an unincorporated area under county jurisdiction. [wiki=c4acba88938d60af55d69ed281b143a1]Malibu[/wiki] is about half an hour's drive west of Santa Monica. [wiki=eee86e9b0fe29b2d63c714b51ce54980]Disneyland[/wiki], [wiki=cd58e89c659592d05e070e2a040f4072]Newport Beach[/wiki], and South Coast Plaza are all located over an hour's drive to the southeast in [wiki=b80b17694e6f0472bc5cd216a4bc4142]Orange County[/wiki].
Los Angeles only became a major city within the span of the last century, and as such doesn't have the historical pedigree of many other major cities, particularly in [wiki=912d59cdf1d3f551fae21f6f0062258f]Europe[/wiki] or even on the East Coast. That said, the city has preserved some of its heritage despite its constant development, and many of the historical sights are the greatest in the region.
Olvera Street is the historic center of LA, and the city derives its name from the Spanish-Mexican pueblo established here in the 1780s as Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles, or Our Lady the Queen of the Angels. The oldest building in the city is located here and is open to visitors, as are a number of Mexican restaurants and shops catering to tourists. As the oldest area in the city, the street is part of the larger El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument holding many more buildings preserved from the 18th and 19th centuries.
There are two other significant historic sites in Los Angeles County preserving the region's Spanish heritage. There's the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel in present-day Alhambra and Mission San Fernando Rey de España in the [wiki=8b20181bc3de27fb7f9b6a117c9f5cce]San Fernando Valley[/wiki], both preservations of the Spanish missions that dominated the region during its early European settlement.
Within walking distance of Olvera Street is the Historic Core of downtown. This recently revitalized area is home to many examples of late 19th and early 20th century architecture, as well as two major fixtures of the city in Union Station and City Hall. Union Station was constructed in the 1930s in a Mission-revival style of architecture and still serves as the main hub for the city's railway system. Similarly, City Hall is a grand historic building still in use by the city government, constructed in the late 1920s. Other historic buildings, including Victorian-style homes, brick buildings (surprisingly uncommon in Los Angeles) and old movie palaces are on display throughout the area.
Less-touristy areas in Northeast LA also hold several exhibits on early life in modern Los Angeles during the turn of the 20th century. The Heritage Square Museum is an open-air museum and historic architecture exhibit in the Montecito Heights neighborhood, which chronicles the development and history of [wiki=68731e74eac6e5073e7034c81f1f1fd7]Southern California[/wiki] using preserved examples of local architectural eras. Volunteer tour guides take guests through the area, discussing the region's history, culture and, of course, architecture. The nearby Lummis Home is a 19th century American craftsman establishment built by Charles Fletcher Lummis, its river rock facades immediately recognizable from the disparate Los Angeles architecture of the surrounding areas. The 4,000 square-foot home is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument open to the public.
The Miracle Mile area along [wiki=9900a6d70a186d8290faa34a3c6699bb]Wilshire[/wiki] Boulevard west of downtown is another of the city's historic areas. Most of this area's architecture is newer than the Historic Core, and is decorated with buildings made in the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne society of the mid-20th century. This area has its origins in the 1920s as one of the first shopping districts catering to the area's suburban sprawl.
As the film capital of the world, Los Angeles has many landmarks made famous by films, so movie buffs could spend days scouting out filming locations from their favorite film scenes. One location of note is the Griffith Observatory in the foothills north of downtown, a planetarium and Art Deco structure famous for its panoramic views of the city and many onscreen appearances in films like Rebel Without a Cause. [wiki=1ac441036f927b9815ba1137464ee064]Hollywood[/wiki], [wiki=22dde6e992e9039005d1071ef7507bb2]Beverly Hills[/wiki] and [wiki=804e57c7cedc9f303fdd8791fd9bef3b]Culver City[/wiki] are home to many iconic and historic theaters and movie studios, including Universal Studios and the Chinese Theater along Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame. Many major movie studios, like Universal, offer tours of the grounds that go through the studio's often extensive and illicit histories.
Finally, for a bit of ancient history stretching far beyond even Native American settlements of Los Angeles, tourists can visit the famous La Brea Tar Pits just west of Miracle Mile, an area where tar has seeped above ground for thousands of years, trapping and preserving the remains of many animals. The Page Museum has many of the fossils recovered there on display.
[url=://www.lacma.org/overview. It also has a stunning permanent outdoor installation of 200 cast iron street lamps that light up Wilshire Boulevard at night.[/url]url=://collections.lacma.org/node/214966 LACMA hosts regular weekly Sundays Live free classical concerts at its Bing Theatre from 6-7 p.m.[/url]url=://www.lacma.org/programs/music/sundays-live and free Friday outdoor jazz concerts from 6 - 7 p.m.[/url]url=://www.lacma.org/programs/music/jazz-at-lacma April through November.
* Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History., 900 Exposition Blvd., Mon - Sun: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., General Admission: $12, Seniors & College Students $9, Youth (13-17) $9, Children (3-12) $5. This Museum covers everything from dinosaurs to nature and more. The Dinosaur Hall has more than 300 real fossils and 20 complete dinosaurs including the world’s only Tyrannosaurus rex growth series (three different specimens). There’s also an insect zoo, a butterfly pavilion, a Dino lab and an edible gardens. The Gem and Mineral Hall houses 2,000 pieces and has a vault to view diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and other gems.[http://www.nhm.org/site/activities-programs][Image:GettyCenter.LYH.jpg|right|200px|thumb|The Getty Center as seen from the museum's central garden.]]
* Designed by renowned architect Richard Meier to reflect the area’s natural sunlight, the museum is located at the top of the Santa Monica Mountains with views of the L.A. basin and the Pacific Ocean. It also has its own breathtaking gardens. The Getty Center is home to an extensive art collection and is widely regarded as one of the finest art museums in the U.S.
* Designed by renowned architect Richard Meier to reflect the area’s natural sunlight, the museum is located at the top of the Santa Monica Mountains with views of the L.A. basin and the Pacific Ocean. It also has its own breathtaking gardens. The Getty Center is home to an extensive art collection and is widely regarded as one of the finest art museums in the U.S.
*The only contemporary art museum in Los Angeles, there are two branches located downtown, and an additional one at the Pacific Design Center on Melrose Avenue. It features rotating exhibits.
*Since its inception in 1965, LACMA has been devoted to collecting art that spans both history and geography-and represents Los Angeles’ diverse population. It features over 100,000 Asian, Latin American, European, and American works of art.[/url]
* California Afro-American Museum.
* La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum, 5801 Wilshire Boulevard. Commonly shortened to just the "La Brea Tar Pits" in the area. They hold the only urban, active Ice Age excavation site on Earth. The museum showcases mammoths, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and other fossils that were discovered in the pits. You can stroll along side the pits where tar is still bubbles and watch active fossil excavation sites. Visitors can learn about Los Angeles as it was between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago.
* The Museum of Tolerance,
* Covers the Japanese American experience, with a special emphasis on the concentration camps of World War II.
* The original J. Paul Getty museum (before the Getty Center was built), houses Getty’s vast antiquities collection. Along with its array of Greek, Roman and Etruscan artifacts, the Villa is perched high above the Pacific Ocean with stunning views. An outdoor Greek theater holds regular evening performances and the gardens have been recreated to reflect ancient Roman design complete with reflecting ponds, fountains and Mediterranean plants.
* The museum is home to one of the most diverse collections European paintings and sculptures spanning works from the 14th through the 20th century. There are more than 12,000 works of art in the museum - from Simon’s private collection. Approximately a thousand of them are on display in the museum’s buildings and gardens. The sculpture garden is a major draw with its stunning pond filled with water lilies and tranquil surrounding walking paths.
Spanning over 4,300 acres, Griffith Park is the tenth-largest municipally owned park in the [wiki=f253efe302d32ab264a76e0ce65be769]United States[/wiki] and the second largest city park in [wiki=356779a9a1696714480f57fa3fb66d4c]California[/wiki]. Situated in the Los Feliz neighborhood in east [wiki=d0aa2dffa0da83f1f34681308d04db5d]Los Angeles[/wiki], it’s a great place for hikes, picnics or hanging around with friends. It’s also home to the Griffith Observatory and the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round. The park’s hiking trails lead up to Mulholland Drive, and provide great views of the city. One of the main hiking trails is located on Bronson Ave. The street will end leading up to the trail. Griffith Park has several options for kids, including the L.A. Zoo; "Travel Town," which is a free exhibition of old trains and model trains with trains rides for children ($2.75); the Autry Western Museum; pony rides; a golf course; driving range; horseback riding; and a Christmas light drive in December (expect traffic).
* Exposition Park is surrounded by Figueroa Street to the east, King Boulevard to the south, Vermont Avenue to the west, and Exposition Boulevard to the north. In 1909, California's Sixth District Agricultural Association and the county and city of Los Angeles agreed to transform Agricultural Park (renamed Exposition Park in 1910) into an exposition building and armory. In return, the county would construct and operate a history and art museum and the city would maintain the grounds.
* Grand Park 200 N. Grand Ave. Grand Park was built in 2012 as part of the redevelopment of [wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]Downtown Los Angeles[/wiki]. Spanning 12 acres, it stretches from the Music Center to City Hall. Visitors can use a series of stairs, ramps and sloping walkways to travel through the park. The park provides seating and green areas but is also used for civic events. Among its highlights are the restored Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, a performance lawn and a terrace with drought resistant plants. In this highly urban landscape, Grand Park offers an intimate, garden-like environment..
*This famous road is worth a drive if you have your own transport. It's the setting for endless movies and first kisses, and provides great views over the city. The easiest way to enter is to head north up Highland Ave into the Cahuenga Pass - you'll come to a turnoff to your left that is signed. Beware of speeding cars near this intersection.
* Named after the beloved actor, Will Rogers built a ranch on the land overlooking the Santa Monica Mountains. Today the ranch and the surrounding 168 acres of land that he purchased are part of the park and open to the public, including tours of the 31-room ranch house. While the area boasts everything from stables to a polo field and golf course, the stunning hiking trails that offer a 2-mile hike to Inspiration Point are always a huge draw. The horse trail rides are also extremely popular.
* Opened in November 2013 in [wiki=b8ed1ef341171d89a884ad87d2ca885f]Santa Monica[/wiki] overlooking the ocean, Tongva Park’s traverses 6.2 acres and cost just over $42 million. The park boasts a series of winding paths, observation points, picnic areas, water features and a kids’ playground. Leashed dogs are also welcome. The park has seven entrances and highlights native plants, green gathering places and uniquely shaped climbing equipment in the kids’ park. One of the park’s highlights is Observation Hill. Standing at 18 feet, it offers stunning views of the ocean and the Santa Monica Pier. At night, the park is lit up with LED displays.
* Located in Baldwin Hills, Kenneth Hahn is a green oasis in a bustling urban landscape. Spanning 338 acres, the area offers landscaped areas, picnic sites, a fishing lake, lotus center and five miles of trails. It has some of the most breathtaking views of the city and die-hard exercise enthusiasts and casual walkers alike regularly traverse the trails. There’s also a Japanese Garden, and baseball and soccer fields. Parking is $6 but well worth the price for a great day out.
*Situated in Westlake and named after General Douglas MacArthur, today the park is listed as an Historic Monument. Often seen in movies and television shows, the park’s signature lake situated on the south side is always a huge draw. On the north side the park boasts a soccer field, a kids’ playground, an amphitheater and the Levitt Pavilion, which hosts free summer concerts. Jimmy Webb made MacArthur Park famous in his song of the same name in 1968.
The following theme parks are in cities surrounding in Los Angeles, but they're a common attraction for visitors.
*Disney California Adventure Park 1313 Disneyland Dr., [wiki=4047530ecbc0170039e76fe1657bdb01]Anaheim[/wiki] Opened just across the road from Disneyland in 2001, California Adventure Park is designed to reflect California’s history. The 72-acre park is divided into seven “lands” including Cars Land from Disney’s Pixar studios, Hollywood Land and A Bug’s Land. Check out how Disney movies are made at the Disney Animation building and learn how to draw your very own Disney character sketch. If your stomach can handle it, take the California Screamin’ rollercoaster or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. For those who don’t like to live on the edge there are plenty of gentler rides, too. Ticket prices are the same as for Disneyland. However, combined Disneyland and California Adventure passes can also be purchased.
*Disneyland Park 1313 Disneyland Dr., [wiki=4047530ecbc0170039e76fe1657bdb01]Anaheim[/wiki] The happiest place on earth is located in Anaheim in [wiki=d12772770c19469d138ceb58feb55dcf]Orange County[/wiki]. Walt Disney’s wonderland for kids and kids-at-heart opened in 1955 and people from around the world have flocked in droves to visit the 160-acre park ever since. The park is divided into eight separate themes, so there’s something for everyone. Head down Main Street U.S.A. or check out Mickey Mouse’s Toontown. Visit the infamous “It’s a Small World” and take a spin in the teacups. Kids delight in seeing their favorite Disney characters wandering the grounds and every night there’s a fireworks display. For daredevils try the stomach lurching Space Mountain rollercoaster or the wet-and-wild Splash Mountain ride. Tickets start at $99 for adults for a one-day pass or $93 for children between the ages of 3-9.
*Knott’s Berry Farm 8039 Beach Blvd. [wiki=8067dc884f0d3f2fb116c9b3b7ce1d32]Buena Park[/wiki] This 160-acre theme park opened in 1940 and has been drawing crowds ever since. It offers plenty of thrill rides, and scary roller coaster rides including the terrifying Rip Tide that reaches heights of 59 feet before spinning you in two directions. However, it also provides plenty of fun for those not willing to live on the edge, with more traditional Ferris Wheels and Merry-Go-Rounds. The farm’s slow rotating Sky Cabin also offers stunning 360-degree views over the area. Daily tickets are $67 at the gate but you can save $27 if you purchase tickets online in advance.
*Six Flags Magic Mountain 26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy, [wiki=bba55ef927cc1827a474bf9b10cab32a]Valencia[/wiki] Situated slightly north of [wiki=d0aa2dffa0da83f1f34681308d04db5d]Los Angeles[/wiki] in [wiki=bba55ef927cc1827a474bf9b10cab32a]Valencia[/wiki], Six Flags Magic Mountain opened in 1971 and spans 272 acres. It’s a place where die-hard roller coaster fans flock year-round for some of the scariest, heart-stopping rides including the Apocalypse that will take you on a 95-foot drop and the Green Lantern ride that will flip you 360 degrees. There are, of course, gentler rides including Merry-Go-Rounds and the kiddie treat - Pepe Le Pew’s Tea Party. Tickets at the door are $72.99 for adults and $47.99 for children. Discounts are available for advance purchase tickets.
*Universal Studios Hollywood. 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City Opened in 1964, Universal Studios is indeed home to many well known American television shows and movies and the studio tours take you onto movie and TV sets, and show you behind-the-scenes action. However, the studio also has its own amusement park. Many of the rides have been created to highlight some of the most beloved shows in celluloid history including the Simpsons ride, the Shrek 4-D ride, the Revenge of the Mummy ride and the Jurassic Park ride where you’ll be confronted by dinosaurs including a 50-foot T-Rex and be taken on a death defying 84-foot drop. The Jurassic Park ride uses 1.5 million gallons water. Prepare to get a little wet. One-day tickets start at $95.
[wiki=f72e36426f5d565da651c60610aa1c59]The Big Lebowski Tour[/wiki]- The tour will take you through the filming locations of the movie The Big Lebowski and will encompasses all of Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Let's go!
Although LA is home to many A-list celebrities, due to the huge size of the city you are unlikely to randomly bump into any during your visit. Most Southland residents consider themselves lucky to encounter a true A-list celebrity once a year, if at all. To avoid being recognized and chased by paparazzi and fans, A-list celebrities often dress in relatively plain clothes, and female celebrities will either wear little makeup or makeup different from what they normally wear for the cameras. Besides oddly frumpy clothing and makeup on an obviously attractive person, another common clue is if a person is wearing sunglasses indoors (especially at a major airport or shopping mall) or on a overcast or rainy day.
If you want to see a celebrity with your own eyes during your visit, you will have to figure out how to attend a major event where celebrities are often present like a concert, play, musical, filming of a television show, film premiere, awards ceremony, convention, etc. Even then, unless you are lucky enough to find yourself in a situation where a celebrity is willingly giving autographs or posing with fans for photos, you should keep to a respectful distance or risk running afoul of California's very strict anti-stalking laws.
In a city as sprawling as Los Angeles, there's a plethora of concert venues. Whether you want to see an intimate chamber recital, a large orchestra or the latest rock concert, there's a place and a sound system for everyone.
*The Hollywood Bowl 2301 N. Highland Ave. ([wiki=1ac441036f927b9815ba1137464ee064]Hollywood[/wiki]) The go to place for locals and visitors alike if you want to see a concert on a truly grand scale, especially if you’re here during the summer. That’s when the Bowl comes alive. It’s the official summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra but also hosts rock and pop concerts, one-man shows, musical sing alongs and more. Originally built in 1922, the Bowl is the largest natural amphitheater in America, capable of hosting up to 18,000 people. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed its distinctive circular arches in 1928. Dress warmly and bring a picnic to enjoy before the show. Seats are tiered with different price levels. You can save money sitting higher up and still have a great view, thanks to the giant jumbo screens that accompany each performance. Buy tickets in advance online or at the door starting as low as $1 and ranging in the hundreds depending on the performer and where you sit. You can park at nearby parking lots in Hollywood and take the shuttle ($6 round trip) to the Bowl or travel in a special shuttle bus from designated lots around Los Angeles for $7 round trip if pre-purchased or $14 round trip if bought at the lot.
*Nokia Theatre at LA Live 777 Chick Hearn Ct. ([wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]Downtown Los Angeles[/wiki]) Part of the $2.5 billion LA Live project, the Nokia Theatre is located near the Staples Center. Built in 2007, the 7,100-seat venue hosts up to 120 events per year including the MTV Music Awards and the American Idol finals. Covering 235,000 sq. ft., it boasts Los Angeles’ largest stage and has been a draw for notable performers including Aretha Franklin, Ed Sheeran and Train.
*STAPLES Center 1101 S. Figueroa St. ([wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]Downtown Los Angeles[/wiki]) While primarily a sports venue, Staples Center also hosts a large number of major-name concerts with its 19,000-seat capacity. Built in 1999, the multi-purpose venue in downtown Los Angeles is home to the country’s biggest musical event - The Grammy Awards. The Staples Center also draws big name performers and has hosted Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, the Rolling Stones, Beyonce and Paul McCartney to name a few.
*Los Angeles Convention Center 1201 S. Figueroa St. ([wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]Downtown Los Angeles[/wiki]) Within walking distance of the Staples Center, the massive convention center hosts everything from the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo to the adult film industry's Erotica LA convention. The city’s only large convention center it is a major draw for conventions, trade shows and exhibitions. The center draws more than 2 million visitors annually and hosts up to 350 events per year.
*Walt Disney Concert Hall 111 Grand Ave. ([wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]Downtown Los Angeles[/wiki]) Designed by architect Frank Gehry in 2003, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. It seats 2,265 people but doesn’t just highlight classical music. Its repertoire covers jazz, contemporary and world music offerings, bringing in a variety of renowned performers from around the globe. The hall’s clear acoustics are achieved through the wood paneling in the main auditorium and entire building encompasses 3.6 acres that includes outdoor walking paths and seating areas.
*El Rey Theater 5515 Wilshire Blvd. ([wiki=84d0a105d4bb09b0469e935e810618d7]Wilshire[/wiki]) This beautiful art deco building and a designated Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument, is situated in the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles and is home to many live performances. Originally built in 1936 as a cinema, it was converted to a live music venue in 1994.
*The Greek Theater 2700 N. Vermont Ave. ([wiki=d433967dc4c51bc25838b048cabdc51f]Eastside[/wiki]) Situated inside Griffith Park on the East side of Los Angeles, this large outdoor performance venue replicating a Greek theater is simply know as ‘The Greek.’ With Los Angeles’ perennially good weather, nothing quite beats a fabulous concert under the stars at this 5,900-seat venue. You can even purchase picnic baskets at the theater and enjoy a meal before the show. Paid parking is available at the theater’s lots or you can take a shuttle from nearby streets. The Greek has long been a magnet for well-known headliners, running the gamut from Neil Diamond to Taylor Swift. Built in 1929, today The Greek is owned by the City of Los Angeles and has been designated an historical landmark.
LA has great opportunities for seeing live pro sports.
* Who wouldn't want to grab a Dodger Dog and enjoy watching a game of baseball in this venerable stadium which opened in 1962 and home of 6 time world champions? Also, for $35 you can get all-you-can-eat hot dogs, sodas, and nachos at the Right Field Pavilion.
*Do they need an introduction? They are the most popular basketball team in the city. Prices are very high (the most expensive ticket in the NBA) but you will rarely be disappointed with Kobe Bryant and the beautiful Staples Center.
*The Los Angeles Clippers are a rising NBA team. Tickets are slightly cheaper than Laker tickets. The basketball season runs from late October to June.
*LA's hockey team - One of the NHL's brightest young teams with stars like Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. The team has two Stanley Cup titles. A fun hockey experience and a great, affordable way to experience the Staples Center.
* LA's women's basketball team - they especially need your support! A good, inexpensive family outing and a chance to be shown that women are just as capable of dazzling the crowd with their athletic prowess as men!!
In addition, baseball's LA Angels and hockey's Anaheim Ducks play in nearby [wiki=4047530ecbc0170039e76fe1657bdb01]Anaheim[/wiki], and the city's soccer team-the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer (winner of 3 of the last 4 Finals) plays at the StubHub Center in [wiki=c72064ec07f748d0db817614e87a33a8]Carson[/wiki].
January - Los Angeles rings in the new year with the Tournament of Roses Parade every January 1st. The popular parade takes place in Pasadena and features a seemingly endless procession of floral-decorated floats, musical performances and the Rose Bowl football game just after the parade.
February - Chinese New Year celebrations take place in early February, with the largest festivities in LA taking place in the Chinatown region of [wiki=a8410d8632ac0c7cea079192a3f9c64e]Downtown[/wiki]. The neighborhood holds a two-day street fair, boasting a carnival, live performances, food stands, lantern processions and the vibrant Golden Dragon Parade.
The world-famous Academy Awards takes place during late February as well. The glitz and glamor all happens on a Sunday at the Kodak Theater in the heart of Hollywood, as celebrities march down the red carpet looking their best to receive and present awards to honor films of the past year and films throughout history.
March - The massive and lengthy Los Angeles Marathon starts at Dodger Stadium north of Downtown and eventually ends up 26 miles away in [wiki=b8ed1ef341171d89a884ad87d2ca885f]Santa Monica[/wiki]. Onlookers show up along the sidelines to watch, perform and otherwise cheer on runners and wheelchair racers.
April - The LA Times Festival of Books takes over the USC campus south of downtown for one weekend in late-April, as readers congregate to browse book sales, listen to live music and attend signings to meet and greet their favorite authors.
Though it doesn't take place on May 5th, Los Angeles's Fiesta Broadway on the last Sunday of April is considered the largest Cinco de Mayo festival in the world. 30 square blocks of downtown are blocked off for a massive fiesta of pinatas, Mexican food, music and more.
June - LA Gay Pride in early June is a massive celebration of the city's enormous LGBT population. As one of the largest gay pride events in the US, the three-hour parade attracts nearly 400,000 visitors each year to witness the colorful atmosphere created by local DJs and drag queens alike.
Film Independent's Los Angeles Film Festival is a ten-day festival in June showcasing more than 200 feature films, shorts and music videos.
The X Games takes place in June every year at the Staples Center in [wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]Downtown LA[/wiki]. The competition, which stretches into early July, amasses huge audiences cheering on their favorite athletes as they compete in extreme sports for prestige and prizes.
July - The city hosts many events for Independence Day, but perhaps the most spectacular takes place at the Hollywood Bowl, where fireworks are launched in sync with performances by the LA Philharmonic and other artists. Other noteworthy celebrations take place at the Rose Bowl, along [wiki=9e1752c1834a760f8d5699cb94f94e9f]Venice Beach[/wiki] and at Grand Park in [wiki=5a95cca5b1f47e47664c7cfca189e14b]Downtown[/wiki].
The US Open of Surfing takes place every summer in the LA-adjacent beach town of [wiki=66fb400d53d17b6331263beb99c2ba07]Huntington Beach[/wiki], drawing huge crowds of tourists and enthusiasts alike.
August - The eight-day Nisei Week Japanese Festival in mid-August celebrates multiple facets of Japanese culture. The event ends with the coronation of Nisei Week Queen after more than a week of tea ceremonies, martial arts demonstrations and much more.
The Watts Summer Festival, also in August at the Will Rogers Memorial Park, is the longest running black cultural festival in the US, established in the wake of the infamous Watts Riots to celebrate black pride.
One of Los Angeles' largest music festivals, FYF, takes place in late summer every year close to Downtown, at Memorial Sports Arena (previously it was held at the Los Angeles State Historic Park). The festival boasts all sorts of music and attracts alternative music enthusiasts from all walks of life.
September - The LA County Fair takes place in late summer and into early autumn each year at the fairgrounds in [wiki=caf14912dab8713f592cd581e2b7dcc2]Pomona[/wiki]. The crowded event features something for everyone, from city folk to farmers, plus lots of rides and fun houses for the little ones.
The always-entertaining Venice Beach becomes even livelier during its annual Abbot Kinney Festival in late September/early October, an artsy street fair bustling with locals and out-of-town vendors boasting beautiful and quirky artworks for sale.
October - The city comes alive during Halloween and for the entire month beforehand. Events change from year to year, but some of the most popular features include local bar crawls, horror film fests, professional haunted houses and the massive West Hollywood Costume Carnival on Halloween night.
November - The lively Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) takes place on the first Saturday of the month, with the largest festivities centered around the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and historic Olvera Street.
The AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival takes place at several theaters in the heart of Hollywood each November, showcasing red carpet events as well as some of the most buzzed-about films alongside little-known independent flicks.
The Hollywood Christmas Parade takes place the Sunday after Thanksgiving, officially kicking off the city's Christmas season with a massive parade of elaborate floats, marching bands and celebrity appearances.
December - The Marina Del Rey Boat Parade is one of the most popular of many holiday-themed events in the region, as locals and tourists amass to witness the boats decked out with unique Christmas lights floating through still waters.
The LA County Holiday Celebration in Downtown takes place on Christmas Eve and features a whole day's worth of merry-making to celebrate some of LA's richest holiday traditions amassed from cultures around the world.
Los Angeles is well-known for its diverse and unique shopping traditions and destinations. Shopping malls will dominate your shopping trip as they are nearly inescapable in many of your destinations. For example, the Hollywood & Highland mall is a popular meeting point for those gazing at the Walk of Fame and Mann's Chinese Theater. Other significant malls frequented by tourists are the Grove (next to the Farmers' Market), Westfield Century City, Westside Pavilion, and the Beverly Center, which is quite unlike other shopping malls as it is multilevel with a nice view of Los Angeles from its food court patio.
Because Los Angeles has traditionally lacked a significant public square, the city funnels its commercial life onto its streets. Among the most popular street is Larchmont Blvd. which caters to the wealthy elite of Hancock Park with one-of-a-kind boutiques. Melrose Avenue, especially in the West Hollywood portion, one-ups Larchmont Blvd. with celebrity presence.
Broadway in Downtown will take you out of the comforts of manicured shopping centers and drop you into its chaos. It features affordable merchandise geared towards the region's millions of working-class Latinos, meaning that forty dollars would probably get you a brand new wardrobe. You will also find pirated DVD's and CD's. You can find a lot of brand name merchandise at discounted prices. Broadway once was the city's premier boulevard; look up above the gritty flea markets and you will see the opulent theaters that defined luxury in early 20th-century Los Angeles.
For a similar experience in a less-polished, but also livelier environment, try Alvarado Street near Wilshire Boulevard and 6th Street. This district gives an insight to how most of working-class Los Angeles shops. Big deals can be found on a wide range of counterfeit goods, but don't stay too long after dark when the neighborhood gets sketchy. Make sure to check out the art deco buildings that exist in between the makeshift warehouses (malls), as well as the Alvarado Terrace Park, surrounded by early century mansions.
The major department stores in the Southland are Macy's, Bloomingdale's, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, and Kohls. Macy's is by far the most ubiquitous (due to the 2006 merger with the May Company) and can be found at virtually every mall, plus it also has a handful of stand-alone stores.
Notably, Los Angeles has never developed a giant ten-story-tall regional flagship department store like those found in other large cities around the world. This can be very frustrating. It means you may have to visit stores at several malls to survey the same amount of merchandise one would be able to see all at once in a flagship department store. The closest equivalent in the Southland to a Macy's flagship store is the three-store Macy's complex at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (in Orange County), which is over an hour's drive away from Los Angeles. But even Macy's South Coast Plaza is still relatively small compared to the huge two-store Macy's West flagship in San Francisco.
7-Eleven convenience stores are found every few blocks and are always open 24-7, but have limited selection and high prices. Walgreen's, CVS, and Rite-Aid are three of the major pharmacy chains operating in Los Angeles and offer a wider selection than many convenience stores, but at the same high prices. The major supermarket chains are Ralphs (owned by Kroger), Pavilions and Vons (both owned by Safeway), and Albertsons (owned by Supervalu). Ralphs and Vons both have a few stores open 24-7. They are useful for picking up supplies like drinks and snacks if your flight arrives late at night.
The nation's largest discount store chain, Walmart, has several stores in Los Angeles, but none are open 24-7. There is a relatively small Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chinatown. Besides that, the only Walmart stores in Los Angeles are found in the neighborhoods of Crenshaw, Panorama City, and Harbor Gateway, which are all out of the way for most tourists and are in areas with high crime rates. The closest Walmart stores open 24-7 are in the relatively safe suburbs of Santa Clarita and Lakewood, which are both very inconvenient for tourists. The nation's second largest discount store chain, Target, has CityTarget stores in Westwood, West Hollywood, and downtown L.A., but like all Target stores, they always close at 10 p.m.
The 99 Cents Only Stores chain offers a variety of products at low prices. Though the store's prices are no longer capped at 99 cents, the cheaper products can be useful for those looking for a quick fix. Stores close at 10 p.m.
Downtown is the destination for some focused retail therapy. Want flowers? Why there's a Flower District in Downtown! Jewelry? Fashion? Seafood? Toys? Yep, there are entire districts in Downtown dedicated to these particular products. You can buy art in Gallery Row up and down Main Street or see artists at work in the Artist District. They are located mostly just east of the towering Financial District. Beware though as they exist along with the notorious Skid Row.
No matter what music you're into, Los Angeles will feature artists to your taste. Visit the Rock Venues on Sunset Blvd. Jazz Clubs in Hollywood. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown. etc. Los Angeles has an abundance of records stores scattered around the area. Also, though vinyl has disappeared from the shelves of most regular record stores, there are still plenty of stores that sell new and used vinyl. Amoeba Music in [wiki=1ac441036f927b9815ba1137464ee064]Hollywood[/wiki] is without a doubt the best in the city and possibly one of the best in the entire country. An exploration of underground music would be advised to perhaps begin at The Smell in Downtown or listen to KXLU 88.9 Monday-Friday for details on numerous shows.
While Los Angeles has some of the most spectacular hiking trails, it’s also home to rattlesnakes, which are quite prevalent in the Santa Monica Mountains. To try and avoid a rattlesnake bite, stay on trails when you’re hiking and stay away from deep brush or grass. Wear strong, sensible hiking boots. Never hike in sandals or flip flops.
Because [wiki=68731e74eac6e5073e7034c81f1f1fd7]Southern California[/wiki] sits on a fault line, earthquakes are always a possibility in Los Angeles. It’s not uncommon to feel small earthquakes from time to time. However, the last major earthquake in Los Angeles took place in 1994. Nonetheless, Angelenos know to be prepared at all times. In the unlikely event of an earthquake, drop and cover yourself with your arms if you have nothing else to shield yourself with from potential flying debris, objects or broken windows. if you are indoors, lie on the floor or under a desk or place a chair over your head until the shaking stops. If you are outdoors move to an area that is as clear as possible - away from trees, buildings or power lines. If you’re on the beach, head to higher ground because earthquakes can cause tsunamis. If you’re in a car, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Do not get out of the car until the shaking has stopped.
Internet cafes are spread around town and most easily found in heavily touristed spots such as Hollywood Blvd and Melrose Ave. For most travelers, stopping by a local coffee shop such as Starbucks or The Coffee Bean should suffice. Most will either have free service for customers or require a nominal fee for usage. Many less expensive hotels and motels also offer complimentary internet access, often usable in the lobby before you check in.
There is also a growing trend for local fast food establishments and some restaurants to provide complimentary Wi-Fi. Certain stores, like Target, JC Penny, and Vons are also joining the free Wi-Fi trend. The Los Angeles Public Library system offers Wi-Fi access at its many branches without the need of a library card. The most common wi-fi source is also available at your local Mcdonald's in this city.