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Los Angeles

  • How do I get there?

    Los Angeles, home of Hollywood, is one of the largest, most vibrant cities in California. From the beaches to the valley, you could spend weeks here and still have nooks and crannies left unexplored. Check out these ways to get there.

    TRAIN:
    Amtrak has 5 individual lines from across the country that arrive at Union Station in the heart of Downtown L.A.
    The Southwest Chief runs from Chicago across the Midwest to L.A.; the Texas Eagle is appropriately named, running from Chicago through the Lonestar State to L.A.; the Pacific Surfliner runs from mid-coast California through L.A. towards San Diego; the Coast Starlight line passes down the Pacific coast from Seattle; and the Sunset Limited line heads west from New Orleans.

    All fares vary by line and schedule, so consult their website accordingly.

    BUS:
    Greyhound, which is the largest long-distance carrier in the country, connects Los Angeles with major cities all over the continent.

    Another bus option is Megabus for connections between the San Francisco bay area and Las Vegas, Nevada.

    PLANE:
    Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the largest airport in California, and is near the top of the list of the world's busiest airports. It currently serves over 60 domestic and international airlines serving over 70 domestic non-stop destinations, 21 international destinations, and a total of 63,688,121 passengers in 2012.

    Other airport options for access to Los Angeles include: LA/Ontario International Airport, Van Nuys Airport, Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Long Beach Airport, and John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

    If you've chosen to fly to L.A., the next step is to make your way to a hotel. For that, there are also many ground transportation options.


    From LAX to Los Angeles:

    Public Transportation:
    You can take a free shuttle bus from the Metro Green Line Aviation Station. Wait for the "G" Shuttle under the signs reading "LAX Shuttle & Airline Connections" on the Lower/Arrival Level islands outside each terminal.

    The "C" Shuttle will take you to the Metro Bus Center, where you can catch a bus to the Los Angeles area. Information about these bus services is available by calling (323) 466-3876 or the Information Display Board by the baggage claim area in each terminal.

    Other public bus services at LAX include Culver City Bus Lines, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, and Torrance Transit, all of which can be picked up at the Metro Bus Center in Lot C.


    Taxi:
    Take a cab from one of the nine taxi companies who are authorized by the city to get you around. These cabs can always be identified by an official City of Los Angeles Taxicab Seal, which ensures you a safe ride. Most taxis accept major credit cards for fares over $7.00. Fares start at $2.85, and flat rates are available to and from LAX and downtown.

    United Independent Taxi: (323) 653-5050 / (310) 821-1000 / (800) 822-8294
    Yellow Cab: (310) 808-1000 / (213) 808-1000 / (800) 200-1085 / (877) 733-3305
    Bell Cab: (888) 235-5222 / (800) 666-6664
    L.A. Checker Cab: (800) 300-5007 / (888) 300-5007 / (323) 654-8400
    Independent Taxi: (323) 666-0050 / (800) 521-8294


    Buses and Shuttles:
    FlyAway Bus Service runs between LAX and three destinations: Van Nuys, Union Station, and Westwood for $7.00 each way. These buses pick up passengers on the Lower/Arrivals level underneath the signs marked "FlyAway, Buses, and Long Distance Vans," and each bus is marked with its destination. Save yourself the hassle if you can and purchase your ticket online in advance.

    If you're venturing further than L.A., check out one of these bus services to get you where you need to go.

    Hotel shuttles stop under the red signs labeled "Hotel & Parking Lot Shuttles" on the Lower/Arrivals level outside the terminals, and will take you to any of the airport hotels and private parking lots in the area.

    Shared Ride, Long Distance Vans:
    For rides to Simi Valley, Ventura County, and Santa Barbara County use Roadrunner Shuttle service on the Lower/Arrivals level under the "FlyAway, Buses, and Long Distance Vans" signs. If you're going a shorter distance into L.A., use Prime Time Shuttle or SuperShuttle.

    Rental Cars:
    Nearly 40 rental car companies operate out of LAX, and many provide courtesy phones inside the Arrivals area or near Baggage Claim so that you can request a shuttle pick up. Rental car shuttles will pick up on the Lower/Arrivals level under the signs "Rental Car Shuttles" and take you to the satellite site. Click here for a list of rental car companies at LAX.

  • What is the lay of the land?

    Los Angeles is a perfect example of American urban sprawl, with over 80 neighborhoods and districts ready to explore. From Venice Beach to Silver Lake, many of these areas used to be towns in their own right, until L.A. annexed them into the city. Whether it's your first visit or your fifth, getting a grip on the geography can be a daunting task. Thankfully, the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board provides an overview of the major regions with recommendations for things to see, do, and experience within their neighborhoods to make your planning a bit easier.

  • How do I get around?

    We won't lie. Los Angeles is one of the most difficult to get around, and most people don't do so without a car. While you probably will end up renting a vehicle (and trust us, we do it, too), here are a couple of other transportation options that may suit your budget a bit better.

    PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:

    Bus and Train:
    The L.A. Metro, the extensive system of bus and train services is an inexpensive option to get around. Fares begin at $1.50 per trip, or you can buy a 7-day pass for $20. Plan your travel directly by using the Metro Trip Planner, or Hop Stop. Don't forget to carry exact change, or consider purchasing a TAP card from one of the designated vending machines, which you can fill and refill these cards with as much cash as you like.


    BY CAR
    In Los Angeles, a car will become your most important travel accessory. Whether you're driving yourself or taking a taxi, sometimes the best way to get from Point A to Point B is by car.

    Taxi:
    Take a cab from one of the nine taxi companies who are authorized by the city to get you around. These cabs can always be identified by an official City of Los Angeles Taxicab Seal, which ensures you a safe ride. Most taxis accept major credit cards for fares over $7.00. Fares start at $2.85, and flat rates are available to and from LAX and downtown.

    United Independent Taxi: (323) 653-5050 / (310) 821-1000 / (800) 822-8294
    Yellow Cab: (310) 808-1000 / (213) 808-1000 / (800) 200-1085 / (877) 733-3305
    Bell Cab: (888) 235-5222 / (800) 666-6664
    L.A. Checker Cab: (800) 300-5007 / (888) 300-5007 / (323) 654-8400
    Independent Taxi: (323) 666-0050 / (800) 521-8294

    Rental Car:
    If you've picked up a car at LAX (and if you're like us, you'll head straight to the rental counter upon landing), head for one of the three major highways depending on your final destination. The 405, the Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10), or Interstate 5 are some of the busiest streets in L.A., but the most efficient. For a slightly slower pace, jump on Highway 1 and drive up or down the beautiful California coast. Check out the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board's suggestions for scenic drives.


    ON FOOT:
    Los Angeles has been ranked the 13th most walkable large city, which actually depends on the neighborhood you're in at the time. Downtown, Koreatown, and Venice are some top picks, with Santa Monica and Beverly Hills also proving to be best explored on foot.


    BY BIKE:
    Bike transportation is steadily growing in Los Angeles as residents and visitors begin to reject the car culture. The L.A. Metro has a special program for cyclists to ride their bikes and the buses, and the city is creating more designated bike lanes by the day. The coastal neighborhoods of Venice and Santa Monica have easily accessible rentals near the beach like Spokes N Stuff among many others.

  • What do I need to know about money?

    While Los Angeles no longer ranks on the list of the most expensive cities in the US to visit, we won't lie: it's still up there. As always, some standard money tips still apply.

    Sales Tax:
    L.A.'s sales tax is 9.0% for all general sales, except for some grocery items.

    Hotel Costs:
    The average hotel room price is $130 per night, and hotels in popular areas such as Beverly Hills and West Hollywood will run well over that average per night. Don't be discouraged however, for there are rooms to be found so long as you're willing to look, and compromise on location.

    Tipping:
    In the US the base hourly wage for someone in the service industry (i.e. servers, bartenders, etc) can vary by state and be minimal. Therefore, it is customary to leave a tip based on the quality of service. Cash is always preferred to credit card, so have extra small bills on hand for these purposes.

    Restaurants: According to folks who live and work there, in L.A. you should always tip 20%, no questions asked. Whether you're dining in, taking out, or getting delivery, the rule of thumb is 20%. Like most places, gratuity isn't generally added unless you're part of a party of 8 or more, but be sure to double check before leaving extra cash anyway.

    Bars: 20% per drink.

    Bag Service: $2-5 per bag for skycaps and bellhops; more if bags are heavy.

    Valet Parking: $2-5 on top of the fee when picking up car.

    Hotel Housekeeping: $2-5 per night.

    Concierge Services: $10-25 if they arranged tickets, reservations, or other activities.

    Taxi Drivers: 15%-20% of total fare.

  • Do I need a Visa?

    Citizens of countries enrolled in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) may enter the US for 90 days or less with a valid passport without a visa. If your country does not participate in the VWP, you will need a to obtain a visa from a US consulate or embassy in your country in addition to your passport. The visa process can be complicated, but Discover America, the official travel and tourism website for the US, has a simple and user-friendly explanation.

  • What is the climate like?

    Welcome to the land of sunshine. Los Angeles' warm temperatures and low precipitation (only 35 days per year) are ideal for those seeking their Vitamin D fix. Average temperatures range from highs between 68°F (20°C) – 70.5°F (21.4°C), and lows between 49°F (9.5°C) – 53°F (12°C) in the winter, and highs between 73°F (23°C) – 83.5°F (28.6°C), and lows between 55°F (13°C) – 65°F (18°C) in the spring and summer. These temperatures tend to fluctuate during the day, and can vary dramatically depending on your current location. For example, being near the beach in Santa Monica will mean cool breezes and fog on some days, and being in the San Fernando Valley can mean temperatures anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees higher than downtown L.A.

    While not a weather-related natural disaster, bear in mind that L.A. sits on the San Andreas Fault with in the Ring of Fire, making it prone to earthquakes. Major ones are rare, but don't be surprised if you feel a small one from time to time.

    Find more about Weather in Los Angeles, CA
    Click for weather forecast

  • What are the regular business hours?

    Most banks and branches of the Post Office are open from 8am to 5pm Monday-Friday, and until early afternoon on Saturdays. Many shops and stores are open until 10pm or 11pm, and restaurants serve customers until 11pm or later. Alcohol can be purchased from 6am to 2am.

  • What's the deal with the food?

    As dynamic as it is delicious, the Los Angeles food scene is friendly to the budget conscious and those ready to splurge. Hit Koreatown for some savory barbeque, the Santa Monica beachside for the fresh seafood, or one of the many foodtrucks. Check out Discover Los Angeles' restaurant listings or our guide to HARD Summer for dining ideas.

  • What is the nightlife scene like?

    As one of the Best Nightlife Scenes in the USA, L.A.'s scene is widespread, exclusive, and changes as rapidly as a starlet changes her shirt. Head for the Sunset Strip or West Hollywood for good old fashioned L.A. fun, or try out up and coming party scenes in Culver City or Downtown L.A. For some of our favorite night spots, check out our top picks for HARD Summer.

  • What are some laws I need to be aware of?

    Alcohol: The legal drinking age is 21, but in Los Angeles you can enter some nightclubs and bars (generally those that serve food) at 18 if you have legal identification. Bars must stop serving alcohol by 2am, but may continue to stay open as long as no booze is being served. Bars can begin serving as early as 6am. Beer, wine, and spirits can be purchased in grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and warehouse discount stores. L.A. does not allow open containers.

    Smoking: There is absolutely no smoking in bars or restaurants in Los Angeles, and California as a whole, with the exception of some locations that have outdoor areas in use, cigar bars, or hookah lounges. Some areas of L.A., Beverly Hills for example, does not permit smoking at any outdoor dining, so bear that in mind when dining out and lighting up.

    Marijuana: Medicinal marijuana is legal with doctor's prescription and identification, but regular toking is not. While possession of less than one ounce is an infraction and a $100 fine, you're probably better off leaving the green at home.

    Driving: In California you can drive at age 16, but they have a graduated licensing system with strict restrictions for those under 18. Texting and driving, as well as making or taking phone calls, is permitted so long as you are using a hands-free, voice-operated device.

  • What's the culture shock factor?

    The biggest piece of advice we can give you regarding the culture shock in L.A. is this: yes, there are celebrities there. Yes, you might see them. The most responsible thing you can do as a respectful tourist is to keep away, keep calm and let them go about their business, even if you see other people taking pictures.

  • Directory

    BEAUTY:

    The Lounge Spa
    11911 West Washington Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90066
    (310) 398-1498
    www.theloungespa.com

    Hairroin Salon
    1520 North Cahuenga Boulevard
    Suite 2
    Los Angeles, CA 90028
    (323) 467-0392
    www.hairroinsalon.com

    Camille's Barber & Hair Styling Salon
    5459 Sepulveda Boulevard
    Culver City, CA 90230
    (310) 313-4253

    CABS:
    Yellow Cab:
    (310) 808-1000 / (213) 808-1000 / (800) 200-1085 / (877) 733-3305
    www.layellowcab.com

    Bell Cab:
    (888) 235-5222 / (800) 666-6664
    www.bellcab.com

    L.A. Checker Cab:
    (800) 300-5007 / (888) 300-5007 / (323) 654-8400
    www.unitedcheckercab.com

    Independent Taxi:
    (323) 666-0050 / (800) 521-8294
    www.taxi4u.com

    DRY CLEANERS:
    Classy Cleaners
    1803 Lincoln Boulevard
    Santa Monica, CA 90404
    (310) 396-9941

    Regency Cleaners
    1411 Echo Park Avenue
    Los Angeles, CA 90026
    (213) 482-9986

    Crest Cleaners
    11119 Palms Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90034
    (310) 837-1735

    EMERGENCIES:
    Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
    757 Westwood Plaza
    Los Angeles, CA 90095-8358
    (310) 825–9111
    www.udahealth.org

    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
    8700 Beverly Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90048-1865
    (310) 423–5000
    www.cedars-sinai.edu

    GYMS:
    Gold's Gym
    735 South Figueroa Street
    Suite 100
    Los Angeles, CA 90017
    (213) 688-1441
    www.goldsgym.com

    LA Fitness
    3400 Cahuenga Boulevard West
    Los Angeles, CA 90068
    (323) 876-1076
    www.lafitness.com

    ORGANIC:
    Two Bits Market
    210 West 5th Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90013
    (213) 627-2636
    www.twobitsmarket.com

    Erewhon Natural Foods Market
    7660 Beverly Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90036
    (323) 937-0777
    www.erewhonmarket.com

    Whole Foods Market
    6350 West 3rd Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90036
    (323) 964-6800
    www.wholefoodsmarket.com

    Trader Joe's
    3456 South Sepulveda Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90034
    (310) 836-2458
    www.traderjoes.com

    PHARMACIES:
    Walgreens
    1501 Vine Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90028
    (323) 467-7916
    www.walgreens.com

    CVS
    6360 West 3rd Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90036
    (323) 937-3019
    www.cvs.com

    Ocean Park Pharmacy
    2731 Ocean Park Boulevard
    Santa Monica, CA 90405
    (310) 452-5705

    POST OFFICES:
    750 West 7th Street, #33
    Los Angeles, CA 90017
    (213) 624-1952
    www.usps.com

    3751 Motor Avenue
    Los Angeles, CA 90034
    (310) 839-2301
    www.usps.com

    7610 Beverly Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90048
    (800) 275-8777
    www.usps.com

    PRESS:
    The Los Angeles Times
    www.latimes.com

    The L.A. Daily News
    www.dailynews.com

    LAist
    www.laist.com

    LA Weekly
    www.laweekly.com

    Eater – L.A.
    www.la.eater.com


    PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:
    LA Metro:
    (323) 466-3876
    www.metro.net

    TATTOOS:
    Body Electric Tattoo & Piercing
    7274 1/2 Melrose Avenue
    Los Angeles, CA 90046
    (323) 954-0408
    www.bodyelectrictattoo.com

    Velvet Grip Family
    7213 1/2 Santa Monica Boulevard
    West Hollywood, CA 90046
    (323) 876-5048
    www.velvetgripfamily.com

    Prix Body Adornment
    8776 West Sunset Boulevard
    West Hollywood, CA 90069
    (310) 659-3502
    www.prixbodypiercing.com

    Tattoo Lounge
    12206 Venice Boulevard
    Mar Vista, CA 90066
    (310) 391-5181
    www.thetattoolounge.com

    TOURIST INFORMATION:
    Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board Visitor's Center
    6801 Hollywood Boulevard
    Hollywood, CA 90028
    (323) 467-6412
    www.discoverlosangeles.com

    Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board Visitor's Center
    Union Station
    800 North Alemeda Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90012
    www.discoverlosangeles.com