Los Angeles City Guide, LA Highlights and Tips
Los Angeles City Guide

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Los Angeles is roughly 2,767 miles from New York, 5,460 miles from London, and roughly 33 miles from the San Andreas Fault. Our apologies -- as these figures aren’t meant to frighten you. Just like the City of Los Angeles -- we just want to fascinate you. So don’t fret about the fault – you have a better chance of getting bumped by a Bentley on Rodeo Drive than you do of being caught in a fatal earthquake. So check your misconceptions and myths about L.A. at the door, slather on some SPF 30, break out some cool shades, and get ready to have the time of your life in LaLa Land!

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business, shall we? L.A. has a lot of things – it has more working actors, musicians, writers, filmmakers, and dancers than any other place on planet earth (and in the history of civilization), it has a whopping 329 days of sunshine per year -- for your recreational pleasure, and it is home to some of the most beautiful people in the world – for your, ahem, viewing pleasure. And, on any given day in L.A., you’ll find more than 50 productions in progress right on the streets of this sprawling city, and more world-class shops and boutiques than your bank account can handle. What does all of this mean for you? Well, despite summer smog, which peaks between May and October, L.A. is probably one of the most magical cities in the country to explore – if not the world.

If you have a week or so to visit, lucky you! You will find an overabundance of things to do on any given day of the week ranging from the inordinately odd or over-the-top to the downright exhilarating. What you won’t find in L.A. are ordinary or average activities – every aspect of this trendy town, from the attractions, recreation, and accommodations to shopping, dining, and dancing is simply adrenalizing. You can even do a hefty amount of damage here if you only have a few days to spare. Rest assured, no matter how long you stay, you will leave L.A. in complete and utter awe.

L.A.’s top attractions include spectacular (and sexy) beaches, world-class museums, perfect hiking trails, and oddball spectacles that can only be found in Tinsel Town. Some of L.A.’s specific major points of interest include: Santa Monica Beach, Venice Beach, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Little Tokyo, Griffith Park, The Getty Center, Beverly Hills, Universal Studios and Burbank, Hollywood Boulevard, Long Beach & The Queen Mary, L.A. State & County Arboretum, The Bradbury Building, Downtown L.A., Grand Central Market, Petersen Automotive Museum, Autry Museum of Western Heritage, the Huntington, La Brea Tar Pits, and Norton Simon Museum of Art.

And while it is not exactly in L.A., people also come here to visit the original Disneyland in Orange County, and a number of beautiful beach towns throughout OC such as Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach. World famous Catalina Island is not to be missed as well.

Before you set out on your L.A. adventure, there are a few things you should keep in mind about L.A. traffic, L.A. culture, weather, shopping, and L.A.’s many districts.

With nearly 4 million people living in the City of Los Angeles, nearly 10 million people living in the Los Angeles County, and roughly 36 million people living in the state of California (oh, and because everyone drives), traffic can be horrendous just about anywhere in the state of California – even on three-lane avenues, two-lane lane side streets, and four-lane boulevards.

The good news is that Uber and Lyft have dramamtically improved the experience of getting around LA. Cabs in LA have always been pure garbage - overpriced and bad quality. Now you'll still get stuck in traffic, but at least someone else will be driving. Uber and Lyft make things much easier because you're not stuck trying to find a place to park, which can be ridiculously difficult and/or expensive. So if you're going to LA, use these ride sharing services.

The only reason to rent a car in LA is if you have lots of driving planned up and down the coast. But if you're mostly staying in the greater LA area you should avoid it and stick to the ride sharing services.

L.A.’s culture and scene is like no other place on the map. It has a laid-back vibe, but beauty and cutting edge fashions rule the day. Most locals wouldn’t be caught dead looking “average” on any type of outing be it lunching on Sunset Avenue or a quick jaunt to the local Whole Foods to grab a bag of organic jackfruit. So, here’s a word of advice – it’s ok to dress down – but please don’t step off of the plane at LAX in a pair of khakis and a button down -- or worse a pair of Bermuda shorts and sandals. You will stick out like a sore thumb in threads like that, so stick to the laid-back look, but try to keep it trendy.

Other things to keep in mind: mineral water is the beverage of choice when lunching Al Fresco; it’s perfectly ok to wear sunglasses on one of L.A.’s rare cloudy days; shopping is everyone’s favorite pastime, and please, save the photos for Griffith Park – snapping shots of celebrities is not only tacky, but it’s a definite no-no for civilians – this type of behavior is only acceptable for paid Paparazzi.

If you’ve read enough and you’re ready to go, great! So we will leave you with a few words about the weather. Compared to just about every other city on the map, Los Angeles’s weather is great during all seasons, so anytime is a good time to go. You can expect a sunny, smog-free L.A. during the late fall, winter and spring months (November/December through May), with crisp, cool temps – perfect for sweaters. From about June or July until around early October, the summer season sizzles. You can expect mostly sunny days (maybe 90%) with little to no rain, and pleasant temperatures perfect for sailing, bike riding, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Keep in mind that summer is high season for L.A. This mean prices are at an all-time high, buying tickets well in advance is the best way to secure a space, and reservations are an absolute must.

If you want more information about what’s to see and do in LA pick up a copy of the LA Weekly, L.A.’s largest and most popular free weekly featuring information about art, entertainment, film, music, dining, and events in and around Los Angeles or The Weekly Time Out. You can also check out the entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times – L.A.’s only major metropolitan newspaper.

Our latest travel content can be found in the Travel category in our new magazine format. Archived travel content can be found in the travel section on our blog. Also, check out our Travel Channel, our On Location page and our World Tour feature.


Curbed – LA
Cool blog covering the City of Angels.

Fodors.com or Frommers.com
Fodors.com and Frommers.com features summaries of places to shop, see, dine, and sleep in and around L.A. If you want a quick list of the top spots in L.A., you’ll find it here!

Lonely Planet features background information and fast facts about L.A., as well as places to see, an image gallery, and travel tips.

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