10 Things to Know Before Visiting Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is a huge world famous city home to some of the most famous and well known people in the world. This city really is somewhere you must visit once in your life with so many incredible attractions and things to do.
But planning a trip to Los Angeles can seem daunting, this city is huge and knowing where to stay and where to go can be confusing.
So before you book your flight to LA, here are ten things you should know about the city.
1. Getting to LA
If you are arriving from overseas, you will likely fly into LAX - Los Angeles International Airport. Average flight times from Europe are around 11 - 12 hours, direct.
Airlines offering direct flights to Los Angeles include: American Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, United, Aeromexico, Southwest Airlines, Delta and Qantas.
If you are planning to visit LA from other destinations in the USA there is the option to fly, book a bus or train.
If you are entering the USA from abroad, you will need to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver to enter the USA as a visitor.
ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to eligibility questions.
You can find more information about the ESTA application online to check eligibility and criteria. Before arrival in the USA you will need to have completed an ESTA form and had this approved. Although ESTA applications can be approved in just seconds, we recommended that you apply at least 72 hours before departure.
Los Angeles has an incredible 114 neighbourhoods, yes 114! But which LA neighbourhood should you stay in or hang out?
Hollywood is one of the most popular places to stay, as Los Angeles doesn't really have one specific centre, this is generally the hub for all tourist activities where you can see sights like the Walk of Stars and book trips to other locations. Other places to consider include: West Hollywood, Downtown, Venice Beach and Santa Monica.
If you are keen to see some famous faces these are the neighbourhoods to hang out in: Hollywood, Bel Air, Malibu and Silver Lake.
4. Top Tourist Attractions
Los Angeles is a tourists delight, this city is sprawling and popular destinations are located throughout.
These are some of the top locations to add to your itinerary:
- Hollywood (you can't leave LA without having a picture by the iconic Hollywood sign)
- Disneyland Resort
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory
- The Getty Center
- Petersen Automotive Museum
- The Original Farmers Market
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
- La Brea Tar Pits
- The Nethercutt Collection
- Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
- Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
- California Science Center
5. Best Beaches
Los Angeles is blessed with some incredible beaches, all are different and unique in their own way. Top beaches to spend time include: Santa Monica, Long Beach and Venice Beach. These beaches are perfect for sunbathing, people watching, renting a bike or checking out lots shops.
Los Angeles is one of the best cities in the world for food. You can get cuisine from all around the world here and the best news is you don't need to spend a fortune to enjoy it. L.A. has lots of restaurants, farmers markets, food festivals and trucks dotted around the city. So whether you fancy a traditional American burger, Mexican tacos, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese or anything, you will find something!
7. Getting Around
There are lots of ways to navigate LA including:
- Taxi and uber
- Rent a car
Public transport is the cheapest way to get around the city and there is a fairly extensive bus system in place. Renting a car is recommended if you drive, this gives you the freedom to visit more places and escape some of the most traditional tourist spots. Although parking and traffic can be an issue.
Los Angeles is an expensive city to visit, especially compared to other destinations in the USA. But what you spend really depends on the level of comfort you want and also what you plan to do. You should budget for around $100-$200 per day including accommodation, food and sightseeing. Hotels can cost around $50-$1000+ per night.
If you plan to visit places like Disney World for example, you will need to budget more. There are though lots of ways to save money, stay in hostels or motels, use public transportation, hang out on beaches, eat street food etc.
Los Angeles enjoys a warm climate all year round, so pack accordingly. January and February tends to get more rain, but other months especially during summer an be really hot.
As a tourist Los Angeles is a safe place to visit and you are unlikely to encounter and problems in the main tourists spots like Hollywood and Venice Beach. The chances of you hanging around some of the more dangerous neighbourhoods is unlikely. There are lots of homeless people in Los Angeles, this might seem like a shock if you are not aware of this, the situation is heartbreaking.
Los Angeles is an amazing city, just do lots of planning in advance and you will be sure to enjoy the highlights.
If you have any tips for first time visitors to LA let us know in the comments section below.