Los Angeles Travel Guide
Los Angeles, at around 500 square miles, is the largest city within Los Angeles County which includes more than 100 cities and communities. Known for its entertainment industry, miles of coastline, mountains, shopping, sports, ethnic diversity, and culture of creativity, L.A.'s vibe ranges from upscale to hip to surf-casual and everything between, defying a label for the city as a whole.Several areas comprise Los Angeles, mainly Downtown (DTLA), the Westside, West Hollywood, Hollywood, the Beach Cities, and the Valley, with other communities within those districts. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), served by all major airlines, is about 16 miles from Downtown. Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR), also known as Bob Hope Airport, is located about 20 minutes north of downtown. Union Station is the main railway station in Los Angeles, and it's the largest railroad passenger terminal in the western United States.Visitors seeking outdoor activities can choose mountain hikes, seaside bike rides, golf, boating, surfing, or just enjoying the sunshine. Spectator sports abound, and depending on the season, there's basketball, football, baseball, and soccer. Live theater, film complexes, museums, and art galleries provide opportunities for cultural activities. The Los Angeles dining scene boasts elegant restaurants, casual outdoor cafes, and ethnic foods that include Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Ethiopian, Korean, Italian, Israeli, and many more. Fresh seafood from local waters and produce from California's farms are always available.
Pacific Standard Time. (Daylight Savings Time is observed seasonally)
Best Time to Go
Year-round moderate temperatures, low humidity, and cool evenings make any month a good time to visit Los Angeles. Summers are warmer, especially in the Valley, while coastal areas see cooler temperatures and often begin with morning clouds that burn off to sunny afternoons. Rainfall is generally less than 20 inches annually, with December through March considered the wetter months.
Summer is popular with vacationers, and with miles of beaches, there's always room for your blanket and umbrella. The 26-mile bike path along the coast from Torrance Beach to Pacific Palisades gets a bit more traffic in summer, but bikers, joggers, walkers, and skateboarders happily share the scenery and ocean breezes year round. In winter, Los Angeles is the perfect escape from colder climates when visitors can trade their down jacks for sweaters or windbreakers.
Things to Know
Los Angeles is known for its car culture, although public transportation is available in most areas. The city is infamous for its freeway traffic, and visitors are advised to keep this in mind when planning outings around the city.
There's a lot of ground to cover and so much to see. If time allows, book a hotel in the area you want to explore. You'll get to experience different neighborhoods, and you'll save time getting around. Get familiar with the "big picture" of Los Angeles while you make plans to get a better idea of where your destinations are located.
The weather varies from the coastal towns to the inland valley, and the temperature difference can be 20 degrees or more. Check the weather and keep a light jacket handy.
How to Get Around
Metro Bus System: Local, Rapid, Express services are available throughout the Los Angeles area, with nearly 200 different lines. Many connect to Metro Rail stations. Visit the Metro website for details.
DASH Bus Service: Los Angeles Department of Transportation operates frequent bus service in DTLA and in 27 neighborhoods. Visit the DASH website for details.
Driving: Hundreds of miles of freeways connect various sections of Los Angeles and can be efficient for traveling. Plan your route, avoid commuter rush hours, and expect some traffic to get the most out of driving in Los Angeles. GPS apps will be helpful.
Uber, Lyft, taxis: You can let someone else worry about directions, parking, and traffic by using your preferred app.
Union Station: (800 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012) is a major transportation hub for Amtrak, Greyhound Bus, auto rentals, taxis, Metro bus, light rail and subway, Metrolink heavy rail service, Megabus, and Zipcar.
Transportation from Los Angeles International Airport
LAX FlyAway Bus Service provides regularly scheduled non-stop service to several locations. Check the website for current schedules.
Taxi Service: Taxis may drop passengers off at their terminals on the Upper/Departures level. Arriving passengers may get taxis at three locations: next to Terminal 1 (either by walking or taking the free shuttle to LAX-it.), inside Parking Structure 3 (between Terminals B and 3), or at the far end of Terminal 7, outside of baggage claim.
Rental Cars: Offices are located off airport. Shuttles meet arriving passengers under the purple "Rental Car shuttles" sign on the Lower/Arrivals level islands.
Hotel Shuttles: Many major airport area hotels provide courtesy transportation from LAX terminals. Shuttle stops are located on the Upper/Departures level by Red curbside pylons.
Metro C Line at Aviation Station: Wait at the Pink Shuttle sign on the Lower/Arrivals level and board "Metro C Line (formerly Green Line) Shuttle."
Beverly Hills/Century City
West Hollywood WEHO
Beverly Hills/Century City/West Hollywood
Beach Cities/West Side
Things to Do
Beverly Hills/Culver City
Beverly Hills/Century City
Neighborhoods to Know
Within each major section of Los Angeles are neighborhoods with their own character, style, and dynamics. We describe several here, and with the ever changing nature of the city, you're likely to discover other interesting communities as you explore Los Angeles.
- The Arts District, formerly an industrial area, is becoming home to galleries, studios, media companies, and hip dining spots.
- Chinatown is the place for a variety of restaurants, shops, herbal stores, antiques, and bustling alleys.
- The Fashion District is the center of the apparel industry, with wholesalers, designers, retailers, and bargain shopping.
- Olvera Street at Historic El Pueblo is the birthplace of Los Angeles where visitors finde Mexican food, crafts, music, and cultural events.
Beverly Hills/Century City
- Brentwood/Bel Air - upscale homes, UCLA, shops, restaurants, and Getty Center on a hilltop overlooking the area.
- Beverly Hills is the place for designer shops on Rodeo Drive, top restaurants, and elegant homes.
- Century City's high-rise buildings and Westfield Mall define the neighborhood once dominated by 20th Century Fox Studios.
- Culver City's restaurants, galleries, and Sony Picture Studios make this eclectic neighborhood worth a visit.
- Hollywood & Vine, the Hollywood Walk of Fame sidewalk stars, Hollywood & Highland complex, Hollywood Bowl, and Chinese Theater define its role in show business.
- West Hollywood's Design District, Pacific Design Center, restaurants, walkable streets, and Sunset Strip nightlife make it a must-visit neighborhood.
- Los Feliz is a blend of hip and historic, with Frank Lloyd Wright homes and eclectic eateries.
- Silver Lake's trendy cafes, street art, music venues, architecture, and walking trails add to the appeal of this residential neighborhood.
- The South Bay area includes Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach, all with white sand beaches, shops, restaurants, nightlife, and a relaxed vibe.
- Santa Monica's amusement park on the pier, its walkable streets, stores, restaurants, and hotels make it a popular destination.
- Malibu is known for its exclusive beaches, opulent homes, celebrity sightings, and ocean views as well as its hiking trails and canyons.
- San Pedro offers an aquarium, fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants, the Battleship USS Iowa, and Ports o' Call Village for shopping and browsing.
- North Hollywood (NoHo) is not in Hollywood, but the north end of the Valley, with entertainment, restaurants, and the Great Wall of Los Angeles art mural.
- Studio City is known for movie studios, including CBS Studios, NBC, and Warner Brothers.
- Ventura Boulevard boasts trendy restaurants, boutiques, and vintage shops.
- For hiking and outdoor activities, there's Wilacre Park and Fryman Canyon Park.
Los Angeles weather — temperature, cloud cover, humidity — varies significantly over the large area of the city. Coastal areas are generally cooler, and mornings are often cloudy with clearing by early afternoon, mainly a feature of early summer weather. The valley and inland areas are warm and dry, often as much as twenty degrees warmer than the coast. Most of the annual rainfall occurs in winter.
The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month.
January 46 - 67
February 48 - 69
March 49 - 69
April 51 - 72
May 55 - 74
June 59 - 78
July 62 - 84
August 64 - 85
September 62 - 83
October 57 - 79
November 51 - 72
December 46 - 68
Apps to Download
Discover Los Angeles app: Provides information on daily events, accommodations by neighborhood, film locations, and free Wi-Fi locations.
Google Maps: Useful for navigating, directions, and trip planning.
Transit: The official Metro Los Angeles app helps plan your trip with options that include public transportation, bikeshare, scooter, and rideshare.
Universal Studios Hollywood Mobile app: Navigate the park and CityWalk with interactive maps, wait times, show times, and more.